Buried in The Devil’s Abode


Photo courtesy of Barbara W. Beacham
Photo courtesy of Barbara W. Beacham

The cemetery spread along the area known as Devils Abode. Melinda and I strolled among the headstones reading names and epithets. The list of the currently interred could go on forever but notables included:


Bonnie Parker
1910 – 1934
It’s much better than being caught.


Idi Amin Dada
President for Life
1925 – 2003


Arizona Donnie Barker
Beloved Mother
1873 – 1935


Saloth Sar
1925 – 1998


Susan “Sadie May Glutz” Atkins
1948 – 2009


Joseph Stalin
1878 – 1953


Ulrike Meinhof
1934 – 1976
Protest is when I say this does not please me.
Resistance is when I ensure what does not please me occurs no more.


John Lackland
Bad King John
1166 – 1216


Ilse Koch
1906 – 1967


Maximillien Robespierre
1758 – 1794


Some that we expected to see we did not. Caretakers told us, when we asked, that a lot of the monuments are stolen by souvenir hunters. There is still plenty of room there. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Very Roomy


Allison Hollingsworth was parked in front of the small bungalow on Robin’s Egg Road. In her rearview mirror, she watched a silver Jetta pull in and park at the curb behind her. She popped an altoid in her mouth, checked her cleavage and smiled. As she got out of the car, she extended her hand to the middle aged man getting out of the Jetta.

“Good morning Mr. Bandell. Thanks for meeting me here this morning.”

“Brian please, I always tell you to call me Brian; and I should be the one to thank you Ms. Hollingsworth, I’m so excited. I hardly slept last night after I got the call from your assistant. You think this might be the house I’ve been looking for?”

A puzzled look came over Allison’s face, “Myrna told me you had found the house and called to request a viewing. I didn’t even know this place was on the market. But, I checked the MLS and it’s been available for over 18 months, keeps falling out of escrow for some reason.”

“Never mind,” Brian said with a slight accent she had never been able to place, “can you get us in?”

“I can if there’s a lock box,” she said and held up her special key.

The front door opened directly into a large rectangular room. Allison found a light switch and clicked it on. They saw that the door they had entered was positioned at one end in the middle of a narrow wall. Another door was shut just opposite them and a dark hallway led off to the right a few steps into the room. There was a faint smell in the room, a musty smell.

“Smells a bit like rotting seaweed.” he mentioned and crinkled his nose.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t be too concerned, it’s been closed up for a while,” she replied, “I’ve never been inside this house Brian, so we get to explore together.” She touched him on the arm and as they moved away from the front door it swung shut behind them. “This is a pretty good sized room. Standard magnolia coloured paint, but it looks to be in good shape. They might have painted to put it on the market. That’s good, it’s like having a blank slate to work with as you make the house your own.”

Bandell nodded his head and looked around. A rust coloured plush carpet lay on the hardwood floor and an eighteen inch band of honey coloured oak floor was exposed all the way around the room. Indentations on the carped showed him where a couch and coffee table had once sat. He could make out tracks for a couple of additional chairs and maybe a cabinet of some sort.

“I like the carpet,” he said, “the colour is nice and it looks pretty new.” He lifted a corner of the rug to look at the floor, “I hope all the wood floors are in as good’a shape at this one.” Brian was noticing the walls, “Hmm, Allison, why do you suppose there are no windows? I thought I saw windows when we came up the walk.”

Allison didn’t answer. She was walking the length of the room to the opposite doorway. She opened it and found the light switch.

“Brian, come take a look at this.”

He stuck his head in, holding the door open. The second room was identical to the one they had just left. He swiveled his head to compare the two spaces. Same coloured walls, same carpet, with the same indentations. Another hallway lead off to the right. No windows.

“Why would they do this?” he muttered to himself. He was beginning to feel uneasy and reached for Allison’s hand. “Let’s stick together and look down this first hallway,” he said and pulled her back. The light didn’t work in the hall but Allison had a penlight in her bag. They used it to find the first door. Clutching hands Brian pushed it open and Allison pointed the small flashlight inside. It was another identical room; same walls, same carpet, another door and a hallway – there were still no windows.

“I think I’ve seen enough Ms Hollingsworth. This isn’t the house for me.” Backing out of the room they retraced their steps to the front door.

“Kinda creepy, isn’t it?” Allison asked.

Brian opened the front door and stared out, “really creepy,” he said, “I don’t want to alarm you Allison, but take a look.”

She looked through the door and it was dark. Pointing her light through the door, she saw the same walls, same carpet, another door and a hallway off to the right. No windows.

“Well, well, uhm, we must have gotten turned around,” she stammered.

“Shh, listen,” Brian hushed her. “Hear that?”

“Yeah, what is it?”

