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SUSPENDING ALL BELIEF

MakepeaceRandall Makepeace stood at the edge of the town of Craven. It was a strange hamlet, a glimpse of Armageddon long before the first volley of war. A hellish lot, Makepeace believed, not fearful of death or the wrath of God. He had plans to change all that.

There on the outskirts, his entourage set stake to ground and proceeded to raise the tents for the planned revival. It was a matter of their spiritual survival, Randall reasoned. He was sure he need to go extra heavy on the brimstone this time out. Standing at the top of Harding Avenue looking down the center of the town, he readied himself for the service.

The lack of curiosity of the town folk bothered Makepeace. Usually the looky-loos come out of the woodwork and he could “grease” the crowd; get a feel for their needs as he saw it. He wondered how to get into their heads. Randall decided to venture into town.

It seemed deserted. He could faintly hear the sounds of a radio broadcast coming from the General Store. Peering into the front window, he saw no signs of life. Strolling further up the main thoroughfare, he felt the uneasy feeling of being watched. It was starting to spook him out. In his head Randall searched for the words of Psalm 23. He couldn’t remember the passage; he just repeated “The Lord is My Shepherd…, The Lord is My…”

There, nailed to the telegraph pole he saw it. A handbill of sorts… a memo to the townsfolk(?). The memo was yellowed and faded, some letters stood out from the other as if highlighted for visibility.The entire text read:

THe town has ISsued a restriction on unwelcomed vISitors HEre. Leave us aLone!

Makepeace read the message and searched over his shoulder for a sign of some life. He found none. He heard a thumping sound emanating from his chest. His heartbeat was loud and rapid. Sweat beaded on his forehead. Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of the memo again. Now all he read was:

THIS IS HELL

“In the name of all that is Holy, come out and be seen!” Randal demanded.

The sound of sinister laughter echoed from vacant doorways. Unseen eyes peered at him, seeing into his soul to view the hypocrite Makepeace truly was.

A thunderclap of a voice reverberated.

“GET OUT!”

“I CAN SHOW YOU THE LIGHT!” Randall Makepeace defied loudly! “IF HIS WORD DOES NOT SOOTHE YOUR HEARTS, MAY I BE STRUCK DEAD!”

The voice was silenced. The laughter resumed. Randall Makepeace should surely have made peace with his maker. His distorted body lay sprawled on the dirt, eyes wide and heavenward. His mouth grotesque and misshapen; a look of pure terror on his face, as if he had seen the devil himself.

Brother Jeppison came searching for his pastor. Strolling further up the main thoroughfare, he felt the uneasy feeling of being watched. The sound of laughter was horrifically familiar. Jeppison had heard it before. It was surely Makepeace.

“Pastor Randall?” he called.

The thunderclap of a voice resounded again.

“GET OUT!”

It was the pastor. Jeppison turned tail and ran for the tents.

“THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD, THE LORD…”

FOR THE SAKE OF ART

Ed was sure he had no idea what it was.

Ed was sure he had no idea what it was.

Ed Nelson was not fond of traveling. He got seasick at the mere mention of the ocean. You’d never get him on an airplane. The pressure nearly made him pass out once. It seem that headache would never go away. Trains were OK, but they took too damn long. Having his choice, Ed would have rather stayed put.

That’s why his colleagues found it strange that Nelson decided to drive to the consortium. It was cramped in his small compact car. And the drive would take longer than any mode available to him. Longer than even taking the train.

Ed Nelson did alright for himself in his sales position. But he had run into a brick wall. He hadn’t advanced his station in years; though he’d have been made a full partner by now. Instead he found himself hauling ass down the interstate to cross state lines before darkness set in.

Up ahead in a clearing he saw it. A Farris wheel, he thought. Or the maddening loop of one of those anti-gravity roller coasters. But as he neared the structure, Ed was sure he had no idea what it was. A sculpture maybe? He laughed loudly. It could be a Druid icon! What ever it was, it looked hideous on the side of the road.

Between exits this monolithic doughnut stood, maybe fifty feet high – a monstrosity. Interwoven like a wreath, bars and crosses, spheres that appeared as heads of some civilization climbing to the heavens. He was so taken by the piece of “art”, Ed Nelson hadn’t noticed the line of people.

