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Newsstand price: $8.00 Sept. – Oct. 2007 Boldly go wherever your imagination takes you! A PERIODICAL PUBLICATION OF SERIAL FICTION AND FACT-BASED ADVENTURE TALES PRINTED WITH EARTH-FRIENDLY RECYCLED MATERIALS

Illusion of Idea

IDEAGEMS ® PUBLICATIONS

Volume 2, Issue 5 INSIDE THIS ISSUE

Strange Harvest

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More About Our Contest

2

Looking in the Shadows

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Spooky (And Not So Spooky) Book Look

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Born to Create

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High Spirits

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City of Lights

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The Bodyguard and the Show Dog

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Boarding House Reach

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Colley

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Mystic Arena

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Three Inches

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Along Came a Shepherd

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Woman On Top

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Things That Go Bump in the Night

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The Elusive Force

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Woman Go-getter

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Freeze Frame

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A Word With You

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by Im Sook Kim © 1991 Strange Harvest by L. Notch Beauty’s blooms, Rooted in agony, Beckon us to harvest The illusion of idea.

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We’re still trying to revive our contest for the greatest woman-centered adventure! But we need your suggestions. Should we focus on hardcore survival stories? How about hilarious adventures à la Erma Bombeck? Bedroom bawdiness? Adventures in relationships? True-life ghost stories? Alien abductions? Freaky vacations? Nightmare jobs from hell? Nightmare kids from hell? Wild and unimaginable fantasy – the more made up the better? Whatever the angle, send us your ideas at ideagems@aol.com and put “Contest Ideas” in the subject line. Remember, we needed a minimum of 200 entries to make the book and prizes happen. Help us re-strategizing our plan to recreate the contest with your kick-ass idea! Keep watching our Web site (www.ideagms.com) for details. —

Laurie Notch, Managing Editor and (do I dare say it?) President, IdeaGems ® Publications

Deep down in the mines of the imagination are buried raw fictions, the distortions of surface reality. Peer into the shafts and caverns of the creative process. Be dazzled by the underground fluorescence of surreal perceptions. Hereunder lie the multifaceted reflections of the inner self. Explore what lies below to unearth the entertaining and illuminating treasure you seek.

Looking in the Shadows

by Im Sook Kim © 2002

http://blog.naver.com/rameau1.do ‘Tis the season for specters and spookiness, mysterious strangers and odd behaviors. Our entries this issue will explore the unexplained and entertain the brain with fanciful tales of weird romance and true-to-life accounts of the paranormal. Who knows? Maybe we’ll have enough for our ‘zine spin-off, “The Ectomist” (still in the throes of inception). We hope you check out the spooky (and not so spooky) books we’ve listed in an effort to help new and struggling authors out there. Their books would make for great holiday gifts to the avid reader in your family or circle of friends. So, enjoy this issue with ghoulish relish! We hope it puts a creepy grin on your face and a ghostly spring in your step. Above all, have a safe (but not too sane) and fun, fun, fun Halloween! -- Cytheria Howell ,Editor ,Author, and Incurable Romantic

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Adventures for the Average Woman


As featured in our last issue, these tomes of thrills and suspense are well worth the read! PLUS they make terrific stocking stuffers for that holiday just around the corner!

THESE FINE BOOKS ARE ALL AVAILABLE FOR SALE AT WWW.AMAZON.COM OR CONTACT YOUR LOCAL BOOKSTORE TO ORDER YOURS TODAY!

Fantastic reading for you, family, friends, and your local book club! The Book Born to Create is an inspirational autobiography chronicling Dr. Rosalie H. Contino’s professional transition from successful seventh–grade English teacher to a newfound career in the arts. While most forty-year-old professionals are busy building upon the foundation that several years of hard work produced, Contino made the bold decision to quench the burning desire within to pursue the passion to create. Enjoying her creative careers as a costume designer, costume historian, playwright, and lecturer, Contino provides hope and a blueprint for those considering making the foray into the unknown and sometimes scary realm of the future. Written in a comfortable, conversational manner, Born to Create maintains a swift tempo while consistently providing an inspirational message for those harboring unrealized ambitions.

The Author Dr. Rosalie H. Contino is a second generation Italian-American who resides in Brooklyn, New York. She received a. B.S. in Elementary Education from Fordham University, an M.A. in Educational Theater from New York University, and a Ph. D. in Educational Theater, also from New York University. In addition to teaching elementary and junior high school, and serving as a teaching fellow for the Program in Educational Theater at New York University, Contino has served as a costume designer, costume consultant, and costume lecturer for multiple productions and events. Her plays Transitions in Taking Care of Daddy, Twixt ‘n’ Teen, and Lights Out! Received honorable mention from the Writers Digest Playwriting Contest. Lights Out! Made quarter finalist from “writers online.” Available at WWW.AMAZON.COM

A Taste… Transition Time On April 1, 1978, I walked alone up and down the island of St. Thomas. I was on Easter break and flew there to see my friend, Gerri T, who was part of the '76 layoffs from the NYC Board of Education. Presently, she was teaching high school English at the prestigious Baldwin School in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. She didn't want to shop that day, so she entrenched herself in her apartment to catch up on life instead. We would meet later after I had a fruitful day of shopping on that quaint, picturesque island. The flight from San Juan to St. Thomas was just a short hop. I'd been there twice before and loved that charming, European-style vacation town. My main concern was the pilots. They asked, "Is everything okay?" and "Are you comfortable?" I worried because they looked like they were barely out of junior high school. Their oversized pilot's caps didn't help their image, either. My fears were unfounded. We landed safely and were welcomed by a healthy, loud steel band. I quickly located Main Street and walked in and out of every boutique, looking for bargains and treating myself to a French designed, white cotton blouse; a hand-painted, one-inch

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miniature portrait of a young boy, possibly eighteenth century porcelain; my favorite perfumes, Shalimar, Madame Rochas, and Miss Dior, a fun watch that cost only twenty-five dollars; and a Tamron wide-angle lens for my Minolta SLR camera. For my dad, who never wanted me to buy him anything but was always grateful for a gift, I bought another pipe made of hand-carved mahogany in an unusual shape to add to his collection. Gifts for Mom were easier, and if she didn't like what I chose for her, I kept the gift. A set of evening bags on a shelf caught my eye in one tiny gift shop. Each was exquisitely handcrafted, made of oblong, crystal beads, very summery, smart, lightweight, easy to carry, and a fashion accessory that I could use even if Mom didn't. My brother would get a carton of cigarettes, mostly because they were inexpensive and he appreciated the thought. Liquor was another bargain in those days. I opted for liqueurs and cognac: Crème de Menthe, Grand Marnier, and Courvoisier's. I had trouble choosing what treasures I wanted to bring home, which was unusual for me when I shopped since I was one of those shop-tillyou-drop people. I attributed my indecisiveness to hunger. When I glanced at my new watch, I saw it was 2:00 PM. The previous year, when I flew to St. Thomas, I found a European-style cafe with hanging exotic plants, tucked away in a remote section of the main thoroughfare. I found it again and treated myself to a cool, refreshing glass of white wine and a salade niçoise. As I went through the motions of congratulating myself on my purchases, I still felt restless. Why? I signaled the waiter for my check. What could be more exciting or rewarding than being able to shop on a Caribbean island, surrounded by beautiful people, exotic forms of nature, and exclusive bargains? Without contemplating any further, I paid quickly, and walked out of the restaurant. The incessant buzz of people talking, bargaining, and sharing their new purchases faded as I strolled toward the water. I found a peaceful beach without the hum of vacationers or the honk of car horns, and I parked myself on the nearest bench and stared at St. Thomas Harbor. I couldn't understand why I felt so low. Everyone loved St. Thomas! Whenever people returned to New York from St. Thomas, they always compared notes on their purchases and who got the best price. I stared at the crystal-clear azure water. Sailboats dotted the horizon, but nothing moved. Time stood still. Many Caribbean islands are filled with lush greenery and exotic plants, and St. Thomas was no different, even though more and more hotels and homes were being built there by people who wanted to vacation or live on the island. That afternoon, though, all was quiet and tranquil. I took out my camera, installed the wide-angle lens, and clicked away at the water, but my heart wasn't in it. That day was a turning point in my life. I was in a quandary. I turned forty that day, and I wasn't very happy. Most of my friends had well-meaning loved ones giving them surprise parties for such a special occasion. I preferred a sunny, warm climate and escaped to San Juan, Puerto Rico instead. That particular birthday was worse than turning sixteen, twenty-one, or thirty. I paced the walkway, thinking about my junior high classes at Shell Bank Junior High School in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York.

The Book Maggie and Kate Fox are young, mischievous and bored. When their parents move them from bustling Rochester, New York, to the small town of Hydesville in 1848, they pine for the former amusements of the city. To pass the time, they torment their dull cousin Lizzie and invent a game of communication with the dead. But things get out of hand and soon the entire town is convinced that the two adolescent sisters are talking to spirits. When their shrewd older sister comes for a visit, the girls fear they will be exposed. But Leah sees a financial opportunity for the struggling family, and jumps at the chance to exploit her sisters’ notoriety. Soon Maggie and Kate are back in Rochester enjoying fame and fortune as young mediums and enviable social connections through a radical Quaker couple, Amy and Isaac Post. Based on the true story of Margaret and Katherine Fox, High Spirits — A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance recounts the adventures of the Fox sisters in the world of 19th century spiritualism.

Available at WWW.AMAZON.COM

The Fox sisters’ success leads them out of poverty, but brings with it a host of other problems. Accused of witchcraft, they face an angry nighttime mob at their doorstep. Maggie barely escapes the violent hands of a drunken crowd who call her a fraud. While one sister eventually admits that the ghostly rapping is a hoax, the other stubbornly insists that she has the gift of psychic ability. But the biggest challenge of all comes with Dr. Elisha Kent Kane, the dashing Arctic explorer who falls for Maggie and forces her to choose between her family and her heart.

The Author Dianne K. Salerni has been an elementary teacher in the Avon Grove School District in West Grove, Pennsylvania, for nearly 20 years. During that time she has taught all subjects to fourth and fifth grade students. Salerni received her Bachelor of Elementary Education from University of Delaware and complete her Master of Reading and Language Arts at University of Pennsylvania. In addition to writing High Spirits—A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance, Salerni has worked as a freelance writer of education materials for McDonald Publishing. Her favorite writers are Lois McMaster Bujold, Reginald Hill, Jill McGown, and Ruth Rendell. When she is in the mood for a good gothic mystery, she goes all the way back to Mary Roberts Rinehart. Salerni lives with her husband in West Grove, Pennsylvania, where they are raising their two daughters. High Spirits is her first book. She is currently at work on another work of historical fiction.

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Adventures for the Average Woman


A Taste A Tale of Ghostly Rapping and Romance In the summer of 1848, the fashionable thing to do in Rochester, New York, was to make an evening visit to the parlor of Mrs. Leah Fish to hear the “rappers.” At first the visitors were people all known to my sister and my mother, but soon these people were bringing friends who sought an introduction. Visitors began arriving around teatime, often bringing gifts of jams and bread, sugar confections or sometimes hair ribbons for me and Kate. Callers who came often, seeing the meager household run by Leah, gifted us with more practical items such as candles or lamp oil. New acquaintances were quickly charmed by the friendly and forthright manner for which Leah and Mother were known, and no one left without remarking on me and Kate —“those pretty girls!” As darkness fell, we would commence our spirit circles, sometimes holding two in an evening. Spirits rapped, tables moved, the curtains rustled, and bells rang. Participants gasped in astonishment, awed by the physical manifestations and the uncanny ability of the unseen rappers to identify correct answers written on paper. After each long evening, Kate and I would fall into our beds in exhaustion, having played out as much mischief as any two girls could desire… *

*

*

…That night I shivered in my bed for long, long hours unable to achieve warmth despite the number of blankets my mother and sister had piled upon me. Mother sat beside me for most of the night, horrified by the story which had spilled from my lips as soon as I saw her. She was furious with Leah, and rightly so. Over and over again I saw the faces of those horrible men in the first row reaching up for me as Mr. Bissel threatened to cast me down. I smelled the tar, which Mr. Willets had discovered before we arrived, and in my nebulous dream state, I imagined it poured upon my skin… I startled awake, strangling a shriek as I realized that sunlight filled the room and that Leah was seated on the bed beside me. “You’ve made the papers, Maggie. Look.” The headlines were bold: Riot at Corinthian Over Validity of Spirit Rapping. Firecrackers Cause Panic. Pillar of Community Invites Assault of Young Girl on Stage. “Mr. Reynolds, the manager of the Corinthian, is considering pressing charges against Josiah Bissel, because witnesses all state that he handed out the firecrackers to the boys who set them off,” Leah went on as I scanned the article. “The police chief has all but charged Bissel with inciting a riot and soliciting an assault on you. I doubt if anything will come of it, but public opinion has already convinced him. The people of Rochester now believe that Bissel and his friends were conspiring to keep them unaware of the truth behind spirit rapping!”

The Book City of Lights is a richly detailed story of intrigue and heroism set in 19th century Paris shows how the redeeming power of love fuels one courageous young woman’s victory over adversity. Ilyse Charpentier, a beautiful young chanteuse, is a diva of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene by night and otherwise unwilling obsession of her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich. Though it has always been her secret desire, Ilyse's life as "La Petite Coquette" of the Paris stage has turned out to be anything but the glamorous existence she had dreamt of as a girl. But as a young woman, Ilyse's parents are killed in a tragic ship accident, she becomes estranged from her beloved brother, Maurice, who blames her for allowing the Count to drive them apart, and she must abandon all attempts at finding love in order to save herself from incurring her patron's jealous wrath. Unhappy and alone, Ilyse forces herself to banish all thoughts of independence until the fateful night when Ian McCarthy waltzes into her life. Immediately taken with the bold, young, British expatriate, Ilyse experiences her first descent into love and contemplates risking everything to follow her heart. Available at

The Author

WWW.AMAZON.COM

Melika Dannese Lux has been writing stories since the age of eight (at which time she staged her first play), and made the decision to devote herself to writing music and novels four years ago after reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. A graduate of St. Leo University and a current student in the MBA program at Regis University, Melika is also a violinist, pianist, and classically trained mezzo-soprano. Melika is a voracious reader in her spare time, and is especially fond of the novels of Alexandre Dumas, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Robert Louis Stevenson, Victoria Holt, Sigrid Undset, Georgette Heyer, and Jean Plaidy. She enjoys traveling whenever she can to locations she plans to use as settings for her novels. Melika’s most recent trip took her to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, where she gathered information for her gothic novel, Nocturne. She currently resides in Florida, where she is working on the first book of her fantasy trilogy, a collection of short stories set in Eastern Europe in the 1800, and Nocturne. City of Lights: The Trials and Triumphs of Ilyse Charpentier is her first novel.

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A Taste Prologue It was an age of glistening enchantment—the perfumed night air, the verdant trees lining the Champs Elysées, the decadent cabarets and dance halls offering solace in a glass of champagne, or comfort in a lady’s arms. The year was 1894, and fin-de-siecle Paris had never been more glorious. She was the “City of Lights,” the bustling haven for the chic, the avant-garde, and anyone looking for a good time. And amidst all the boisterous hedonism, one young girl had seized hold of the public’s imagination and become immortal. Her given name was Ilyse Charpentier, but a certain “patron of the arts” had deemed such a commonplace name insufficient. Instead, she had been christened, “La Petite Coquette de La Perle de Paris, Diva of the Paris Stage”—a rather grand title for a girl of twenty-one years, yet it had been decided. It was a name the masses cheered, the patrons adored, and Mademoiselle Charpentier was powerless to say otherwise. At first glance, the life of a cabaret entertainer was an enviable existence—elegant parties, glittering palaces of music and entertainment, glamorous gowns and priceless jewels, magnanimous patrons lavishing money upon them, adoring devotees groveling at their feet. But for La Petite Coquette, the life was all a façade, an empty act to please the demanding populous, an identity that concealed the lonely suffering of the captive muse she had become. The false hopes and naïve dreams of her youth had been dispelled the moment she had resigned herself to her new identity. Her newfound fame had expunged every shred of her former self. There was no longer any possible way of denying it—by all appearances, Ilyse Charpentier was dead. Yet, somehow, even in the face of this grim reality, a faint gleam of hope flamed within the chanteuse’s tortured heart and refused to let itself be extinguished. The girl who had once believed so blindly in the magic of her “City of Lights” was desperately fighting to survive, waging a constant battle against fear, despair, and the prospect of a loveless existence. No matter how forcefully she tried, Ilyse had never been able to truly silence the fiery, sustaining voice of her childhood. As the years passed, the voice continued to become more and more insistent until she had almost let it reclaim its hold over her mind and heart, gradually reviving her deadened feelings. The voice made her bolder when faced with persecution, showed her hope when all was lost—and gave her the courage to risk everything and follow her heart.

The Book *Recipient, 2006 CataNetwork Single Titles Reviewers’ Choice Award *Finalist, Dog Writers Association of America 2006 Writing Competition The second installment in The Bodyguard series finds protection specialist Natasha Chamberlain selfemployed and happily involved with her former boss, Jonce Striker. Natasha's first official case centers around Chumley, a champion show dog. The squat Pug has been sent a death threat regarding his participation in an upcoming event. Although Natasha initially thinks there isn’t much danger connected with protecting a canine, she soon finds that isn’t the case when she ends up in the emergency room several times, is beaten up by a state employee, and kidnapped by a criminal biker. Meanwhile, she drives Striker crazy with her zany, unorthodox attempts to unmask the extortionist. As the suspect list grows, Natasha finds it increasingly difficult to balance her new business with her increasing love for Striker. Likewise, Striker sees the investigation growing wackier and more dangerous by the day. His time is spent between trying to convince her that the bodyguard business is too dangerous and deciding how he can persuade her to marry him. Available at

The Author

WWW.AMAZON.COM

Christy Tillery French is author of Chasing Horses, Wayne's Dead, Chasing Demons, The Bodyguard, and the Bodyguard and the Show Dog, Book 2 of the Bodyguard Series. Her latest, The Bodyguard and the Show Dog, won the CataNetwork 2006 Single Titles Reviewers' Choice Award and was nominated finalist in the Dog Writers Association of America's 2006 Writing Competition under the category Book: Fiction. Her next book, The Bodyguard and the Rock Star, is slated for publication December, 2007. Christy's award-winning poetry has been published in America and England. Two of her books are internationally published (Wayne's Dead - South Korea and Chasing Demons - Japan). All of her books have been placed with the McClung Historical Collection of the East Tennessee Historical Center as part of the local and genealogical history of East Tennessee. Christy is a member of the Guppies, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, Tennessee Writers Alliance, and Tennessee Mountain Writers. She serves on the Skill Build Committee for the Southeast chapter of Mystery Writers of America (SEMWA), representing East Tennessee. Christy is a small business owner and book reviewer for The Knoxville News-Sentinel and Midwest Book Review.

