I’m here to share myself on the web. To communicate with my family, friends and hopefully readers. I have stories from my life and stories from my imagination.  I believe I have some good stories to tell. Bear with me while I remember and conjure them.

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Biruce the pockmarked

A naked corpse slowly shuffled into view. In the dim light cast by the slit window above them it was hideous. Pockmarks covered its entire body. The little unmarked skin it had was gray. Pieces of skin and flesh hung scattered across its body.  Once it might have been a man. Alfred couldn’t be sure. The creature paused at the edge of the light. Its eyes slowly drifted up and down examining him then its gaze moved to Edel. What might have been a smile, exposed sharpened canines.

“Innocents” came the whisper.

Focused on Edel it took a step toward her. She shuddered, there was nowhere to flee.

“We will have such fun. You and I” It spoke to Edel. “Been ages since I’ve had an innocent. And now there are two.” With a turn of its head in looked at Alfred.

“I am Biruce, who did not die.” He paused and green saliva drooled through a tear in his lower lip. “Let me turn you, girl. Share your body with me. Stay fair forever. I know the secret.”

The creature leered at Edel and took a step closer to her. Alfred swung the torch between them. It stepped back.

He glared at Alfred. Then spoke to Edel. “Help me take his innocence. The pleasure is unimaginable.” Alfred poked at it with his torch. Biruce’ s right hand reached through the flame. The smell of his burning flesh made Alfred almost retch. With a jerk the monster pulled the torch from Alfred and threw it behind him. When it hit the damp floor it went out.

A blow from its left hand sent Alfred flying across the small room. He hit the wall and slumped to the floor.

Edel had her sword drawn when the creature’s attention once more turned to her.  As he approached, she stabbed at him.

“I was damaged when I took the cure. The cure does not remove damage.” It whispered. “You will be a young pretty forever. Pity your hair won’t grow out. I always liked long blond hair.”

Edel stabbed at him. Its hand closed over hers. A smirk played across its face. “The sword appears to have a silver coating. I’ve proof against such” Then slowly it pulled Edel and her sword closer. The sword pierced its chest. Edel struggled to free her hand from it. Panic crossed Edel’s face as the creature’s free hand played up her chest. It tugged at the top of her blouse. Trying to loosen it. The first button pulled free and then the second and third exposing a hint of her bosom. It towered over her. A string of saliva hung from its mouth.  She struck it then with her left hand. It released her hand and as she fell back her blouse tore open. She landed on her rump with only her chemise covering her.

“It would be easier if you cooperate” came the whisper. “I’ll have my way regardless.”

Alfred’s head hurt. His eyes didn’t want to focus. When they did there was Edel on the floor her blouse open exposing her to the creature. He roused himself. His blade lay next to him, so he picked it up.  He touched the back of his head where it ached. Blood covered his hand when he looked at it. He stood slowly afraid he would faint. He took a stance. Where the knowledge of its form came from, he didn’t know but he knew this was the one to use. Three quick steps and a thrust which he leaned into. His blade slid between the creature’s ribs and though where its heart should be. If it had one.

Edel watched as a sword came out the front of the creature’s chest. A confused look passed over its face. Then rage lit its eyes and it turned on Alfred.

His sword was torn from his hand. The thing turned on him. He back stepped until his back was against the wall.

“You spoil my pleasure, child. I was going to let you watch our tryst. I’ll take your innocence first then.” What passed for the creature’s face was just inches from Alfred’s face. The stench of death was carried by its breath. “And only your dead eyes will watch what I do with the girl.”

The blade of the sword was still lodged in its chest. As the creature leaned on Alfred it cut through the fabric of his shirt and drew Alfred’s blood. The creature’s slimy tongue licked his neck, ran up his chin, over his mouth and nose. A hand pinched his buttock.

Edel watched horrified as the thing assaulted Alfred. She could see Alfred’s blood drip to the floor. their swords hadn’t harmed the thing. What could she do? She had to do something. Alfred’s and her life depended on her doing something. Then she remembered they each carried a wooden stake that had been soaked in holy water. Her hand found it still in its sheath.  She pulled it out.  Such a short piece of wood. Not a very sharp point.

She ran and plunged the foot-long stake into the creatures back.

Suddenly the creature moved closer pushing the sword point deeper into Alfred’s chest. The creature pulled away from him and quickly turned. The blade point cut across Alfred’s chest. He screamed and once more slid to the floor. As he watched the creature reach for Edel. It turned and looked at him. Its head cocked. It judged Alfred’s bleeding form no threat because it turned to advanced up on Edel.   

