Short Stories

No Time Like The Present:

Looking forward in time to a scenario that never happened.

“You're messing with something that isn’t broke” Toby said. It’s 2020 the century of visionaries and following season 40 the channel no longer saw the Time Team programme as viable. The producer argued with Toby in a clash of ego's “It is broke, you know that viewings have crashed, look now, just give the new format a chance, it’s your only hope” pleaded the producer. Toby remained strenuously unconvinced about it all, after all he was an artist and his crew professional archaeologists  The format had always been what put it head and shoulders above anything else, you see it's reality tv with an insane deadline, three days of a relentlessly ticking clock and Toby to boot,  After running for many years though the producers had extracted every ounce of marrow from the bone. It was Toby against his better judgement now trying to convince the others to embrace change. He didn't like the new concept, script, content or format - it was cheese, leaping from the Pythonesque to the burlesque in a Carry On Digging farce that might see them all stoned in the ratings,  Ambivalent as ever Toby had to sell the idea to the team“Look we are radical, always have been, always will be".

 "Hear, hear" they quipped in agreement.

 "We're in trouble" Toby explained, "and it's time to call time on the time team".

"Nooooooooo" they cried out in anguished unison while Bill scraped the mud off his boots.

"The ratings have flatlined. We've got to look beyond 15 years of grave goods to a future that's braver, sexier, bonier, to one that has all of our original values plus a big named guest" Toby enticed.

  Bill Harding scratched his head, how could he get any sexier?, but the team agreed all the same given the size or their mortgages and the length of unemployment queues, and the rest as they say is history. Here is how it played out till the end of time. This is the story of the last episode that never made it to air. 

Action:

Day 1

Toby: This week is a Time Team special and archaeology doesn’t come any better than this. We have a hypothesis and three days using experimental archaeology, cutting edge techniques and Bill Harding to prove it. This episode it's our goal to establish how the unintelligent design of the universe came about, and we will be joined by Sir Gavin Battenborough who will be giving us his own unique insights".

Toby: “Sir Gavin, if evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology with some missing links, is this because we just haven't found them yet?”

Gavin: “The transition from the first living cells into homo sapiens took millions of years Toby. However, evolution hypothesis can be tested even if physical evidence is lacking, much like the periodic table, where we were able to extrapolate what the missing elements were".

Tony: “Quite, extrapolation. So Sir Gavin what do you think of Bill?”

Gavin: “I find him quite interesting, we have sampled Bill and the teams DNA in a unique experiment that will provide us with a direct comparison with our ancestors”.

Toby: “It isn’t brain surgery then is it Sir Gavin, or maybe it could be?”

Gavin: “Only if someone on the team is found to be some form of convergent evolution" Gavin laughed, "but it would be absurd to think we have found the missing link".

Toby: “In three days all will be revealed but now we need to get on with the dig”.

Bill:” This trowel lurks very exciting indeed”.

Toby: “Yes, this simple tool has been at the centre of every dig”.

Bill works at the mud “Hello, whurt the devil is thart? I’ve cleared back all the layers, good lard, good lard”. Bill carefully places some relics in a tray. 

Toby: “What is it?”

Bill: “Oi don’t know” Bill scratches his head. “No mur to say”.

Toby: “Day one, as usual it’s started to rain and who knows what we might find after lunch”.

The crew return after lunch. Toby: “You’re back Bill”.

Bill: “I owes yer nurfing and yer name is mud".

Toby: “With just two days to go Bill is digging a new trench and sulking. Our experts have cleaned the artifacts and consensus is they are iron needles. Rasika is in Bill's old trench. What have you got Rasika?”

Rasika wipes her dirty hands on her breasts. “Plenty, we have uncovered part of a skeleton, which has got us very excited, there’s a bit of white fabric perhaps from a shroud. We are now working as fast as we can but it's getting dark fast”. Rasika bends over sexily in the impending darkness for a lascivious audience.

Day 2

Tony: “Rasika, yesterday you uncovered skeletal remains, what can we expect today”.

Rasika bent over the remains with a brush provocatively. “Today is a real boner, from the pelvis we think this is a man, the skull has a well defined brow. We have all been on quite a buzz actually. Fenella checked parish records which suggest the man buried here is called ‘Mullo’. Rasika smiles at Tony with her newly budded fangs.

Tony: “There we have it, the Mullo family, over to our historian Fenella, when did the Mullo’s arrive here?

Fenella removes her glasses to reveal herself a very attractive, large breasted female with a professors mind and impossibly small waist: “This was a Romany settlement during the 15th century Toby and they made a living as tinkers, repairing pots and cookware. This pot here has bite marks on it which someone has obviously tried to repair”.

Toby: “So the artifacts are bbq skewers”. Fenella: “Exactly”. Toby: “Running across the site I’m trying to find Sir Gavin, has anyone seen Sir Gavin?”

Toby: “Gavin is in the library with geophys”. Gavin looks dark and bloated “Sir Gavin, are you ok”. “Yes, I think I ate something bad, I’ll be alright”. Geophys sit at the bench, staring blankly.

 Toby: “Tomorrow is our last day on site, after which we will all join you in the studio  when we will pull this whole thing together”.

Short Of Time

Day 3 in the studio. The team all return from the field.

Action:

“Toby: “Sir Gavin, what is unintelligent design?” 

Sir Gavin wipes blood from his face with a hanky.

He replies“Intelligent design goes hand in hand with those who say there is a designer, a creator, but unintelligent design arises from what we call an accident. Gavin puts a straw to Toby’s neck and takes small sips. “Mitochondrial Eve and y chromosome Adam were just amino’s, and sugars”.

Bill: “How did he eat the apple then? Sur, the bodies I dig up all of ’em have the chemical building blocks fur life but narn of them gets up and walks arf”.

Rasika moves closer to Bill who hits her with a shovel to the floor.

Gavin: “Some do Bill, some do get up and walk”

Bill: “Who?”

Fenella removes her blouse and glasses her teeth glisten with geophys blood: 

“The undead Bill" says Fenella "they do get up and walk - Mullo’s not a family surname" she rants ecstatically, "those artifacts aren't for the bbq they were metal stakes to drive into the heart, the Mullo are vampires” she ended triumphantly pulling her fingers through her wild hair. Fenella had obviously done her research.

Rasika arises horrifically from the floor. Sir Gavin laughs nervously “Superstitious nonsense”. Toby turns over a mirror and blushes while geophys sit staring no longer on the radar.

Toby: “Day three and it’s hard to get to the point. Sir Gavin, what do the results of your study show us?”

Gavin: “Bill’s human origins are the same as the rest of us, but we did identify one small difference and that is a gene specific to the west country. It is responsible for the bad hair and lovely legs, but furthermore, he also carries a special  chromosome, now Toby this is rather special, it is the chromosome for genius!"

They all gasp at the revelation that Bill is in actuality at the pinnacle of human evolution.

Toby: “Fuck”. 

Bill: “Good lard, isn’t that ermazing”.

Cut, cut, go to adverts:

 The TV crew are complaining about sharp bites which had been put down to ticks, 

Toby: "Hold on, hold on, look Rasika is devouring a camera man’s neck, that's no tick",

Bill laughs while supping from Sir Gavin with a straw, in between quick bites at geophys. "Blood Blood gl-erious blood, nothing quite like it for wettin the mud, so swallow man swallow, like yer legs are hollow, and then lerts all wallow in gl-erious blood.

Toby is fighting off Fenella. The studio is turning into a bloodbath.

Then a knock on the studio door.

"Health and Safety" someone calls,  everyone freezes, as in steps an anal looking officer.

“Health and safety advise you to STOP.  Failure to stop will result in a dousing with this holy water". He holds a container aloft. marked Peckham Springs. 

An exorcist makes an entrance.

Everyone hisses.

“Nurt before time” says Bill.

The End.

