Category Archives: my stories

excerpt from chap 5 – Clash of Empires

Liam awoke to the sound of thunder and Liza preparing porridge for their breakfast.  That he had been asleep surprised him as he had not slept for almost three days, the sight of Orenda tied to that tree haunted his dreams still as did the sound of her screams as she cried out to him.  Daniel and Henry were already awake and making ready to begin today’s trek to Donehogawa’s camp on Mahoning Creek.  Teeyeehogrow and Pierre had risen before dawn and went back tracking to see if anyone was in pursuit.  They had gone about two miles and were standing on the top of a hill looking down at a troop of French about a mile distant preparing to break camp.  ‘Best to warn the others and hasten our pace,’ said Pierre.  Teeyeehogrow nodded in agreement and replied, ‘We don’t know for sure they are after us though I suspect they are and there’s little chance they won’t find our tracks.’  They returned to where they had tethered their mounts and had to soothe the trembling horses as a blast of thunder and flash of lightning pierced the early morning quiet.  Another sudden clap of thunder brought with it a pelting rain that soaked them to the bones as they made their way back to camp.  ‘The beckoning call of the rising sun,’ spoke Pierre, ‘the breath of promise on the early morning breeze.  Dawn is God’s blessing to man and beast, though it seems to be an off day for the almighty.  I suppose even God enjoys a bit of variety.’  Teeyeehogrow slapped Pierre on the back and chuckled, ‘more likely he’s just pissed about something.’  ‘My friend, you are quite probably truer to the mark,’ replied Pierre.

With the news that they were probably being tracked by the French, Liam and Daniel decided they would take a position a few miles behind the others as they rode, keeping a watchful eye on their pursuers.  By mid-morning the storm had fled eastward and now the sun was beginning the drying out process as steam rose from the horse’s flanks and the ground was enveloped in a swirling mist.  Birdsong now replaced the staccato rhythm of the rain.    This was the third day after leaving Fort Necessity and they were pretty sure they could reach the Mohawk camp on Mahoning Creek by nightfall if they pushed their mounts a little harder.  As they crested a hill they found themselves looking down at the creek but could not see the Mohawk camp and were not sure which direction they should take once they crossed the Mahoning.  The sound of hoof beats from behind had them reaching for their weapons but as Daniel came into view they relaxed and dismounted.  He came to a halt, the suddenness of his stopping sending up a spray of dirt and leaves.  ‘We’ve got trouble,’ he started, ‘the French have split their pursuit and now half of them are heading down to the creek to keep us from crossing while the rest drive us into it.  Liam and I will hold them back for as long as we can but you need to make haste across the water.’  Teeyeehogrow motioned with his hand to point out the fact that there was already a group of French getting into position for the ambush at the water’s edge.

Lieutenant LeFurge positioned the six men with him behind a scattering of boulders and fallen trees.  ‘We have them now,’ he murmured to himself as he slid his saber in and out of its scabbard, willing himself to not be nervous about his first real taste of battle and there was no way he was going to obey his orders to the letter.  ‘No one fires until I give the command,’ he ordered, ‘shoot to kill but spare the woman, she’ll make a fine gift to our Shawnee friends.’

Wahta and Deganawidah were returning to the Mohawk encampment from a hunting trip and from the trees noticed the French across the creek setting up for what appeared to be an ambush.  They set down the deer they were carrying and crept to the creek bank to see if they could be of help to whoever the French were after.  The sounds of gunfire from the hill in the distance drew their attention but they still could not make out who it was.

‘We can’t take on both groups, there are too many,’ said Daniel, ‘Pierre, go get Liam.  We’ll meet the group behind us from here.  We’ll have the advantage of being uphill with enough cover to protect us.  Liza, I know you’re a good shot but for now I need you to reload our muskets.  We have two extras so we should be able to keep up a continuous fire and no doubt Liam will be using his bow as well as his musket.’

Liam and Pierre rode back to the others and took up positions behind the trees just as the first of the French came riding up the slope.  They dismounted quickly as Liam let fly and struck one the horses with an arrow in the shoulder causing it to rear and throw its rider.  Daniel and the others then opened up with musket fire taking down two in the first volley.  The remaining three returned fire but Liam and the rest were too well sheltered for any clean hits and when they reloaded and stood to fire again they were met with another volley wounding two more of the French troops.  Setting his musket down and holding his palms outward, the lone remaining Frenchman helped his wounded comrades onto their horses and took off back the way they came.  ‘Looks as though we won’t have to worry about that group,’ said Daniel, ‘How do we deal with those in the rocks below?’  It was then that Wahta recognized Liam and shouted while he drew back his bow and released an arrow, striking one of the surprised French in the back, the force of the arrow causing him to stumble and fall into the creek, ‘Snake slayer my brother, let us meet our foes together.’  At the sound of his voice and seeing one of his troopers floating away, LeFurge turned to see two Mohawk braves shooting from across the creek.  He barely had time to duck as an arrow whizzed by his ear.  Taking advantage of the changing situation, Liam, Daniel, Henry, Liza and Teeyeehogrow charged down the hill, muskets at the ready and firing into the rocks.  There wasn’t much chance of hitting anyone from the back of a charging horse but it kept the French pinned down as they took fire from front and rear.  Thirty yards from the French Liam and the others veered off to the right and plunged into the creek while Wahta and Deganawidah kept up their fire killing one more of the French and wounding LeFurge.  Once his friends were safely across, Wahta stopped shooting and headed up to meet them in the trees.

With a smile almost as broad as his shoulders Wahta embraced Liam, ‘It does my heart good to see you again brother.’  ‘Not as much as I am to see you.  We were in some trouble and the outcome would have most likely been different without your timely involvement.  How far is it to Donehogawa’s camp?  I fear our horses are sorely tired as are we.’  ‘We will be there before the sun sets and then we will feast on venison and talk late into the night,’ replied Wahta.