Alfred saw that a wooden stake now protruded from its back. The handle of his sword was there as well. It hurt to move. But what the creature planned for them was too much.

Alfred with a grimace stood. Reached for his blade and with a jerk pulled. The creature screeched and went to its knees.

“Cursed innocent blood” wheezed from it.

His blood caused it pain! Alfred rubbed his blade across where he was bleeding. Gasping at the pain. He plunged his blade in again. The creature once more screeched. Alfred pulled the blade free once more. Then he stepped around and swung his blade down toward the neck of the thing. If he cut its head off maybe that would stop it.

As Alfred’s blade began to cut the creature’s neck his left foot was grabbed and pulled out from under him. The blade clattered to the floor. It had cut its neck but not severed it.

“You’re too much trouble,” it wheezed. Its hand closed on Alfred’s neck. Alfred grabbed with both hands and tried to pull it away from his throat. But its grip tightened.  Alfred couldn’t breathe.

He saw Edel standing behind it a sword raised above her head. Then its fingers loosened a bit as its head bounced off his chest and onto the floor. Edel kicked the headless body away from Alfred. Its fingers left marks on his neck as the hand pulled free. The head lying beside him blinked its eyes and its mouth moved. With another kick, Edel sent the head down into the dark hall.

Four hours later the Count and his remaining men found them huddled together still weeping.

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Gerhart watches

Alfred noticed that they were being watched as he and Edel practiced with their wastes and bucklers. This was Monday of the third week. Most of the time that Colin wasn’t yelling at them he was just shaking his head.

A few times he had matched them with some of the guard. Alfred was sure he was showing improvement. He was sure that with the sword he was much better than Edel. It was true that Edel was better at archery than he was. Edel had picked up archery much faster than Alfred had expected. Neither of them could hit the center of the target consistently. Most of their arrows were at least hitting the target. Edel had hit the bull’s eye once. Alfred had wanted to bust Edel’s lip just to wipe away that grin.

Edel was so irritating. He ate like a girl. Even used a napkin without being told too. They had lessons in the evening that Gertie gave on table manners. What a bore.

Well, he supposed he should know how to behave in front of nobles if he was traveling with the count. Now that would be exciting. Sitting at the table in some grand castle. Edel fell into it like it had been second nature to the waif. Alfred still had to watch Gertie so he could choose the right fork.

Well, he figured combat would be the key decider of who would become the Count’s page. And Gerhart would be the one to impress.

While Alfred was distracted with those thoughts, Edel pressed him and landed a hit. Alfred’s anger flared. He was tired of the gentle back and forth that Colin insisted on. “Well, I bet this will impress Gerhart.” Alfred thought when he began to rapidly beat against Edel’s buckler. He flailed on him. Beating away his waste. Edel retreated under the wild assault. One score, two, three. And a blow to the side of Edel’s head brought him down.

“Hold! Alfred hold!” Colin shouted. He grabbed Alfred’s arm and kicked his leg out from under him. Alfred landed on his rear as Colin towered over him. “What kind of fool are you?” He heard Colin shout as his blazing eyes on him. “This is your companion in arms!” He said as he turned to Edel to assess the damage done.

Colin offered Edel his hand to help him rise. He brushed Colin’s hand aside, grabbed his waste. He wobbled as he stood. Then he threw off his helm. “I stumbled. He barely touched me.” Gerhart touched Colin’s arm before he could intervene between the two. “Let us watch a bit. Most intent I’ve seen from Edel.”

Edel advanced toward Alfred. His voice intense he said. “Defend yourself boy!” He slashed at Alfred so violently that Alfred stepped back and avoided the blow. “You ill-mannered lout. You self-absorbed idiot.” Edel attacked him with his words and waste.

Alfred rallied and began to advance. But stopped as Edel’s waste pounded against his buckler. Waste met waste. They cracked as if they might break.

“you stupid boy!” Edel shouted. I try to talk, and you turn your ugly nose up. We share lessons and you act like I’m not there.”

Edel’s’ waste once more slammed into Alfred’s sliding down and slamming into the guard which wretched it out of Alfred’s hand. It flew behind him. He raised his buckler in defense. The blows stopped. Glaring at him, Edel said. “Well, pick that blasted thing up and defend yourself, boy!”

Alfred wasn’t sure he wanted too. But Edel looked far from finished. So, he turned and bent to pick up his waste. Only to receive a kick in his rear, that sent him tumbling.

