Lisa’s Private Thoughts, December 19th, 2012 – Christmas Tree Time

Tonight we got our Christmas tree.  Some of you may may think we’d left it a bit late, but since I’m a December baby, my parents got into the habit of waiting until after my birthday to put up any Christmas decorations.  One of my mother’s sisters was also a December baby who often complain about how her birthday got overshadowed by Christmas, so my parents go out of their way to make sure that did not happen with me.  Especially not this year when I turned sixteen.

But that had been over a week ago and I was more than ready for Christmas now.  In fact, I’m thinking of telling my parents next year that we should get our tree the day after Thanksgiving.  We could just decorate it for my birthday and then redo it again for Christmas.

You see I love the smell of pine trees and forests.  Especially in wintertime and at night.  Which is why going out to get our tree was so much fun this time.  As soon as dinner was over, Dad told us to get our coats and pile into the Suburban.  “It’s tree time!” he smiled.

“More like about time,” Mom muttered under her breath, while getting her coat on in record time.

Soon we were driving down a snowy lane with snow covered trees on either side of us.  There was no one else on the road, so it felt kind of spooky in some ways.  I swear, there’s nothing like being surrounded by huge trees at night to make you feel really small.  Yet it was beautiful at the same time.

After a while Mom said, “Where are going?  There aren’t any tree lots out this way.”

“We’re getting our tree the old fashion way, straight out of the best supplier known to man.  The forest itself,” Dad smiled.

“We’re going to chop one down?” I cried in dismay.

“No, Sweetie, we’re going to dig one up,” Dad corrected me.  “Remember, cut trees don’t last very long around Uncle Nate.”

Immediately, my mood skyrocketed even higher.  “He’s coming this year?”

“Dear, you weren’t supposed to say anything,” Mom scolded.

“She was going to find out anyway,” he told her,  “See, that’s him up ahead waiting for us.”

I practically climbed into the front seat with them to get a better look.  Sure enough, in a clearing up ahead stood Nathan wearing a an old fashion burgundy frock coat, with a black cape over it.  While on top of his blonde hear, he had a black beaver hat angled every so slightly to give him a dashing look.

By now my little brother Geoffrey, who had been sleeping the whole time woke up and started yelling, “Unca Nate… Unca Nate…” at the top of his little lungs.  If you haven’t guessed, he adores our godfather.

Luckily we were able to park quickly and got him out of the car.  Since I was right next to him, I ‘fun’ of getting him out of his car-seat.  Let me tell you, trying to deal with an overexcited two-year old who won’t stop squirming is an experience I won’t soon forget.  Nor will my stomach where he kept kicking me without realizing it, because he wanted to get to Nathan so badly.

Thank goodness Nathan saw my plight and took Geoffrey from me.  Immediately, my baby brother calmed down and started babbling at him in a mix of words and childish gibberish.  Mom and Dad looked on with amusement while Nathan hung on my brother’s every ‘word’ until he was finished.

“Well you certainly have had an interesting day,” Nathan told him, “I look forward to having more of these talks with you over the coming days.  But for now, we need to find a good tree and we have lots to choose from.”

Looking around I saw he was right.  We did have a lot of choices, but there was one slight problem.  “Kind of big aren’t they?” my Mom remarked, taking Geoffrey from him.

Nathan turned to my dad the two began muttering to one another.  I managed to catch a few snippets like: “I thought you said she’d be okay with punching a holes into the ceiling and possibly the roof…”  and  “….we’d have had to cut through some of the crossbeams and…”

I noticed Mom rolling her eyes several times before they finally finished.

Clapping his gloved hands Dad said, “Nathan says there’s some really nice trees over on the north slope just a few hundred yards from here. I just need to get the sled and pot out from the back of the car.”

“Did you remember the shovels?” Mom asked, and he froze.

Immediately my father froze and winced.  “Oops.”

“Dad!” I cried but Nathan intervened saying, “Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.  Just follow me.”  and with that he started heading off towards the north slope.

Naturally I raced to join him.  Soon the whole family was following close behind as we slowly made our way through the snowy woods.

At one point we spotted some deer nearby, who did not seem to mind our presence at all.  They stared at us for a while, until they were sure we didn’t have anything to offer them and then moved on.  Soon we emerged from the forest and into what was undoubtedly the north slope.

All around us stood pines ranging from four feet to heaven knows, all covered in snow.  It was a beautiful sight.  I almost felt guilty for our intruding on such a festive scene.  But, we were here on a mission and I knew weren’t going to leave until we located and secured our quarry.

After a few minutes, of knocking snow off a few of the six foot trees, my parents found one they liked.  I had to agree, that their choice was a good one.  It had a lovely shape and would fit nicely in the living room.  But first we had to get it out of the ground.

Turning to Nathan I said, “So how do you plan to get this puppy out of the ground without shovels?”

Smiling he said, “Funny you should mention the word ‘puppy’.”  With that he took a few steps away from me and knelt down in the snow, covering himself entirely with the black cloak.  For several seconds nothing happened.  Then there was movement under the ebony cloth and soon two large black dogs emerged from underneath the cape which fell to the ground and became flat.

“PUPPIES!” my little brother cried excitedly.  He loves dogs, but can’t play with them because he’s very allergic to their fur.  A part of me quickly surmised that this would not be a problem with these two beasts.  As if to prove my point, they went over to where my mother was holding Geoffrey, and allowed him to pet them.

Then the pair trotted over to where the tree we’d chosen stood and began digging in a circle.  Snow went flying in all directions, making the rest of us take a few steps back to keep out of range.  But soon, the dark soil began to replace the white stuff letting us know the real work had begun.  Out of curiosity I bent down and picked up a piece of the thrown soil and found it was still quite solid and frozen.

I shook my head in wonder and marveled at the power of my godfather once more.  I’ve long known of his shape-shifting talents, but sometimes forget just how much strength he is capable of demonstrating.

  

Within minutes the tree wobbles and tilts to one side, as the two dogs emerge from behind it and slip back under the black coat from which they’d emerged.  As my father brings the sled with the big pot on it near the tree, I watch the shapes moving beneath the cape and breathe a sigh of relief when I see hands appear and Nathan stands up.  As he readjusted his hat, I could see that there’s not a speck of anywhere on his hands or face.  He truly is a wonder to behold sometimes.

Anyway, he and Dad managed to lift the tree with its large ball of dirt and roots, into the big pot… or rather tub on the sleigh and quickly made sure it was a good fit.  Then we headed back to the cars and stood it upright in the back of the pickup, Nathan had brought.  In a few weeks, we’ll bring it back and replant it, just as Nathan has shown us so it can continue its life among its siblings.

Two hours later, we had the tree back at home and fully decorated.  Dad has just lit the log in the fireplace, while Nathan is resting on the sofa with a blanket over his legs.  Or rather where his legs would be.  On the floor nearby, Geoffrey is playing with a couple of smaller versions of the black dogs who dug our Christmas tree out of the ground.

Poor Nathan, he’s going to be legless for a good hour or more, meaning he’ll be stuck on the sofa.  I’m going to join him after I finish this post.  He’s going to be staying with us all throughout the holidays this year.  Normally he heads to Connecticut to visit another part of his ‘extended’ family to spend Christmas Eve, but they are celebrating elsewhere this year which means he’s all mine… or rather ours this time.

Glancing over at the archway that leads to the kitchen I can see my mom and dad enjoying a good long kiss under the mistletoe.   I love seeing them like that.  It really makes the season all the more right to me.

Love, family and friends, those are the greatest gifts to have at this time of year.  And I’m going to go get a little of the first, right now.  I’ve got a little bit of mistletoe of my own in my pocket and there’s a very inviting spot right next to Nathan on the sofa.

This is going to be very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year indeed….

****So ends this year’s holiday installment of The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.  May all your hopes and wishes come true during this festive season.  And may each and everyone one of you enjoy some of the magic of this season.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE

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ANNOUNCEMENT – COMING THIS NOVEMBER THE FIRST “VAMPYRE BLOGS ANTHOLOGY” AND OTHER NEWS…

With the completion of Nathan and Otto’s rather lengthy adventure with the Unicorns and Terror Raptors, I thought now might be a good time to let you all know that Helen and I have been hard at work on a brand new Vampyre Blogs book. This volume is set to be released just after this coming Thanksgiving, so you only have to wait another four months to get your hands on this latest installment of the Para-Earth Series.

However… unlike the first book, this one will be an anthology instead of a novel. We will be taking select entries from this nearly four year old blog site to be included in the anthology. Now you may be asking yourself, why put a bunch of stories that are available online into a collection? Well, I’d been getting some e-mails and messages on Facebook, that newcomers to the site telling us that they loved Nathan and company, but found scrolling through so many pages to get to the earlier stories was a bit tedious to say the least.

Upon repeatedly hearing this, Helen and I went over the site and found that had created almost fifty different stories. And while some of them were short, others were so long that they could have anywhere from two to six separate entries to tell entire tale.

While going over some of the earlier and more recent entries, I also began to notice some glaring problems that had been overlooked when they were originally published. This was the direct result of the fact that all of the stories in this blog were basically 1st drafts. Meaning of course they were not fully edited so the ‘occasional’ (massive understatement) misspelling or less-then-perfect punctuations appear in a number of them.

However I can tell you now that all the stories going into the anthology will be getting edited and have a few tweeks made to them for better clarity of reading. Also, the stories will be put in a chronological order. This means they will appear in the anthology by according to when the character telling the tale originally wrote/experienced the adventure. Furthermore, some adjustments being made to some of the stories to create a more smooth timeline for who met who when.

The purpose of doing these ‘adjustments’ is so that the readers can have a better idea of how each of these life events shaped the characters’ personalities before they appear in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.

And as they say on television…

 

Both Helen and I agreed right off the bat that any anthology we created needed to have new never-before seen tales in it. In this case, out of the 23-24 stories we currently have lined up for the anthology, six to seven (about a third) of the stories are completely NEW and will not be appearing on this site. Several of these new tales involve Nathan’s ‘long-time’ Otto, aka “The Professor”, who made his debut in “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”. Both his introduction in the novel and his comment, “Apparently, I am am made of NOPE…” have caught the imagination of our readers who have been clamoring for more details on this strange man who Nathan looks up to as a mentor, as well as friend.

Also, since Helen and I are both artists, we are going to try and add some original pen and ink artwork to a number of the stories. We will also be placing either an Intro or an Afterthought to each tale explaining either how the story came to be.

We are also planning more anthologies for the future, not only for the Vampyre Blogs, but also the rest of the characters appearing in Para-Earth Series such as: Alex Hill, Veronica Ross (who along with her boss Roy Petersen – appear in two of the tales in this anthology) and their friends…

Our goal is to release “The Vampyre Blogs – One Day at a Time” on Black Friday or Cyber Monday at the latest, so add it to your holiday wish list, or think about someone you know who’d love a good read on those cold winter nights.

Finally, we are also exploring another avenue with the Para-Earths namely… AUDIOBOOKS!  We’ve had a number of people asking us if and when we’d make the books available in that form.  So currently we are looking into that area and will be providing updates soon.  With we might even have a couple of short stories in audio form for free, to be released just in time for the holidays so we can get some feedback from all of you.

With all that said you can see we have a lot of plans for both The Vampyre Blogs and the rest of the Para-Earth Series in the works.  But have no fears, new stories will still be appearing here as well.  So stay with us and please help spread the word about Nathan, his friends, and the rest of the Para-Earth Series.  The fun has just begun…

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/Allan-Krummenacker/e/B00B1W8TEU/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1501360496&sr=8-1

Amazon.UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Allan-Krummenacker/e/B00B1W8TEU/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Barnes and Noble:

 https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/allan+krummenacker?_requestid=724422

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/byseries/1383

Questions, questions, and more questions…

Greetings dear readers.  I know its already 2/3rs of the way through January and there’s been no new posts here, which of course has prompted a number of questions such as “Are we getting any new stories?”, “Tell us you your still writing about these characters…”, “The book is still coming later this year, right?”and even “Are you planning on keeping this blog going?”

So many questions, but luckily I have a simple answer for all of them:

The blog is continuing and new stories are coming.  The book is still on schedule to be released around Sept/Oct of this year.

The reason why I haven’t been posting anything new lately has been because of a little thing called

I had really hoped that during the winter break from university I’d have a chance to catch up on my writing and get a bunch of stories lined up.  As it turns out, life had other plans for me.  Between the holidays and having family visiting, December and early January were quite busy.

Then as things started to quiet down I got a job offer, which I have accepted, with the County of Monterey.  This will be a full-time job which means I can only take 6 units of school at a time.  However, in order to keep my current housing situation here at campus I need to be full-time.  I still have a lease here that lasts until the end of May, so my wife and I have sent an appeal to allow us to stay until then while we arrange for new housing elsewhere.  If that is accepted, we’ll be okay.  Otherwise, we’ll have to scramble and find a new place much sooner.

I should have answer by this weekend or early next week. If our appeal is refused… things could get complicated for a while.  So please bear with me and I’ll fill you all in as soon as I have an answer and know what the next few months have in store for us.

Also, if you don’t mind, keep your fingers crossed for us as well…

We need all the luck we can get right now.

In the meantime, know that Nathan has been kept busy elsewhere.  I have been working on “The Door” which comes out before “The Vampyre Blogs-Coming Home”, and will guest star Nathan along with the characters from my first two books “The Bridge” and “The Ship”.

“The Door” will wrap up those storylines, as well as reveal more of Nathan’s past experiences that have been hinted at in several entries here and will be well-worth checking out.

So stay tuned and thank you for your continued patience.  I’m eager to get back to more stories involving Nathan, Marisa, Lisa and everyone else.  And believe me all of them have been clamouring inside my head with story ideas they want to see written next as well.

I might have to have them draw straws to see who gets their story told first.

That’s all I have for now.  Until next time my friends…

Nathan’s Private Journal, October 12th, 2011, “The Theater” – Conclusion

The kiss had taken me by surprise, but I didn’t fight it.  Instead I returned it with all the gusto and feeling I’ve always felt for her.  I think it took her by surprise, because when we finally parted she had to take a moment to catch her breath.

“You never did hold back,” she managed to whisper after a few seconds, but there was a smile on her face.   Then it slowly faded as she looked away saying, “Paul’s the same way.  The two of you are so alike.”

“Except he’s built like Mr. America whereas I’m still on the slender side,” I pointed out.  Paul Novak had been on of her muscle-man back-up dancers from her Las Vegas revue.  The two of them had been together for sixteen years, and as far as I knew all had been well.  But the kiss that Mae had just given me, was worrisome.  “Is everything okay between you two kids?” I asked.

She turned and gave me one of her trademark ‘looks’.  “Honey, if you think I’m a kid, you need glasses or to cut down on the drinking,” she smirked, but I could see in her eyes she was troubled by something.

Ignoring the opening she’d left me for a good comeback, I went over to her and asked, “What’s wrong, Baby?”

“Paul,” she answered with a sigh.

“He’s not stepping out on you, is he?” I asked in surprise.  From what I’d seen of the big man in the past, his devotion to Mae rivaled and even possibly surpassed my own.  Surely he wouldn’t be cheating on her after sixteen years.

Mae quickly shook her head.  “He’s as devoted to me as ever, it’s just…” Looking up and around at our surroundings she said, “This place is like me.  Older, falling down in some areas… while he’s still  pretty vibrant and young by comparison…”

“And can’t keep his hands off of you, right?” I finished for her with a smile.

That made her laugh and some of the old confidence came back.  “You’d better believe it, Honey,” she replied in her Diamond Lil persona.  “Not that I’m complaining, you understand?”

Nodding I smiled and leaned up against the doorway and asked gently, “So why did you kiss me?”

“Sometimes, I just wonder why he’s still so crazy about me,” she confided.  “I knew from the beginning there was a thirty-year difference in our ages, and that I wouldn’t look the way I did at fifty forever.  I see the changes, yet he’s still as in love with me as ever, possibly more.  Can he really be that happy with me or am I living in a dream?”

I’d seen her vulnerable side before, but it had been a long time ago.  Everyone believed the tough, wise-cracking, sassy-blonde act from her movies was the real her, but I and a few others knew better.   I also knew what she was really asking.  Was she still beautiful enough to fire men’s passion, especially with someone who had shared many intimate moments with her so long ago.

Before I could say anything she continued.  “You told me about your first wife, Madeleine and how she’d been twenty years older than you when you married her.”

I nodded, “She’d been married to my commanding officer and best friend, Brian Weston.  I was the one who brought the news to her about his falling at Gettysburg in 1863.  She and I married a couple of years later.”

“And you stayed with her until she died in her early seventies,” Mae continued.

“That’s right,” I told her.  And then I added without pause, “And I ravished her almost every night up until that day.”

“Even though she didn’t look the same as when you married her?  Didn’t the lines or other changes bother you?”

I’m proud to say I shook my head with complete confidence and honesty.  “She was still my Madeleine and I was as crazy about her as I was the first time I laid eyes on her when I was ten.  And had she lived another twenty years I would’ve held, kissed and caressed her every moment I could.”

“Is that what would be happening to me right now?  If I had said ‘yes’ all those years ago, you and I…”

“Wouldn’t be standing here simply talking, trust me,” I assured her and stepped closer.

She held up a hand, “Easy there, Tiger.  I’m spoken for…”

“I know,” I replied and took her hand and stared out towards the glass doors near the concession stand.  “And he’s waiting for you.”

A look of amazement crossed her face.  “Paul’s here?” she gasped, “I didn’t tell him where I was going.  Did he follow me?” she asked getting a little cross.

“No, he was just passing and I stopped him with a small dose of my mist,” I explained.  “I noticed him while I was still standing by the concession stand and you called out to me.  A part of me assumed something was up, so I let a piece of myself slip outside and got him to hang around while we talked.”

She studied me for a moment.  “Can you tell if he’s upset?”

“More like worried about you.”

“I’ve been a little moody lately, thinking about what you and I have been discussing,” she admitted.

“He loves you as much as ever,” I told her.  “Never doubt it.  And I know you love him the same way.  With love like that, age will never be an issue.”

She looked at me and smiled.  “I wish I could’ve believed you back in Roaring Twenties when you said those same words to me.  But I just couldn’t see you really staying with me as I got older and you stayed young.”

“That’s not true,” I pointed out.  “I do age, just at a much slower rate than most people.  The truth is I physically age 1 year for every ten that passes.  Remember, I was only sixteen when I joined the Union Army.”

“And now you look like you’re in your mid-twenties,” she replied with a sigh.  Then a sly grin crossed her face, “But you’re still on the scrawny side.  I like my men with a lot of muscle.”

“I’ve got plenty of muscle,” I protested.  “Remember that night when those five guys…”

She cut me off saying, “I meant muscles that show, Honey.  No offense.”

“None taken,” I assured her with a smile.  Then I took another look around us and asked, “So were you serious about restoring this place?  Or was it just an excuse to bring me here?”

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while actually,” she admitted.

“Then let’s do it,” I replied and then caught the smirk on her face.  Immediately I realized my faux pas and quickly added, “Restoring the theater, I mean.”  I could tell my face was turning red even before I spoke.

Not that it mattered, she was grinning from ear to ear.  Then she said, “Even after all these years, I can make you blush like schoolgirl.  I must still have IT.”

“You do, Mae,” I assured her, “Now why don’t you go and join Paul outside.  Tell him about your plans and then call me.  The three of us can get together and discuss how to get the restoration going.”

“Why don’t you come outside with me and talk to him now?” she asked.

“He’s been on edge for a while,” I told her.  “Finding out you met me in an old abandoned theater, may not look right, if you know what I mean.”

She nodded.  “You always were a gentleman.”

“Except for when you brought out the beast in me,” I smiled and waggled my eyebrows.

“I certainly did,” she grinned back and headed out through the lobby.

I stayed in the theater until she and Paul were gone, then I slipped out in my mist form to make sure they were doing okay.  I caught up with them as they were walking through a park, where I took a little liberty and spread myself out like a host of fireflies and illuminated their way.  I could tell Mae suspected it was me, but Paul remained blissfully ignorant.  He simply pulled her closer and enjoyed being with the woman he loved.

I did hear from them a few days later and the three of us bought the theater and started the restoration process.  We stayed close for the rest of Mae’s life.  After she passed, I kept in touch with Paul and watched over him, just as I knew Mae would want, until he joined her.  By then I was watching over her goddaughter who was now tugging at my sleeve saying, “Uncle Nate?”

I blink and find myself back in the present.  “Sorry, I was wool-gathering,” I told her.

“More like you were thinking about my godmother again, weren’t you?” Olivia teased.

“She was amazing,” I smile wistfully and look back at the playbill.  “Let’s go for it.  I think a few nights of burlesque and some vaudeville will be a lot of fun?”

Olivia smiles and turns to Gina, “See?  I told you he’d go for it.”

The Latina beauty nods and folds her arms saying, “Yeah, but what about the ‘other’ show you want to put on for next Halloween?”

“Whatever it is, I’m in,” I tell them, without pause and quickly regret it.  The two of them eye each other wickedly and pull out another poster and unfold it for me to see.  Immediately I regret my hasty words.  “And what part do you have in mind for me exactly?” I ask with a sinking feeling.

“The mad doctor of course,” Olivia smiles.

“NO!  No way!  Not happening!” I protest, but it’s already a lost cause.  Each of them has one of my arms and are dragging me off the stage towards the dressing room for a trial make-over.  I argue all the way to the dressing room, but it’s too late.  It turns out that Olivia can be just as persuasive as her godmother, and somewhere back in the theater I can hear Mae laughing herself silly.

An Entry From The Private Journal Of Doctor Jack Tyler – September 2nd, 201-

 *Greetings one and all.  Today I take great pleasure in introducing you to yet another character from “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”.  Meet Doctor Jonathan “Jack” Tyler, or Doctor Jack as everyone calls him.  He’s another member of Nathan’s extended family, as well as a dear friend to Brian and his family.  Jack of course knows Nathan’s secret and being the town surgeon, keeps a good supply of blood on hand for him.  But Jack didn’t always know about Nathan, and he’s here to tell you all how he found out.  I hope you enjoy meeting him and hearing his tale…

Things were busy at the clinic today, as they’ve been most of the week.  With the start of school there were a lot of last minute immunizations, check-ups, summer sniffles and whatnot to deal with.  Things should quiet down for a bit, but soon it’ll be cold and flu season again.  Then of course there’ll be the holidays, not that I mind.  I love helping decorate the clinic with my staff.  I’ll also get to help with the decorations at home as well, but that won’t be for a few weeks.

God I love this time of year, seeing all the leaves turning it’s as if mother nature whipped out her most vibrant paints and started dabbing at the trees.  Looking up I saw the sun was already setting and quickly got into my car.  From there I drove out of town and soon found myself driving down some the most beautiful country roads, bordered by forest on both sides.

Turning down a well-known side road, I headed deeper into the woods until I started seeing cars dotting both sides of the street.  But I could see people heading back to their cars.  Not many folks like to wander the trails after the sun started going down, but me and my wife love it out here.  I manage to find a good spot to park near where the street actually ends in a wide circle, designed so folks can turn around and head back the way they came.  There’s also a fence with an opening that puts your right on the walking path that leads into the woods.

Getting out, I recognized a number of my patients and neighbors.  This is a popular stretch of woods and in autumn, none of us can get enough of this area.  As I make my way down the picturesque path I’m transported back to another time, some thirty years ago, when my life had taken a much darker outlook. My mother had been diagnosed with cancer, and suddenly my world of popularity on and off the playing field had become so meaningless…

My ruminations are suddenly interrupted by the appearance of a red fox who is standing in the middle of the path a dozen yards ahead of me.  The animal is looking at me and cocks its head in a curious fashion.  There had been a fox back then too, I remember.

The animal starts to swish its tail excitedly and then proceeds to trot towards me, stopping occasionally as if to check me out.  Finally, when it’s just a few feet away, it gets excited and then races around my legs and then starts heading off to the path.  It pauses briefly to stare at me and I just know I’m supposed to follow him, which I do.

Soon, I find myself deeper in the woods, listening to the crunching of the leaves beneath my feet, as well as enjoying the canopy of gold, red, yellow and green  above me.  I also keep track of my guide who keeps stopping to make sure he hasn’t lost me.  As we venture deeper into the woods the sounds of a running water reach my ears and I know for sure where I am and who’s waiting for me.

We come to a clearing that overlooks a large stream with a waterfall just off to my left.  Ahead of me there’s a big blanket spread out with my wife Cheryl setting out plates.  My son and daughter, Joe and Darlene are with her.  While over by the edge of the stream stands my mother and the man who saved her, Nathan.  Although she’s still in her late sixties, I have to admit she’s still a fine looking woman.  The fact that she wouldn’t still be here if not for our family friend and guardian, has never been lost on me or my wife.  She and I had been high school sweethearts and I’d nearly pushed her away when my mother got the cancer diagnosis, but Nathan kept me from losing her as well.

He’d found me in this very spot all those years ago and given me hope when I thought there was none to be found anywhere.  That was the day he’d also shared his secret with me and showed me that even when life throws you what seems to be the ultimate curve ball, that hope can appear out of that darkness if you just keep your eyes open.

I look up and see the sun is fading.  Soon the stars will be out.  I wonder if tonight will be the night that Nathan shares his secret with my children?  A part of me hopes so.  The truth can be frightening, but it can also be wondrous as he showed me that lonely autumn night so long ago…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Nathaniel’s E-Journal October 2010: A Stroll Down The Hollywood Walk of Fame and Memory Lane…

 Today I signed my first contract with a movie studio.  Who’d have thought it.  After five years of writing, rejections, publishing my first short story and then several novels,  one of my works is going to be made into a movie.  It’s been a heady experience, even for a guy who’s been around for so long.

I didn’t have to come all the way out to here to Hollywood to do the signing, but I wanted to.  It had been a long time since my last trip out here and I wanted to see how much things had changed.

As usual I waited until evening to make my pilgrimage and began exploring the streets.  Eventually I found myself wandering down the Walk of Fame.  I hadn’t even realized it at first, which goes to show how much my head was still in the clouds from my movie deal.  But when I did notice I couldn’t believe whose name was on the star at my feet.

For a moment I couldn’t move and had to fight back the red-stained tears that wanted to come.  But I knew a man crying blood would really cause a commotion, or land me a movie role with my luck.  So I held them back and just kept staring at the star.

I remembered the first time I saw him on stage.  It was my job that night to man the ‘crook’ (the comedic giant hook) to pull acts that were bombing off the stage (which I sometimes hated).  I never liked seeing anyone fail, bu sometimes it was for the performers own good.  You never knew what might get thrown at you instead of a rotten tomato.  The crowds could get pretty ugly some nights.

But on this night I was told that the performer wanted it to be used.  So I did as I was told.  Next thing I knew this big, heavy fellow came out on stage and began singing and oh what a voice he had.  It was so lovely, but some people in the crowd started booing and tossing things onstage.  I didn’t know it at the time, but those people were put there by the stage manager, so Mr. Arbuckle could dodge and tease as he continued his song.  The man was so nimble I couldn’t believe my eyes.  It was like watching someone moving on air, especially when he danced.  I was so transfixed I almost forgot to do my job and try to use the oversized hook to get him.  But I remembered just in time and almost got him… almost.  The man somersaulted out of the way and wound up in the pit with the musicians, making the audience go wild.

Afterwards, I went to find the fellow to congratulate him on a fantastic performance.  As I searched for him, I asked one of the other performers where I could find the man.  I hadn’t caught Roscoe’s name and had to describe him to which the fellow I was asking said, “Oh you mean Fatty, that’s what we all call him.”

Instinctively, my back stiffened.  I’d known a number of soldiers who got unflattering nicknames, which they hated and I refused to repeat.  Straightening up I said evenly, “The man has a real name you know?”

As soon as those the words left my lips, a voice behind me said,  “Yes I do.  It’s Roscoe Arbuckle and I’m pleased to meet you.”

Turning I saw the man I’d been seeking who gave me a big warm smile and a hearty handshake.  It was the first of many encounters.  I found Roscoe to have a heart bigger than his frame.  He’d let me help him practice routines and songs, as well as teaching me how to take pratfalls and do comedy.  I had many mentors when it came to learning how to be funny, but Roscoe was the first.  I got so good, he wanted to use me out on stage, but I wasn’t ready.  Some of his performances took place in the daytime and of course I could only operate at night.  This puzzled him at first, but later on he learned my secret (a tale for another time) and quickly understood.

But our friendship continued to grow and blossom, as did I under his guidance.  By the time four brothers: Arthur, Julius, Leonard, Milton and Herbert (better known as The Marx Brothers) entered my life I was very well versed in comedy.  However, when Hollywood beckoned we had to say farewell for a time.  He had wanted me to come with him and I readily agreed.  However, the studios insisted on some test footage be shot.  Roscoe knew about my condition by this time and insisted on doing the shooting himself.  So he and I, along with his cousin Al St. John shot a few scenes only to discover that film could not capture my image.  The footage, which I still possess and have carefully had restored, is quite funny.  It looks as thought Roscoe and Al are dealing with an invisible ghost who’s handing or tossing things to them.  For a brief while Roscoe thought about using me anyway for such a film, but it would’ve meant others finding out about what I was so the idea was scrapped and I went back to Vaudeville.

However, Roscoe and I kept in touch regularly and visited each other frequently.  Every so often on a rainy day when he was shooting indoors, I got to visit the set and met his protege’ Buster Keaton.  As it turned out I already knew Buster from his early days as a child star when he’d performed with his parents.

I also got to meet Roscoe’s dog and fellow star Luke.  Luke was an English Pitbull who belonged to Roscoe’s wife Minta Durfee.  She’d gotten the dog as a bonus from one of her producers after she’d pulled off  rather dangerous stunt for a movie.  Luke was a sweetheart and took to me right away.  To this day I still consider Luke one of the most talented animals I’d ever met.  I often model my ‘Black Puppies’ after him, especially their behavior.  He was such a fun dog.

 

Looking down at the star I sighed quietly and said, “Well Roscoe, I’m finally making my mark here in Hollywood.  I hope I do you proud, old friend.”  With that I looked around to make sure no one was around or looking at me.  Then I did a few steps from Roscoe’s “Butcher Boy” film, remembering how he’d taught it to me, and then took a bow.

After that I moved on.  But as I did so I heard a faint clapping coming from behind me.  I turned but didn’t see anyone.  Not that they couldn’t have been hidden someplace, but a part of me liked to think Roscoe was giving me the applause he’d always felt I’d been denied so many years ago.

Nathaniel’s E-Journal May 2006 – I’m Now A Published Author

As I sit here typing my mind is still in a whirl.  The idea that something I’ve written is actually getting published seems unreal.  Then again a lot of things I’ve done in my long life feel that way.

The first time I stepped out onto a stage in vaudeville to play a part in one of the Marx Brothers routines I felt the same way.  I’d been helping out in their rehearsals and knew the routine by heart, so when Gummo wasn’t able to appear with his brothers one night, I was drafted then and there.  I’m proud to say that I did not suffer stage fright, but that was mostly because I had Julius, Arthur and Leonard with me.  I knew they had my back and I wasn’t about to let them down.  In a way, it was like being back in the Union Army, where I knew I had a bunch of guys watching out for me just as much as I was keeping an eye out for them.  When we finished our routine they made sure I took a bow with them.  After that I started finding myself on stage a number of times with some of the other acts who knew me pretty well.

But I digress.  About halfway through my second semester taking writing classes one of my instructors urged me to try and submit a few of my short stories to a few magazines for publication.  This was in March and I trusted my instructor’s judgement and with their help I prepared a cover letter, synopsis and a sample of one of my stories.  Needless to say the results were pretty much what I half expected…

Not to say I wasn’t a little hurt, but my instructor was like, “Good, now you’re really on your way to being an author.”  Needless to say I gave her a very curious look, but nodded and kept trying.  Withing weeks the responses, or rather more rejections, came rolling in…

Yet in spite of this, Brian, his family, fellow students, and even other members of the English and Literature faculty kept urging me on.  So I kept at it.  Finally, yesterday, I got a response from of all magazines Playboy, who wanted to publish one of my stories. It was one I submitted on a whim to their college fiction contest last year.  I didn’t win mind you, but apparently one of the editors kept it on file because he thought it was really good.

In any case, somehow they were looking to fill space and he remembered my story and contacted me saying they wanted to run it.  Naturally I said yes so next month, my first published short story will be coming out in Playboy Magazine.  I’m hoping the readers like it, or at least those who read Playboy for the articles, all of two of them.

Still, to have my first published story appear in a magazine of that caliber is an honor.  I’m hoping it will help springboard me into other publications or at least get my name out there.  Or rather my pseudonym Daniel Bachmann.  Bachmann was my mother’s maiden name and Daniel was my grandfather’s name.   Too many people out there know or heard of Nathaniel Steward over the last few decades who don’t know my secret.  So a fake name just seemed more appropriate on this occasion.

So my first published work will be sandwiched somewhere in between naked women and… now I’m jealous.  Time to head out and enjoy some nightlife.  I hear there’s plenty of great places here in London, and the lights at night are beautiful.  Who knows, I might get an idea for a few more stories.  Yup… I’m a writer all right.  Always thinking about the next tale.