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  2. Parker Owens

    Sweet Summer

    You and I share these experiences, though our neighborhoods and roofs were different. I’m glad I could bring them back to you, too. Thank you so very much for reading these and letting me know what you thought.Thank you so very much for reading these and letting me know what you thought.
  3. Parker Owens

    Sweet Summer

    I can well imagine your characterization of rain’s interaction with night. But it has been gentle here, though quite persistent. Thanks so much for reading these, and for taking time to comment.
  4. dughlas

    Sweet Summer

    As a child I and several others used to chase lightening bugs in a neighboring lot. Your words brought the happy laughter and squeals of childish delight to mind. Now of a summer's eve I will sometimes sprawl in the grass out back and watching the twinkling dance in the air above and the swoop and swirl of the bats at their nocturnal business. The soft tattoo of raindrops on the old tin roof ... Thank you for stirring these memories.
  5. northie

    Sweet Summer

    I love the idea of rain having a conversation with the night. Round our way, blazing rows might've been a more appropriate description lately.
  6. . Translation of Ad eundem [scil.: Ad Iolam] By Benedetto Varchi, circa 1528[1] Ad eundem [scil.: Ad lolam] Quid petet a puero caste dilectus amato castus amans, si non oscula casta petet? Quidve dabit casto caste dilectus amanti ille puer, si non oscula casta dabit? Basia divino pulcherrime Phaedre Platoni casta dabas, casto quot dabat ille tibi. An non, et Cicero Romanae gloria linguae, Tyronis celebrat suavia casta sui? Tu quoque caste puer tantorum exempla sequutus, accipe Amatori basia, daque tuo. Accipe, daque tuo castissima basia amanti. Dedecet in sancto vilis amore pudor. ------------------------------------------------- Ad eundem "More of the same" How to ask an unsullied boy about pleasure For un-spoilt loving, if his looks look far from unstained? Or then just who might chasten the too-chaste lover, That blessèd boy, returning modest kisses abstained? Oh, beautiful Phaedrus, whose smooches platonic You imagine are fit only for your gravity. Cicero too, Latin's golden tongue, perhaps said Tyrone's undefiled smacks were a boon to modesty? As for you, student exemplar of a young man, Citing pure examples, I'd say take what is in store And return kisses unadorned to your partner, For vile is a modesty too modest to adore. Lorenzo Lenzi by Agnolo Bronzino, 1528 "looks a bit scrappy though, maybe now I can imagine him holding his kisses back from a randy poet, and the poet complaining about it, lol" ------------------------------------------------- [1] For Lorenzo Lenzi [2] “Tyrone” is Marcus Tulles Tiro, the partner of Cicero who saved all of his orations from destruction and published them, at great danger to himself, after the statesman’s murder. As for how deeply Cicero loved his secretary and young protégée, see his love poetry preserved in Pliny the Younger’s epistularum libri decem, "the young man", Book VII, Letter 4. https://books.google.com/books?id=xM0IAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Epistularum+libri+decem+pdf&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjT3LGkhpbgAhVlmK0KHUlJDeQQ6AEIPzAD#v=onepage&q&f=false _
  7. Parker Owens

    Sweet Summer

    Fireflies - and yes, I called them lighting bugs, too - fascinate me. I could spend a whole night watching a field full of them. You are so very kind to comment on these little summer scenes. I'm very grateful.
  8. AC Benus

    Sweet Summer

    I love the metaphorical power inherent in fireflies -- or lightning bugs, as we called them as kids. With just one word, you conjure up so many summertime memories. Same with the sound of rain on a roof, but luckily I still have that here. It's one of the most comforting sounds imaginable. Thank you for writing and posting these
  9. Today
  10. Parker Owens

    Sweet Summer

    Thank you @Valkyrie for your very kind comments on this summer scenes. A night of fireflies is always a delight.
  11. AFBNOW

    Northern Exposure

    It has been a year since we last heard from George. Has he been lost at sea or just frozen in the Baltic? I'm hoping he is frozen, summer is almost here!
  12. Valkyrie