Truly that was the last episode, it never reached our screens for various religious and disgustation reasons of poor taste. Time was finally up for the Team, not because of the new format with its sexual content, or the thinly disguised innuendo and hostility between the presenter and cast. Neither was it remotely anything to do with the unintelligent design of the universe. Sir Gavin Battenborough, a national treasure, made a full recovery. No, it was because they had breached both UK and EU health and safety laws. Archaeologists were harmed during the filming of this production, some suffered blood lust, puncture marks, death or died, or were undead while others were sexually exploited gratuitously and then deceased.   No priests were harmed but none were actually trained sufficiently to deal proficiently with the health and safety risks posed by a supernatural event. What happened to the film?, well it's locked safely in the vaults of hell where it belongs for all eternity on UK Gold. There is no budget for any further incarnations or reincarnations, alas it is the end unless you can wake the dead...... 
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Lucky Break       5,258 words.                            Copyright © Arthur Hall 2016.                                                                                                 Isaura came out of the shadows and placed the food carefully in front of me.  The noon sunlight streamed through the single window, and the faint smell of her cooking had followed her from the kitchen.      'Is all right, Senor?'         I told her she was a wonderful cook, that her paella was the best I'd ever tasted. She gave me a wide white smile and looked embarrassed, as if she wasn't used to compliments.         I thought, not for the first time in the seventeen days since my arrival here, how unusual it was for The Sector to choose a place like this for a safe-house. She was in her late twenties, I'd have guessed, slim and attractive with Spanish swarthiness and long lustrous black hair. But she, like her brother who lived here with her, had an innocence that was distinctly un-typical of the twilight organisation that controlled them and, to a certain degree, controlled me also.           I supposed that they'd been chosen, or more likely coerced, because their demeanour itself acted as a kind of concealment. When you're an opposition cell searching for a place where our agents wait or rest between or during missions, your first expectation wouldn't be a brother and sister who looked too innocent to have had much experience of life outside their village, let alone of this sort of work.  A much-altered attitude from that of the last few decades, yes, but we live in a rapidly changing world. With the advent and introduction of computers, mobile phones and other technology, communications - one of the most vital necessities of a mission - have altered to the point where I'm glad to be near the end of my active service. I'm past the age where unfamiliarity is absorbed easily.   This situation had begun when Ierston had phoned me, while I was on holiday alone in Portugal. He's the right-hand man in The Sector now, whose function is mostly to convey the orders of the unknown Minister who runs it. I managed to control my annoyance at the interruption; it would have been futile to object anyway because there's a clause somewhere in the contract that allows London to call on us at any time if anyone whispers the magic word: 'crisis'. Not that this fitted that description, so far. The orders were to be on the next Lisbon-Madrid flight, then hire a car and make my way to the outskirts of the capital. After that, and a meeting with a local contact, a further half hour brought me to Vista Alegre, a village with, despite its name, no happy view that I could see.      As is usual for him, Ierston had been decidedly uncommunicative. My orders were to establish myself in the safe-house and as a tourist around the village. Not far from the cathedral was the house of Raul Lobato, one of The Sector's people stationed in Madrid who I knew slightly from our training days. If he returned to his home here I was to inform Hickey, my Local Control, at once. From this I concluded
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that Lobato had probably gone missing, but neither Ierston nor Hickey would be drawn on the subject. For seventeen days, I had watched and waited.  I finished my meal and took a long drink of water. I had a standing arrangement with Hickey, to be near the central square every day at 12.25 precisely and he'd turn up if he had anything to tell me. So far we'd met twice, during the period when surveillance of Lobato's house was taken over by local people. Twenty-four hour observation cannot be sustained by one man for an extended period: we all have to sleep.       I said a temporary adios to my hostess and walked unhurriedly through the sunshine. Like the narrow streets, the tall old shuttered buildings gave a lot of shade and I stayed close to each one as I passed. There was very little activity at this time of day - I counted two ancient vehicles and three elderly black-clad women before I reached the square. I took in the scene slowly. On three sides were the blank walls of storage buildings and a couple of small houses, while most of the fourth was taken up by a cantina. Two men sat outside smoking with full glasses in front of them, talking animatedly and well out of earshot. In the centre was a statue of a man in armour - I'd yet to identify him because the inscription on the base was worn - surrounded by a low wall which had once also contained a fountain. On this wall a man in a lurid shirt and shorts sat, eating something out of a packet in the shadow of the statue. I checked all around once more, and went across.           'I hope you're enjoying that, Hickey. It's full of sugar and colouring and has as much beneficial content as a cow-pat, probably less.'     He stood up, looking at his food with distaste. 'Just something to keep me going. You weren't followed here?'        'Don't insult me. I've been in this game a lot longer than you.'   'Sorry,' his eyes swept the square, 'I was forgetting how experienced you are. For the last few months I've been working with new entrants.'    'I know, but this time you can relax. So, tell me what's changed.'   There was a moment's pause while he gathered his thoughts, and I watched him as he struggled with the heat. He was of medium height with a ruddy face, and hair so perfectly in place that I'd decided it must be a toupee. His accent was broad East London with an occasional lilt of Welsh. I'd no idea of his origin or background but I was confident in him because he'd successfully Local Controlled several difficult overseas missions in the last year.       'I've just come out of signals with London,' he said quietly. 'I can tell you now why we're here.'  Communications are different now. The old signals equipment needed an operator in a safe-house and was slower, but since the technological revolution of recent years it's just a matter of access to a tablet or an iPhone, brought in or purchased in whatever country the mission is running. All seasoned Sector agents were suspicious and doubtful at first but, once the secure channels were established and confirmed as 96% minimum effective, the advantages were obvious. Nevertheless, the old rule stood fast: the risk to an agent of being caught with a device connected to London was considered too great. Hence the continued necessity for Local Control, to act as a relay.  'I'm listening.'  'Lobato's been turned.'  I checked the cantina again. 'What a surprise.'
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 'He's made his way back here at last, as we thought he would, eventually. His intention is to give Aguila to the Cali Cartel.'  'I thought that group was finished.'  'They are of course. The Rodriguez Orejuela brothers and their partner Jose Santacruz Londono are no longer in business, but their successors from El Cartel del Norte del Valle, that's the North of the Valley Cartel to you, are still active. These bastards still have considerable markets for their cocaine in Europe. Aguila, as you know, is the Sector's man inside the Cartel. For him to be exposed would be a major setback.'  I nodded. 'So the idea is that I get to Lobato, before the Cartel does?'  'That's right. Contact is expected within the next few hours.'   'Be specific, then. How far am I to take this?'      Hickey's gaze wandered across the dried-up fountain bed without turning his head. Then his eyes locked onto mine. 'Ierston says bring Lobato back if you can. Otherwise, well… it's up to you.'        I hate it when they do this. It's called 'agent's discretion' and you can never tell about the outcome. Some London Controls are reluctant to take responsibility for ordering a termination for fear, in these days of political correctness, of career damage if there's a leak to the press, so it's sometimes convenient to lay the blame on the agent concerned. Others don't give a damn, as long as the job is done. On reflection, I put Ierston down as one of these.      'Is Lobato in the house now?' I asked Hickey.     'No, but he'll be there soon. As I said, our information is that he's meeting someone from the Cartel later today, so you'll have to work fast. It would be better all round, I think, if you could be gone before he arrives.'     'Then call your men off, I'm going in.'             #
 
