Chapter XXXIX – Lillian Joins the Mob

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Coal Dusters – Chapter XXXIX

Lillian Joins The Mob

Back sore from the uncomfortable train ride, yet excited, Lillian stood at the gate to her home in Boston. It hadn’t changed at all since she had departed several months ago. The white house with its yellow shutters looked freshly painted in the warm afternoon sun. The shutter on the upper right windows needed repairs. She didn’t understand how her father could allow that misaligned shutter to mar the perfect facade of their house.

The gate opened soundlessly when she pushed it. She nodded to the train porter behind her to follow her up the stairs. He put her travel bag beside her at the front door. She sorted the coins in her change purse to make sure she was giving him American, not Canadian, money.

“Thank you.” she said dropping a dime in the palm of his hand.

She watched to make sure he had gone before she turned and knocked at the door. She was disappointed that she even had to knock, she had fully expected Sarah, or any of the other housemaids, to have seen her and to have thrown the door open wide to welcome her home.

Her first knocks with her knuckles could hardly be heard. She pulled off her travel gloves to rap soundly at the door. There was no sound from inside. No hurried footsteps to answer her knock.

She tried the door handle and it was locked. Reluctantly she used the brass knocker in the middle of the door. No response. She knocked again. No response.

Surely they weren’t up at the summer cottage? Even if they were, there was always house staff on duty when they were up at the lake. She stepped to to peer in one of the side windows. She could see Sarah in the foyer dusting the stair railings. Her knock on the window to get Sarah’s attention.

When Sarah didn’t respond she went back to the front door. It was just shutting and her travel bag was gone!

She tried the door handle again, pushed against it with all her weight but it refused to budge. She pounded the door with both her hands and all her might. She could hear the pounding echo from the houses in the square behind her. The door suddenly opened and she fell hard on the floor. Momentarily dazed she painfully turned herself over and found herself on the floor beside her bed in Castleton.

The pounding continued. It was someone knocking on the front door of the manse. She grabbed her wrap, slipped on her shoes and rushed down the stairs to answer the door.

“Father Patrick!” she called out as she ran. “Father Patrick!”

She opened the door and it Mrs. McIssac from across the street.

“Sorry to be bothering you Miss Lillian.” She was breathing heavily. “I was told to gather as many of the women as I could to go down to the pier to be with the miner’s when the Dingle Dandy gets here.”

“Oh yes.” She pulled her wrap closer. “I must have overslept. I was up later than usual getting some things ready for the strikers.”

“We all do what we can. Castleton is now your home as much as any of us.”

“I’ll join you as soon as I can. But don’t wait on me if you are ready to go now.”

Lillian shut the door and leaned her back on it to catch her breath. She tried to remember her dream of Boston. She could feel that morning sun on her skin as she walked up the steps to her house. Her true home.

She went to Father Patrick’s room and knocked on the door. It swung open at her touch. The bed hadn’t been slept in.

Twenty minutes later she latched the kitchen door behind her. Mrs. McIssac, Mrs. Danvers and several other women from nearby were at the Upper Chestnut corner talking amongst themselves. There were several of their children with them.

“I’m saying we shouldn’t have the children underfoot.” one of the women was saying.

“We can’t lock them up Marg.”

“I certainly wouldn’t leave mine alone in the house.” one said.

“Or anyone else’s.” Another replied.

The women all laughed.

“Outdoors has been good enough for them so far this summer.” Mrs. Danvers said.

“For sure but there hasn’t been troops to worry about.”

“Might we put them in the Hall?” Mrs. McIssac asked.

“Ah … I don’t know.” Lillian said. “I don’t have … authority to give permission. You would have to ask Father McTavish. He’s not here.”

“He’s probably with the men already.” One of the women said.

“I’m going there what ever you say,” one of the boys said. He looked at his buddy and the two of them scampered down the road.

One of the smaller girls began to cry. “They gonna kill Daddy. I know it.”

As the women and children marched toward the dock they were joined by more of the wives of the miners. Lillian nodded to the few she had met already and to some who were familiar to her from their attendance as the various services at St. Agatha’s.

“It’s good for us to have an opportunity to show our numbers to them.” Mrs. Franklin was walking beside Lillian. “The men can’t stand alone all the time with us women folk hiding behind them. It’s time we were in the front ranks.”

“I doubt if it’ll much difference.” Lillian said. “But it is better than waiting.”

A distant horn tooting quieted them.

“That’s The Dandy leaving North Sydney.” One of the women said. “It’ll be here soon.”

“You children stay behind. You hear.” Mrs. McIssac made them form a row. “We’ll have enough to do without keeping an eye on you. You understand.”

“Yes ma’am.” one of the older girls said.

“I’ll keep watch over them.” Lillian took the smallest girl by the hand. “You’ll be good, won’t you?”

“Yes Miss McTavish.” the child said.

As they rounded the corner the dock came into view. Lillian could see the ranks of miners already there surrounding the dock. In the distance she could see the Dingle Dandy approaching. She could make out several men on board.

The miner’s began to shout. “Back to the mainland.” “Respect us workers.” “This ain’t yer fight.” “Don’t cross our picket lines.”

As the ferry got closer they miners began to stomp their feet. Lillian was afraid the dock might gave way under the pounding. She could feel the vibration in her feet.

As the boat was about to dock it was clear that there was a dozen or so men on board. Three in suits, the others in uniforms with varying shades of brown. 

“Not real uniforms.” Mrs. Franklin said to her. “Probably ex-militia. Putting on a front for us.”

“That’s Mr. Bowden?” Lillian shaded her eyes.

“Yes and I think that’s Baldwin with him.” Mrs. Franklin said.

“Baldwin?” Lillian asked.

“The Premiere. At least for now. With the election coming up he’s not going to miss this chance to campaign.”

As the ferry tied up to the wharf, the miners began to chant repeatedly, “You can’t stand the gaff. You can’t stand the gaff.” 

Lillian was stunned to see that the first person to step off the ferry was her uncle. He raised his hands and the men fell silent.

“Thank you for the enthusiastic greeting.”

The men laughed.

“I have spent the night in discussion with Premiere Baldwin, Mr. Bowen and Colonel Strickland.”

“Which of them did you give final unction to?” One of the miners shouted out. The other miners laughed.

“What did they confess?” Another called out.

“Men. Friends. Parishoners. ” Father McTavish stepped closer to the line of miners. “I have convinced them that we are civilized enough to conduct ourselves like adults, not like a bunch of hooligans. No one wants things to escalate any further.”

“We aren’t the one trying to bust up the strike with outsiders.” William Gregory stepped out from the crowd of miners.

“We have no intention of busting up the strike but BritCan can’t let the mines remain idle. We have the legal right to mine the coal there, regardless of the union’s stance.” Bowden answered.

“They have the rights to their coal.” The Premiere took a document out of his overcoat pocket. 

“Not worth the paper it’s printed on.” Someone called out. A clod of grass flew from the back to the crowd and landed directly on the Premiere’s chest and scattered dirt over the document.

“We want to come to amicable agreement.” Baldwin continued. “These are difficult time for everyone. There has to be compromise on your part if …”

“Here’s a compromise,” Gregory looked around the men behind them before continuing. “Pay the miner’s what you are going to pay the scabs, including the bonus you’ve guaranteed them.”

“I’m not here to negotiate.” the Premiere said. “I wanted to tell you directly that either you comply with the BritCan conditions or the province will step in with full support from Ottawa, I might add.”

“We will use what force is necessary.” Colonel Strickland said. “We would rather not have to go to that extreme.”

“Tell that to your wife.” Mrs. McIssac pushed through the crowd to face the colonel. “Tell that to your children.”

“My wife and children obey the law.” He said.

“I hope you are proud of yourself.” She turned to the Premiere. “It’s the law of money you obey not of the people who elected you. Remember that when the election comes around.”

“I’m asking you all to disperse.” Colonel Strickland said. “Go back to your homes and stop interfering with the lawful business of the BritCan Coal Company.”

“Or what?” one of the miners shouted.

The Colonel nodded to one of his men who was still aboard the DingleDandy.

“Attention.” The man shouted. A dozen, fully armed men came up from below deck and marched off the boat.

There were boo’s from the miners as stones, bricks and bottles flew through the air. The Colonel signalled Premiere Baldwin, Mr. Bowen and Father McIssac to step behind the soldiers.

“Arms.” He commanded.

“They aren’t going to fire on us, are they?” Lillian asked. 

“Women and children move back.” Gregory shouted. 

“Aim.” The Colonel said.

The soldiers brought their rifles to their shoulders.

“Fire.”

They discharged their weapons over the heads of the crowd. 

The children and some of the women scattered. Some were screaming, others were crying.

Lillian was pulled back by a couple of the children.

“Come Miss we have to get safe.” 

Lillian looked down and one was Birk’s sister Maddy.

“That was merely a warning.” The Colonel shouted over the noise of the crowd. “The replacement company workers will be arriving soon. My men will remain here to make sure no one … I repeat … no one interferes with them doing their lawful work. Now disperse before we take further action.”

Premiere Baldwin and Mr. Bowen boarded the Dingle Dandy and it started back to North Sydney. The crowd dispersed into grumbling factions.

Birk and his father Blackie appeared from out of one of the factions.

“Maddy there you are.” Blackie tugged her hand out of Lillian’s. “I’ll look after her.”

“You’re okay?” Birk asked.

“Yes.” Lillian replied.

“It was just a show of force.” Blackie said.

“Looked more like a declaration of war on the miners.” Lillian shook her head.

“Miners have been at war with the company for generations. Some years it feels like a losing battle but … there’ seems no other way.”

“You safe to get home?” Birk asked.

“Oh yes.” Lillian said nodding to Mrs. McIssac and the other women. “I should be getting back to the manse. Father Patrick looks famish.”

Her uncle was talking with some of his parishioners as he walked away from the dock with them. As he passed her, he glanced at Lillian.

“There was no need for you to be here Lillian.” He said.