Lieutenant LeFurge, his right thigh bandaged and in some pain seethed at the thought that in his first engagement he was so thoroughly routed and wounded on top of it.  All that and he didn’t even fire his musket once, so complete was the surprise attack from across the creek.  His already smoldering hatred for the English was now raging into an inferno of revenge especially at the expense of these uncultured backwoodsmen and that bastard Colonel Washington for allowing them to leave the fort.

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Hoovers 2015 Myrtle Beach

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This is a rambling account of our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, SC.  I have entitled each section with a song title or a line from a song.

Growing Older and Tenser With the Times[1]

Ocho and his gang of ever increasing in age hackers of the sacred turf have once again escaped the cruel and bitter bonds of winter.  A winter that was going along nicely until February and then all meteorological hell broke loose and the leaden skies and howling winds buried New England.  A winter that saw poor Ocho climbing out onto his deck through the removed lower window of the door in order to clear off the five foot deep ‘freshly fallen silent shroud of snow’[2].  A winter that saw poor Ocho hanging out of a third floor window in a desperate attempt to clear the two foot deep swath of ice and snow off the roof before it crashed down on a poor helpless vehicle in the driveway below.  A winter that saw a large chunk of the aforementioned collection of ice and snow on the roof, crash down on the wife’s lease car causing multiple contusions, bruises and the decapitation of the passenger side mirror thus prompting the aforementioned hanging out of the window.  All of the Hoovers have similar stories of woe, exasperation and deprivation.  All except Jimmy Two Birds who has retired and now calls Punta Gorda, FL as his home, the fat bastard. J

Another result of winter in New England, though this is not erratic like the fickle patterns of meteorological mayhem, this happens every year.  We do not get much golf played, say after Halloween, so by this time of the year we are salivating at the thought we will be teeing it up again.  While we are suffering from this environmentally enforced dormancy we get periodic emails from Jimmy Two Birds about all the golf he is playing, how many pars he averages, in general how much he is improving, the fat bastard.  J

All Strung Out from the Road[3]

It was an epic almost Magellan like trek, this solo drive from Providence RI. to Myrtle Beach, SC.  At 06:00 Gray Wolf pulled onto I-95 south, eager to stretch his legs on this 1050 mile jaunt.  The route chosen will avoid the nightmarish travel corridor of New York City to DC and the attendant dollars spent in tolls on The Jersey Turnpike.  Instead, Ocho will wend his way out of New England via I-84 as it travels through land formerly occupied and or used by the Delaware, Huron, Mohawk and others.  Ocho pauses for a few minutes to refuel and to grab a cup of mediocre yet necessary coffee to stave off the effects of being up all night at work as there are many miles yet to go.

Near the blood soaked hills and fields of Gettysburg a foursome walks a golf course fairway now cleared of snow renewing Ocho’s energy level; an anticipatory foreshadowing of the week ahead.  The Mason-Dixon Line looms just a few miles ahead, one of the landmarks/milestones that Ocho uses as another means of energy revitalization.  Not only are these sights important in terms of how far is left yet to travel but they also stir up the historical thought process that inevitably comes to the forefront of Ocho’s mind.  The more prominent milestones include the rivers, Susquehanna, Hudson, Potomac and James.  Formidable obstacles all and makes me wonder in awe at the hardiness of our pioneer forebears.  Imagine the sheer effort needed to cross those rivers and the countless smaller rivers and creeks, the effort needed to climb and descend numerous hills.  Not to mention that those game trails they followed weren’t exactly Eisenhower Interstates.

I-81 south runs through an area rich in history.  It seems every exit leads to a Civil War battlefield, not that that is surprising as the Shenandoah Valley was the bread basket of The Confederacy and both sides fought to control it.  General Philip Sheridan greatly hastened the end of the war by destroying Shenandoah.  It’s amazing that this is the kind of stuff that filters through Ocho’s mind as he drives, that and the hope that there’s a rest stop soon.  Ocho and Gray Wolf need another nap.

Twenty-five hours later, 1050 miles, half a dozen cups of coffee and numerous stops to recycle said coffee and to take naps, I arrive at Jimmy Two Birds timeshare.  We are scheduled to tee off in a couple hours but it is one of those rare occasions when I am glad it is raining.  Gray Wolf and I are just a tad worn out.  J

 

 

Won’t Get Fooled Again[4]

In an effort to add a little excitement and the chance to win a sleeve of golf balls, Jimmy Two Birds instituted a Par 3 contest.  You win a sleeve if you get a par on a Par 3.  The rest of us protested that no one would win on account of our self-acknowledged ineptitude but Jimmy Two Birds persisted and thus those are the rules.  Today’s round was the first one played in about 4 months for Joey, Bob and Rick and the first one played in about 4 days for Jimmy Two Birds.  Jimmy Two Birds won a sleeve of balls today, the Fat Bastard.

The teams having been chosen in a random fashion, for today’s golf match are Jimmy/Rick vs Bob/Joey.  A pairing that elicited an immediate, ‘We’re gonna kick their ass!’ comment from Rick who then went out and shot a front nine 57 thus winning a sleeve of Ram balls for his excellence in futility.  As to the arse kicking, Bob/Joey put up a valiant yet vain effort losing 9-7, although Joey did distinguish himself by taking individual honors for the day harking back to the year Joey won our most prestigious award, The Harry A.  A feat so astounding that even to this day no one believes it actually happened.

Scenes from an Italian Restaurant[5]

Some of our more memorable moments take place at the various eateries we frequent while in Myrtle.  Last night at the Texas Roadhouse, for example, we simply reinforced the notion that we are losing our mental edge.  The tallying up of the bill proved to be an exercise of mathematical futility.  Determining that $35 was needed from 4 people because 130/4=35.  No one questioned that figure and we ended up $10 over what we needed.  With no immediate solution as to why the discrepancy, Joey, out of kindness, handed the extra $10 to Ocho.  The problem gnawed at Ocho on the drive back to the condo so he whipped out the calculator on his smart phone and lo and behold, 130/4=32.50.  Mystery solved and a time to celebrate so Ocho used the $10 and bought beer.