    Sweet Summer

    These are perfect snippets of summer. I especially liked the fireflies as fragments of lightning communicating and the rain engaging the night in conversation. Well done, as always.
  13. This makes me so very sad. It amazes me how awful people can be. I understand people fall out of love, but how can one fall so far away from one's own children?
  14. Fireflies dance with midsummer’s moon in a field of silvered buttercups, like fragments of lightning calling one another in delight to be freed from thunder too grave for warm darkness and romance. Beloved, your name is on my lips in the hours when starlight shines brightest, when sweetest dreams caress consciousness to waking and shadows reconstruct the known world into gentle mornings filled with hope. Gentle rain patters upon the roof engaging night in conversation, bringing neither news nor gossip from east or west, yet sounding to my attentive ear like a thousand whispers of your love.
  15. FanLit

    Chapter 6

    So yes, Tyler’s story prompted me to reread this. Excuse me for rechristening Andy as “Alex” in my previous comment on this chapter, lol.
  16. I've got one for you. My husband makes this one for us, and it's always amazing. There's something fantastic about the things heat and acidity do to the solids in the milk. It turns into these tiny, savory, lemony curds. I thought it sounded so gross at first, but I was happy to be proven wrong. https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chicken-recipes/chicken-in-milk/ EDIT: It's idiotically easy to make. For the amount of effort spent this dish really rewards you.
  17. chris191070

    Chapter 9

    Interesting chapter. Now we know why everyone recognises Spencer, he looks like a camper who went missing.
  18. That man needs a beat down. You're too damn nice...
  19. Azazelion