“I was asked by Mrs. McIssac to help mind the children.” she said. “Excuse me Mr. Nelson. I’d best get these children back to their families.”

She reached out for two of the parish children she recognized and took them by the hand. “Come along now. Heather, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Weren’t you scared when the guns went off?” Heather asked.

Lillian resisted saying. “You can’t kill the dead.”

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Chapter XXXVII – Birk Pays a Call

Coal Dusters – Chapter XXXVII

Birk Pays a Call

Holding Maddy loosely by the hand Birk stood at the corner street. He stared down at the door of the rectory. His mother had pressed the shirt and finally stitched the cuffs of pants Lillian had sent to him but he thought he still looked unkept. His borrowed belt made the pants bunch out around his behind. That was a tailoring job his mother said would take more than a few stitches to do. He was already sweating from his walk there. His face itched from shaving it twice in the same morning. His hair refused to stay down no matter what he tried. He looked down at his work boots wishing he had shoes more fitting to wear. 

The boots, even when they were new, didn’t hold any kind of shine. There weren’t meant to. His sisters had tried to clean them but there was nothing to be done about the scrapes on the toes. The crease of the pants made the boots look even more unsuitable. His mother wouldn’t let him go in bare feet.

“We going to stand here all morning?” Maddy asked. She was wearing her Sunday dress with a new piece of lace sown around the neck. There was a yellow satin bow in her hair that she kept pushing back into place.

His mother had insisted he take his sister along so she could see how those outside Mudtown lived. He was sure it was to make sure he acted proper. He wished Clancy could have been with him but after the scrap they got into yesterday that wasn’t going to be. 

When Birk had woken that morning it took a few minutes for him to remember that Clancy was gone and not sleeping on the floor where it was cooler in the summer.

He walked to the front door of the house and knocked. No answer. Knocked again a little harder. Maddy kicked at the door but her shoes did make much of a sound. 

“You sure you got the right day?” she asked.

“It’s the day Clancy read to me from her note.” Did he have the wrong day? Wrong time? Clancy had read those things to him off the note. Was that his idea, to send him there at the wrong time to make an even a bigger fool of himself. Maybe the note didn’t ask for him to lunch. “You read it too, didn’t you?”

“Yes.” She stood on tiptoes to see through the side  window.

He turned to leave.

The door opened.

“Mr. Nelson.” Father Patrick said. “You have to knock louder than that.”

Birk turned back to the door. “Sorry.. uh … Father McTavish. I wasn’t sure how ….”

“Come in, please.” Lillian appeared behind Father Patrick and pushed past him.

“Thank, ye, Miss. You remember my sister Maddy.” He was awed at Lillian’s appearance.

“Hello.” Maddy curtsied. 

Previously Birk had only seen Lillian dressed in dark green pinafores with darker green aprons around them, a black kerchief of some sort covering her hair. So similar to a nun he had assumed that she was one.

Today she was wearing a light blue shift with a pleated skirt that ended directly below her knees. A row of blue buttons along the back went from her neck to her waist. How did those buttons get done? He had enough trouble with ones that went up the front of his shirt. She was wearing black shoes with small heels and with straps across the top of her foot.

He took this all in with a couple of rapid shy glances as they followed her into the parlour. She continued through the parlour to another room.

“How is your family faring during the strike?” Father Patrick asked him. He gestured to a chair for Birk to sit. Maddy sat on chair by the fire. Hey eyes wide as she looked around the room.

“We gets by.” Birk looked briefly at Father Patrick. “We have … a little garden… we hunt some and …. fish in the lake.”

The room wasn’t much bigger than the parlour in his house. The furniture was more ornate. The window panes were so clean as to be nearly transparent. The lace curtains barely held back the sun.  He was nervous with the crucifix on the wall that loomed over his shoulder.

“Very enterprising.” Father Patrick said. “How are you doing is school.” The priest asked Maddy.

“Good. How do you get the windows so clean? The curtain are so white. My sister Sal wasn’t feeling strong today so she couldn’t come with us. She supposed to help Ma with picking pears, which means finding any that fall from the tree.”

“Pears?” Lillian asked. 

‘Yes ma’am.” Birk said. “There some pear trees and apple trees in behind our lane.”

“Very nice. I’ll get the tea things.”

Lillian retuned with a tray on which was a tea service. Birk had never seen such a set. The tray was highly polished silver. The whitish ceramic tea pot had a thick gold braid along the base, the cups had saucers that matched and weren’t cracked. The gleaming ivory of the china glowed in the sunlight that came through the window. He was afraid to handle it.

“Tea? Mr. Nelson.” Lillian asked him.

“Why thank ‘er miss.”

She handed him a cup and saucer. 

He quickly put them on the table beside him before they could notice how much he was shaking. Maddy went to the tea service and brought the milk over and poured some into Birk’s cup.

“Thank you.” He said as she stirred for him. He tired to pick the cup up by the handle but his fingers could barely hold it. He sipped trying not too look too clumsy.

“Father Patrick, my uncle, and I wanted to express our gratitude for your daring rescue. Your brother is very brave.” She put a cup and saucer on the table beside Maddy and poured her a cup tea.

“T’wasn’t me who saved that babby, it was you miss. That took a brave heart to do that. I only helped when I had to.”

“Be that as it may, I wanted to thank you in person.” She handed Birk a plate with a couple of biscuits on it. “I made these fresh this morning.”

Birk looked directly at her face for the first time. Her dark auburn hair shone in the light that came through the window. The light gave it a reddish tinge. Her skin was clear. No sign of the bruise remained. She smelled of flowers. He didn’t know what kind. Lilacs or roses. A delicate clean smell.

“This is thanks enough for me.” He touched the shirt she had sent to him.

“A little large on you.” She laughed lightly.

“True miss but it’ll wear well.”

“Not those trousers through.” Father Patrick said. 

Maddy started to giggle. “Me and Sal each fit in a leg of them.”

“Stand so I can see how they fit you.” Lillian said.

Birk blushed as he stood. Some of his mother’s hasty stitch work had come loose. The cuffs were unrolled and caught beneath the heels of his boots. The waist was bunched by the belt he had borrowed from Blackie to cinch it. They had tried suspenders but the pants drooped so he looked as if he was wearing a cloth barrel.

“I am much taller than you, my lad.” Father Patrick grinned. “But I think Lillian can alter them to fit you somewhat better.”

“Yes. Thank you …” Birk blushed that they were going do those alterations right away.

“I can bring them over another day.” Maddy said. “Ma’d’ve done them but she was busy tending to Sal.”

“Yes.” Lillian laughed. “We aren’t going to do it now, if that’s what you feared.”

“I like your biscuits.” Maddy said. “Can I have one to take home to Sal?”

“Of course.” Lillian turned to Birk. “Do the men think the strike will last much longer?” She asked.

“Can’t say miss. We have the … demonstration at the end of the week.”

“The attack on the company store was not a wise action.” Father Patrick said. “I’ve sure troops will be brought in soon to make sure order is maintained.”

“Not as if that at the pluck me was planned. Happened so fast none of us was ready for it.”

“Not from what I hear.” Father Patrick said. “It has been brewed up by a couple of the men for a few days. They were waiting for an opportunity. You know Jim McKlusky?”

“Sure. He lives next door to us in Mudside.” So Jim was the ring leader of that pack.

There was knock at the door. Lillian went to answer it. She brought Mr. Bowen, one of the mine managers, into the room

“It’s Mr Bowen, Father Patrick.”

“Sorry to barge in on you this way Father but ….” he caught sight of Birk. “Oh, I see you have company.”

“Yes. This is Birk Nelson. The young miner who  saved my niece from the fire the other night.”

“Least he could do. It was them bastards that started it.” Mr. Bowen glared at Birk. “You men should know better.”

“I didna’ have anything to do with that.” Birk said. 

Mr. Bowen give a dismissive snort and turned to Father Patrick. “Father I have some urgent business that I must speak to you about. In private.”

“Why don’t we step out into the garden Mr. Bowen.” Father Patrick said. “It won’t take up too much time will it Mr. Bowen?”

Father Patrick lead Mr. Bowen out through the kitchen to the back garden.

“The garden is where we first saw you a few weeks back.” Birk said.

“I was not very happy that day. You were going fishing with your brother. I envied your freedom.” Lillian got up and leaned against the fence.

“Clancy’s no brethren to us.” Maddy said sharply.

“Oh I see.”

“They fights like brothers though.”

“Sush Maddy.”

“It’s true! You and Clancy were as bad and you and Geo t’other day punching away at each other.”

“He’s had some schoolin’ mor’n me and thinks he’s better n’ me ‘cause of it. Same way as so many mainlanders, you see. I jus’ got tired of him lordin’ it over me.” Birk said.

“You do want to improve your mind, don’t you.” Lillian looked at Birk, “You don’t want to be a … an uneducated miner for the rest of your life, do you?”

“Twas good nuf for my father, his father, good enough for me.” Birk shifted uneasily on his chair. Each move of his caused it to squeak.

“The mines can’t last forever you know.”

“Long nuf for the sorts of me, ma’am.”

“Is it such a bad thing, I mean, to improve your mind.”

“No ma’am. But I jus don’t see the point in it, for me. Fir my sister’s it’s different. Ma wants them to leave here one day.” Birk stared up at her. “There’s isn’t much else for me. Not that I care for the coal but …”

“Don’t you have any dreams, Birk.”

“Dreams, miss. Sure but they are dreams not life.”

“You don’t want, say a wife, someone to look after you and someone you can look after.”

“Got me ma to look after me and I got my sisters to look out fer. My family’s enough family for me.” He nodded at Maddy.

“The right wife could be a helpmate in that though, wouldn’t she?”

Birk was confused and unsure what she was getting at. He didn’t want to ask her because he knew Maddy would be telling his Mother everything she heard here. He stood. “I thank you miss, for taking the time to talk with me. We best be on our way though.”

“Wait a moment and I’ll give Maddy some of the biscuits to take home.” She took Maddy by the hand and they went to the kitchen.

