Sometimes They Do Not Make It

The school year was 75% complete. Young Steven and his brother Davie, two years older than him, were helping their mother unpack boxes after school. The three of them moved into their new apartment, recently, due to an explosion Davie accidentally caused in their old apartment. The boys and their mom were lucky to live through the experience unharmed.

“You guys are driving me crazy,” said their mother. “How?” asked Davie, “We are just doing what you told us.” “Well, for now, you guys can go outside and play. Be back before dark, and I’ll have dinner ready.” The boys did not attest to this and immediately made it to the door, closing it behind them politely, to hike three stories down.

“We don’t have a front yard; we have a sidewalk with a street,” observed Steven. “Let’s check out what’s behind back,” said Davie, “We may have the time to do some exploring.” Davie was in the 9th grade, Steven in the 7th. They ran around to behind the apartment building. It was a massive structure with twenty-one apartments. Each with four rooms, 2.5-baths, and made with light pink bricks. There was a small field and a wooded area nearby, also.

The boys marched right into the woods, as the trees were sparse. After some time they found some railway tracks and stopped to rest. “I found an old rusty spike!” said Steven. “Just leave it alone,” said Davie, “There are probably a ton of them around here.” The two boys sat on a big square concrete block about twelve yards away from the tracks, wondering how often the train comes.

On the other side of the tracks, there was a small creek just wide enough to scale. The creek ran parallel to the tracks. More woods and an overgrown field could be seen off to the left. Time slipped away gently. The boys talked about girls and school, tossing small pebbles into the creek across from the tracks. Only a single small tossed pebble could make ‘circle ripples,’ which reflected overhung trees in an amazing way.

Little Davie was a child prodigy, just as Steven – Davie still had the ‘brains;’ however, and Steven was always aware of his older brother’s natural instincts. “It is going to get dark any minute,” said Davie, “We should go back.” As the two boys stood, they heard the “Choo-choo” of a train coming. “A train!” exclaimed Steven, and as they looked down the tracks, they saw a large train was really on its way.

They waited until the engine passed them and watched its cars whiz by, one by one. “How fast do you think the train is going?” yelled Steven. “Probably about 30 mph,” replied Davie, “Let’s go.” They left the roaring train and made it back home before dark. The woods were simple enough, so there chances of getting lost were slim. The two smelly lads cleaned up for dinner, ate Spaghetti, spoke politely with their mother, and bathed and went off to bed.

Saturday finally came around and the boys woke up before dawn to watch cartoons. Their mother woke up early and cooked a nice breakfast including pancakes, sausage, and milk. “I am going to the craft store today for some fabric and stuff,” said their mother, “I want you guys to be on your best behavior, and you cannot leave this apartment until your chores are done.” “We did our chores yesterday,” said Davie, quietly, hoping they did not forget any usual chores. Steven looked to the ground, for this could mean more chores and less cartoons. Or worse. “Can we go to the craft store with you?” asked Davie. “You two had better not embarrass me,” said their mother. Excited, the two brothers got ready to go to the craft store with their mother.

Curiosity flowed through the two boys like warm milk. This part of town was an intriguing new world to them, even though the craft store, much larger than most average sized hardware stores, was only six blocks away. The brothers did what they could to stay out of trouble, once in the store. Walking down every aisle, nothing seemed to be too much of a surprise. The artist’s aisle was super awesome, and Davie saw many things he did not know much about. Then, however, the boys found the model car aisle.

As amazing as it was, the model cars did not even compare to what they found toward the end of the aisle. The hobby-rocket section. Amazed, the two boys inspected every rocket, some forty in number. The largest rockets were huge, five-foot tall models that took “D” cell engines. Stickers on rockets requiring a “C” engine or larger stated, “Must be 18 or Older to Purchase.”

Davie noticed an interesting rocket, while Steven proceeded to pretend-launch a small rocket by hand into the air. He decided not throw it; however, and put it back quickly, as an older woman looked over her glasses from over forty feet away.

“This one comes with a deploying parachute,” said Davie. “Wow,” said Steven, “What is the remote control for?” Davie read the package and said, “This rocket has ‘Track Finder’ technology. The remote helps you find the small plastic astronaut and his parachute, once he explodes into the air far above ground level. The little figurine uses a locator chip with a watch battery.” “Wow,” said Steven, “We’ll have to ask mom for it.”

They went and found their mother, who was making her fabric purchase before checking out with a few other items. She went with the boys to see the hobby-rocket section. I could not get you one of these today if I wanted to,” said their mother, “Unless you want this small one.” “We want the one with the track finder,” said Steven. “‘C’ cell engine,” said Davie, “It must be smaller than the ‘D’ cells.” “It’s marked 25% off,” said Steven, “$29.99 instead of the normal price of forty dollars.” “That’s another 25% off if the two of you can come up with $20,” said their mother. “Is that a promise?” asked Davie. “Sure,” she said. “Is that a double promise?” asked Steven, and asked, “How can we get the money?” “That is a double promise,” said their mother, “Maybe you can do some cleaning for the neighbors or a few things for allowance money.”

They made their way to the front of the store. Their mother finished making her purchases, and the boys did not mind not getting nothing whatsoever -they had goals, now. The following week the boys went out to the tracks to see if the train passed by everyday just before dark. It did.

“How are we going to come up with the money for that rocket?” asked Steven. “I don’t know,” said Davie, “All I have is the dime in my pocket. I’ll have to think of something.” “I wonder if the train would flatten the dime into a smooth silver streak on the rail?” asked Steven. “No,” said Davie, “The train will flatten the coin into an oval like a potato chip. I saw it in a Western.” “Can we try it?” asked Steven. “It’s no way to save money for a rocket,” said Davie, but he handed Steven the dime as they could see the train coming. Steven placed the dime heads up on the railroad track – the vibrations knocked it off twice. “Hurry,” said Davie, “The train is coming fast.

Steven placed the dime on the track one last time and it seemed to stay centered, tales up. He backed away in plenty of time to see the engine and 20 some-odd cars pass by – the boys even saw the caboose this time. They ran back up to the tracks and there was no dime. “Darn it,” said Steven. He and Davie looked around for the dime; Davie found it. “Wow,” said Steven, “It does look like a potato chip!” “You can keep it,” said Davie. “Are you sure?” asked Steven. “Yeah,” said Davie, “You’re my little bro. Let’s go. It’s already getting dark.”