I’m Just a Substitute for Another Guy[6]

As has been the case the past few years Ocho’s financial woes have relegated him to the position of a stand by substitute golfer; not unlike some alternate on the PGA Tour waiting on somebody to drop out of a tournament.  I have to be ready at a moment’s notice in case one of the aging Hoovers can’t shake out the kinks from the prior day no matter how long they hog the limited hot water in the condo.

There are, I think, two prevailing theories as to why my fellow Hoovers insist that I come to Myrtle despite my monetary limitations.  Theory #1 is that they cannot do without my pleasant demeanor and witty repartee.  Theory #2 is they only care about not having to drag their clubs through airports and pay a small fortune to have them flown here.  Your guess is as good as mine as to which one is true.  J

Day number three and the call for a relief golfer has been made and Ocho is making his way in from the bullpen.  Now mind you the last two days were bathed in glorious sunshine and near 80 degrees.  Today is cloudy and only reaching the high 50’s.  Jimmy Two Birds is a no go for today’s round, the Fat Bastard.

Two days in a row for the relief golfer as JTB is once again hors de combat with a balky knee.  I feel bad every time I lace up my golf shoes at the expense of one of my fellow Hoovers, but only for a moment.  J

Day number five and for the first time ever in the annals of Hoover history a Hoover pulled himself out of a round halfway through.  JTB called ‘no mas’ after nine holes for the simple reason he was having no fun and was in danger of throwing his clubs into a gator infested pond.  Fortunately the relief golfer was at the course and took over for the distraught and frustrated Jimmy.  Unfortunately the relief golfer had to use Jimmy’s clubs and they weren’t any kinder to him than they were for Jimmy and almost ended up in the gator infested pond anyway.

 

Don’t Fear the Reaper[7]

For some reason, probably the onset of our advancing years and the aches, pains and medications needed, we had a jocular discussion on death and how we wanted our remains taken care of.  Jimmy mentioned having his ashes scattered over many of his favorite golf courses in Myrtle Beach but all I could imagine was a Big Lebowski type mishap.  A sudden gust of wind and Jimmy is scattered all over those officiating the event.  I came up with a couple possibilities for my epitaph … ‘All things considered, I’d rather be putting for birdie’… or (and this is a reference to my hard of hearing condition), ‘You can say anything you want about me, I won’t hear you anyway.’

Boring Stories of Glory Days[8]

I have been fortunate in my life to have two distinct groups of close friends.  The guys (and later the girls) I grew up with are once again a part of my life after nearly 40 years of no or very limited contact.  We have an annual reunion, this year being the 4th and those few days are filled with silliness and the chance to relive our glory days as young athletes.  We have played basketball & football.  We went bowling and visited the batting cages.  We recount our prowess with clear minds with no thought of hyperbole as we fail miserably to be what we used to be but laughing our arse off nonetheless.  We even have our own Hall of Fame of which we are all members and which we named The Moron Hall of Fame in honor of the fact that we actually made it to adulthood mostly unscathed and without criminal records.

That brings me to the group that sustains me in the ‘back nine’ of my life, The Hoovers.  For those who are not familiar with the history of the name we chose a brief digression.  It was somewhere on a golf course on Cape Cod.  We had just hit four of the more miserable tee shots in the history of golf.  As we watched the fourth one sail off to a place a golf ball ought not to visit, Jimmy Two Birds uttered these words, ‘We’re like a bunch of Hoover vacuum cleaners, and we can’t suck enough.’  Thus the name of the group was born along with our motto.  Since then we have traversed many fine fairways and even more not so fine areas of golf courses scattered throughout this great country of ours.  The main point of our exercise in futility is not so much trying to improve as that ship has sailed but to have more fun than should be allowed.  I would really like at some point to mike all of us for a round as there would be some great material to cobble together in a story.   So here’s to my buddies The Hoovers:  Joe Martin, Jimmy Two Birds Ouellette, Bob Svirsky, Loring Mackey and Rick Lobsitz.  May your balls be many and your strokes be few.  J

 

Every Day is a Winding Road[9]

Every nook and cranny of Gray Wolf is stuffed with the flotsam, jetsam and the necessary golf accoutrements needing to be returned to the normal habitat of our four intrepid Hoovers who must now sadly depart for the frozen wasteland of New England.   Rick and Bob are flying home from Charleston, SC while Joey opted to only fly to Myrtle and drive back with me.  Jimmy, of course, is driving back to Punta Gorda, FL where it is not a frozen wasteland, the fat bastard.  Included in the flotsam is Joey’s rather large suitcase that was not part of what Ocho brought down to SC.  Some creative packing was involved to accommodate it so as to leave room for Joey too.  It would have been a shame to have to strap Joey to the roof for the 1050 mile trek home.

On the road at 5:00 a.m. feeling the usual pangs of remorse that the week is already over, that the daily joy of camaraderie is once again relegated to memory and in my case to the written word.  However, those thoughts need to be suppressed in order to survive the long, long way home.  So with a stoical mindset Gray Wolf springs to life and we head home.  Nineteen hours later Joey is safely ensconced in his own bed and 15 minutes later Gray Wolf is safely at rest in his own driveway.  The trip home is mostly without incident.  The only traffic encountered came, naturally, when we got on the Mass Pike; a kind of welcome home committee.  Until next year, same time, same place.