He looked around the room. He couldn’t picture Lillian living anywhere else. She would never be suited to a life in Mudtown.

Maddy and Lillian were laughing when they returned from the kitchen.

“I’d be happy to come by to visit with Sal.” Lillian said to Maddy. 

“She would never believe how nice you are.” Maddy said. “She’s gets better and better, so our ma tells us.”

“I’m sure she is.” Lillian smiled. “Don’t forget what we talked about.” She adjusted Maddy’s hair ribbon.

“I won’t. Thank you kindly for the biscuits.” She curtsied. “We can go now, Birk.”

She took Birk by the hand as Lillian opened the front door for them

“Thank you again for rescuing me.” Lillian kissed Birk quickly on cheek.

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Chapter XXXVI

Coal Dusters – Chapter XXXVI

Birk and Clancy 

Fall Out

Since the start of the strike Birk had been going to the Sunday morning service with his mother and sisters. This morning he had spent a good part of the morning getting the pants Lillian had sent to fit him better. His mother said she would make alterations but he didn’t want to wait.

The striped shirt didn’t look too bad to him. The collar was okay as long as he didn’t button it all the way. He rolled the cuff one fold so his hands could be seen. But the cuffs needed studs to hold them closed

The pants refused to cooperate. The legs took three folds to get them to ankle height. The waist left five inches slack around his waist.

“That uncle of her’s must have a belly bigger than a cow.” Birk said as he cinched it with a rope. 

“Guess he was fully grown. Not half-sized the way you grew.” Clancy said. “You’ll look an idiot going anywhere in those clothes. Ya look a kid trying on his Dad’s clothes.”

Birk took the pants off. “Here. Ya try ’em on then.” He threw them at Clancy. He was able to pull the shirt off over his head without unbuttoning it.

“She sent them to you not me.” Clancy threw the pants into Birk’s face. “Besides they already stink of you.”

“Says who?”

“Says me you … you … runt. At least I finished growing up. The only part o’you that’s man sized is between yer legs. And you didn’t even know what to do with it till I showed ya!”

Birk shoved Clancy into the wall as hard as he could. “These fists are man sized too. In case ya forget.” He punched Clancy in the stomach with his right hand and in the ear with his left.

Clancy walloped Birk in the side with his right fist.

Birk yelped.

“Hope I broke something. I’ve been wanting to that for a long time.”
“Me too.” He swung and hit Clancy in the nose. Blood spurted.

They grappled with each other and fell on the floor at the foot of the bed.

“You boys stop fightin’ or I’ll get Ma.” Sal poked her head in the room.

Birk stood and hauled Clancy to his feet by the front of his shirt. Clancy stomped on Birk’s foot and pushed him back and out the bedroom door.

“When I came here that first time. Saw that it was you lived here. I almost changed my mind.” He hit Birk in the chest. “But it was cheaper than Mrs. Franklin’s.”

“Too bad you didn’t.” Birk connected again with Clancy’s jaw. “Ya soft arse know-it-all mainlander. You should’ve been paying me to put up with you.”

“I couldn’t sleep proper till I got you sort of washed up. I’d wake up and think I was stuck in some … Hell that stank of feet and … pig shit.”

Birk had Clancy in a headlock and lost his footing at the top of the stairs and they tumbled down over each other. They pulled away from each other when they landed.

His sisters were screaming for them to stop fighting.

“These feet ya mean.” Birk pushed his bare feet into Clancy’s face as they lay on the floor.

“Pigs’ i’d smell better.” 

“I’m sure you’d know that.”

Clancy bit Birk on the instep.

“Ow.” Birk pulled his foot back then slammed it into Clancy’s shoulder as Clancy was pushing himself up.

“Birk! Clancy! What’s got into the two of you.” Birk’s mother was trying to come between them.

“He’s had this comin’ calling me stupid, a runt.”

“I thought you guys had become good pals.” she said.

“Me too.” Birk wiped blood from his mouth. “Me too.”

“The last puss I want to see most mornings is this one.” He swung at Birk and missed. 

Birk pushed him through the kitchen and out into the back yard.

“Watch those tomaters.” His mother shouted.

Clancy stumbled and fell. Birk kicked him in the side. Clancy grabbed at the dirt and threw it into Birk’s face as he got up. They lunged at each other. Heads locked on each other’s shoulder and hitting at each other’s sides and stomach.

“Ya can always go back to Mrs. Franklin.” Birk gasped into Clancy’s ear.

“You can go to Hell you stinkin’ mine rat.”

Birk braced himself and gave Clancy a shove with both arms. Clancy reeled back against the shed and slumped to the ground.

“Soft arse.” Birk spit a gob of blood on to Clancy’s face and went back into the house.

“I’ll be ready for church in a bit Ma.” He splashed cold water on his face. Rinsed the blood out of his mouth.

Up in the bedroom he carefully folded the pants and shirt. He’d get his mother to alter them later in the day.

He passed Clancy coming up the stairs as he went down to join his mother and sisters for church. 

On the way home after the service his mother asked. “What was that dust up?”

“Nothing Ma.”

“I knows better. That weren’t no horseplay. Neither of you were holdin’ back.”

“He told me it made him sick to look at me. That  ‘cause I wasn’t tall, I wasn’t a full man and would never be one.”

“Hurtful words.” She shook her head. “How he feel about the gal as sent you the pants and shirt.”

“He think’s she’s pretty and such.”

“Could be he’s sore she sent you something nice and he got nothing.”

“But I don’t give a care about her. Could have been anyone caught in the fire and I’d ’av done the same thing.”

“I know.”

“I know my duty to you and the girls. Besides she’s practically a nun.”

When they returned to the house from the morning service he found that Clancy was gone. All his clothes and other belongings had been removed from the bedroom. On the bureau was a note:

“Seeing as you can’t read writing I’ve printed this note to tell you I got word that my mother was poorly and I have gone to tend to her. Clancy.”

He tucked the note into his pants pocket. Picked up the shirt and pants that Lillian had sent him and took them downstairs.

“Ma you think you can fix these so they fits me better.”

She shook the shirt out. “That’s quality.” She held it to her face then studied the seams. “Don’t want to tamper with it. Look at that stitching. It’s a blessed art. I could never sew that that fine.”

“Look! We fit yer pants, Birk.” His sisters had pulled on the pants, each standing in one of the legs and holding them up by the waist. They hopped toward him.

“Get outta there.” He laughed.

“Priest’s a big man.” His mother said. “These wouldn’t even fit Blackie.”

The girls got out of the pants and Birk pulled them on over the pants he was wearing.

“Even if ya can fix the cuff some.” He folded the hem several times so that it rode at the hight his present pants did. “Even if they too big around the waist I won’t be stepping on them when I wear them.”

“Your waist will always grow.” His mother laughed. “Give ‘em here. I can do a a few stitches to keep them from dragging along.”
“Thanks Ma.”

“Where’s that Clancy gotten too?”

“Gone.” Birk said. “Packed his things and gone.”

“Yer joking.” she went up to the room and came back down. “So he is.”

He gave her the note.

“I knowed his Ma was ailing.” She said. 

“He say anything to you about goin’ to see her?” Birk looked at the note.

“Yes but didn’t say when.”

“I’m sure he’ll be back for that union march at the end of the week.”

“Depends on his Ma.” His mother said.

After supper Birk went out to check his rabbit traps. There was one caught but he left it there as he continued on his way to his favorite sitting spot. He climbed up high in a branch of the oak tree.

His Ma was right, the things Clancy had said were to him mean. It was same as his first months in the mines where he had to prove himself everyday. The men all riding him for being so small, then for being so hairy but he showed them. Showed Clancy too that he wasn’t going to take that from him either. 

But how could Clancy have been hidin’ those thoughts the past months. Acting as if they were friends. Making him feel he was …. someone he wanted to be with. But foolin’ him all the time. 

Getting him to talk about his hopes and making him think about the future. All that was a big show, a sham. Birk rubbed his head against the bark of the tree. 

When he got the rabbit on his way home he remembered showing the trap line to Clancy, showing him to skin the rabbit easy and where the salt was to treat the pelt.

He sat on the garden bench. He didn’t want to go into the house. He didn’t want to go up his empty room. He didn’t know what he wanted to do. He couldn’t figure out why this had happened to him. That someone could become such a part of his life that when they were gone it was if he had no life ahead of him.

He heard men talking in the road in front of the house, the McKlusky’s arguing next door. 

“I’m going out.” He heard Jim yell. “Where to is none of your business.”

“Don’t be late. I know it isn’t union this time o’ night.” His wife shouted back. “It’s to that Dan’s you’re going.”

“I’ll go where I want and I’ll stay out as late as I want.”

A gate slammed and Birk half hoped it was Clancy coming back but it wasn’t their gate. It was Jim on his way to the bootlegger’s. 

What was his life before Clancy showed up? Him and Geo eating at the table in the morning. Shovelling coal into the carts. He missed that. Doing things with his hands kept his mind from thinking about anything. He wanted to stop thinking. 

His mother came out of the house with a couple of mugs of tea.

“Sweet summer night,” she handed him a mug and sat beside him. “Before you kids came along me and Blackie ‘d sit out here. Then you could smell the hay.”

“You ever want to get out of here? The mines I mean.”

“Before I wed Blackie I thought about teaching or even nursing but once I had Geo those were a girl’s dream. Never can get ahead with the company. You buys from the company store, owes them money. You pays the company a fair price for a house, too, as long as you working there, but the house never gets to be yours.”

“It would nice to have something that was yours.” Birk sighed heavily. “Think I’ll take a walk.”

“A walk?”

“Clancy ‘d do that to get away and think a bit. Yeh something to do.”

Birk headed along their lane and to Pitt St and along to Chestnut Avenue. The smell of the burned company store was still in the air. He nodded to a few folks as he passed them. We went out of his way to pass Mrs. Franklin’s. There were boarders laughing and smoking on the veranda but none of them was Clancy.

He went along the pier and sat on a piling staring out at the reflection of lights on the water. The last drop off by the Dingle Dandy had been half-an-hour ago.