A short while later I left Hickey. I drank coffee in the cantina, to give him time to tell his local men to abandon their surveillance of the house. Then I drove my hired SEAT across the village, past the single supermarket and the half-finished hotels, and parked down the street in the shade of a drooping palm.    I approached the house cautiously, listening for any sounds as I entered through the small front garden. The place showed neglect, the walls and roof needed attention, and the tendrils of overgrown plants wound across the path like serpents.           At the door I controlled my breathing, keeping very still as I listened.  Silence.          I waited for several minutes, hearing nothing but a passing local bus.  The door opened easily, and I stepped into a darkened room aware that Lobato could be expecting me, or someone like me, in which case I was walking into a trap. This was quite feasible: Lobato had, after all, undergone Sector training. Hickey was experienced at choosing local operatives for surveillance work - I'd read the files on his missions as Local Control in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan - but he could have selected badly, for once. If he had, I had no doubt that Lobato would have quickly become aware that he was under observation.  I didn't move at first, as my eyes adjusted to the half-light. Then the heavy blinds that effectively kept out the sun trembled, as I closed the door behind me.
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The room was sparsely furnished, just two armchairs with a table between them, a half-filled bookcase and a large-screen television in a corner. I listened again and heard a door slam. The sound came from the kitchen that adjoined this room. I heard some quick movements, before Lobato came in.  He stopped abruptly, squinting into the poor light when he saw me.   'Lane?' he said. 'My God, I haven't seen you since that bloody training course.'           'It's been a long time. Were you expecting someone else?'    He made an innocent gesture. 'No, of course not. It's just a shock, seeing you after all this time.'               That moment confirmed that he was hiding something. The natural question to ask would have been, 'Why are you here?' or 'How did you find me?' But there was no need for those, because he already knew the answers. He knew The Sector was onto him. I read it in his face.       His years in England had honed his accent, so that his native Spanish hardly showed through. He looked much the same as I remembered, hadn't put much weight on and still moved in quick bursts. The rather sharp features were the same and his hair was still thick, a touch of grey at the temples the only slight difference. 'How are things in Madrid?' I asked him. I meant The Sector's Madrid station, and he would know that.         He shrugged. 'Oh, much the same. We haven't had any trouble with Basque Separatists, for a while. I suppose you have a difficult time with the Syrian problem, in London?'           'They haven't roped me in on that, yet.'      He laughed, rather nervously. 'If I know The Sector they will, before long.' He turned to a decanter, on a side table. 'Care for a glass of local sherry? It's a rather dry Fino, but it's good.'         'Not just now, thanks. I'm here because of something we picked up in London. The Cartel del Norte del Valle are extending their cocaine distribution over here. We wondered if you'd heard anything about that?'      That was as good as telling him that we knew everything because an enquiry like that could have been easily settled over the secure channel in signals. I wouldn't have been sent out on the strength of it. I watched closely, for his reaction.  He removed his hand from the decanter. 'Nothing's come through the grapevine, as far as I know.'  A car backfired loudly in the street outside and I half-turned towards the sound, realising too late that it was the momentary diversion he'd been waiting for. I turned back very fast to face him but he was faster and I moved away instinctively as something burned across my thigh.       He stood in the classical attack stance, and I remembered that he'd achieved the highest score for knife-fighting in the training class. He'd gone for my stomach and would have succeeded if I hadn't moved. His blade was smeared with my blood.  I retreated slowly. 'How could you have been taken in by those bastards? You know their reputation, they're worse than the old KGB. I don't know what they promised you, but what you'll get is a shallow grave out in the woods somewhere.' He made a quick slash that missed my face by inches. 'Not me, I'm too valuable to them.'          'Not any more. You weren't careful enough. The Sector knows all about you.'
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 'The Cartel will protect me. I'll disappear.'       The growing tenseness in his eyes told me that I was seconds away from his next attack.          'Oh, you'll disappear, all right.'         'You're not taking me back!'         'That's right, I'm not.'           The tension had reached the point where he could no longer sustain it, and the quickest way to dissipate it was by its transference into action. This time I was ready, and his altered position told me to expect a straight thrust. I swivelled on my right foot and the blade missed my chest so closely that I felt the air-rush, but he was prepared for evasion and drew his arm back. I managed to get in a short extended-finger jab to his stomach, but I missed the solar plexus and he grunted as he slashed crosswise for my throat. This, too, was as close as it could be without cutting the skin and I knew that his next attempt or the one after would hit something vital.          I turned slightly before he could withdraw, gripping his arm above the wrist and pulling him off balance. He'd dropped the knife already, catching it with his free hand and drawing back for a strike to my kidneys, when I went for his trachea with the stiffened edge of my left hand. The knife fell and his eyes went vacant as I released him. He was dead before he hit the floor.     I stood, breathing hard, for several minutes. I was glad that Hickey had given me the choice, it meant that I was spared a lot of interviews and paperwork when I got back to London. Wrapping a handkerchief over my hand, I went into Lobato's bathroom and found the medicine cabinet. The thigh wound was deeper than I'd expected and bleeding freely. He'd kept his knife very sharp as he'd been taught. I applied some antiseptic and a thick gauze dressing and used a lot of tape to keep it in place until I could get to a doctor. The slash in my slacks I could cover by wearing my jacket, which I'd brought in the car, and I'd just have to hope that the bloodstains wouldn't attract too much attention.  I went back and stood over the body. A quick search revealed a 9mm Glock, which I slid into my pocket after checking that it was fully loaded. All I had to do now was lock all the doors and windows and drive to the airport, phoning Hickey on the way. When Lobato's visitor from the Cartel arrived he'd leave as soon as he saw the situation, but apart from that it could be hours before the alarm was raised. I froze as the kitchen door was slammed back again and someone entered. A boy of about fourteen stood transfixed at the sight of Lobato's corpse. After a shocked few seconds, he turned back and ran out through the kitchen with his loose shirt flapping.          '¡Policia! ¡Policia!'         I looked out of the window. He was out of sight, but I could still hear him.  He couldn't have seen me - the angles from where he'd stood were all wrong for that. I breathed deeply to halt the onset of panic, because he'd bring the local force down on me quickly. They'd take one look at the body and I'd be in handcuffs and on my way to a cell. Hickey might not be able to extricate me, before the Cartel decided to find out who'd disposed of their man, and I'd no desire to take them on without some kind of support.  Similarly, if I left now I was merely postponing the inevitable. At the sight of Lobato the police would launch a local man-hunt, and the first place they'd put under observation would be the airport. If there was no body it would delay the
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proceedings, while it was ascertained if the boy was a reliable witness and while he was questioned.          It took a few minutes to make sure that there was no possible hiding place in the house. The only other option was to remove the body and I couldn't see how to do that unobserved, until I remembered the large travelling trunk with wheels in Lobato's bedroom.  It wasn't easy, fitting him in. I forced his head between his knees and pressed the lid down, feeling relief flood through me as the latch snapped shut. I wheeled the trunk to the front door and looked back. Thank God there was no blood on the floor. On impulse I went back into the bedroom. Lobato had a lot of clothes. I selected some similar to those he'd worn and carefully arranged them in the living room where he'd fallen. It was a long shot, but it might delay things if the police thought the boy had mistaken them for a body. I decided it was worth a try.  Less than ten minutes had passed since the boy had gone - I calculated it would take him that long to reach the only police post in the village - and now I heard the first sounds of a distant police siren. I closed the door quietly and wheeled the trunk along the street, keeping to the shade where I couldn't be seen easily, to the car.          By the time I'd lifted the thing into the SEAT's boot I was sweating freely. The heat and the weight of the trunk had combined to bring on a state of nearexhaustion and I was reminded for the thousandth time, that my youth is now behind me.           I drove away slowly, relieved that there was no sign, as yet, of police vehicles. Then I realised that the Cartel had been waiting for me, as a white Peugeot emerged from behind a parked gravel truck, two hundred yards back at the end of the street. I didn't think they'd followed me here: I would have known. More likely they'd kept the house under surveillance for a while in case Lobato's duplicity was false, and the bait for a trap. They were thorough, these people: if you put one foot wrong, you were dead. It had happened to Olliphant in Cali, and Cartwright, in Bogota. Penetration was particularly hazardous because of their almost paranoiac level of suspicion.          They stayed in the mirror as I turned onto the main road. Two men, darkskinned, their features indistinct in the reflective glare. They were keeping back by about twenty yards, in case I turned off suddenly. I tried brief acceleration and abruptly slowing, and they matched my speed every time. No mistake, it was the Cartel and they were onto me, possibly wondering where I fitted into the equation.  I let my speed drop as we passed through the tiny shopping area. The few tourist shops had drawn customers out into the heat, and there were a lot of water bottles being carried. A woman in a huge brightly-coloured sun hat stepped into the road as I crawled past the rather old-fashioned hairdressing salon and the driver of the Peugeot frightened her with a blast from his horn. They must have had their windows open, because I heard the string of obscenities clearly.  We left the shops behind and I picked up speed again. I knew they'd decided that I was a likely threat to their operation because the Peugeot kept moving into the centre of the road, waiting for the opportunity to overtake. Oncoming traffic was sparse and would soon cease altogether, as we approached an intersection where there was nothing to see but a couple of abandoned cars and some rundown concrete apartments with a washing line strung between them.
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 The Peugeot accelerated rapidly, just as the cathedral came up to the left of us, and I thought that the next few seconds would decide the whole thing because the man in the passenger Seat was holding something that projected out of the window. I caught a glimpse of a light rapid-fire weapon, probably an Uzi machinepistol, and braked the SEAT hard. The brakes needed adjusting because they pulled violently to one side, but they probably contributed to saving me. I forced myself backwards, trying to anticipate his line of fire, as the man in the  Peugeot pressed the trigger and the dashboard exploded. The air was full of the smell of burning rubber and hot metal and the SEAT careered behind the Peugeot and across the carriageway, as I fought to regain control. Flashing sunlight seemed all around me as the car began to spin, and I think they were still firing because a tyre blew. I must have turned a complete circle, since the sandstone wall of the cathedral was now directly ahead, rushing towards me and filling the windshield.   I don't remember the moment of impact. I felt tremendous pressure across my chest from the restraining effect of the safety belt, and the front of the SEAT was buckled against the wall. The door was stuck fast and it took three kicks to free it. I looked back at the road and saw that the Peugeot had burst through the restraining fence and was heading towards me with one wing badly dented. The driver put it into a skid to bring it broadside on and I saw that the man with the Uzi was trying to re-establish his aim. Somewhere a woman screamed, and I realised that a door further along the front of the cathedral had opened, and that several people watched. As the shooting began again they disappeared back inside, and I heard the heavy door slam.  I drew Lobato's Glock. These were among the most callous and ruthless killers in the world, but I had a single advantage: they didn't know that I was armed. The Peugeot's passenger door burst open and I flung myself flat as the windows of the SEAT disintegrated in a spray of bullets. The ricochets still buzzed around as I rolled over to use one of the wheels as cover, lying behind it in a prone position and forcing myself to wait until he came nearer. His feet appeared, running towards me and still firing rapidly until I shot both his ankles. He screamed and I heard him fall, I knew I had to move fast before the Peugeot's driver could leave the car: if he was armed similarly he could launch a fusillade without coming nearer, ripping the SEAT apart.  I stood up and risked showing myself. He was already aiming a weapon that looked a lot bigger than the Uzi, and was probably a lot more powerful. A single loud burst rocked the Seat on its springs. I had dropped to a crouch and was now in a position to peer around the end of the car cautiously. I knew I had seconds to live unless I acted fast, and there was only one way I could win against such superior fire-power. I emptied the Glock into the Peugeot, not aiming properly but estimating where the petrol tank should be. It exploded in a ball of flame and I threw myself to the ground again, shutting my ears against the cries. A wave of intense heat passed over me, and the roar of the fire blotted out everything. The smell of burnt fuel, metal and flesh was sickening but I'd no time to think about it: by now some of those in the cathedral would have used their mobiles to contact the policia, and they would be on their way.   I left the shelter of the SEAT. The man whose ankles I'd shot crawled towards me, his flesh blackened and his eyes wild. Somehow he'd survived sufficiently to retrieve the Uzi, and was intent on finishing what they'd begun. He fired two single shots and I heard glass smash somewhere. I wasn't sure if he'd hit the SEAT or the
8
 