Standing at the gaping portal were approximately 40 people dressed in white waiting their turn. On this grey and depressing afternoon, Nelson saw blue skies through the opening. There was sunshine. It was a beautiful day. But only inside the ring. He pulled to the shoulder of the road near the median and stepped out of his car to investigate. Apparently not dressed for the occasion, Nelson was stared at and ignored.

Taking a place at the end of the cue, he tapped the shoulder of a pleasant looking older woman.

“Excuse me Ma’am” Ed began. “What’s going on here?”

“Young man, do you see this monument?” she said softly. “It is the way out of your despair. Through that opening… is redemption!”

“Redemption” Ed Nelson repeated. It sounded nice. He was in need of a change. The “rat race” would have to carry on without him.

But suddenly, the crowd stared to disperse. He stood confused.

“HEY!” he called. “Where’s everyone going? What about redemption?”

One man looked at Nelson and then back at the sculpture.

“Redemption? It’s an ugly piece of art!” the man said incredulously! “Do you have any idea how much of our tax dollar are tied into this… this shit!”

‘Then why is it here?” Ed Nelson finally wanted to know.

The elderly woman who have duped Nelson earlier overheard the question.

“You moron, it’s art… for the sake of Art, you nabob!” she stormed away with the rest of the crowd. Ed Nelson felt foolish and greatly let down, standing by himself. He never saw the placard.

“SPHINCTER” dedicated to the people of this Great State by Governor Art Decoupage.

“Art for Art’s sake” he thought to himself. What a waste of resources! It was only fitting this piece was named after it’s patron!

FIRST SIP OF LOVE

First KissHe saw her from a distance, a waif with a broad smile and bright eyes and a gait that would mesmerize. Waiting for something, someone perhaps and his lapse of concentration was telling. The players were yelling “GET IN THE GAME!”

Blake Daley was his name. Confident and sure with numbers, but horribly bad on the frozen ponds around which he worked. He blamed weak ankles as a kid. Blake never came forward with his lack of interest in anything athletic. When Blake was asked to act in the role of statistician for the rink, he reluctantly jumped at the chance.

But now his thoughts were elsewhere. There across the rink in the bleachers, where she sat with her friend. And she’d glance over and see him watching. He was far from inconspicuous. When their eyes met on those occasions, she’d grin widely and his cheeks would assume a bright shade of fluster. Blake was nervous around girls. Especially one as striking as Carol.

Her eyes were rich like cocoa, hot and searing, endearing himself to her. Her smile showed brightly, a wide grin full of Chiclets which she wore proudly like her badge of honor. Carol’s hair was the hue of autumn’s height, alight with the auburn which he associated with warmth and comfort. And there she was, so near. So far away.

The combatants completed their task. The game was over with little fanfare. And Blake decided he could no longer stare. He was determined to meet the one so fair with crimson hair.

As Blake approached her, Carol’s friend excused herself leaving the two to close the gap between them or fail miserably trying. Blake would be lying if he admitted to not being nervous. But her demeanor calmed him. Her look was soothing and inviting. Silent introductions and handshakes. His hand sliding to grip her elbow to help her keep balance on the rickety bleachers. And it stayed there as they shuffled to the aisle for their short descent to the exit.

“Can I call?” he asked shyly; softly.

“Do you have a pen?” she smiled.

As she wrote, Carol glanced up at Blake and their eyes embraced each other in looks of future’s promise. Her smile remained, a Cheshire cat in the frigid hockey rink,

Carol returned the pen and slid the scrap of paper into his gloved hand. And she leaned in… a tender kiss catching the corner of his lip.

A gentle peck. Their first “kiss”. He prayed it would last a lifetime!

GOSSELIN’S GALLERY – 5 JULY 1913

EXHIBIT #1 – THE COMELY WENCH

ComelyWenchCome hell or high water, she always gets her man!

Gwyneth Smulders learned young. The ways of her father were not lost on this striking lass. What she lacked in class, she made up for with her seductive glances and her handy side arm. Her wile with that revolver had resolved many a conflict and passed judgment on many an ill-advised suitor who thought her cuter that the mermaids of Clareon. Little did they know, that when this siren wailed, even Neptune swam for cover. Just over 5 foot tall, although small in stature, Gwyneth was a dynamo in a ship battle.