“How dare you turn your back to me! Boy” Roared behind him. Edel threw down his waste as stormed off to the manor. Alfred was too stunned to notice the tears streaming down his opponent’s face.

Henry had a smirk on his face until Colin Said. “Henry, show Alfred how to defend against such attacks.

So, Alfred, feeling mistreated, spent another hour in combat practice. While Edel disappeared.

Edel was absent from lunch. Alfred spent the early afternoon in siege class. Which meant arithmetic lessons. Being the only student, he was expected to figure all the answers. He had never expected to miss all the interruptions that Edel’s questions caused. Before this, he had resented how those questions extended the class time. Now he realized just how much they kept them from more problems to solve.

Being Monday Alfred expected accounting class next. Another hour of torture by numbers. His mother did the accounting, such as it was, for the tavern. The lessons on managing the counts traveling purse appeared much more complex.

He was surprised when he walked into old Simon the Count’s steward’s office to find Colin and Gerhart inside. Not a sign of old Simon. They stood so he stood. Gerhart whispered something to Colin, Colin only looked at Alfred. Alfred shifted his weight from one foot to the other. He wasn’t sure what to expect. Was he going to be dismissed?

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Strangers in town

A cold mist was falling. The wind blew just enough to give a body a chill. It had been like this the entire day. The tavern was filled with locals, each nursing a mug of mulled wine. The farmers had been out preparing the fields for planting. A group of them were sitting near the fireplace complaining about a late spring. Other groups of friends were discussing one bit of gossip or another. The room was full of the comforting buzz of their conversations until the door opened letting a bit of the cold and mist blow in.

At first glance, the stranger appeared to be a waif of a boy. But to one watchful set of eyes, she was recognized as a young woman of about 16 years. The rest of the patrons didn’t bother to look that closely and returned to their own concerns as soon as the door was once more firmly closed.

The man sitting alone at a table in the corner farthest from the door and to the right of the fireplace raised his mug to his lips and watched as the girl disguised as a boy walked across the tavern to the bar. Jacob was serving today.  His wife Mathilda was in the kitchen preparing a stew, probably rabbit.

“Boy, you’re soaked through,” Jacob observed. “Get by the fire and warm yourself. Henry, move out of the way of the lad. Let him warm himself. I’ll fetch thee a mug of hot tea. Just stand as close to the fire as you can.” He finished as he turned to enter the kitchen area and fetch that promised mug of tea.

She stood close to the fire warming herself unaware that she was being watched. The man in the corner had spent years learning to notice and not be noticed. She turned her back to the fire and steam began to rise from the soaked fabric when Jacob reappeared carrying the promised mug of tea and a bowl of stew.

“Come, lad,” He called. “eat.” He told her as he set the mug and bowl on the bar counter. She would have to eat standing all the tables being occupied.

“I have no coin.” She told him in a voice that convincedly cracked like a boy at that age.

“Never mind that,” Jacob told him. “There are dishes to wash or wood to chop. Eat.”

“I need to find the Gray Knight.” The boy told him.

“I’ve been told,” Jacob replied. “That the Gray Knight finds who he wants.”

Albert was sitting on the stairs to the upper level, just out of his father’s sight. He should be out on the floor helping with the guests, but he had a book of Arthurian tales. It fueled his dream of adventuring. He sat quietly and watched as his father attended to the boy.

His father’s first rule was to welcome a new guest as soon as possible. Quicker if they appeared in need.  The boy probably had no money, or very little. Albert had seen situations like this before. His parents would make sure the child was dry and fed before any worry for the needs of the tavern would be thought of.

He was drifting back to his daydream of adventure when he noticed a movement. The Count was looking at him. The Count’s left hand was below the tabletop and moved in a gesture that meant come here. As kind as the Count appeared Alfred knew better than to ignore this request, subtle as it might be. Reluctantly he stood. He placed his book in a space in the wall. He had hidden books there before. Then he descended the stairs. He bent over to hear the Count. He was speaking softer than usual.

“Tell your father that his guest needs to be warmed in the kitchen.” He almost whispered. “When you’ve done that. Walk back here with a pitcher of mulled wine. When strangers walk in set the pitcher down and volunteer to tend their horses. When you return from that if they allow it. Come get the pitcher and tell me what you saw.”

What a strange request Alfred thought. Strange it might be, but you never refused the Count’s request. No matter how quirky it might be.