cathedral's stained windows, but I moved fast because he would have little difficulty, from that position, of altering his aim. I used a savate killer blow, where the kick forces the head back to an impossible angle. I heard something snap, and he lay still. I kicked his gun away from him, because we're trained to take every precaution when we can. Our survival sometimes depends on being absolutely sure. I had to get out of here quickly now, I didn't want to be seen as part of this or to be found with a body in my possession.       Delayed shock was catching up with me. As I hauled the trunk out of the SEAT's boot I began to shake. We're taught things that off-set this condition, because even our Controllers appreciate that we're as human as anyone else and would find it difficult to continue without some sort of assistance.    It isn't often that we get any kind of lucky break, in this profession, but I thought I had one now. When I first arrived in Vista Alegre I did a thorough reconnaissance, including this area. At the side of the cathedral was a labyrinth of narrow alleys, the buildings so close together in places that two people could barely pass. I remembered particularly the smell and the darkness, the rubbishstrewn passages where day was little different from night.    I looked all around me. The fire still blazed, beneath a cloud of dense smoke. There was no sign of life from the cathedral. The late afternoon sun beat down on a lonely scene of death. Pulling the trunk, I walked unhurriedly to the steps that led to the network of passages. I ignored the protests from my bruised body because there was now, after all, a chance. If I could leave the trunk in some dark and hidden corner, it would buy me time to get to the airport.  I dragged the trunk to the top of the steps. As I paused, gripping the centre rail, I heard sirens approaching the cathedral. I looked back but it was out of sight now, and the sirens stopped suddenly. Several narrow passages yawned in front of me. I might have imagined it, but I could have sworn there was organ music from the cathedral. It occurred to me that the congregation might be offering thanks for their preservation from the violence outside.  I quickened my pace, the trunk feeling heavier. At the next intersection I had a choice of paths to follow, and I decided on the one leading at a sharp angle away from the cathedral. This was a street with doors on both sides, narrow enough for a man on horseback to pass but little else. At first there was absolute silence, but after a short while I could hear a girl singing off-key. It was a mournful wail, like someone lamenting the passing of a loved one, and I wondered if she sang because of her incarceration in this dreadful place.       The smell of rotten fruit and urine was overwhelming. I needed a place where the trunk would be concealed for long enough to allow me to get to the airport, but I hadn't seen a possibility yet. These alleys were made up of the flat-walled frontages of dilapidated dwellings. They were deserted now, but I knew they'd come alive at night like similar places I'd seen: Mexico City, Haiti and Tunisia.  A wider exit, like a small cavern, opened up ahead. Every movement echoed as I approached, and too late I realised that I was no longer alone.  Six or seven men stood in my path, all shabbily dressed, silent and threatening. Not one of them could have been more than twenty-five, and I remembered that Isaura had mentioned that gangs of young men sometimes roamed the streets looking for tourists to rob. She had called them Los Lobos. They weren't professionals, just unemployed youths seeking an easier way to make money for their cigarettes and evenings in the tavernas.  
9
 
 The worrying thing was the pistol aimed at my face. It looked like a weapon that had seen action in World War Two, but I wouldn't have gambled on its lack of efficiency because it looked well-oiled and cared for.    'What does the box contain, senor?' he held the gun steady. The others crowded around him and leaned forward to inspect the trunk.     He gestured to one of the others, who took two quick steps towards me and snatched the handle.         'Computer hardware.' I lied.        The one who'd taken the trunk picked it up and nodded vigorously, laughing. 'It is very heavy, Juan.'         'And what is it that brings you here, where there are no computers, or shops?' Juan asked suspiciously.         I looked down at the litter-strewn floor, as if ashamed. 'I stole it. La policia are close behind me.'              'We must go,' said one of the others.  Juan looked uncertain for a moment, then the one who had the trunk laughed again. He whispered, 'We can sell this. I know where we can get a good price, in Madrid.'  'Quickly, then.' Juan kept the pistol aimed at my stomach as the trunk was hurriedly wheeled away and the others fled into the shadows. Finally there was only him.           'You would be very foolish to follow us, senor. If you do, you will wish the policia had caught you.'         He backed away until the darkness hid him, and then ran. I waited until the last of his footfalls died away before turning and retracing my steps.   Soon I was back in the square, where the attention of the policia and everyone else in the crowd was centred on the dead men and the smouldering car. I walked around the cathedral to the far side, where I used my mobile to summon a taxi for the airport.   As I saw it approaching I reflected again how rare it is to get a lucky break in this line of work. And then again, to get two lucky breaks is even more so. ...

(c) 2016 Jnaha

“Darkeesha, Darkeesha, you so ugly the boogeyman is scared of you!”

“Dark and Ugly, bring your butt over here.”

“Yo Darkie, pass me the ball.”

These were some of the kinder comments that Lovely was forced to hear at home, at school and at church. She couldn’t escape the enemies of her skin tone. Her siblings were always the meanest and cruelest with their rude remarks.

She couldn’t help it that she was so black. She couldn’t stand the fact that her 3 sisters and 2 brothers were at least five shades lighter than her. Her mama was fair skinned and her daddy, the color of blackened coffee. That’s who Lovely got her complexion from.