A Taste And to both, bee and flower, the giving and the receiving of pleasure is a need and an ecstasy. -- Kahlil Gibran Chapter 1

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Adventures for the Average Woman


Natasha leaned back in her chair, feet propped on the desk, lost in reliving the prior night's marathon with Striker. She was working herself into a fever and knew if she didn't stop, she'd be calling him within the next half-hour, finding some excuse to see him, using him to put out the fire. She had just gotten to the really good part, where Striker finally quit playing around and got down to serious business, when bright yellow light burst into her office, conquering the inner fluorescent murk. Startled, Natasha tilted back and crashed to the floor, her legs in the air. "Ope!" she grunted, staring at the ceiling, thinking that was what she got for buying second-hand office furniture. As awkward as a turtle on its back, she struggled to untangle from the chair. Aware of warm, moist air tickling her ear, she turned her head. Something wet and slimy rubbed across her lips, and she drew away with a "Phhtt." A small dog watched her, panting a smile. Was there a merry glimmer in the animal's eyes? Was it laughing at her? Her gaze followed the dog's leash to the person attached to the other end. Natasha rolled off the chair and lunged to her feet. "Can I help you?" "Oh, my dear, are you all right?" an elderly woman said, one hand over her heart. "I'm fine. I'm afraid I just overbalanced." Natasha snuck a glance at the dog. He was laughing at her! Talk about humiliating. After wrestling the chair into an upright position, she cleared her throat and repeated, "Can I help you?" "Oh, dear, I hope so." Natasha extended her hand, offering as warm a smile as she could manage under the circumstances. "I'm Natasha Chamberlain." The woman transferred the leash to her left hand and gave Natasha a delicate handshake. "So pleased to meet you, Ms. Chamberlain. I'm Myrtle Galbreath." Natasha stooped over to pat the dog's head but avoided looking into its eyes. She straightened and gestured toward one of the chairs beyond her desk. "Please." Myrtle took slow, measured steps in that direction, the dog waddling along beside her, and gingerly sank into the seat. Seeing its mistress had collapsed, the pooch did likewise, emitting a small grunt when he landed. Natasha lowered herself into her chair with caution. "Cute dog." Myrtle's face brightened. "Thank you, dear. I think so." Natasha regarded the small, wrinkled face staring lovingly into his mistress's beaming one. "What breed is he? Pug?" "Yes, dear, Chumley's a Pug," Myrtle said, returning the dog's affectionate gaze. Natasha nodded. This was the first of the breed she had ever seen up close. Myrtle returned her attention to Natasha. "Are you, per chance, a dog lover, dear?" "Oh, yes. I love dogs." "Do you own any?" "Well, my best friend Roger and I have a Weimaraner we share." Natasha eyed Chumley, thinking Brutus could eat him for lunch. "And my..." She paused, unsure how to refer to Striker. Boyfriend? He was more than that and definitely not a boy. Special other? That didn't fit either; it sounded too generic. She noticed Myrtle seemed confused by her hesitancy, so said, "My life mate and I have been talking about getting a dog together." Myrtle gave her a concerned look. "Oh, my. That's a big commitment. I hope you're ready to take that step." Wait a minute. They were only talking about a dog here, not a kid or anything. Commitment? Yikes! Natasha hadn't thought of it like that. She chased those thoughts away. "What can I do for you, Ms. Galbreath?" "Well, I saw your ad in our community newspaper." "Yes?" "And it says you offer private protection services." "That's right." "My attorney tells me that would mean something along the lines of a bodyguard." "Yes." "Well, I'm in need of one, I'm afraid." Natasha tamped down the bubble of excitement threatening to overtake her. Oh, boy, here it was, her first client! She couldn't wait to tell Striker. Well, maybe not. He didn't want her to be a bodyguard. Not because his investigative firm provided private security and she would be competing with him, but because he thought it was too dangerous. Especially for Natasha, particularly after her first stint as bodyguard for her best friend, Roger. But that was another story. However, guarding an elderly lady shouldn't be dangerous in any — hold it, back up. What did it matter, how he felt about it? This was her life, not his — "Ms. Chamberlain?" "Oh. I'm sorry, my mind kind of wandered. Please, call me Natasha." The older woman gave her a matronly smile. "And you must call me Myrtle." "You're in need of a bodyguard? Might I ask the reason you would need one, Ms. Galbreath — excuse me, Myrtle?" "Oh, my dear, it's not for me. It's for Chumley." Myrtle gave Natasha a look, as if she must be crazy if she thought Myrtle needed someone to guard her body. Natasha tried not to let her disappointment show. Of course, her first official job as a protection specialist would be to guard a dog. Striker would get a kick out of this one; she'd never hear the end of it. "Chumley's in danger?" "Yes, dear, extreme danger." "What kind of danger is he in?" "Well, I'm afraid he's received a threatening letter." Natasha's sympathetic look betrayed her inner concern that she just might have a nut case on her hands.

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"Chumley's a show dog, a champion," Myrtle went on. "He's won Best in Show regionally for the past two years, and now he's received this terrible letter." She reached into her purse, withdrew a folded piece of white paper, and gave it to Natasha. Natasha smoothed open the letter and read the typewritten statement out loud. "You show up at the Greater Tennessee Kennel Club Cluster this year, you're dead." She switched on her banker's lamp and held the paper toward the light. It was as ordinary as paper could be, with no linen look or embossing, no real heaviness. She rubbed her fingers over its smooth surface, concluding it was very much like the cheap paper she used in her printer for mundane matters. "How do you know this letter was meant for Chumley? Maybe it was meant for you." "Oh, no, dear. It's meant for Chumley. He's the champion. I'm simply his owner." "How was it addressed?" Myrtle retrieved a crumpled envelope from her pocketbook and handed it over. Natasha examined the plain white mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to Chumley at what she assumed was Myrtle's residence. Of course, there was no return address. "Who would send a dog a letter? Dogs can't read." "Whoever intends to kill him, of course." "And do you have any idea whom that would be?" "No, dear, I don't. But I would like to hire you to look into that for me as well." Oh, man, to be offered the chance to do some actual, bona fide investigating. If only. "I'm sorry, Myrtle, but I'm not licensed as an investigator." "Well, dear, surely it wouldn't require an investigator's license to try to find out who wrote a letter. Couldn't you be like one of those amateur sleuths so many people are writing about nowadays?" Natasha thought about it. She supposed she could get Roger to help with a computer search. And if push came to shove, there was always Striker. "I could check around, maybe do some unofficial investigating." "Certainly, dear. Whatever you think." Natasha glanced back to the paper in her hand. "What exactly is a cluster?" "It's a very large show, dear, lasting several days, usually with a different All Breed Dog Club sponsoring each day of the event." "How many dog shows does Chumley participate in a year?" "In the past, we've tried to do as many as one hundred." Natasha looked at her. "That many?" "Yes, but a regular show takes place over a weekend, which certainly makes it more convenient. However, this year, I've decided to be choosy about the shows Chumley attends. He won't be showing again until this cluster." "Would the person who wrote the letter know that? Is that why they threatened him with this particular one?" "No, dear, I wouldn't think so. I only recently decided to show Chumley at this cluster." "Why this one?" "Well, it's the largest in this area, the one with the most points, the one where Chumley attained championship status." Natasha eased back in her chair. "As I understand it, once a champion, always a champion; isn't that true?" "Yes, dear." "So that wouldn't be a threat to Chumley if he misses the cluster this year." "That's right." Natasha nodded. "Then it would stand to reason whoever wrote this letter feels Chumley's participation will hinder or has hindered their dog's chances at Best in Show." "Yes, or might possibly affect the dog's breed points." "How does that work? The better the breed points, the greater interest by other dog owners or kennels for breeding; thus, the dog becomes more profitable? Kind of like with horses?" "That's correct, dear." Natasha returned her attention to the paper in her hand. "Did you take this letter to the police?" "Yes, dear, first thing." "And?" "They said there was nothing they could do about it. Apparently they don't consider a dog's life as important as a person's." Myrtle gave Natasha an indignant look, as if she found this hard to believe. Natasha shrugged. "Go figure." "So I would like for you to check into this and try to find out who sent this terrible letter to my Chumley." "I'll try my best." "And be his bodyguard at the show." "Certainly." "Also, each day, I take Chumley for a walk around the block. He's put on a little weight recently and needs to be in shape for the cluster." Natasha's eyes darted to the dog sprawled lazily on the floor. He reminded her of a short, plump Buddha. "So I would like for you to accompany us on our daily walks in case the person who wrote that letter might be stalking Chumley," Myrtle continued. Natasha wasn't so sure she wanted to take daily constitutionals with an elderly, arthritic woman and a miniature waddler. Shoot, it'd probably take an hour just to go twenty-five feet. "I'll pay you for your time, of course," Myrtle said in a rush, seeing Natasha's look. "My attorney checked and said the going rate per hour for a bodyguard in this area would be one hundred ten dollars, but I'm willing to pay you one hundred fifty, and that would include traveling time to and from." Natasha paper-clipped the envelope to the letter, engaged in a mental tug-of-war. The money was tempting but she didn't consider it ethical to perform a service that wasn't really needed and then charge for it. "Natasha, dear?"

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Adventures for the Average Woman


"I'm sorry. I was just thinking that since the threat involves Chumley attending this particular cluster, I'm fairly certain he won't need protecting for his daily walks. Are you sure you want to expend that much money?" "Well, dear, as I always say, it's better to be safe than sorry, and I can certainly afford it. I'd feel much better if you escorted us." Natasha grinned. A hundred fifty bucks an hour! That was more than Pit and Bigun made, and they had been bodyguards for years. She couldn't wait to tell her two Samoan friends. It took a little bit of the sting out of the fact that she was guarding a dog instead of a human. "I'll draw up a contract," she said, opening her desk drawer. After both had signed and dated the preprinted agreement, Natasha made a copy for herself. She handed the original to Myrtle, saying, "I've been thinking about the envelope, Myrtle. It's postmarked Valdosta, Georgia. Do you, by any chance, have the rosters listing the dogs and their owners from the last two years' shows? I was thinking I could check the addresses for anyone living in or near there." "Yes, dear, I think I have the rosters, but the owners won't be listed there, they're in the catalogs." "Do you have those as well? "I believe I do." "Could I have those?" "Certainly, dear. I'll look for them this afternoon and have them ready for you tomorrow when you come for our walk." "Great. I'll see you tomorrow, then."

The Book In times past, if a woman found herself suddenly on her own, there were very few options for her to make her way in the world. Widowhood, abandonment and other circumstances often forced women to turn to one of the only respectable avenues of income available to them - opening a boarding house. In this unique volume, Alice Sink and Nickie Doyal tell the stories of resourceful women across North Carolina who opened their homes to strangers out of necessity, and in the process created a kind of family for people who were of no blood relations. Featuring boarding houses from the colonial period through modern times, stretching across the entire state, it’s North Carolina history from a new and different perspective! Illustrated with great pictures and recipes that would have graced the boarding house table. “Boarding House Reach reminds us of one of the most important truths of life: There are no ordinary people! Every story here is fascinating - and every one importantly belongs to history. Alice Sink and Nickie Doyal have delivered the goods. Thank you!” - Fred Chappell “...a marvelous collection of anecdotes and memoirs that, taken all together, gives a pretty broad picture Available at

of the kinds of things that made up life in boarding houses.”- Orson Scott Card

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The Author Alice E. Sink is the published author of three books and numerous short stories, articles, and essays in anthologies and in trade and literary magazines. Her M.F.A. in Creative Writing is from UNC-G. She is Associate Professor of English/Communications at High Point University in High Point, North Carolina, where she received the Meredith Clark Slane Distinguished Teaching/Service Award in 2002. The North Carolina Arts Council and the partnering arts councils of the Central Piedmont Regional Artists Hub Program have awarded Mrs. Sink a grant designed to share Boarding House Reach: North Carolina’s Entrepreneurial Women with our state’s men, women, and children.

A Taste Mama Thornton’s Baby Boarding House One September morning in 1938, Evie Gossett Thornton, a forty-five year old widow, busily prepared a noonday meal in the kitchen of her Sunny Glade Farm in the Deep River Meeting House area between High Point and Greensboro. The men who were building a new road near Mrs. Thornton’s house would soon be entering her kitchen and crowding around a rectangular porcelain table for their hot dinner of stewed potatoes, pinto beans, slaw, homemade biscuits, and sweetened iced tea. A car rumbled down an already-existing rural dirt lane, which the locals called Baby Town Road, pulled up at the back of the one-story baby boarding house, and stopped. When Mrs. Thornton looked outside, she saw an acquaintance, Jesse Davis, unloading a big wicker basket filled with nine-day-old triplets.

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Adventures for the Average Woman


Martha Stevens-David was born in Masardis, Maine and attended schools in the Ashland area, graduating with the Class of 1963. She currently lives with her husband Leo in the town of Minot, Maine. For the past eight years, she has been employed at the Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine. She has been working on a short-story collection about life in a small Maine town for more than twenty-five years and "The Tip" and "The Lincoln" are just two of more than 150 stories that she has written. She also writes children's stories. She is a published writer and has been featured on the Bates College Eclectic E-Zine on-line magazine, the Lewiston Sun Journal newspaper and by www.Maine.gov, the official State of Maine information site. Please feel free to contact her at: lmdmsd@megalink.net Colley was born into a very religious family, and they were religious to the point of fanaticism. His entire family didn’t just go to church on Sundays like most folks; they went to church three times a week and twice on Sunday. If they weren’t there to pray, they were there to work. They were responsible for keepin’ the small church clean and orderly while the Reverend, their father, sat in his office and waited for messages from God. Colley’s father, Alfred, was a minister in the small Pentecostal Church, which was located just a few miles down the Masardis Road from their home. His father, a tall, gaunt man had brown eyes that blazed with a religious fervor that consumed his very soul. His grandfather, George, had been a pretty decent farmer. When he died, he’d left everything to his son, Alfred. But his only son and heir wasn’t interested in farmin’. It was easier to be a preacher, meanin’ the farm had gone to wrack and ruin in a heartbeat. His father would have rolled over in his grave if he could have seen his rich, farmland lying fallow, year after year and fallin’ to hell. The only crop the Rev was interested in growin’ was in his church. He ran a pretty tight ship, and that was puttin’ it mildly. He had total control of his family and his church. He was good at what he did and that was givin’ orders. He gave the orders and left it up to his wife and children to carry them out. If his wife dared to mention that there was very little food, no money with which to buy more and another child on the way, the Rev would simply roll his eyes towards heaven and say, “The Lord God will provide.” The subject was closed. By the time Colley was born there were already three daughters ahead of him. His father took one look at the newest child and that was that. He was left totally in his mother’s care. From birth on, Colley was indoctrinated into the Holy Roller religion. His mother would gather up the small children and walk the mile and a half to the church for the worship services. She’d send the older children down to the very first pew to sit and wait until she’d finished greetin’ all the church members; then she’d march the small boy down the aisle ahead of her to join her other children in the first row. If Colley made the slightest sound during his father’s preachin’ or dared to cry, he was immediately taken to his father’s office where there was a tiny coat closet. The offending child was placed on the floor of the closet, and the door was firmly shut. No matter how hard he cried or how long he screamed and kicked the door, the small boy soon learned that no matter what, no one was goin’ to come and let him out. He soon learned that he must be quiet when he was in the “House of the Lord,” and he was there most of the time. As Colley grew, he could cite chapter and verse of the Bible at the drop of a hat. All that he needed to hear was a phrase or a word, and the memorized litany would roll verbatim off his tongue. Colley’s father took this as a sign that his son was both blessed and gifted. He would sigh and roll his eyes towards heaven. That was the only time that his father really paid any attention to him. He was a “preacher to be.” By the time Colley got to high school, he had the reputation as bein’ strange, not in a bad way but in a religious way. Kids avoided him like the plague because he had the tendency to preach at them. He was holier than holy and never made a mistake. It wasn’t too long before he’d acquired the nickname “Rev,” just like his father. He’d stand in the gym and listen to all the talk that swirled around him and based on his own religious teachings, make snap judgments about the other kids. If he heard something that was profane or shockin’, to him, he’d walk right up to the offending person and say things to them like “God is watchin’ you,” or “Don’t you know that it’s a sin to take the Lord’s name in vain?” or “The only place you are goin’ to go is Hell!” Colley was about as popular as a pimple on your ass! Colley lived about five miles from Ashland High School on the Masardis Road. As he grew older he became involved in sports. It was nothin’ for him to run the five miles home after basketball practice each night, and it wasn’t too long before Colley had developed into a really good runner. By his sophomore year, Colley was a pretty good athlete and Coach Grant pressured him to join the varsity basketball team. Joinin’ the team was almost the death of Colley. As soon as his feet hit the hardwood floor, all the other players had one goal in mind, and that goal wasn’t to win the game; it was to try and do something that would make Colley lose his cool. He was tripped, elbowed, cussed, harassed, fouled and molested to the point that Coach Grant finally stepped in and told the other kids to leave him the friggin’ hell alone and “play” ball! Colley didn’t have a lot of talent in regards to basketball, but there was one thing that he did have and that was control. After years of sittin’ in the dark in a small, broom closet at church, he’d learned that no matter what life handed him, he could stuff it way down deep inside and it would never surface again. He had learned that as long as he was “in control” he was okay. Colley especially hated the road trips. Whenever the team had an away game, Colley would wait until the coach had boarded the bus; then he’d get on and look for a seat as close to the coach as possible. The away games were pure hell for him because the coach couldn’t see all that the kids did to him on that dark, unlit bus ride.

