The Sureshot Rises

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The cold mountain air bit at the faces of two men as they crept silently toward a young, unsuspecting buck nibbling on some roots. Without any sound, they inched their way closer to the animal. Durbar, a young man of fifteen, watched his father, Adar, very carefully, and mimicked his movements; ever striving to be the great woodsman his father was.

The large man stopped suddenly and so did his son. He slowly reached for his giant long bow and gently pulled out an arrow from the quiver on his back. The woodsman quickly inspected the arrow to ensure there was no damage to the fletching, notched it and stood up slowly and carefully. His black cloak concealed him in the dark, dense forest. The hunter drew back the string of his mighty bow until it touched his bearded cheek. Holding absolutely steady, he loosed the arrow. The missile twisted slightly as it sailed through the still air, flying past massive trees until finding the unsuspecting buck. The arrow struck the animal’s side, piercing his heart. Stunned and now struggling to cling to life, the buck tried to stumble away, but did not get far. 

Adar leapt to his feet as the arrow struck its mark. He raced toward the animal and pulled a dagger from his belt. The powerful man jumped upon the terrified buck and dragged his dagger across its throat. The animal collapsed, kicked one last time and then was still. The woodsman rose and stood over his kill, smiling at his son who was admiring his father’s prowess from a distance.

     “Great shot, Father. You hit him right in the heart,” the young man beamed.

“Of course, Son, you don’t want to hit him just anywhere and let him run off. That only makes more work for yourself.”

“I know, Father,” smiled Durbar, having heard that lesson at least a hundred times before.

Sureshot the King

From today’s writing…

Vorfar kicked some dirt and paced to a tree then committed further acts of violence upon it. 

Maklar gritted his teeth then pulled his ax from his back. He gripped it so tightly that his knuckles turned white and his muscles strained under his tunic; filled with rage and frustration. 

In a moment of pure white anger, Maklar began to swing his ax as quickly as a bat flaps its wings in desperation to remain airborne. Maklar hacked at the boards that mended the hole in the wall and the dirt that filled it. In massive swooping motions the blade of his weapon struck his static foe, sending dirt and splinters flying in all directions. 

The axeman, no longer interested in stealth grunted and growled as he swung again and again blasting a growing opening where he expected to easily slip under the wall. 

Vorfar looked about for guards on the walls but none were in sight. He considered trying to reason with Maklar; to scold him for being so reckless, but as he peered into the cloud of dust and noted the beastial noise his companion was making, he knew there was no stopping him. Instead, he scouted the wall for signs of danger. 

“Just hurry!” Vorfar encouraged. 

Maklar heard the words but was lost in the fury. Again and again his ax rained down on the obstruction. Before long the wood that blocked his path surrendered and was left in splintered pieces littered about the Madman’s feet. 

After just a couple furious minutes, Maklar stepped back to observe his work. He breathed deeply, and the air filled with dirt made him cough. Sweat dripped from his brow and he held his ax loosely in one hand as it leaned against his hip; satisfied in its work. 

“Good,” he exhaled. “They were lazy. They didn’t fill the hole. Just covered it.”

Vorfar approached and inspected the hole. With just a little digging it seemed easily passable. 

“Forgive me for my doubt, friend. I was wrong to criticize you. But let us hurry into the city, lest your efforts be discovered shall we?” 

“That was the whole point, after all. After you,” Maklar smiled. 

Vorfar nodded then, after scooping some dirt and removing the bits of remaining wood, crawled on his belly under the wall and into the city. Maklar followed immediately after. 

“Easy, just like I said it would be,” snorted Maklar. 

Vorfar merely clapped him on the back, which created a poof of dirt then turned to find their destination. 

Crying over school work

Cry cry cry child

You’re not getting out

You must stay here and work

Every lesson counts

I don’t care if you hate it

I don’t care if it’s hard

If it really does kill you

I’ll write a sympathy card

For though you’d rather not

And you think it’s dumb

Many things are good for us

That aren’t exactly fun

It’s when we push ourselves

That we can grow the most

Though it may hurt a bit

Achieve it and you’ll boast

So go ahead and cry

Complain all you want

Teaching you perseverance

No better lesson was taught

Memorial Day

Besides writing, I teach High School Social Science. One of the courses I teach is Modern World History, or the history of the world beginning around the time of the industrial revolution. I love the course and I love teaching. The course covers many wars and conflicts including the two world wars. War is destruction.