She loved her skin tone, though she wished those around her wouldn’t give her such a hard time about it. She had been picked on for as long as she could remember, and has grown skin as thick as steel, for the barrage of insults she faced daily. Her coping mechanism was silence. She said nothing to her attackers, not even in her own defense. She’d go quiet though her eyes couldn’t hold water. She hated them all. Wished them all a lifetime full of the same cruelty that they’d dished her.

“How come you never say nothing back to them Love.” Sister Bell was the nicest of the siblings. Only two years younger than Lovely, she saw how bad those mean words affected Lovely. But her being only 10 years of age, there was little she could do to help her big sister. She didn’t know any better, so she joined her siblings when they teased Lovely, until Bell noticed Lovely leave the room, or bow her head.

“Why YOU never say nothing?” Lovely fired back at Bell.

“Because I am just a kid. What am I supposed to say? Besides, they’re teasing you, not me.”

“Don’t make it right. You know they’re just going to keep at it if I even try to speak up against one of them. But that’s alright. I will get them all back.”

Lovely held true to that promise. When she was old enough, she moved out of her mama’s house. She was 17 ½ when she emancipated herself, moving in with her Italian boyfriend. She never introduced him to her family, and she had only met one of Tyler’s three brothers.

Two weeks into moving in with Tyler, Lovely began plotting her revenge, starting with her family.  She befriended her oldest sister’s boyfriend, TyQuan. He was the neighborhood weed man, which is how she was able to get close to him. Layelle gave her sister TyQuan’s phone number. Lovely slept with TyQuan a month later, then she sent Layelle a long and detailed letter, explaining why she did what she did. She made sure to remind Layelle of the hateful “darkie” days and the childhood bullying. She was also sure to emphasize her deep hatred and dislike for her sister.

On her other sister Lakeisha, Lovely played the darkest trick of all. When Lakeisha’s boyfriend went MIA for two days straight, she started calling around, looking for him. When she called Lovely, she was told, maybe JT had left her for the dark-skinned neighbor who she saw JT with last week. Lovely hadn’t really seen JT with the neighbor, she just wanted to play with Lakeisha’s head.

“What are you going to do about that Sis? I know you are not going to let him play you for a darkie?” Lovely instigated.

“Oh, if he wants that burnt skillet, he can have her. I bet you he won’t get no more of this!” She slammed the phone down, leaving Lovely with the dial tone.

Lakeisha left JT the second he wandered back home. She didn’t even allow him the opportunity to explain to her, how he got pulled over a few days ago, was arrested for violation of a stay away, and couldn’t get through when he tried calling her. Lovely never told Lakeisha the truth, and Lakeisha never took JT back. He eventually moved on with his life, and is now married with kids.

Lovely sabotaged both of her brothers’ relationships, with each of their girlfriends, by lying to both women, that Tay and Jay were cheating on them with the same woman. She even went so far as to secretly hook one brother up with her most sexual friend, who then slept with her other brother by a twist of uninitiated fate. To this day, her brothers have no clue that she masterminded the destruction of their partnerships/relationships.

It would be another five years, before Lovely would avenge her childhood against her high school classmates. The meanest ones still living and reachable, Lovely concocted a plot to gather them all together for a 10-year high school reunion rehearsal. When all 10 of her nemesis showed up, she locked everyone in a large room with a movie projector, playing for each of them, the evolution of their lives. Lovely was very clever in her research of finding out as many detrimental secrets as she could about each and every one of them, creating the mass video that they were forced to see.

One of the football jocks secretly cross dressed, while the librarian of the crew was secretly a very high paid escort. One classmate was a woman beater, while another was a heavy drug abuser who also happened to be the local church treasurer.

When the embarrassing video was over, Lovely unlocked the conference room, before safely escaping to her car and peeling off. All 10 of her ex classmates blew her cellphone up with hateful text messages and voicemail messages.

They’d hate her even more when they learned that she had also live streamed the entire scene, to social media. Oh, well, she’d be long gone by then. Off to the next state, to flee the wrath of her enemies.

She had yet to hear what the church had to say about the newspaper article that came out about them, siting the pastors abuse of power, as well as the written tithe requirement which had been forced upon the congregation.  There was a detailed account of the treasurers’ theft of church funds, along with pictures and text messages revealing the pastor’s affair with the deacon.

Lovely was racking up enemies like a morgue racked up dead bodies. She didn’t care though. They didn’t care that they had long ago created an enemy in Lovely, by their lack of tact and respect for her dark-skinned tone.

The wrath of a woman scorn, was the ultimate fate for Lovely’s closeted racist boyfriend Tyler. You see, Tyler only wanted to be with Lovely to fulfill his own sick and sinister fetish, of screwing a “N*gger b*tch.” Every chance he got, he’d call her the disgusting epithet, regardless of the consequences. This began about one year into their 10-year relationship. She’d broken up with him so many times, to the point that now she has her own apartment.

The last straw was a telephone conversation she’d overheard Tyler having with his father, last week. He wasn’t aware that she’d walked in.

“But Dad, that’s my “N*gger b*tch”. I know y’all hate her and that mom would love nothing more than to see her lynched from the closest tree, but she cleans well, and she’s a decent cook. She doesn’t do a bunch of talking, and laughs at all of my subliminal jokes.”

She couldn’t hear Tyler’s father’s reply, only Tyler’s response to it. “Ok. Ok. Give me two weeks and I’ll get rid of her,” shouted Tyler.

Lovely eased out of the kitchen before he could notice her. She didn’t cry, nor was she mad. By the time she arrived at her home office on the 2nd floor, she was laughing hysterically. She laughed for a good five minutes straight before she began plotting the plan.

“That Cracka will live to regret the day he chose me.”

Part ll.

“Lovely baby. You home?” Tyler hadn’t seen or spoken to his wife in seven whole days. She wasn’t responding to the many text messages he sent, and her calls were going straight to voicemail. He decided to drive over to her place to check on her, using the spare key that he knew she had hidden under the flower pot outside the back door.

Not that Tyler missed Lovely, he just needed to account for her, since her job, her coworkers, and her friends, had been calling him to learn of her whereabouts. Apparently, Lovely stopped showing up for work and stopped making contact with her friends, for about as long as she’d been MIA from him. He promised everyone that he’d look around for her, keeping them posted on any updates.

“Lovely are you here babe?” Tyler was standing in the living/dining room of Lovely’s eccentrically furnished, two-bedroom apartment home. He walked through to the kitchen, which was spotless; no dirty dishes, no food or beverages out. She was known for being tidy but she also always kept fresh fruit out on the kitchen counter top, green apples being her favorite. There were none. “Odd,” thought Tyler.

Continuing through the house to the hallway, he past the first full sized bathroom. A quick glance in, revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Landing on the 2nd floor, he noticed her office door was locked, and since he didn’t have a key to it, he moved on to her bedroom.

“Lovely. Where are you?” Tyler was starting to grow annoyed at the charade of it all. He remembered the last time he was here, and the conversation he’d had over the phone, with his father. He doubted that Lovely had overheard his conversation because when he got off the phone, he found her upstairs in her office engrossed in something. He has yet to fulfill his promise to his father, because he hadn’t heard or seen Lovely since that day. She appeared her normal self, laughing when expected, she even gave him a passionate kiss before he left her home that day. Everything was fine. Or so he thought…

Lovely was cuddled comfortably under her longtime boyfriend Andre. She’d been seeing him for the past nine years. In fact, she met Andre the very first night that her husband Tyler called her his “N*gger b*tch” to her face. That day, she swallowed her anger, and held her quick tongue. She simply remained quiet; still as a corpse when he made love to her that night; though she will always call it “making hate”, instead of love.

The moment their “hate sex” was over, she crawled out from beneath him, practically running to the shower. He noticed it, but said nothing. He knew her all too well by now. Leave her be, or be stung by the “B”. “Queen B”, she’d snap, in a quick hot second.

Lovely went to the bar that night, met Andre and began conversing. They consummated the relationships two days later, when she lied to Tyler that she had to house sit for a friend. She went to Andre’s house and screwed him for 3 hours straight. She was no “N*gger b*tch” to Andre. She was his queen, and he made sure to treat her as such, which is why she kept him around. He knew all about Tyler, but still he wanted her, and she wanted him. He’d been widowed for two years and single for the entire time, until he met Queen Lovely. She became his girlfriend, viewing Tyler only as a husband on paper. Andre knew that Lovely’s heart belonged to him. So, did her pearl.