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The other players stole his duffel bag, took out all his gear and threw it out the windows, or tied it in such knots so that most of the time he couldn’t get the knots out before the game started. He took to wearin’ his sneakers all the time because if he left them in his locker or in his bag, they’d disappear. The kids thought that if they harassed him enough, he’d quit basketball. But he never did. By the time he was a senior, the other kids had grown used to him. They still didn’t like him all that much. They still harassed him from time to time, but they pretty much left him alone because they’d grown tired of harassin’ him and gettin’ no reaction. They now had other more pressin’ matters to deal with. It was now nineteen sixty-four and Vietnam was staring them in the eyes. All the seniors knew that unless they could come up with a real good excuse, like leukemia or dying prematurely, they were going to be shipped off to the killing fields of Southeast Asia as soon as their diploma hit their sweaty hands. Everyone was stunned when they walked past the Ashland High School principal’s office about a week before graduation and saw Colley sitting in front of the Army Recruiter. “What the hell would a holier than thou person like Colley be doin’ talkin’ to the recruiter?” they all asked each other. On June twelfth, a hot, humid night in nineteen sixty-four, Colley was handed his diploma. At eight a.m. the next morning, he was on a Greyhound bus headed south. He’d been in the Army of God for as long as he could remember and now he was in an entirely different army, the U.S. Army. He sailed through basic training just fine. No matter what his drill instructors did or said, they couldn’t break him. He took it all in and waited for more abuse to be heaped on him. They’d never seen anyone like him. They tried every tactic they could think of, and he didn’t flinch, waver or crack. He just stuffed it down and buried it along with all the other abuse he’d endured all his life. This was nothin’ new to him. All the instructors agreed that if any man in that unit had to be captured, they sure as hell hoped it was Colley because he would be the one that the enemy wouldn’t be able to break. “That son-of-a-bitch ain’t human,” one drill instructor said to the others. At the end of basic training, Colley didn’t even go home on leave. He simply boarded the first military plane headed for Nam and he was gone. His ever-present Bible was immediately replaced with an M-16 rifle. He had a new protector now. Not only did he leave Maine behind, he left God behind too. Twenty-four hours later, he stepped off the plane into Hell. The land had such a lush greenness that the color almost hurt his eyes. The heavy, wet air was permeated with smells that he’d never smelled before in the crisp, clear air of the county. Napalm, jet fuel, Agent Orange and the smell of death, were immediately imprinted upon his memory in his brain. He knew he would never get that smell out of his head for as long as he lived. Colley was quickly loaded aboard a helicopter and flown south to the Mekong River Delta. His instructions were, “Hunker down in a rice paddy. If anything moves, blow the sons-of--whores to hell!” Colley was good at taking orders. His perfect record in heaven was soon shipped down to be forever recorded in Hell. Two years, eleven months, and fourteen days was the length of time that Colley spent in Hell. He saw sights that inflamed his mind, and he quickly stuffed them down, down deep inside. In the dark of night if those memories came crawlin’ up like a long, black snake, he’d take a deep breath and beat them down again. It was the livin’ that bothered him; he could deal with the dyin’. It was a warm, fall day in late September, nineteen sixty-seven when Colley returned to the county. When he’d left, he’d had the demeanor of a saint. All the years of being a Bible thumper and a humble servant of the Lord had made him seem young and vulnerable. Now, he was six feet tall and twenty-one years old, but inside he’d felt like he was a hundred-and-fifty. He was no longer vulnerable either. He walked with the assurance of a man who’d met the enemy and kicked his ass! He didn’t swagger but he walked in the boots of a man who’d witnessed what evils the world held. He wasn’t a man to be messed with. The left side of his uniform was filled with row upon row of bars and medals. He’d paid his dues! It was just before noon when the bus finally rolled into the station in Presque Isle. He walked down Main Street for a short distance and went into a used car dealership where he rented a brand-new red Corvette. He threw his gear into the seat and headed for Ashland. He drove quickly down the Presque Isle road and slowed down as he came to the sleepy farming town of Mapleton. “Things haven’t changed all that much,” he thought to himself. “Hell, I could be gone a hundred years and things in this part of the world would still look the same.” He pulled into the rest stop at the bottom of Haystack Mountain, took off his jacket and tossed it into the bucket seat. He took a cold beer out of his bag, shoved it into the back pocket of his jeans and started up. After about forty-five minutes of straight climbing, he reached the top. This was one of the things that he’s promised himself when he was back in Nam. If he made it home all in one piece, he was going to climb this little anthill and drink a cold brew at the top. He pried the top off the bottle of beer and flicked it over the edge of the rocks. Then he brought his hand up, shaded his eyes, and looked to the south. He saw the majestic snow-covered peak of Mount Katahdin off in the distance. Colley turned west and looked in the direction of Ashland. All he saw was a vast forest of green stretching into the distance as far as the eye could see. A slight, cool wind blew from the south, and Colley could hear the ever-present sound of a chainsaw as it ate its way through the virgin timber of the county. “Some friggin’ things never really change,” he muttered to himself as he took another swig of the cold beer. He found that going down was a littler harder than the climb up. His heart leapt into his throat a couple of times when he misjudged the trail. When he’d finally made it back to the bottom, he opened another beer and leaned against the car to drink it. He drained the bottle and chucked it into the bushes at the side of the trail then checked the time and headed for the “’vette.”

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Adventures for the Average Woman


He floored the new Corvette and flew up the Presque Isle Road into Ashland in a couple of minutes and came to a stop at the corner of the Presque Isle Road and the Masardis Road. He sat where he was for a moment and looked at the front of Jimmo’s Grocery Store. His mind went back to all the nights that he’d stood on that corner after a late basketball practice, in the mind-numbing cold, thumbing a ride home. “Nights when the mercury slid three clapboards below zero too,” he laughed to himself. After enduring the hell and heat of Vietnam for nearly three years, he wasn’t really sure what had been worse -- the heat or the cold. “One was just as bad as the other,” he guessed. “It just depends on your point of view.” He turned left and slowly made his way up the Masardis Road towards home. He couldn’t get enough of lookin’ as his eyes took in the long fields of potatoes. He’d forgotten how green the potato plants really were. God knows, he’d picked enough of them! He slid over the small bridge that spanned Squaw Pan Stream and made his way around the corner towards Masardis. It wasn’t long before his old home loomed up in the distance. He was surprised to feel a lump in his throat. “There’s nothing like goin’ home,” he said to himself as he wheeled the car into the dirt drive. An old dog, asleep on the porch, pulled himself up off the floor and came slowly down the steps as Colley drew to a stop in front of the house. Nearly three years and he hadn’t written a letter. He didn’t know if they even knew what had happened to him. A wash of shame slid over him. “Well, it’s kinda late to worry about that now,” he said to himself as he eased himself out of the low vehicle and walked slowly over to the waiting dog. “Hi, Sunny,” he said softly as he knelt down and rubbed the dog’s head. The old dog shook all over with excitement as he finally recognized the visitor. Suddenly, the screen door opened and his mother stood there in the cool darkness of the shed. The once tall figure was now stooped; she walked hesitantly with the aid of a cane. “Sunny, come Sunny,” she commanded. The old dog reluctantly turned away to do as he was told. Colley dropped his hand and waited for his mother to recognize him. She shielded her eyes against the noonday sun and looked at him for a long moment. Then she turned back towards the kitchen door. Her words trailed in the air behind her. “Well, God does protect fools and children after all.” She went inside, and the screen door banged shut behind her. Colley smiled at hearing her words and headed for the house. His mother stood with her back to the door. She was stirring something in a pan on the stove. Colley walked past her and over to the table that looked out on the backfields of the farm. He was shocked at the way everything was so overgrown with popples and brush. He couldn’t tell where the fields started or ended anymore. All that hard work that his grandfather had done to clear this farm at the turn of the century was all gone now to wrack and ruin. His mother turned and looked him over real good. Then she walked over to the table and set a plate in front of him. He looked down and saw that it was filled with home fries, two eggs, and toast. She poured him a large mug of black coffee and slid it across the table towards him. Then she pulled out a chair and sat down. He started to eat and waited for the inevitable questions that never came. Ignoring him, his mother sipped her scalding coffee and looked out at the land. Colley cleaned off his plate with a last piece of toast and tipped back his chair until it was resting on two legs. “So,” he said, “is dad asleep or what?” Hearing this, his mother slid her brown eyes around until she was looking directly at him. “Well, I guess you could say that,” she answered. Hearing the vagueness of her answer, Colley looked at her. “A lot can happen in three years, Colley,” she said. “Father died in May of “65, and we buried him behind the church. The girls are scattered all over the place. Emma and Gerta are married and live in town, and Emily lives over to Presque Isle.” Colley felt his face turn red with shame and he dropped his gaze. His mother resumed her vigil at the window. “How long are you stayin’?” she asked without looking at him. Colley cleared his throat and replied, “I’m out of the army for good. I’ve paid my dues.” Hearing the finality in his voice she said, “You probably have and then some. We saw all that was goin’ on over there on the nightly news and I’d’ve worried more if I had known for sure that that’s where you really were.” Again, Colley felt shame slide across his mind. “You know, Colley, your father always thought that you’d take over the church someday. He never did get over the fact that you just up and left without a word to anyone. We were never really sure what had happened to you.” Hearin’ this, Colley shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Then he said, “Mum, I know that I appeared to like all that religious stuff, but it really wasn’t what I wanted to do. I’d heard it all my life, and I had a gut full. Father always insisted that I’d be the one to take over the church, but I couldn’t do it. So, I decided to go before he suspected that I wasn’t interested. I didn’t really intend to join the army if the truth be known. It could just as well have been the Navy or any other branch. But the army recruiter just happened to be there that day, and I made my decision and that was it. I signed up; the rest is history.” “Well son, I’m just glad that you’re home and all in one piece. We can discuss what you’re going to do with yourself later on.” With that, she pushed her chair back, stacked the dishes in her hand and headed for the sink. “Pretty snazzy car sittin’ out there if you ask me,” she said over her shoulder. “It’s not mine mother, I just rented it in Presque Isle. I have to take it back in a week or so. I should know what I’m going to do with myself by then.” Colley spent the next couple of days visiting his sisters and his old classmates. It was on his first Saturday night home that was to change his life forever. He’d gone into town about noon and had ambled over to Michaud’s Restaurant to have a few. Just as he was about to take a long drink, a large hand slapped him on the shoulder. Startled, he swung around and looked into the wild eyes of one of his old classmates, John Gordon. “John, you old son of ah bitch! What the hell are you doin’ home?”

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“Same as you Rev, same as you!” Colley looked up at him. “You mean to tell me that you were in Nam also? Where were you?” “Me? Hell, I was stationed up along the 49th parallel in the DMZ. My unit was in charge of settin’ sensors. Hell, man, we had a body count of over twenty thousand during the Tet offensive, and they weren’t all ours if you get my drift.” With that, John slapped twenty dollars down on the bar and signaled to the barman for a bottle of Chivas Regal. When the bottle came sliding down the bar, John twisted off the top and poured the raw liquor down his throat in one swift move. He never even swallowed. “How tha hell did you do that?” Colley asked him. “Rev, you learn a lot of things in that hellhole that you ain’t never gonna use in real life, but this is one thing that I learned that I can use forever!” And he lifted the bottle and poured the liquor down his throat. “You see, my friend, if you don’t swallow, you can drink and not make a sound, because the slightest sound in the DMZ can get you real dead in a hurry!” Now that Colley had a friend, he spent the next month in a drunken frenzy. His mother, shocked at her son’s deterioration, tried to talk to him, but once she realized that he wasn’t about to listen, she gave up. Colley spent his nights in a drunken stupor and his days in bed. One day slid into another, and his mother kept hoping and praying that someone or something would change Colley. In the end, she was sorry that she’d prayed. It was the night before Halloween, and the moon in the county was large and round and looked like a big pumpkin floating across the night sky. There was a hint of frost in the air with the wind out of the north. Folks said that there’d be snow on the ground by mornin’. Colley zipped his jacket up to his neck as he waited on the corner of Main Street for John to pick him up. Just as he was about to give up, he saw the familiar blue Charger round the corner by St. Mark’s Church and head his way. John opened the door before he’d even stopped, and Colley jumped in. John gunned the motor, wrenched the wheel, and suddenly, with a screech of tires, they were headin’ back up Main Street towards Station Hill. John didn’t stop for the flashing red light at the intersection. He tore around the corner on two wheels and down over Station Hill like a bat outta hell. He flew up the Portage Road and on up through the small settlements of Winterville, Eagle Lake, and Wallagrass towards Fort Kent like a man on a mission. And if the truth be known, he was. They sailed onto the main street of Fort Kent and hit every bar until all the drinks they’d had and bars they’d tried melted into one. At the start of the evening, Colley had tried to slow down John’s drinking, but after a while it became too much of a struggle, and he gave up. Colley, knowin’ that he’d probably have to drive home, tried to go easy on the booze, but John, noticin’ that Colley wasn’t matchin’ him drink for drink, began pourin’ it on. It wasn’t long before Colley was just as drunk as he was. When they finally staggered out to the car around three, Colley argued with John about who was goin’ to drive. John pulled rank on him. He grabbed Colley by the neck and said, “I got your ass up here in one piece, and I can git you home!” He opened the door and shoved Colley into the passenger side and stumbled around the car and fell into the driver’s seat. He fumbled with the key for a couple of minutes and finally got the car started. Hearin’ the sound of the motor, John leaned over and punched Colley in the arm. “See ol’ buddy, jist lay back, and good ol’ John will git you home in a jiffy.” The ride back wasn’t all that different from the ride up to Fort Kent. The trees and miles still flashed by in a blur, and John’s driving hadn’t improved one dite. John kept his foot pressed to the accelerator, and the miles flew by. It wasn’t too long before they were pullin’ into the outskirts of Ashland. Colley slid his sleeve up a notch and checked his watch -- three forty-five. They’d made the trip back in a little under forty minutes! “God!” he thought to himself, “We didn’t drive all them miles! We flew!” They slowed down just a dite as they cruised through the main street of Ashland. The minute they passed Jimmo’s Grocery Store, John floored the car, and they went tearin’ up the Masardis Road. All the places that Colley had hitchhiked past all his life flew by: the Pike homestead, the Rafford place, the McKays, the Old South School site, the Winslows, the Cowetts, the Howes, the Bragdons, the Davenports and the Colbaths -- places that he hadn’t thought about in a long time. Some of the old homesteads were in pretty good shape while others were listin’ just a dite towards Sawyers. Just as the Old Pentecostal Church loomed into view, he reached over and grabbed John’s arm. “Slow down a little, will you, buddy? I want to take a look at the place where I spent most of my life.” John stepped on the brakes, and the car slowed to a crawl. Colley looked at the small, neglected building for the longest moment. Then he turned to John and gave him a thumbs up and said, “I’ve got my answer, man. I know what I’m goin’ to do with the rest of my life.” John looked over at him, “And what’s that goin’ to be, my man?” Colley laughed and replied, “That’s for me to know and you to find out! I’ve got a debt that I have to pay, that’s all.” John floored the car, and they tore down the road like the devil himself was after them… and he was. The car was goin’ so fast as it tore down the Masardis Road that the engine sounded as though it were screamin’. John saw the short bridge that spanned Squaw Pan Stream loom up in front of them and by then it was too late. The car became airborne and flew over the bridge and head-on into the trees on the other side of the bridge. Neither man ever knew what hit him. John was dead in an instant, and Colley would never be the same. Folks said that the car was travelin’ so fast that it impaled itself in the trees. When they tried to pull the wreck out of the trees, it wouldn’t budge. They had to cut the car off the trees with blowtorches.

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Adventures for the Average Woman


Colley, with severe head injuries, was airlifted down to Bangor and spent nearly six months in the trauma unit of Bangor General Hospital. When he finally came home, he was a totally different man. He couldn’t talk and had a great deal of trouble walking. Even so, he couldn’t stay home. He wandered the roads of the county over and over again. He could be found standin’ by the road anytime, day or night, with his thumb stuck out, lookin’ for a ride. Folks said that if you stopped and picked him up, he’d get in, sit there without sayin’ a word, and get out as soon as you stopped. Then he’d stick his thumb out and wait for a ride on to someplace else. Folks often wondered if he’d ever find the place that his mind, or what little there was left of it, was lookin’ for. Colley is long gone now, and folks say it sure gives them a start when they’re drivin’ down the Masardis Road late at night when Colley’s ghost suddenly looms up ahead of them in the road. Skeptics, upon hearin’ the story, often ask the teller how they knew it was Colley. Folks look at the disbeliever as though he were stupid and reply, “Folks around here all know it’s Colley. The ghost has always got his thumb stuck out like he’s still lookin’ for a ride.”

William Patrick 'Pat" Gooley, a Navy junior, lived in Japan and California before his father retired and moved the family to Oregon, where he grew up in a small river valley. Two years in a Franciscan seminary in high school, he attended the University of Notre Dame via an NROTC scholarship one year. He was then appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy where he graduated with a B.S. and a major in Russian in 1975. He served mainly on surface ships and staffs, with three years doing foreign military sales and training in Saudi Arabia. Pat retired in 1994 as a Lieutenant Commander when he pursued his M.S. Ed. from Old Dominion University. He taught English in a Korean university one year and in Virginia public schools five years, then worked six years as a technical writer for a Navy contractor. He is currently semi-retired in Hampton, Virginia, semi-writing and mostly caring for Cathy, his wife of 32 years, who is severely disabled. The Gooleys had a horse farm until 2005, when Cathy got too ill for them to maintain it, but they still have a dog and five cats. “The Bishop isn’t going to like it, Father.” “No, I expect not,” agreed Father Robert Gilley, C.Ss.R, miserably, “He won’t like it at all. I had to ask him to visit so I could explain, though. He has to see for himself that no harm was intended, and that I did not violate any sacraments or sacramentals. I think the main danger now may be scandal.” “Scandal is bad enough, Father, scandal is bad enough.” Mutara looked sadly at his beloved pastor. He thought they had done nothing wrong, but it was clear Father Gilley had severe qualms about it. It was also clear the priest was determined to tell all to the Bishop and accept the consequences. Mutara was right; the Bishop of Byumba did not like it. He was shocked and amazed by what Father Gilley told him, and His Excellency Bishop Smaragde Agbatnou was not easily amazed by many things of this world. He was fifth son of a poor Hutu farmer, now pastor of more than half a million souls in this northern area of Rwanda. He was humbled every day when he said Mass and realized his Lord and God was present with him in the bread and wine he ate and drank. He was shocked, amazed, and very, very worried by what this Redemptorist missionary had told him. “Perhaps you can demonstrate this ‘viewing’, as you call it?” suggested the Bishop. “Yes, Your Lordship,” replied Father Gilley. “I thought we might see how the villagers on the other side of the lake are doing. He furrowed his brow, absent-mindedly cleaning his left ear with his little finger as he looked out in the garden behind the small church. In a few seconds, they were looking at something other than squash and corn plants. Bishop Agbatnou gasped. They were looking at what appeared to be the village well in Kaishanga, which the Bishop had passed the previous day on his way to the village of Bishando where they now sat. The area about thirty meters around the well was visible, and several of the red-walled buildings on a nearby terrace were visible. The Bishop blinked hard when a woman he knew from the parish there walked past the well. He looked at Father Robert and Mutara, then back, and the woman was walking out of the area and simply disappeared! “Stop it!” said the Bishop. The square went away. Bishop Agbatnou was badly shaken. “Is it real?” he asked shakily, standing up and looking at what was now just a garden. “As far as I can tell, yes,” replied the priest. “Uh, there is more, Your Lordship.” The Bishop groaned, “More?” “Yes, Your Lordship. I can have up to three squares at once, if one of them is around me. People in the other squares can see and hear me. I, uh, used it to say Mass on Easter so three villages could have Mass instead of only one.” The Bishop nearly fainted. He sat down, hard. “I said Mass in Kaishanga, and at Communion time, Mutara here distributed communion from hosts I had consecrated the week before. Kizira over in Bwiboga did the same. They both remembered the sermon.”

