Patreon LogoYour support makes Blue Moon possible (Patreon)

A Thread of Lies / Best of Letters to the Editor.

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
Stories, vignettes, ideas, lies and some unspeakable tales from Lower-Middle Earth parked here. Also, from a secret stash of P*******e Letters to the Editor.

The long way home.

The gin gimlet studios memo.

The art of the deal.

It could be worse.

Be careful of what you ask for.

English class.

You just never noticed.

If It’s gold, it glitters, MoFo.

More or Less Love Stories in Fifty Shades of Words

Lifeboat - expanding versions (4/7/19)

Tanka samples

Point of View

Last Gifts

Best of Letters to the Editor from [name redacted at the insistence of the publisher's legal counsel] Magazine. (ongoing series)
( see Penthouse Inc. v. Ivan Gottanalias, LASC Case No. BA 4030403)

No. 1. Best of Letters to the Editor



____________________
Hate mail? I don’t.
 
Last edited:

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
The Long Way Home

The bus left me and my kit bag at a rural railroad crossing then rattled away in a cloud of gasoline fumes and dust and was quickly lost to sight. The vast stillness and earthy scent of the prairie settled around me and a leisurely hike along the Canadian Pacific tracks would see me home sometime after nightfall.

I followed the steel rails as the bright afternoon faded into lingering summer twilight, the western sky turning blue to gold then losing all color behind a rack of clouds. Faint greenish yellow lights winked on and off on the edge of vision then spread out in front of me, millions of fireflies carpeting endless fields of summer wheat.

On either side of the tracks I passed farmhouses, interiors glowing warm orange against the deepening shadows, and on the air drifted the scent of the yeasty aroma of newly baked bread and seared beef, for wartime food rationing did not affect us much here on the plains.

Still miles distant, outside one of those homes sat a new tractor, green and white brought all the way from Detroit, and the mill pond with the great lurking catfish and pintail ducks, and the yellow and brown farm dogs, and the family of owls in the shed.

Inside Marie would be sleeping, all cottony softness in her nightshirt, a tangle of dark silky hair, her bare leg outside the blankets. And I would bring her out of slumber with kisses on her mouth until she knew I was home, and she would take me with desperate need and pull me down to her and arch her back, all without a word said or wanted.

I quickened to a jog when over-the-horizon heat lightning flashed and lit the towering thunderheads, ruddy against the dark sky. A light air carried rain scent, quickly strengthened to a cold wind. The fast-moving storm swept in, lashing with a ferocious intensity of sound and wind. Thunder boomed, rolled around the sky and I was in a vile trench in northern France.

A corporal shook me awake. Our heavy artillery was firing. Big shells rumbled overhead, roaring like freight trains, illumination flares sparkled in the predawn half-light. Orders from Division: Immediate. Renew-attack-at-all-hazards.

And a sergeant said, "fix them bay’nets."
 

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
GIN GIMLET STUDIOS
73 Knob Creek Way
Larch Barrens, UT

MEMO

To: Sid
From: Avi
Date: 3/2/19
Re: The Runners - trailer voiceover
_____________________

Here's the text for the trailer voiceover. Hope it works. Maybe we get Sam Jackson?


"From Gin Gimlet Studios comes The Runners, a new film by Alan Smithee.

She is the One Bridesmaid Left Behind who flew into town for a friend's wedding -- but landed in Las Vegas, Nevada instead of Las Vegas, New Mexico. She's got seven hundred miles to go and ten hours to get there.

He is a small-time crook on the run from the mob in an '88 Chevy Nova, with bags full of casino chips stolen from the Las Vegas Chip Company. He doesn't know that he's heisted $100 dollars worth of potato chips and no one's after him.

He lost his wallet in the theft. She's got an almost maxed-out credit card."
 

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
The Art of the Deal

Today ...


A human engineer company had levelled a not-insignificant portion of the Magic Forest. Although they were careful in site selection and left standing an ancient grove of beloved Mallon Trees, the trees were not doing well under the continual assault from diesel and gasoline fumes and appeared to be dying. They were doomed anyway after the accidental spill of 5,000 gallons of hi-test aviation gas into the formerly pristine River Running. After the not-suspicious-at-all incident, the Elven Queen approved a new tank farm (at cost-plus to her recently chartered Royal Construction Guild) to replace the grove.

But that was a minor setback. Even before the engineers completed the main airstrip and a satellite field, a steady stream of transports began landing the material and personnel for the facility soon to be commissioned Air Base Gilthoniel.

Finally, the wondrous day arrived. After a night of thunderous rain squalls and violent winds, the morning dawned and Sun broke through the cloud banks as water drained off the sealed runways and steamed in Her rays, bathing Elf Land in a sublime morning light. Radiant Dawn danced across the mountain tops and high frequency antennas.