The two jogged back home, ate, bathed, said their prayers with their mother, and went off to bed. The next day Steven was in the lunch line, inspecting his amazing coin. “What’s that?” asked one of his student friends. “It’s a potato-chip dime,” said Steven. “What’s it worth?” asked another boy. “I don’t know,” said Steven, “Its my lucky potato chip coin.” “Can I see it?” said a girl. “Sure,” said Steven, as he handed it to her. Amazed, the children studied the coin. “I’ll give you my lunch money for it,” said one of the boys, “Two dollars.” Steven would never take the offer, as the coin meant something to him, but he thought about the rocket. “Deal,” said Steven, and the boy handed him the two dollars for the potato chip dime. The girl took one last look at the coin and handed it to its purchaser.

Steven was now four dollars up and still about forty students back in the line from the cafeteria workers. As his new sidekick went to sit and inspect the coin incognito with some people already eating, Steven followed behind. “I’ll keep this four dollars,” thought Steven, “And I’ll get some more dimes.”

The idea was a fantastic one, indeed. Steven and his brother took the four dollars down the street that afternoon to the gas station. The teller would not change out their money for forty dimes, because they would need to make a purchase, first. “What if we let you keep two of the dimes?” asked Davie, and Steven laughed a little. He just could not guess the outcome of this proposition. “I’ll take it as a transaction,” said the old woman, playing along, “For these two dark green jawbreakers.” The boys were happy with the transaction and made it back home before dark, green tongued.

Their mother asked about their green tongues, and Davie said they got them from the gas station’s jawbreakers. With no further questions, the boys were in the clear. The three ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The following day the boys finished their homework. It was time for external activities. Both carrying a pocket full of dimes, they jogged all the way to the tracks to beat the train. The boys lined up all thirty eight dimes about two feet apart, eighteen on each rail. The train finally came along, and the boys gathered all but one of the dimes. It was getting dark, fast, and thirty-seven would have to do. On a mission, they returned home in an efficient manner.

Over the next few weeks, both of the boys sold the potato chip dimes to other students, making sure they (the other students) would keep it a secret so that the lunch money went unmentioned. Combined, they sold twenty-nine coins in ten days, and both brothers decided to keep four of the valuable potato-chip dimes. “How much does that add up to?” asked Steven, knowing Davie had already done the math. “$58,” said Davie, “Now all we have to do is give mom a story about how we got the money.” “That old man who sits by the gas station in front of the small convenience store, what if he bought us the rocket?” “Works for me,” said Davie, “We can split the change and speak with the old man when we see him.” They made it back as darkness settled in.

The next day, they finished their homework and went to the craft store and bought the rocket. The total was $32.24, so the boys had $25.76, or $12.88 a piece for piggy bank savings. Davie let Steven carry the rocket home in a large sack. Their mother, astonished.

“And just how did you two manage that?” she asked. “The old man by the store heard us talking about how we wanted that rocket so bad, and we could not figure out how to come up with the money. He did not have anyone in mind we could do chores for, but he bought it for us saying he would keep us in mind,” said Steven. Their mother’s eyes immediately met with Davie‘s, whose face went pale. “That’s true,” he said. “Well that sure was nice of that man,” said their mom. They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The next day was a Friday, so the boys would have to wait until the following day to try out the rocket. This did not stop Davie’s eagerness to read and learn, though. Upon finishing their homework, Davie and Steven opened the rocket box, keeping it intact, and Davie read the instructions. Steven, while playing with the little astronaut man, landed him on Davie‘s shoulder saying, “I have discovered the moon and have not a flag.” Davie continued to read.

The two eventually checked the contents of the box and even assembled most of the rocket. It was 2.5 feet tall and just under an inch in diameter. It came with a firing fuse connected to a twelve-foot long wire. The wire connected to a push-button box. The rocket also came with its own stand and of course the remote control device. The device showed distance in tenths of a mile and had a radar screen. Davie was concerned that batteries were not included. They were, though they were some cheap ones.

They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed, as always, reading some before bedtime. Davie liked C. S. S. Lewis and Isaac Asimov; Steven liked monster stories; and their mother, Danielle Steel. Steven asked his mother why she preferred Danielle Steel as opposed to Nora Roberts one time, and he received no response. “Probably the writing style or plot development,” said Davie, “The two authors really are different in comparison.”

It was Saturday morning, and the boys were up with their rocket before dawn. “Where are we going to launch it?” asked Steven, “A football field?” “No,” said Davie, “We’ll take it to the tracks. With any luck, the wind will be blowing towards the field on the other side of the creek, left of the ‘Other-Side Woods.'” “Those woods are creepy,” said Steven. “They are more dense,” said Davie, “That is why. Those shadows are darker because the trees block out most of the sunlight, even in the daytime. We’ll have to take the rocket in sections to the tracks in the box, and reassemble it once we are in the field with the stand.”

“Not yet you won’t,” their mother said, as she walked into the kitchen, “I want these dishes done and the carpet vacuumed before you two go anywhere today, and I’ll make us some breakfast.” Their mother did well. She was a secretary for a law firm downtown. The two boys did their chores and cleaned their rooms in order to leave. She fed them a bologna sandwich and a coke, and they assembled most of the rocket by its instructions. Then, after making sure they could go outside, they began a journey to the tracks.

They made it there early in the afternoon. “The wind just so happens to be blowing in opposite direction of the Other-Side Woods,” said Davie, “We are in luck. Not a cloud in the sky.” The boys crossed the tracks, skillfully scaled the stream, and walked for a while through the field. They found a decent clearing in the wild grass and stopped. They got the rocket together as well as its stand, and Davie handed Steven the ignition button. Stupefied, Steven asked, “I just push the button?” “No,” said Davie, securing the rocket’s fuse wire in its engine before backing up a few steps, “I’ll count down from five to monitor the atmosphere. When I say ‘One, go,‘ then press the button.” “Okay,” said Steven, and he held his right index finger over the button watching the amazing rocket with a great deal of attention.

“Five,” said Davie; he held a wet finger in the air to feel the wind. Steven admired the silver flame decals on the rocket along with its shining gloss-black cover paint. The rocket also had four small fins glued to its mid-section, and four larger fins glued perfectly to its lower end. “Four,” said Davie, cautiously awaiting the breeze to die a little, seeing nothing much about the peaceful field but a bird or two flying around eating gnats in the distance. Steven beheld the magnificent rocket, just waiting to press the button. “Three. Two.” There was no reason to wait. “One…” said Davie, “Go!”

