Kits Over Jennifer

No, that’s not some bizarre, exotic dish.

I touch base with Jennifer The Editress about once a week. Often we go over works-in-progress, sometimes we discuss books we think the other would enjoy, usually we catch up and detox (we touch base on Friday afternoons).

This time out, Jennifer The Editress and I were deep in conversation when kits showed up in abundance.

That left Susan, Wise Woman of the North, to capture their antics on film…uh…digit?

Anyway, enjoy.

 
The video trailers I mention start with The Augmented Man Video Series Episode 1 – “Good Run, Trailer?”

The son-of-a-bitch I dogeared is Susan Bell’s “The artful edit” (and highly recommended).

Faith Untested

This story has been haunting me since 2013 and has gone through four revisions. I believe there’s one heck of a story here…somewhere…comments welcome…


Faith Untested

Many years ago Ben grabbed William by an ankle and dangled him outside my third story dorm room window. It was a warm, Spring afternoon that suddenly got hot. Ben, a muscular wrestler, spoke calmly. “Tell me where the Jews are.” Ben’s quiet voice reverberated in my room like a rifle shot.

Some of us gathered to discuss an Ethics class assignment: It’s The Holocaust. You’ve hidden Jews somewhere in your home. The Nazis burst in the door demanding to know where the Jews are. What do you do?

Some confessed they’d cave. Some professed they’d stay resolute and hoped they could endure torture. Much was said between these two points. I was in the resolute-endure-torture camp but secretly knew I’d go with the crowd: “Want the Jews? Well, here they are! All wrapped up and neatly waiting for you in my basement! Aren’t I a good doobie? Getting them all together for you like this?”

My room was at the end of a hall, tucked away in the top floor southeast corner of the dorm. A perfect place for lively discussions.

None of us noticed William, not in the Ethics class, on the other side of the doorway in the hall, standing stiff and attentive, listening, bible in hand. His father was a Bible answer man at a Christian radio station. In an era of long haired hippie freaks, William stood out in his close cut hair, pale skin, a perfectly starched and ironed white shirt with thin black tie that hung on his closet-hanger shoulders and billowed about his once-a-week-fasting frame. Blond and blue-eyed, he took every opportunity to evangelize us. He wasn’t a pain or a nuisance, though. He was more like a gnat.

He cleared his throat and we looked up. “I would tell the truth, tell them where the Jews were, and trust Jesus to perform a miracle and save them.”

“Really.” It wasn’t a question. It just sounded like one.

“I’d have to tell the truth because that’s what God requires of me.”

“You tell the truth, the Jews die. This is what God requires of you? You can’t lie and trust all that forgiveness of sins crap you talk about?”

“My faith tells me God and His Son Jesus Christ will save those Jews.”

“You mean a miracle of some kind? The Nazis go blind? Or just decide, fuck it let’s knock off early and grab some brews? Maybe the Jews disappear? You think God’s going to pull some kind of Jedi mind trick?”

“Please don’t curse.”

Ben, his massive arm eclipsing my small black-and-white TV on my bureau, chuckled at the Jedi remark. Moonless midnight sky black hair and always in need of a shave, he laughed when we described him with “arms as big as legs and legs as big as people.”

Ben lost people in The Holocaust.

He listened patiently, his brow furrowed, his lips silent, his eyes fixed on William and squinting as if William were some bright light on a close horizon. William started insisting that telling the Nazis where the Jews were hiding would be a test of his faith.

Ben quietly opened a window. He put his hands on the window sill, inhaled deeply, upturned William, grabbed him by an ankle and held him outside the window, three stories up.

“You have ten seconds to decide. Tell the truth, sacrifice the Jews and hope for a miracle, or lie, convincingly, and save your life. In ten seconds you’ll fall three stories. You may not die, but you’ll be badly hurt. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be spared in either case. You admit there are Jews in your house and you’ve harbored Jews, you’re an enemy of the state and will be killed as an example to others. You convince me there are no Jews here and I may kill you anyway as a warning to others.”

“Ten…”

We didn’t think Ben would let William drop. He’d never been violent or even angry that we could remember. Even when we went out for pizza, he was the one who stopped arguments and shoving matches with reason and quiet good humor.

Now he relaxed his grip a few times. Whatever blood should have been rushing to William’s head never made it there. He was blanched white and screaming for Ben to stop.

“Nine…”

William never called for Jesus to save him. He begged Ben to bring him in. He screamed at us to help him.

“Eight… Where are the Jews?”

More screams. We could hear people outside on the college quad shouting up at this strange play. Somebody hollered for others to call campus security.

“Seven…Where are the Jews?”

William screamed hysterically now. Hysterically. “PLEASE DEAR GOD SOMEBODY MAKE HIM STOP!” I remember thinking, “Does that count as a call to God or is he just using the adjectival modifier?”

“Six…You are going to drop to the ground unless you tell me where the Jews are. Where are the Jews?”

At this point one of the other fellows in the room said, “Ten dollars Ben can’t hold him the full ten seconds.” Ben wasn’t breathing hard. He looked like he could hold William out the window forever. I said, “What?”

“Five…”

A window in the room next to ours opened up. Somebody shouted “William says he’d let Nazis kill the Jews and hope for a miracle. Ben’s going to drop him unless he changes his mind.” There was a quick response from the crowd, “Let the fucker fall!”, but nobody laughed.