Then, joyful cries rose in song when sharp elven eyes spied, roaring out of the Far West, the first of many flights of Ara-planes called Gru-mmans, all dressed in Elfish Star-n-Moon livery.

* * *​
A year ago …

The human Traveler and his aide kept their poker faces waiting on the King as he examined the model ara-plane. Their well-worn, faded cloaks covered air force blue uniforms. He had been, in civilian life, an attorney and top contract negotiator for Standard Oil Company, the aide was on temporary assignment from an unnamed security service. While they had surrendered their swords and daggers (all of suitable elven lineage) for the royal audience, the aide's .45 caliber semi-automatic ceremonial hip buckler rested snug in its holster.

"And this is just a ... small version, a toy as it were, the real ones are ..."

"Fifty-four feet two inches, wingtip to wingtip, capacity 2,000 pounds of bombs or rockets, Your Highness, all things considered, well worth their weight in True-Silver."

"Indeed," said the King to his Elf-Queen. "Well worth it, if they give us a way to put an end to the Dwarf Menace and end these insufferable Dwarf Wars once and for all."

“Moria delenda est,” said the Queen reflexively in unison with the rest of the Elf Court.

But a succession of shady arms-salesmen hawking the alleged latest improvements in magic arrows and triple-headed-spears resulted in dead Elfs on the battlefields and dead arms-peddlers on the gibbets had made the Queen deeply suspicious.

Whilst fingering Elmoreleonard, the white-stoned Ring of Trvth, the Queen fixed the Traveler with her deep and mysterious wolf-gray eyes, and her mind pierced his, probing his deepest thoughts, and weighed the measure of his heart. Her presence grew until it filled the audience hall with a blazing, yet invisible white light. But years of experience facing down banana republic war-lords and government prosecutors stood him well. Concentrating instead on baseball statistics, he did not flinch or look away.

He returned her gaze, struck a heroic pose and let her read his mind of the thoughts of pleasures that lay ahead for her. Her will weakened, she blushed ever so faintly. Within her heart swirled deeply buried emotions that she had not felt in Ages.

"Tell me," she said, recovering her breath and making the subtle but universal sign of rubbing her thumb across her index and middle fingers, "about 'kick-backs' and 'sweetheart deals.'"
 
Last edited:

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
It Could be Worse


The Quest was in dire peril. Enemy scouts from the large war party they had been desperately trying to avoid had seen them and sent word to the Head Honcho Himself. A bugle sounded and within minutes twenty or thirty line-of-battle mastodons wheeled as one and charged directly at the adventuring party. The adventurers turned, eyes pleading to the one who alone might save the day ...

"No, I don't do war magick, exactly,” said the Mage, who was trying in vain to remember a teleportation spell. Three hundred yards away and ambling fast, the Mage could make out little figures mounted on the brutes’ massive hairy shoulders.

"Then exactly what is your forte? your expertise, as it were." This from a diminutive twerp armed with a -- hacksaw? The Mage assumed him to be a Dwarf but noticed the Ranger tabs on his Members Only jacket, which did not make sense. The Mage bought a few precious moments to think by lighting a cigarette off his index fingertip.

"I am good with maps."

"What do you mean, 'good with maps'? You mean you can read them? Most of the bozos in this party can read maps." This alarmed comment erupted from an astonishingly attractive (in a trashy elven sort of way) blonde warrior-princess in burnished white-and-gold cocktail dress armor. She notched a scaled down clothyard arrow to a scaled down longbow, glancing nervously over her shoulder at the charging full-sized mastodons. The Mage wasn't entirely sure who the arrow was for. He did notice that the figures atop the mastodons, now only 200 yards away, were saber tooth cats. Always smilodons but never thylacosmilines, he deplored the state of modern education and the lack of originality in modern high fantasy.

"No, ... I mean, yes, of course I can read maps, and charts too. My skill is more subtle, more sublime, more ..."

"Stop the bullshit," said the Warrior-Princess, "we've got no time.”

"I can refold maps."

Omlet the Dwark visibly slumped over his tomahawk. The Barbarian managed a face palm, not the gesture expected from a bronze-age primitive. A RenFair Reject squeaked, "you might have mentioned this at the Adventuring Hall before we hired you. We all assumed ...."

"Never assume."

The mastodons were less than a hundred yards away, their maddened trumpeting not discordant with the saber tooths' roaring. They were close enough for all of the party to see human-sized demons riding the big tigers.

"Stand aside", said the Mage, who had done a stint with the Rhine Army as a junior officer back in the day. He unfolded a map from his pack and began tearing it into strips, explaining, "it is of stone-cold certainty that battles will always take place at the intersection of maps, on ground that is therefore inevitably unmapped. Thus, by, uh, rearranging this map so that we are in this dead ground (so to speak), the battle can't take place. And so we are safe," he added for emphasis.

