Five Words In Fiction

“Capuchin, Capuchin!”
“For once, children, allow me to walk.”
Friar Benedict brushed past the peasant children as he rushed along the cobblestones toward the monastery. The Franciscans called for his presence at the bed of his dying mentor, Friar Francis.
He carried his young countenance through the village into the countryside. His destination, the tiny monastery where he was raised by Friar Francis. Set atop an alpine mountain, a solitary sanctuary of prayer.
Just as he’d done hundreds of times previously, Friar Benedict traversed the arabesque terrain leading to the place he once called home.
Upon arriving he tried to ignore the harbinger as the bell struck twelve.
Without knocking Friar Benedict flung open the wooden, cuprous hinged doors. An immediate sense of something acrid emanating from the cooks kitchen overtook him.
“What is that foulness you’re stirring up in your kettle, Friar Cook?”
“The potion, our last effort! You’ve made the trip, Brother. He’ll rest now.”
“I don’t know what you’ve hunted down to put into him, Cook. But if he can eat that he’ll survive for certain! I’ll go to see him.”
In the dark sleeping quarters the old Franciscan’s frail body lay across the bed while he slept. His formerly round cheeks, sunken. His strong jawline now sharp and jutting, dangled almost unhinged. Friar Benedict couldn’t find it in him to awaken the old priest or leave without word. He chose to sit on a small milking stool by the bed.
Memories of his life with and before Friar Francis sifted through his mind. Friar Francis rescued him from a life of loneliness.

He remembered the orphanage, the other children, the devastating fire. Before that, with his Gypsy Mother, he remembered the still, reflective pond and the skrying. The hope that someone would one day save him.
Then the day of days that Friar Francis and the Franciscans happened upon him as he scavenged the forest floor for food.
And every day thereafter in their loving, nurturing care.

Now the dying Friar Francis registered Benedict’s quiet presence. Slowly he stirred from his sleep.
Reaching out, his aged hand appeared withered and frail.
Benedict held it in his, patting it ever gently. He spoke softly, leaning across the shadowed space.
“Friar, Friend, Brother, Father,
I’m here. Lord Jesus, I’m here.”

N.B. Wilde

Written in response to creative writing class prompt for use of the words:

Capuchin, Arabesque, Cuprous, Acrid, Scrying

One page, 12 font, single line space limit.

*Photo of The Capuchin Church, Rapperswil, (German: Kapuzinerkloster Rapperswil) is a Capuchin friary located in Rapperswilin the Canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland

Source: Wikipedia


magic, voila!

in the sharing

reading, speaking, listening, hearing.

creating, giving, yes – believing

codes uniquely me to you

in all eternity each one new

never quite like this before

never again forevermore

with reverence for all creativity

try to understand

toiled over turns of phrase

offered across hiccough heart, still dazed


unpretentious sleight of hand

On Bader 5

I see the abuse of you my fair-haired boy.  Months on end. Your captors shoving tubes through your nostrils. Methodically, not medicinally. Right, left, right, left.  Driving them down your throat as you gag and vomit glassfuls of water which they force you to drink. Tubes pushed through your fragile gullet. Your aching stomach. Lodged in your small intestine then taped in a large cross to your freckled face.

You cry out to me. “Please, Mom, please make them stop! Mom!”

Your captor repeats, “It’s all in your head. You must eat with the rest of them. Three times a day, or else.  The tube, three times daily.” For months. Will this ever end.

I see your isolation my spotless child. You, thrashing, crashing. Solitary, in the rubber room for crying in the hallway at the threat of losing both your parents. “A breakdown.” Your captor, a.k.a doctor calls it in the meeting. “We just can’t have that. He needed to be shown. Again, his problem is all behavioral.”

Across a dusty desk, in a nameless chair a dirty sun filters through a grimy window on Bader 5. My soul heaves. From the ancient depth of my D.N.A., a volcano erupts. My heart explodes. A burst of blood, bone and flesh runs down my skull, the length of my body, pooling deep at my feet.