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Bishop Agbatnou frowned. “Go on. First, how do you do this? I hope you are not trying to use magic. That would be utterly wrong and could make you subject to demonic possession.” “I concentrate on what I want to see, and soon it is there. I don’t practice anything of magic. I do not think of this as any kind of miracle. I think it is some sort of innate ability that has manifested itself, but I cannot imagine why. But, umm, that is not all, Your Lordship.” Between clenched teeth the Bishop hissed, “Tell me all.” “Umm.” The little finger was in Father’s ear again. “I hope you do not do that during Mass,” said the Bishop. He took a deep breath. “Please, tell me all the rest of your situation so I may know it.” “I, uh, I, umm, I can make my square and another overlap and people and things can move from one to the other,” blurted Father Gilley, once he got started. “Say that again, more slowly,” ordered the Bishop. “I can merge my square and another, and, as long as they overlap, I can be in another place, or people and objects in another place can come to me, or I can go to them. Once, I was able to put the square over a merry-go-round during a parish festival. Many of the children will never see one otherwise, much less take a ride. Last time I said Mass in Bwihanga, Mutara came to me after Mass and I gave him this pyx. He had it when I got back here.” The bishop stared open mouthed at his priest. “I do not believe you, Father Gilley. If this is some kind of illusion or joke, I do not appreciate it.” “No, really, Your Excellency, Your Lordship, it is fact,” pled the priest. Mutara nodded, “It is so, My Lord,” said the African. “I can show you,” said the priest. “I can make a smaller square. Is there something at the Chancery or your residence that you know for a fact is in Byumba right now?” The Bishop swallowed. “The Chancery should be empty right now. Let us go there. The front entrance, inside.” Father Gilley nodded. “We can only act in the overlapped area.” He furrowed his brow, visualizing the inside entrance to the Chancery office. A small square, perhaps five meters on a side, came in view. He concentrated, and the Chancery office glided toward them until they were looking inside the office itself, and the village of Bishando could be seen no more. Or were they standing in the office? The Bishop swallowed his fear and walked over to what he saw as an umbrella stand in the corner and picked up an umbrella from it. He nearly dropped it when he realized what he had just done – or had he? The Bishop grasped the umbrella and gasped, “Take us back.” Back in Bishando, Bishop Agbatnou walked around the small church. He held a green-and-white striped umbrella that said Raffles Hotel on it and had a merlion on the other side. He had bought it in Singapore during a conference just a few months ago, and he believed it was the only such umbrella in Rwanda right now. He said nothing. Father Gilley watched him, afraid to break the silence. He realized his knees were trembling. Bishop Agbatnou sat and put his head down. He changed his mind and knelt. The priest and the layman knelt as well. They knelt, each praying silently, for about ten minutes. Bishop Agbatnou rose easily to his feet. He was slim, athletic looking, and very fit for his age. He had been a bishop for nearly seventeen years, having been elevated at the age of forty-seven. He stood relaxed as the priest and the African layman rose to their feet. He looked up at the tall American missionary. “I must confer with the Archbishop in Kigali. I feel you have not intended nor done evil by your actions, but demonic influence still cannot be ruled out. In the meantime, do not use, discuss, or demonstrate this ability or whatever it may be again until then. This is a matter of obedience. The Archbishop and I will confer, and I will contact you again in several weeks. Better yet, come to the Chancery in six weeks,” he checked a calendar, “make that 29 September. Bring a packed bag for travel.” “Packed bag, Excellency?” “Of course, my son. I imagine you will be going to Rome.” Father Gilley and Mutara knelt and kissed the Bishop’s ring before he left. He drove off in his Land Rover, bumping up the dirt road in the twilight. Father Gilley and Mutara looked glumly at one another. Robert’s eyes filled with tears. “I am sorry my friend,” he rasped. “I did not intend any harm, and I hope the diocese will find someone to visit while I am in Rome. I hope they let me return.” Mutara’s eyes were shiny, too. “Until that time, Father Robert, we need you here.” The next day, Father Gilley loaded his bags into his rickety Land Rover and chugged north to his parishioners. He baptized several infants there, heard confessions, said daily mass, and helped with chores and minor medical help. Then he went on to another of his villages for two days much alike. And his days were much the same as he waited with trepidation for his trip to Byumba. On September twenty-seventh, Father Robert left Bishando for Byumba. His parishioners in each village had held farewell parties for him, usually consisting of a little more food than usual, tearful speeches, and songs, and he was wrung out emotionally. He sincerely wanted to stay here and continue ministering to these dear, impoverished people, but he had to obey his superior, so he climbed into the Land Rover and drove west.

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Archbishop Merano Agasaro, Archbishop of Kigali, Metropolitan of Rwanda, was in the chancery with Bishop Agbatnou when Father Gilley was ushered in to the Bishop’s office. A nun brought a pot of tea in ahead of him and left after being thanked. The Archbishop sipped his sweet mint tea and looked this unusual priest over. Father Gilley is about six feet tall, heavy set, with curly brown hair and hazel eyes. He wears his hair full, but not real long. In Africa, he cuts it shorter than he did in Mississippi. Sideburns to mid-ear and a moustache and chin beard, shaven cheeks. Father Gilley found his hand moving toward his ear, then dropped it with a slight blush at a glare from Bishop Agbatnou. He clasped his hands in his lap. “I have corresponded with Rome about your situation,” the Archbishop said softly. I regret the necessity, but you will go to Rome for examination of this ‘ability’ you seem to have. It is my hope that you are innocent of any evil in this matter, and I feel certain that all you have told His Excellency demonstrates proper behavior with respect to the sacraments and sacramentals. However, under the circumstances, it is not my place to settle such issues. That properly belongs to at least one Roman congregation, perhaps several. Some in your Secretary General’s Office will also be interested, I imagine. I hope you will be able to return to us, but I do not know.” Father Gilley bent his head and said nothing. His eyes started to fill with tears, but none fell. “I am curious to see this phenomenon for myself,” continued the Archbishop. “Could you demonstrate?” “Perhaps, Excellency,” said the priest, “but I do not think I can do so in a room this size. The smallest square I can view is about five meters on a side. The prelate frowned. “I cannot allow this to become a matter of general knowledge in the chancery,” he said. “My secretary is already unhappy I have written and sent letters to Rome without her typing or filing copies. My copies are sealed in the confidential files in my quarters in Kigali.” Bishop Agbatnou suggested they go for a walk outside. Byumba, with a population nearing 100,000, had few parks and private areas, but the bishop led them into the church nearby that served in lieu of a cathedral. It was large enough to suit their purposes, and the Bishop quietly had the attending priest usher everyone out and lock the three clerics inside. They moved up to the altar and turned to face the area where the congregation would stand or sit. All three men genuflected and kissed the spot where saint’s relics were set in the altar. Archbishop Agasaro gazed levelly at Father Gilley. “Demonstrate your ability, my son.” Father Gilley squirmed a bit. His finger traveled up toward an ear, and he forced his arm down. “What would you like me to show, Your Excellency?” he asked. “Perhaps if you pick the venue, it will be less likely I am creating an illusion.” The Archbishop thought briefly. “You have been to Kigali? To the cathedral?” The priest nodded, “Yes Excellency.” “Then let us see what there is to see in there.” Father Gilley frowned slightly. His eyes were more brown than grey now in the light inside the church. As he concentrated, the small nave gradually became a view of the cathedral in Kigali. A priest Father Gilley did not recognize was entering a confessional as penitents lined up along the wall near it. The Archbishop pointed at the priest. “Do you know him?” Father Gilley said he did not. Bishop Agbatnou said, “I met him on my last visit. He is your new assistant to the chancellor, I believe?” The Archbishop shook his head in disbelief. “Not now, but at the time you visited, that was my intent. He has proven much more useful in another capacity, but yes, that is what I said then.” He shook his head again, as if clearing water from his ears. Father Gilley shifted the square, and the view inside the cathedral slid toward them. Several women were arranging altar cloths and one was arranging flowers. “That’s enough,” said the Archbishop. He was trembling slightly and crossed himself. The image disappeared. He led the other clerics in saying the rosary, intoning the sacred mysteries for the day. Tuesday was the sorrowful mysteries. After praying the Salve Regina after the fifth decade, the three stood and exited the church. Back at the chancery, Bishop Agbatnou handed Father Gilley an envelope. “Here are your air ticket to Rome and some extra money to cover your initial expenses. Your regular salary will be available at your General House in Rome, and they will have a cell there for your use. Robert looked at the ticket. He was to fly out of Kigali airport late the next day, with several transfers and a late morning arrival in Rome. “Leave your car here,” said the Archbishop. “You will ride back to Kigali with me tomorrow, and we will celebrate Mass before your flight. Father Gilley agreed (what choice was there?), and one of the staff escorted him to a room where he might well spend his last night ever in Rwanda. He was invited to dine with the Bishop and Archbishop that evening. After dinner, the Archbishop led them in compline, vespers having preceded dinner. Father Gilley retired to his room, read some more psalms and performed an examination of conscience again before sleeping. They left for Kigali in the morning, the sixty kilometer trip taking slightly over an hour from one chancery to the other. Shortly before stopping in Kingali, the Archbishop quipped, “I suppose it would save airfare if you could just travel directly to Rome, but I think that would cause more problems than we can afford. Especially clearing customs.” Robert laughed. “I agree, Excellency. That would indeed be a quandary.” In Kigali, the Archbishop attended to some immediate business, glanced through his correspondence, and set a few letters aside for priority consideration. After some more desk work and a meeting with nuns from a southern convent visiting Kigali, the Archbishop called Father Gilley

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into his office. He gazed into the eyes of this strange American. “My blessing goes with you, Robert, my son. Be strong, and try to return to us.” Father Gilley knelt, kissed the episcopal ring, and waited by the chancery door until a driver appeared for his trip to the airport. He slept fitfully on the flights, first to Cairo, Egypt, where he had a four hour layover that stretched to six hours due to various delays, then on to Fiumicino Airport in Rome. He finally cleared customs, made his way to another line, and eventually purchased a ticket to Termini train station. Another wait, and the train finally left, taking about forty minutes to reach the station. It was about a kilometer walk to the Casa Generale on Via Merulana. Claustrophobic after his flights, and with a back pack, small suitcase and cloth briefcase, Robert decided to walk. He not worn clerical garb on the flight due to the stop in Cairo, but he changed at the train station before leaving for the Redemptorist General House. He had gone across one street when a taxi pulled up, honking its horn wildly. Father Gilley waved the taxi off, but the driver would have none of it. Although Robert’s Italian was little better than the driver’s English, the driver assured him it would be his privilege to drive him to the Casa Generale. Robert had trouble with the Roman dialect, but finally acquiesced and got in the vehicle. The streets of Rome were much more crowded than those of Byumba or Kigali, but the drive was as hair-raising as any of Robert’s runins with wildlife on the Rwandan back roads. The driver declined any fare, but Robert tipped him a dollar in front of the Casa Generale, and the driver seemed satisfied. Robert walked slowly up the steps to the casa door. He was reluctant to enter, uncertain of what lay ahead, but he finally rang the door chimes. After a few seconds, a man dressed in the cassock of a brother in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, the Redemptorists, opened the door. He smiled and introduced himself as Brother Tomás. Father Robert introduced himself, and Tomás nodded enthusiastically. “Sí, sí, we were told to expect you. Welcome.” Tomás escorted him to his cell, a small room with a bed, desk, wooden chair, and small standing closet. A crucifix and picture of St. Alfonso de Liguori, the order’s founder, hung over the bed. Father Gilley found the bed hard, but still better than most he had used in Africa. He hung his few items of clothing and vestments in the closet, arranged his books on the desk, and sat reading his breviary until a knock on the door announced company. Opening the door, Robert looked at his visitor. His guest wore the robes of a Redemptorist priest, was a good foot shorter than the American, and had a swarthy complexion and a long nose. His curly hair was receding, and he introduced himself as Guy Nidal, speaking English with a French accent. “Robert Gilley,” said Robert as they shook hands. He sat on the bed as Father Guy took the wooden chair by the desk. “Yes,” replied Guy. “I will be your guide as you go through the stages of your visit here. “ Robert smiled thinly. “Looking out for the reputation of the Congregation, Father?” Guy colored slightly. “Yes, I am afraid that is also part of my tasking,” he confessed. “The Secretary General was contacted by the Vatican concerning your, ah, situation, and it was decided a representative of the curia here should participate with the curia there,” he jerked his head to the northwest, in the general direction of Vatican City. “Archbishop Agasaro said I would be seen by someone from the Congregation for Divine Worship.” “Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, yes. And it will be several there to consider your information, probably very senior staff.” “Is that where you are assigned?” “No,” replied the dark little priest, “I am on the staff of General Secretariat for Redemptorist Spirituality, but I am on loan to the Office of the Secretary General while you are here.” Father Gilley began to sense even more deeply just how serious the situation might become. He had known the summons to Rome could mean he was in trouble, but the little priest had just rattled off the titles of three of the most important organization in his order and in the general church curia. He was going to be scrutinized in a way he never had, even during initiate. He swallowed as tears threatened to well up. “What do you need from me?” Robert asked humbly. “I was already nervous; now I am becoming terrified by what may be ahead, but I swear I did nothing I thought wrong.” “I believe you,” replied the other priest. “I am here to help you, not to judge you. Others may do that, but I am as much your advocate as a watcher for the Congregation.” “Are you a canon lawyer, then?” “Sometimes a loose canon, some might say in English, but yes.” The pun helped break the tension, and they smiled at one another. Robert relaxed a little. “Now, the letters from Kigali described some things that seem, frankly, unbelievable, but nothing that appears to be a violation of canon law or any precepts of the order. However, it would help me if you would explain more of this phenomenon to me. It will also help you prepare for some of the questions you will probably be asked tomorrow.” They talked until a bell sounded, indicating the call to vespers. “We will say vespers, then go to the refectory for dinner,” stated Father Guy. In the morning, they set out to Vatican City, about five kilometers from the Casa Generale. A driver let them off not far from St. Peter’s Square, and they walked a block to the Palazzo delle Congregazioni.

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“We will have a representative of the Congregation for the Clergy, although they do not directly deal with the religious orders, as you know. However, they may need to contact Kigali and are well suited to the task. Now, remember, this is an inquiry into events for now. You are not accused of any wrongdoing.” The Moroccan priest tried to put Robert at ease, but it was difficult. The evening before, they had exchanged personal histories, Robert talking of his youth in Idaho and Oregon, mission work in Mississippi, Nigeria and most recently, Rwanda, and Guy reminisced of growing up in Morocco and his years in Lebanon as a missionary and philosophy instructor at Holy Spirit University. They arrived at the palazzo. Robert took a deep breath, tried to relax, and the door opened before them. Upstairs, Cardinal Mouhanna, Prefect of the Congregation, accepted their reverences and then dispensed them from further requirements. “We are a room full of bishops and cardinals,” he said, “and we will get very little done if you spend all your time kneeling and kissing rings.” Robert had seen the Cardinal once during a conference in Nigeria, but the prince of the church made no mention of whether he recalled the event, and Robert was not about to bring it up himself. The Cardinal introduced the others present. Three were bishops from his congregation, and one was an archbishop, secretary from the Congregation for the Clergy. Monsignor Heekan, acting as recorder, brought the room’s number up to eight. Cardinal Mouhanna made some initial remarks stating they were gathered for an inquiry into reports of remarkable events involving Robert Gilley, C.Ss.R., during his mission duties in the diocese of Byumba, Rwanda. “This is not a disciplinary hearing, nor, at this time, an investigation into any allegations of wrongdoing. However, the events reported to our office by the Bishop of Byumba and Archbishop of Kigali are so unusual, it was deemed necessary that there be an investigation into the details.” Bishop Marcelli acted as spokesman for the next few minutes. “Father Robert Gilley was born and baptized in Boise, Idaho, raised in Roseburg city in the state of Oregon in the United States. Attended St. Francis Junior Seminary in Troutdale, Oregon, then went on to University of Notre Dame, where he majored in philosophy with a minor in theology. He studied Latin and also Arabic and a semester each of Greek and Hebrew for his foreign language requirements. Was interviewed and eventually went to the Aquinas institute of Theology in St. Louis and on to novitiate in Glenview, Illinois and post novitiate in Chicago. “After an initial assignment at a parish in Biloxi, he was selected for mission work, in Africa. He went through missionary training and eventually on to mission work in Nigeria. He also learned Kinyarwanda, a Hutu language, and was transferred after three years in Nigeria to a mission in East Africa, in Rwanda, outside the Province of Denver, under the Archbishop of Kigali and has been there five years. Is that all correct?” Father Robert stated it was so. “Why did you choose the Redemptorists?” “Well, I studied with both Franciscans and Redemptorists at the seminary in Oregon. It probably irritated the Holy Name fathers at Notre Dame when I told them I thought the idea of bringing God’s word to the poor through the Redemptorist order was my calling, but it seems to me that the Congregation has a special way of preparing us to be preachers and practitioners of the message and way of Christ.” “And have you been satisfied with your choice of the Redemptorists?” asked the Holy Name bishop. “Yes, Your Excellency,” said Robert. “My years have not been easy, but I see the people of Christ and I try to see Christ in all the people I serve. I wish to do nothing more than serve in the missions.” “Ah, but you have done something more, it seems. Please explain.” “I always had a very vivid imagination. I could visualize other places in great detail, especially if I had actually seen them. One year I was away at seminary over my mother’s birthday, and I visualized what her party might be like. When I got her letter, what she described was nearly exactly as I had imagined.” The listeners shifted restlessly. Monsignor Heekan continued taking notes. “I know, those were examples that could have been coincidence, being I knew my home and who might be at a party, and some other things like that. But what really convinced me the ability was real was when I was watching a rebroadcast of a soccer match with one of my parishioners in Rwanda. I realized it was about time for the Notre Dame game. I thought about the game so intently! Suddenly, this square appeared in front of us, and the Marching Irish band showed up, playing a song and doing that odd shuffle step they use. My parishioner screamed and pointed at it – he saw it, too. We walked down toward it, but nothing happened, no one reacted to us. So we sat and watched the entire game.” “A miracle,” exclaimed one of the bishops. “Not really. Notre Dame lost to Navy by seven.” “A miracle,” exclaimed Bishop Bauermann, grinning at Father. The bishop had been an auxiliary bishop in the Military Archdiocese of the U.S. at one time. “I can only see something happening at the same time as I look. I can’t see yesterday’s news, much less into the future. I also have to have some way to aid the connection. It works best with places I actually have been, and the longer the better. I can also see places based on photographs or drawings, but those are more difficult. Seeing inside buildings is harder than outdoors, usually. Individual rooms are hard to picture unless I have been in them myself. But, once I can see an area, I can sort of move the square, kind of like panning a camera, and see other places.” “And how did you learn to move the view?”

