It’s a Man’s World

No man wants to be another’s pet, and love can’t free a slave

 
“Where are you going?”

Susan’s face softened but she looked away.

All the women in the neighborhood were dressed in what we use to all “Easter Sunday” clothes; light dresses, bright, Spring colors of sky blues and yellows and whites, some with flower prints with big roses or tulips or daffodils or morning glories or black-eyed susans and all with long, lush green vines wrapping around them. All of them wearing wide-brimmed sun hats, many with scarves tying their hats around their chins. A few wore sunglasses. All had nice big purses, lots of different colors but most of them white, white cloth gloves covering their hands and all of them in either tasteful heels or flats. Nobody was wearing stilettos or CFMs of any kind.

And they gathered in front of my house.

It started with AnElla. I was walking the dog and she came out of her house in her Easter Sunday finest. I waved and she ignored me, walked back into her house then and came out with all her daughters, her granddaughters, her sisters, even her ailing mother-in-law. They were all standing nice and neat and trim and proper in front of her house.

A few minutes later all the other women in the neighborhood came out of their homes and stood in front of their houses. Mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, they looked around, waved at each other, a few looked at the sky – not a cloud to be seen, by the way. Clear sky, bright sun. Clearest I’d seen it in years, really – and one by one then two by two they moseyed over to my house.

Susan came out dressed like all the rest. Sunday is her day to sleep in. I didn’t even know she had those kinds of clothes anymore.

A bus pulled up. An open air bus, a kind of parade or tourist bus with a roof but no windows. The paintjob matched the women’s dresses; blues and yellows and whites and flowers everywhere. No city markings whatsoever.

Women gathered around the bus. Some got in. Susan stood in line with them.

“Where are you going?”

“Don’t worry. It’s okay. You’ll be fine.”

You’ll be fine?

Here’s the thing about Susan: she can’t lie. She never could. Not to me, anyway.

 
“No, come on. Where are you going?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. She looked away. “It’s okay, Paul. I’ll be back soon.”

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Grafton’s Ghost-Child

Even unto the Seventh Generation

 
Grafton turned the knob on his daughter Cloe’s bedroom door so slowly, thankful for the patience that came so naturally to him. The doorknob would sometimes crick and he didn’t want to wake her, just peek in to watch her sleep, make sure she was snug under the covers. Sometimes Amanda would open the window in their daughter’s room to let the night air in and Cloe would curl up into a tight little ball, just her nose exposed and forming a little steam tent.

She was adorable.

His hand turned past the crick, he opened the door slowly. Sure enough, a few icy snowcrystals blew in as he entered and Cloe was beginning her curl into a ball. Like her father, she was patient. It would take about ten minutes before she was done, never waking once. Grafton had watched her do it.

As he entered, Cloe’s Merchant-Ghost looked up. It was sitting in a recliner beside the nightstand next to his daughter’s bed. It was reading a book – Grafton could see it in his hands. It had to be as ancient as the merchant ghost itself – it’s eyes emitting that odd red-yellow light to illuminate the pages. The Merchant-Ghost nodded, its tree-like body and bark-like skin folding as it moved, then went back to its reading.

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Sanctuary

How far will you go to find home?

 
There is a planet on the scanners. It is large and round and red. The sun is yellow and warming, and the planet is in the sun’s life zone. The gravity is slightly stronger than Earth’s. The air is a bit richer, and there is abundant water under the surface.

The red coloring comes from two things. The surface of the planet is covered with red vegetation and their spores are everywhere. The ground is also red, although not with spores but with clay and slate like so faraway Connecticut.

The dog beside me raises his massive head and growls. I scratch behind his ears and his hind legs start thumping the cabin floor. I make him thump in time to songs I sing, switching legs as I go from chorus to lead and back.

“We’ll go down, see if this is the one.”

His ears go up slightly. I wonder how many of the words he understands.

“Take the dog,” my wife said. The cabin has room for me and one more. The taste of her lips is still on mine. The smell of her hair is here before me. I can delight in her touch and feel her sun-warmed and reddened skin.

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Trailer, Bear, and Jaguar

When wildlife respects you, you’re someone to be feared

My writing coach suggested I add a scene to The Augmented Man that demonstrates Trailer’s “alpha-ness” in the woods, basically that he’s the uberpredator and even top predators fear him.

Good assignment.

But Trailer, in the woods among wildlife, isn’t feared in the way my coach wanted me to depict him. Animals in the wild acknowledge each other and little more. They do not threaten unless they are threatened, they do not attack unless there is no other choice. They won’t attack you unless you’re stupid and they are ravenously hungry or diseased.

So I wrote the following because it 1) depicts Trailer’s status in the wild, 2) shows relatively early on that he’s not the monster everybody assumes he is.

And then I pulled it because – even though I like it a lot – it didn’t fit. It added a scene that is demonstrated elsewhere in the book and at a better place in the narrative.

So what to do with it? As I wrote in Ripping Out the Pattern, I’m saving it for a sequel to The Augmented Man.

Meanwhile, here it is. Let me know what you think.
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The Augmented Man -Synopsis

The ultimate battlefield is the human heart

The US government is engaged in a South American war and losing badly. After years of standard and non-standard strategies and tactics failing, the government entertains an often-made suggestion: create supersoldiers. The suggestion is about to be dismissed when (then) Captain James Donaldson adds an outrageous modification: use horribly abused and already traumatized children as the source material. These individuals, Donaldson argues, are already hardened against anything they’ll experience on the battlefield and anything we’ll ask them to do.
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