"Are you out of your bloody stupid mind? That doesn't even begin to make sense. You can't possibly be serious", sputtered the Warrior-Princess, her voice rising in shrill panic.

The Mage had to shout to be heard over the thundering herd. "Not unless you have a better idea."
 

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
Be Careful of What You Ask For


"Where are my dragons?", shrieked the long legged blonde in polished milf-il cocktail dress armor, for the third time in the last minute.

"Where are ...."

"Do shut up", I interrupted the ... Secret Princess? I didn't know for sure. My ears weren't bleeding, yet.

Half an hour before I had been in in the Adventurers' Tavern quaffing a root beer before a warm fire when the Dungeon Master, a harried man with the traditional fake long white beard and pointed hat recognized me as the On-Call stand-in. He waved me over, pointed to a departing Party of a half dozen mixed lunatics in immediate need of a 57th Level Devilishly Handsome Yet Morally Compromised Cad / Warrior.

The DM told me I was standing in for a 56th Level who couldn't hold his lemonade. He gestured impatiently, said, "Right ... off with you then, make sure yon 1040EZs don't trip over their spells".

The DM gestured with his ashen wand1 and ...

... The next moment we were somewhere else, but a somewhere that was definitely wrong. The air reeked of sulfur and unwashed humanity and people dressed like a high school band that had been performing in the mud were yammering in a foreign language I recognized as French. Windblown snow swirled and blanketed the ground two feet deep. My teeth were already chattering. Cold as a witch's refrigerator.

Then I knew where and when we were but the rational part of my brain refused to accept it. I snatched the sheaf of faux-parchment that the DM had given one of the other Adventurers, a typical Renfaire reject, a dork in a forest green coverall with U.S. Army Ranger tabs on his sleeves.

"You're a ... Ranger?

"Fifth Level", the Dork squeaked proudly, showing me a light saber handle, "it's green!".

I thumbed through the paperwork, skipping over the Player Sheets because I didn't really want to know more about "Billiam the Barbarian" or "Klangon the Blave" (sp?). When I got to "Adventure Description" I knew immediately how it had gone sideways. Someone, almost certainly the noisy Blonde, had written, "Secret Princess Heir To The Throne Of Wisteria Seeks Her Lost Drago ... ."

"Do you know," I asked the blonde between screeches, "the difference between a 'Dragon' and a 'Dragoon'?"

"Where are my dragons?", she mindlessly shrieked again, about to fall out of her cocktail dress armor, blonde hair flying free in the icy Russian wind.

All around you, I was tempted to say. Because I was fluent in high school French, I knew we were in the camp of the 13e Régiment de Dragoons, or what was left of them, on the Russian steppe, on Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. In winter. It was late in the retreat, since there were only a few scrawny horses left uneaten. No one looked like he'd had a full ration in months.

They all watched the Blonde, many stood up. Gauging by their awkward gait, it also appeared they hadn't seen, much less been with, a woman in just as long.

A good twenty, maybe fifty huge, garlic reeking, bearded, desperately horny men were already unbuttoning their trousers (one actually carrying a sawhorse) closed in on the Blonde when, as if on cue, she squealed,

"Where are my dragons?"



________________
1. You perverts... really? It's just a damn stick.
 

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
English Class


excerpt from William Shakespeare’s Richard I Part 2, Student Edition with Discussion Questions, editor P. deRudio

Act II, scene 4
_________________________

"Come now, Milady, it is time. Bendeth thou over," Richard, the Trou-Down Prince said, thrusting provocatively with his hips towards a Restoration era table. "Doeth this thing now," he added as an afterthought.

Meredith the Fair, Lady of Soixante-Neuf, brushed a wisp of sun-touched blonde hair from her face. In one fluid, yet practiced motion, shimmied her pale, bare shoulders and hips and a dozen petticoats and hoops and silken stockings floated down to the Persian area rug like feathers on a summer day. She regally folded herself over the furniture, spreading her shapely legs and bracing herself with long, toned arms on the table's drop leaf.

"Getteth this foul deed over with forthwith", Meredith said in haughty aristocratic tones used mainly with the foreigners and hired help, dismissing the Prince's blackmail threats once again as a big nothing.

"Be thou of certain that thou prick do pricketh hard -- if thou can."

"Thou mocketh me?" sneered the Trou-Down Prince. "Once drawn, Sexcalibur must be sheathed into thy moist folds deeply." Yea, this is the fifth time I’ve threatened blackmail with a handful of blank parchment, reflected the Prince. Yet she’s never asked for the papers back. Is it possible this chick doeth dig it?