Steven pressed the button and the fuse in the engine of the rocket ignited. The engine’s powder began to combust, and the rocket immediately shot up into the air, leaving a white, streaming cloud of smoke beneath its travel. “Wow!” exclaimed Steven, backing up a few steps to see it decrease in size as it climbed in altitude. “Will we see it explode the parachute?” asked Steven. “I think so,” said Davie, all eyes on the rocket, and so it did.

The children saw the rocket burst far above them, yet they could not see the parachuting astronaut figurine for a moment. Then, they thought they could see it for a second floating away. His (the figurine’s) locator chip activated and working properly, Davie‘s remote locator with radar display functioned properly, too. The two children walked further into the field to find the rocket. They saw it fall about eighty yards away from where they launched it.

They made it to the vicinity of the fallen rocket and Steven found it. “How far away is the astronaut?” asked Steven. Davie held his radar box in his right hand and pointed off to the left with his left hand, in about a 280˚ angle. “By the looks of this radar, he is 2.5 miles in that direction and may still be falling or in a tree,” said Davie. As he pointed into the far distance, they could see far down the tracks. The train was coming. “Let’s go back,” said Davie, “We’ll have to go find the astronaut tomorrow.” Steven handed Davie the rocket; they jogged back to the stand and got it; and ran to the tracks and crossed back over, safely. The train was still coming, so they put the rocket back in the box as they awaited its passing.

“Cannot we watch the train pass by?” asked Steven, “I want to count the cars.” It was starting to get dark, yet Davie said, “Okay.” The train “Choo-choo’d,” and the boys counted exactly twenty-two cars, including the enormous front engine, twenty boxcars, and its caboose. The caboose was highly similar to the ones they saw before; they were never not the same one. Steven volunteered to carry the box, and they made their way back.

Upon entering the woods, the sun had nearly fallen completely. Though remnants of sunlight were still aglow, nighttime shadows were among the trees, as well. “Let’s pick it up a bit,” said Davie, and the boys steadied their jog. Halfway through the woods, the two boys were making good time. So long as it was not pitch black outside, their mother would not be too disappointed.

Suddenly, Davie grabbed Steven bringing them both to a halt. He instinctively put his hand over Steven’s mouth and pointed to about thirty yards in front of them, in about a 25˚ angle. Steven could not see him at first, then flushed pale. “Is that a ghost?” whispered Steven. “I am not sure,” said Davie, “We could just jog by him, however I think he’s watching us.” “We are in the middle of the woods,” said Steven. “We’ll just walk by him and leave him be,” said Davie, thinking it was about the best they could do.

“No need to walk by me,” said the figure, standing right before them all of a sudden. This really freaked Davie out. “Who are you?” asked Steven, courageously, sensing the figure may not be of harm to them. “I am Death,” said the tall, handsome man. The man gleamed in the shadows of dusk, a pastel purple and white gleam, much like an angel. “We must be getting back, kind sir,” said Davie. “Oh sure,” said Death, “I know your mother is waiting. There is something you may want to know, though.” “Which is?” asked Steven. “There is a homeless man down by the tracks, about twenty feet on the other side of where you guys crossed over before shooting off your amazing rocket. He has only moments to live. That is why I am here.” “What can we do?” asked Davie. “If you manage to get a glass of water to him before he passes, he may be able to make it.”

The three ran to the apartment complex and Death waited outside. Steven brought the box to his room, and Davie hurried to get a glass of water while their mother was taking a bath. The two left and met up with Death. They jogged all the way back to the tracks by moonlight and found the dying man as he lay a ways away from the tracks on his back. Davie checked his pulse while Steven tried to get the man to drink some water. The man had a pulse, yet Steven had to open his mouth gently to pour in some water.

The plan did not go so well. The man’s eyes closed, he breathed a slight breath. He did not swallow the water. Steven closed the man’s mouth. The man died. Davie and Steven backed away from the corpse as the old man’s flesh flushed pale. The man’s spirit rose from his body, and he beheld the presence of Death. At first his draw dropped, however the old man figured out upon whom he was gazing. Death held out his hand, and the homeless man took his hand.

The boys watched as Death and the ghost of a homeless man walked hand in hand down the railroad tracks towards the moon. Steven wondered why they were not able to save the old man and wished the man swallowed the water. Death turned and spoke over his shoulder, “At least you tried, Steven,” and the two men carried on. There appeared to be a form of a doorway a long ways down the tracks. “Let’s go,” said Davie. “What about the body?” asked Steven. “We’ll tell mom he’s here,” said Davie, and the two made their way back into the dark woods.

Upon entering the apartment their mother was in the kitchen organizing things. “Mom,” said Steven, before she could ask them anything, “We found a dead man down by the train tracks.” Their mother called the authorities. The authorities found the man and asked the children a few questions. The man received a proper burial, was in the obituaries of the town paper.

It was a few days before the boys went back to the tracks to find their astronaut. It took them some time and hiking to get to it; however, with a deal of effort and a smidgen of luck, Davie was able to locate the little man and his parachute in a tree. They brought it back home, made it there before dark. They all ate, cleaned, and read for a while before turning in.

Brief Afterward

This story was inspired from the first part of Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”. If he reads this story, I hope he enjoys it, as I could not resist writing out this idea. I finished reading his book and gave it a review, which can be found on jcm3blog I found his book to be a suitable collection of prose. I would have waited to write this story upon my completion of the book, however the story came to me and I just did not want to put it off or forget it, lest it never exist. We all know of those thousands of ideas we have that may never make it to paper; I usually write the best ones of my mind in a notebook. Learn more about Stephen King on stephenking.com (which the diamond above links to) or by clicking on the double-diamonds below for his wiki page. I enjoyed this story and hope all who read it do, too. Indeed, “Long live the King.”

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A Post for The Drabble

“The Drabble” is a popular blog and many people take part in it. Recently, they liked one of my posts/stories as they have, before (“The Story of Mathias Wizandar”). The seemingly most important rule behind a Drabble is to write  a story in one hundred words or less. For us lovers of poetry and flash fiction, it is one of those exciting ways/places we can express ourselves efficiently as writers, and prove that it is not so difficult, after all, to write a story that meets literary qualifications in so few words.