    “I just don't follow,” Mother stated, for what had to be at least the third time. Meanwhile, I quietly sat in her lap, for the time being, brows knitted together in what was hopefully a small barely notable frown. My stomach felt tight, uncomfortable and heavy, and I couldn’t quite find a word to go with that feeling as she spoke to the doctor. “What do you-” “What i’m trying to say is,” the doctor lamented. “Given that your son is of Royal blood and, given the strength of that blood in his future he will required to...claim someone-” “You mean like dating? Like a girlfriend,” Mom interrupted, voice unsteady. “No, not like that in any way whatsoever” the doctor resumed patiently. “What I'm referring to is the same form of claiming that his father had to do in his life, as well as prior Kings.” “What do you mean by claiming-” “With all due respect, your Highness.” The doctor’s eyebrows were knitted together in frustration as she rubbed the bridge of her nose,“Your child, whether you understand it or not, he will have to claim someone.” Mom sighed deeply, and the doctor leaned forward. “When the time comes, only he will know who he needs to claim and only he will know the process involved in that. If your son, neglects to do so, if he attempts to reject what he is essentially hardwired to do then he will die an excruciatingly painful death, along with the other individual” The doctor took in a deep breath and briefly pointed to me, “It’s rare, extremely rare but your son does have an individual somewhere in this world that he is destined to claim as his own, not sexually, not necessarily. Just someone who is bonded and connected to him on a spiritual level,” the doctor explained. “They may share magic, or maybe it’ll just be a physical boost, there’s no precose way to explain it and even if you were to ask His Imperial Majesty, his answer wouldn’t necessarily clarify things due to the vague nature of your son’s connection. I’m sorry, that I cannot provide you with more information,” The doctor shrugged apologetically. “That's the best explanation I can offer.” She lost me somewhere in there, I stopped being able to understand her words and so, I just sat there quietly, maybe mom would understand and she’d help. Mother was quiet for awhile, lips pursed together. “Well what if he...” she let out a heavy sigh, “There have been times... I mean, he sometimes mentions or talks about people who aren't even there, he'll talk to himself or stare at the wall for hours-” “Your Highness,” the doctor spoke patiently. “I know you're worried. And I know you want the best for your son and his dreams, but in this situation, the best thing you can do, the best thing anyone can do is let your son handle it himself. Like a rite of passage. Children have wild and vivid imaginations, and if you encourage them to see something in nothing, it may be harmful in the long run. If it is a sign of some connection to the person he’s bonded with then it will either show itself or it won't.” I stood up, putting on a feigned smile. “In the meantime, just be there for him when times get hard, do your best as a parent. He's in excellent health, and well-behaved on top of it.” The doctor ruffled my hair, a wide smile on her lips. I didn’t say anything for the rest of the visit and kept my eyes locked onto the floor, even as Mom held back tears, kissed me on the forehead, and took me by the hand. I barely heard her, barely felt the gentle squeeze of her fingers as she leads me back out. I was too busy thinking, sifting through what I knew and what I thought and what I remembered, piece by piece, hoping that it would all fall together. I saw a kid as we were leaving, his eyes hidden, concealed by roaring flame as he spoke. "When the little Prince, meets the Shadowbearer destined to guard Earth, the flames of Hell shall ignite and ash shall overtake the world." My vision grew even hazier. What I saw began to twist into other shapes. The kid is gone, disintegrated, and in his place I saw constantly moving bodies, faces twisted and contorted as my mind shifted back into this plane of reality. With senses dulled, I managed to somehow turn a corner too fast as I ran and slid across the carpet, fabric rippling under my feet as if the thick black threads were that of the fur on the back of an angry cat. It was only due to the years of practice sprinting around the palace that managed to keep me from falling, channeling my stumble into forward momentum, propelling myself around the corner at top speed. Dodging servants and pages left and right. Around the cart, through the noble couple chatting, ahead of the handmaid carrying laundry, all the while throwing out warning and apologies to those I passed by, yelling out “Excuse me!” and “Coming through!” along with the occasional, “Make way!” By now, most of the palace had heard the sound of pounding feet and many had pulled to the side, but apparently, there were still a few who were unfamiliar with my usual morning antics, or more aptly referred to as the carelessness of my Father who had apparently ordained to call upon me, despite the fact that I had only just gotten back to the palace after being at school for almost the entire week and I was missing tests now because of it. I threw open the doors to