As his erection leapt like a royal stag from his royal pants, she actually heard the rasp of weapons-grade steel drawn from a scabbard. Although she knew this was only an overused trope, yet she was afraid, and beads of sweat rolled off her forehead and tickled down her cleavage. Meredith white knuckled the table, closed her eyes and wiggled her noble ass in a show of false bravado. “Dreadnought” was part of her Family motto, and her voice did not betray fear of the imminent royal probing.

"Then do sheath it in my lovers-nest if thou wilt, without false remorse or cross-thread. Fail not as you will answer the contrary at your peril."

__________________

Questions for discussion.

1. In what ways do you think Lady Meredith earned the sobriquet “Lady of Soixante-Neuf?” Ask your teacher to demonstrate. (10 minutes)

2. Why does Meredith fear a cross-threaded probe? (5 minutes)
 

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
You Just Never Noticed


There were these two guys sitting in a bar. They’d been sitting in that bar for over fifteen years. Not fifteen years continuously, but more or less regularly on Tuesdays or Fridays; holidays and vacations excepted. They were ordinary guys and it was an ordinary bar. The owners pretended it was a sports bar and the regulars let them pretend. But for all the sports regalia on the walls, the girls behind the counter usually forgot to turn off the jukebox so the patrons who came to watch the NFL or the NHL or the Yankees play the Red Sox (the only games permitted by the cable gods) had to watch the games to terrible music instead of the play-by-play unless someone spoke up about it.

Their women tolerated this because they knew where their men were. The two friends griped about them, work, the ungratefulness of children and the losing hockey team just because they didn’t need a reason, like that auld syne tune went, we can because we can because we can because we can… . They’d told each other the same fish stories and lies until “this happened about twenty years ago” became “about thirty years ago” and they became the character in Springsteen’s Glory Days they once laughed at. And they knew it, and still told the stories.

One night, after watching their team lose again, one of them, in a gin-fueled flight of imagination, said to the other:

“See that back door … by the juke box. You’ve been through there a hundred or two times, right”?

“Sure, the parking lot, for a smoke, what about it?”

“Exactly. Go out, turn left, there’s the parking lot. But have you ever turned right instead of left?”

“No, why would I?”

“No reason to, that’s the point. But, you know, if you’d turned right, there’s a little walk way and at the end there’s a door to a tavern totally exactly like this one, only different. It's full of guys like us, but they’re not complaining about the game because in that bar, the local team never plays on Tuesdays or Fridays but on Sundays, Mondays or Thursdays. Same league, same stadium, but you just never noticed because we’re never here then. The team’s carried on local radio, but your radio never picks up the broadcast. You’d need one built in a foreign country, like Mexico or Macao to tune in the game.

“Think about it ... yes, I’ll have another Bombay gimlet, no not a double … you drive to and from work the same way, walk your dog along the same route every day, always the same time, without any good reason to change. You and me and dogs, all creatures of habit.

“Look, there’s a little trail that circles around a corner in that vacant lot – where that old Lexus with the “For Sale” sign is parked. How many times have you walked your dog past it? Dozens? You’ve never noticed that path ... I mean, you’ve seen it, but not noticed it. Your dog hasn’t even sniffed it out. It doesn’t lead to a hobo junction, or a coyote den. Take that path and around the corner there’s another neighborhood you’ve never seen, but it’s not Winter there, instead they’re having 4th of July pool parties, grilling brats, there are beer-commercial-style girlfriends hanging around, kids are throwing water balloons, someone's playing a guitar, others are smoking prime seegars and getting hammered on PBR. And they'll be real fireworks: rockets, mortars, not the bullshit safe and sane stuff. All this while we’re freezing our asses off in this cold soak. For all I know it might never be Winter there."

He went on in that vein until he was staring at a melt-ice cocktail and the bottom of his rocks glass, the stream of consciousness finally blotted out by the gin. He got up to drain the lizard, when he returned his friend was gone. That worthless lightweight, if he hung the tab on me I'll croak his ass … .

But the storyteller was not exactly correct. There was in fact another bar down the alley to the right. Inside that other bar there were two women, about their age, nursing daiquiris or wine coolers, bitching about their men, their jobs, the ungratefulness of children, and one of them was saying to the other, “see that back door? The one by the cigarette machine? … .”
 
Last edited:

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
If It’s Gold, It Glitters, MoFo.


The trackers rode off before first light and have not yet returned.

After weeks on the trail we are hot, dusty and saddle sore, on this endless Road that goes ever on and on. We have halted at a Crossroads – where the Greenway meets the Great East Road leading somewhere into the mist shrouded -- and some say haunted hills, away East.