He’d never had this much free time. Time with nothing to do except worry about when the strike would be settled; what had he done to rattle Clancy so; what was he going to do at lunch with Lillian and Father Patrick. 

If this was what a man of leisure had to do, he wasn’t interested. He’d rather be worked to the bone and back sore from the pits than have time to think about things he didn’t understand and problems he didn’t know how to solve.

The Reverend Brown once said that God makes each man to his purpose. All along Birk figured his purpose was to work, to crush coal, bring his pay home to the family, sleep and do it again. Cut and dry so he didn’t have make any decisions himself.

“Taking the air?” someone said from behind him.

Birk started and almost fell off the piling and into the harbour. 

“Oh, Jim, you about knocked me over.”

“Saw you and that mainlander having a go at each other earlier.”

“Got in one another’s way. Gave him a good what for though. Sort of thing I never could get away with Geo.”

“That Geo used to love to torment you some.”

“Ma says it was what brothers were supposed to do.”

“Never had a brother. All sisters. Thought getting married wud be an escape from that. Trouble is sisters is women and I married  a woman. Them ‘s the breaks.”

“How long you think this strike is going to go on?” Birk asked.

“Not too much longer after us burning down the pluck me.  Sort of thing the Corporation won’t stand for. There’ll action and not the kind of action we’re going to appreciate much.”

“You ever think o’ getting out of the mines?”

“And do what? I suppose I could try for the Steel Plant, or that iron foundry in North Sydney. But this is what I know. You want to try your hand at something else?”

“Clancy said future’s black underground. He got some schoolin’ though he could get on. Oh … I dunno … I was pretty happy doin’ what we all do …”

“But you feel there’s something more? I know that feelin’. When I was your age I wanted something more too. Sure wish I done something about it then. What did I do? I changed shifts in the mines. That’s what I did. Come on I’ll spot you a tip at Dan’s.”

“Ma ’d kill me if she finds out I went to the bootlegger.”

“You only die once.” Jim laughed. 

“Sure why not. I’m wanting to do something different. Maybe this is it, eh?”

Dan’s house was at the edge of the end of Castleton Mines past St Agatha’s hall. Birk knew that after the recent union meetings some of the men would end up there drinking their strike pay.

“If it’s not Blackie’s boy.” Dan greeted him. “Thought you tea-total same as yer old man.”

Birk grinned. He recognized several of the men there. There was also a couple women there. Wearing not much of anything. The place smelled of beer, cigarette smoke and sweat. He peered around afraid he’d see Clancy there.

“Aren’t you the hairy beast.” one of the women brushed up against him and put her hand into his shirt. All she was wearing was an untied silk robe. He saw that she was naked underneath it. He moved back.

“Look ladies we got a virgin here?” she laughed hoarsely.

Birk continue to back away. 

“Don’t be afraid, little man. I won’t hurt ya.” She touched his face and moved to kiss him.

“No … n … no … thanks Ma’am.”  Her perfume made it hard for him to breathe.

He turned and rushed out of the house and ran all the way home. Was this were McKlusky spent his time? Was this what men did? 

He took his boots off on the back porch of the house and went in quietly.

His mother was at the kitchen table.

“Where you been?” she asked.

“Down the dock. Thinking.”

She leaned over and smelled his shirt. “All this time?”

“I got took over to Dan’s. Ma it was … I never been in there … you gotta believe me. I was so afraid I’d find Clancy there. There was women. I didn’t know what to do so I bolt out of there fast as I could.”

“Who took ya?”

“I don’t want to say. Don’t ask me. I wanted to see what went on in those places. That’s all.”

“I believe you Birk. I do.” She shook her head. “You go to bed. You got to meet that nun tomorrow.”

“Nun?”

“The priest’s niece.”

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NaNoWriMo.05 2018

Wrapping NaNoWriMo with a whopping validated 66,025 words, not too shabby considering the distractions of Coal Dusters. I did include the extra work on Coal Dusters in my NaNo count for this year – after it started as a NaNo several years ago.

I’ve really liked the work I put in on Blludstun as I allowed it to morph from my original intent into a more complex paranormal mystery. As I’ve said as I wrote the nature of the plot – the events of the plot became clearer – so I do have a really sound set of notes, characters & a general sense of where it is going so I can, perhaps, jump back into it int e new years, all depending on my Coal Dusters progress. 

Of course once Dusters has been blogged I have Picture Perfect edits to tackle next. That one will be a major job as I have some 250000 words there to deal with. My brain’s filing system is pretty amazing as I can already sense what work needs to be done on Perfect while I’m slogging away at Dusters & sowing the seeds of Blludstun. Not to mention working on pieces for an upcoming feature & for performing at Capturing Fire. Yes, I still remember to put my shoes on 🙂

 

I did a few things different this year – it’s always good the change things up. I usually put tougher some extensive playlists of new-to-me music. This year I reached into my overly-extensive archive & pulled out lots of Chopin, various jazz & even some pop – all at a move-your-fingers beat. With six years of non-stop music to dip into I thought it was time to dip into it. 

one final glimpse into the story:

“Once again I have digressed from my original intent in writing this letter to you. This is one of the facets of the creative scientific mind. I have no told anyone of the night my dear husband died. I feel I can trust a stranger, that I can be open with someone I don’t know or whom I may never meet so that what ever judgements you may have I will never experience. I will ask one favour.”

“What is that?” Matt said aloud.

“What is what?” Gabe asked.

“My God!” Matt shook his head. “I was talking to Thomasina as if she was really here!”

“Must be a compelling letter.” Gabe sat on the couch beside Matt.

“I wasn’t here at all. I was sitting in an English tea shoppe sipping Assam orange pekoe tea with her. We were eating petite fours.”

“While you were reading that letter?”

“Yeah. I didn’t even realize that until you … until I answered her. I know she wasn’t here but how did I get to there without even knowing it? I mean not even knowing I was there until just now?”

“Sounds like … I was going to say astral projection but the person travelling does it with their own awareness of doing it.”

“It’s all so vivid. I can feel the warmth of the tea cup in my hand. Thin bone china with a zigzag pattern around the edge. A sort of Egyptian sun burst in the bottom of the cup that was reveal as I drank the tea.”

“What else do you recall. What did she look like?”

“I don’t know. I was listening to her but not seeing here. Everything around me is a sort of void. There’s just me, the cup of tea, the little cake and her voice.”

“Are you sitting on a chair?”

“Yes.”

“Was there a table cloth? Anything else on the table?”

“I didn’t even see a table. Just the tea cup, it’s a dark blue bone china with an art deco zigzag pattern along the inside rim. But I told you that already, didn’t I.”

“That pattern fits in the with the house I saw in my … vision. What were you asking?”

“Asking?”

“When I brought you out of your trance?”

“Right. She asking me a favour. I was asking her what it was.” Matt went back to the letter. “She wants me not to tell anyone what she’s just written me in the letter.”

“Which was?” 

“I … if I honour her request I can’t tell you.”

“Then let me read it.” Gabe reached for the letter. 

“No.” Matt put the letter behind his back so Gabe couldn’t get at it.

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tea time

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Chapter XXXV – Lillian Makes A Friend

Coal Dusters 

Chapter XXXV

Lillian Makes A Friend

Lillian made her way along the rutted lane back to Pitt St. She stopped to look back at the houses on either side of it. How could she ever live under such conditions?  How could families live under such circumstances. If Birk was enterprising enough, with her encouragement, he could make more of himself than this. She would see to that. She strode along Pitt St. purposefully.

She had never spent this much time in the homes of any of the miners, not even her uncle’s parishioners. The houses were so … unkempt. That must be the result of children she figured. How many did Mrs. Nelson have? Four that were alive now and was it another four lost. Eight! No wonder she looked so worn down. When she married she wouldn’t let herself go like that. Pride of self wasn’t something she’d sacrifice easily.

“Miss McTavish! Miss McTavish!”

She stopped to see who was calling her. It was Mrs. Seldon.

“I was hoping to speak to you before we left.” Mrs. Seldon said.

“Left. So soon!”

“Without a roof over our heads what else could we do? At least the company isn’t going to hold us responsible for the goods that were destroyed by the fire.” 

“I see. Where will you be moving to?”

“We’ll be in North Sydney until the company finds a new position for husband. He hopes to know where within the month. Of course that also depends on when this strike comes to an end. I hear they may be legislated back to work.”

“Hardly seems fair. To force then to accept no change in their work conditions.”

“How fair was it for them to do what they did. It’s not as if BritCan broke into the store and set it on fire. Castleton’s a nice place but I’ll be glad to be out of here. We never felt at home here. Though I will miss our times together.”

“As will I.”

“Will you be staying her much longer? Doesn’t your family back in Boston miss you?”

Lillian wanted to blurt out that to them she was already dead and buried. 

“Yes, but things have changed between us since I’ve been here. I don’t feel that my future lies with them or in Boston any more.”

“The future? It is impossible to know where it lies for anyone. Last week we were looking forward to fixing that spare room so as Charles would have his own room to grow up in.  And now … We’re at Mrs. Franklin’s boarding house for the moment but it’s not a place for a family, if you understand me. Not that there have been many salesmen or travellers since the strike. I’d much rather be doing my own cooking.” She said.

Lillian had met Mrs. Franklin a few times at the company store and had found her to be an eager gossip about things in Castleton and sometimes beyond. The frequent travellers who stayed at her boarding house brought her information that never found its way into the local news papers.

“Oh, speak off the saints here she is now!”

Mrs. Franklin was walking up from the dock with two shopping baskets laden with groceries. She stopped to put down her baskets.

“You’ve been to North Sydney?” Mrs. Seldon asked.

“Yes, well, with the company store gone I needed to get some essentials before those shops in North Sydney hiked their prices. Not that anyone around here could afford their regular prices.”

“Business must good for you?” Mrs. Seldon said glancing though what Mrs, Franklin had bought.

“I’ve had some of the union men saying here and that company representative as well. It’s enough to keep me going for now, but they are particular about the food they eat. I don’t mind as long as the pay extra for it. Though having to do nearly everything myself is a chore.”