Father's study without knocking, hands falling to my knees. Bending over, wheezing and coughing, but at least I had arrived on time, barely. “I’m here!” I managed to wheeze out, voice raspy and dry. Father turned from the window he was staring out of, arms folded behind his back. “Azazel, my son,” His voice was calm yet his face displayed that of someone who was, seemingly surprised, his amber eyes almost glowing in the dark. “Why are you so out of breath? You look as if you’ve run a marathon.” “Well the messenger said it was urgent!” I shook my head, closing the door behind me as I took a seat in the plush crimson chair that sat in front of the dark wooden desk. “Yes, well, not so urgent that you have to give yourself heat stroke running across the palace,” Father shook his head, as I poured myself a drink, condensation forming on the outside of the glass. I crossed my legs, folding my hands in my lap as my eyes focused on the almost empty glass of alcohol that sat on Fathers desk. “What’s going on?” He sighed and walked over to the desk, lifting up an envelope, carefully opened, as he waved it back and forth. “Do you know whose crest this is?” He asked, eyes fixated on mine. I tentatively took the letter from his hand and examined the seal. It didn’t take me too long to discern who it belonged to only one family to my knowledge ever put gold leaf in their insignia. “The Valentine dynasty. This letter came from Rome.” “Indeed,” “Is that…is that particularly troubling?” I tilted my head, narrowing my eyes at him. “Demons has been at peace with Rome for twelve years now and there’s been no stirring of hostility on the border.” “You’re correct, it’s not a war that troubles me—at least not yet.” He set his glass down on the desk. “Do you know what happened five days ago, in Rome?” I shook my head. “There was a massive celebration, a feast that lasted three days before and after, an excess of wealth and extravagance, even by my standards. It was a national holiday for six whole days. Their Crown Prince came of age fourteen, five days ago.” “The Crown Prince?" I’d studied the other royal families and politics extensively. Although I had never actually seen an image of the Crown Prince, I was sure that I’d at the very least heard of the unusual magical prowess of their bloodline. I frowned, biting my lip. “Why is the Crown Prince’s birthday cause for alarm?” “This isn’t public knowledge, but on the night of that Ball I took you to, I brokered a peace, a ceasefire with King Aleksander Valentine.” I nodded in response to his statement, I was there, I vaguely remember seeing the two talking at some point. “He offered me something,” “An offer? From a Valentine, the ones who started this war?” “It seemed like an opportunity for peace, to end this decade-long war and unite our nations, in a way. It would strengthen our bonds and heal old wounds.” Nervously I bit at my bottom lip, staring at the now empty glass of alcohol in front of me. “What was the offer?” “A child of Alexander's choice would serve as a loyal servant to my son, the Crown Prince.” Almost immediately I somehow managed to choke on air? Maybe it was my own spit because I ended up thumping my chest with my fist, wheezing and coughing, barely managed to get out. “A Roman and me? With all due respect, just what the Hell were you thinking?” “I was thinking about the future. A future where Rome could be a powerful ally and not a pacified enemy. Think, Azazel. Rome is the only other nation aside from our own that not only could fight with us but is also the only other nation for miles around, it only makes sense to try and broker a peace.” “Yes, but essentially promising a child of nobility in their country or someone from their Royal Family to serve under our unpredictable family? There’s no precedent—nothing like this has ever been attempted before, at least not between two royal families.” I stood up, running my fingers through my hair as my heart rapidly thumped within my chest. “Of course, I am but a humble Crown Prince! I can’t possibly know all the wisdom of your obviously great decision! I mean it’s not like my opinion is important or anything, not like I’m the main one involved here.” “No, no, wait. Everything you said factored into my decision. Even as it was proposed, I had my doubts. But I thought the risk was worth the potential payoff. To be honest, I didn’t believe he’d agree as well. But to my surprise, he told me he had been turning over how to propose some sort of arrangement between our countries himself!” His fists clenched and unclenched as he sighed. “Perhaps I was too trusting.” I sighed, groaning as I tangled my fingers in my hair. “What am I missing? “I waited for a member of the Valentine branch to send me a letter declaring that his chosen child had come of age and was ready to serve. I waited and waited. And finally…” I closed my eyes, lightly hitting my head against the wall. “The Crown Prince” Father shook his head, “That can’t be right, even to achieve peace, King Caleb would never bargain away the famous heir to the throne. He’s—well, the rumor goes that he’s been personally groomed to be the next King. They say his magic is the most powerful in their family in centuries. He’s far too precious to be given to the age-old enemy of Rome, especially