[1][1] Paraphrased line from Bruce Cockburn’s ‘How I Spent My Fall Vacation

[2] Paul Simon I Am a Rock

[3] Bob Seger ‘Turn the Page’

[4] Pete Townsend ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’

[5] Billy Joel ‘Scenes From an Italian Restaurant’

[6] Pete Townsend ‘Substitute’

[7] Donald(Buck Dharma)Roeser –Blue Oyster Cult ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’

[8] Bruce Springsteen ‘Glory Days’

[9] Sheryl Crow, Jeff Trott, Brian MacLeod ‘Everyday is a Winding Road’

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Myrtle Beach 2015 – an excerpt

Growing Older and Tenser With the Times[1]

Ocho and his gang of ever increasing in age hackers of the sacred turf have once again escaped the cruel and bitter bonds of winter.  A winter that was going along nicely until February and then all meteorological hell broke loose and the leaden skies and howling winds buried New England.  A winter that saw poor Ocho climbing out onto his deck through the removed lower window of the door in order to clear off the five foot deep ‘freshly fallen silent shroud of snow’.  A winter that saw poor Ocho hanging out of a third floor window in a desperate attempt to clear the two foot deep swath of ice and snow off the roof before it crashed down on a poor helpless vehicle in the driveway below.  A winter that saw a large chunk of the aforementioned collection of ice and snow on the roof, crash down on the wife’s lease car causing multiple contusions, bruises and the decapitation of the passenger side mirror thus prompting the aforementioned hanging out of the window.  All of the Hoovers have similar stories of woe, exasperation and deprivation.  All except Jimmy Two Birds who has retired and now calls Punta Gorda, FL as his home, the fat bastard.

Another result of winter in New England, though this is not erratic like the fickle patterns of meteorological mayhem, this happens every year.  We do not get much golf played, say after Halloween, so by this time of the year we are salivating at the thought we will be teeing it up again.  While we are suffering from this environmentally enforced dormancy we get periodic emails from Jimmy Two Birds about all the golf he is playing, how many pars he averages, in general how much he is improving, the fat bastard.  J

All Strung Out from the Road[2]

It was an epic almost Magellan like trek, this solo drive from Providence RI. to Myrtle Beach, SC.  At 06:00 Gray Wolf pulled onto I-95 south, eager to stretch his legs on this 1050 mile jaunt.  The route chosen will avoid the nightmarish travel corridor of New York City to DC and the attendant dollars spent in tolls on The Jersey Turnpike.  Instead, Ocho will wend his way out of New England via I-84 as it travels through land formerly occupied and or used by the Delaware, Huron, Mohawk and others.  Ocho pauses for a few minutes to refuel and to grab a cup of mediocre yet necessary coffee to stave off the effects of being up all night at work and there are many miles yet to go.

Near the blood soaked hills and fields of Gettysburg a foursome walks a golf course fairway now cleared of snow renewing Ocho’s energy level; an anticipatory foreshadowing of the week ahead.  The Mason-Dixon Line looms just a few miles ahead, one of the landmarks/milestones that Ocho uses as another means of energy revitalization.  Not only are these sights important in terms of how far is left yet to travel but they also stir up the historical thought process that inevitably comes to the forefront of Ocho’s mind.  The more prominent milestones include the rivers, Susquehanna, Hudson, Potomac and James.  Formidable obstacles all and makes me wonder in awe at the hardiness of our pioneer forebears.  Imagine the sheer effort needed to cross those rivers and the countless smaller rivers and creeks, the effort needed to climb and descend numerous hills.  Not to mention that those game trails they followed weren’t exactly Eisenhower Interstates.

I-81 south runs through an area rich in history.  It seems every exit leads to a Civil War battlefield, not that that is surprising as the Shenandoah Valley was the bread basket of The Confederacy and both sides fought to control it.  General Philip Sheridan greatly hastened the end of the war by destroying Shenandoah.  It’s amazing that this is the kind of stuff that filters through Ocho’s mind as he drives that and the hope that there’s a rest stop soon.  Ocho and Gray Wolf need another nap.

Twenty-five hours later, 1050 miles, half a dozen cups of coffee and numerous stops to recycle said coffee and to take naps, I arrive at Jimmy Two Birds timeshare.  We are scheduled to tee off in a couple hours but it is one of those rare occasions when I am glad it is raining.  Gray Wolf and I are just a tad worn out.  J

Boring Stories of Glory Days[3]

I have been fortunate in my life to have two distinct groups of close friends.  The guys (and later the girls) I grew up with are once again a part of my life after nearly 40 years of no or very limited contact.  We have an annual reunion, this year being the 4th and those few days are filled with silliness and the chance to relive our glory days as young athletes.  We have played basketball & football.  We went bowling and visited the batting cages.  We recount our prowess with clear minds with no thought of hyperbole as we fail miserably to be what we used to be but laughing our arse off nonetheless.  We even have our own Hall of Fame of which we are all members and which we named The Moron Hall of Fame in honor of the fact that we actually made it to adulthood mostly unscathed and without criminal records.

[1][1] Paraphrased line from Bruce Cockburn’s ‘How I Spent My Fall Vacation

[2] Bob Seger ‘Turn the Page’

[3] Bruce Springsteen ‘Glory Days’

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excerpt from Chap 1- 2nd draft – Clash of Empires

CHAPTER 1

A Journey Contemplated

1749 – Autumn

Thomas Mallory stopped chopping and took a moment to wipe the sweat from his brow.  ‘Saints preserve us,’ he sighed, ‘it will take more wood than this to see us through the winter.’  He gazed about and took in the sights of the small lease held farm he worked with his family.  His wife Abigail was baking bread in the outdoor oven. His eldest son Daniel was over in the field harvesting the last of the squash and pumpkin. His only daughter Elizabeth was spreading feed for the ducks and chickens.  Liam, the youngest son was nowhere to be seen as he was out hunting.  ‘Aye and what about the spring?  What will they think about my plans for the spring?’

Thomas never did much like farming.  The plot of land that he leased from a wealthy member of the Philadelphia merchant aristocracy was barely sufficient to feed his family and make a profit.  For fifteen years he toiled, saving up every last farthing so that at last they could move West and begin a new life.  He had met William Trent, an adventurous woodsman and one time officer in the Virginia militia a few years back when he stopped by the farm looking for a place to bed down for a few nights.  He regaled them with his stories of the frontier, about his trip down The Ohio and the opportunities waiting for men with vision and courage.  ‘This is only the beginning’, said William, ‘but I plan on opening a trading post along the Allegheny River.  If I’m any judge of events then it won’t be long before the frontier will be teeming with them that’s looking to make their fortune.  Hunters and trappers at first and then with settlers.  Once things have settled there it will be back to The Ohio to start another trading post.’