They both listened for a while to the faint noises coming from down the hallway. They sounded far away. They sounded like screams for help.

Camping With Madeline

“Maddie?” I said, “You awake?”

“I am now,” she said, rubbing her face.

“You see that light shining through the trees?”

Shielding her eyes from the glare she peered in that direction, “Yeah, I do. It’s beautiful.”

“What do you think it is Maddie?”

“The sun, why?”

“Because it’s midnight.”

“Oh Shit!”


Picture Prompt #26

Image Courtesy of The Blog Propellant
Image Courtesy of The Blog Propellant

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This wasn’t supposed to happen. They were on vacation, for Christ’s sake. It was supposed to be fun, and it had been, until now.

He and Camille had arrived in Barcelona two days earlier. They had spent the last couple of days wandering the city. Exploring, sitting on the beach, sampling the foods, and making love. It was idyllic. It had been idyllic, until now. That morning he had opened his eyes and seen the sun streaming in through the sheer curtains. They had slept in.

Camille was perched on the side of the bed wearing only sheer red lingerie. She looked good in red and even better when she held up the two cups of coffee that she had made with the in-room coffee bar. He smiled and sat up.

“Good morning, Honey.” He said. He sat up in the bed and took the cup she offered. “I must be in heaven. You look great and you have coffee.” She smiled but said nothing. They drank their coffee in silence then made love on the rumpled hotel room sheets.

Richard got up and took the coffee cups back to the coffee bar. He wanted another cup, but these hotels never give you enough coffee for more than two.

“Camille, let’s shower and go to that place at the beach for coffee and breakfast.” He reached out to help her from the bed but she pulled him back in instead. A full seven minutes later he made his way to the bath and showered. Camille, who still hadn’t said a word, was right after him. It was almost 10am when they left the hotel, holding hands. He kept stealing glances of her, walking next to him. She was beautiful, she was glowing, and this vacation was just what she had needed.

“Find us a seat, Honey,” he said. “I’ll go order. What would you like?”

“Just a roll and some coffee.” She smiled and made her way towards a small wooden table on the pavement outside the restaurant.

They were almost done eating when Camille reached into her bag and pulled out a blue and white plastic thing. It looked a little like a spoon. She put it on the table in front of Richard.

“What’s this?” he asked her. “What’s ‘Clear Blue’?” she just pointed at it. Pointed at the little display window near the spoon part. He looked closer. It read ‘pregnant’.

“What? What’s this mean? How could this happen? We take precautions. Did you stop taking your pills? Are you going to get fat? What are you going to do about this?” He put his hand up in front of his mouth. He didn’t want to vomit. His mind was racing. He couldn’t think.

Camille chose that moment to atone for her extended silence. She raised her hand up and lit into Richard, “What do you mean, ‘what am I going to do about this?’” she started.


A Boating Party

Gustave put his back into pulling the oars.




He enjoyed the repetition of his labours.




He savoured the fresh air.




He celebrated being on the river; watching the scenery fall in his wake.




The punt, he nicked in Henley; when he determined to make it downriver. To go as far as possible before the Rozzers showed up.




He knew he wouldn’t be able to get past the lock in Marlow, but if he could make it there, he could walk away.  His success assured.




Gustave needed to feel free. Five years in gaol had taken his memories.




His memories of what freedom felt like.




With the help of this stolen boat, and this stolen river, he could win back those memories.




He hoped to row a million strokes today, at least a million strokes. This is what freedom feels like.





The Birth of an Empire


Photo courtesy of Barbara W. Beacham
Photo courtesy of Barbara W. Beacham

The family had no idea that little Luigi would grow up to be a cook. No not a cook, a baker and confectioner. Luigi would wake early; bake a batch of sweet, sticky cinnamon rolls that his family would eat for breakfast. They would come home in the evening to a bounty of cakes, pies, brittles, chews, and the like.

They all doubled in size.

Determined to create the ultimate dessert and snack food, one day Luigi began experimenting with his grandmother’s sponge cake recipe, baking golden yellow finger cakes in cast iron molds. His sister wandered in for a snack and took one of the cakes. She stuck the end of a sweet cream filled icing bag into the cake and squeezed, filling it with cream before she popped it in her mouth.

“Mmmm,” she said and did it again.

Luigi watched her and finally snatched the sixth one she made and tasted it himself.

“Eureka,” he exclaimed, “I’ll call them Twinkies.”

I Have Never Experienced a DIY Failure – But I Have a Story to Share


It had been one of those days when things had just been going right. The weather was perfect, the sea calm and the twin Volvo engines that powered my yacht were humming nicely as we slowly cruised the Sea of Cortez delivering building materials that I was donating to some of the orphanages dotting Baja California’s east coast. I was not expecting problems and that’s why I was taken by surprise when Mark, the foreman on my ranch in New Mexico, called on the satellite phone to tell me that the main staircase was about to collapse in the bunkhouse.