“You have no girl working for you?” Mrs Seldon asked.

“No, I can’t afford help. If it weren’t for that Clancy and Birk I’d have no hot water either.”

“Birk Nelson?” Lillian asked.

“Yes. I heard about what he did for you, Miss McTavish, at the fire the other night. Right good young man he is. Quiet though.” she picked up one of her baskets with a heavy sigh. “You’ll be heading to Sydney today?”

“Yes. I was just on my way to the dock to join John. I better get going before  the ferry departs.”

“Let me help you with this,” Lillian picked up the other basket.

“It’s not too much for a wee thing like yourself?” Mrs. Franklin said. “I be obliged for your assistance. You take care now,” she kissed Mrs. Seldon quickly on the cheek.

“I will.” Mrs. Seldon walked down toward the dock.

“Have you lived here long?” Lillian asked picking up the other basket.

“Oh yes. My grandfather was who originally owned much of this when it was farmland. It was my father that built the monstrosity. That’s what I came my house.” she gave a little laugh. “Now most of the land belongs to BritCan. My house too, if things keep going as they have.”

“You must have seen many changes over the years. Families coming and going.”

They came to Mrs. Franklin’s house. Lillian had passed it many times and had admired the porch than ran along the three sides of the house that faced the street. She longed to sit on one of the comfortable chairs there. She followed Mrs. Franklin up the stairs.

“Oh my yes. Some as we’re glad to see the end of too, mind, you. Take the Murphy’s, they were a mess of trouble from the very start. They lived along Upper Victoria, not too far from you. The boys were hellions, pardon my language Miss, but no other word will do. The pa was a drunk and those boys of his took after him. Tried to set fire to St. Agatha’s one Christmas. This was before your Uncle came to the parish.” Mrs. Franklin opened the front door and nodded for Lillian to go in first.

“Not all the families have been so troublesome. The Nelsons seem like good folks.”

“Oh, my, you are right about them. Lost some of their young un’s in the flu a few years a go. Heartbreaking so many were lost then. War was bad enough but this was right in front of you.” 

Lillian followed Mrs. Franklin into the kitchen. The house was so unlike the Nelson’s or even the rectory. The hallway walls were a white wall paper with floral details painted in along the lower edge corners and with birds in the upper corners. The kitchen was large, spotlessly clean. She put her basket on the table.

“I was just visiting with them. To thank Birk for his bravery last night. Is it usual for a man his age to not have … ” Lillian wanted to find out for sure that Birk wasn’t encumbered with a local girl.

“Man!” Mrs. Franklin broke in. “He’s barely past eighteen or perhaps it is nineteen.”

“Oh!” Lillian had assumed Birk was closer to her own age. She took things out of the basket and handed them to Mrs. Franklin to put on one shelf or the other.

“Yes. That hairy face of his adds the years. First time I saw him fresh shaved here, I didn’t recognize him. Honestly. He looks like he was no more than fourteen. I had to laugh but I guess it’s the parents to blame.”

“Blame?”

“He never learned how to shave proper. Neither his father or brother George were so blessed by hair. I guess the Good Lord was saving it for Birk. Took Clancy a few soaks to get that face properly shaved.”

“I see.” Lillian was a little embarrassed to hear such personal details about Birk. 

“His mother is some protective too. Perhaps you got a sense of that. Catholic families have a boy they are dedicating to the priesthood.” Mrs. Franklin filled the tea kettle and put it on her stove.

“The Nelson’s aren’t Catholics.” Lillian sat at a table between a pair of corner windows with pale yellow curtains. 

“No, but to some families a child to look after them in their old age is the same thing. I know their Ma was some upset when Geo started kept company with Shelia McPherson. I’m sure you’ve heard all about that anyway?”

Lillian shook her head ‘no’.

“It came as no surprise to any of us at the time.” She took a tea pot out the cupboard, poured some boiling eater into it, swished it around & poured the water back into the kettle. “They’d been hand holding for a few months and when Old Jim McPherson had that accident that killed him the company wanted them out of the house. Didn’t even give them a week after the funeral before sending that notice. Imagine! So to keep their house Geo moves in as border. Before you know it Shelia is indisposed.” She poured water into the tea pot and got a couple of mugs our another cupboard.

“Indisposed?” Lillian asked.

“Sorry dear I keep forgetting you’re the priest’s girl. I hope this doesn’t shock you but Shiela was … with child. Any one could have told this was bound to happen. So George did the right thing and married the girl.” She pour Lillian a mug of tea. “I hope you don’t mind the cup, dear, but I found that the good china couldn’t stand up to the usage of my boarders.” 

“I see.” Lillian sipped her tea. 

“So as I was saying, Mrs. Nelson has been even more watchful over Birk. Not that she wasn’t always protective of him, him being so little and all. Better than some of those Mudtown families who let little’ns run around like a pack of dirty dogs.”

“So Birk hasn’t been keeping company with anyone.”

“Oh no! Not that I’ve heard of at any rate. He’s a bright lad mind you. His pa Blackie has taught him all about the boilers. That’s probably the next step for him, once this strike is over, to get his papers and move out of the mine.”

“Engineer?” Lillian wondered what the pay difference might be. An engineer’s wife sounded better than a miner’s wife.

“Yes. A trade that can travel you know. Boiler’s is boilers no matter where they are.”

A clock from somewhere in the house chimed four. 

“Oh it is getting late.” Lillian stood. “I really have to get back to the rectory to get supper for Uncle Pat.”

“It’s been good to get to know you better, Miss McTavish.”

“Lillian, please Mrs. Franklin.”

“Only if you call me Rose.” Mrs. Franklin said.

“Of course, Rose. It has been a pleasure to become better acquainted with you as well.”

They walked to the front door. 

“Did you do this?” Lillian pointed to the birds above the corners of the door frames.

“Oh yes. My winter pastime.” 

“Thank you again.”

It started to rain as she shut the Franklin’s gate behind her. She pulled her shawl over her head and ran to the rectory. She darted along the side to the back door to void tracking mud into the front hall. She dreaded going back into the dark kitchen. Even on this mild day it was cool. It was so unlike the bright, cheerful kitchen she had just left. Even the Nelson’s house felt more like a home than the rectory ever did.

Inside she leaned against the frame of the back door to knock the mud off her shoes. Had Mrs. Franklin noticed them? Shame flooded her at the state her appearance had come to over the past few months. 

Through the open door she could smell the earth of the back garden. To her it was the smell of the grave. No! She wasn’t going to die here even if her family had already buried her there.

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NaNoWriMo.04 2018

Let me tell you, balancing this year’s NaNo with editing Coal Dusters had been a challenge – the result is that I have good notes on Blludstun but have made little head way is getting the story really going. But I am happy with the progress on the new NaNo & even happier with the new Dusters work.

I try to clear my life of distractions, create more writing time by getting up earlier, shortening my walk & even reading less & succeed to a degree but there is still this blog, & posting a daily set of pictures on Tumblr to keep up. I also had a Hot Damn! to distract & inspire me at the same time. Working on my pieces to perform, even riding some new pieces. 

When I hit my 50,000 target earlier this week I started to take it easy. I’ve keep writing but keeping track of the words is not going to bother me any more. There’ll be a final tally at the start of next week & then I may put Blludstun to rest for a few months as I jump on the Christmas luge  to the new year.

I’ve allowed the narrative to take its own shape so far, some things have worked very well other proved to be blind alleys, but all count toward my word tally. Everything can be fixed in editing & the more I written the more I have to work with when I edit. Much like Coal Dusters I’ll fill in descriptive details not the rewrite. By then I’ll have clear idea of the characters so I can info to expand their characters – things like clothes, room details, and what they actually are eating. When on first draft I write they had supper, in a little draft I can say what they had for supper.

(Ystradgynlais in an actual place in Wales)

When I went back to letter [from Thomasina] I could smell that peppery rose scent. It was even stronger now. My hands smelled of it. I skimmed what I had read already. 

“What I missed most about William were the endless arguments we had over the undying purpose and aim of our research. He felt we had an obligation to change the human race for the better, that we were to shape it more clearly for the future. I was more inclined to believe our purpose was to improve circumstance as they are not set out to dramatically change them. 

He was convinced that his skin research would unlock the mistery of life, that man would be able to take the creation of life into his own hands. When be came this enthralled with his mission I reminded him that he had an artificial hand, not the one he was born with. This he countered with the fact this his man-made hand was superior in every way to the one he was born with.

He also reminded me that with science he had had his gender changed. Science shaped him for the future not some God, or even some quirk of biology. Of course we spoke on with greater technological understanding of our specialized fields. I am telling you this in general terms. Details of our research is never divulged – not even to others in the field.

But the real reason I am writing you, a complete stranger, is to confess that I’ve felt responsible for the death of William all these years. The night of his accident we had our first real disagreement. Sure we had argued as married couples do and had our professional differences but that night we had a screaming match. I am ashamed to say things were broken. We struck each other in our blind rage.

There were things. even after all our years together, that William refused to divulge to me about his life. There were areas of our home that I was denied access to where he claimed he needed total privacy to do certain of his experiments.

I wanted to know what sort of research he was doing that needed to be done in secret. I held nothing back from him that I discovered and didn’t he trust me enough to be as open with him. After all these years of literally working side by side he still hadn’t confided in me the final stage of creating the artificial skin. What did I have to do to finally earn his trust? 

He sniffed and said that he wasn’t ready to let me make the sacrifices he had made.

Sacrifices I said. It’s not as if he’s sold his soul to the devil or some such nonsense. 

It was at that point he struck me. He shouted ‘woman don’t talk about things you know nothing about. Things that I wish deep in my heart that I never knew. Things no one else on this planet should never know or even suspect.’

I was stunned, shaken and also angry that he would resort to such a tired cliche to avoid being honest. I told him in no uncertain terms that there was no such thing as the devil and if he expected me to believe that he was mistaken.