The seed of adventure and profit was duly planted in Thomas so when William asked him to be his partner in a recent letter he quietly accepted to himself.  The time to tell the family would come soon enough.  All he needed to do now was to convince his wife Abigail that the move would be more than worth the risks involved as the area in question was in dispute between the British, the French and the various tribes of Indians, some of which sided with the British and some with the French.

The thought came to Liam as he followed the movement of the deer that he was never so at peace as when he was in the woods.  For as long as he could remember he made the most of every opportunity to be outside, marveling at nature and studying it.  Indeed he had come to know the area around his home very well and was now hidden on a small mound that was overgrown with brush.  He knew from experience that the deer used the trail below the mound to travel to a small creek for water.  He also knew that he would be too far away for an effective shot with his favorite weapon, the bow, so he had brought his musket along.  The deer was now broadside to Liam, the hindquarters obscured by tree branches but the front shoulder was in the open.  Liam fired, the shot hit and knocked the deer down but it was soon back on its feet, staggering away.  Liam resisted the notion of rising up and following the deer right away.  He knew that that would only cause the deer to panic even more causing it to run meaning it would be farther away once it finally succumbed to the wound and Liam was sure the shot was fatal.  ‘That got at least one lung, maybe both,’ he said to himself as he rose up just enough to keep an eye on the deer.  The wounded deer was still standing and walking but it was quickly losing blood and becoming weaker.  Liam, satisfied that it would not be going too much farther sat back down to wait for a few more minutes giving him time to think and daydream.   As was usually the case his thoughts were of Indians and how they used and nature to survive.  He was most in awe of the Indians and their way of life though he had encountered them only fleetingly. The farm he grew up on along the Schuylkill River west of Philadelphia didn’t have many Indians in the area. The last of them, the Delaware tribes, had been pushed farther west by the encroaching white settlers.  What truth he did learn he gleaned from a former Black Robe, a priest who had lived with his Order in the village of Teatontaloga near the white settlement of Albany.   Pierre Baptiste was now the village apothecary having learned from the Mohawk about the various herbs and plants that could be used for assorted ailments.  He was also an amateur naturalist and agreed with Liam to teach him about the Mohawk including their language in exchange for Liam gathering up and bringing him herbs and any other interesting plants and critters he could find.  He peered over the brush in time to see the deer collapse to the forest floor.  He slowly got up and stretched his cramped legs.  When he reached the where the deer had fallen he noticed the pink froth that had been seeping out of the deer’s mouth and nose.  ‘Yep, got the lungs,’ he said to himself.  Liam then got down to the business of field dressing the deer, removing the unwanted innards, placing the heart, liver and kidneys in a pouch.  He used a long strip of rawhide to wind around the torso, keeping it closed as he hoisted the carcass up onto his shoulders using the legs as handles and began the short but laborious trek back home.

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finish line still in sight

A short breather from this morning’s musings…a time to celebrate another minor milestone…word count now stands at 89,004.  Had to change things up a bit as what I thought was the last chapter proved to be longer than I liked so I split it in two…well actually three as I am now just starting the last one as I felt the need to finish at Mallory Town….the epilogue will play off that nicely I think.  So, boys and girls work continues on this longer than expected work…originally thought 80,000 or so would be good…looks more like 95,000…

I have four beta readers reading the pre-edited final draft…if all goes well and I can find the resources to acquire a good cover I hope this will be out in Kindle in a couple months…..

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finish line in sight

Getting close boys and girls…the last chapter is proving to be a bit lengthier than I first thought but that’s okay…will be writing the last major battle of the book next as the British penned up in Detroit attempt to break the siege….after that it’s only a matter of time and pages until Pontiac’s war concludes and book one ends….the epilogue is partially complete and I hope sets the scene for book two.  🙂  Here’s a bit of the lead up to the battle I haven’t written yet:

Captain Dayall as Major Gladwin knew was not one who liked to be on the defensive so it was not a great surprise when Dayall suggested rather heatedly that the time to strike was at dawn tomorrow.  What did surprise the Major was that Liam and Mulhern both agreed with him.  ‘Pontiac knows we’re going to hit him but he doesn’t know when.  The sooner we strike the less chance he will find out and the less time he has to prepare,’ said Liam.  ‘All right gentlemen,’ responded Gladwin, ‘we attack at dawn.  Captain Dayall will be in command.  I suggest using the river gate as it is less visible than the front.’

Pontiac knew he was violating one of the main points of his program for the tribes but sometimes, as he was learning, it was necessary for those in power to bend or even discard the rules once in a while.  The spyglass had been a gift from the captain of a French trading vessel and was one piece of the white man’s ingenuity that he was not ready to give up.  He climbed up into the oak tree he had been using during the siege as a vantage point for keeping an eye on the British.  The eastern sky was heralding in the first light of the new day on the horizon as Pontiac focused the spyglass on the far wall.  He had seen little activity at the front gate but did notice the many soldiers forming up near the river gate.  ‘So, I was correct in thinking you would make your move tonight,’ said Pontiac to himself while clambering down from his perch.  He walked over to Megegagik and said, ‘ready your men and make sure they remain hidden.  I will join you shortly and will lead the charge.’

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A Writing I Will Go

8/11/14 – started the chapter that will be about Braddock’s defeat at Battle of the Monongahela..not much yet but it’s a start:

Chapter – Braddock

General Braddock’s headquarters was a hive of activity as was the camp surrounding the headquarters and the temporary village of traders, taverns and whores.  Everyone was preparing to pack up for the long march to the western frontier to confront the French at Fort Duquesne.  Colonel Gordon Doherty brushed the dust from his uniform as he strode to Braddock’s command post.  It was time for him to apprise the general of the state of readiness of his regular army troops.  ‘Well Sgt. Mulhern, I hope the general is in a good mood though I suspect he won’t be after my report.’  Sargent Glyn Mulhern glanced up from the roster of the troop he had been going over, ‘Aye Major Sir, I mean Colonel.  I’ll wager a large whiskey he won’t be liking it at all.’