“Four…Where are the Jews?”

William screamed, “I don’t know! There are no Jews!”

“Three…I’m not convinced.” He took his eyes off William, turned his head and looked at us, “Are any of you convinced?”

Somebody said, “Ben, come on. Enough’s enough.”

“Two…Nobody here’s convinced, either. Where are the Jews?”

William is crying now. Screaming and crying, hysterically begging for someone anyone to help him. He’s calling to Jesus Christ and all the saints and not in ways I think they’d recognize as calls for help.

“One. Time’s up. You die.”


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It’s in the Trees! It’s Coming!

That line is in two of my favorite items. One is Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, the other is the 1957 British horror film Night of the Demon. Aside from its cult status, the line has always carried a certain power for me, possibly because I’ve always loved trees.

I rarely climbed trees as a child unless I was alone in a woods. Being alone in a wood was and remains a common occurrence for me. I’ve always preferred the solitude and quiet and never feared “wild” animals. I have several strong memories of sitting quietly in a wood and having creatures come up to me – raccoon, opossum, coyote, wolf, deer, skunk, woodchuck, …, not to mention various and assorted insects and arachnids. Some were shy, others not so much. Bears have been within a few feet of me but not closer. Turkeys proudly bring their chicks to me.

So it’s quite understandable that I spend my time writing these posts about The Wild. It plays quite a role in my Tales of the Woods stories and is the primary setting of Those Wings Which Tire, They Have Upheld Me.

This entry into the WildLife series deals with coaxing some of Hyacinthe’s kits (introduced last week) from the trees for some peanuts.

Enjoy.

 

Usability Studies 101: Knowledgeable Interface (Re)Design

[I’m resurrecting this post – originally on iMedia from (drumroll, please) 2005 – for Terry Melia who had trouble setting up his Galaxy phone…]

You’re obsolete!
– from the original Twilight Zone episode 65, “The Obsolete Man

 
I attended a presentation a while back and witnessed something fascinating. There were five people speaking and the MC asked for their PPTs so he could load them onto the laptop hooked to the projector. One fellow pulled out a miniCD-RW. “Here you go,” he said. “There’s enough room for everybody to burn their presentations so you won’t need to fumble with lots of disks.” He was thanked and the CD was passed around. One panelist had a very flashy little lap..noteb…palm…something. No CD drives, no floppy drives. Incredibly fast little machine which could find any wireless network from ground level to the ISS and with enough USB ports to pilot an aircraft carrier through heavy seas. This presenter pulled out a USB drive on a keychain, copied his presentation to it, pointed to the presenters passing around the CD and said, “That’s obsolete.”
Continue reading “Usability Studies 101: Knowledgeable Interface (Re)Design”

Empty Sky Chapter 1 – The Cabin (28 Aug 2020, Audio)

The version of the chapter presented here is a far cry from the version currently in print (and I have a standing offer regarding the current version; Buy a copy, leave a review, I’ll send you a signed copy of the rewrite when it’s published). For that matter, the version presented here is a stretch from the previous versions posted on this blog (most recent here).

The version here is my reading at a Read ’em and Weep online workshop I recently attended.

Fascinating experience.

Creator and above level members can listen to the reading here.


Chapter 1 – The Cabin

Jamie reached for Shem’s tail. The big golden sat on Jamie’s bed staring out the cabin window. His coat glistened in the moonlight, his tail thumped with excitement. Peepers and crickets chirped outside. Raccoons chittered. Opossum and skunk barked. Owls hooted. Loons called. Far off a wolf howled. Another answered in the distance.

Jamie caught Shem’s tail and held it motionless. “What is it, boy?”

Shem looked back at Jamie and whined softly.

Jamie ran a delicate hand through his ginger hair. He looked past Shem to the oak, elm, and pine of the northern Michigan forest. The Moon, full and bright, illuminated the trees and the small, one-room cabin at their center.

“Do you have to pee?”

Shem jumped off the bed and scratched at the door to go out.

“Shh.” Jamie glanced at his parents, Ellie and Tom, asleep on the other side of the cabin. “You want to wake mom and dad?” He crawled out from under the covers and tip-toed to the door. Standing on a chair, he drew back the bolt and lifted the latch.

Cool winds changed rustling treetops into brooms sweeping low-hung clouds from late September skies. Dust devils spun mists where night air met day-warmed rocks. Trees bowed to the rising Moon.

Shem walked into the night. Jamie followed.

The Moon continued her ascent. The woods fell silent.

Silent.

Ellie sat up in bed, her hands clenching the blanket, holding it tight against her. A cold, dank wind swirled through the cabin, lifting things slightly, inspecting them, putting them down, drawing a musk of old earths in its wake.

Moonlight entered the cabin’s single room.

Her eyes fixed on Jamie’s empty bed.

“Jamie! Shem!”

Tom rose and put his boots on in one motion. “Where are they?”

Ellie pointed at the open door.

Tom threw Ellie her coat. “They must be together. Shem won’t let Jamie out of his sight.”

“Something’s got them. Some wild animal.”

“There’s no blood anywhere, Ellie. Shem’d raise hell if something got in the cabin or near Jamie.” He grabbed an iron poker from the woodstove.

Ellie stopped at the door, a silhouette against the night. “Shh.”

Tom came up beside her. “What the…?”

“Shh!”

“What are they doing?”

“It looks like they’re playing.”

“With whom?”


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