“Father,” Alfred said as he drew near the bar.

“Where have you been boy? There’s work to do. Pick up the broom and sweep up that pile of dirt Henry walked in.” His father told him.

“Father,” Alfred interrupted. “The Count told me that your guest needs to dry in the kitchen. And to bring him a pitcher of mulled wine.”

“What?” Alfred’s father glanced up toward the Count. Alfred didn’t see what his father saw but whatever it was. He turned to the boy. “It will be warmer in the kitchen. Let me show you the way. Closer to the dishes that will need a washing when you’ve had your fill.” He scooped up the half-filled mug of mulled wine and walked toward the kitchen door. Leaving the boy to pick up the bowl of stew and follow him.

Soon Alfred’s father appeared with a full pitcher of mulled wine. No sooner had he handed it to Alfred than the door slammed open and the wind howled through. Two rough-looking men in hunters garb stood in the open doorway their eyes scanned the room. One was turning back to the outside when the other said “We best ask about a bit. They might have seen something.”

Alfred stared. How had the Count known these men were coming? “Alfred,” his father scolded. “Take that to the Count.” Remembering himself Alfred walked over to the Count filled his mug before sitting the pitcher down on his table. Then he walked over to the men standing in front of the now closed doors.

“Want me to tend your horses? ‘tis only a silver pfennig for two horses in the stable overnight. We give them a bit of grain as well.”

The men looked at each other. The taller one raised his eyebrow. In a gruff voice, the shorter man said, “Very well, Tend them.”

As Alfred started to open the door the taller man grabbed him by the arm and asked. “Has a young woman passed through here?”

“I’ve not seen any young women except villagers,” Alfred answered truthfully.

As he exited the door Alfred overheard the tall one say. “Suppose we stay the night here dry, Grego?” He didn’t hear the answer as he shut the door tight before running through the mist to the two horses tied to the rail in front of the tavern. He was in the stables then taking care of the horses. Saddles and tack off, hay and grain provided. He even rubbed them down with an old blanket.

The Count was at his table when Alfred returned. As he passed by the Count’s table on the way to his room to get dry clothing. He paused a moment. “Just two horses. I didn’t see any other man about.” The Count nodded his head at this. He and the lad in the kitchen were gone out the back door when Alfred returned to the tavern’s main room.

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Sparring partner

Alfred was in a miserable mood. No sooner than he had finished his chores and was ready to begin the new book he had found in the church. Apparently, the priest, Father Fitzpatrick also enjoyed adventure tales. The thick volume Alfred had borrowed from the bookshelves of the church was a collection of Arthurian tales. His plans to disappear into a hidden space in the hay above the stables reading and dreaming of adventure was spoiled.

The count had requested him for a sparring partner with the boy that had appeared a few days ago. Why one of the older boys wasn’t selected Alfred couldn’t fathom. Samuel, Fritz, Duncan, Harold, and Clyde were well along in their training. The Count insisted that everyone over sixteen be trained in arms. They trained until they met the standards that he expected for the local guard. Alfred had at least two more years before he had to begin the task. It was so unfair. He heard his mother’s voice in the back of his mind, “Alfred take off that pouty face. It makes people think we spoil you.”

He put on his bland bored face as he approached the gates of the castle. The portcullis was down. This didn’t surprise him. he had never seen it open. He wondered if perhaps it couldn’t be opened. Simeon was at the iron gate the provided entry into the castle. Why was he behind the gate? Alfred didn’t remember ever seeing that gate closed. Most times he had been sent on an errand to the castle there wasn’t even a guard. He tried not to let a spark of interest show on his face. Though now he was a bit curious about what was going on here.

“Bout time you got here,” Simeon growled at him. “I’ve had to stand here for the last hour. My feet are tired.” He swung the gate out. “Get in and go to the house. I can lock this here, then sit in the warmth then”

Alfred walked thought the long tunnel through the wall of the castle. By the light of the scattered torches, he could make out the kill slots above his head. He was told in times of war invaders could be assaulted with arrows and boiling oil. As far as Alfred knew there hadn’t been a battle near here since his grandfather’s time. When he mentioned adventure and battles to this father, all he got was a gruff reply about wishing that peace would reign in the village till Alfred was a grandfather or more.  

Visions of noble knights and damsels in distress danced thorough his head. He could picture himself defeating the wicked wizard who held the damsel captive.  What he would do with her afterward he wasn’t quite sure. A kiss perhaps? The older boys hinted that there might be more. But they were as embarrassed as he when the subject came up. Which it never did when an adult was near. And they were almost always an adult nearby.