I have never submitted a Drabble until now (send one here 🙂 ). I sent the last one-hundred word story I crafted to “Reader’s Digest”. It was not accepted for publication, yet I thought others might find it humorous. It was about a time when I accidentally felt the leg of a woman who I thought was my girlfriend; it was her sister. At any rate, here is a photo of a candle (please, pardon my amateur photography) and a kind of summary of “The Story of Mathias Wizandar” in the form of a semi-poetic Drabble.

To Light A Candle

As a Christian, Mathias endured thoughts of the use of magic for decades. Dedicated to his work, he stayed single yet happened upon a young woman in a bookstore while dreaming of fantastic, goldenly magical, shadowed forest glades. He read a spell book she sold to him and considered its prose, held his hands above a candle while speaking a spell to watch the heat of its light dissipate surrounding shadows.

The rhyming may have seemed cheesy, yet I think the summary was there, and it was fun to do something spur-of-the-whim. “Goldenly” was a quick neologism, I cannot imagine how many words may have been better, yet I sometimes dream of dark forests with trees that drip glowing gold from their leaves and attribute those ideas largely to H. P. Lovecraft, especially if there is a big tomb there with a man reading about fantastic worlds besides a casket.

I usually like to craft a good plot with an outline and re-think it to a more valuable idea, write out a draft and revise it, then polish it until I think an editor somewhere may want it. That all takes time, yet we, as writers, have our hopes and goals. Thank you for reading this post; I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

The Story of Mathias Wizandar

His hands were shaking with sweat as he made his way in the darkness to the sink. An extraordinary man, Mathias’s previous notions had proven accurate. These next few lines mention his story.

His original name was Bob Smith, a horrifyingly common name. He did not mind his name much, enjoyed meeting other Bob Smiths into his early thirties. A Christian man, Bob had obtained an associate’s degree and left college to pursue the life of a paralegal, averaging between fourteen and twenty-four thousand a year. He lived alone, as most women he dated were either greedy for money, too overly controlling, or simply non-monogamous.

During Bob’s studies as an undergraduate, he studied various religions within one of his classes. Attending a Bible college, the more non-traditional belief systems of various cultures around the globe seemed to appeal to him. He liked the idea of Buddhism; mainly, the notion of pursuing a nothingness to achieve enlightenment.

During his many years working as a paralegal, Bob worked hard hours and saved and pursued two activities other than attending church once a week. One of those activities involved working for his brother-in-law, who ran a construction firm, on Saturday mornings. The pay was decent, yet the physical labor was what he enjoyed and also why he held the second job.

His other activity was painting. He painted obscure images of fantastical nature to impress both himself and others that may gaze upon his works, eventually got into oils and began to sell his paintings online. Of course, he saved his money from these sales and put it back into more painting supplies and material for study. Eventually, a studio.

By the age of forty, Bob had his own place for painting and politely took a permanent vacation from his law firm with a suitable retirement plan. It was understood that he could return to his legal services at any time; he may even consider studying to pass the bar exam, eventually.

Bob was of the mind to dream, consider possibilities, and pursue what intrigued him most. His paintings were selling and the rent for his studio was low; he decided to take it a little easier on his forty-first birthday and gave up construction work, at least temporarily.

There was something pressing on Bob’s mind. He enjoyed reading and writing, usually read some form of fantasy, sci-fi, or horror story before bedtime. The horror stories usually did not scare him; he enjoyed analyzing the grammatical style of prose and considering what caused fear to occur in the mind of a work’s reader. He had noticed that the spiritual realm was not just some hoax; it was there. He saw or sensed spirits all the time, did not let these occurrences distract his Christian beliefs.

Growing up, Bob was taught, as a Christian, to stay away from ‘occultic’ study. He had always wondered; however, why would practitioners of magic chose an afterlife of doom for rewards on Earth? There simply had to be a justifiable temptation. “One way or the other,” thought Bob, “I am, at least, going to consider the study of magic.”

On one cloudy, breezy, cloud-cast, and relaxing Saturday afternoon, Bob decided to jog across town to the local bookstore to check out anything he could find on practicing magic. After all, what could it hurt? Wouldn’t certain notions further found him in his Christian beliefs? Though many clergymen would most certainly disagree, he made the jog over to the bookstore.

He found a great many books, many of which seemed overpriced or fancy yet not necessarily what he was after. He picked up a book on how to light candles with spells, calmly grinning to himself in wonder of said possibility. He flipped through the book quickly so as not to catch the eye of a worker; Bob was no freeloader, that was for sure. On the back of the book there were references to other books and a website that sold them. He memorized the website; put the book back; quickly jotted down the site in a small address book; and made his way to the magazine section towards the front of the store.

He spent little time looking through the magazines and selected one on modern painting with oils and other mediums. Bob brought the magazine to the counter, purchased it along with a grape-peach Snapple, and headed home.

Once home he spent about an hour going through the magazine and admired the paintings and various techniques he did and did not know of, before. Of course, the site he had written down seemed to be jumping around in his pocket in need of attention. He looked the site up on the web with a search engine and found hundreds of sites with books on spirituality, healing, and witchcraft.

Bob made sure to check out the site he had written down first and also browsed through the top five most visited sites found with the search. Of the books he saw, he finally found one that seemed to appeal to him the most, which happened to be on the site he had written down. It was a basic history of witchcraft, how to become a Wiccan priest, and basic practices with spells and the acknowledgement of various Sabats (which he eventually thought of as witch Sundays that seemed to occur at least one hundred days a year).

Bob ordered the book and continued with the arduous work involved in painting and selling his art. The book came in about a week later and he read twenty to sixty pages of it a night until he had completed the text. He was not too keen on burning incense, drinking wine, or dancing around naked with witches, yet he learned a few things that satisfied his curiosities.

Bob then found his dilemma. He was sure he would have to denounce his Christianity in order to fully pursue the virtues and goodwill of Wiccan order. He thought about it for a few weeks as he was painting landscapes overcast with floating geometric objects and made a form of lukewarm decision. He would study and sometimes practice rituals without actually denouncing his original beliefs. The spirits near him seemed to be watching him patiently, waiting to help him achieve whatever goals he was really after.

It dawned on Bob that there was an occultic bookstore not too far away, one day, and he jogged over there on another Saturday afternoon. Seemingly odd, Bob was not even after new text. He was after council, and he found it.