Behind me a listless troop of forty Native Mounted Police waits dismounted, lounging in the summer grass in the heat of the midday Sun, smoking Leaf, day dreaming of being somewhere else with the girls they left behind. The second-in-command is a bright eyed subaltern, new to the Service and just eager enough for the role assigned to him.

I am the Senior District Currency Control Officer, nominally a colonel’s rank and pay, hot on the trail of the fugitives involved in the largest, most destructive heist Middle Earth has ever seen. Somewhere tantalizingly close yet just out of reach are the criminals – a merry band of rogue elves, hobbits, Men and dwarves, masterminded by a twisted wizard. The bodies of dozens impressed gold-bearing porters, worn out and left to die, made a trail a hundred leagues long. These unfortunates were the inhabitants of isolated villages and farmhouses, with an occasional dead dwarf and, a week back, an entire troupe of elven acrobats. The survivors labored along with a half a long ton of government gold lifted from the hoard of a murdered Dragon. It should have escheated to the government fisc upon the demise of said Dragon, but it didn’t, and the hoard – all 1,200lbs of it -- it vanished before the Revenuers could levy the King's writ.

Gone but not unnoticed. In its speedy departure northward spread a trail of rack and ruin, of unparalleled economic disruption: staggering hyperinflation, food shortages, out of control currency speculation, followed by counterfeiters, ponzi schemers, carpetbaggers, confidence men, starvation and civil unrest, all directly caused by the infusion of nearly ten times the value of the entire Northwest of the Old World East of the Sea in .995 pure gold Double Manticores. All this dumped into a mostly a barter economy where the largest coin was, until recently, a copper Penny. A ghastly amount was spent, given away or wasted, or invested/washed through dummy companies set up by bought and paid for Human lawyers. Fortunately, most of it remained, just ahead, in the long empty leagues between here and there … .

A sentinel points, sings out: dust clouds in the distance, the tracker-hunter-killer elves are returning. Soon I will send the shavetail and most of the police down one road, while I – along with a trusted handful – will take the other. In a day – two days at most - we will catch those thieves. And when we do, their bodies will never be seen again in this Age of the World.
 
Last edited:

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
More or Less Love Stories in Fifty Shades of Words



Lifeboat

“This lifeboat is for women and children ONLY. You there – stay put. Come on, Lady, make up your mind, climb in or stay out, we don’t have all night.”

But they did have all night, they had all eternity, and the cold dark sea rose up and closed around them.


Afterhours

They stared/not stared at each other across the bar, between whiskey bottles, with whiskey eyes. Maybe she flashed cleavage, perhaps he smiled back. When he looked again, she was gone. A few heartbeats later he caught the scent of perfume and the light touch of a hand on his shoulder.


The Germans wore gray.

It was pure Hollywood: casual lovers parting on a rain-swept train platform, amidst clouds of steam, the squeal of brakes and the clang of pistons. A last hurried kiss, then hands pressed together through glass. So they knew with certainty, but not where or when, that they would meet again.


There’s a place.

There's a place where the distant past and the present meet. The insubstantial presence of a girl waits for you, and if you kiss her long enough she'll take physical form and in a trembling voice to tell you how to to completely make her real. She's here, find her.


Reception

At the wedding reception they danced too long, too closely and by the end of the evening, too intimately before it was too late to ask, What side of the aisle were you on? Later, after midnight, they weren’t in the mood to ask any questions except, Want to again?


Gaslight

The saxophonist on the street corner who played Harlem Nocturne all night for the last three months under a gaslight was replaced by a Marvin Gaye impersonator. Maybe it was Gaye himself. When he started Let's Get it On I knew it was going to be a long hot summer.
 

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
Lifeboat - a story in expanding versions.

50 words:

“This lifeboat is for women and children ONLY. You there – stay put. Come on, Lady, make up your mind, climb in or stay out, we don’t have all night.”

But they did have all night, they had all eternity, and the cold dark sea rose up and closed around them.


200 words:

The refugee ship Surf City rapidly settled into the winter north Atlantic, chuffing steam like a dying animal’s last breaths. A drifting mine – maybe British, possibly German – had blown off the bows, causing fatal damage. Extensive flooding shut down the power plant, the only light came from flickering light from distress rockets. The last rocket illuminated one of the night’s tragedies.

“This lifeboat is for women and children ONLY,” said a deckhand to a man and woman, the man ambulatory only with her assistance. “You there,” he said, pointing to the man, “stay put”. To the woman, with exasperation, “Come on, Lady, make up your mind, climb in or stay out, we don’t have all night.”

She hesitated. He did not leave her in Budapest, when a Gestapo raid rolled up their resistance network. Nor did he leave when a turncoat betrayed them in a Greek fishing village, and only the nimblest and fleet-footed escaped with their lives. He fought her to safety and buying her life with a shattered leg.

She would not leave him now.