Major Gordon Doherty had been assigned to Braddock’s command after a successful career with the Scottish Highlanders and promoted to Colonel and was given the task of training this newly formed army.  Sargent Glyn Mulhern had been with the colonel for the last six years and was his right hand man in the effort.

 

7/30/14 – added two new characters for a chapter later in the story – the battle for Fort Ticonderoga..here’s an excerpt:

Chapter ???

Liam, Daniel and Wahta gazed down upon a small homestead noting the smoke rising from the chimney.  ‘Looks like we’re in luck,’ said Daniel, ‘From what I heard the Fords are more likely to be out rather than in.’ Oliver and Mary Ford managed a comfortable life out of a rugged environment.  Oliver was known for his hunting ability and his all-around woodcraft, while Mary was not the typical stay at home and tend the crops type of woman.  She accompanied Oliver most of the time, was an excellent shot and an expert trap setter.  Together they always had furs and meat to trade with their Mohawk neighbors for corn, beans and medicinal herbs.  They were also part of William Trent’s network of watchers and as such were keeping an eye on the comings and goings at Fort Ticonderoga.  Liam and company had been sent by Colonel Washington to find out what the Fords had learned, if anything.  As they walked down to the cabin, Oliver came out from around the corner where he had been butchering a deer.  ‘Ahh, let me see,’ exclaimed Oliver as he greeted the trio, ‘you’ve come from Trent or Washington else I’m the King of England.  I ‘spect you’re hungry as well.  Fresh venison do ya?’  Patting them all on the back as they walked by, he chuckled and yelled, ‘Mary, darling!  We’ve company for supper.’

After a refreshing meal of venison, boiled potatoes, bean stew and ale of the finest quality, Oliver pulled out a map of Fort Ticonderoga.  Wiping his mouth with his hand after a satisfying drink Oliver remarked, ‘Yeah, that’s just about the last of it.  I picked up this ale on a trip to Albany some time back.  Bought it off a fella name of T. E. Winslow.  Best brewer I ever met, though I heard tell he joined the militia and was sent down to join Braddock.  I hope he survived that fiasco, waste of a good brewer if he didn’t.’  He took another swallow and exclaimed, ‘Mother’s milk, oh, excuse me for my crude remark gentlemen.  Now I suppose you want to know about Fort Ticonderoga?’  ‘Yes sir,’ replied Daniel, ‘but first let me set your mind at ease about our acquaintance, the good brewer, Timothy Edward Winslow.  He is indeed still alive, in fact he is part of Liam’s scout troop.  He even saved Liam’s life during that battle.  He shot and wounded a Shawnee brave named Huritt who had Liam in the sights of his musket.  Ordinarily he would have been with us on this trip but Colonel Washington decided he needed Timothy’s skill as a brewer for the time being.’  While everyone else was smiling and chuckling with Daniel’s telling, Liam slunk back further into his chair with an angry scowl on his face.  Oliver noticed the change in demeanor but decided to hold his tongue, for now.  ‘Wonderful news and that’s a fact,’ continued Oliver, ‘this too is a fact.  Fort Ticonderoga had been real quiet for a while, just the normal routines of drill and patrols, until a couple of weeks ago when a band of Shawnee came in and set up camp just outside the fort.  At first there were only 10 or 12 braves but as the days went by more and more trickled in and then yesterday a band of 30 warriors led by the Shawnee, Huritt arrived.’

At the mention of Huritt Liam flinched and banged his knee on the table.  Daniel reached over and grabbed Liam by the shoulders and eased him back into the chair.  When Liam seemed to have calmed down Daniel let go.  Liam immediately and before Daniel could react sprung to his feet and hastened toward the door.  Turning around as he was about to cross the threshold he stammered, ‘Thank you for the meal ma’am,’ and then continued out into the night.  Mary started to go after him but Wahta stopped her, placing his hand over hers as she arose from her seat.  ‘Let my brother go.  He has a rage burning inside and is best left alone while he seeks to control it.  He will be back soon.’  Mary sat back down and asked, ‘What is this burning rage?  Has it to do with Huritt?’  ‘It has everything to do with Huritt,’ responded Oliver stroking his beard as he thought, ‘or I miss my guess.  I think I’ve pieced it together.  A while back we heard of a massacre at Trent’s post near Fort Duquense and that a Mohawk woman was brutally murdered by a Shawnee named Chogan who if I’m not mistaken was killed later by Thomas Mallory who was in turn killed by Huritt, Chogan’s closest friend, some say they were brothers.  Further, the woman was Liam’s wife, when you add all that up you can understand the bad blood between them.’

 

 

5/5/14 – A wilderness wedding:

Despite the mood of the territory things were going well at what was now being called The Mallory-Clarke Trading Emporium.  Trapping and hunting was the best anyone had ever seen over the last year and a half and that was music to Phil’s ears as he now owned the transport end of the business and had two routes for his wagons, one going to Albany and the other to Philadelphia.  Love was also reaching new heights when Liza turned eighteen and was dropping not so subtle hints to Handsome Henry that it was time to get married but Henry always came up with an excuse or just said they should wait until the time was right.  It was the arrival of Stan McNeil, a trapper who was also a Methodist minister, that left no doubt in Liza’s mind that the time was right, so on a warm September afternoon, Handsome Henry and Liza were wed.