Bob cautiously entered the modest store; small bells chimed as a young woman was behind a counter. A faint smell of books and a small cherry-scented candle emanated within the stores shadows. “May I help you?” asked Melany. “I am in search of a basic text for those just beginning to study magic,” replied Bob politely.

Melany blushed and looked to the side and said, “Well, kind sir, we have a few of those here.” She walked over to a shelf and pointed out her favorite one to Bob. He sensed a second presence behind the counter. There were a few copies of the text and they seemed reasonably priced, so he selected one and thanked her. She checked her watch and noticed that it was nearly time for her to go. About the same time, Bob looked over to the counter to see a tall, handsome man, obviously in his golden years.

“May I go, sir?” asked Melany. “Sure,” said the man. Melany said that it was nice to meet Bob and to have a nice day. She gathered a few of her things, put on her sunglasses, and flew out the front door to make it in time for her favorite show.

Bob carefully made his way to the counter, curiously wondering just how intelligent the man must be. “Friend of Melany’s?” inquired the man. “No sir,” replied Bob, “Not until just now, I suspect. My name is Bob Smith.” “A common name.” “Right, I have considered changing it for some time, have not really come up with anything.”

The book still in Bob’s hands, the man said, “Why not Mathias Wizandar? It seems to suit your pursuits.” “Well then,” said Mathias, “I will go by that. What, may I ask, might you go by?” “Call me Tom; I am a wizard with many names in many places.” “I sensed your presence,” admitted Matt, and Tom nodded in understanding.

After a moment, Matt realized that there were a great many things for him to learn and proceeded to pay Tom for the book. “No questions?” asked Tom. “I honestly have no doubt in your capability,” replied Matt quietly. “When your questions arise, and I am sure they will, feel free to come here or give me a ring.” Tom handed Matt a business card who read and held it for a moment as if it was some unknown living creature.

The address on the card was to a large estate on the outskirts of town. “Will do. I am, as you may know, an artistic painter.” Matt carefully handed Tom his own business card which included his website and contact info. “I have some time on Saturdays if you need any help with the upkeep of your estate.” “Will do,” said Tom with a grin. Matt thought he saw his business card float into the pocket of the wizard yet discounted the notion, shook the wizard’s hand, and said it was nice to meet him and thanked him for the book, and departed.

Mathias, while jogging back, constantly reminded himself of how real the spiritual world and the power of magic must really be. Upon his return, he settled in, ate, and set back in his chair to start reading his new book. His spiritual surroundings seemed excited and watched his every move. Matt read the table of contents and glossed over the index. Even given all of the spells, practices, and rituals of the first book on witchcraft he read, which seemed to him to be a kind of a documentary, Bob found one spell that seemed to be a fun thing to try out before turning in.

The spell involved a simple thanks to a god and goddess, a candle centered within a circle drawn with charcoal, and two short poetic chants spoken with words in semblance to each other. One poem would light the candle, and the other the opposite. This would surely be no challenge for Mathias, the notation below the chant mentioned, “First and foremost, you must believe.”

Matt changed into bedtime clothes, found a thin, blank square of wood, and drew a charcoal circle. He retraced it a few times so the medium was thick. Matt then dug out a tea candle from a bag of them he had purchased while the lights were out due to a storm. He lay the book open by the circle, relaxed, held his hands above the candle, and whispered the first poem.

At first nothing happened, yet he held his hands above the candle, and it slowly came aflame. He watched it only briefly, ignoring his amazement, and glanced over to the book. He read the ‘de-cantation’ poem verbatim with his hands still held up, and the small flame slowly faded away.

By then, dusk had turned to night, and it was totally dark, with seemingly no one around. He felt a peace in the darkness, yet, in only a few moments, thought he heard someone thinking. “You know,” the voice said, “If you raise and lower your hand over the candle I will change the height of the flame.” Matt, at first, thought the notion to be crazy, that, surely, he had better things to do with his time.

Mathias courageously held his right hand above the candle and raised and lowered it, as its flame not only rekindled yet rose tall or fell short upon his motions. What seemed fun at first scared him in only a few moments. He sat back startled, the flame assumed its natural height, and, after taking a deep breath and exhaling, Mathias Wizandar made his way to the kitchen sink to wash his perspiring hands. These words may seem to conclude Mathias’s story, yet, as it may be no surprise, they are simply the beginning.

Timothy’s Magic Kite

Once upon a time, a boy endured a fulfilling Friday both in April and in the third grade. During recess, he noticed how windy it was, as children played joyfully, some swaying to and fro on swings. During the bus ride home, he thought to himself, “Man, if I would have had a kite I could have flown it a hundred feet in the air on the first try.”

At the dinner table that evening, young Tim kept cautious with his manners, as if it were no common phenomenon. Upon a what seemed like a four-year wait to speak, he said, “It would have been a nice afternoon to fly a kite, today.” “Maybe if you promise to do some yard work tomorrow your father will take you to the store and buy you a kite to fly on Sunday,” proposed his mother. “I have no problem with doing some yard work,” knew Tim to refrain from objecting to, “I have always wanted to build a kite, though.”

“If you want,” said his father, “And I do plan on sleeping in tomorrow morning, you can try to build one with the slim dowels I have in the garage I usually use for cooking barbecue. Those and some left-over fabric from your mother should get you going.” Tim’s father glanced to his loving wife, and she said, “Oh sure, Honey, I have a sack of extra fabric for quilting in the side closet you are welcome to.”

Tim thought about it; he almost did not want to make the kite, simply because they said he could, wondered of his own mind. He noticed they did not again mention yard duty. “Okay if I try to make the kite tonight and sweep up the leaves in the morning?” “Sure,” said his father, “And, as the weather will probably permit, we can go to the park and fly your new kite tomorrow afternoon.” Young Tim was so excited he nearly left before eating the hamburger steak and mashed potatoes before him, as he had made sure to eat the lemon-butter broccoli first. There would have been no getting away with skipping out on that. Even if vegetables were not his usual first choice, the broccoli was not so bad, after all.

The meal was great and Tim politely relayed this information to his mom and thanked her and proceeded to the garage. He found the yard-long barbies and broke and tied them into a rectangular box-like structure just like he saw on a TV show one time that involved Japanese origami kites. He went and found some scissors and the fabric and went back into the garage. Young Timothy selected the most beautiful fabric, two separate partial sheets. One was dark orange with small green and yellow flowers; the other sheet was bright orange-yellow with purple and blue flowers resembling birds of paradise.