The sailor was wrong. They did have all night, they had all eternity, and the cold dark sea rose up and closed around them.


1200 words:

McBragg spun a globe in the library of his less-than-fashionable club, stopped it with a finger.

"There, the Atlantic just off the northwest coast of France. Did I ever tell you about the U-357 Incident?"

Everyone not named "McBragg," except the member he buttonholed began quietly moving to the library doors and filtering out.

"The submarine whose skipper they hanged for, what was it, torpedoing a … "

"... sinking a refugee ship, many hundreds lost, only a handful came through it. You think you've heard the story, but the press and the war crimes investigators told the story the tribunal wanted to hear. Lt. Kretzmer was innocent of murdering all those people, but, Kretzmer was one of ze Germans and one Nazis more or less was no matter to me."

"I was on that rust bucket when she went down, and let me tell you a story no one's heard of, so it can end the right kind of way."

McBragg paused, packed a clay pipe, blew puffs and settled back in his overstuffed armchair and began talking...

… The Faucon Bleu Line steamship Surf City carrying textiles and overburdened with illegal refugees rapidly settled into the winter north Atlantic, chuffing steam from its single funnel like a dying animal taking its last breaths. A drifting mine – maybe British, possibly German – blew off the bows, killed the watch standers on the bridge, caused catastrophic and fatal damage below the waterline. Extensive flooding shut down the power plant within minutes, leaving the stricken vessel without motive or electric power.

Most of the passengers, blasted out of sleep, drowned below decks by the rapidly rising flood, the situation on deck was less chaotic only by small degree. There were enough lifeboats, there just weren't enough survivors to put in them, or enough crew to operate them the ones that weren't blown off their davits. One remained for the handful of passengers who made it to the upper deck, under the supervision of a surviving ship's officer who had not yet shaken off the effects of the blast's concussion.

A waning moon and flickering distress rockets cast an eerie half-light on the disaster. The rockets were a futile gesture to the empty ocean. Sea water contamination of the boiler feed lines slowed down the ship and cost her the protection of a convoy, now long gone over the horizon.

The last rocket illuminated the night’s final tragedy.

“This lifeboat is for women and children ONLY,” barked the second officer at a man and woman. The man, hastily dressed in workingman’s clothes but without hat or coat against the sub-zero conditions, leaned on a bollard for support against the ship’s list. His lower right leg was wrapped in bandages and he was ambulatory only with the woman’s assistance. The woman, dark hair and slight of build, wore a seaman’s pea jacket over a nightgown.

“You there,” the officer said, pointing to the man, “stay put,” he said unnecessarily, rising panic evident in his voice. To the woman he spoke with exasperation, under the custom of the sea no one would blame her for leaving the man, but she would not move. Although this conversation had been going on for only a half-minute, to him it must have seen like forever.

“Come on, Lady, please make up your mind now, climb in the boat or stay out, we don’t have all night.” The conversation lasted only as long as it did because a sailor, cursing to himself as only a sailor can, was desperately trying without success to clear the davit falls, which had fouled.

The woman still didn't move. But not in the way a rabbit freezes when run to ground by harriers. This is what I heard from the ship's medical officer (may he rest in peace), who attended his injury during the voyage.

The man with the wounded leg was a tailor who organized a resistance group in Romania. Amateurishly at first, but he had an instinctive talent for it, and most importantly for surviving. His network lasted longer than most, and because it achieved a certain level of success and was not communist, it attracted the attention of a British intelligence service, which provided arms and advice.

She was a peasant girl from up-country. How or why she came to be in Bucharest did not occur to him to ask. They became lovers to keep a fragile grasp on their humanity, but were not in love in any conventional sense, the term no longer had a real meaning by then and certainly not to them. In fact, neither knew the other's name, for security’s sake -- and no one was safe until they landed in England -- they knew only each other's nom de guerre.

Inevitably, someone slipped up. However it happened, betrayed, the wrong word to the wrong person, a radio operator staying on air for a minute too long, one night the Gestapo kicked in the front door. At the same time he dragged her through a back window and carried her across rooftops to safety. He got them as far as a Greek fishing village when a turncoat betrayed them and only the nimblest and fleet-footed partisans escaped with their lives. They crossed into France, in a suburb of Nice he fought her to safety with a Schmeisser wrenched out of the hands of a Vichy policeman. When he ran out of ammunition he used a knife, when the blade broke he fought with tooth and claw and paid for her life with a gunshot wound that shattered his leg.

From there he was finished as an asset; the security service would expend their limited resources to bring her out to safety but not both of them, scuze doamnă. Undaunted, the farm girl took charge. After Nice she inveigled, conned, defrauded and sold her body but never her soul to evade roadblocks, police dragnets and buy passage for both of them to Tunisia, Marseilles, across unoccupied France, then to Bordeaux and the dubious safety of the neutral-flagged Surf City. But for unimaginable reasons the gods intervened and booked their appointment with a loose mine less than a hundred miles from England.