Lovely and Tyler had stopped having intercourse almost immediately after that “N*gger b*tch” thing. He’d been practically begging her for it, ever since. Somehow, Lovely doubted that Tyler’s bigoted parents, were aware of that.

When she overheard his conversation last week, she decided enough was enough. She faked the funk, smiling like all was good to Tyler. She even gave him a little tongue kiss before he left. She knew it would be their last kiss, and his last time ever seeing her. She took one for her team.

The moment Tyler left her house though, she began packing her things. She boxed up everything she felt she couldn’t live without or leave behind. She locked up her office just in case Tyler decided to stop by to check up on her.

She left with only the clothes on her back. Over the course of her relationship with Andre, Lovely had accumulated an entire wardrobe at his house; their house actually. Her name was on the deed of the house they’d bought together, almost 5 years ago.

Lovely never needed Tyler financially, she was a natural born hustler. She always found a way to make ends meet. She did however, accept the $2,000.00 “monthly allowance” that he’d been sending her faithfully, for the past 8 years. That’s how long she’d been living apart from him, in her own apartment. He only sent the money out of guilt for the time he let the words “house N*gger” slip out of his mouth while they were hosting a group of his friends over their house for some bullshit meeting about politics. She had just walked into the living room with a pitcher of iced tea along with a tray of sandwiches, when she heard, “here’s my little house N*gger now… I mean my baby.”

He had tried to clean it up, but it was too late. Lovely heard it, his friends had heard it, and now she felt embarrassed and 100% disrespected. She dropped the pitcher of iced tea, right where she stood – tossing the sandwich tray, before sashaying her black ass out of the room. ‘House N*gger THAT’, she thought. She will always remember the look of astonishment sitting upon the faces of Tyler’s guests that day, especially when she went flying out of the house with the biggest suitcase she could find. She stuffed as many of her valuables as she could into that suitcase. Tyler couldn’t do or say a thing.

“Baby are you still asleep?” Andre wrapped his long arms around his lovely. They’d been inseparable for the past seven days, just the way he liked it.

“No babe. What’s up?”

“You.”

She knew what that meant. Without further instruction, she tugged at her undies until they were off, tooting her bottom up, simultaneously. They made love and enjoyed a lazy day of movies, drinks and food.

She and Andre spent time only at the home they shared together, never at Lovely’s apartment, which was an entire state and two cities, apart from each other. Tyler suspected nothing. Soon though, if not already, Tyler was going to realize that Lovely had left him. She never spent the $2k that he sent her monthly for the past 9 years, not $1 dollar. She didn’t need any alimony, no spousal support, and being that they never had children, there would be no need for child support. All Lovely wanted was a divorce.

She wrote a long and detailed letter to her husband, breaking down her reasons for wanting out. She made sure to write all about how she felt, the first time he called her ‘N*gger b*tch”, and ‘house N*gger’. She wrote him of the fact that she’d overheard the phone conversation with his dad, saying that he’d be rid of her in two weeks. She wrote that she was making it easier for him, attaching divorce papers with her signature already filled in. All she asked was that he mail the papers off, the second he signed them.

Lovely did not however, write to Tyler that she’d sent multiple copies of this letter and signed divorce papers to multiple people and businesses, many whom had known Tyler his entire life. Some black businesses he’d worked with for decades. Should Tyler ever plot to bring harm Lovely’s way, then she’d have witnesses to his motive. By now he should’ve gotten the letter. She mailed it 3 days after she left for good.

For kicks and giggles, she nearly wiped out the one joint bank account they shared, though Tyler had several sole accounts, as did she. She left $51.50 in the account.

Her and Andre packed all of their belongings and shipped them to their 2nd home via a moving company that they both knew and trusted. Lovely had no intention of going back home, to hateville and the city of the loveless. Lovely was done with her past completely.

~THE END~

(jnahaspoetry@gmail.com)

...
Cultured dreams

                                By Sharon Maria Moemise

I've always wanted anything bigger than a cellular phone so I could continue my writings and save anything that I write. It just seem such a waste to have so much on ones mind and not being able to put it down in ink or to share with those who are curious to know about others. Well, it's just a thought.

But seriously now...being a last but one child in a family of nine brothers and sisters does not put me anywhere on the map. I sometimes have to wonder if my folks ever remembered that they had me. Honestly, while my parents were still alive and we all still lived at home, life just went on and one never questioned anything. Don't get me wrong, I'm not questioning anything, it's more like wondering about certain things. Have I ever felt a lack of attention? Has it ever really crossed my mind that I might not really belong anywhere? Come to think of it, many a times a did feel that way. I felt like a visitor. Almost as though I needed permission to be there, amongst my brothers and sisters. I am not trying to fault my parents in the way I used to feel, but almost 33 years ago, I felt that way and 33 years later I remember it. Why now?

I am a mother of a nineteen year old boy. I will do my utmost to never make him feel unwanted or wonder about his existence because he was a a child borne out of the utmost love. The love I felt for him the first day I suspected I was pregnant.  As a human being, I have always known that I'm someone's child, that I belonged somewhere, to someone, but to become confused about it now is quite scary.  
I've known my parents for as long as I could remember; then someone planted a seed of doubt in my mind and I fell for it.  Not only have I fallen for it, but I suddenly had some flashbacks about my life, growing up. I question everything and I once again get these awful dreams about my parents.  These dreams are really vivid, so graphic that i fear falling asleep nowadays. The latest dream I had, my parents' dead bodies, in their decomposed state, exposed for me to see. I recognized my mother's body but my dad was that of a young boy. I kept shouting that I've been given the wrong dad, and that the body should be returned, but I kept on dragging the bodies in a small wheelbarrow-Iike contraption till I reached a house where the numbers 8, 3and 6 could be seen.
A small child was sitting on the verandah, as though waiting for us, although looking very scared. I asked the child if their we're any elders around and the child said yes, they were waiting. The door opened and there was a very old couple sitting there looking so calm and the old lady just said  " it's time".
 I woke up.

Most often I hardly remember dreams, no matter how significant they may seem to be, but this one just seem to fester in my mind everyday, like its supposed to mean something.

In the past, the dreams I used to have were more cruel than this last one. I would dream that while visiting my parents' graves, I would walk straight to my mothers' grave and talk to her. Then I would make my way to my fathers grave and from a distance I would see his coffin on top of his grave, the whole top shifted open to expose his body and his face in advanced stage of decomposition.  His eyes would be staring at me in such a cold cruel manner as if I disturbed his slumber, then suddenly, he'd laugh at me, dripping flesh out of the coffin and demanding I pick it up and cover him. But every time I tried to do either, he would spill more rotten flesh on the ground or the coffin lid would not close. In these dreams, it was my father, but he would treat me with such cruelty that I would run from the graveyard, so scared, I would wake up from my dream, in tears.

Other dream I had of him was when I came from my moms grave and walked to his, it would literally move,  as though he didn't want me to find him. I would  walk around the graveyard for hours and if he eventually allows me to find him, it would be in an open grave, where I could see the coffin, slightly open with either his skeletal hand hanging out or those eyes staring at me. For months I dreaded going to sleep because I knew that every time I closed my eyes, I would have a cemetery dream.  The one time I dreamt that I visited the graveyard and was watching their graves from between trees. I could  see my mother's grave, but I could never see his, then I would turn to leave. But then I heard a bloodcurdling sound behind me. I'd turn around to see his coffin resting or balancing on his headstone, him sitting up and looking at me, then he gave a hollow sounding laugh and tip over the open coffin.
I still get goosebumps just remembering all those dreams, and the question in my mind is always the same...why?
In most African cultures, some would translate or explain a dream like that as a sign that my ancestors are unhappy with me or they want something from me. Others explain that when your dream of the dead laughing at you, it was never a good sign. The solution to such, would be to appease the ancestors by making a burnt offering and visiting their graves. The burnt offering would be in the form of a sheep, a goat, or a white chicken,which had to be slaughtered at sunset. The sheep had to be cooked in water and salt only and served up as breakfast to family and neighbors. No extra spices added. Relatives or friends who attend would be offered sorghum beer, snuff and or tobacco. These are used when attempting to address the ancestors or else they would not hear our requests or what we need for them to hear. In using the snuff, one has to have a good sneeze to ensure the ancestors actually hears one's requests. I've always had that fear of using snuff as it usually gave me such a headache, I'd feel like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my head. 
Well,I did all that. Believe it or not, the ugly dreams stopped. I believed in who I am and I pray to God that I will allow my son to grow into a young man who believes in God, himself and be proud of his culture.