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Robert squirmed a bit. “Well, it was hard to watch a football game with a view of only part of the field.” His voice trailed off and he felt himself growing warm. “Tough to follow a pass play, eh?” asked the American bishop. Robert nodded miserably. “I guess the idea of using such a thing for entertainment seems pretty selfish, but later I thought, would it not be grand if I could arrange for others to view where I was, so outlying villages could see Mass and hear my sermon each week instead of one Sunday a month. I still kept up my regular schedule, a day or two in one village, then on to the next, but I set up a test with one lay leader one Sunday and he was able to see me from my square to his fifty miles away. After that, I learned how to add another square. Eventually, I could ‘merge’ up to three squares so we could interact. I’m still uncertain about how the Real Presence might exist in such a way, but ‘wherever two or three of you are gathered in my name, there am I,’ and all things are possible with God.” The Archbishop interrupted sharply. “Real Presence? Why should that be a concern?” “I, uh, consecrated hosts at one of my Masses, then Mutara stepped up to me. I was in Bwihanga at the time, and he was in Bishando, about thirty-five kilometers away. I handed him the pyx, and he stepped back to Bishando. He had it when I got there a few days later.” There were several long moments of stunned silence as the clerics present absorbed this information. Similar information was in the letters they all had read, but the issue of sacramental validity had not been raised before. Cardinal Mouhanna broke the silence. “I think we need to discuss this a little more. You are saying you ‘broadcast’ Mass to other villages at times.” “Yes, Your Eminence.” “And you also say you consecrated hosts in one village then handed them to a lay minister in another village?” “Essentially, yes, yes Eminence.” Robert’s voice was a whisper. Long, long silence. Cardinal Mouhanna stood up. “This is a matter of serious consequence. We will have to think and pray about what has been said here today. I abjure all of you to say nothing to anyone else of this matter. We will meet here tomorrow as a group, but for now, Father Gilley, you and Father Nidal should return to your quarters. Perhaps you would like to say Mass in the basilica, but don’t send it anywhere.” He smiled gently. “We will, of course, require you to prove to us by demonstration that what you say is true. That will also be a matter for tomorrow.” The two priests were barely out of the room when they heard voices in loud discussion. “Preposterous!” “Miraculous?” and a lower admonition they could not make out followed them down the hall. They made their way down the stairs and out onto the street. “We can say Mass at one of the side altars in St. Peter’s if you wish,” suggested Father Nidal, “or we could go back to the casa. There are always requests for masses to be filled there.” “I may not get another chance to say Mass in St. Peter’s if the critics prevail. And I think I need the walk.” They concelebrated at the basilica, then walked back to the general house. Both priests enjoyed the exercise, and both felt it necessary to work off the tension of the morning. Along the way, they discussed the meeting in low tones, using English to make it more difficult for any who might hear them to understand more than a few words. “You can truly do this?” asked Father Guy. “Yes, but I wish now I could not,” said Robert miserably. “Do not be afraid. If this is a gift from God, there will be no problems.” “And if it is diabolical?” “I doubt Satan would help you celebrate mass, but we cannot discount it entirely. However, I think it will not come to that.” “Come to what?” “Exorcism. This case does not look to me of such evil.” “I’ve, uh, never performed or even seen an exorcism.” “Consider yourself blessed. They are never pleasant occasions, and the danger to all present is grave.” The little Moroccan’s face clouded a moment, then cleared. “Be brave! I think your ability, or gift, or whatever it is, was made for good, not evil. I also think your scruples about the Real Presence are unnecessary. If you were personally present when you consecrated the hosts, they were validly consecrated. And if you and your parishioner were present and in interpersonal contact, there is no issue.” “I didn’t reason it through, but you are right, I see. Guess I should have spent more time on some of those issues in theology. Things that seemed settled then became a bit fuzzy in the bush.” The next day, they were back at the Cardinal’s office at ten. He had them follow him down the hall to a larger conference room. “If we are to have a demonstration, we need a larger area.” The others from the day before were present. There was also another cleric in Cardinal’s dress who was not introduced, and another monsignor at his side. They all sat at a large table centered at one end of the room. The rest of the room was an open area perhaps ten by

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eight meters, about twenty-five by thirty-five feet. A door at the end of the room from them was open, but Cardinal Mouhanna gave no order to close it. The far room was dark, probably a cleaning closet or such, thought Robert. “We have discussed your amazing story,” said the Cardinal without preamble. “Some feel you are the victim of delusion. Some are open to what you have told us. If you really did what you told us, then we have the possibility of grave scandal if people heard and misinterpreted what occurred, or if it were found linked to diabolical causes or simply fraudulent claims. Before we can make any other determinations, though it is clear we must have a demonstration of what you say you can do.” “Yes, Eminence, I am prepared,” said Robert clearly and confidently, feeling none of that at the moment. “We must be aware that what you propose is outside the experience of any of the rest of us. We are all aware that any extraordinary occurrence can be from evil as well as holy roots. Are you prepared to swear that you have done nothing through attempts at magic or through any sort of satanic acts?” “I so swear. I have never believed that real magic is possible through any means. I believe that attempts to practice magic open one to the danger of demonic possession. I have never attempted any acts of magic. Whatever this ability is, I do not claim it as a miracle, and I say in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that I renounce Satan and all his works.” Everyone present joined in the sign of the cross and a few moments of silent prayer followed. Bishop Marcelli and Archbishop Kohllin still seemed very skeptical. Bishop Bauermann, the American, seemed more relaxed. The others were inscrutable, the unidentified Cardinal and monsignor more so than the others. “What would you like to see? Perhaps one of my missions?” There were gasps as the village came into view, then frank curiosity as Father Gilley “panned” the view from the well around the area. They did a detailed viewing of the village, people going about their daily business, one family praying the rosary, several farmers gathering sweet potatoes. One of the skeptics objected. “This could still be a form of illusion or mass hypnotism, perhaps diabolical.” Cardinal Mouhanna said, “I don’t think the rosary is likely to be prayed in a diabolical vision, but I agree. Let one of us select a viewing.” “There’s a World Cup game on in Antwerp right now…” Glares. Movement in the room beyond. A person they all knew walked in from where he had been waiting and watching. Everyone scrambled to their feet as Pope John Augustine I walked into the room. The first African pope in modern times waved them back to their seats. In accented English, he said, “I will go to Castel Gandolfo. View the gardens in three hours and see whether you can observe me. I will write down what I do there before I return, and you can describe what you see.” He strode out, with another cleric who had apparently been with him in the observation area. Dumfounded, Father Robert Gilley stared as the pontiff left the room. “We didn’t want you any more nervous than necessary,” stated Cardinal Mouhanna. “Uh, thank you, Your Eminence. Who was the priest with His Holiness?” “He’s the Chief Exorcist of Rome. I think you passed his scrutiny, for now.” Robert’s knees went weak again. Bishop Bauermann asked, “Have you ever been to Castel Gandolfo, Father Gilley?” “No, Your Grace. However, with a good picture and some directions, I think I could manage.” “We can arrange that. It’s a bit over forty kilometers, should only take about an hour, but His Holiness probably has a few things to do first, as well as having his security detail arrange the trip. In the meantime, we might as well have something to eat.” The Cardinal concurred, and several assistants were called. Within an hour, Father Gilley had several maps and photographs to study, and access to the Internet for additional information. “Do not tell us where you will try to look first,” cautioned Bishop Marcelli. “We do not wish to be predisposed to any illusions or suggestion.” “Yes, Excellenza, I think that is wise.” It appeared most present had been to Castel Gandolfo, but only three had been inside to any extent. Robert decided to begin outside, near the Vatican Observatory, then shift the view until he located the Pontiff…he hoped. The group of clerics concelebrated Mass in the Congregation’s chapel, then retired to a refectory for a light lunch of broth and fresh bread, and various creamy bignés to choose from for dessert with their espressos or lungos. That done, they returned to the conference room to see what Father Gilley could do with Castel Gandolfo. Concentrating, Father Gilley thought of the area in the picture he had chosen to use as his focus, the Diana’s Mirror sculpture by Mooney, which he thought to be between the Vatican Observatory and the Papal gardens. There was an intake of breath as the others in the room saw what he called up. However, no people were present in the viewing area. Robert “panned” the square and expanded it to cover a larger area. It eventually reached the Holy Father sitting on a bench under a tree reading his breviary. After a few minutes, he closed his book and began to stroll through the formal gardens outside the Castel. Father Gilley tried to keep his viewing square centered on the Pope. All the witness watched and tried to make notes on the pads of paper they each had.

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The Pontiff walked up some steps into the Castel itself. Robert narrowed the focus of the area slightly to accommodate being indoors. There were some murmurs of recognition and whispers among several of the witnesses. The Pope walked through several rooms, stopping occasionally to make notes for himself. He stopped and viewed an oil painting with a Madonna and child and an arrow-pierced Saint Sebastian. He went into a library for a few minutes and looked at some items there, pausing near a reading desk. In another room, the Pope reached into his pocket and withdrew a digital camera. More notes as he snapped several photographs. Going outside to another garden area, the Pope stopped and appeared to discuss some lilies with one of the gardeners. A short time later, a little girl jumped out from behind a hedge with a shout as the Holy Father approached. She laughed as the Pontiff jumped a bit. He knelt down and talked with her briefly, then, hand-in-hand, they went up to a small table set with some sweet pastries and lemonade. Pope John Augustine pronounced a short grace, and they ate. A nun took away the remnants, the girl curtsied and shyly said goodbye, and the Pope made an agreed-upon signal that the session could end while he sat writing on a pad with a large yellow envelope nearby. Each of the witnesses put his notes in an envelope. The envelopes were sealed with wax, each prelate using his episcopal ring as a mark on the seal. The priests simply put their initials in the wax. Monsignor Heekan gathered all the envelopes, placed them in a larger one, and sealed it himself. Cardinal Mouhanna locked the big envelope in a cabinet. “We will meet tomorrow with His Holiness,” he said. “Until then, all are under a papal order to say nothing of today’s events seen in the conference.” The next morning, they went through the reverse process of the day before. The cabinet was unlocked, the monsignor verified his seal, he opened the envelope and returned each one inside to its originator. All seals and drafts were confirmed as untouched since the time last seen. Cardinal Mouhanna produced another envelope. “His Holiness provided me with this. I assume it contains his notes and perhaps some of the photographs he took. He will try to join us later but had some essential appointments this morning.” He broke the seal on the envelope, opened the flap and removed the contents. A scanner was brought into the room. Each document was scanned in the presence of all, then returned to its originator. The documents in the envelope the Cardinal had produced were likewise scanned. All were reminded they were bound to confidentiality. A new monsignor manipulated the scanned material, and several were projected, side by side on a screen. Again, the originators confirmed their accuracy. During the next few hours, each set of notes was examined and compared with the others and with the material provided by the Pope. To no one’s surprise at this point, they all agreed in essential details. Any discrepancies lay in that not all observers had emphasized the same things. One bishop was focused on furnishings and upholstery details, while another described mainly the Pope’s actions. A third concentrated on items in the background, both furnishings and other things, such as pictures and their positions. The individuals who were familiar with the Castel were able to reconcile some of the different details, confirming that together, they provided more complete detail of each area than taken individually. The photographs provided in the papal envelope confirmed the composite images. Other than some minor disagreements on colors or details of some items, everyone’s notes agreed to a sufficient degree they all agreed they had witnessed the same events. The Pope joined them in the afternoon. After summarizing their findings to him, the Cardinal fell silent. “The Madonna and St. Sebastian is on loan from Pinacoteca di Forli. I hadn’t seen it in years,” said the Pope. “It just arrived a few days ago.” More pictures from the digital camera confirmed everything except the view out the window one bishop had described, but the Pope agreed that the description was accurate and said ruefully, “I just did not think of such a photo or I would have taken one. You can just see the Vatican Observatory from there; it would have made an interesting bit of evidence.” None of the witnesses had known the Pope would carry a camera. Another long silence ensued. “What shall we do with you, Father?” said the Cardinal. “And how are we to test that you can combine a view and an action in one place?” A monsignor spoke up, “Perhaps another visit to Castel Gandolfo, eminence? Father and one of us could go there, and he could project a square here.” Several nods. Father Nidal spoke. “Have you ever been to Assisi, Father Robert? No? Excellent! My friends, Your Holiness, I recommend you meet here tomorrow at noon. Father and I shall visit Assisi. And if all goes as he says, perhaps so shall you.” Deciding where to merge the squares was a problem. If Father Gilley really could do as he said, others in Assisi could see what was in the square, too, and the sight of the Pope, several cardinals and bishops suddenly strolling through town or past the Fonte Sante Raggio would cause an uproar. The solution was to select a place for the merge, one Father was not to be told until the time came. Two of the bishops were assigned to pick several possible sites, perhaps provide Father Nidal with the choices, and leave him to decide which to use. The two bishops agreed on three possible sites for the test and changed the procedure slightly. Cardinal Vincent Nyundo, recently from the diocese of Calabar, and the silent visitor to now, would accompany the priests and decide which location was the one used in Assisi. “It’s the best I can think of for a good test. We will arrange for a special relic to be available in each place.” “I hope so. God be with you until we meet again.” “Go in peace, brother.” The next day, the witnesses assembled in the conference room. Shortly after noon, an image appeared before them. Father Gilley, Father Nidal, and Bishop Nyundo were standing in a small plaza. The bishop removed an envelope from a briefcase, broke the seal, and removed a sheet from it. He read it carefully, shrugged, and put the envelope away. They walked a bit, and eventually reached what appeared to be a small building set into a hillside. “Eremo delle Carceri,” breathed Bishop Marcelli. The others started, watched carefully as the three clerics entered the cave where St. Francis preached to the birds.

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That landmark established, and with the help of a map of Assisi, the witnesses watched the scene as the three in Assisi continued south and west, eventually reaching the Basilica of St. Clare. Inside the basilica, Bishop Nyundo said something to Father Robert. The priest nodded. “You witnesses,” they jumped as sound was added to the scene, “are invited to join us,” said Father Nidal, adding, “Your Holiness, Eminenzi.” At a nod from the Pope, everyone in the room except Monsignor Heekan, still acting as scribe, stood up and cautiously approached the scene they had been watching. The monsignor sighed and continued making notes. The priests and Bishop knelt. “Your Holiness,” and the kissed the Pope’s ring. Pope John Augustine looked at them with shock, then a delighted expression crossed his face as he turned and looked around him. The entire group now walked around inside the basilica. It was empty but well lighted. They group walked past frescoes and to the crypt where the body of St Clare is on display. Back up in the main floor, they went to the Chapel of the Crucifix. There, as arranged, the Crucifix of St. Damien had been removed from its secure display and placed on a velvet pillow. All the group knelt, prayed, and, led by the Pope, each man kissed the feet of Jesus on the crucifix. After all had done so, Bishop Nyundo carefully picked up the crucifix, placed it in a silk bag, and handed it to Cardinal Mouhanna. He said something only the Cardinal could hear. Nodding, the Cardinal reverently held the object. After a few minutes, Bishop Nyundo informed the group that everyone except he and the two priests was to return to the conference room in Rome. “We will return by auto early tomorrow afternoon,” he told them. The scribe in Rome continued his notes. The Pope, eyes aglow, walked briskly back into the conference room. The other members of the witness group joined him. Father Gilley said, “I will continue the view without sound a while longer, but am getting tired and cannot continue much longer.” As the clock showed, the viewing had lasted nearly three hours at this point. The two priests and bishop walked out of the basilica into the plaza named for St. Clare. The picture suddenly ceased to be in the conference room. Cardinal Mouhanna took the notes the monsignor had written, placed them in the cabinet with the silk bag, and announced the day’s session ended. The Pope blessed them and asked them to meditate and pray about what they had seen and done the past days. The next day, they all gathered again in the conference room. The Damien crucifix, together with a certificate of authenticity, was presented. “The rector of the Basilica was unwilling to leave such a treasure out as it was,” stated Bishop Bauermann. “However, His Holiness convinced him it was necessary to help in a confidential Papal inquiry into the authenticity of some other claims. Comparable items were left at the Rocca Maggiore and Basilica of St. Francis.” We had already left the Rocca Maggiore before noon,” stated Bishop Nyundo. “And we visited St. Francis after you left.” Cardinal Mouhanna summed up. “Father Gilley, you present us with a very perplexing problem. You have convinced us your ability is real, and I can say there is no sign of diabolical influence, although its use to watch American football worried me.” Thin smile by the Cardinal, weak smile by priest. “However, use of such talent in foreign missions might, at best, be misunderstood. Do you have any personal belongings left in Rwanda?” Robert’s heart fell. “No, Eminenza,” he muttered. Then louder, “Anything left there can be used by the villagers or whoever serves them, Eminenza. I have all I need with me at the Casa Generale.” About a year later, the Archbishop of Kigali retired. The Bishop of Byumba was elevated to Archbishop. Mutara was accepted at a seminary in Nigeria and went on to Rome later. New fighting erupted in Rwanda, creating a new wave of refugees. Over time, a new priest, not a Redemptorist, reached Father Gilley’s mission. New boundaries made it easier for another missionary to continue in some of the previous parishes. They met briefly one afternoon in Byumba. “Probably should have been that way earlier. This valley really is easier to reach from my side than yours, although it does mean they only see me one day a week on average. Still, Mass every Thursday is better than none at all. We have a special dispensation for Easter and Christmas observances. I think I met Father Robert once, but I can’t say I ever got to know him well. Where is he now?” “I was told he’s reading Moral Theology in Rome.” “Good for him!” “As long as it doesn’t mean an early desk job. At least for me, the satisfaction is in parish work and missions, but then, I go wherever sent in obedience.” “True, true.” The Vatican is reputed to have one of the best intelligence services in the world. …Where will all this intrigue lead? Perhaps you’ll know come our next issue…

Are you a writer who needs that second pair of eyes? Contact us at ideagems@aol.com for our reasonable editing rates! We also do graphic design for book illustrations and covers. Volume 2, Issue 5

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Michael Cain is 34. He lives where he grew up in North East Ohio, at the foothills near the panhandle of West Virginia. He counts money until his fingers bleed at a gaming resort, and lives with his dog Jack. Michael has stories currently published on the webzines Wild Violet Magazine, After Burns SF, Demon Minds, Lunatic Chameleon and Forbidden Fruit Magazine. He had stories included in the erotic anthologies Just the Sex and My First Time 3, both through Alyson Books. He will soon be included in the e-zine The Green Muse, Justus Roux, Logical Lust and Ruthie’s Club, and in print in Sofa Ink Quarterly, First Hand LTD, and in the July, August, September, October and the November/December issues of Writer’s Post Journal. Send your comments to: broke33poke@yahoo.com That woman, Clarissa, with only the slightest of glances shot me full of holes when I walked into the bookstore. My bookstore. “Alice’s Bookshelves” was printed on the thin red page markers... and on the sign over the door outside. In the three years she’d worked for me, I’d grown to respect and covet Clarissa’s opinion, though I didn’t want to know her opinion of me just that moment. But still, I thought I should apologize for taking such a long lunch hour and for coming back confused and out of breath, my hair and clothes disheveled, shame blushing and burning my face. But I couldn’t speak, mostly because his taste was still on my lips – and I felt naked without my panties. He’d bitten them off. Clarissa sat at the counter tapping away on the business calculator, her wrinkled yet spry fingers dancing across the keys like a spider. For a woman of her age she was still rather beautiful: impeccably dressed, in need of little makeup, and her gray hair long and thick which was today tied up elegantly atop her head. I made my way past her and hung up my coat. Though only early October, the weather had turned prematurely frigid. My reflection in the glass of a display case signaled me that I needed to fix my hair. Large tendrils spilled out of what had started the day as a French twist. “Sean stopped by asking for you,” Clarissa said without looking up or missing a keystroke. Oh God! I thought. I can’t believe I was... and my Sean was here! “What am I doing?” I said under my breath. “So, Alice ... do you love this man?” she said. “Sean? Of course I love him.” We are engaged... right? I asked myself. I tried in vain to smooth down my unkempt locks. “No, not Sean,” she said, sending a chill up my spine. “The other one. The one that wears Fahrenheit cologne -- so sensual. That Sean of yours only wears Gray Flannel -- always hated that one.” She knew. I suddenly wondered who else knew? Was it tattooed on my forehead? “What did you tell him?” I said. “That you were picking up a small yet important package at the post office in Salem, that you’d be back in a jiffy. He said he’d see you later.” I felt my hands shaking, and I could scarcely breathe. I loved Sean so much, but when Jake stopped by last week... Jake was my husband for one short year, in which he cheated on me a total of seven times, or so I’ve surmised. We split five years back, and in the divorce I got just enough to start this store. I’ve done well by it – well enough that I needed and could afford to hire Clarissa as extra help. A ravenous reader, she’d been my first and best customer. Still was. Since then, I’d seen Jake only a handful of times – strange, since we live in the same small town. But then he came by last week, and we talked while I closed up the shop. And then it just happened – rough, feverishly intense, and... so horrible. Before I knew it we were meeting every afternoon, if not at lunch then right after the store closed. And I’d fallen into confusion and despair, not knowing what I really wanted: love with Sean or sex with Jake. Sean was devoted to me. He was gentle and kind; he surprised me more and more with how much he loved me. I felt complete, connected when we were together -- in or out of bed. But Jake was the opposite: didn’t care about me in the least, hadn’t even when we were married, and our connection was steeped in my irrational though consuming want for him, and in his powerful control over me. Already I felt the old familiar feeling that Jake owned me – that somehow he had domain over my body no matter what my mind or heart wanted. I’d had a near miss just last week, Sean pulling out from the florist across from Jake’s house, and me just about to stumble out Jake’s front door – my blouse not even buttoned all the way yet. It was as if I were walking in a fog after each time with Jake, my mind a perfect blank. And then I’d seen Sean’s car backing out from its parking space, and it shook me, woke me up instantly. I retreated and hid behind Jake‘s front door until Sean had driven away. Today I’d planned to end it with Jake, whatever you’d call what we were doing: an affair, screwing around? But he kissed me before the words formed in my mouth. Then he took me, and not a molecule of my body resisted. I didn’t even remember what I’d gone there for until just then in the store. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” I confessed, my now cold hands touching the burning flesh of my face, “or what to do about it.”