She had come by her skills as honestly as one of her ilk could. She inherited it along with all the booty her illustrious grandfather had pilfered and pillaged from his adventures in the “re-appropriation of bullion”! Blackbeard knew how to party. His granddaughter learned well.

Solomon Diggery would follow where ever her ship traveled. Revenge was an option Diggery always kept holstered, and bolstered by her almost apologetic glance as she left him bloodied after shooting off his jib sail, he had sought her favor. She had fancied the cut of his jib once and thought of cutting it off then and there, but a blast from her Galeon 357 handled that task with a bit more of distance between them, the way she liked it!

Gwyneth Smulders carried a torch for no man. She carried a loaded revolver for one. And come hell or high water, she always gets her man!

EXHIBIT #2 – “NIGHTINGALE’S SHADOW”

SilhouetteShipTerence Foxx had been dead, lo these many years. Pirates who lived hard and fast don’t last very long with a target on their backs. Foxx bore one that sped him toward that goal. And although his murder was neither celebrated, nor decried, it is recalled each year since his passing.

Foxx died on the third Thursday in September; an ominous and rare happenstance. It appears over the sullen horizon, a Pirate’s Moon, they call it. For in the misted evening, before the stroke of midnight’s toll you can see it balanced precariously in the distance. Round and bright and surreal, you can feel her burn. Her wrath is as fiery.

And in her brilliance you can discern the mast and trussed sails; a silhouette in the darkened skies. Foxx’s “Nightingale” sails once again, a captain-less wheel and nary a man on the rudder. A random path to hell, tacking the shadows to oblivion. Every third Thursday in September.

EXHIBIT #3 – JEPPISON’S CREST

compass1The trunk had been retrieved from the murky depths, waterlogged and in stages of deterioration. Salvage crews find the best “booty” when left to their own devices. But the Jamaican government had a strict policy. Any findings, unless direct ownership can be proved, become Jamaican historic artifacts, and that fact irritated Clavin Beauregard Jeppison. Clavin was heading up this search mission a mere knot into designated Jamaican space. One nautical mile stood between the treasure and some politician’s greed.

Jeppison and his crew had a plan. They would use tow lines and gently drag the chest across the ocean’s floor. But this was not an easy task the floor was ragged and uneven. There were wide depressions where the trunk, if sucked downward, would be lost to Poseidon. Slow and steady would be their only hope.

Clavin’s salvage boat moved methodically, as if trolling for snails. But the better part of madness would not allow him to relent when many years and dollars were exacted into this project. The submersible vessel monitored the move and all seemed on course.

But the jutting rocks hidden in the sands had other plans. A section of the rock pierced the wooden shell of the container. The only way out was up, and that would spell disaster to Clavin and his men. One last attempt to carefully coerce the box from it’s obstacle did little to dislodge it, it merely rotated it to the right.

“Hold it!” Clavin instructed. “I need a front view of that chest!”

The diver in the submersible circumvented the boulder to sit in front of their find.

“Hoo Hoo!” Clavin’s exuberance beamed. “Bring her up! Bring her up!”

The objections of the crew went unheeded. Jeppison had seen something that sealed his decision.

As they lifted the trunk to the surface, the crew remained puzzled. They did not understand why Clavin would jeopardize losing this treasure in a moment of excitement. Jeppison placed his hand over a casting emblazoned on the cover of this chest. It had the dull shimmer of tarnished silver. It was elaborate; ornate in a calamitous way. A crest. Clavin knew the crest!

The men gathered around their find, thinking Clavin has surely lost his mind. Oh, he was crazy all right! Crazy as a fox. Raising his hands to quiet the clamor, Clavin drew in a calming breath. Then, grasping his shirt he pulled it open to reveal a tattoo. A crest. The Jeppison Family Crest! It matched the adornment exactly. The chest was not a historic artifact. It was a Jeppison family artifact. Clavin had cause to celebrate. He had made the best discovery. He found himself. At least a small part of himself.

GONE FISHING

Phil-bee woke up early. Before his mom. “Before the roosters”, like his grandpa used to tease. Actually, it was thoughts of his grandfather that enticed him to carry out this quest.