He laughed in my face. That’s when I struck out at him. That didn’t stop his laughter while he told me there were much worse things in this world with greater power than any devil dreamed of having. 

I accused him of being irrational and delusional. I hadn’t realized how close to madness he had become over the last few years. I suppose being so close to him I didn’t notice it until that moment.

He pushed past me and run out of the house. He got into his car and left me there. About half-an-hour later the local constabulary came to the door to tell that there had been an accident and William had been rushed to xx Hospital. 

I later found out that he had lost control of the car and it had rammed into a petrol truck. He had been incinerated in the fire. Turned to ashes, all except his hand. Our most recent advance in Pellotics made the skin impervious to heat. One would have to drop it into an erupting volcano for it to dissolve.

As I said I had looked forward to meeting my only living relative but that is not to be. What is to be is that you will, I hope, enjoy Blludstun Towers as much as we have. Ystradgynlais is quaint and not as rustic as you may expect.”

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November 1 -30

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every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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Chapter XXXIV – Lillian Pays  a Visit

Chapter XXXIV

Lillian

Pays 

a Visit

As Lillian walked along Chestnut Street she stopped to look at the remains of the company store. Some men were removing the charred remains of the flooring. 

Under her arms she carried the package of the shirts and pants she was giving to Birk Nelson. 

Mrs. Birk Nelson. Mrs. Lillian Nelson. The names sounded good to her. Nelson had such a soft sound to it, unlike McTavish with its harsh ‘c’ followed by an even harsher ’t.’ Nelson had a sweet flow to it. How long would it be before she was Mrs. Nelson?

It had taken her most of the morning to decide what to wear. She knew that her Bostonian visiting clothes would be inappropriate. So there would be no dainty gloves with pearl button fastenings on the wrist, no satin afternoon dress with the perfect hat to go with it.

She understood that that sort of attire, even if she had it here, would be too much for this family. It would certainly impress them but definitely wouldn’t allow them to see her as one of them, as someone to be welcomed as opposed to a …. to what, she wondered, a rich, flighty, show off?

Instead of the perfect hat she had a clean bandana to cover her hair and hold it back from her face. The pale blue would make the red of her hair even redder. She hoped her work shift, freshly washed, made her look domestic, practical, like the sort of woman who would make a good daughter-in-law. Not that she’d be so blunt as to bring that up. But that it would ingratiate her into the family.

Finding out where the Nelsons lived wasn’t a simple as she expected. She had asked Mrs. McIssac if she knew. Mrs. McIssac knew in a general way but wasn’t sure which house it was on one of the lanes off Pitt St. that was the Nelsons.

With loss of the company store there was no longer a post office in Castleton. Most the village picked up their mail from general delivery at the store. She was sure Mrs. Seldon would known where every family in the village lived.

Holding her package under her arm a little closer, she walked carefully along the rutted road of Pitt St. She stopped at some children playing in front of a house to ask them. They pointed out the lane and told her the Nelson’s lived in the last house at the end before you get to the fields.

None of the houses had numbers but all looked in good repair. Most needed fresh paint and some had never been painted. All faced directly to the street with no front yards. She came to the last house and knocked at the door. 

She leaned to the door to listen and could hear a woman singing. 

“Bring us to the river, bring us to the river, so we can lay our burdens down.”

She knocked louder. The flour-smudged face of a little girl appeared in the window, she was joined by another little girl. Then they disappeared.

The front door opened a crack and the face of the first looked out at her.

“Is this where the Nelson’s live?” she asked.

The little girl was wearing ragged dress that came to her dirty knees, that didn’t cover legs that needed washing, with no shoes or stockings 

“Yes.” the child replied. “But our Pa isn’t here. He’s at the boilers.”

“I’m looking for Mr. Birk Nelson.” she said. “I have something for him.” she pointed to the package she was carrying.

“No Mr. Birk here.” the child started to laugh.

“He’s no mister.” The second girl appeared and opened the door wider. “No one calls him mister. Birk. Plain old Birk. I’ll get Ma.” She shut the door leaving Lillian standing there. The second child had been as sloppily dressed as the first.  

The first girl’s face was staring at her from the front window.

The door opened and a heavy-set woman stood there, wiping her hands on her apron. “Ah tis you Miss McTavish. I’m Birk’s mother.”

“You know who I am?” Lillian took a step back. 

Mrs. Nelson wasn’t quite what Lillian had imagined. She was tall, almost what her mother would call ‘a lanky lass.’ Her dark hair was pulled back in a loose bun. Her dress was well fitted though, unlike many fo the village she had met who preferred the loose shift that she herself wore most often. Like her girls she was barefoot.

“Most everyone in Castleton Mines know who you are miss.”

“I …” Lillian had expected that Birk would answer the door. She had planned what she would say to him but wasn’t ready for meeting his mother so soon. “I brought these for Birk.”

“There’s no need to thank him for doin’ what was right, Miss.” 

“It’s not so much to thank him but to replace the shirt that was burned so badly when he … rescued me.” She thrust the package into Mrs. Nelson’s hands and turned to go.

“Perhaps you would like to come in for a cup of tea.” Mrs. Nelson stepped away from the door so Lillian could enter. 

The house was very dark and smelled of cooking and something she couldn’t name. St. Agatha’s hall  always had this lingering smell after the miners had been there. She thought of it as the smell of unwashed working people. Could she live in a house like this? 

“As you might tell we weren’t expecting visitors.” Mrs. Nelson said leading Lillian to the side parlour. She quickly dusted an armchair for Lillian to sit in.

“These are my daughters.”

The two girls stood at the doorway. Both had changed into cleaner dress that made their brown legs look even dirtier.

“Maddy, say hello to the lady.”

“How do you Miss McTavish.” Maddy did a clumsy curtsy. “How is your babby? The one that Birk saved from the fire.”

“Oh no! That wasn’t my baby. It was Mrs. Seldon’s.”

“Weren’t you scared?” Maddy asked.

“Of course I was. When your brother got me down the stairs I was so thankful. He was very very brave.”

“He’s too hairy.” Sal said. “Not brave at all. He knew he wouldn’t burn up with all those airs all over him.”

“I doubt that.” Lillian said. She undid her hair. “You see here when I almost caught on fire myself.” She showed them the ends of where the fire had burned her hair.

“Ohh.” Sal began to tear up as she touched Lillian’s hair.

“But I’m safe now, thanks to Birk.” She hugged Sal.

“Now Sal, the lady is a guest not a dolly for you. I go and put the kettle on.” 

“If it isn’t too much trouble.” 

“None at all. Come with me Maddy.”

“Aw. I want to talk with the pretty lady.”

“I have other thing for you to do. Come.” Mrs. Nelson took Maddy by the shoulder and pushed her gently out of the room. “Twill only take a a few minutes, Ma’am.”

Lillian looked around the the small room. Her chair was in the corner beside the window the girls had been looking out. There was a dingy lace curtain covering the window. In front of her was a low table with a doily on it. Along the wall was a settee that had seen better days. a bit of carpet was under the low table. On the wall beside door was a painting of a lake.

“I can read to you Miss. If you’d like me to to?” Sal said. “I’ll go get my a b c book.”

Lillian heard Sal’s footstep run up the stairs and then back down.

“Here tis.” She sat in Lillian’s lap and opened the book. “‘A is for apples. Apples are for pie.’ We have apples in the back field. Ma bakes pies with them but mostly she makes apple sauce because that keeps better over the winter and pie crust doesn’t last that long and the sauce isn’t as much trouble in the long run because all it needs is big pot and some lasses to help it set as it boils and turns into the apple sauce. Have you ever made apple sauce Miss. I can show you if you don’t know how. Ma says I stir it right right even though I needs to stand on the stool to reach the pot and I had to be careful not to get burned. I did get burned once. She pulled back her sleeve to show Lillian a scar along the inside of her arm. “That hurt so much I couldn’t stop crying. That’s why I’m so glad Birk saved that babby from burning up. That would have hurt something terrible. You didn’t get burned beside you hair did you?”

“Sit over here, Sal.” Mrs. Nelson put a tray with a teapot, some tea cups with matching saucers on it. “I hope she wasn’t bothering you.”

“No not at all. She was telling me about apple sauce.”

“I hope you don’t mind the tea black, Miss McTavish. With all that going on it’s been hard to get decent milk. I sent Maddy to see if the next-doors had some to spare.” She poured tea into the cup closest to her guest.

“No! No! This will be fine.” Lillian took a sip. “As I said I brought some shirts for Birk. He isn’t here, is he?”

“No Ma’am, he want fishing with our border. Clancy Sinclair. Clancy’s not from around here but is fitting in with ease. Must be hard for you though. I mean coming from far away to here.”

“It has presented some challenges but a little hardship is what God uses to grace us with strength and gratitude.”

“Ah, quite right you are. I was afraid you were one of those who felt we were … savages … you know, set themselves on high over us because we’re miners.”

“Not at all. You have other children?”

“Not at home. Our eldest George has gone to Alberta with his wife to start a life where there are more opportunities. There was another after him who died, then Birk, then another two who didn’t make it through their first winters.”

Maddy came into the room with a small pitcher. Her knees and legs had been washed but she was still shoeless. “Mrs. Malone said she could spare this when I told her that we Miss McTavish here.” She put the milk on the table. “But she’ll be wanting her pitcher back.”

“I’ll see to it.” Mrs. Nelson said. “Why don’t you take this up to Birk’s room for him. It’ll be nice surprise for him when they get back from fishing.”

Maddy put the package to her face. “Smells like flowers. You giving him flowers too?”

“No! It must be from the other clothes the shirts were with. I picked them from our donations.” She didn’t want to admit that she had put a drop of her rosewater on the note she had inclosed.

“Maybe you could find us some dresses.” Maddy said, tugging at the edge of the dress she was now wearing. 

“Maddy!” Mrs. Nelson said. “Take that package up to where I told you. You go with her too, Sal.”

“Don’t mind them.” Lillian laughed. “I can remember plaguing my mother once for a dress I saw another little girl wearing. I never did get it.”