...
Hell on a Hill

                                                     Sharon Maria Moemise

The air was filled with excitement. It was a long weekend and most people were planning trips to the lake or recreational spots to unwind and have fun. At age 15, I was just so excited about the excitement and my nephews and I were running around sharing in everything from people just passing, carrying large water- melons or some lugging crates of beer and meat for their barbecues. It felt like Christmas, yet it was the first day in May. It was also the last month of Fall or Autumn as we know it. The weather was unusually warm, though windy.  The hustle and bustle of the day continued well into the late afternoon and it suddenly died down. Everyone had gone to their respective lake trips or picnic areas and the township was quiet.

My nephews and I went back in the house to play "Karate Kid" moves. The two boys adored me, and they'd hang onto my every word. I loved telling stories.  I used to be able to just make up a tale and tell it. They most especially loved the story of "Vera, the ghost lady".  I believed that story since it was an urban legend as I grew up. They were my older sister's sons. Ronny, the older at almost eight years and Reggy, six years old. He was younger by just a year and a half. Ronny was much closer to me. He'd shadow me in whatever chores I was given and he'd follow me everywhere.  The house they lived in was their mother and their stepdad's. It was an ordinary four-roomed house in a busy township in Soweto. Most people who lived on the same street knew one another. I was relatively new there as I had recently moved in at my sisters house to keep her boys company  after school, during the day while my sister and her husband were at work. 

On this bright sunny afternoon, my brother in law sent us on a errand. He used the train to work and his monthly train-stub had expired. He gave me the exact amount to go buy him another monthly stub at the train station, about three kilometers away. My nephew Ronny and I were excited because it'd give us the chance to take a nice long walk, watching people's comings and goings along the way. We made it to the station, and bought the ticket. The long walk back suddenly didn't seem so nice anymore because we were so tired and thirsty. Most times we had to keep jumping out of the way of a reckless driver or watch some very drunk people swearing their way through the streets of Soweto. I pocketed the stub and we started our trek back home.  A few meters away from the station, we were walking on a gravel path in a very rocky part of the area. It had a nice view over the nearby neighborhood and was very quiet.  The only noise came from passing trains as the railway line ran directly under the hillock. Suddenly I hear my nephew cry out. I thought he might have stepped on something and I ignored him. Then it went eerily quiet and I turned around. A young man, probably in his early twenties was pulling my nephew by his arm and I could see he was hurting him. The guy stood there sneering at me with his bloodshot eyes and two missing front teeth. I asked him what he thought he was doing and demanded that he let go of my nephew. He asked me in the Zulu dialect what I was gonna do for him to let my nephew go.  I was so naive for not understanding what he was getting at and I feebly answered that I'd say thank you to him. Someone behind me laughed out loud and there were three of his friends approaching. My nephew started crying and I was suddenly very scared.  People were passing by and no one stopped to see what was going on. The guy behind me pushed something into my rib cage and ordered me to start walking.  I resisted and begged him to let us go, but he kept laughing, then he whispered something in my ear. He told me his name was Themba and he was the leader of the gang in that area and everyone was scared of them. He showed me a pistol and told me killed many people and was wanted by the police, but even they couldn't catch him. He then pointed the weapon at my nephew. I started screaming but he hit me so hard on the side of my head, I saw stars. The guy who had my nephew started slapping him around and I screamed at him to leave him alone. I begged them to let him go. He was just a little boy. My captor, Themba, started pushing me against a huge rock and told me to lift my skirt. I started crying even harder, because I was terrified. The sound of my screams got lost in the noise of a passing train. I've heard people talk about what men do to women once they lifted their skirts or take off their clothes and I had sworn that I'd rather die than ever do that. I heard my nephew cry again and this other guy threatened to use a weapon on him if I don't hurry up.  I cried and held on tightly to my skirts. The guy Themba slapped me dizzy and while I put my hands up to my face to ward off more slaps, his filthy, smelly, crusty hands found their way up my skirts and I felt my underwear rip. I started screaming, but he held his smelly hand over my mouth and nose, while with the other hand he unzipped his pants.  I couldn't breath and fought him with my free hands. I felt my neck twist at some stage and I must have lost consciousness. When I resurfaced, the guy who had my nephew captive was on top of me. My hands were held by the other two who had, until then, not said anything. They were laughing and pushing one another to have another "go" at me. 

Somewhere during the confusion, I heard a dog bark. I saw a large Alsatian coming from behind the huge rock they've been keeping me. It barked viciously at them then a voice from behind the rock came. An older man came leeping from behind the rock and started shouting at them. The guys scattered around and the one who was still on top of me was pulled roughly by his neck. The scuffling brought the dog in a hurry and I could hear screaming. The dog must have sunk its teeth into one of them. The old man came to me and pulled down my skirt and fastened my shirt around me. Suddenly I remembered my nephew. I told the old man I was not alone. I heard whimpering a few steps away and my nephew was lying there, bleeding from his nose. Those thugs had really worked him over. I started crying again and when he saw me, he cried even louder. The old man asked us a lot of questions, but we (my nephew and I) were just too happy to see each other. We grabbed one another and started running. All the way home, I felt so sad. I felt bad for what had happened and my biggest relief was when I found the ticket stub still in my pocket. I wondered what I had done wrong for those men to do that to us. All the time we were running home, we never stopped or spoke to one another or anyone, although we kept looking over our shoulders.  Once home, no one was around. My sister and her husband were out and I was even more relieved. I'm not sure how I was going to explain my torn shirt and underwear.  I made sure the ticket stub was in a safe place where my brother in law would find it and I ran straight to the back of the house where there was an out-house. I filled a tub with cold water, added washing powder and some bleach and got inside. I sat in there for a long time, washing off the stench of those men. Trying to wash away everything that happened, I scrubbed myself so hard till my skin burned. I never cried while I did that. I took the clothes I was wearing and the underwear and dumped it in the dustbin. Afterwards, I flushed the water down the drain along with every single memory of what happened that afternoon. 

It all came back to me like a ton of bricks seventeen years later as I was taking a nap. It returned with such an overwhelming rush, I felt I was drowning. At first I thought I was dreaming, then it hit me. I was re-living every moment of that horrible day.  For all those years I managed to carry on with my life. I got married, had a child, miscarriages and even managed to fall in love.  I went to see a psychiatrist who told me that I was able to lock away all the bad experiences at the back of my mind, and it was just waiting to resurface out without warning.  This experience had a life altering effect on my nephew, because he had to watch. I'm still filled with guilt for his ordeal at the age of seven. He never deserved to see something so cruel. We spoke about it once after it came back to me in a dream. He told me he had  never forgotten and he'd always wondered how I could just carry on living my life as though nothing happened to me. Today, he is married and has  a brilliant son. I pray daily that he is happy. My  life changed at a few moments' notice.  Today, houses are built on that hill and the place is called Mountain-side.  I can't help staring at the very spot every time I drive past the place, on my way to visit relatives in Soweto.  
Because I dared to dream bout what happened to me on a hill in Soweto on the first day of May, I live with a large wound in the pit of my stomach, and it does not allow me to trust or to love again. I am divorced now, and living with my son in our home.
I dream of finding the best of what this world has to offer me. I know I will find it. I live with hope, but also with the inability to forgive or forget.

...

Since every rose has a thorn, if life isn’t accepted thorns and all, the beauty of what it has to offer will be missed because the thorns will be the energy of one’s focus.

No one escapes life pain free, whether emotional or physical. We all have a so called thorn in our side, but it doesn’t have to keep one from experiencing life to the fullest. If this thorn becomes one’s daily focus, it will be an obstacle that blocks the ability to see the beauty that life has to offer. Just as every rose has a thorn, every life has some level of pain, but just as a thorn is a part of a rose and pain is a part of life, it doesn’t have to control you. You may say how can that be with all the tragic events that occur, but when you awaken to see nothing is truly permanent or personal in life, it makes it a lot easier not to attach to the thorns, and without attachment the thorns will still be there, but they will hardly be noticed; this is because the beauty of life will be where one’s focus is.