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“Three inches,” Clarissa said winsomely from her stool. “I’m sorry?” “No need to be sorry, Alice dear. It was just fate, a fluke if you will.” She tore the number-jumbled paper tape from the calculator, folded it, then set it on the counter. “Three inches to the left and nothing at all would have happened. Three to the right and I’d be dead instead.” My mouth fell open and I tried to say something... but found myself breathlessly waiting for her to continue. Clarissa never spoke of her private life. “We were married for three years, Arthur and I. I was never so happy... we were never so happy.” Leaning back in her chair, her hands folded in her lap, she looked off dreamily into the new fiction hardbacks. “But we were fighting on that third 4th of July we were together. Arthur wanted to stay at home, alone with me, watching the fireworks from our own backyard. But I had it in my head we should go to the fairgrounds for the Independence Day Celebration with everyone else.” Clarissa seemed to be lost in her own thoughts. Then she looked to me. I nodded, not knowing what she wanted me to say or if she wanted me to say anything at all. “He was hurt I didn’t want to be with just him. I didn’t realize, you see... but he relented and took me nonetheless. He had been quiet most of the night, but when the fireworks started and I jumped with surprise, he drew me close to him, wrapping his arms around me, and I knew that he’d forgiven me, that he’d forgive me all my trespasses... because he loved me.” Clarissa sat staring somewhere over my shoulder for a moment, but when I took a breath to say something – probably something clumsy – she started again. “At some point he spun me around and kissed me. The reds, greens and blues of the fireworks punctuated that kiss with pops of brilliant white. Everything melted away except us. I pulled away, keeping a hold of his hand, pulling him along after me. I wanted to go home.” Clarissa suddenly looked very old and tired as she closed her eyes tight on her memories. “He just stood there looking at me... I mistook the look on his face for a mischievous smile. When I came back to be enfolded in his arms he crumpled forward onto me, and we fell to the ground. I screamed, but not from fright. I thought he was just being playful... but when I touched the back of his head it was wet with blood. He was already dead.” She tapped her finger on the counter. “An errant piece of firework fitting... I screamed and screamed for someone to help us, but no one heard me. Every ear deafened, every eye watching the explosions in the sky.” “Oh, my God... Clarissa, I’m so sorry.” I felt tears stinging my eyes. “I didn’t know.” “Of course you didn’t,” she said, suddenly snapping from her misty remembrances, looking more like herself again. “But that’s not the point. The point is that Arthur loved me. And I’ve never loved anyone as much as I loved him. “I recognize it on both of your faces, yours and Sean’s. On yours when he’s near... written in bold face type across his every time I see the man. He’d forgive you anything, dear.” I knew she was right. I had never felt for Jake anything like what I felt for Sean. I swiped at my eyes with my fingertips, feeling more torn and confused than ever. “Should I tell Sean? Do you think he’d forgive me?” I felt foolish just saying it, but I felt so desperately lost. The old woman burst into peals of laughter, one hand in the air to stop me from saying anymore, the other holding her belly. There was more than a little bitterness in her cackle. “No... no, dear! Never tell him! That would be the worst thing you could do.” My head was suddenly spinning chaotically. “Then what?” I said. “Well, you can either end it with the Fahrenheit man,” she chortled, rising from her stool and coming towards me, a quizzical purse to her lips. “Or just get better at hiding it.” She gave me a little smile as she plucked a copy of “A Widow for One Year” from my absent grasp. I hadn’t realized I’d picked it up. “You could buy Sean some Fahrenheit, for a start. Throw away that horrible scent of his.” She stopped and shot me a reproachful look. “Just don’t do it the other way around.” My mouth went slack, my now empty hands clutching nothing as my mind tried to grasp, and then the corner of my mouth caught in the beginnings of a guilty smile.

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Ali Alavi, a native of Iran, came to the United States in 1995 as an international student. He attended the University of Southern Maine and received a BS in electrical engineering, a BS in business administration, and a Master’s in Business Administration. He is the author of three poetry collections written in his native language, Persian, and a series of short stories. He currently resides in Portland, Maine, the setting for his novels. Along Came a Shepherd is his second novel. This is the preview. Prologue Carol watched the sun set over the Atlantic as the late summer breeze caressed her face with its gentle touch and headed northward. Standing on the shore, she let the cold water rinse the sand grains and beach pebbles off her feet, wishing that the ocean would wash away her sorrows instead. She would have given anything to have that happen. “Yes,” she thought longingly, “anything!” She remembered her mother say: “Life is like a rollercoaster ride. There are times when you’re up, and there are times when you’re down.” She had agreed with her mother on that. But it seemed to her that this time she was at the rock bottom for good. It had been a year since she had picked up the remnants of her shattered life and moved to a town that held no memory of her past. She did not want to go back to New York, where she had grown up and lived all her life. Not even for a visit. She was afraid of all the familiar sights: the buildings, the restaurants, the parks; afraid of breathing the air that smelled of her tears and torment; afraid of facing the ruins of her past. “‘Time heals all wounds,’ they say. If that is true, then why doesn’t it heal mine?” she mused wearily as she watched a seagull fly across the crimson horizon. She took a deep breath, and for the thousandth time thought of all the warning signs that had been fluttering before her eyes, but she had refused to see them. Looking back she decided that only a fool would let such conspicuous indications go unnoticed. That thought filled her with feelings of guilt and anger toward herself. She felt prickling sensations in her eyes as she tried hard to fight back the knot that was tightening in her throat. She did not want to cry. Crying made her feel pathetic and weak. Her eyes and her throat burnt, and her lips had begun to twitch. She knew that it was only a matter of seconds before she would give in. She always did. Sometimes she would wake up in the middle of the night, feeling all empty and panicky inside. She’d sit up in her bed, stare out the windowpane into the stagnant gloom of the night, waiting for the tears to come, and when they did, she’d cry and cry and cry until she’d be utterly drained and fall asleep again. Crying was not only a nighttime ritual for her. Sometimes in class, while teaching, she’d suddenly feel overtaken by grief. When that happened, she’d give her students an assignment, and then she would run to the bathroom where she’d lock herself in, run the water in the basin so no one would hear her, and sob. And that’s what she did that evening. She cupped her face in her trembling hands and began to sob. She let her knees slowly reach the shore as she shed tears onto the water’s edge. The sound of her heartbreak was drowned by the chatter of seagulls and the monotone of the tides. Overhead the gray patches of cloud shifted, lightning flashed, thunder roared, and a downpour ensued. Carol didn’t know how long a time had past when she abruptly stopped weeping. She opened her teary eyes and stared across the blurry view of the Atlantic. The last golden rays were about to fade from the horizon. She was suddenly feeling different. She hadn’t felt that way in a long time. She took a deep breath, straightened her back, then slowly rose to her feet. She let the raindrops wash her tears as she savored the long forgotten feelings of peace and tranquility. Her expression had suddenly changed to that of strength and determination. All her frailty had escaped her. She washed her feet one more time in the ocean, put her sandals on, and turning her back to the murky horizon she headed toward the cabin that loomed among giant pines and oak trees, not far from the shore. She had a plan. One Carol slapped at the light switch and entered the cabin. She had rented that place for the Labor Day weekend. The immaculate interior of the cabin was tastefully furnished in old-fashion, New England style. The place was located thirty minutes south of Portland, in walking distance from Old Orchard Beach. The owner, one of the teachers at the high school where Carol taught, was the son of an Irish immigrant who had helped his father build that place when he’d been sixteen. Carol had initially planned on a quiet long weekend away from Portland. But now the plan had changed. Entering the small bedroom behind the kitchen, she began to rummage through her suitcase, and retrieved a plastic Ziplock bag which contained an assortment of tablets: antidepressants, Codeine tablets for her crippling Migraine headaches, and the sleeping pills she had bought over the counter. She took the medicines out, set them on the small mahogany table by the bed, and put the Ziplock bag back in the suitcase. She remembered seeing a liquor bottle on the kitchen counter earlier that day. She went to the kitchen, and found a martini glass in one of the carved wood cabinets above the stove and brought it with the liquor bottle to the bedroom. She placed the bottle and the glass on the small table by the bed, then patiently moved everything around until the arrangement of the objects seemed visually appealing to her. Her ceremonious approach to what she was about to do amused her and caused her to chuckle under her breath. She was elated by the sense of freedom that throbbed in every particle of her body and felt that she had never been as placid and carefree in her life. “Tonight my misery will end forever,” she thought. “What will Jack do when he hears the news?” she wondered. She imagined her ex-husband at her funeral, weeping unstoppably as he called her name, his voice trembling with shame and remorse. “He’ll never be able to forgive himself for what he’s done to

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me,” she thought. “Good! Let the guilt plague his life,” she mumbled gleefully. “Oh, if only I could be there to see his face! Who knows? Maybe my spirit, my joyous, carefree spirit, will be present, watching him in eternal agony from above!” she said to herself, relishing the thought. She then thought of her family and friends and felt selfish for not having considered them. For the first time since she had set out to take her life, she found herself reconsidering her decision. But she quickly pushed those thoughts out of her mind. “Tonight is the night. You cannot go on like this any longer. And if they truly love you, they will not blame you for it. They’ll understand. Yes, I’m sure they will!” She thought of leaving a note. She wanted to be sure that her savings would be spent on helping abused women and children. Her parents were going to receive the proceeds from selling her condo, or they could keep it if they wanted to. She got her notepad and a pen and began to write. She included her sister’s phone number and address in New York so they would contact her first. Surely her sister would be more tactful in breaking the news to her parents than a police officer. She pictured a pimple-faced rookie officer with a crew-cut hairstyle and round spectacles dialing her parents’ phone number as he nervously held the cheat sheet he had made for the first job that he had been assigned to since graduating from the academy two days earlier. Practically breathing down the rookie’s neck, a senior officer stood two steps away from the rookie and supervised the process from A to Z. The Officer: “Mrs. Drayton?” Carol’s Mother: “Yes?” “I am Officer Young from Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department.” Pause. “I regret to inform you that your daughter, Carol, has committed suicide. “ The junior officer continues to deliver the rest of his carefully rehearsed monologue as Carol’s mother screams hysterically on the other end of the line. The officer congratulates himself for bringing his speech to a satisfactory conclusion by improvising a closing line: “Please accept our deepest condolences. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.” END OF THAT THOUGHT. Carol wiped off a tear with the back of her hand. As she wrote the letter she imagined her funeral at a magnificent cathedral. She pictured the somber faces of the attendants who were dressed in black, sitting quietly next to each other on the benches, listening to the sorrowful voices of men, women, and children (her students) as they delivered their elaborate, carefully written eulogies one after the other. In her note she asked her loved ones to understand and to forgive her. When she finished the letter, she placed the notepad on the table next to the liquor bottle and thought of another ceremonial idea: music! She wanted the cabin to be filled with heavenly tunes while she gradually slipped away. She went fishing in her suitcase again, and found the CD of her favorite French opera, La Bohème. She wanted to hear that seamstress sing her favorite aria, Sono Andati, in which she nostalgically speaks of her past happiness. She wanted that enchanting voice to be the last thing that she would hear on this soiled planet. Oh, if she could sing her heart out as beautifully as that soprano, then maybe her life would be worth living. She would become immortal. A voice that beautiful will never die. It resides in the hearts of people generation after generation, reminding them, if only for the briefest of moments, of their humanity. She took the CD out of its jacket, but before putting it in the CD player, a thought occurred to her. “What if I survive? What if all that poison doesn’t do the trick?” She wished she had her computer there so she could do a quick Internet search on the possibility of surviving suicide with pills and alcohol. “If I survive, I’ll be a bigger fool than I am already in the eyes of people. They’ll call it a pathetic cry for help. The news of my failed attempt might even make headlines in the local papers: Portland English Teacher Attempts Suicide “Maybe I’ll get an invitation to a talk show.” Much to her surprise, she put the pen down to entertain that possibility. “How would I do as a talk show guest? Would those who seek comfort in learning about other people’s ordeals find me an interesting case?” she wondered, trying to picture the hypothetical scenario: The talk show host, a middle aged, southern man, with a round face and handlebar mustache, is sitting upright in his chair, facing the camera as he reads off a monitor: “Today we have invited a young woman who recently tried to take her own life. She is going to share with us the experiences that caused her to hit emotional rock bottom and fall into the dark well of despair. Please welcome Ms. Carol Drayton.” The sound of the audience clapping mixes with the upbeat theme song of the show. The camera shifts to a corner and takes a close up shot of me as I emerge on the stage. I walk toward the talk show host who has risen to his feet, facing me as I approach him. He takes my hand in his and pumps it, as if he is honored to meet me. The audience is still clapping. A couple of them are giving me a standing ovation. The talk show host offers me a seat. We both sit down. I lock my fingers and place my hands on my lap, nervous. When the audience falls silent, the talk show host turns toward me and says: “Thanks for being here with us, Carol. “ I say: “My pleasure. Thanks for having me.” CUT. END OF THAT CRAZY THOUGHT. BACK TO REALITY.

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No way! You’re chickening out. You know damn well that your body will never be able to take that much poison. Besides, there is nobody here to take you to hospital. Your stomach won’t be pumped. The pills are going to stay there until they do you in” she internally harangued. With that assurance, Carol decided to go along with the plan. But first she needed to take a shower and change her clothes. Somehow caring about her appearances as a corpse seemed like a rational idea to her. She put the CD in the CD player but didn’t press the play button. “It’s still early. I need to clean up first.” After a long relaxing shower she donned a clean T-shirt and a pair of slacks. She took her keys and money out of the pocket of the Khaki shorts she’d been wearing before throwing them in the laundry basket. She remembered that she had to leave some money for the liquor she was about to consume. She put a twenty-dollar bill on the small mahogany table by the bed and added these sentences to the letter: Lynch, Sorry I drank your booze. Here’s twenty bucks. Buy yourself another bottle. Carol P.S. Keep the change. Ha, ha! She read the letter one more time from the beginning and smiled when she got to the end. She then made a mental checklist of everything that she thought she needed to do as suicide prerequisites. When she got to the bottom of the checklist, she knew that there was nothing else to be done. The moment that she’d been waiting for had finally arrived. She went to the living room and set the CD player’s timer to thirty minutes (the time she thought it would take the pills to kick in). She then set the volume to medium and headed toward the bedroom where the booze and the pills – her one way ticket to Peaceland – awaited her. She noticed a dimmer on the bedroom’s wall. She turned the knob until the room grew quite dim. She sat on the edge of the bed and filled the martini glass. It was important that she didn’t spill the liquor on the table. She didn’t want to leave a mess. She then took a fistful of the sleeping pills out of their container and set them on the notepad. She held one of the pills between her thumb and index finger. With the same fingers of her other hand, she formed a delicate grip around he stem of the martini glass. “Ok, that’s how you’re gonna do it. Put the pill on your tongue, swallow it, then wash it down with liquor. Simple enough?” She brought the sleeping pill up to her mouth and placed it on her tongue then lifted the martini glass and held it up near her chest so she could pour the liquor down her throat as soon as the pill started its journey toward her stomach. “Ready?” She suddenly felt her pulse quickening. The feelings of peace and tranquility had been replaced with fear and excitement. She could feel adrenalin rushing through her body. “Ok, count to three, then close your eyes and swallow the damn pill! Here we go: one…, two…, …thr…” A hair-raising squeal cut through the tender flesh of the silence and lingered in the bitter gloom of the cabin. Carol flinched at the piercing sound. Her head turned in slow motion toward the living room as her eyes widened in panic and surprise. She had recognized that voice. It was a shrill made by the rusty hinges on the cabin’s main door. She remembered that she had forgotten to lock the door. Her colleague had told her that he was leaving for Boston earlier that day. “Damn Lynch!” she grunted under her breath. “He must have changed his goddamn plan too!” She spat the pill out on the palm of her hand and set the martini glass on the table. She decided to meet the intruder at the door before she was caught in the suicide scene. But as she was rising from the bedside a commanding female voice, clear as the sound of a church-bell, came chiming through the dark. Carol straitened her back and took a step forward toward the bedroom door. “Jesus Christ! Who’s that woman?” she wondered nervously, “Lynch’s wife? His mother? Daughter? Or maybe his mistress?” Her eyebrows drew together and her face contorted in curiosity. Once again, the imposing voice came calling in the dark: “Hello? Anybody home?” Two Carol flipped the light switch and found herself face to face with an old woman who was standing by the cabin’s entrance, observing her with a pair of gleaming eyes that shone with pride, wisdom, and confidence. The old woman stood about five feet five and leaned on a delicately carved wooden cane for support. Her hair was neatly pulled back in a bun, except for a few silvery wisps, which stylishly fell onto her forehead, adorning her beautiful face. She was far from petite, but despite her few extra pounds and brittle bone structure, she had an impressive posture that made her look more proportionate than she actually was. She was dressed in an immaculate white traditional African costume, which bore a striking contrast with her black skin. A string of pearls around her neck sparkled under the overhead light. The two women observed one another in silence for a few seconds. Finally, the stranger spoke: “Ms. Drayton?” Carol nodded hesitantly, her eyes affixed on the old woman. “Ms. Carol Drayton?” “Aha.” The old woman smiled amusedly. “You’re younger than I thought.” Carol could not bring herself to say anything. The stranger shifted her weight to the other leg, and took a step forward. The door behind her was still half open, letting the cool breeze inside the cabin.