She would not leave him. Not because of a romantic beau geste, but because she believed she could get them both off that sinking ship. She schemed until there was no time left for scheming.

Then It was finished, time had run out and every last soul still alive on that deck knew it. The whistle of steam played out, a boiler explosion gave the ship’s death rattle. There remained only the rising sea. The officer was lost overboard when the sodden hull lurched. The deck hand, resigned to his fate, gave up trying to free the lifeboat.

But the second officer had been wrong. They did have all night, in fact they had all of eternity. The man and woman found each other's eyes and for them time stopped, not figuratively, but actually. They lived a lifetime with the moments remaining -- they learned each other's true names, survived the war, married, saw their grand children grow up, and long afterwards on a fine Summer day one said a final goodbye to the other in a quiet English churchyard far, far away from a foundering wreck in the north Atlantic.

And only then the cold dark sea rose up and close around them all.





in progress .. McBragg (Jay Ward, anyone?) is a framing device for the as yet unwritten parts of the story.
 
Last edited:

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
Tanka samples.


November twilight,
deep shadows and wood-smoke mist.
She lies beside me,
blankets on a hardwood floor
Oak logs ablaze in the hearth.



I hear her soft breath
and the rustle of blankets.
Why I am bewitched
by whispering melodies
adrift on the desert wind?



Meltwater cocktails,
folded napkin, lipstick smeared,
two empty lounge chairs.
A hint of perfume lingers
but the melody goes on.
 

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
Point of View

Tom peered over the rifle's iron sights, tracked movement among the trees by the shifting play of light and shadows. Then he lost the target when the furtive scurrying stopped. He was patient. He didn't move, barely breathed, focused on a patch of irregular shade that just might be ... . A long thirty seconds later he whispered to Bill, "got him", as the irregular scrambling started again. The rifle moved slightly as tracking resumed.

The target froze again. Bill, hovered close, whispered, "easy shot against that light patch". Tom ignored him, lowered his eyes to the iron sights. He fixed the target's head at the top of the front post, between the v-notched rear sight. Held his breath, willed his heart to beat slower. Sweat beaded, ran down his cheek. He ignored that too, thought, stationary, no wind, no lead, see through the heat shimmer. One pressure to take up trigger slack, two pressures ... . The trigger broke clean.

Craaack!

The red squirrel spun out of sight, flung down in the tall grass by the hollow point .22. Tom exhaled, wiped his brow, one more skin pays for the ammo.

But not right now. That could wait. Squirrels were safe this time on Tuesday nights.

He rolled out of the rifle's sling, looked up at his friend, "Let's get that sucker and go home, Combat! is on in half an hour. New episode."

"Who's he talking to?", asked the lieutenant sent down by Company to untangle the delay at Phase Line Green. He gestured towards a solitary soldier sniping at German engineers concealed in a tree line four hundred yards away.

Kirby, a BAR man, answered, "Dunno. Nobody. But that's another headshot. He can't miss," after a pause, adding, "Sir."
 

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
Last Gifts

The old man tipped back his porch chair and watched the distant fireworks sparkle in the summer sky, the last Independence Day of the passing century. On the far side of the globe 45-star American flags streamed over a new territory called the Philippines, but here in the Kansas farmland it was summer wheat that rippled in the late evening breeze.

He discovered, to his utter astonishment and immense delight, that he was a young man again, all muscle and energy with eyes able to see over the horizon. Ready to be, if not polished, then burnished by whatever lay out there waiting.

A shadowy figure on his right tipped back her chair. A warm hand folded over his and he knew it was his wife, as a young woman with startling cornflower blue eyes, just as he always pictured her even after 50 years of sometimes, mostly, matrimonial harmony. He was at her side when she passed a decade ago, but nothing about that felt out of place now.

There were other figures present too, his children -- a son out in the Pacific with the Asiatic Squadron, a daughter covering sports for a New York paper. And a firefly's glow, bright then fading. This was the other daughter, too young to have a name, resting on a hilltop.

There were grandchildren and great-grandchildren, brothers, uncles, aunts, sisters, and many, many friends made loved and lost over a long, well-lived life. Some grown up, some young, some living and others not, all out of time but just as he wanted them. Dogs he knew: a favorite childhood mongrel, a companionable retriever (as a grinning puppy, although he knew the Old Guy was snoring at his feet).

Other images: his mother, also a young woman (is this how she sees herself?), a fishing expedition to a neighbor's pond as a child, sunfish dangling on a string.