The wedding was as grand an affair one could make considering the remoteness of the post.  Liza had ordered material from Jimmy Two Birds months in advance in order to make her dress and veil.  Abigail gave Liza her grandmother’s ring to wear while Henry was given his father’s ring.  Everyone pitched in to decorate the post and to dig three more fire pits for the roasting of venison, a couple of pigs, a few turkeys and a huge cauldron of rabbit and vegetable stew.  Timothy outdid himself both in the baking department and in the quantity and quality of the ale he provided and Jimmy Two Birds arrived with three barrels of French wine to add to the festivities.  Stan McNeil, known to his friends as Old White Collar because of the collar he kept in his saddle bag just in case his preaching duties were needed, and having sampled the ale and the wine beforehand preached on the story of the wedding in Cana claiming that even Jesus would have been hard pressed to outdo the beverages on hand.  The happy couple having been pronounced man and wife were feted by an unruly but pleasant nonetheless group of trappers, hunters, woodsmen and a few Mohawk.  Music filled the night sky as no less than three fiddles, two guitars, a harmonica or two and Joseph surprising all with a fine tenor voice contributed to the merriment.  As the party gained momentum and hilarity so too did the party goers become less inhibited in their commentary and the good natured barbs about the wedding night could be heard from every corner of the grounds.  Phil announced that he was letting the newlywed couple use his tent for the next few nights and that he would sleep in the bunkhouse and that set off a flurry of comments.  ‘Why Phil my old friend,’ replied Stump Nose, ‘you’re going to give up that comfort and all and dwell with the unclean?  How will you survive?’  Phil, staggering a bit as he made his way back to the campfire from an ale keg said, ‘My plan is a simple one.  I’m going to hold my breath all night.’  At this point Phil let loose a tremendously loud and especially smelly fart.  Rob Carter who was next to Phil and downwind as well almost fell off the log he was sitting on, ‘Damnation.  If you add to the air anymore of that then we’re all gonna die in the bunkhouse tonight.’

 

5/1/14 – The beginning to chapter three:

The trading post was finally taking shape.  When they arrived two months ago, the only building was the storefront.  Since that time living space for Thomas and Abigail had been added to the store and a bunkhouse built large enough to accommodate 20 or so workers or traders spending a day or two in civilized company and comfort.  The site was situated along the Kiskimientas River on a peninsula in the bend of the river.  A canoe landing sat right outside the rear door of the store.  The rest of the post consisted of a large vegetable and herb garden, a brew house for Timothy, stable and corral, out house and Phil’s tent.  This was no ordinary tent as it more resembled Caesar’s campaign tent complete with ceiling to floor length curtains that portioned off the space into three distinct rooms.  The front room was furnished with a large wooden desk and a couple of comfortable chairs.  The bedroom contained a four poster bed and matching nightstand.  The third room held the woodstove and a small kitchen area.  Having never pitched this particular tent before Phil had little idea as to how to do so.  With the help of Stump Nose and Rob Carter, the tent was eventually completed though it took five hours, many tankards of ale and a dictionary’s worth of profanity. Naturally Phil took quite a bit of ribbing for his comfy living arrangements and while taking it all in a well natured manner, he did explain that, ‘I don’t have them fancy things solely for my comfort although that is a factor, but no, the real reason I choose my tent over the bunkhouse is my health.  The smells that issue forth from none too clean bodies of a dozen men are not meant to be inhaled.’

 

4/29/14 – I pulled the hammer back on my .44 Magnum and none to gently poked my slumbering muse. ‘Wake up my dear. Time to end your hibernation. Now, start inspiring me or I will blow your muse arse back to Pixie Hollow and start looking for inspiration from the comic strip Pearls Before Swine.’ Having made my point in a convincing manner, my muse did indeed wake up and I am adding words to the novel…whoohoo..#amwriting 

4/6/14 – Wow…3 months later and I have not added anything to the novel.  This can be attributed to a couple things…have read and reviewed eleven books since the end of 2013 plus I have encountered a slight problem with my book – nagging and persistent doubts as to whether the effort is worth it.  My dream is that it actually make money, something I am in sore need of but the likelihood of that happening is rather remote in the least.  While I have these doubts, my Muse remains silent.

12/30 – have not written anything in a few days…been busy doing a beta read of Marius Mules VI plus finishing The Gates of Troy…done with both now including their reviews so now is time to get back to the writing…so wake up Muse, or as Gob would say in Arrested Development, ‘Come on!’

12/19 – still plugging away.  Finished chapter 4(subject to change, of course)…currently working on chapter 2 which is the move to the frontier.  I thought I was doing okay and then I had an idea for another character to add into the mix…problem was that this character needs to be somewhere else when events in chapter 4 take place and I already have plans for everyone else at the trading post so cannot spare anyone to leave the post to escort the new guy back East…solution? – create a second new character – one thing I’m learning is that a novel until it is published is a pretty fluid thing…at 19,000 words now – still on track for 25,000 at year end.

12/4 – well my 2 weeks off of work end tonight…I had a goal of 10-15,000 words by now and I have reached 14,962…what does this mean in terms of percentage done, you ask?  Going on the basis of 75-90,000 words as a good length novel, I am 16-20% done…my goal by the end of the year is 25,000 words – now to see if anyone is reading these updates…if you would like to read the first two chapters let me know…I have gotten some good feedback on them from a couple people so far and am encouraged by that.  A small tease from chapter 5:

‘Colonel George Washington looked up from his camp desk as a tall, lean Negro entered his tent.  He was dressed as a Mohawk warrior for that is what he was.  Teeyeehogrow was the name he went by now that he was an adopted member of the Mohawk.  Rufus had been his name as a slave on a tobacco plantation outside of Baltimore on Chesapeake Bay.  In a voice that bespoke of much intelligence Teeyeehogrow said, ‘You wanted to see me Colonel, Sir?’

11/27 – Have reached 10,000 words…whoohoo!!  The following is from Chapter 2:  comments welcome and encouraged….