Fully constructed, Tim brought the magnificent kite to his bedside, as it was nearing 10 pm. His brother and his sister were already asleep; Tim went and checked on his parents before saying his prayers and turning in with his amazing new kite by his bedside. In the middle of the night, Tim awoke and could have sworn he saw his kite floating a foot above the ground, as if it were dreaming of being in the sky. The boy discounted the notion. Surely he was dreaming; he went back to sleep until just before daybreak.

Upon dawn, Tim marveled over the kite as if he had never seen it before, totally impressed with its construction, durability, and overall aesthetics. He left it there; showered and changed; brushed his teeth; ate a biscuit and drank some juice; and proceeded to go sweep the leaves.

A chore it was, for the wind was strong and nearly constant. Timothy swept the entire yard, five sacks full of leaves in total. It was noon and his mother called him in for a bologna sandwich and glass of milk. She thanked him for sweeping up the yard, commending his efforts. His father woke up, showered and changed, ate, and inspected Tim’s kite. “Impressive construction,” said Walter, Tim’s father. “Thank you,” said Tim, and they drove with the kite to the park, telling Mrs. Wellington “Goodbye, I love you, and we’ll be back soon.” She waved and blew them kisses as they departed.

The park was gently lit by the afternoon sun and puffy scattered clouds of its sky blue atmosphere. Adults and children played about. Some played catch, others tag, and the rest other games or picnicked. There were sunbathers and card players, nonchalant people existing in a happy joy. Tim and his father made a lengthy walk to a large field in the back of the park. They did not know if the thick string they brought would suffice to fly the kite, yet they planned to take their chances.

Tim and Walter stood about thirty-five yards apart from each other, the wonderful kite in Walter’s hands, his eyes on Tim. Tim assessed the flow of wind, deemed it an adequate constant for their endeavors. “Do you have a good hold on the string?” asked Tim’s father. “I think I have it.” “I will count to three and throw it into a rising gust.” “Okay.”

Walter counted slowly aloud to three and, while allowing the kite to catch the drag of the wind, slowly let it go to float into the air. An astonishing amusement to young Tim, the kite (possibly magical) rose from ground level and climbed in the wind with semi-chaotic grace. Tim pulled left then right, carefully, and guided the kite into the air, higher and higher, until it was about twenty yards above the ground. “Let out some string,” called Walter, and Tim carefully let string from his hands, about six inches at a time. The flying kite amazed Walter. “We got it up there,” he exclaimed. Tim was happy and impressed, too, and saw to it that he got the kite to about fifty yards above the ground before keeping it there in close to the same position.

Many could see the kite swaying gently far above the field, and Walter began walking back to Tim. “The wind is getting stronger,” said Tim, using his strength to hold the string; “The string may break.” “Keep hold of it,” said Walter, as he was walking back to Tim, eyes on the kite. Tim wrapped the string around his hands to hold it well; his father would be there any second to take hold of the line. Just as Tim felt confident he could keep the kite in the air and the line from breaking, his feet left the ground.

Walter saw Tim lifting into the air and dove to catch him. Walter hit the ground belly first, and Tim floated higher into the air. “Let go of the string,” said Walter, but Tim held on to it. By the time he could have unwound his hands, he would be over twenty feet above the ground. The kite rose into the wind, as did Tim. Walter panicked and ran to his car, only to notice he locked the keys inside.

“Hey mister,” said a young woman with a pink Volkswagen Beetle, “Hop in and we’ll follow him if we can.” Walter ran over and got into her car, as Tim soared high above them in a direction away from the park, towards the city.

Tim looked down; the breeze up there was nice. “It might kill me to see it,” thought Tim, “But this is a wonderful view of our city.” Tim could see entire residential neighborhoods, city blocks, industrial buildings, and the cars looked thumb-sized. The wind carried him on.

The young woman happened to be an excellent driver; she and Walter followed Timothy right out of the city, who was beginning to appreciate the beauty of the outskirts of town. Mostly under-developed farmland with the occasional brook, small cabin, or herd of cows, Tim tried to appreciate the view and his many blessings in life the best he could. “Dear Lord,” prayed Tim, “Please, help me land safely.”

At that very instant, as Tim was looking down into a puffy white cloud and barely able to see a field of trees below, he began to slowly descend. The driver’s name was Molly. She and Walter watched in relief, as Tim was appearing to descend and the string and kite seemed to still be intact. Tim was headed for what looked like a hundred-year-old oak tree. He descended gracefully and landed in the lower bushy limbs of the tree. Safely.

Within moments, Walter ran to his son, picked him up and embraced him, thanking the Lord above for his son’s well-being. Tim hugged his father who placed him on the ground. He shook Molly’s hand and thanked her, too. “You are one lucky child,” remarked Molly, “And that is an impressive kite.” “Thank you,” said Tim, “Cool car,” and Walter gave Molly some gas money, as they went with the kite to the pink Beetle.

They put the kite in the back seat for a relaxing ride back into the sunset falling behind their town. After some while, Molly pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. “What now?” wondered both Walter and Tim. “Is it just me or is the kite in the back seat floating in the air?” asked Molly. “It’s magic,” said Tim, and Walter kept his eyes on the road. “Oh,” said Molly, “Okay,” and she proceeded to drive on down the farm road to the park.

Once back, Walter thanked Molly and called his wife for car keys, and he and Tim drove home with the kite. Tim secretly thanked the Lord above for answering his prayers, and everyone lived happily ever after. Tim would never forget his times with his wonderful, magical kite.

My First Hip Hop Poem

I totally love music, art, and writing. Even poetry. There is nothing more rewarding than celebrating the beauty our language can posses within our own human limitations and sometimes even otherwise. As a songwriter, I usually enjoy writing heavy metal lyrics, as I am currently attempting to learn to play the guitar better, or more or less, the right way.

I have a couple of friends that spend part of their time attempting to produce music professionally, both can sell tracks and beats to lyricists. While I enjoy rhyming and the common notion of being grateful for being able to, I usually do not ‘wrap’ or ‘flow’ on often occasion, even if I think it is fun to do.