“Yes, well, miss, we aren’t in the habit of accepting such from folks. We learn how to make do.”

“Sorry I didn’t mean to offend you. I must be going. My uncle, Father McTavish, will be expecting me home.” She stood. This was a sufficient start. When she met Birk the next time it wouldn’t seem so unexpected. “It has been a pleasure to meet you and your sweet girls. It is clear where Birk gets his strength of character.”

Mrs. Nelson went to the door with her. “I’m sure Birk will be sorry him missed you.”

“Thank him for me once again.”

“You best hurry dear. It’s clear it’ll rain soon.”

“You are very pretty.” Sally said. “I pray that I’ll be as pretty as you when I grow up.”

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NaNoWriMo.03 2018

As some of you may know I’ve been posting Coal Dusters, a previous NaNoWriMo novel, on Tuesdays. So besides working on Blludstun I’ve been doing edits & rewrites on Coal Dusters. Rewrites is putting in mildly as this week I realized I left out an important scene. Yikes. I allowed myself to get distracted and started filling out that scene.

Getting back into the head of that character wasn’t too difficult but the time taken for those 5000 words meant less energy for this year’s NaNo. A sign from the universe to give it a little rest, I guess. The new Dusters scene pretty much wrote itself – the best scenes do. Of course I’ll count those words towards this year’s word-count. I’m never concerned with actually finishing whatever I’m working on for NaNo which gives me permission to write with a sense of ending even if I don’t get to that ending.

I did do some Blludstun work though. Some of it was  a light rewrite of hat I have done already to add another character. I’ve never included a pet in my stories so I figured it was time to add a cat to the mix. Something that doesn’t need dialogue 🙂 Plus cats are standard paranormal tropes. I spend an hour or so of letting that cat get underfoot. I’ve named it Mineo – as a tribute to Sal Mineo & as a nod to Mina in Dracula. 

As I’ve been writing the plot has become cleared to me as well. I need some time for the elements from by inspirations to intermingle in my subconscious to coalesce inot an original story. I’m happy with the direction it is going to take. I’ve also been watching the latest Channel Zero: The Dream Door – which is pretty good in taking the ordinary and turning it into a wild roller-coaster – something which the latest season of American Horror Show has failed to do.

Gabe went into the kitchen and I sat on the couch and began to read the letter. It was dated June of the previous year.

“Mr. Taylor,

If you are reading this letter it means I’ve passed away before I had the opportunity of meeting you in person. When the Lineage agency contacted me with your name and address it was my intent to fly to Canada to make your acquaintance. You see neither I, nor my late husband, have any living, blood family. I wanted to insure that I was leaving the estate to someone who would know what to with it. Much of the cash is going to charity but the idea of our worldly goods going to some auction house didn’t sit right with me.

I’m not sure where to begin. The enclosed documentary will tell you what little there is known about my late husband but it makes scant mention of me. I’m hoping by telling you some my history you may value our treasures as much as I do. Of course you may do what I feared and put our worldly goods up for auction.

I was the only child of James Lionel Taylor, the renowned clockmaker. My mother died in childbirth. My childhood was far from normal, though my Dad did the best he could to run his business and raise a child at the same time. As a result I spent a great deal of time in his shop and workrooms. In fact he had a room set aside for me to sleep in on nights when he was working.

Besides clocks he also made automatons that were so life-like I once asked him to make me a mother. I became so fascinated with them that I began to create dolls and soon he was showing how to construct the mechanisms that would make them move. I recently saw one of his automatons in an auction. It sold for nearly a million pounds.

One day when I was about sixteen a man came into the shop to have his hand repaired. Yes, you read correctly. His hand. He had lost his left hand in in an industrial accident and had it replaced with a fully articulated artificial one. The little finger wasn’t responding as it should and he hoped my father could repair it.

The mechanism was too small for my father to work on easily so he allowed me to try. My smaller hands were perfect for the job. By the way that man was William Blludstun. He was only twenty at the time and I found him very handsome. In order to do the work he had to remove his shirt to give me full access to the connections. 

William took an immediate interest in my education. He insisted that I study the then burgeoning field of robotics with an emphasis on medical applications. He, himself, had developed the very skin that was on his artificial hand. It blended seamlessly with real flesh, felt real except that it had no blood vessels to carry heat to it. So his hand was always at room temperature.

My father was at first skeptical at having this dark stranger take such an interest in his only daughter but if nothing else William was persuasive. When I was eighteen we were married. It was on our wedding night that I discovered the truth. William was, what we call now, a transperson. Once a woman he was now a man.

All of this is now a matter of public record. To me it was a profound shock. I had never considered the malleability of gender. Born a woman I never questioned that fact. As I furthered my medical education I learned that there was a broader range of sexuality even within what one is born as. This was one of the reasons we never had progeny. 

When my research into your life revealed that you were a man married to another man I was very pleased. Perhaps there is something in the Taylor genetic make up. I looked forward to meeting you to compare our d.n.a to see if there was something they would reveal. Alas that was not to be. 

But I digress. As William’s reputation grew so did his wealth. He began to retire more and more from the public eye. We built a home, Blludstun Estate, in a location we kept as secret as possible. This is where we have lived for the past twenty years, as out of the public eye as possible. We continued our medical research and scientific development with the utmost privacy and security.

When William died some ten years ago I carried on as best I could but my heart was no longer in the research. Now I too am dying.’


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June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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Chapter XXXIII – Birk Gets A New Shirt

Coal Dusters

Chapter XXXIII

Birk

Gets A

New Shirt

They got their fishing rods & a net basket for holding their catch from the side shed. 

“Think we’ll try the Blue Ridge Trail to the lake this time. We can check the rabbit traps on the way.”

“Faster?” Clancy asked.

“About the same but avoids the town.”

“Don’t want to see the damage, eh?”

“There’ll be time enough to see that m’sure.” Birk wanted to skirt the town to avoid possibly running into Lillian. “Sides I … Ya saw how my sisters acted.”

“You mean about you playin’ hero?”

“Yeh. I don’ need people comin’ up to say anythin’ to me about that. It was something any man’d do.”

“What’s wrong with people taking notice of ya in a good way.”

“That’s not why I did it. When I get a good word about my work in the pits don’t want it. I hate to think people are watching me. Not that I want to be cussed out. The less notice I get the better.”

“Yeh I see what you’re gettin at.”

Even though of the snares had been tripped there was nothing in any of the rabbit snares other that bits of fur. 

“There’ll be more when they start to have babies.” Birk adjusted the snares. “In a few weeks we’ll have more than enough.”

The ridge took them through the fields of the near by farms. They bypassed one that had a black and white bull in it. The bull walked over and stopped a few feet from the fence to paw the ground and snort at them.

“Smell that.” Birk took a deep breath. “Cow shit.”

“Yeh.” Clancy took a deep breath. “Almost gets rid of that smoke smell.”

“Must be in our clothes. Same way the coal dust is. It’ll take a day or so for it to go. Unless it rains.”

“I’d rather smoke than mud.”

The less-used ridge trails were overgrown as they hiked though them to the lake.

“Good sign.” Birk said. “Means not many’s been up here.”

Low lying branches whipped at their faces as they made they way through the woods. Brambles caught at their pant legs. Every now and then a flock of startled pheasants flew up to their left echoing through the trees.

“Too bad we didn’t bring a rifle.” Clancy said.

“Yeah. I’ll remember where they were for the next time.”

“Y’ sure y’ know where yer going’?”

“Pretty sure.”

They came to a low hill clearing and stopped.

“Take another good breath” Birk said. “I can smell the water. Can’t you?”

“No. I can still smell that cow shit though.” He rubbed the soles of his boots on the ground. “You got a better nose than me I suppose.” Clancy said.

“Jus’ through here.” Birk lead Clancy through another thicket of maples and alders until they came out at a rocky outcrop about halfway beside a waterfall.

“These the Blue River Falls. This is where the the river makes that turn. Over there’s where we fished the first time.”

The elevated ledge gave them a clear view of the expanse of the lake. 

“You can follow along t’other side to where it narrows again.”

The descent along the rapids involved two drops. The first was about three feet but the second was nearly ten. At the top of the second Birk tossed the rods down, handed his lunch tin to Clancy and jumped.

“Drop the tin down to me. Gentle. Don’ want to break that bottle o’tea, do we?”

He caught his pail and then Clancy’s.

Clancy stood at the edge of the drop.

“Come on b’y, s’not that far. Yer taller ‘n me so you don’t have to far to go either.”

“Easy fer you to say.” Clancy paced along the the rocky ledge. The shale was solid underfoot. One side was splashed by the rapids. The other hooked back sharply into the wooded area and then became even steeper.

“Come on Clancy b’y. I’ll catch yer.”

Clancy sat on the rock edge of the precipice. He turned so his belly hugged the rock and he lowered himself with his arms. His feet got what grip he could on the uneven rocky face of the drop. The rocks under his left hand gave way and he fell into the air. 

Birk caught him around the waist and they both collapsed to the ground.

“Oof. Man yer eatin too much of ma’s cookin.” Birk said pulling himself out from under Clancy.

“Yeh.” Clancy stood and brushed debris from his pants. “You’re making a habit of savin’ people.”

“I suppose so. You only had a few feet to fall anyway. More important to save this though. Them cookies are precious cargo.” He picked up his lunch tin. “We’re almost there.”

The rapids fed directly into the pool that then flowed into the lake. They took off their boots and socks and waded along the shore to were they had been fishing before. From there one couldn’t see the rapids.

“Looks as if no one else has been here since us.” Clancy toed the dark ashes of their previous fire. “Not even that rain washed it all away.”

Birk baited his hook, pulled off his shirt and pants and waded into the lake in his underpants. He cast his line.

Clancy followed suit. 

“I thought this would be a popular spot for fishing.” Clancy said.

“Most don’t think to come over them bluffs the way we did last time. None cares for that climb down along the rapids either. Fishermen keep good spots secret.”

“Land belong to anyone?”

“County as far I know.”

“Ever thought of owning a piece of property?”