There had been two weddings the last year and the bawdy songs that had been sung that night…

“Alfred, what are you doing wandering about?” Gertie interrupted his thoughts. The count is waiting in the manor. “Best be on your way. He’s growing impatient. He’s got things to do.” She glared at him as only she could

He managed to get out “yes, um.” Then he rushed across the courtyard to what they called the manor. It had once been the castle’s chapel. Now it was where the Count lived. The area around the courtyard was the only area used now. The grand keep was a shamble of ruins. The only part of its walls in repair was what faced the courtyard. The guards were housed in what once had been the stables.  The moat had been filled in long ago. The kitchen and servant’s quarters now sat against part of the wall it had protected. The sables had been moved out to a walled yard the riders practiced on. The horses inside the walls the riders and their families lived in a scattering of houses nearby.  Of course, none of this crossed Alfred’s mind as the Count himself opened the manor door. Waving him in as it began once more to rain.

Alfred mumbled an apology for being late. “Nonsense,” the Count’s voice boomed. “You are just in time for the instruction to begin.  You know Gerhart, don’t you?”

He nodded his head in assent. He knew the wizen old man. He seldom came into the tavern. He wasn’t sociable at all when he was there. But he did know who he was.

Gerhart was standing next to Colin the man who was responsible for training the local guard.

“I’ve arranged with your father for you to stay here at the manor until I return from some errands I need to run.” The count told him.

“This is Edel.” He said as he walked Alfred over to where a lad about Alfred’s age stood. “You’ll be training with him. I expect you both to become proficient in the bow and sword. That’s Colin’s assignment. Then when Gerhart deems you ready, he’ll give you some lessons in close combat. He’s rather surprising in that you’ll see.”

Edel was a bit effeminate Alfred thought. He would have to be careful not to hurt the child. Why he didn’t even have a hint of a beard. Alfred would have had a nice start on one if his mother had allowed it.

 “I may need a page soon. That would mean some travel, Alfred.”  The Count drew Alfred’s attention back to the matter at hand. “Do well in the training and you may be the one.”

Alfred’s mind attached to the promise of travel. Yes, this was it his chance to leave this boring village and see the world. Oh, he would do well. Edel didn’t have a chance at becoming the count’s page. Not a chance.

“I’ve off early tomorrow morning.” The Count finished. “Catherine show Alfred where he will sleep. Your training begins in the morning.” The count dismissed them and walked away toward his quarters without another glance toward them.

Catherine directed him up the stairs and the second door on the left.  That’s where Alfred read of Arthur until the candle was burnt nearly out. He fell asleep and dreamed of knights, dragons and damsels.

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Roast Boar

Outside the tavern, it was a chill drippy night. It wasn’t much this tavern. Situated as it was in a backwater village overshadowed by a castle that may have once been important. Whatever trade route it had been built to protect had long ago shifted leaving it to sit alone.

A fire burned in the central fireplace. The guest on one side, the kitchen on the other. A young man in an apron was carrying tankards of mulled wine or platers of food between the tables. He was the inn keeper’s son. He preferred this to mucking out the stables a job assigned to Tom the son of the widow Hazel. Albert had once desired to adventure. He had once journeyed away from the village. He had traveled with the squire on an errand. It had been a relief to return to the quiet village. It was soon after that he had decided to court Rebecca. What he made working for his father wasn’t much, but it was steady. In time he would inherit the old place and raise his children in it as he had been by his parents. His mother was baking bread today. The whole place was filled with the aroma.

Bread baking day was one reason so many were gathered here today. That and the boar roasting on the split. Haskell the forester had brought it in yesterday. It had been raiding the village gardens, such as they were. They had lost half the potato harvest to him and his clan. Well no more. Potato fattened he would be the feast. Two other dismembered hogs hung in the various smoke houses in the village.

Rebecca was sitting with her family. When he glanced her way. She blushed and turned her eyes down. Albert forgot the pig then. He had made plans to meet her later, after the feast. Hopefully, they could sneak up to his room afterward.

Four of the castle’s guardsmen occupied a table. The fat one, Henry, was waving his mug trying to catch Albert’s eye. They needed more drink. Albert thought they had had more than their share. But who was he to deny them another round of mulled wine? They were off duty and paying customers. After he had eaten his fill and drank another few rounds of wine Henry would probably fall asleep where he sat.