me, the next Prince. That would...imply either a secondary plan or him giving up the heir to one of their eldest enemies.” “My thoughts exactly, so as it turns out they plan on gifting us a member of their family that is true but, that member is still for all intents and purposes outcasted by the main branch of Royalty. Regardless, there's something wrong with this picture, but I can’t put my finger on what it is. And I can’t refuse the offer since he is a member of their Royal Family and I accepted the idea initially. The Valentine’s said it was only fitting to give royalty in exchange for those made to serve royalty, in reference to them killing our previous King, my Father and your Grandfather but…but it’s too much. Something is wrong.” “What will you do? You can’t accept the offer and you can’t reject it. You’ve been trapped in a corner and kept in the dark while you’re at it.” “I have a plan,” He slid into his chair, grinning as he focused his attention on me. “And you are the cornerstone of that plan as you can no doubt assume.” “Uhm... Excuse me what?” I opened my eyes, tilting my head as I stared at him. “I need you to spy and derive the nature of Valentine’s plot.” My words, or attempts to form words turned into an incoherent mess of babbling syllables and mumbled sounds as he continued. “You will do well.” “Me?” I finally managed to squeak out, through a cracking voice. “Entrust me with your plan?” “Well, I certainly can’t spy on the Young boy and, even if I could, I can’t be away from things too long if the Valentine’s intend to try something. And given that this is Rome we’re dealing with, I can’t rule out the possibility that there are some of mine in league with him. You are the only one I can put my full trust in.” “But…” He stood up from his chair, taking a few slow steps towards me as his hand clasped around my shoulder, squeezing gently. “You are my heir and an esteemed member of their Royal family will be directly serving you, so do be on your best behavior. You were bred for this life, after all. I let out a loud, exasperated sigh as I bit my tongue. “Fine," “As I expected. He will be joining an envoy carrying birthday gifts for you. Among those, there will be gold, jewels, paintings, wines and fruits from our fertile country, dancers, and…a personal servant.” My heart sank in my chest as the realization finally hit me. “He’s not a dancer, is he?” “I talked you up quite a bit in my last letter, but getting the servitude of someone who's aligned with another nation may be difficult. He won’t lay a hand on you, I assure you, I made sure to stress how important you were. To harm a Prince would be a direct insult to our country itself. Not even the King himself would risk that.” “I know, I know…fine.” “Good. But what is of the utmost importance is that you do not tell anyone. You may tell those you trust most, but do not give them unnecessary information. This information must be kept between as few people as possible.” “Of course,” “Once he arrives, during that week, The attendees will brief him on the details of the Dragnoria royal family and our Royal Palace. He should know it inside out.” I nodded, leaning against a nearby wall as I stuffed my hands into my pockets, nails pressing into the thin lining of them, subsequently digging into my thighs. “Now off with you, then, get some rest. Think it over. I know it’s a lot to spring on you at once, especially with your new servant and all that, I’ll try to make things easier on you if I’m able to, but remember—the fate of Hell may very well rest in your hands… along with the lives of those you hold dear. Remember their safety depends on your ability to play your role, give the impression of a powerful Prince and one befitting my son and all should be well." Regardless of what he may have thought, the idea of this whole arrangement still didn't exactly sit well with me and even if this person was a member of the royal family, knowing Rome’s current King, he would still use this as a perfect opportunity to start another war. Then again, it's not like I could really ignore the blatant threat to my friends that my own disobedience posed. It looks like both the King and myself were trapped in this together, and he needed me to play my part perfectly. Night came quicker than I expected, and in all honesty, it was a blessing in disguise. I mean, sure, the palace and hallways were still packed to the brim with my “invisible” friends, but still, they at least didn’t look at me like some kind of monster, (Well, they still did but at least the glaring was mutual). My only real concern, though, had always been the same for as long as I could remember, my room in the palace, seemed entirely empty, devoid of the invisible people, devoid of life in their entirety like it was all just drained away, instead replaced by a cold presence. Regardless though, I unceremoniously flopped down onto a mound of soft, plush cushions and sheets on my bed, which still felt just as good as ever and despite my earlier reservations, all the questions and mental planning I should’ve been doing, sleep took hold of me much sooner than even I anticipated, the way my eyelids seemingly forced themselves shut without my say-so and the weighted, lethargic feeling of my body. This was undoubtedly going to be a long week and with the new arrivals, the staff was going to be busy, sifting through gifts and checking the servants to ensure that there are no spies, along with attempting to train them as well. Essentially, it meant that nobody was going to get a break in here, not for a long while. Father had to manage diplomatic relations, which meant that I would be managing the affairs of our people along with the new members of my house. Yeah, this is going to be a headache and a half.