“A farm?”

“Yeh. Where you didn’t have to worry about where yer food was comin’ from. You could go into your own field and pick what you wanted to eat.”

“Like them apple trees behind our place?”

“Sure why not. That’ ad be grand.”

They caught a dozen or so fish each over the next couple of hours before they stopped for lunch.

“Sure is getting warm.’ Birk said. “Guess that rain’s holdin’ off fer now. Think I’ll set for a spell in the sun.” He rolled his pants into a pillow, pulled off his under-drawers and stretched out on the warm rocks.

“That orchard all you thinkin’ about.” Clancy said as he did the same.

“Nope.” Birk said softly. “I think about what we did the last time here. Rubbin’ on each other.”

“We did that to avoid the sins of self-pollution.” Clancy teased.

“Yeh. Only this time I don’ want no rock scrapes on my knees and elbows. I get enuf of them in the pits.”

“Happy to oblige.” Clancy lay on top of Birk.

“Uh.” Birk gasped. “You a mite heavier than I was.”

“Don’ want to hurt you.” He began to roll off

“S’fine though.” Birk put his hands on Clancy’s behind to keep him in place. He tried to respond with hip movements to Clancy’s grinding. The hard rock under him made it awkward.

He turned his head to face away from Clancy. Clancy was breathing in Birk’s ear. They pressed at each other for several minutes. Each trying to anticipate movements by the other.

“I’m going to …” Clancy gasped. He raised himself with his left arm and with his right hand he forced Birk to look him in the eyes.

“Me too.” Birk tried to resist looking Clancy in the eyes but Clancy held his head firm. Clancy’s warm spurt oozed around his member. He spent himself seconds afterward. 

“You closed your eyes.” Clancy said. “When you spewed.”

“So did you.” Birk replied. 

“Wonder why that is?” Clancy continued to hold Birk’s gaze.

“So as we won’t see what’s in t’other soul.” He returned the gaze even though Clancy had let go of his head. “Ma say the eyes are windows to the soul.” 

They lay a few moments with eyes locked. 

Clancy licked his lips and pushed himself off Birk and rolled on to his back.

“Yer not so heavy after all.” Birk said. “I think’s time we did something about that bed at home though.”

“Get rid of the squeak, you mean?”

“I’m thinkin.” Birk rolled to his side, head propped on his elbow. “We don’t want to keep waiting till we come up here. Not when the snow flies, at any rate.”

“Or till we’re both covered with rock scrapes!’ Clancy jumped up and ran into the lake.

“That’s right.” Birk followed, leapt on Clancy to push him under the water.

They dried off and fished until the rain clouds darkened the sky.

“Let’s get these fish cleaned. We can take the town trail home.” Birk said. “It’ll be a lot faster.”

They were passing St. Agatha’s rectory when the rain started. Light drizzle at first and then a heavy downpour. They were drenched by the time they got to Birk’s house. 

“Don’t bring that wet in here.” His mother said as he handed her the fish they had caught.

“Can’t come bare skin into the house Ma.”

“Go on with ya.” She handed them two of her aprons. “These are big enough for ya till ye can get decent again. I’ll keep yer sisters in the parlour till yer upstairs.”

They stripped down to their under drawers and hung their clothes on the clothes line. 

“That’ll save us having to wash’em.” Birk said.

“Hope the rain takes that smoke out of them.” Clancy haded Birk of of the aprons.

They tied them around themselves, went into the house and rushed up to their room.

“We’re in Ma.” Birk shouted down.

“Barely covers yer arse.” Clancy laughed.

“Lest my little feller isn’t nosing about.” He pointed to Clancy privates. He’d put his apron on so hasty that the hem had been caught in the waist of his under drawers. 

“Thought it was a might breezy when I rushed up here.”

“Want to come out and play some more?” He reached out and touched Clancy’s member.

“Hey.” Clancy pulled back. “Not till we fix that squeak.”

“What’s this?” Birk noticed a package in brown paper on the bed. His name was printed on it. He tore it open and it was a couple of white shirts with a pair of dark grey pants under them. On top of the shirts was a handwritten note.

He glanced at the note and handed it to Clancy and put on the pants and one of the shirts.

“What’s it say.”

“I th’ot you could read?” Clancy squinted at the note. The handwriting was frilly.

“I can when ‘tis printed but this writing stuff I can’t make head nor tails outta it.’

“You know whose it from don’t ya.” Clancy sniffed the letter.

“No!” Birk buttoned the shirt. The white dazzled him. It was a large on him. He’d never touched such a fine linen.

“It’s from her who you plucked out of the fire last night.”

“What?” The pants were too large. The waist would need a belt and the legs were so long there was a good three inches beyond his toes. He sat on the edge of the bed and rolled the cuffs up.

“Dear Mr. Nelson,

Please accept these items to replace the clothing of yours that was damaged in the fire last night. They are apparel of my uncle’s that no long suits him. I trust they will fit you. If not I will be happy alter them.

My uncle, Father Patrick and I dearly wish to express our gratitude in person if you would kindly join us for a luncheon this Monday at the rectory. 

Sincerely

Miss Lillian McTavish.”

“I’ll be fused!” Birk said. “She wants to meet with us?”

“Just you.” Clancy grunted. “Shame you don’t fancy the gal as much as I do.”

Birk bounded down the stairs to show his mother the clothes.

“When that package come? Who brung it? Did you speak to her?” He blurted before answers could be made.

“I answered the door when the lady come.” Sal said. “She had a pretty face but dressed no better’n Ma. Called you Mister.”

“Made us laugh.” Maddy said. “Told her there was no Mister Birk living here only a plain old Birk.”

“She asked us our names.” Sal said. “I read to her from the good book too. Ma made me to do that.”

“I had to ask her in for a cup of tea.” His mother said. “Not every day we get one of them calling on us. Told us how you have been so brave at the fire. Very pretty she is.”

“I think she’s sweet on you.” Sal teased. “But that babby isn’t hers.”

“Sweet on me! You know ma’d kill me if I ever took up with some girl when I have the two of you to look after.”

“Yeh particularly a Catholic.” Clancy said. “The priest’s niece she is.”

Birk paraded around in his new clothes. 

“This is how I’d look if I were a priest.” He crossed himself. The pant cuffs refused to stay rolled up. “Guess the Father counts on God to keep his pants up.”

“Birk!” his mother laughed as she swatted at him with her wooden spoon. “Show some respect.”

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Locatelli Lully Plus

On my classical shelf  are three cds of lps to cd transfers all from MHS recordings. The first of which is Jan of Lublin: Tablature and Introduction to Medieval  & Renaissance Music. For decades I thought Lublin was the composer’s last name, but it where he is from. These are transcriptions from organ music to guitar. I don’t have my original lp so have no idea who did these transcriptions or who is playing the guitar. I didn’t realize these were originally organ music until I tried to get more & all I could find where organ pieces – even then they were scattered. There was no one lp of the organ music.

Jan is a renaissance composer & I first heard a piece  of his on the MHS compilation Introduction to Medieval  & Renaissance Music. I love these Introduction lps for the range and quality of the music. All selected from MHS releases – so it was easy to track down the Lublin. Good luck on finding these transcription but they are well worth having.

Another composer I first heard on an MHS compilation was Pietro Locatelli. here I have his music for  Flute and Guitar; Two Violins; Oboe and Guitar; Two Flutes; along with Johan Stamitz’s Flute Concerto. I love Renaissance flute music and these two composers wrote delightful, playful and sometime relaxing chamber music. The Locatelli was intended for living room entrainment in which the children would play his music. Life before radio.

 

The last is a pair of Baroque composers together on a cd of MHS lps: Jean-Baptiste Lully: Suites; Georg Philipp Telemann: Flute Trios. Lully was a French court composer & his music is sweet, a bit busy but charming. He also wrote a few operas that are still performed today. Telemann was a German court composer. Here I have a sonata of his flute trios which are soothing & also charming. I have more  Telemann but that can wait until I get to ’t.’

Just Start

‘I’ll start by explaining ….’

‘Why don’t you just say what you are going to say. Don’t explain it to me. just start.’

‘Yes, but …’

‘Just start and once you’ve done you can explain, if I don’t get it. Okay.’

Dave had an address to give the local PTA. Not often were gay fathers asked to address anyone expect lawyers and case workers, so he was rather nervous.

‘Ahem,’ he gave a little cough. ‘ Do you think this is what I should wear?’

‘Bad start, Dave. Don’t ask these parents what you should wear.’

‘Steve, that is not the start of my talk. I was asking you, if you thought this is what I should wear.’

White shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, black dress pants, black loafers. Neat and tidy.

‘I don’t know.’

‘What do you mean?’ He looked himself up and down.

‘Let’s see your undies. You can’t do this in those …’

‘You want to heard how I sound or what.’

‘Of course. I think you are worrying way too much. Those that get it will, and those that don’t, will never get it. It won’t matter how conservative you dress, how polished or even-handed you sound they’ll stop hearing you after you say homosexual or gay. So let’s hear it …’

‘Ahem,’ another throat cleaning. ‘I’m David Bradly and both my son and daughter are in classes at this school. Jan is in third grade and Cliff in sixth grade. They’ve both been here at Cedar Grove Public school for the past two years. …. Good so far?’

‘Yes. Go on.’

‘Do you think I need to tell them more, like how we came to move here, as opposed to staying in LA or …’

‘Yes, and while you are it, you might bring an overhead projection of our financial portfolio and notarized copies of our bank statements, as well.’

‘No, I just mean, I don’t want them to think we dropped in here out of the blue to invade their community.’

‘Dave, you know very well we aren’t the only gay couple in Cedar Grove.’

‘We aren’t?’

‘If you’d stop trying to fit us in like a normal hetero couple, you may have noticed. There’s the two women over on Green Crescent.’

‘Yes, but they don’t have any kids in this school. Do they?’

‘No. But one of them is on the town council.’

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6
November 1 -30

http://nanowrimo.org

November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto


http://www.queerslam.com

every Tuesday


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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