It would be another half hour before they began to serve the boar. It would be another hour before the first of the fresh bread would begin to appear. For now, last week’s bread and some of farmer Brown’s cheese would have to do. Albert hardly had time to contemplate his rendezvous with Rebecca he was so busy.

Albert was pouring Henry another drink when the front door opened letting a chill spread across the room. A lad, about twelve, maybe a little older, pulled the door shut behind him. His hair plastered to his skull and his clothing was soaked through. He shivered from the cold.

A shudder ran through Albert as he finished filling Henry’s mug. He sat the pitcher down in the middle of the guard’s table, He knew it would be empty by the time he sought to retrieve it. Five years ago rattled through Albert. Albert knew that this boy was Tom coming in to warm himself after attending to the stables. Yet this brought back memories of what occurred five years ago and the start of the adventure that now haunted his memories.

Albert walked over to him. “Give me your cloak. I’ll find a place for it to dry.” He held out his hand and waited. Tom hesitated then shrugged his shoulders and slipped out of his cloak handing it to Albert. What was under the cloak was soaked as well. “Come by the fire. I’ll find a warm drink for you.”

He grabbed the empty pitcher off the guard’s table and headed for the kettle of mulled wine intending to grab a mug for Tom.  He saw the squire sitting at his table just like he had been five years ago. He almost dropped what he held the images were so clear.

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Jason, travel guide

Every adventure a surprise.

We were in the Bahamas on vacation with family.

Jason invited us to see the low tide pools they had visited before we got there. The twins declared that they would stay with their mother. They didn’t want to go on this adventure. This should have warned us.

Carrie and I donned our water shoes. Jason and Alison made wiser decisions on footwear.  And we all started down the beach, an easy five-mile walk.

I couldn’t find any firm sand. Usually, it’s between where the waves wash the shore and the dry sand above. The dry sand always let your feet sink almost to the ankle. Unfortunately, where the sand was wet you sank just as much. Where the waves rushed support was pulled out from under your feet. We tried treading on the piles of dried seaweed which covered part of the beach. This helped some but it was scattered about. It only gave some help to our situation.

Halfway there I noticed a thunderhead growing in the distance. I chose to believe that it was moving away from us.

We made it to the edge of the rock outcrop that formed the tidal pools. To get where they were, we first had to navigate the path that accessed the area.

“Watch out for the sticker bushes,” Jason warned as he advanced down the narrow path we trod on. The sharp spine covered leaves of some yucca type plants thrust out in the way. The path narrowed more as the first of the sticker plants appeared. The barbed stems beautifully camouflaged by the green compound leaves. Long stems of the coarse sand grasses cropped up into the middle of the path.

The path widened, sand and rocks appeared. The area before us was covered by an ancient coral reef. Broken brain coral and seashells were scattered about. The waves surged and splashed against the rocks.

The dead coral was hard. My water shoes protected my feet from getting cut but didn’t do much to protect my feet from the hard uneven surface. I walked in the sand where possible and cooled my feet in the surf where I could. They were already telling me that they were not happy with the treatment I was giving them.

We examined the area and picked up some pieces of brain coral and shells to use as gifts for grandkids that were not in the Bahamas with us. Slowly we walked back to the trail that had led us here. I tried to walk past it, but Jason insisted that this was the correct path. I recognized several of the grass turfs and sticker plants that I again successfully maneuvered around. We descended the hill and moved back to the sandy beach that we would transverse home.  

A large school of fish (Maybe 10 of them) was just off the shore beyond where the waves began to break.  We spent several moments trying to identify them, finally, we (Alison, who we wisely agreed with) identified them as pufferfish. They were larger than my hand. I believe we all wished we had brought our snorkel gear then. Having no way to see them if we swam with them, we began to walk back to our beach house.

The storm clouds which we had not been watching caught our attention when we began to hear rumbling in the distance. We had made it almost a quarter of the way back when the clouds grew darker and the thunder louder. Alison advised us that the most dangerous place to be was walking down the beach in the surf.

We moved out of the water and closer to the trees that lined the beach, looking for a path into the jungle. We were almost a third of the way home when we came to the first one that truly led off the beach. Someone had placed tall posts into the sand near the way the path led. Perhaps to hang tarps for shade. They had also cleared the underbrush from the area making it almost park-like. I wanted to follow it toward our destination. But everyone seemed to think that path would just dump us back onto the beach. Sadly, I had to agree. So, we headed around one small hill and up another following the cleared route.