Nevertheless, I good friend of mine in CO who I enjoy playing chess with via the ChessWithFriends phone app, asked me to share with him a hip-hop poem. Six months ago. I told him I had no current song book but was into poetry and meter, ect. Recently, he purchased some new equipment to get his sound lab closer to what he wants it to be, a seemingly costly venture for him during these times. I am happy for him and his new female acquaintance and his dog, Blue, and hope the best for their future. He asked once more for a rhyme, even though he free-flows in front of crowds, DJs, synthesizes and mixes music, ect.

So, here is what I sent him. The shot out is for a female lyricist  heard within the Viper 2017 Drum and Bass collection found on Amazon; I like The Chemical Bros and Aphrodite…

“Gotta Love That Drum and Bass”

When I hear a good beat, I let the lyrics flow,
Listen’n ’cause there’s a rhythm, in much of the soul;
Only one way to the top, and it is understood,
cannot keep a man down, when he’s know’n he is good;
goodness to others, and love to all,
leading by principle, to watch the evil fall;
things that made her, passion and persistence,
shot out to her, a master of an instance;
chaotic forms of bedazzlement and light,
can a beat move a soul? there are those who say it might;
hip hop is fun when the gangstas be good,
listen’n to the rhythms, while I stroll through the hood;
love that drum and bass, ’cause the sounds keep me go’n,
movements of this hall always keep our blood-a flow’n.

peace – jcm3blog 🙂

A Man at the Bank

There once was a beautiful teller at a bank. She was always presentable and, without a doubt, totally attractive to many. Her name? Forea. Of course, people always asked of the origins of her name; she usually said it was Nordic.

Forea kept considerable track of her customers, not always for her own curiosity, but usually to provide the best banking services for them. Mentioning new account types and investment possibilities usually meant increases in pay for her. These things were routine.

Most of Forea’s customers were overly presentable and cleanly with their fashion. Each with a highly unusual character, they often seemed to her to be what Grammy award winners might look like in person. There was one customer; however, he came in once a month, always on the twentieth.

Mr. Murphy was his name. He often came into the bank in a white, green, dark green, or black suit. If not a suit, he, at least, dressed above “business casual.” She knew he had red hair and pale skin, totally unique attributes that would qualify him for one of her oil painting attempts.

Despite his unique attire, there was one thing that Forea simply could not figure out. All of her customers wore unique attire. Mr. Murphy, however, usually came to the bank for one reason, and that was to trade five golden coins into his USD account. This way his monthly transaction was to convert gold coins to cash. Forea wanted to know why.

She decided to ask him one day. It was the twentieth, she woke up early and got ready for work early and made it on time, as always. About mid-morning, to know surprise, Mr. Murphy walked through the huge glass doors installed in the front of the bank with a white shirt and green silk tie.

Forea gladly accepted the five gold coins and completed the transaction, as always. Barely having the time and the nerve to ask Mr. Murphy a question upon his departure, said Forea, “May I ask you something?” “Well, sure,” replied Mr. Murphy with a grin. There was no aspect of Forea that was not beautiful. “Why do you always come in on the twentieth to change in exactly five golden coins?” she asked. Said Mr. Murphy, “Well, for one, I am a leprechaun.”

Fuzz

The above is a photo of a 70’s style fuzz distortion pedal I put together. It is the most simple circuit I found on the web for a “diy” distortion pedal; there are many more circuits that are very complicated compared to this one. It sounds great. I figured out how to add an led as well as switching for bypass, which means I can play with it plugged in and choose between having fuzz distortion or not. It is a “Bazz Fuss” pedal.

Of the three switches, one connects the two jacks together and the other two turn on/off the 9v power supply (one on “+” and one on “-“). The knob is for volume. I did not add a tone knob, because tone knobs on other pedals I have experimented with did not change the sound enough to further complicate the circuit. I realize I currently have minimal knowledge of electronic circuits; I am a beginner with these notions. The three wires in the photo are the 9v wire and two 1/4” cables, one to the guitar (in) and the other to the amp (out).

Here are two video links to see how this same kind of pedal is made:  fuzz1 fuzz2. To make your own fuzz pedal, watch these videos to draw out the circuit and write down the components. You may want to check out mammoth for components if you are interested in making a pedal. A very large selection of components can be found from mouser. For dozens of awesome “diy” pedal kit options/circuits, check out guitarpcb. There is even a Pink Floyd jet pedal on that site. For the best price on an excellent temperature controlled soldering station, I suggest this one. Mine works great and heats to 300 degrees in under thirty seconds (just like it says on the box). The last three soldering irons I have used and owned do not even compare to the above mentioned soldering station, and one can even order replacement tips for it. I like the tip that looks like a cone. There are also many pedal kits, even if more common, on Amazon.

 

 

Below is the circuit  I put together and tested before deciding whether I would put it in an enclosure. I found the 1/4″ jacks for the guitar cables on Amazon.

Obviously, one would not want to build an enclosure for a circuit that does not work. This was the third circuit I tried to make for a distortion pedal and the first one that worked. I may solder together a more complicated one eventually; however, for now, I plan to spend some time with my writing and learning to play the guitar better.

If you watched the videos and looked up “fuzz pedal circuits” on bing, you will notice that the circuit above utilizes a 9v power supply. I added the three switches on my own, as well as the blue led and 470 ohm resistor. First, I added the one (switch) that connects the two jacks’ negatives, for bypass. It only worked when I unplugged the power supply, so I added the other two switches in order to be able to have it plugged in and also off, to play without distortion.

As it is, I can turn the two 9v switches on and the jack connection off to play with fuzz distortion, and turn the switches the opposite for ‘near’ true bypass (it is hard to notice any distortion when it is configured for bypass).

The circuit above may look all sprawled out. It was, and I figured out how to get the led and bypass working (which took about a week due to the small amount of time I put into it, daily) before I chose to clip the wires and shorten/bend them and re-solder the circuit. It would need to be smaller to fit into a box. I played with it; it worked; I was happy; and I decided it was good enough for a halfway descent wooden enclosure. I chose a triangular box structure idea with a light in the middle of it. It would have walnut corners and birdseye maple sides, top, and bottom.

The photo above is of the wood before I sawed it out, as well as the circuit as it was before I made it smaller. The isosceles triangle in the photo is the piece of Plexiglas I sawed out for the light. The led is bright, and the triangle does a fine job of both adding some to the looks of the box as well as dimming the light just enough.