You are my child. I’ve failed to protect you from this horror.

Desperate to rescue you, my ear singularly tunes to a pulse echoing from your captors neck.  Keenly my vision focuses through his scholarly clutter to that one throbbing vessel.

I eye his carotid.

Thin White Line

We missed the last bus to the last ferry on the last night before the Fourth of July. Well, we didn’t actually miss it. We arrived at the stop on our bikes, over packed luggage on our backs, fifteen minutes early then had to wait for it. We never once considered the possibility that the bike rack would be full. The woman driver denied our pleas to bring the bikes on board. Some liability issue she said. She drove away leaving us standing there in the middle of nowhere, no way back, now way forward, no way out. The late afternoon sun was scorching hot. My timing, my strategy, my navigation of this exit was perfect. After all, I hadn’t proudly retired from a career as Commanding Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard for nothing. Leave it to a woman to mess things up.
I quietly kicked at the sand while she stared at me. Cautiously, she said, “Charlie, I’ve never seen you look so forlorn. Everyplace is booked for the 4th, we can’t even get a room.” No kidding I thought. My reply, “We have to go back to the AirBnB to sleep in a tent in her yard!” The suggestion of sleeping outdoors, on the ground, just the whiff of the idea set her mind alight with another one of her genius ideas like staying all the way out here in West Tisbury on our bikes! Her next idea, “We’ll ride to the ferry! It’s our only option.” We looked at each other, at our map then at our luggage. I helped heave her Mt. Everest backpack onto her petite back. She tried to balance the skinny wheeled road bike. Very wobbly, but she just might survive pedaling the narrow, shoulderless road, thin white stripe delineating it from the sand trap lining its edge. We were nine miles, two villages and ten gallons of sweat from our destination.
I fastened my backpack, looped my suitcase strap around my neck, then balanced it across the handlebars. We donned our helmets. All systems heave-ho. My companion said she may well die trying to catch a late ferry. I laughed, but secretly thought she might be right. We pedaled away into the setting sun and speeding traffic.
Big mistake to tell her to ride ahead. Why the hell was she pedaling so slow, wiggling around like a circus clown? Not looking ahead, only at her pedals? We arrived at a tremendous hill. Mt. Everest was sliding downward off her barely existent derriere as she wobbled to a stop, coughing, gasping, grabbing at her throat. What the hell? Oh No! Everest’s chest strap had slid up to her neck, choking her! I helped her with Everest. Rubbing at her throat, she took her helmet off. Said it kept bumping into the overstuffed top flap of Everest, restricting her from looking forward. I was being led by the blind, worse yet, I was following! She asked if we could walk the bikes up the hill. I said some kind words, denied that I was hungrier than a lion, agreed that it was hotter than the third level of hell then got a fix on my map. Halfway there. It was all downhill from here, except for the traffic. They don’t slow down for a couple of aging bicycle boomers on the Vineyard. Not even when the boomers look like they’re escaping from a hungry lion pride or a 1950’s insane asylum. No. The drivers lower the window and scream out, “Use the bike path!” Scare the living shit out of them so they nearly loose control of the bike, careening straight into the car or skip the thin white line into Sand Pit Purgatory.
It was a heavenly site when we pedaled around that last curve of East Chop into the village of Oak Bluffs. The sun’s last angle a perfect pitch for her sinewy silhouette, however Everest laden it was. We half skidded, half stumbled to the ferry landing. My female companion collapsed on a bench saying she wouldn’t move from it for all the tea in China or even a hungry jungle lion. Me, being the nice guy that I am, agreed to forgo dinner, stay with her, watch the simmering sun set over the harbor. She congratulated us on surviving the perilous ordeal we’d just put ourselves through. I thought, “Yeah, all for the sake of not sleeping in a tent.” I said, “Oh, I’ve done lots of things like this, far more risky, hazardous and unnerving.” Incredulous, the woman looked at me, “Charlie, you’re seventy years old!” Through my split a gut laughter I managed to spit out the words, “Oh, yeah, I forgot!”
She hadn’t choked to death on that hill but I thought she might right there and then as she hit the ground laughing at our unabashed absurdity.
Martha’s Vineyard in early summer isn’t a place you’ll read about in National Geographic but it’s unrivaled beauty is a sight to behold. If you visit, be sure to go in the shoulder season like we did, barely. Be extra certain there’s an endurant woman by your side. A woman the likes of Nancy isn’t a bad a choice, even if she does refuse to sleep outdoors in a tent.