It was indeed a tempestuous winter weather-wise.  Heavy snowfalls and bitterly cold temperatures made for hard work preparing for the move.  The village was especially quiet as everyone sought to stay indoors as much as possible.  Though even in these frigid conditions some still moved about; after all business and daily life doesn’t stop for the weather.  Phil Burke was a moderately successful businessman from Philadelphia where he had a fleet of three ships and a lumber mill.  Nearing 40 years old and starting to go a little portly from the sedentary nature of a business office, Phil was beginning to tire of this part of his life.  So despite the frigid conditions he made a rare, for him, trip to Rivertown to purchase a load of lumber.  Needing a place to stay he stopped in the village inn for a room, a meal and to get warm.  Phil stood in the entrance letting his eyes adjust from the brightness of the day to the darker atmosphere of the inn not thinking that he was also letting in the frigid air.  Thomas and Joseph were enjoying a pint of ale while they discussed how things were shaping up when they were hit with an arctic blast.  ‘Aye!  Sarding hell, would you be closing that door, stranger afore you turn us all into blue-skins?’ asked Thomas as he pulled his hat down further on his ears.’  Phil with a look of disbelief closed the door behind him and walked over to Thomas, ‘Sorry about that, I just wasn’t thinking.  Cold air must have frozen my brain.  Phil Burke is my name, from Philadelphia,’ he said extending his hand in greeting.

‘Thomas Mallory and Joseph Clarke at your service.  Please join us won’t you?’ said Thomas as he caught the innkeeper’s attention and motioned for another tankard of ale.  ‘What in the name of all the saints in Ireland are you doing wandering the streets of this frozen village when you could be basking in the warmth of a fine home in Philadelphia?’

Joseph reached across the table and shook Phil’s hand and said, ‘Phil Burke eh?  Might you be the owner of the lumber mill?  I have done business with you if you are he.’

‘I am and that’s partially the reason I am here.  There’s a supply of lumber I need to pick up though I wish I had sent one of my drivers instead.  I cannot remember when I have felt so cold.  Excuse the vulgarity but I believe my arse is frozen shut and my gonads are stuck together frozen to my right thigh.  Joseph Clarke you say?  Now that my brain is working again I recall hearing from one of my teamsters that you are preparing to move to the frontier.’

11/21 – Have reached 5000 words   – a brief snippet – comments most welcome:

Liam was tracking a wild turkey when he heard a rustling of leaves behind him.  He dropped to the ground and crawled behind two large oak trees.  As the Mohawk brave crested the small rise and came into view, Liam pulled an arrow from his quiver and drew back his bow and took aim.  Donehogawa froze when he saw the movement up ahead and heard the unmistakable sound of a bowstring being drawn tight.  The warrior held out his hand, palm facing forward in a gesture of peace and said in broken English, ’Put bow down little white man.  Mohawk not hurt you.’  Liam stood his ground smiled and replied in perfect Mohawk, ‘Tell your braves to put theirs down and I will put down mine.’  Donehogawa was startled by this unexpected response but did as he was asked and soon there were six Mohawk braves advancing on Liam with weapons no longer at the ready.  Liam, his fingers and arms began to tire from the strain and tension so he too lowered his bow but kept the arrow nocked.

11/13 – one more week til an extensive writing period is planned.  Currently at 2800 words – added a new scene, first one with violence involved…pretty sure there will be more – goal is to have 10-15,000 words by end of next week…

11/1 – decided I need more info on the culture of the Native Americans involved so have purchased another research book to read :  At the Edge of Empire: The Backcountry in British North America (Regional Perspectives on Early America) …current plans have me diving into the actual writing in a couple weeks..I am taking the week before Thanksgiving off for this …

10/22 – Have finished reading Empires at War,an historical account of The French-Indian War…excellent book for my research.  Thinking I may have to take a road trip to western PA to the site of Ft Necessity and Braddock’s defeat.  Firming up locales…ideas for plot etc…hope to do some actual writing this week as well.

10/14 – not much done word count-wise but am plotting locations and figuring what characters I need and how to portray them..have historical figures in mind as well as fictional ones…for example George Washington plays a significant role…General Braddock…William Trent…lots to do..hope I can make time…

10/9 – wee hours of the morning.  Have moved base of operations from uncomfortable writing situation on living room couch to one more suited to the task….the ManCorner – my bit of the house that is mine alone.  I have done some work on the story this morning as I am not babysitting the grand daughter later today.  That is one of things that is going to make this writing a novel take a bit of time.  I only work three nights a week- 12 hour shifts – of the four days that I do not work Saturday is mainly a lost cause due to lack of sleep the three preceding days and I watch Kaedyn for a good portion of Sunday-Tuesday.  That leaves Wednesday as my best shot at getting anything accomplished…have a working title now…The Mallory Saga – A Novel of The French-Indian War…at least I can call it something other than ‘the story’  🙂

Due to unprecedented support by my ever growing network of adoring fans, I have decided to take laptop in hand and finally write a full length novel.  I am going to set this historical fiction story in the context of The French-Indian War, a war that has been called the first world war.  The main characters(at this point of the early ruminating process) will center on two frontier families and their trials and tribulations during this time period.  My idea is to use the Prologue as a means to explain the circumstances leading to the conflict on this continent and to introduce the Mallory and Butler families.

So far I have begun a list of characters and am doing research on the period while my Muse conjures up a plot line.  This is a part of the writing process that will be different for me…up til now I’ve only written short stories etc and haven’t really done the whole plot outline/draft process.  Instead I just let the words flow from my head to my fingertips and while I’m sure there will be some of that in this story now I have to look at the big picture and make sure everything fits….this will be challenging but necessary I think.

I’ve also got kicking around, perhaps way too prematurely, the idea of expanding this into a series of stories following the Mallory family through The Revolutionary War…the settling of the frontier…War of 1812…and The Civil War…heady stuff eh?

BTW I chose Mallory as my main family as it is my great grandfather’s name on my Dad’s side and the Mallory family did come from PA which is where a good portion of this story will take place.  

I may call upon some of you to peruse a chapter or something to garner advice etc…thanks in advance.

PB

Periodically I will update on what is hopefully some progress in this venture.  As of now on 10/7 I have begun the Prologue and Chapter 1.  An idea for the ending popped into my head a few minutes ago so now that I have a beginning and an end all that is needed is to fill in the middle….no worries…  Hardest part is making myself sit down and do the work in the limited time I have…must persevere…must get it done.  🙂

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