  20. 19 February 2016 Dear C, How can one sentence make someone so upset??? I received an email from you (3rd one in total) and it consists of one line: to put you on a visitors list. No 'hello', no 'how are you' no nothing. It made me so upset that Jose had to call DJ to my cell to calm me down. How stupid I am? My stupidity is like a fucking endless river! DJ sat on my bed and tried to explain things to me, but I was just crying there. He told me that I should allow myself to see you. Now what? You want to come and see me? To trash me even more, so you can happily leave through the main door and leave me here to rot even more? Is this your idea of visiting me? Your new idea of humiliating me?And my brain is telling me that you can just fuck yourself, but my heart wants nothing more but to see you, hold your hand, look into your eyes...DJ was trying to convince me that I should be ready to see you even after everything that has happened to us, that I should think that perhaps you missed me and just wanted to see if I was OK. Seriously? You missed me? Funny that. Anyway, he thinks we owe an honest conversation to one another and it should be done face to face.I talked to my mum and I told her about your email. She got very worried. She told me that if I am not ready I shouldn't see you, although her friend Ania thinks otherwise.To me, the only logical explanation is that you want to see me suffer with your own eyes.I am so confused. Lost. David asked me yesterday if I had already placed the visit request form for you to be able to see me, but I still have it with me. I filled it in, but had no courage to drop it in a request box downstairs. I should do it tomorrow I think. And once I get the positive reply I will send you a real letter to inform you about it. I think I will. Now on the other hand I wonder how will you get here? You don't drive. And it's a long way from London. Are you even healthy enough to travel? Will you be OK with this prison environment?Guards, dogs, guns, metal bars, constant searches? And if you are only coming here to cause me more pain, please save me from it. I can't write anymore. Forever yours, Sebastian
  21. To say that I was confused would have been an understatement. Spencer looked like he was about to cry. First Bowden had reacted strangely to him and now this. He was not having a very welcoming day. Mrs Adams returned from the back room dragging Mr Adams along with her. She pointed at Spencer. He looked confused for a moment and then his eyes went wide with wonder. “Well I’ll be. It does look like him Bethany.” “Looks like who?” Smits voice gave away both our confusion and frustration. “Oh lord, what was his name.” Mr Adams scrunched his face up as he thought. Spencer looked at me questioningly and I simply shrugged. “Anthony. His name was Anthony Clayton.” Mrs Adams informed us. She and her husband were still looking at Spencer in amazement. “And who was Anthony Clayton.” Smits asked the obvious question for us. “He was the counselor that disappeared all those years back.” Mrs Adams seemed surprised that we had to ask. “You boys never heard about that?” Mr Adams asked. “No.” Smits sounded surprised that he hadn’t heard about it. They all turned to me, expecting that perhaps Bowden had mentioned something about it to me. I shook my head to let them know that I was in the dark just as much as they were. “Must have been almost thirty years ago now.” Mrs Adams shook her head as she remembered. “Such a shame. Boy going missing like that.” “Whole town looked for him for weeks.” Mr Adams added. “Never found a trace of that poor lad.” “So that is why Bowden freaked out when he saw you.” Lukas said it apparently trying to make Spencer feel better. The look on Spencer’s face however made if fairly clear that he wasn’t crazy about being mistaken for a boy who disappeared. “What happened to him?” Smits asked, apparently not aware that Anthony wouldn’t be ‘missing’ if they knew what happened to him. “Nobody knows for sure. The investigators found out that he had been sneaking out of the camp at night. They suspected that he was sneaking out to visit one of the local girls.” Mrs Adams blushed at the thought. “Police questioned every girl who lived within walking distance of the place. Nobody admitted to knowing anything though.” Mr Adams went on, “Folks just figured that the gals father wised up to what was going on and tried to teach the boy a lesson. Might have gotten carried away and accidentally killed the lad.” “He was such a sweet boy too.” Mrs Adams teared up slightly. “You knew him?” I asked. “Well of course, he came in here every Sunday for ice cream just like you boys do.” She began to scoop ice cream for Lukas. “You’re going to get a lot of looks if you walk around town son.” Mr Adams informed him. “His name is Aaron Spencer.” I told them. “Pleasure to meet you Aaron.” Mr Adams gave him a smile. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too, although I must admit that I am a little uneasy about this whole thing.” Spencer still looked confused. “It’s those eyes dear. I’ve only seen two sets of eyes like that in my whole life.” Mrs Adams handed Lucas his cone and began to scoop Powers his. “Maybe I should start wearing my sunglasses.” He joked. “Might not be a bad idea if you don’t want people to mistake you for him.” Mr Adams offered. Mrs Adams handed Powers his ice cream and turned to us. “Now what would you two like?” “I’ll have my usual, ma’am.” I gave her a smile. Spencer seemed too overwhelmed to make up his mind, “I’ll just have his usual too.” He gave me a weak smile. She handed us our mint chocolate chip cones and we bid them farewell and headed out into the afternoon sun. The town was a small sleepy one. Even though it was a beautiful afternoon, only a handful of people were out and about. “Anyone need anything from the general store?” I inquired as we walked past it. “Hey Powers, they might have a blow up girlfriend for you.” Smits nudged him. “Wow, that really hurts coming from someone who fucks cars.” Powers rolled his eyes at him. We meandered to the central square. It was a small grassy area with a few trees and picnic tables. There was a plaque commemorating those who lost their lives in WWII. I sat down and Lukas sat next to me, “That was kinda weird huh?” “Yeah, at least we know why Bowden has been acting so strange today though.” I could see that Spencer was somewhat relieved to find that it wasn’t something he had done that was causing Bowden’s reaction. “It’s those damned eyes dude. They are so weird.” Smits was sitting next to Spencer. Spencer turned to look at Smits. Smits stared at his eyes for what seemed like a small eternity. I heard him say just above a whisper, “They’re really cool.” Spencer smiled, “Thanks.” “Kes?” Powers gave me a little nudge. “Yeah?” “Is Bowden trying to get you to run the place next year?” he asked timidly. “Yeah.” “Are you gonna?” “I dunno dude. It’s a fairly big commitment.” “Yeah, but you enjoy it don’t you?” “Yeah.” “You’d be a fool to pass up on an opportunity like that.” He seemed somewhat embarrassed for having called me a fool. “I know.” “I’d love to run this place. It’s been such a big part of my life.” He got that reminiscent look in his eyes. “Remember that time you and Dennis caught me sneaking candy out of the pantry?” Dennis had been the head counselor two years ago. Powers had been nominated by his bunkmates to go steal a stack of chocolate bars from the pantry one night. I had been going over some paperwork with Dennis that night and we happened to walk into the dining hall just as Powers was about to make his exit. I could still picture the look of horror that was on his face when he saw us. He thought for sure that we were going to kick him out of the camp for good. Instead, Dennis sent him back to the bunk house with one candy bar. “Make sure you eat it yourself and don’t give any to the other guys.” He added, “That will teach them to get someone else to do their dirty work for them.” The camp had always had a problem with the older campers getting the younger campers to do their dirty work. The younger campers almost always went along to gain the respect of the elders. Dennis had realized by the look on Power’s face that he would never try to steal candy again, so why punish him for something that was mainly the older boys fault? It made sense to me after he explained it to me that night. Bowden was a world unto itself, a world that had been offered to me. “So do you have any normal people hobbies?” I heard Smits ask. We all turned to look at Spencer. “You mean other than going on night-time raids into Serbia and shooting down MiGs?” “Yeah.” I could tell that he was getting a kick out of how impressed everyone was with him earlier. “I draw, does that count?” “Yeah, what do you draw?” I asked. “People mostly.” “That’s cool, you’ll have to draw me sometime.” I offered. Not to be outdone by me, Smits added, “Yeah me too.” “No problem.” A car load of girls drove by slowly and honked its horn. The occupants waved and blew us kisses. “Hello ladies.” Smits hollered. They giggled and sped off. “We aren’t very popular in this town. They all seem to think that we are a bunch of sex starved beasts that live in the woods.” I gave Smits a stern look and he frowned apologetically. “They seem to think that we only come into town to seduce their daughters.” I explained to Spencer. “And after what Mr and Mrs Adams told us, I guess I can see why they might think that.” Lukas added. “Well you won’t have to worry about me.” Spencer said matter-of-factly. “Yeah, we’re just worried about Smits.” Lukas shot him a glance. “Jeez guys, I’m sorry.” In his defense he added, “I just was being polite and saying hello to them.” Not even he bought the excuse so he went back to concentrating on his ice cream. The sun was beginning to set behind the buildings. I stood up to walk back to the car and the gang followed my lead. Smits walked up beside Lukas and whispered in his ear. Lukas erupted in laughter and they were instantly lost in some shared memory. “Where is the post office at?” Spencer asked me. “I still have to mail that thing home.” “It’s closed for the night I am guessing. I can just lock it up in the office safe for you if that’s alright.” “Yeah that would be fine. I’m really sorry about it.” “No worries.” “You wanna drive back?” he asked me. “I would, but I’m not very good at driving a stick.” I admitted. “I could teach you.” “Maybe some time when we don’t have the goof troop with us.” I nodded over my shoulder and he understood. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of Smits. “I learned how to drive a stick this summer.” Powers said proudly. “You wanna drive?” Spencer asked. “Really?” “Sure, why not?” Spencer looked to me for approval and I shrugged ‘why not’. He tossed Powers the keys. I climbed in the back. “You can have the front, just in case.” As soon as Smits saw what was happening he let out a groan. “Oh great, if I had known he was driving I would have brought a crash helmet.” I gave him a stern look and he added, “Just kidding dude.” We all put on our seatbelts and Smits crossed himself which got a chuckle out of Lukas. Powers turned the Jeep on and struggled to get it into reverse. “Sometimes it’s finicky.” Spencer put his hand over Powers and jiggled the stick shift then moved it smoothly into reverse. Powers made a mental note and nodded. We backed out and made a somewhat lurching start down the road. “First is a little more aggressive in this than in a car, because it is designed for off-roading, so you have to ease into it.” Again Powers nodded. As we made our way out of the town and back toward the camp Lukas leaned over and whispered into my ear, “He is a good teacher.” I nodded, I had been watching him too. He did an impressive job of explaining everything to Powers without making him feel like an idiot. Powers pulled into the parking lot, obviously proud of his accomplishment. We all climbed out and Spencer grabbed the training gun out of his glove box and handed it to me. I nodded a thank you. “How exactly do you disarm someone?” Smits asked. “It’s fairly simple really.” “Show me.” “If it's alright with Kes.” Spencer looked to me for approval. “Will Smits get hurt?” “Nope.” “That’s unfortunate.” I smiled and tossed Smits the gun. He was standing a few feet from Spencer. He caught it and brought it up to point at Spencer’s chest. Before he even knew what was happening, Spencer stepped in, grabbed his arm, and in one swift motion Smits was on the ground in an arm bar. Spencer now had the gun and pointed it at Smits. Lukas and Powers were laughing their asses off. I was trying hard not to. It wasn’t often that Smits got bested. “I wasn’t ready.” Smits offered meekly. “Oh my bad.” Spencer grinned at me and helped Smits to his feet. He handed him the gun and stepped back. Smits looked at us slightly embarrassed and gauged the distance between himself and Spencer. He took a giant step backward and again brought the gun up. Again, before he had time to think, Spencer quickly shifted to his left. Smits began to move the gun in that direction to cover him, but he suddenly realized that Spencer had only faked left and was now going right. He tried to correct, but before he could get the gun back on Spencer, a solid roundhouse knocked the gun cleanly from his hand. He stared in disbelief at the gun flying away from him and again was suddenly on the ground in an arm bar. Once again laughter erupted. Spencer helped Smits up and dusted off his back. “How the hell did you drop me that quick without hurting me?” Smits was truly in awe. “Neat move isn’t it.” “Yeah, can you teach it to me?” “Nope.” Spencer shot me a smile as he said it. “I see how it is, you two are in cahoots.” He marched off down the path with what little dignity he had left. Powers walked up and shook Spencer’s hand, “You’re my hero.” “Thanks I guess?” Spencer didn’t know what to say. “You two want to go set up the bonfire?” I directed the question to Lukas and Powers. Both of them instantly realized I wanted some alone time with Spencer and they nodded and trotted off down the trail. Spencer realized that he was in the doghouse and he tossed me the gun. I jokingly said, “Now don’t make me use this on you.” “Not that it would do you any good.” His voice was humorous when he said it, but I couldn’t help but realize the truth in his statement. Even with a firearm I wouldn’t be able to stop him if I needed to. The thought sent a shiver up my spine. I began walking down the path and he walked along beside me.
  22. That’s a great tip, because I had no clue there was a difference. I like to eat raw pepper as a snack or in a salad, so I’ll keep this in mind next time I buy them.
  23. Kkh

    Chapter 17

    Boy, Magda's death is going to be painful to say the least, and she has no Gabriel to save her from Julian. I only pray to God that Julian shows her the most mercy he can — wait, did i say most? I meant least, sorry
  24. I’ve followed this fondly from the beginning. Thank you! I’m looking forward to seeing what’s up next!
  25. nothric

    Chapter 8

    So glad you're enjoying it! 😁
  26. Parker Owens


    That’s an amazing sky; almost like a Van Gogh. How many people looked up an noticed, I wonder?
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