Every now and then there comes a book so compelling, so consuming, that it makes your lover jealous.
You share intimate details, ideas, laughter over a glass of fine wine. You may change your thoughts, you may change the world while engaging in pillow talk under a soft amber glow as autumn crickets chirp out their own song of passion at the open window. It keeps you awake with desire until your eyelids are leaden, your body exhausted, the slumber heavy between you; falling asleep in a warm, mutual embrace.
Gently nudged among angled charcoal shadows to the plea for yet more attention, you readily acquiesce.
Awakening to dawns delicate lavender light, you pick up once again where you left off for just an hour, moments ago.
You find yourself skipping meals for your book, socially isolating. It’s an epic love affair between the two of you. You know it can’t last and that you’ll be indelibly changed by it, but you can’t help yourself. You find yourself reading ever slowly because, like life, it is so damn good that you want it to last forever. Yet the temptation to skip to the end, to learn the outcome, the moral, the true meaning of it is very near irresistible. You decide, once again to wait it out, read every word, every paragraph, every chapter. And, like life, in each one lies the magic.
A book such as this is one that I read just this week entitled, “Washington Black” by Esi Edugyan. It’s a story of slavery and oppression, a young boy, a slave named “George Washington Black” (Wash). He lives on a cane plantation, on the island of Barbados, in the West Indies in the early 1800’s.
It’s the story of his savage masters brother, his savior, Christopher Wilde (Titch). Titch chooses him to be his assistant with his engineering and aero studies and design.
The story unfolds into a journey, an adventure across continents; a study of human oppression and our ability to inflict unspeakable cruelty upon one another in the name of nothing more than self-righteousness. It brings us along with “Wash” on his search for meaning and Titch’s search for purpose. We meet many a supporting character, all of deep value to the stories eventuality.
This eloquently written, scintillating book of words, paragraphs and chapters is one that held me captive with every exquisite turn of phrase. It frequently caused me to gasp, stop, breath deeply, read that again and try to integrate it into my very being.
I now, once again, into my mirror, call into question my own roots or the possibility of traces of racism as a white American female born and bred in the northeast. I examine what action I may have taken on behalf of those more oppressed, attempt to rid myself of stalling guilt, and ask, “What action will I pursue in the future?”
I do believe that this book indeed has the potential to become a contemporary classic.
It’s a book you may enjoy, perhaps not. Good writing, for all of its literary critical and educational praise is, in the end, subjective.

“Washington Black” is shortlisted for the Man Booker Award for 2018.

Written as a “book report” for Creative Writing Class.

August Dusk

Fat hummingbirds feasting, flying like dust

on an eerily quiet Rod Serling kind of afternoon

melded into a hushed

color blended world as we talked through the hot August dusk

Shades of greens, blues and hot orange glow

encompassed us while we sat and watched the surfers below

A starlit night, my brother Chris

and the silver moon asking what has gone amiss

Five sisters, severed lives and scabbed over lies

His family he tells me
has broken his heart

Do you know the way, Nance, to begin to heal these tears of bond

Tears, Yes, say I, this is a start

but we both know there is no waving of magic wand

we must each
search wide, stretch and reach

our own transgressions, go where no one’s dared to tread before

to find the peace we seek, patiently waiting in innocent memories of days long gone

and genuine, shared vision

of respectful, loving seven

in the far but possible great beyond.