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“I am Angela Shepherd, Lynch’s neighbor,” the old woman introduced herself. “My place is about a hundred yards from here. You must have driven by it when you pulled in the driveway. I saw your car this afternoon. I stopped by earlier, but you weren’t home. You were at the beach then?” asked the old woman. Somehow Carol felt that the question had been posed in rhetorical fashion; that the old woman had been watching her all afternoon. That thought sent waves of anger through her mind, but she managed to force a faint smile. “Yes,” she said quietly. “I thought so,” said the old woman as she pushed the door back with the black rubber tip of her cane. The massive door of the cabin closed with a bang, which startled Carol and caused her to jump. “Pretty soon it’ll be too cold for a stroll along the beach,” she went on as she began to take slow but steady steps toward Carol. The sound of her cane hitting the hardwood floor filled the ambiance with rhythmic intervals. “You’re probably wondering why I am here,” said the intruder. Utterly spellbound by the magnetic air of the stranger, Carol could only nod in response. The stranger stopped about five feet away from the young woman, and gazing straight into her eyes said some thing that made Carol’s eyebrows arch and her jaw drop in surprise. “I’m here Ms. Drayton, because I’m one of your fans!” Three Carol found herself staring back at the old woman, waiting for her to burst into laughter and say: “I got you, didn’t I? No, seriously I came by to borrow some baking powder!” But when she realized that the stranger was not joking, she began to doubt her sanity. “Excuse me,” she finally said. “You said you were here because you were one of my fans?” “That’s right.” Carol sighed tiredly. “I’m sorry. I don’t think I’m following,” It was the old woman’s turn to raise an eyebrow. Carol tried to elaborate: “I mean, I… I think… no, I’m sure that there is some sort of confusion here. I…” “Aren’t you Carol Drayton who published a few short stories in Paris Review a few years back?” asked the old woman, smiling as if she was already sure what the answer was going to be. All of a sudden the whole thing seemed surreal to Carol: An old woman in an eerie New England town barges in on me just when I’m about to end my life to tell me that she admires me as a writer. This is insane! “Look, Ms. Shepherd…” “Angela,” the old woman smiled. “Angela, I still…” “You don’t believe me, do you?” the old woman interjected again. “You probably think that I’m trying to put you on so I can get some cheap laughs later with Lynch.” Carol sighed exhaustedly. The overbearing personality of the stranger was wearing her out. “Wouldn’t you be a little suspicious? I mean…” Angela Shepherd interrupted Carol for the third time: “In A Requiem for Love, the twenty-six-year-old Joan Flint of Rhode Island meets the ground-breaking British artist, Robert Stackhouse, at a lavish party at Waldorf Astoria. What ensues is a heartfelt romance that begins from the first moment they lay eyes on each other. The story takes a sharp turn when Robert is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and ends with a tragedy.” Carol was stumped. She searched for words during the brief pause that ensued, but her mind had gone blank. “In Moonlit Covent Garden,” the old woman continued, “your protagonist, the aging prostitute who can no longer attract patrons, drowns herself in the River Thames. Finally, in The Goddess of Madrid, Maria, the sensational flamingo dancer, is stabbed to death in her hotel room after giving the performance of her life. One would think that the author of those stories was preoccupied with death and tragedy,” the stranger commented. Carol unwittingly looked away, feeling uncomfortable. Angela Shepherd picked up the CD jacket that sat on the round table by the window. “La Bohème,” she read the inscription on the jacket. “This is yours, isn’t it?” Seeing the CD jacket, Carol remembered that she had to turn off the timer. “Yes, that’s mine,” replied Carol nervously. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled as she picked up the remote control and began to undo what she had done before Angela Shepherd came by. “I thought so,” said the stranger as she let out a quiet laugh. Carol mustered up the courage to say: “You haven’t told me how you found out that I was here.” The old woman smiled as if she had been anticipating that question. “I ran into Lynch yesterday morning,” she explained calmly. “He was doing some work around his place. He told me that a Carol Drayton of New York who was a new English teacher at Longfellow High was going to spend the weekend here. Naturally, I was intrigued. I asked him if you were Carol Drayton the author. Long story short, Lynch told me that

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your publication history was included in your résumé: three short stories published in Paris Review, all in the late nineties. Earlier today I did a library database search on you. No other title came up under your name.” Carol was at once flabbergasted and amused at the level of interest shown by the stranger. “So, what happened, Carol?” asked the old woman, caringly. “Why did you stop writing?” Coral shrugged, trying to conceal her regret. “Many reasons,” she said. “Such as?” asked the old woman. “Lack of inspiration, for one.” Angela Shepherd nodded. “I see.” A few seconds passed in silence. “Well,” the old woman finally spoke. “I told you that I came here tonight because I admired your work, and I wanted to meet you. That is true.” “But?” asked Carol impatiently. “But,” the stranger continued. “I also have another reason for being here.” Carol frowned. “What is that?” she asked, curious. Angela Shepherd cast a faint smile on her face, lowered her voice and gravely uttered: “I am here to make a proposition to you.” Four For a moment Carol thought she had lost her sanity, that she had been hallucinating the whole thing, that Angela Shepherd was nothing but a figment of her imagination, an illusory figure created by her unconscious to deter her from what she had set out to do earlier that evening. She wanted to reach out and touch the old woman, but she was afraid to do so -- afraid of finding out that she had been right, that she had indeed crossed over to Madland. So instead, she asked the stranger a question: “Why me?” The old woman’s eyebrows arched. “Why not? You’re a good writer and in need of inspiration. I can give you that,” she said. “I have learned many valuable lessons in my life, Carol, and I feel that it is time for me to pass them on. I need someone like you who has the talent to weave my life lessons in the intricate structure of a compelling story. Stories build and transform civilizations. They shape our inner world and form our individual and collective perception of reality; they become part of who we are and what we believe, because they impact our souls. I remember in an interview with Paris Review you said that writing was your biggest joy in life. Well, here I am, offering you a book project.” A bitter smile crossed Carol’s lips. “That was a long time ago,” she said. “Maybe,” said the old woman. “But you are still the same person. And if writing is your true calling, it can still uplift your spirit more than anything else.” The old woman walked toward the living room window, and gazing out into the gloom of the night she said: “I need your help, Carol. This maybe the last project of my life.” Carol sighed wearily. She opened her mouth to say something, but the old woman stopped her by raising a hand, as if she knew that the young woman’s response was going to be negative. “All I ask you,” the old woman said, “Is to consider my offer. You don’t have to accept it right away, but do me a favor and hear me out before making a decision.” Saying that, the old woman proceeded toward the door. She turned the knob and pulled it toward herself. The rusty hinges squealed as the door opened. Angela Shepherd had already stepped onto the porch when she turned around and said: “Tomorrow morning you come to my place. I am going to cook something special for lunch. We’ll eat and talk about the project.” Carol wanted to protest, but before she got a chance to utter a word, the old woman pushed the massive door back with the tip of her cane and closed it. She was gone. That night, after Angela Shepherd left, for the first time Carol recognized the burden of guilt that she had been carrying all those years for having betrayed her true self; for having forgotten her true calling. Once a promising new voice in New York’s literary circles, she had wasted five years of her life attending to the incessant needs of a pathological philanderer who finally left her for another woman – the event which had crumbled her soul, bursting the bubble of oblivion and denial in which she had resided for years. Utterly humiliated, she could not bear to be the laughing stock of Manhattan’s intellectual elite who all seemed to know that for the renowned Broadway playwright, Jack Albertan, exercising fidelity would be a slow and torturous demise. After her divorce, Carol had moved to Portland where she found a teaching job at a public high school. That had been a year earlier. That night, for the first time since the beginning of her ordeal, she stopped thinking about Jack Albertan, her divorce, and her torn-apart life. …To be continued in our next issue…

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Racheal Doyle is our new feminist sexologist here at AFTAW. She lives in South Portland and is currently engaged in cultural studies with an interest in deviance. She spends much of her time writing about social issues and sexuality to further an informative and healthy pro-sex attitude. You can reach Racheal with your comments at: rdoyle1@maine.rr.com WARNING: This column deals with mature subject matter that addresses women’s sexuality (a topic we are not shy about here at IdeaGems Publications). DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and sentiments of IdeaGems Publications, but we are all for the freedom to express them. If there was going to be a sexual revolution, I would be its pamphleteer. – Hugh Hefner The Samantha Jones part of me digs Hugh, even if he is a dirty old man that hangs out in a satin robe and pajamas all day long. I propose a sexual revolution, and Hugh can have the job as my pamphleteer. I expect it to be volunteer work though, Heffy. You’ve made enough greenbacks off selling sex (not to mention having set yourself up with a lifetime supply of big-titted blondes), and I imagine you’d be happy to give a little something back. With the beginning of this proposed (and much needed) sexual revolution, let me first suggest that we rid ourselves of those books claiming to educate you on 101 sex positions. Never mind all that – it’s a lot of repeating what you already know but in a way that is often difficult to decipher because telling you how to screw (or even diagramming it) is not the same thing as being in the middle of doing it and moving your body around to accommodate what feels good from a slightly different angle of penetration. It is way more fun to figure out all the funny ways you can move your body for potential sex positions if you play naked twister with a partner instead. And the truth is that all of those “positions” are really just variations on some very basic sex positions, which most people can then figure out once they’ve actually mastered the basics. A more useful book for most folks would be one that explains the mutual joys of some standard positions for intercourse. It makes for a nice foundation, a jumping off point for playing naked twister, or for people to be adventurous enough to figure some of this stuff out for themselves the old fashioned way: by paying attention to how it actually feels. There are some very basic positions that we all should be familiar with, including (and especially) why they are pleasurable, so let’s have a little overview of them now. Woman on top (cowgirl & reverse cowgirl, all variations) is one of the easiest positions for a woman to reach orgasm because it is one of the best positions to allow for proper angle and rubbing, no matter where her favorite spot happens to be. With the woman on top, in the dominant position and in control, she can move in a manner, and with the proper speed and precision, to hit whatever spot she really wants or needs to stimulate for whatever pleasure she desires, including climax. And I always say, if you want to be sure the job is done right, then you need to do it yourself. It’s also a fantastic rush to bring a man to orgasm while on top. It is very exciting to watch him come and know that you did that to him. Woman on top with her knees on either side of her partner’s thighs (forward facing cowgirl variations) has an area advantage: more space for rubbing and pressure against all of the sensitive external spots of the vulva. The variation in which the man is sitting up with the woman straddling and wrapped around him is one of the most sensual and intimate positions, allowing the entire physical form to become a conduit of pleasure in which your bodies can rub and touch and feel as you move wrapped up in each other’s presence. Woman on top with her feet planted firmly on the floor on both sides of the man has the advantage of stability, which translates into thrusting power and angle precision. The fluidity of movement afforded by the lower and wider female pelvis and hips allows a woman to thrust rhythmically with her pelvis and hips in a manner that men just cannot. It allows a woman to slide along a man’s shaft with more variations in angle and position, some of those variations so subtle as to be barely noticeable were it not for the extremely relevant fact that those subtle variations can make her come her face off. The ability to rely on her lower body strength to do much of the work provides an advantage with the woman on top with her feet on the floor. It also happens to be a great ass workout, so if you’re doing it often enough, you will have buns of steel. I would suggest that you do it very often because it’s fun. But what about the fellas? This is about mutual pleasure, right? Well, with the woman on top, he can often relax a bit and enjoy the view, touch and caress her body (maybe a nice little pinch or squeeze here and there, perhaps let his fingers wander across and into other stimulating erogenous areas). With reverse cowgirl variations, he gets an amazing view of her curves, the hair falling across her shoulders and down her back, the muscles moving in her ass, the sweat trickling down her spine, and the excitement building in her silhouette as pleasure ripples through her body. Some reverse cowgirl variations provide a lovely view of penetration, and men do love the view. And if she’d like to see it as well, then he is in the perfect position to hold the camcorder for her… There is much to be said about positions where the man is behind the woman, and there are so many variations to choose from that you should never get bored (the word “sex” should be the antithesis to boredom anyway). Rear-entry intercourse (a.k.a. doggy-style variations) provides the optimum angle for stimulating the cervical muscle and allowing deep penetration, which can be very satisfying for both parties involved, and some variations may also facilitate g-spot stimulation during intercourse (if she enjoys that sorta thing, which may or may not be the case). The doggy-style standard, hands and knees down, is fabulous all by itself. It provides the man with a lovely view from his dominant position, and allows a woman to tilt her hips slightly to alter the angle of penetration, varying the spot where the head of the man’s cock will land during its inward thrust (as she may have a spot that will cause her cervix to contract again and again and again in orgasmic pleasure). This is also an excellent position to really work those kegels because there is no weight on the woman’s abdomen complicating the contract and release process, and using those muscles during intercourse helps to facilitate orgasm in both the man and woman.

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The other doggy-style variations also have their high points. The woman bent over from the waist and grabbing her ankles is an impressive position. A woman must be flexible enough to bend for this position adequately, not to mention being able to hold it while engaged in sexual activity, but doing so lifts and opens her precious place to facilitate deep penetration and eases the ability to squeeze and release the vaginal and cervical muscles. And frankly, seeing her bent over in such a fashion is going to make a man hot, hot, hot. While many of the positions with the man behind the woman are perfect for screwing your brains out (yes, indeed – the man is in a position of power when entering the woman from behind and has the stability of his upright position to facilitate thrusting), there are a number of ways to experience rear-entry that can be sensually satisfying. The man can wrap himself around the woman when mounting her from behind, touch her, press himself against her, and build a matching rhythm with her backwards movements into his body as he moves forward into hers. Rather than pounding the hell out of her backside for the purpose of riding her as hard as he can, a man can take his time and move slowly and deeply, paying attention to which movements and angles elicit the most promising responses, and build up to that point of wild frenzy in which both participants are sweating profusely and shaking with orgasmic pleasure. The spooning doggie-style variations, man from behind with both partners on their sides, can be a wonderfully intimate variation, excellent for slow build-up to orgasm and allowing the man to easily stimulate the woman’s vulva and clitoris with his hand and fingers, or perfect for morning sex when you’re tangled up together, all warm, cozy, and sleepy. It also keeps you from breathing in each other’s faces when you’d been drinking tequila the night before, and would rather not cause each other’s eyes to bleed from the morning-after fumes. Then we have the missionary position, the standard for vanilla sex, and the position least likely to be spotted in mainstream porn cinematography. Missionary is nothing to poke fun at (it’s the one position most of you are doing most of the time, nymphos and sex freaks included), but there should be some qualifications. It isn’t an excuse to be lazy. Don’t just lay there and expect the dominant partner to do all of the work. Move your ass around some and participate in the activity. Really, if you have to be told this little tidbit, then there’s something terribly mistaken with how you are approaching or engaging in sexual activities. You should be squirming around just from the mere pleasure of the activity, and if you’re not, then you need to try out another position or indulge in some foreplay for a while longer before you get to the intercourse part of the sexual activities. Again. It isn’t an excuse to be lazy. If you’re only climbing on top because it’s the easiest way for you to do your screwing and get it over with, if you’re just masturbating with your partner’s body, and you haven’t bothered to learn anything else about sex since you were a teenage boy, then you need a change of attitude, perspective, motivation and education. That being said, missionary (and the variations therewith, of which there are many) provides the perfect opportunity to touch your partner and feel so many different tactile sensations that it can actually be one of the best positions for achieving sensory overload. The weight and presence of your partner above or below your body, the feeling of sweat trickling across his or her skin, the tension building in the muscles, the sensation of your fingers running over hot skin, fondling, squeezing, pressing and digging; his face pressed in her hair, her fingers running through his hair, her legs wrapped around him, how it feels to squeeze him between her thighs and have her calves locked across his back or ass… Oh, and let’s not forget the kissing and licking and biting. Missionary position is excellent for maintaining a level of closeness allowing you to engage your partner on a variety of different levels in addition to the cock-in-box action below the waist. It all seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Basic sex positions that nobody really gives any thought to because they just aren’t all that kinky or freaky, yet are the standard forms for establishing the numerous sex positions promised to you in over-priced books at Borders and sex toy shops, promising to make you a better lover if you can twist yourself into a pretzel just to have sex in a modified missionary position. All that really matters is that you know why a position feels good, how to do it so it does feel good, how to best utilize the wonderful sensations you can give and receive from those positions, and that you are paying attention to how it actually feels for both you and your partner. But if that doesn’t do it for you, then here’s the deal: master the basics, and if that doesn’t leave you thinking up a hundred of your own variations, then you can drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to share some of the more freaky acrobatic sex secrets with you…

Even More Cool links:

www.lifeunlimitedforme.com

www.wolfetales.com www.lawlesspolitics.com www.maddyrosenberg.com www.whatarelief.net www.vidpitch.com

www.mainecenterforcreativity.org

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www.kimmacdougall.com

http://fc.umit.maine.edu/~robert.mendoza/newjournal.htm

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Last year, we ran several chapters from this in-depth, true-life account of a young Polish girl whose powers astounded world scientists in the 1980s. We are serving up yet another excerpt from this intriguing story as written by journalists Anna Oztrzycka and Marek Ramuzko (left) and translated by Joel Stern (holding psychically bent spoon below). It is our hope to publish this book in English and share the story of a young girl whose incredible powers bewildered family, neighbors, researchers, and skeptics alike! THE COLD EYE OF THE CAMERA On December 12, 1983, a crew from the biggest Japanese TV channel, Fuji Television, arrived in Poland to shoot a special program on Joasia Gajewski's psychokinetic powers and other remarkable psychic phenomena in Poland. This project was connected with a new weekly series on Fuji Television that featured paranormal phenomena from allover the world and that also attempted to give a scientific explanation for them. The crew was headed by Toshio Uruta, Fuji's director of popular science programming. The other members were Takashi Tachibena, a well known writer in Japan, the author of many widely read books and TV documentaries; Yohji Itagaki, production director; Yoshihiro Itohoko, cameraman; and Yeichi Mirai, sound engineer. All of them, we carne to see, were professionals of the highest caliber. As luck would have it, however, the results of their work were much less meaningful than we had expected. The reason for this was that Joasia happened to be indisposed during the filmmakers' week-long stay in Poland. Even before their arrival she had complained of various aches and pains (don't forget that the girl had undergone an operation at the hospital in Repty the previous month). Above all, it was difficult for her to concentrate. Consequently, most of the experiments performed in front of the camera did not come off. This was especially depressing because earlier some of them had been successful. What was worse, a few times when Joasia sat in front of the camera she failed, for example, to bend spoons, but after the filming stopped she could do this with ease before the eyes of the whole crew and other persons. The guests from Japan felt terribly disappointed. Recognizing that experiments in front of the camera, particularly those involving children, are often unsuccessful (spoon-bending experiments with a selected group of girls and boys were also being filmed in Japan), they were piqued at her not so much for the unsatisfactory results as for her elementary lack of concentration. The Japanese believed, not without good reason, that if the teenager made a determined effort she could overcome her difficulties. Moreover, they said, it might be possible then for the girl to control at least to some extent the psychokinetic phenomena occurring around her. Unfortunately, we must admit that Joasia's personality type is such that it is exceedingly hard or downright impossible to adapt her to the way of life favored by her peers in the Far East. This is particularly true in regard to her concentration problem, which is very apparent at school. Another complicating factor here is the mother's extremely high-strung temperament. The Japanese guests did not stint film reels. Besides the material shot in the apartment, they held many interviews with eyewitnesses of the psychokinetic phenomena occurring in the girl's presence. They also visited the Institute of Biophysics at the Academy of Medicine in Zabrze-Rokotnica, and the Documentation Center at the Gliwice School of Engineering, where for six hours they watched VCR tapes of the metallographic, medical, and biophysical experiments conducted with Joasia. Relative to the experiments carried out during the film crew's visit to Silesia, several matters are worthy of note. Let's begin with the most important – the attempt to record kinetic phenomena on VCR tape. It succeeded in only a single instance. But this was a partial success, for we had not taken one crucial factor into account: the tremendous velocity of spontaneously moving objects. This velocity far exceeds that of an analogous object thrown by hand. We had occasion to see this for ourselves on December 13, 1983, or rather on the following day. December 13, which fell on a Tuesday, was spent almost entirely in shooting the preliminary film material in the Czeladz apartment (including the first spoon-bending trials improvised in front of the camera, a partially successful attempt to move ping-pong balls floating on water, and an experiment with a shielded candle flame). We were present at all these experiments together with Dr. Gadula, who gave the Japanese journalists lengthy, detailed explanations. Before the crew left the apartment late in the evening, we installed a camera there and hooked it up to a VCR. The apparatus was to run nonstop until the Japanese departed from Poland and even (as we later arranged) a week longer. It was turned off only when Joasia was away from home (and thus generally at school). Not to mention that the whole project greatly inconvenienced the household (it’s not much fun being observed from morning till night), the basic problem was finding the right location for the camera. Obviously it could not cover the entire apartment. It also had to be firmly secured lest it be destroyed by the kinetic "invasion." We solved the first problem by placing the camera in the hallway, where it covered Joasia’s bedroom and the kitchen. We made this decision on the basis of previous experience: the kinetic effects usually concentrated in the hallway or the room in which the girl slept. As for protecting the apparatus, we fastened the camera to the wall and wedged the VCR in between furniture. We finally left the Gajewskis' apartment around 9:50 p.m. and returned to our hotel by car. But Dr. Gadula spent the night there, not wishing to risk the trip back to his home in Tarnowskie Gory because of the lateness of the hour and the heavy fog, which limited visibility to ten feet.