As we topped the hill two houses came into view. No one appeared to be home as we walked past them. The path changed to a road. As we passed the houses, I noticed that the road led at an angle away from the direction I wanted to travel, toward the house. The tropical jungle between us and the house would require more tools than we possessed. We had none. I had not placed a handy collapsible machete in my pocket before we started our adventure. That and the fact that boots would have been the footwear of choice for such an expedition kept us from making our own shortcut.

I told everyone that we were going to get wet. Carried laughed when a few drops of rain blew across us. Looking ahead I pointed out the line of rain we were advancing too. Soon my prophecy came true as rain moved over us. For a moment I hoped that my hat would keep my glasses free from being covered with water. The torrential downpour soon dispelled that. We were all soaked to the skin as we followed the road.  

The roads on the island were made of crushed limestone. Packed down they formed a concrete of sorts. Flat and hard in places and broken and still hard in others. Rivulets of water were running downhill. They formed pools of warm water in the low areas. Soft sandy muck covered the bottoms, giving a little relief for my complaining feet.

The rain poured as we walked down one hill and up another. After a bit more walking, we came to a rope barrier that we stepped over. Facing away from us was a small sign that said, “No trespassing.” We journeyed on this road until we found a road that cut off to the right. That looked much more like a way toward our destination. The road we had been following continued almost straight as far as we could see. More hills, more hard pavement. There was no soft trail beside the road. Plants grew at its’ very border.

There were times going up and down the hills and through the pools of water I thought I heard someone whistling. Now, who would do that?

We hoped the road we were on would come out on the highway if it didn’t curve back around and lead into the area we were staying. With nary, a curve or bend the road traveled up and down through the forest. The highway appeared at the end of the road. As we approached the highway Alison took out her phone and sent a text to Lynette, hoping she could come and carry us home.  

We turned right onto the highway and again I was sure I heard someone whistling a merry tune. Before I could identify the culprit, my left foot informed me it was being uncomfortably poked. As the others marched forward, I did a quick examination but found nothing.

Two or three cars passed us before a kind gentleman in a red car stopped and asked, “Can I give you a ride?”

 “We’re soaking wet,” I told him. I could see the realization of just how wet his seats would be if we climbed in.

Jason asked, “Do you know how much further it is to the road that leads to Beach Haven?”

“Oh, it’s not far.” He told us. Relief crossed his face as he avoided having his car seats soaked through. He waved and headed down the road. It was a short time later that I identified the whistler. Jason!

I slowly dawned on me that he was having a good time, an adventure. I realized then that even with my feet aching, I too shared that sentiment. Other than the ache in my feet, I was where I wanted to be. Having an adventure with people I enjoyed and loved.

After another 20 miles (I know Alison will insist that it was less than a mile) we came to the road that led to our house. A short time later Lynette came driving down the road in their rented van. She hadn’t yet received Alison’s text. But she was worried about us and went out in search of us.

We were soon in dry clothes sharing drinks. I did have blisters on both feet where the seam of my water shoes had rubbed. And I had this story to tell.

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Vacation Bible School

Long a go in a state not so far away, I went to a vacation bible school. My memories of this are incomplete but some things stand out. My mom drove me there. It was a small Baptist church that sat on west main street. I must have been around 6 at the time. They wanted someone to sing a song and I volunteered. I was brought up front and asked “what song do you want to sing?”

I clearly remember I told them. “Nobody loves me, boohoo.”

The pastor hesitated a moment and helped me decide that maybe we should sing “Yes, Jesus loves me” instead. So ended my music career.

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My grand Mother Bare

A cousin has asked me to share memories of my Grandparents Bare. I thought I’d share a few here.

My memories of Grandma Bare are mostly vague. I do recall sitting at the kitchen table with her, Grandpa Bare, My Mom, Dad and sister Anita. The image is clear but the conversation that I remember is from my Mon’s memories more than mine. Anita and I were in trouble. I’m going to claim that she had been aggravating me and I reacted. That has to be true because Grandma Bare came to my defense when Dad threatened to spank me. She told him “You won’t spank him he didn’t do anything.” Dad responded that I was his son and he would if he decided it needed to be done.

Mom remembered this as the first time Dad ever stood up to his mother. She was glad he finally did. Though I didn’t get a spanking that time. Anita probably remembers this differently. I choose to remember Grandma Bare being right.

Thinking about Grandma bare brought a memory of a story Dad told about her. You’ve probably already heard it.