War has always been a part of human existence. Perhaps it always will be. Few things are more devastating and destructive. It still saddens me to teach: French Revolution, Russian Revolution, Taiping Rebellion, Boxer Rebellion, Sepoy Mutiny, Armenian Genocide, The Great War, World War Two the Holocaust Korea, Vietnam and others. Tens of millions of lives have been destroyed as a function of war and conflicts. The effects didn’t end with just the loss of that person but the damage spread to those who called them family and friend and those in their community. War is destruction. By the way, I joined the Army immediately out of high school. I served five years. I served honorably. I loved my time in service and I performed well. I love my country. I love and respect other countries. I hate war. Even small wars. War is destruction. Herman Goering is a Nazi war criminal tried at Nuremberg. He was asked about war. His answer is possibly the more insightful and honest a man who drove the engines of war ever gave: Goering: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars. Goering: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are going attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country. It’s a sad truth. Human institutions cannot be better than those who create them. War is the mirror that exposes how awful we can be. War is destruction. So on this day, a day to remember those who we lost as a result of war, I salute you who were lost and I drink a drink to remember you. Your loss is not in vain as long as those of us still alive remember your sacrifice. I wish you were here with us now to enjoy the bittersweet taste of memory. Cheers to the fallen, may your memory endure forever.

Been Awhile

A poem from a darker time, how wonderful it is to be free

It’s been a while
Since you’ve hurt me this badly
It was just a matter of time sadly
When I needed you, you weren’t here
You were out with friends drinking beer
And more? How will I ever know?
I guess it wasn’t even that long ago
That you blew me off and blew someone else
Then made me feel the fault was in myself
So talented at making me the bad guy
While you have fun and roll so high
All the while blaming me for your deeds
Leaving me with my unfulfilled needs
Then mocking me for the feelings I have
Holding my broken heart as you laugh
And spit in my face while I cry
Hurting me to the point I’d rather die

The Blood Canal

My children did a little exploring around the canal behind my house and came home with a dramatic story about what they believe happened there. My youngest just wrote his own “scary story” about it for his class. Here’s my synopsis.

Behind my house, a canal runs full of water in spring and summer and littered with rocks and debris in fall and winter. It feeds the many crops and trees that grow in the exceptionally fertile valley of Central California. While large numbers benefit from its cool waters, it seems at least one succumbed to its darker nature.

A simple bike ride turned into a bit of adventure as we descended the rocky slopes of the canal to the nearly dry bed below. The only water that remained from the season of irrigation was pooled in shallow parts. Rocks lined the bed and made walking treacherous. We were not deterred however and explored in spite of the danger.

We found little besides aluminum cans and other garbage strewn about, as well as some broken fishing lines from folks who sought to catch a tasty fish up the stream. Until, that is, we noticed a dark red color on many of the rock in one spot.

What could have been the source of the stain? We investigated further and noticed that the stain was even somewhat sticky. We gasped as we all at once concluded that it was blood. We looked about as if someone were observing the scene but no one was near. We searched the spot further and found even more of the alleged blood. It even appeared to lead away towards a clump of trees.

We debated for a few minutes whether to merely run away home or to investigate some more, and our curious nature prevailed; urging us to see what else we might find.

At that moment some other bikers came along the edge of the canal and we rushed to some brush to conceal us. Breathing quickly, we struggled to remain still and quiet as a pair of men rode quickly past us, and we did not detect any sign that they were aware of our lurking.

Alone once more, we continued up the opposite shore towards the trees. Nearby, we discovered a rope that was tied in a way that could have rendered it a noose.

Now our imaginations were running quite wild. Blood and now a noose? Surely this was a crime scene of sorts. Our legs wanted to carry us to safety but our curiosity sent us onward. The trees were only a few yards away after all.

There were four very overgrown and old ash trees that stood like old men huddled together and stooping over from age. We moved towards them and found broken boards and other bits of wood. But what did that mean?

We picked many of the pieces up then tried to sort them out like a puzzle. We found even more boards nailed to the trees themselves. It did not take us long to determine that the boards likely formed a treehouse at one time. But whose?

Only one more clue could add to our case. We discovered an old, deflated soccer ball, faded on one side and nearly flat. It was hidden in the grass beneath the remnant of the treehouse. What did it all mean?

Obviously there was only one answer! Clearly there was some murder committed there. No doubt a boy who loved soccer and his tree house was hanged by some madman and then his body dumped into the canal! All the clues pointed to this alone!

Being in the presence of the scene of a homicide was far too much for us, so we raced back to our bikes, gathered them up, then sped home before we too were victims of the blood canal!

Once home of course, reason set it. We discussed the events and the things we found and after much debate, it was agreed that we probably took a collection of unrelated bits of evidence and facts and formed an entire story around them. Much as any author does.

Even though we created an entire fiction in the so called blood canal that day, I still wonder what the real nature of the stain on the rocks, the rope, the broken treehouse and the deflated soccer ball, were. Because as we all know, often truth is stranger than fiction.