Although for much of my life the thorns were the focus which didn’t allow the beauty of the roses to be seen, it’s not this way today. The thorns are still there per se, it’s just that there today there’s an awareness of them, this allows for a choice which I didn’t always have, to attach to them or not. I’ve learned life itself is neither easy nor hard, thorns are just a part of it as it is with a rose, but my energy doesn’t have to focus on the thorns by wishing or praying they weren’t there. Although I may not embrace the thorns, I don’t ignore them, I just accept them for what they are and I don’t allow them to block out the beauty of what life has to offer, thorns and all. 

...

When you live in the past, what you are trying to do is change something that’s unchangeable and the time spent doing this is wasted by living in a delusion of what isn’t instead of a reality of what is.

Subtle is the foe of the person who doesn’t know their own mind for they know not what they do. It’s imperative to know your own mind if you ever want to be free of its grasp, and don’t think for a minute that you’re not in its grasp, why else would you want something to be different that couldn’t be change. Every moment spent in the past is time wasted on trying to change the unchangeable. You wouldn’t purposely waste time living in a place where life has already occurred, would you? So if you wouldn’t purposely do this, why does it occur?

All of life is precious, so it’s not that any moment of life is truly wasted, but the more time that’s spent trying to change the unchangeable, the less time one lives in the reality of what is. And it’s only in the way one’s own mind has been developed that makes one think that the unchangeable can be changed. Look and see this for yourself, for subtle is the foe of the person who doesn’t know their own mind for they know not what they do.

You have the capability to be mindful of every moment of everyday, but this will take much discipline. Either you will control your mind or you will be controlled by it, but understand, when you’re controlled by it, you know not what you do. So take heed for the mind is a subtle foe, and if you don’t learn to stop trying to change the unchangeable, the moments spent doing this will just continue to make you live a life not to the fullest because it’s being wasted living in moments that aren’t real. 

 

...

Seeking some form of pleasure is so subtle in one’s life, but it’s at the base of most of the decisions made. If one becomes aware of this, most of the decisions made would never occur.

The dynamics of the Conditioned Mind are so subtle and diabolical that if one is fortunate to awaken to this, the affect it has is life altering. Once this is seen it can’t be erased even if one wants to ignore it, but if it’s not seen there’s no way of knowing how entrapped one truly is to the Conditioned Mind. The dynamics I speak of in this article is the pleasure seeking of the Conditioned Mind, this is what’s at the core of the dynamics, the constant seeking of pleasure at such a subtle level that it unconsciously keeps one entrapped to the pleasure seeking mind. Look at this pleasure seeking for yourself.

The constant rearranging of life: using substances some deadly, alcohol, favorite teams, sex, gambling, talking about others, social status, the next gadget, 12 Step Programs, vacations, money, just to name a few of the things used for seeking out pleasure, but what makes the conditioning diabolical is the fact that regardless if the pleasure works out exactly the way that it’s wanted or not, and even if pleasure wasn’t sought, life would be exactly the same. Except for the self created world that the Conditioned Mind makes one believe that pleasure is needed, life works it's way whether one thinks it needs to be in this way or not.

The only thing that’s truly needed in life is the bare essentials to live, everything else falls under the category of pleasure and this pleasure is the cause of all of one’s own created suffering, whether it’s seen or not. Case in point, when your favorite team wins or loses what affect does it really have on your life, but it’s made into a big deal. Or if that drink of alcohol, ice cream, snack, cigarette or whatever one craves for isn’t taken, does it really change anything? This is what one has to get in touch with if freedom is to ever be had, or not and life will be constantly be lived seeking pleasure, that is until one day because existence in this form will eventually end so the pleasure seeking ends and what did all that sought after and attained pleasure really change?

...

When the present moment isn’t needed to be a certain way, only then can one truly be free and in harmony with life. If the attachment to wanting the present moment to be different wasn’t there, suffering wouldn’t exist.

Freedom to live life to the fullest without limits is relative to the attachments that are held onto by the mind. Most people aren’t even aware that these attachments exist so even though a person may have many attachments that their own mind is creating, the same mind will tell you there are none. And if the mind tells you there are no attachments, who can say that there are? But regardless of this unawareness, if attachment is there and because ignorance isn’t bliss, there will be suffering. Attachment is the number one deterrent to ones freedom and freedom can only be had if it’s known what one is attached to in the present moment.

Understanding attachment doesn’t condone if someone is living unconsciously and is causing harming to themselves and others, but if there isn’t awareness of one’s unconsciousness, there’s no way the person can be any different. We’re as free as our awareness to what we attach to in the present moment and it’s our attachments that cause us to behave in ways that aren’t conducive to love which causes much suffering; attachment blocks our own innate goodness from arising. Attach to nothing and nothing will block love from arising, it’s then that true harmony with existence will be. Non attachment Is where nothing is needed nor wanted or desired. It’s where life just is and an awareness that nothing added or attached to it will truly make it any different. When the present moment isn’t needed to be a certain way, it’s then that one will truly be free and be in harmony with life because it’s only the attachment of wanting life to be different that causes one to suffer. 

 

...
Our inner child is innocent, loving, and caring. The more the self serving mind is in control, the more one is claimed by worldly desires and possessions and the less one is aware of their inner child light.

Everyday is a time to reflect on the light of one's inner child. We are all born of this light, but remaining aware of it determines how alive one's inner child remains as a part of life. The more the self serving mind is in control, the more one is claimed by worldly desires and possessions and the less the light of one's inner child is seen.

There are many traps along the way that take away a part of one's inner child and locks it away; very few traps take it all at once. The self serving mind is developed, and one day if unconsciousness is followed continuously, the inner child will only be there beneath the surface; unseen. The unconscious mind will take on the role of trying to constantly arrange life to be a certain way, but this is the baby in us, not the inner child.

Make no mistake between these two, the baby in us is self serving, wanting, and selfish. Our inner child is of light, it's innocent, loving, and caring. Depending on one's up bringing and whatever else was instilled as one's influences determines how much of one's inner child is seen. To understand this is to know yourself and when you know yourself you can develop a practice to reverse the process that traps one's inner child. The more this practice is done, the more one's inner child is present so the light of a innocent, loving, and caring person shines forth as when life began.

If the light goes out, it can only be relit from within. God or the Universe can provide the spark to start this process, but it will be from the urging of one's own inner child light that the process will continue on. So it's up to each individual to see the light of one's own inner child and live an innocent, loving, and caring life. Or not and remain entrapped to a life that is self serving, wanting, and selfish. So choose wisely because what is chosen determines if one sees their inner child light.
...
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Latest Poem

All I ever knew is rejection in my life.

The complexion of tar imprinting a permanent scar of strife.

A Scarlett letter of a dark color, treated like a stain.

Wanting society to treat me fair, though all I get is pain.

Mama never liked me because I didn’t fit the mold.

I can’t control who I am, and I refuse to quiet my bold.

For it is the shield of armor against a world complacent in hate.

Be it home life, work life or love life – it seems to be my fate.

That no matter how hard I push myself, I hardly get too far.

When everyone around you wants to tell you who you are.

What you’ll never be – places you’ll never see. A caged bird it feels I am.

I’m simply screaming to the world, ‘just let me be! got damn!’

I’m not trying to hurt nobody, though plenty have hurt me.

When I gave my love to a phony tony, my heart was stolen – lock & key.

Showing me no mercy through the journey of his loveless game of chess.

Playing on my emotions in the guise of devotion, he showed me hate the best.

Dressed up as love in its purest and most sincere form, initially…

Eventually placidly yet drastically, I felt myself drowning in toxicity.

It took me three agonizing years before I found my exit route

Wheeling away the remainder of my feelings in an empty brouette.

In my departure, he didn’t neglect to remind me of my flaws

Too dark! Too strong! Too eccentric. For every effect, I was the cause.

Of why he wouldn’t and couldn’t, stand tall, deep in love with me.

This is the story of my life – Oh what a tragedy….

Maybe one day soon I hope, I’ll be more than just a stain

Dark and lovely forever defines me, as I long for fortune and gain! 

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