When I bent/clipped the wiring and de-soldered certain connections in order for it to fit correctly in the enclosure, I accidentally soldered it back together wrong. It did not work, and it was not encouraging. I took a break from it for a while and then checked the circuit diagram I drew from the videos on YouTube. I found the problem and re-soldered the connection, and it worked. I used solder from RadioShack, the kind that is shiny.

For the record, the components I used are not exactly the same as in the videos. They are close enough; it works. I would suggest getting the exact components mentioned in the videos; anything else besides those may or may not work. Some components are interchangeable and some are not. The resistor is; I decided to go with a 100k resistor (the one for the circuit, not the extra one on the led) instead of a 10k, because the 10k kept giving out halfway through guitar notes. In order for it to work the best, I keep the guitar and the pedal turned up all the way, and the amp’s volume turned down to 2.2 or so. It is, as they said in the videos, a very loud pedal. It is best to have the volume all the way down on the amp when you first plug in the pedal.

The above photo is of the enclosure and the circuit. During the time of this photo, the circuit was not working; I did not have the bypass switches wired the right way, yet. Of course one could more easily add a bypass to this circuit with toggle switches; however, I did not have any and was anxious to complete the project. Here is a link to those wonderfully nostalgic power supply switches. Here is one for toggles. The copper wire I used is 24 gauge and I found it on Amazon. It can pick up radio wave interference without the enclosure, and does, so I recommend using red and black insulated wire instead.

The wood did not take me too long to saw out and sand, and I used clearcoat polyurethane on it instead of a stabilization process.

Here is a photo of the circuit after I got it working again.

You can see that the light is on. I used a liquid wood filler to correct the holes I drilled into the top of it for the 9v switches. In my design, I did not make enough room for the potentiometer and the switches, so I had to redo how I had it originally drawn. I was happy that it worked again and plan to practice chords and scales with it.

Here is a photo of the enclosure after I got the neodymium rare-earth magnets in it.

The magnets are not installed to perfection; however, they are close to it. I am impressed with the luck I had in getting them at least as close to perfectly placed as I did. I used a piece of paper to make a stencil to get them lined up right, and drilled their holes and fit them with superglue.

Was the project over? After days and days of working on it in the afternoons? No. The circuit worked great; it did everything I wanted it to do. The bottom of the enclosure fit great to the rest of the pedal. So what could have ‘possibly’ been wrong with the final project? The jacks. They bumped up against the side of the triangular box, so the cables would not connect properly when inserted. I solved the problem with a whittling tool, which means there is an extra hole in one side of the enclosure. Does it really matter? Not really, because it works great and does not really look too bad.

The tiny holes in the sides of it are for heat-release. The circuit does not really get too hot, yet I figured it a descent notion to not seal it air tight. Light does not really come out of those little holes. Even though the box is made of wood and is highly flammable, I do not intend on having it on and plugged in for a long time. If it starts smoking, I’ll unplug it. If it starts a fire, I will put it out with an extinguisher or a large wet towel. I’ve already played with it for over an hour; the circuit does not really get hot. I do recommend aluminum enclosures for building pedals; many kits come with those kinds of enclosures.

So, that is my fuzz pedal. I have spent the last few months revising my first collection of stories for a second edition of “Acoloftals”. The new edition is highly similar to the first one and includes a complete revision of this story; I made at least thirty necessary changes to the text and have revised it entirely twice, so far. That is what kept me from putting more stories on my blog, time-wise. Once it is done, I plan to write a screenplay. Here is the photo of the pedal in its distortion setting, one more time. It sounds just like the pedals in the videos. Total hard metal.

Thank you for visiting jcm3blog and have a nice day.

Thoughts on “A More Healthy Beat”

I wrote “A More Healthy Beat” for one reason -the ending. In reading about how to write stories, I often come across the same concepts more than one time. Advice for dialogue is almost always redundant, mentioning things like, “Characters should not utilize entire sentences, one character should not go on and on all the time, written dialogue presents more clarity than most every-day conversation,” ect…

Literature on writing stories always mentions plot, character, and setting development, as well as other techniques. One thing I have noticed in some of the more preferable stories that I have read was an abrupt, humorous or witty conclusion. This technique is advised by some as a near necessity for crafting stories. For this reason, I wrote this one.

I’m writing out this post; however, for another reason. Though a humorous conclusion is often applauded and enjoyed by many readers, I at times wonder if a more developed denouement is a far better choice from a literary perspective. It seems to me a simple joke or humorous play on words could be simply that, and a story should not have to include such an ending to be seen as more preferable than other stories.

To each their own, I say, on this. If you have a good idea for a story, write it out. If you can think of some form of in-depth or ironic conclusion and are worried the story may sound like a shallow joke, go ahead and write it anyway. Chances are someone will enjoy it, and you can further develop more in-depth concepts for better ideas afterwards.

Thank you for reading. 🙂

A More Healthy Beat

The night was cool and crisp and the weather was nasty. A tunneling mist blew leaves in front of the two officers, in front of an eighty-year-old street lamp in front of them. The night was also very dark in the woods across the way, except from part of the light of the street lamp. Noting the nostalgia of the old street light, the female officer looked up to its salmon glow to see its metal curls turned green from mild surface corrosion.

“Nice street lamp,” said Officer Lilac, the female, with a sniffle.

“Nice, indeed,” said Officer Attens, a large male police officer who was also her partner, “I am going into the small shop behind us to get us a coffee.”

“Okay.”

Officer Attens entered the small store, as Officer Lilac endured the scenery. They were used to policing various areas of town on foot, usually bringing in criminals during nocturnal hours.

Within moments, Officer Attens returned with a small package in his pocket and two cups of steaming coffee with sugar and creamer added.

“Thank you,” said Officer Lilac.

“No problem,” said Officer Attens, handing her her cup of coffee. He then proceeded to pull out the small package.

“What’s in the package?” asked Officer Lilac.

“The cashier said the coffee was complementary. I thought it was the uniform. He said it was complementary so long as I made a purchase. So, I killed to birds with one stone.”

“How so?”

“Well, I got us both a coffee, and I got you this.”

Officer Attens handed Officer Lilac a package of allergy lozenges.

“Why thank you,” said Officer Lilac, “I was starting to get a sniffle. What possessed you to get these for us?”

Officer Attens chuckled and said, “I am of the mind that we should be catching criminals, not colds.”