After the family had moved to Oklahoma Grandma Bare was one of the few women in the area that baked light bread (Yeast bread). She would do all the bread baking once a week. I don’t remember how many loaves of bread she would bake, but it was enough to feed the family for a week.

One baking day a neighbor girl was visiting. She had never seen bread like Grandma was baking. He mother always baked soda bread or briskets (which used baking powder). As she was leaving Grandma noticed she was walking funny. After stopping her she discovered the girl had taken every fresh loaf of bread. After retrieving the bread, Grandma’s kind heart took over. She ended up sending the thief home with a fresh loaf.

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Memories of my Grandfather Bare

My memories about of my Grandpa Bare are vague and assisted by old home movies (That I seem to have misplaced).

I remember once or possibly twenty times going to the old home place to visit. Once Dad was taking some movies with his old 8mm. There I am running up and down the little hill in front of the house. At least once Grandma Bare tries to hold me and Anita to pose for the picture. Vaguely it seems that Grandpa Bare told us to hold still all the while Dad tried to explain that he was taking moving pictures. In that old movie you can see Grandpa Bare already walking in the shuffling steps I remember from the short time he lived with us. I look to be about 6 years old (1958?) in that old movie. I paused here to look up Grandpa Bare’s birth date And behold I have placed my copy of the family history in some secure place I can’t find.

I remember the day that the grandparents Bare came for a meal. Anita and I did something. (I deny being the instigator, though I probably was). But when Dad threatened to spank me Grandma Bare interceded. “You won’t spank him; he didn’t do anything.” Dad responded that I was his child and he would give me a spanking if he decided to. I don’t recall a spanking or the argument going further. My mom years later related that this was the first time my dad had stood up to his mother. I don’t remember Grandpa Bare saying anything. Though he might have.

The last year or so of his life he lived with us. Anita has already told of her sitting on his lap eating ice cream. I remember her on his lap with the Sunday comics, I think she was reading them to him.

The day he had one of his spells, they called it hardening of the arteries, I think they were what we would call mini strokes. He had walked out of the house arguing with dad about the need to go unhitch the horses. The boys had left them all hitched up. After a brief argument he asked dad where was the barn? Dad pointed out an old shed across the pasture north of our house about half a block away. Grandpa Bare then told him “That quite a ways, I think the boys can take care of those horses.”

Those times were rare. Most of the time he shuffled around the house or quietly sat. I remember mom being worried about him carrying my baby sister Patti around. Afraid he might stumble and fall. Yet she wouldn’t deny him the pleasure.

One day shortly after Patti was born, she had been talking to someone at the door, holding patti in her arms. When she came in and shut the door, he was concerned at first. He thought someone had left the baby behind.

During meals he would butter his bread. Seemed he couldn’t eat with out some bread. And when we had peas, he would eat them with his knife.

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As I remember.

I wrote this some time ago. Thought I would share this here

I was around 10 the first time I saw an African-American. Two dark men in work clothes had backed a truck full of hay up to my Cub Scout den mother’s barn.  The other guys and I were playing about 30 feet away from them. They had a boy about our age with them. He was a little bigger than we were. The other boys cut off running when they saw they had seen us. But to me the boy looked like a chance to make a new friend. I don’t remember if we said anything as we approached each other, I think I said “hi”. The next thing I knew I was on the ground with him on top of me. He wasn’t hurting me but he sure had me trapped. I heard the men yell “what are you doing?” I was wondering the same thing. He got up off me and ran to the men and started helping them unload the hay into the barn. I figured that’s why he had bigger muscles than me.  

Several years later I learned why I didn’t see any other African-Americans around, when a guy in junior High told me “No n—-r ever spent the night in Pryor and none ever would. They didn’t dare to”.  I kind of knew what that word meant but the only time I heard that word at home was when my mother was talking about her favorite nut (What we call a Brazil nut now). A phrase she dropped sometime before I left for college.  

Around 1963, we began attending a church in Tulsa. There I developed a friendship with a boy a little younger than me named Richard. I really enjoyed playing with him. So much so I wanted him to spend the night some weekend like some of my other church friends had. I knew better that to spring this on my folks in front of him and his mother so I broached the subject one Friday night. They got the strangest look on their faces. Looked at each other then one of them said we can’t. “Why?” I wanted to know. “We don’t want a cross burnt in our front yard” was their reply. That mystified me. The very idea that someone would do something so strange because I had a friend spend the night. But the fear in my parents’ eyes stopped me pursuing that train of thought.  

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