“Make sure all the hands are safe and out of the bunkhouse,” I told him, “put everyone up in the main house and I’ll be there as soon as I can.” There were plenty of bedrooms in the main house and the bunkhouse was old. It had been built by Coronado himself when he was moving north, searching for the seven cities of gold and slaughtering the indigenous people who had lived there peacefully for centuries. I needed to fix this myself as none of the local contractors understood the building methods that Coronado had employed 400 years ago and I wanted the repairs to be true to the original construction. Besides that, the local Historical Society would insist on it as well.

I kissed my wife, Paloma, and explained to her where and why I was going. I added that I would send the helicopter back for her in time for her trip. She was due in Stockholm the next week to receive her Nobel Prize. I sprinted to the chopper and Dirk, my pilot, got us airborne and headed north.

We flew through the night and thanks to the extended range modifications we had made to the chopper he took me all the way to the ranch where Mark was waiting.

“How bad does it look Mark?” I asked.

“The riser on the top step is sagging and pulling away from the landing at the top of the stair. Come on, I’ll show you.” Mark handed me safety glasses and an LED flashlight as he grabbed a ladder and led the way into the bunkhouse. Sure enough one of the old cleats had broken. It would be easy to fix.

After assessing the situation I knew that we needed a piece of Mesquite about three feet long. In my workshop I had just the right piece so Mark and I immediately got to work.

As we shaped the new cleat, using only hand tools, the way that Coronado would have done I asked Mark what had happened.

Reluctantly he told me. “Some of the boys were fooling around with their guitars downstairs. Playing Flamenco music and Rosita began dancing on the landing.”

“Rosita was dancing?” I asked. “She’s a wrangler, not a dancer.” Rosita had worked on my ranch for three years and was one of the best wranglers I had ever known.

“I gotta tell you boss,” Mark said, “She’s a really good dancer too.”

“Hmmm, I need to get to know the hands a little better. I would never have known. I blame myself too. I should have known.”

Shaving another 64th of an inch off the new cleat with my plane the shaping was completed. We headed back to the bunkhouse. Mark jacked the staircase up using a lever and fulcrum, as Coronado would have done, and I tapped the new cleat into place. Of course, it was a perfect fit. Mark lowered the staircase and we tested the repair.

“That should be good for at least another 400 years, boss.” He said. The repair had taken less than half an hour from start to finish.

That night I gathered all the hands behind the house and apologized for the poorly maintained staircase, while Chili and Ed lit the barbeque. We had steaks and cervezas, a real fiesta. Soledad and Rosita danced into the night while Guillermo played his guitar by the fire.


Bandits – 22.August.2015

I haven’t been posting a lot of my “Book Bandit” work lately. Hell, I haven’t been posting any of it these days but at today’s meeting I wrote something that surprised me. We actually played twice today. The first time was three prompts, chosen blind and at random. Using those three prompts for inspiration you write for twenty five minutes. You can incorporate one, two, three, or none of the prompts. Then we share what we wrote and discuss. My initial effort, in my opinion, was a bit pedestrian and I won’t put it here today.

Then we played a second round because the group was small today and time was plentiful. The second round had only one prompt and we had only 15 minutes to write. I kinda surprised myself with what appeared in my notebook. I’m going to transcribe it now because I write by hand in this venue and if I wait too long I may not be able to read my own writing. We are pretty strict on the time limit so often stories go unfinished.

The prompt: Lost between the pages

G0 – you have fifteen minutes.

I lifted the old notebook from the box that had been shoved to the back of my father’s closet. It was a journal. It was his journal. I skimmed through a few of the opening pages and realized that it was from his time in the Navy. He had written about his ocean transit on the USS Fargo.

He wrote about his shipmates and how they passed the time at sea.

He wrote about the monotony of life at sea; endless days and nights working in the infirmary. He wasn’t a doctor, he was a Corpsman attached to the Marines. Doctors were few and far between but a Corpsman was just as good, for a jarhead with trench foot or the runs.

He wrote of landing and marching through jungles.

He wrote about the sights and sounds of guerrilla warfare, and of lost companions whom he could not help.

But also lost, lost between the pages, were the things he didn’t write.

He didn’t write about how what he saw, and did, affected him. His account was more journalistic, a simple reporting of events.

In the interim I have had my own jungle war and having had my own jungle war, I understood. I could feel; and had felt, the same things as he did long ago on that island – his island.

I was able to find the thoughts and feelings that he had hidden, or lost, between the pages.

I wish I had known these things when he was still alive, these things that he never spoke about. I understand them, and I don’t speak about them either.