Philbin Barrett, Phil-bee for short, was grandpa’s pride and joy. Gramps was the only father Phil-bee knew, his own “a flash in the pan” as he heard his mother mention on the phone when she thought Philbin was out of the room. A mistake. A one-night stand, mom spoke in confession. Until then, Phil-bee had thought his father had died when the boy was three.

“The only redeeming quality of that man, was the little guy in the back bedroom” she was heard to interject.

So Phil-bee’s grandfather assumed the part as role model and teacher. A creature of habit was Jackson Barrett, and he taught his grandson the things Jack felt Phil-bee needed to learn in this life if he expected to go far.

All that changed as grandfather’s memory started to fade. Mom blamed some guy, an Al Shimer, for that. Ever since this Al showed up, grandpa just wasn’t the same. It was hard for Philbin to watch the only man who mattered in his life slowly become someone else. As Jack deteriorated, Phil-bee had to rely on the lessons learned from this good man. He tried to remember that man more than the person who did not recognize him any longer. Mom called it a “blessing” when Jackson Barrett had passed away.

“Gramps isn’t suffering any longer” she tried to explain to a tearful Phil-bee.

Phil-bee knew that along with being his grandfather and his teacher, Papa Jack was his friend. Phil-bee lost his BEST friend. If there was anything good in that revelation, it was that grandpa would live in his memory as long as Phil-bee kept him there.

The young boy’s mind was elsewhere as he stood next to his mom at Jack’s graveside. Philbin stared at the pile of dirt behind the square hole, watching the worms peek out and scurry back into the soil. The crowd of people that came to pay their respects was small. A few cousins, a couple of Jack’s friends from the service, Mrs. Burgess from their old apartment and the undertaker were Papa Jack’s only mourners.

Phil-bee remembered the talks he had with Jack as they sat at lakeside with their fishing line in the mossy green water. This was their classroom; where they had their best talks. Philbin needed to talk to Jack. But Jack was no longer there.

worms

“he reached into the tin can that held the wiggly worms”
(Photobucket)

Phil-bee dressed quietly, slipping his blue jeans over his spindly legs. He zipped his jacket right up to his chin and grabbed his ball cap. He gave the doorknob a soft turn and stepped out onto the back deck. Reaching down behind the deck chair, Philbin took the dented tin can that he had placed there last night.

The sun was coming up over the treetops as Phil-bee settled on the shore at their favorite fishing spot. The boy nestled into the moist grass as he reached into the tin can that held the wiggly worms that were distracting him at Grandpa’s funeral. With a shaky finger, Phil-bee hooked a fat worm. As he baited his hook (just like grandpa had taught him) Philbin started to talk out loud.

“Hey Grandpa Jack. It’s a good morning for fishing. I saved your spot…” Phil-bee started his long monologue.

In the early morning mist, a boy and his grandfather shared another moment discussing life and the future. Well, Phil-bee talked, and he was sure grandpa was listening. He had cast his line into the water a few times, but wasn’t having any luck. But it didn’t matter. Jack always said a bad day of fishing was better that anything he could think of.

Phil-be had talked himself out. He had told Grandpa Jack all he needed to say. He thanked Jack for being his Gramps and for teaching him stuff; for not being “a flash in the pan”. Phil-bee was honored to have been given time to be with Jack Barrett. He found peace there. Phil-bee forgave Al for taking Jack so soon.

“I love you, Grandpa!” Phil-bee tearfully whispered.

Philbin felt the tug on his line. He knew his grandfather loved him too.

GOSSELIN’S GALLERY – 3 MAY 2013

(Via Photobucket: loveej)

KITE EXHIBIT #1 – Chrysalis Interrupted

He wished he could fly. Furio Cappulscalco had a fascination with flight. He wanted to pick up and just soar into the clouds. But he knew little boys couldn’t fly. Why, he got into trouble trying to cross the street by himself.

He stood in the clearing by the lake, watching the kites dip and soar in the sky above the trees. He loved the graceful movements as the paper fliers performed an airborne ballet.

Furio wanted a kite. But he couldn’t afford to buy one, so he gathered things he found in the trash. Newspapers and colored tissues paper became the shell and tree branches were the frame.There was a spool of kite string that had torn and was tangled. Furio spent some time straightening the string and his make-shift kite was ready. He ran north and the kite bounced on the hard ground, He ran south and it did cartwheels in the dirt.