Then later: dry-mouthed fear in the Shenandoah Valley, Confederate bullets snapping through a cloud of acrid gun smoke. The scene changed, and he crouched behind a dying horse bristling with Sioux war arrows, scraping a burrow in the Montana ridges with a tin coffee cup.

Time moved: the first hard years busting sod on this very farm, his wife, burned brown in the hot sun, shirtsleeves rolled to her elbows working alongside. Abundant crops one year, a locust harvest the next, but the mortgage getting smaller until one day they burned it.

Pleasures and disappointments, sorrows and glories surfaced, flashed into view and whirled away: births, deaths, weddings, funerals, a picnic, all to the delighted laughter and freely streaming tears of the old man and his ghostly entourage. The now-old woman at his side entwined her fingers with his and he read her thoughts through her touch, a line from an old parlor song, hard times come again no more.

It was a good life, all in all, he thought, satisfied with all of it.

But sometime after midnight it ended (because it always ends). As a final gift of the gods, the old man never knew when his final moment came and went.


[editing in progress]
 

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
Best of Letters to the Editor from [name redacted at the insistence of the publisher's legal counsel] Magazine.
(see Penthouse Inc. v. Ivan Gottanalias, LASC Case No. BA 4030403)


Editor's Note.

At a recent charity auction for orphaned golden retriever puppies I purchased a packet of papers about a bankers box in volume bearing the unhelpful description "Miscellaneous from the estate of A. Bell." As they apparently were the private journals of the late-paranormal and conspiracy radio host, I was able to buy the lot for the sum of $1. Casually mixed among the packet's contents (which included a June 1938 first edition of Action Comics, Howard Hughes' last will and testament and the post-crash diary of aviatrix Amelia Earhart) was a collection of "Letters to the Editor," torn from various editions of a certain men's magazine covering the years 1970 through 1981 many with inked in marginal and interlineated comments, perhaps by Mr. Bell himself.

It is my intention of periodically presenting the best of these annotated Letters, once they have been steamed apart and disinfected.

As an aside, these letters "to the Editor" were widely regarded as originating in-house and would have been more properly styled "from the Editor." This assumption was not always necessarily true. A letter from 1981, for example, described an improbable and dangerous sexual liaison taking place above the Annenberg Theater at the University of Southern California during an advance screening of The Empire Strikes Back attended by your Editor (who would later spoil to scores of his fellow students perhaps the biggest reveal in cinema history). The letter's writer displayed a precise, exact and accurate knowledge of the various ladders, platforms and catwalks that must have been obtained through firsthand knowledge. Your Editor, being a member of one of the cinematic fraternities and intimately familiar with the theater backstage can attest to this, as well as a subsequent investigation that disclosed suggestive, but not conclusive evidence (a bra hung over an unused Klieg light) that the sexual encounter did take place, establishing the Letter's bona fides.
 
Last edited:

P DeRudio

Planetoid
Joined
Jan 31, 2019
Location
Ft. Zinderneuf
No. 1. Best of Letters to the Editor from [name redacted at the insistence of the publisher's legal counsel] Magazine.

I have read your magazine for many years and didn't think that I would ever write. However, I recently had a once or twice in a lifetime experience that could have happened to anyone if it didn't already happen to me. I am an average muscular, well-endowed man with an eight inch cock measured from base to tip and is three inches in circumference at the widest part of the head. I am the Senior Managing CEO and CFO and majority shareholder at an international foreign exchange brokerage firm located in the penthouse suite of a swank downtown high rise.

One afternoon, taking my lunch break at a nearby supermarket deli, I noticed the usual counter girl had been replaced by a different woman. In fact, she looked like a demure librarian. That was because I had inadvertently walked onto the set of a porn production and the girl was, in fact, a librarian. The production company had leased the lunch counter for the day, holding special auditions for librarians who wanted a second career as porn actresses.

None of this I knew at the time, so I approached the girl and asked if she had big breasts and warm juicy thighs as I have been, for many years, a connoisseur of fried chicken. She looked at me and said, in a librarian-style stage whisper, "do what you want to do," and invited me behind the counter where when undid her librarian-style bun, removed her cat's eye glasses and fell out of her blouse. Warm applause and shocked gasps erupted from the production crew as the librarian undid my Brooks Bros. suit pants and had to use both hands to cradle my cock, the sight of which gave her the first of no less than seven orgasms.

"Stick that throbbing cruise missile into my hot quivering quim, right now," the librarian said, uncharacteristically mixing metaphors. We had sex for the next several hours in every position possible in a supermarket deli and for long after the production crew had gone home for the day. She fainted from exhaustion before we were able to say goodbye, so I never knew her name. When I left the supermarket around Midnight, there were a half-dozen librarians waiting, all wanting to "check me out."


(Signed) Finger Lickin' Good.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom