Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Dancer in the Infinite - Chapter 3


Chapter 3

The Heretics



Men and the world are mutually toxic to each other. –Philip K. Dick



Codes play a previously unsuspected role in equations that possess the property of supersymmetry. This unsuspected connection suggests that these codes may be ubiquitous in nature, and could even be embedded in the essence of reality. If this is the case, we might have something in common with the Matrix science-fiction films, which depict a world where everything human beings experience is the product of a virtual-reality-generating computer network.  – James Gates

    



     “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

     These words were attributed to Arnold Amaury, the monk placed in charge of the First Albigensian Crusade, at the sack of Beziers in 1209.  The well fortified walls had offered no protection against a foolish decision of the defenders, both Catholic and Cathar.  On the very first day that the vast army of the Papal forces laid siege to Beziers, as the occupying troops were pitching their tents preparing for a long drawn out stalemate, potentially taking months to break the will of the defenders, a lone peasant ribald stood on outside the moat and called insults up to city.  Ribalds were wandering, obnoxious, foot soldiers who joined armies for the fighting and a small share of the spoils unwanted by the knights.  This fellow was evidently a master of the pejorative.  At first, the Occitan defenders of Beziers gave as good as they got, shouting curses in Monty Python style down on the unwashed crusader.

     No doubt the lone heckler said things like, “You fucking heretics are so fucking doomed!  You kissers of cat ass!”  In fact, the very term Cathar is probably a play on words between the Greek word meaning “The Pure” and the ancient German phrase meaning “cat ass kissers” in reference to their critics’ claims of their obscene rites.  Whatever, the man said, it was too much to bear for the stout defenders of the Languedoc stronghold.  They ordered the gates opened and the draw bridge dropped, much to the chagrin of our ribald.  One can imagine his face turning deadly pale, his eyes staring wide.

     Out from the gate rushed a small troop of armed Occitan knights.  Occitan being a term used to describe the people and language of Languedoc, which means the place where people say “oc” instead of “oui”.  Needless to say, the lone ribald was ripped to shreds, but not before many of his fellow ribalds had run to his assistance.   A melee on the drawbridge ensued.  The ribald forces held up surprisingly well, armed with their clubs and knives against the swords and maces of the knights of Beziers.  By the time the lords of the city realized that their gates were up and rushed to defend their town, the small contingent of Occitan knights that had sought to punish the lone heckler were severely outnumbered and scores of ribald troops were pouring into the city, beating and stabbing anyone they encountered.

     Even more surprised than their Occitan counterparts, the knights of the north were the last to notice that the battle for the city had already begun.  The cries of: “To arms, to arms!  The City has been breached!” finally reached their ears as they set up camp. At last they grabbed their weapons and rode out into the city to wage their holy war against the heretics and those who would defend them.  And Beziers fell.

     It was then the Arnold Amaury, when asked how they would figure out which of the city’s citizens were heretics and which were faithful Catholics, coined the infamous phrase.

“Kill them all and let God sort them out.”

Fires were lit, and soon the great fortress of Beziers, stronghold of the House of Trencavel was a giant funeral pyre.  Those who were not slaughtered by knight and ribald in the initial attack were consumed in flames.  Between 15,000 and 20,000 people, Cathar, Catholic, and Jew died in the first holocaust of the Crusade against the heretics of Languedoc.

    

     But who were these Cathars?  And why did the Pope want them destroyed?

     The Cathars, and it must be noted that they did not refer to themselves by this term of insult, but simply called themselves the Good People or Good Christians, were a Gnostic Christian sect that arouse to notice and power at the turn of the first millennium.  They claimed that their faith was the true Christian faith and that their sect was founded by Mary Magdalene who had fled the Holy Land to France and had settled in Languedoc, the region of southwestern France today known as Languedoc-Roussillen.  There it is said that Mary shared the true teachings of Christ with her followers.

     The Good People believed that there were two Gods, the Good God who created Heaven and the angels, and the Evil God who created the World.  The Evil God, the Gnostic’s Demiurge, then tricked the angels from heaven and caught them in the web of the flesh, forcing them to reincarnate again and again, feeding off their fear and evil deeds.  There was only one way out of this mess they preached, and that was to follow the example of Jesus, by turning away from the irrelevancy of worldliness, by abstaining from sex, by taking no oaths, eating no meat, by embracing poverty and self-sacrifice, and by spreading the good news that this prison of flesh could, in fact, be transcended, and the pure could again dwell with God in his Heaven.

     The Cathars, of course, realized that such a life was not for everyone, and not everyone was spiritually pure enough to make that leap of faith and reach the White Brilliance of the Good God, the Heavenly Father.  Therefore there were two classes of Cathar, the credentes who held the beliefs but were not ready to live the life of purity required, and the Perfect who lived in poverty, purity, and spiritual grace.  For the Perfect this was their last incarnation before reunion of God.  The credentes held the Perfect in awe and aspired to one day, in some incarnation or other, join them in purity and grace.  However, unlike the Perfect the credentes could live how they liked, eat what they would, and basically do whatever they wanted as this world was completely irrelevant to their spiritual fate.  Earth was hell, and finding whatever refuge from the nightmare of life was completely acceptable.

     Other Cathar beliefs included sexual equality, as one could be a knight in one life and a milk maid in another, so women could be Perfects as well (after all their church was founded by a woman).  Social equality: one’s religion did not prevent one from holding public office.  Though the Catholic Church didn’t love these aspects of the sect, it was the Cathar stance on the Church itself that defined their heresy.  The Good Christians held that the Church had lost its way, and become an engine of evil, leading people away from the message of Christ, holding them in the endless cycle of rebirth and death, pawns of the archonic Evil God.

     At first, the Church attempted to out preach the Cathars of Languedoc whose teachings were spreading like wildfire across Europe.  However, the hypocrisy of the rich monks, priests, and legates of Rome was evident to any that could see.  Their fine clothing, the gold they demanded for Rome and their own pockets, their luxurious lifestyles by Medieval standards stood in stark contrast with the simply piety of the Perfect.  Further, the Perfect and their credentes held that Rome had no right to tithes or indulgences, which they considered simple extortion, and had encouraged the lords of Languedoc to ignore such demands of the Catholics.
     In the 12th century, however, the Catholic Church was in no position to do anything about the Cathar heresy fomenting in Languedoc, as it had its own problems in Rome.  Rival papancies battled throughout Italy for supremacy.  This was the age of the antipopes, whose constant warfare against each other required all of their attention.  And so it was until a strong pope emerged from the fray.  Pope Innocent III was the most powerful pope in five hundred years.  He quickly consolidated the faithful of Catholicism and then turned his attention to the Occitan heretics.  It was Innocent that launched the horrific and bloody crusade against the Cathars.  The slaughter at Beziers was just the beginning.  In just over a hundred years, there were no more Cathars left in Europe, the lords of Languedoc who defended them were stripped of their lands, their houses broken, castles destroyed, and handed over to the French king by papal authority.

Copyright 2017 Diana Hignutt

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Dancer in the Infinite - Chapter 2


Chapter 2

Exile in Gibbstown



If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.- Lewis Carroll



    

My mother groaned, my father wept, into the dangerous world I leapt. - William Blake





     The bed was hard, the spread pocked with cigarette burns, and probably as disgusting as the rest of the room.  It smelled of smoke, mold, and a hint of pet urine.  Marie stared up the at the water damaged ceiling.  A stain, vaguely round but with tentacles stretching out and away, with flecks of mold scattered throughout, like some abstract art of the Impressionists.  The fullness of what she had done was starting to settle upon her mind.  She had done it.  She had escaped.  Escaped from everything and everybody she had ever loved.  Left her elderly father to take care of himself and run the business.  Hopefully, Holly, the office manager could step up and help at work, and maybe Karen, Marie’s sister would look after dad here and there.  And, of course, Roger.

     Roger was the reason for all of it.  They had been married for eighteen years.  Most of them loving, carefree days, spent melting into each other.  They had built a life together.  Though, in retrospect, Marie realized that she had done most of the heavy lifting in that area.  They had lived with her father after getting married, promising to save up for a house of their own someday.  But, with Roger, that was never going to happen.  To him, saving had no meaning, no purpose.  Money was spent to be spent as quickly as possible.  That was always his way, even before things started to change.  Roger could not keep a job.  He worked a lot of minimum wage jobs, flipping burgers, busing tables, washing dishes, bouncing at clubs.  Eventually Marie got him a job where she worked, at her dad’s company.  A family business started by her dad, uncle, and grandfather.  He, of course, quickly took advantage of that situation…dropping his hours unilaterally to just two or three days a week.  Work was not something that Roger enjoyed doing.

     Love was never the problem.  When Roger was in a good mood, he was loving and devoted,.  And if, he let the house chores slide…well, Marie would overlook it…because…well, because he was her Roger, her everything.  So, she would get home from working ten hours and clean up a little, do the dishes, and make dinner.  It’s not that Roger couldn’t cook.  Once or twice a year, he would make his famous lasagna or one of his other specialties.  And that was enough.  He was an artist after all; a poet, and one doesn’t want to break the flow of creativity by making a poet do menial labor.  He had once had one of his poems published in a prestigious literary journal, though that was before they were married.

     It would have been bad enough if that was all there was to it, but there was more.  Marie probably could have tried to manage to maintain their status quo, but then things changed.  Looking back, she tried to pinpoint when things turned sour.  It was when Roger got sick.  Yeah, that’s when it was.  She knew it in her heart when she looked at his discharge papers.

     Roger had been diagnosed as bi-polar II about ten years ago.  Aside from his manic periods, his depressive periods, and his road rage, his meds kept him balanced and functional.  Well, as functional as Roger got.  Sure, one could consider his behavior as abusive…he would rage at her, belittle her, get mad if she talked to her friends or even her family.  She had left her band where she played guitar to make him happy. Roger wanted Marie for himself.  And she was his wife, so she conceded her liberty, social connections, and creative expression.  She felt it was her duty.  Roger was sick.  Roger couldn’t help it.  Roger was Roger; her Roger.

     Her heart fluttered as she stood by his bedside at the hospital, staring at disbelief at the words typed neatly on the discharge form, the part which detailed his medication schedule: three words.  Three words that deep inside her heart, raised a quiet alarm, a dread that her world was going to fall apart.

     “Klonopan—As needed”

     That was the end of her life and part of her knew it.

     Roger probably hadn’t even noticed the word yet.  But he would.  She knew would.  He was just happy to be feeling better and leaving that dreadful place.  It was not place for a gentle artist’s spirit to reside, he said.  But the words were there.  And they spelled the end of her world, though she quickly fought those feelings, smiled broadly and with love, and squashed his hand.  Roger was coming home.

     Klonopan was Roger’s tranquilizer, or one of them.  He had been taking it twice a day, once in the morning and once at night for the last three years.  It really seemed to bring out the good Roger more often than not.  The first month everything was fine, he was so happy to be home, feeling better, and putting distance behind his health scare.  It was like old times.  The old Roger, the one she fell in love with was there, smiling, caring, loving.  Of course, he stretched his health leave from work out well beyond his expected return.  But that was Roger.  He was often sitting contemplatively at his desk, scratching a few lines here and there of poetry.  Sometimes, he would write a poem about her, and her emotions soared to elation at his words.  He was gifted.  He was her Roger.

     The second month, Roger changed.

     She was moving clothes from the washer to the dryer when she first met the new Roger.

     “I’m fucking hungry.  When are you going to make my damned lunch?”

     Those were the new Roger’s first words to her.  His voice was aggressive, and full of barely repressed anger.  Behind his blue eyes, seething rage was swirling in his soul.  She didn’t recognize the man she was married to.  His fists were clinched as though ready for a street brawl.   The veins in his temples bulged. He was clearly manic.  Not his usual manic state that Marie was used to. This was heightened beyond anything she had seen.

     She gulped down the lump in her throat, “Darling, you seem a dash manicky, you might want to take your trancs.” The timidity in her voice surprised her.  Part of her knew this moment was coming, like when you can feel a storm approach from the pains in your body.  Like when you hear a distance siren coming ever closer.  Now, the moment was here.

     “Yeah, I’m not taking that shit anymore, the doctors at the hospital said I don’t have to.”

     There it was.  She just stood there holding the wet clothes, in a horrid shock that ripped through her being.  The words, “Klonopan-as needed” flashed once again across her memory.   This was the first harvest of those words, and she knew exactly what would come next.  And it did.

     Two weeks later Roger, finally back at work, came raging into her office.

     “Who were you talking to last night after I went to bed?”  This time, his face was contorted, his brows knit was suspicion.

     She smiled in an attempt to diffuse the situation.  “No one, Darling, remember, I fell asleep before you did?”  That was the truth.

     “Yeah, but I heard you on the phone.”

     Now he was shouting at her.

     “You lying fucking whore.  How fucking dare you?”

     He pulled his wedding ring off and threw it at her.  Marie felt a sting on her cheek as the golden band hit her square in the face.  It was the first act of violence that Roger had unleashed upon her since they had met all those years ago.

     “I want a fucking divorce, you cheating bitch”. He screamed at the top of his lungs.

     That was all.  He turned away from her and stormed out of the building.

     She was dumbfounded.  She was lost.  She assumed he had discontinued another medicine of psychiatric nature.  Yeah, she was sure of it.  After a few moments of stunned silence Marie broke down into tears.

     And so it went for the next two months:  paranoid ravings, divorce threats, the snooping into her emails and web forum conversations, accusations, baseless, but not to Roger.  They were as real as the Sun or Moon to him, as the Earth and Sky, and just as primordial.  Marie would try; oh she would try and assuage his awful moods.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.  Something had to break, or she was.



     Every morning, she woke up to her nightmare saying, “I wish I were dead.  I wish I were dead.”

     It became her mantra, always there in the back of her mind.  This was her life.  This was her destiny.

     At one point, she had pointed out to Roger that his behavior was bordering on abuse.  Bordering, she chuckled grimly to herself.  Of course, that was all Roger needed.  He spent the week after that telling everyone who would listen, how Marie was being terribly abusive to him.  She got the cold looks from the grocery clerks at the store, sideways glances from postal employees.  Roger’s job had become to slander her.  He no longer went to work, of course, nor did he work on his poetry.  He simply sat and thought and thought, winding himself up, considering the many ways that Marie was destroying his life.

     “I wish I were dead.  I wish I were dead.”

     It all came to a head two weeks ago.  They were talking in bed.  Roger was once again monopolizing the conversation and had turned their light-hearted talk about Batman to a diatribe on Roger’s upbringing, as was now his near constant habit.  It always went back to his childhood, his uncaring mother, his absent father, his abusive grandmother.  Marie tried to let him go on, listening as patiently as she could to his rant.  But she made the mistake of interrupting him.

     “You really, need to find a way to get past that, babe,” Marie suggested.

     “Don’t interrupt me!” His tone went from woe is me to rage in a mere second.  “You’re always fucking interrupting me!”

     She was shocked.

     “I’m sorry …” she offered meekly.  But she wasn’t.  And she knew she had to try one more time.  She had tried a hundred times in the last month, each time only to be indignantly rejected by her husband.  But she had to try.  She couldn’t live like this much longer.

     “Are you sure it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just take a Klonopan to calm youself down a little?”

     And that’s when it happened.  Without hesitation, he swung his arm around and hit her right in the face.  Marie was in shock as Roger shouted at her.

     “Don’t you ever say that to me again, you fucking bitch!”

     There it was.  And she swore silently to herself it would never happen again.  Right then, she decided that she wanted to live.



     And there she was staring at the water and mold stain on the ceiling, looking at the patterns as though she were a child watching the clouds and seeing dragons and sailing ships and funny looking people in their billowy, mutable shapes.

     There remained the question of what to do now.  Marie had not planned her escape out that far.  She had been afraid to search for hotels in the area on her computer; she was terrified of giving any clues to her whereabouts.  She talked to no one.  Not her sister.  Not her father.  Not her mother.  Not her old band mates.  Roger would doubtlessly make inquiries of each.  She could not risk his even gleaning any idea of where she might go.  The best way to achieve this goal, she concluded was to tell no one that she planned on leaving, and further, to have no plan in place until she was out of her nightmare situation.

     She rolled off the filthy comforter, sat up and stretched.  She got up and set up her laptop, finding an outlet and plugging it in.  She was booked at the hotel for three days.  Today, she would relax, and consider her position.  Tomorrow she would sell her guitars and Pop-Pop Brabant’s coin collection for additional funds, and make her plans.

     The whole world was open to her, within reason.  It wouldn’t be long before her money ran out, and she would need another source of income…but for now…she should be okay.  She knew that somehow, she had to recover from her co-dependency and her dark weariness.   She had to find out exactly who Marie Brabant was, what she wanted from life.  What she wanted.  That’s not something she had ever even considered as possible.  But’ now, despite being a fugitive of her mad husband, she was free.  Free from all obligations, but to herself.  A bang of guilt grabbed her.  Was she just being selfish?  How would her dad manage?  How about Roger?  No, fuck Roger, she thought.  Fuck him.

     “The world is my oyster, or some shit,” she mused.

     She hit the power button on the computer and it whirled, buzzed and chirped to life.  She opened up her web browser and then stared for a half an hour at the patiently waiting, blinking curser on the search line.  She had absolutely no idea as to what to look up.  How does one figure out what to do with the rest of one’s life, life that for most of the last twenty years had been about living for others?  Who is Marie Brabant and what does Marie Brabant want?

     She knew she needed to get away from New Jersey, maybe leave the country.

     How does one even figure this stuff out?  Maybe, you start at the beginning; as far back as you can and try again?  What whims or childhood fancies held any relevance now?  Was she still that girl anyway?  That girl who had always wanted to travel to France?  That had been her dream when she was twelve and a few years beyond, and the world seemed like an exciting and inviting place.  Before she convinced herself it wasn’t; that being a rock-star guitar-goddess was the plan.  And, then when the harsh reality of that lifestyle and economics crashed down on her and smothered that dream too, to work then for the family business, helping dad, and then Roger.  Until there was nothing really left of that girl.  That innocent, not yet jaded kid, whose perky smile and yearning optimism defined her.  Maybe she was that girl.

     Once upon a time, she prepared for that dream.  She began teaching herself French at fourteen.  Why France?  That’s where her family came from.  Her people.  Her ancestry read like a history of the French people.  She was a daughter of Normans, of Gauls, of Franks, of Cathars and Occitans, of Merovingians, and Troubadours.  And though her family came from all over France, North, South, East and West, it was the idyllic South of France where her childhood daydreams lingered.

     Her fingers typed the words, “Retreats South of France” into the waiting search engine.  In a moment the results splashed onto her screen.  Links to writers retreats, spa retreats, religious retreats.  She wasn’t a writer.  She didn’t like spas.  And she wasn’t religious.  Besides, they were all too expensive.  Marie spent hours pouring over every link.  Some of the retreats had barter or partial barter positions available, and none of them really suited her.  Then she saw a link that looked interesting, finally on page 34 of the search results.  It was for a general barter retreat.  Well, not exactly.  The place was a retreat for physicists, but they had an opening for a barter position for anyone interested in a retreat in a mountain village outside Carcassonne in the Languedoc region of Southern France.  Three and a half days a week, the barter would keep house for the physicists in residence, cook, clean, keep the gardens, and occasionally assistant in the lab.  The rest of the time was yours, to relax and do with as you please.  No prior experience was necessary the ad on the link claimed.  The pictures were amazing, ancient stone buildings high in a tiny mountain village, roses, lavender, ivy and grape vines crawling over the whole scene, exactly like she pictured it as a young girl.  She knew at once that she was going to apply for the position.

     She clicked on the apply button with a rush of energy and excitement running through her.  She forgot the complete hole of a room she was in.  She forgot about work.  She even forgot about Roger.

     “Applying to Chateau de Pays m des Merveilles for Barter Retreat.”  Her French was failing her.  That little girl that had studied so hard, the high school student who had only taken two years of French before deciding she was going to be a rock star, she was gone.    At least her knowledge of French was gone.  She wondered what the name meant, but bothered no more with it.  She delved into the application requirements.

     “Applicants must submit the following in an email:

     “1. Why you wish to come to Chateau de Pays m des Merveilles.

     “2. A brief biographical essay, including hobbies and interests.

     “3. A brief essay on any interest you may or may not have in theoretical physics (optional)

     “4. The names, birthdates, and birthplaces of your parents (required) and grandparents (optional)

     “5. Amount of time you wish to spend at Chateau de Pays m des Merveilles.

     “6. Please state whether or not you have ever had a pet cat.

     “Please place Application for Barter Retreat on the Subject line, and be patient.  We only have two spots open at this time.  Applicants’ responses will be judged on their merit.  Thank you for your interest in our retreat program.  Note:  We do not accept applications for Fellowships for Theoretical Physicists at this time.”



     Marie spent the next four hours writing essays for the application.  She couldn’t figure out any possible reason why the names and birthplaces of her parents and grandparents would be relevant, or her past pet history.  But, she included that information anyway.  She had no interest in theoretical physics so she left out the option.  She was sure that would sink her, but she didn’t want to lie.  She carefully reviewed her work and pressed “send.”




Copyright 2017 Diana Hignutt

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Dancer in the Infinite - Chapter 1


Chapter 1

 Ten Minutes



    

     How can we know the dancer from the dance? -William Butler Yeats



    

Time is what prevents everything from happening at once.-  John Wheeler







     “Ten minutes.”

     She was really going to do this.  This was for real.

     “Ten minutes.  Ten minutes.  Ten minutes.”

     That was her head start.  That was the amount of time Marie had.  Two weeks ago it was an idle thought, a dream.  Last week it became a plan of action.  In the last three days it was her focus.  She had everything figured out in her mind.  She’d grab her guitars, suitcases, then her clothes, toiletries, computer, some books, and go.  And the coin collection her grandfather had left her.  That was her ticket out of there.

     On the ride home, Marie kept going over the list of items she would need.  She couldn’t afford to forget anything.

     “Ten minutes, ten minutes, ten minutes.”

     That’s how far behind Roger was; unless he left work early too, of course.  Could he sense what she was up to?  Did he know?  She had done her best to put her best face forward, be kind and caring.  Would that tip him off?  No.  Roger is in Rogerworld.  He wouldn’t know.  Please, let him not know, she begged the Universe.

     She pulled her Chevy Equinox up the driveway, running over the grass as she hastily backed up the SUV up.  Oops.  She leapt from the car, fumbled with her key ring in search of the house key.  Ten seconds later, she had opened the door and was inside.

     Ten minutes.  He would be home in ten minutes.

     Marie ran up stairs, grabbed three of her most valuable guitars, ran down the steps.  Guitar cases banged roughly against the walls of the stair case.

     “Sorry,” she apologized to the wall, not looking to see if any marks were left.  Out the front door, she ran towards the car.  She opened the back and tossed the guitars in.  Back to the house.  Suitcases next.  They were in the messy back room.  Hard to get to, but she would probably need them.  She quickly located them and dashed back down the stairs.  This time she didn’t apologize to the wall for the suitcase dings, as she nearly fell down the stairs in her haste.

     About seven minutes now.

     Three trash bags, that was the plan.  She pulled them from the box in the laundry room.  One for clean clothes, one for dirty clothes, one for toiletries.  She pulled down some of her things off hangers that were drying in the laundry room.  Faster, faster.  Back up stairs to her room.  She turned the hamper upside down and quickly sorted her dirty clothes from Roger’s.  Into the trash bag.  She put the hamper back right side up and started opening drawers and pulling out clothes.  This.  This.  Not that.  This.  Since she had no idea where she was going, she wasn’t sure what to take, what the weather would be like wherever it was she ended up.  But, she mostly had only summer clothes upstairs. Most of her warmer clothing was in the cedar chest in the basement, and there was no time for that.

     Her laptop computer was in their room.  Roger had been watching videos on it again.  She unplugged the computer and stuffed it and the power cord into the bag with the dirty laundry.  Marie glanced over towards the unmade bed and saw the little framed picture of her dad on the nightstand.   It was his high school senior photo.  He looked so young and dapper even in the faded black and white.  She had always kept that photo on its little stand next to her bed, since she was little, since her parents got divorced all those years ago.  No time for reverie, she reminded herself.  She tossed it along with the book that was next to it on the night stand into the bag of clean clothes.    

     About three minutes.  Jesus, Marie, hurry the hell up, she thought.  Faster, faster.

     She opened the double closet doors and reached up to the back of the top self.  There it was: Pop-Pop Brabant’s coin collection, her inheritance from her beloved grandfather.  It was a small collection in a beautifully carved wooden box that looked every bit of two hundred years old itself.  Into the trash bag.  She had lost track of which was which.

     Carrying the two full bags and the empty one she flew into the bathroom.  Shampoo.  Conditioner.  Skin lotion.  Face lotion.  Toothpaste and brush.  Hair gel.  Deodorant.  No time to gather her makeup. Into the empty bag.

     “Faster, faster, he’s going to be here any second.  Go, go, go.”

     Lugging the three now full bags back down the steps, out the door and into the car, she was hyperventilating.  Damned asthma, not now.

     One more trip inside to fetch her prescriptions and reading glasses.  She just shoved them into her purse.  Okay, that’s it.  Gotta go.

     As she reached the door, she looked fearfully up and down the street.  No sign of Roger yet.  She turned and looked one last time into the house where she was raised, grew up, and eventually moved into with her husband.  Wistfully and without hesitation she said out loud, “See ya.”

     Marie locked and closed the door.  She cleared the walk to the driveway in record time.  Shut up the doors of the SUV, fell into the driver’s seat, and started the engine.

     No time left.  Please, please, just another few seconds.

     Marie put the vehicle in gear, down the driveway, and up the street, in the opposite direction from which she knew Roger would be coming home any second.  She did not speed, as she did not want to be stopped by the police in her haste.  She took some deep breaths to try and calm her asthma, but it did little good.

     Next stop: the bank.  It was dangerous, because, you never knew when Roger would hit up the ATM for his fun money.  She had to hope, that’s all there was too it.  She passed the Wawa, the Acme supermarket, her favorite pizza place, developments which had sprung up like weeds in this once quiet corner of Southern New Jersey.  It had been farms and just two developments when they had moved there when she was four. But now, it was all McMansions, strip malls, fast food joints, and suburban sprawl.  It was a full-fledged suburb of Philadelphia now, forty years later.

    

     She pulled into the back parking lot.  The only available spot right in front of the main road.  Oh well.  She parked, and pulled out her inhaler.  She took a deep puff, held it in, let it out, and then took another.  She sat there for a moment and tried to gather herself.  She adjusted her hair in the rearview mirror.  She closed her eyes and did a brief exercise of Pranayama.  She inhaled for ten seconds, held for ten seconds, and exhaled for ten seconds.  She felt a little bit of her natural calm return, but she couldn’t afford much more time.

     She pulled out the check she took from the checkbook the day before.  She entered the newspaper payment into the register, but she never did make out the check.  Now, she did.  She wrote, Cash-Marie Brabant as the payee.  The amount?  How much was she sure they had in the account?  You could never be sure with Roger.  With Roger money was to be spent on whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it.  And he rarely bothered to keep track of his ATM withdraws, which, of course, made balancing the check book rather a Herculean endeavor.  They should have had about a thousand dollars roughly in the account.  She wrote the check for $700.  She couldn’t afford to guess too high, as she wouldn’t be able to cash the check then, and she didn’t have another check, and Roger had her bank card.

     She was shaking as she walked across the parking lot, making nervous glances at the road and the cars going by.  No sign of Roger.  So far.  Inside the bank there was a line.  She sighed with mild impatience, which was not like her.  Patience was one of her virtues normally.  But, then, normally she wasn’t running away from her life.  The line to the teller slowly moved forward.  In just a couple of minutes she was facing the teller.  She handed the smartly dressed young woman her check and driver’s license and smiled.  The teller examined the check and her license carefully.  Marie wondered if the girl could sense her nervousness.  She assured herself that it didn’t matter anyway, as it was after all her money.  Whatever clandestine plans Marie may have had, didn’t matter to the teller.  In another moment the girl handed her an envelope containing $700.

     “Thank you, dear,” Marie chirped as cheerfully and casually as she could muster.

     “You’re welcome, Ma’am.”

    

     The next part of the plan was to go to the county library to use the computer to figure out where to go next.  She had been afraid to even look up local hotels on her laptop or work computer, because Roger was always checking to see where she went online the last three months.  He would look at her emails, her forum posts, her Google searches, everything.  She didn’t want to give him anything to go on.  So, she drove the Chevy Equinox through the country road to the little historic village of Mullica Hill to the library.  It was out of the way, Roger would never think of looking for her there.  However, she quickly discovered that one needed a library card to use the library computer.  And Marie did not have a library card.  So that was that.

     She got back to the Equinox and sat back behind the wheel and sighed.  She remembered that the SUV’s navigation system had a points of interest menu.  She found hotels, and selected the one she believed would be the least expensive and most out of the way:  the Motel 8 in Gibbstown.  She engaged the navigator, which she normally hated, and obediently followed the voice’s directions.  Farms and woods lined the back roads through that rural part of the state.  Marie had no idea where she was or where she was headed, she simply listened to the computer’s directions.

     “In six miles turn left on Buttercup Road.”

     There was something relaxing about it.  The computer seemed sure of itself, so Marie just drove.  She felt her tension lessening the further away she got from home.  Her breathing finally relaxed.  She made the left turn onto Buttercup Road.

     “Your destination will be on the left in one mile.”

     The voice of the navigation system was right again, there after the promised one mile ride was a sign for the motel.  Marie let out her biggest sigh yet.

Update

So, golly, time sure does fly.

My apologies.  For the last couple of years I had been taking care of my dad who has dementia, as well as my work duties, etc.  A couple of months I ago he was placed into Assisted Living.  I can, therefore, resume or rebuild my life.  Build it from scratch almost.

So, I should be making more frequent blog posts.  My plan is to publish my novel A Dancer in the Infinite right here on my blog in serialized form.  So, that's exciting.

And, I plan on finally taking Jon Fanning's advice and am beginning work on writing the story of my family's business.

I still plan on publishing all that other stuff, but frankly the Moonsword ebook ain't selling that well, so I'm not going to break my neck to get the other books in the series released.  It will happen.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Dancer!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2016 Publishing Schedule

Okey Dokey, with the divorce out of the way, I'm charging back into the breech.


Here's the 2016 Schedule of Upcoming Amazon Kindle Releases:


SPRING EQUINOX  2016- Empress of Clouds (Moonsword Book II)
SUMMER SOLSTICE 2016 - A Dancer in the Infinite
AUTUMNAL EQUINOX 2016 - The Silver Light (Moonsword Book III)
WINTER SOLSTICE 2016 - The Moonsword Trilogy (Complete in one volume)


I do expect to stick to this.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

NEWS: Divorce and One Week Moonsword Amazon Ebook Sale.

First, the saddish news of my divorce being finalized on Feb. 4, 2016.  Almost a quarter century of marriage.




But, now I can start to move my life forward once again.  In that spirit, beginning later today, the Amazon Kindle edition of Moonsword will be on sale for only 99 cents for one week only.  In the UK the sale is from 2/12/16 to 2/19/16.  Get your copy right away.  Oh, and tell a friend.  Thanks!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

My Halloween Costumes Over the Years

Child:

-Sheet w/ inflatable jack-o-lantern taped to the top
-Casper the Friendly Ghost
-The Devil
-Speed-Racer
-Hobo
-Pirate
-Robot (Costume my dad made out of cardboard boxes and painted silver-it was awesome)
-Scarecrow
-Mr. Hyde
-Werewolf

As Teenage Haunted House Character:

-Evil Sorcerer
-Necromancer

Adult:

-The Joker
-Druid
-The Devil
-Priest
-A Woman
-French Maid
-Witch
-Greek Goddess
-Lara Croft
-Angel