Furio checked the wind direction and he ran headlong into it. The kite seemed like it was going to elevate, but suddenly the kite “dipsy-doodled) into the edge of the lake.

Capuscalco was upset. His “kite” was a mangled mess. The colors from the tissue started to run and color the newspaper. An old man sat nearby feeding the pigeons and watching Furio.

“Your kite needs a tail, young man” the gentleman instructed.

“Kites ain’t got no tails” the boy snapped.

The man stood up from the bench and came by Furio.

“May I?” he asked the boy.

The lad held up the mass of kite to the man.

“She’s not so bad”, the man started, ” fix this here, tie this there…”

Then the man undid his necktie. He attached it to the bottom of the kite.

“Here, good as new!” handing the kite back.

Furio looked it over and wasn’t impressed. It looked the same as the mess he had made.

“Trust me son, she’s a beauty!”

Furio laid the bundle of paper on the ground and walk a ways along the shore of the lake. He took a deep breath and started to run trailing the string behind him. The kite dragged along the ground briefly and then went up into the air. As the kite unfurled, it spread open and took a beautiful new shape,

That’s when Furio smiled. The wadded bundle of paper looked like a cocoon, a chrysalis. But as it opened it was a butterfly. It soared and swooped in the sky. And trailing beneath it was the necktie tail.

Furio turned to thank the old man. But he was gone. The boy was pleased. He appreciated the kindness of the stranger. It gave him hope.

KITE EXHIBIT #2 – Spirits in the Sky

kites

(Via Photobucket: crysta1994)

Angeline drifted to the edge of the vale beneath Cherubine Mountain. Other souls had gather there as well. Today was the Day of Ascending.

The gentle souls were draped in white; long flowing gowns that fluttered in the wind. The rugged souls came in deeper hues oranges ablaze and blue and greens; aquamarine and gold. The colors were fit for celebration.

The angels came to watch the fanfare as the horns sounded and all the souls bristled excitedly. One by one they stepped forward gentle, graceful steps that became lighter and lighter.

The angles pursed their lips and blew to create the wind that lifted the souls skyward. In an upward motion, the spirits became kite-like and soared toward the heavens. Angeline watched in awe as one by one her friends ascended.

It was her turn. Tentative steps drew her into the opening where once souls of her kind had assembled. One step, two steps… Angeline felt lighter than air. Three steps, four… her feet no longer contacted the ground.

By her sixth step. Angeline had taken flight; a beautiful flowing kite, an offering to the creator. The sky at once was full of kites flying freely. No strings attached.

IT IS WHAT IS IT

Tree_frog_amongst_Bluebells_by_AngiNelson

Tree frog amongst Bluebells by Angi Nelson

He was merely a frog.

Green. Wide eyed and slick. Throaty crackles within. Warts and all, he was merely a frog.

Oh, he had dreams. Every young frog does. Bigger adventures and capers were that to which he aspired. But everyday he sat in his tree, ingesting insects and watching the world pass him by.

His uncles had the best gig a few years back. All they did was sit in their lily pad and pitch malt beverages. The humans seemed to love their chant about Bud…, Bud Somebody or other. Now, he’d settle for being a lowly gecko. At least he’d have employment..

The swamp was his home and he never needed to roam. But he had a wanderer’s spirit. Dreams never died, they just sat on a branch and croaked. Until…

Mort Grinley, a Hollywood talent scout came venturing where Bruno Magli never intended to go. Mort came across the reptilian wonder.

“Nice swamp you have here” Mort began.

“Yup” countered the frog.

“I’m looking for the next big thing… and I believe it’s you!” Mort continued.

“Yup” countered the frog.

“How would you like to come to Hollywood and make films?” Mort offered.

The frog thought contemplatively, swiping an elongated tongue at a sedentary fly.

“Yup” countered the frog.

“I just want you to know… it won’t be easy!” Mort said finally.

“HAVE YOU EVER BEEN GREEN?” the frog shouted. “Now that…
that is not easy!”

Mort smiled.

He loved green. In large denominations. The frog was rubbing off on him. He knew there was no beating a frog. Mort didn’t give a lick what the pig said!