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As Dr. Gadula told us early the next day, the first kinetic effects occurred at 10:45 p.m. (about an hour after we had left the apartment) and continued with variable intensity until 11:08 p.m. This took place before the family went to bed. The first object to move was a lipstick, followed by a cold-cream jar (which had been in the bathroom) and then a fish-scaling knife the girl had bent a few days before. The trajectory of this last object was contrary to every known law of physics. When we subsequently retraced the course of events, we found that the knife had been placed (after being filmed) on a chest in the hallway, next to the front door. At the moment the kinetic effects began, no one was near the knife. Propelled by an unknown force, it flew to the kitchen (meaning that the object executed a turn of at least seventy degrees in the air), rebounded against the wall over the sink and, changing direction again with a very sharp turn, headed toward the hallway and fell on the floor close to the bathroom door. Since the knife's route or rather a segment of it was within the range of the lens, here was a chance that the camera had caught part of its flight. (The other objects were outside the camera's field of view. And in Joasia's room, on which the camera was focused, nothing happened on the night of December 13.) The initial viewing of the VCR cassette with the recorded object revealed nothing. It seemed as though our hopes had been in vain. It was only on the third viewing that Yoshihiro Itoh, with a cameraman's practiced eye, called our attention to an odd, rapidly moving flash on the monitor. We had overlooked it before. A rough estimate of the time that elapsed from the moment the camera was turned on and the beginning of the cassette recording indicated that the flash had been registered a few minutes after eleven o'clock. We darkened the room, making it easier to observe the monitor, and gradually reversed and slowed down the frames. Finally we managed to stop the image at the moment of greatest interest to us. We then saw that the effect the cameraman had pointed out was not one but rather two short, successive flashes. They resembled a pulsating line, which appeared suddenly on the hitherto motionless picture and later shifted to the right, changing color. Was this perhaps a defect in the tape? Although Yoshihiro Itoh thought it unlikely, such a possibility could be ruled out only by special laboratory analysis, which could not be done until the crew returned to Japan. Assuming, however, that the knife really had flown, we made a rough drawing of its trajectory and concluded there ought to be some sort of mark on the place where the object had struck the wall. After a brief search we found it: a small, shallow indentation in the wall, several inches over the sink. It looked as though it had been produced by a sharp object. Several weeks later we received important news from Japan: laboratory analysis had ruled out a defect in the VCR tape. The recorded effect was therefore the image of some lightning-fast object. We write "some" because the velocity of the object was so great that it was impossible to identify despite repeated enlargements. This closely matches accounts by witnesses of the kinetic effects occurring in Joasia's presence, who usually did not see objects flying but rather falling or hitting an obstacle (only sometimes did they mention observing a blurred shape or a streak in the air for a split second). Before the television crew left, we agreed that if the laboratory analysis ruled out a tape defect it would be worth trying to determine at least the approximate velocity of the object by using the known speed of the frames as a basis for calculation. Unfortunately we did not receive such information. It seems that the specialists could not accomplish this task with the scanty and unreliable data at their disposal. But one thing is certain: though the object observed on the VCR screen is impossible to identify, it could not have been thrown by anyone. Otherwise it would not have attained the incredibly high velocity evidenced in the visual record (two successive flashes) of its trajectory. Our several hours' visit to primary school no. 1 in Sosnowiec also proved fruitful. Although the improvised experiments there in which Joasia tried to extinguish a light bulb connected to a battery and move a stream of potassium permanganate in a flask of water were unsuccessful (as was her, initial attempt to bend a spoon, which she finally accomplished in front of everyone when the camera was turned off), another of the scheduled experiments — the telepathic test — came off splendidly. We gave this test in two stages, filming each one. In the first stage (the experiment was held in an empty classroom to help Joasia concentrate and to prevent schoolmates from possibly helping her) she was to select geometric figures transmitted to her telepathically. The sender was one of the students, Wojciech Szewczyk, whom we chose for this role at the last moment. Of the twelve figures sent in this manner, Joasia correctly guessed ten. To make the second stage harder, we used separate cards instead of a sheet of paper with drawn geometric figures. The sender this time was Joasia's teacher, Janina Ostrowski. This experiment likewise proved successful. Of the eight figures sent by the teacher (a triangle, rectangle, square, diamond, etc.), Joasia got seven right. Thus, in both cases her performance greatly exceeded the range of probability of obtaining a so-called random result. Before leaving the school we asked the class if any of the students would like to have Joasia's powers. There was complete silence. The boys and girls looked at one another uncertainly; no one could muster up the courage to answer in the affirmative. We therefore rephrased the question: was there anyone who definitely did not want to experience the unusual phenomena occurring around their classmate? Once again the reply was silence. During the Japanese television crew's stay in Czeladz and Sosnowiec one more important event took place. While Joasia was being filmed we heard the acoustical effects mentioned above by Dr. Andrzej Franek and Dr. Eustachiusz Gadula. This happened on the evening of December 18. The previous day the writer Takashi Tachibana, who had to return to Japan earlier than the other members of the crew, decided to spend the night in the Gajewskis' apartment (this was after the "adventure" with the knife and the taping of the mysterious flashes, which coincided in time with the occurrence of the kinetic effects reported by the family and by Dr. Gadula). Tachibana could not forgive himself for going to the hotel with us before ten o'clock that evening. The man was dying to see the unusual

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phenomenon with his own eyes. He had no luck. But before finally turning in, he heard a strange noise (the family was asleep then). It was so strange that he could not identify or explain it. He asserted, however, that neither Joasia nor her parents had made it. Takashi Tachibana also sensed that his hair was standing on end, not out of fear but because of the amazing electrification of the air that can sometimes be felt in Joasia's presence. You might call this a purely subjective phenomenon, for it has not yet been measured with instruments more credible than mere physical sensation. Yet it is a fact that once while we were filming Joasia, when we asked her to move her hand toward the head of one of the visitors (and Tachibena happened to be the person chosen), less than two minutes later his hair bristled. This observation, apart from its humorous side, confirmed that definite physical phenomena surely do occur in Joasia's vicinity. After the experiment was over, Tachibena stroked his scalp mistrustfully for a long time and was greatly intrigued with the whole matter: he was not, he claimed, subject to electrification and nothing like that had ever happened to him. But let's return to the acoustical effects. They occurred around six o'clock, immediately activating the camera and tape recorder. We felt a certain weariness, which was inevitable after several previous failed experiments. Then Joasia, who was sitting motionless on the floor, suddenly began to "crackle." Every few second we heard distinct "static" that sounded like electrical discharges. It was concentrated at first around the teenager's feet, then seemed to rise into the air in her immediate vicinity. Remembering from Dr. Gadula's and Dr. Franek's accounts that such sounds often (though not always) preceded kinetic phenomena, we anxiously waited to see what would happen next. In time the acoustical effects gradually abated and finally disappeared altogether. A moment later, however, something happened – something that undoubtedly bore all the characteristics of a definite, tangible physical phenomenon. For after changing places with Joasia (who had sat down in front of the camera again), the co-author of this book, Marek Rymuszko, felt a sharp pain in his temples, as though his head had suddenly been squeezed in a vise. Immediately afterwards the energy that had caused this began to move down to his feet. There could be no question of mental suggestion here; the feeling was all too real, leading Dr. Gadula to intervene. At the same time two members of the Japanese TV crew began to complain of severe headaches. But that was not the only "adventure." Almost from the beginning of the Japanese telejournalists' stay in Czeladz the sound engineer, Yoichi Hirai (one of whose duties was to monitor all the technical gear), had been worried about the peculiar functioning of the equipment. The glitches began with a lamp designed for 350 volts. In order to plug it into 220 volt outlets, it was necessary to use a transformer. Nonetheless, when we were filming experiments with Joasia in the Gajewskis' apartment, the transformer would not crank out more than 314315 volts. In other places (Joasia's classroom, the engineering school, while shooting interviews with eyewitnesses to the phenomena), such a problem did not arise. Yoichi Hirai, who had studied electronics, was very upset about this and kept checking all the gear, but found no signs of damage. He could not come up with a logical explanation for the considerable intermittent decrease in voltage. Such phenomena as the sudden failure of electric devices (radios, tape recorders) in Joasia's presence had occurred before, as had the discharge of a battery in a digital watch. We should also recall the breakdown of an EKG apparatus during an examination of the girl in April 1983. Let us add – as if all this were not enough – that during the final stage of filming the program on Joasia a large radio microphone the Japanese had brought with them started malfunctioning. Nobody was able to discover the reason for this either. In exchange for film documentation of earlier experiments (particularly Dr. Andrzej Franek's biophysical experiments and Joasia's spoonbending at the Institute of Metallography and Welding Technology at the Silesian School of Engineering) provided to the Fuji Television crew by the research team studying the girl, the Japanese journalists agreed shortly before their return to Tokyo to leave a camera along with a VCR and large supply of cassettes in the Gajewskis' apartment for a week. Unfortunately, the apparatus failed to operate because of an unexpected event. At 6 a.m. on December 27, 1983, four days after the departure of the Japanese, all hell broke loose in the Gajewskis' apartment. Light and heavy objects alike began to hurtle through the air. One of them, a living-room lamp, hit Joasia in the face. At first it was thought her nose might be broken; fortunately this proved not to be true, but she was badly bruised and cut by flying glass. None of these kinetic effects showed up on tape: during the several minutes' "earthquake" the VCR fell to the floor and its cord was yanked from the socket. (The camera, being fastened to the wall, remained intact.) When telephoning this information to the Japanese Radio correspondent in Poland, Teruo Matsumoto (who had interpreted for the Fuji Television crew during its stay in Sosnowiec), Joasia's mother was nearly hysterical. She was afraid that she and her husband would have to pay for repairs on the expensive equipment. Luckily the damage did not prove serious, but the parents both agreed it would be too risky to keep the equipment in the apartment any longer. It was therefore disassembled and sent back to Tokyo via Warsaw. The program on Joasia Gajewski and other sensitives (including the Japanese psychokinetics Matsuaki Kyota and Hiroto Yamata, whose powers are described in the chapter "Above All, Be Calm") was broadcast in Tokyo on February 3, 1984. According to information we received from Japan, it was seen by some forty million viewers. Stress 2 by Kim In Sook©1997

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In every issue of AFTAW, I try to do at least one story about women entrepreneurs. This issue is no exception! This time we feature Mary Regan, who is a contributing editor here at IdeaGems Publications. She also helps out quite a bit with our public relations and promotion to help get the word out about IdeaGems. Here’s an interview I recently had with Mary as we talked about her PR business, Anyway PR. – Laurie Notch, Managing Editor Tell me about Anyway PR. Why that name? Well, “Anyway” is an expression I say a lot, plus it’s my Maine license plate! Sounds like a Maine-iac, right?! A theme in my life has been “Anyway”—in other words, whatever it takes, I will get the job done; I will see things through anyhow, Anyway…I’m one of those persevering types, you know…I guess that’s a good thing I got from my strong parents. What got you interested in doing PR? I’ve always been a communicator at heart, whether it is from my journalism background or my political campaign experience. I’m just very interested in informing the public about issues or things affecting their lives and that’s a core component of who I am and how I function. What's your background and training? I started out in journalism: radio, T.V. & print. I suppose my other dream job would be to be a talk show host someday—that would be a cool job! What sort of PR work have you done? Well, before it was “Anyway P.R.”, it was “Type & Tutor” because of my excellent typing/editing and English tutoring skills. However, most of my clients have been creative artists. My current clients are both artists working on their own exhibits. But, I can cater to others such as small business owners who need help with marketing. What sorts of people need PR and how can your services benefit them? Anyone, especially small business owners who don’t have a lot of money budgeted for marketing but they need a consultant once in awhile to help “get the word out” to the press or local market about their products or services or talents. What are the challenges, risks, and benefits of doing your own PR business? The challenges (like anything) are that it is a competitive field and to stay busy with either number of clients or amount of work load to be sustainable, like any new business. The risk is that you don’t have your own health insurance oftentimes being self-employed and there is a fairly high self-employment tax rate in Maine; however, one can write off a fair amount in tax deductions. The benefits are that you are your own boss and get to experience new things each day and it offers the chance to be creative and express yourself the way you want to and there is a real beauty to that. Not many people can say that. What can you advise potential clients? In general, the press needs anywhere from a few days to a week to a month’s notice in terms of when they want your Press Release or article submitted. Most people do not realize how the press operates and that’s why a P.R. consultant can be very useful in the planning, execution, and follow-up of any news or ad information you want to get out to the general public or to a targeted audience (readership/viewership/listenership). How can people contact you? The best way is email first so I can read up on who you are and what your needs are: meregan@maine.rr.com but people can also just call my cell phone at (207) 807-2718 and chat with me about what their public relations needs are. I offer several services: anything from writing and distribution of Press Releases, news stories, general typing/layout needs (i.e., newsletters). But, I can also write in ad copy style and with my radio background, can record (either voice read or sung), advertising commercials. I’ve also helped edit manuscripts of 2 friends’ books prior to publication. So, you can see, I can cover a lot of ground. ANYWAY PR will handle the PR needs of a small business owner with no regular P.R. or marketing dept. who many have occasionally press needs and individuals (ex.: artist, singer, etc., who needs help publicizing their gallery or their event or band, etc.) WE know how to get the word out through News, Ad copy (of which I can also voice or sing!) Press releases, Brochures, Newsletters, etc. Anyhow, anyway, we’ll get the word out for you! For more information, contact Mary E. Regan, Publicist, Cell 207-807-2718 – Email: meregan@maine.rr.com Website: http://www.freewebs.com/meregan

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Photographer Deb Strout was born in Bar Harbor, Maine and grew up in Bangor, Maine. She earned a degree from Husson College, Bangor, Maine (non-traditionally) in court reporting and was active in the court reporting profession for several years. She moved to Portland to pursue her love of photography at the University of Maine, Augusta and freelanced as a photographer while at the same time managing a retail photography venue. During her time at UMA, she had three photography shows in Lewiston, Portland and Boston. Deb’s long-term photography goal has always been to be a still photographer on film sets. This dream was realized partially in 2004 when she worked on "Straight Out of Compton2" which filmed in Portland, Maine and Los Angeles, CA . She worked alongside cinematographer, Danny Moder. Since then she has worked with known talent, Blair Underwood (LA Law), Earnest Harding (White Men Don't Jump), Izabella Miko (Coyote Ugly), Beth Grant ( The Rookie), Austin Nichols (The Day After Tomorrow) and Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey on the Columbia Pictures set "21" due out in spring of 2008. Documentaries

Presently, she is a generalist. Her scope of experience covers: corporate headshots, legal/evidence photography, documentary/editorial work, product shots, and advertising. She works with smaller companies doing website, brochure, and advertising shots, and works with architectural firms developing spectacular shots for their bid/spec sheets. Deb photographs artwork (paintings). She also does high-school senior portraits, weddings, and events.

Investigations

Deb’s studio is located at 82 Gilman Street, Portland. Since she travels a lot on shoots, It's best to either email or call: Deb Strout www.freezeframephotography.com 207.318.9072 cell 310.775.3168 LA cell www.imdb.com/name/nm1811697 Movies Sets

Landscapes

We certainly hope you thoroughly enjoyed this issue of AFTAW with its selection of seasonal fare of the eerie and mysterious. We’re attracting the attention of more and more published authors whose works would make for terrific reading in your home, on the bus, or at your book club! With the holidays approaching, they make for great gifts to the readers among your friends and family. Each book is listed with a link to the online bookseller. If you are not computer inclined, contact your local bookstore to place an order for you. It’s as easy as that! Once again, we invite and encourage writers and artists who need to believe in their talents and build up their credentials in the publishing biz, to submit their work. We welcome a wide range of material, from fiction to non-fiction to poetry to graphic arts. Be it ever so humble, there is no ‘zine like ours! And in case you haven’t heard, let me reiterate what we are all about: IdeaGems® is an imprint for unknown artists and writers contributing artwork, photography, articles, stories, time, and yes, even MONEY in support of this publication. We further salute and thank the many talented writers and artists who have so generously donated their work to make this dream of a women’s adventure magazine come true! IdeaGems® hunts for gems of publishing ideas (hence the name, “IdeaGems® “). We are building a platform for struggling writers – especially women writers -- to showcase their treasure-troves of talent. Our mission is to open up hidden veins deep beneath the strata of mainstream, commercial publishing and seek glimmering creativity. We will take most any literary gem – no matter how rough-hewn — shine it up and put it on display in our ‘zine and on our site (www.ideagems.com). We know how every woman — no matter how average — has an adventure to tell. For our submission guidelines, go to our website. We hope you enjoy this issue and encourage you to subscribe, send a submission, and lend your support. — Laurie Notch, President and Managing Editor

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Thanks for subscribing! As we need more & more support to keep going, please pass this copy on to family & friends! If you’re a business owner looking to advertise with us, PLEASE DO! Artist Bruce Buchanan makes “heavenly metal” gates and sculptures from antique farm implements perfect for your yard, garden, or even interior space.

VOLUNTEER STAFF Hell, we can’t pay anyone, but at least we can put their names in glitzy print: LAURIE NOTCH Super Managing Editor, faster than a speeding deadline, more powerful than crashing hard drives, and who can leap tall production orders with a single bound! CYTHERIA HOWELL Ethereal Editor-in-chief, Incurable Romantic, and ultimate alter-ego NADIA SEDUISANTE Melchizedek Priestess, spiritual guide and creative consultant from the City of Old Souls, New Orleans

Bruce also has a wide collection of rural antiques and collectibles for sale which can be purchased directly or through

Sewing machine gate

LINDA KENT Bostonian artist, writer, and contributing editor with a wickedly sharp political wit KIM KYUNG SOON Asian art coordinator, photo-essayist, and persistent promoter of AFTAW KUMAR GHOSH Wheel gate

Writer, international publisher, and microfinancier of women’s programs in India

For more information or to make a purchase or order for your own heavenly metalwork, contact Bruce at: bbuchananbigcity@sacoriver.net or call (207) 929-3968

DAN MESNIK Music-review maven and percussive publications expert from the “beat” streets of DC MARY REGAN Our born-and-raised “Maine-iac” copywriter and assistant editor torn between media and politics

Decorative stools

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Adventures for the Average Woman


Adventures for the Average Woman