Mind Fields – Doomed Love At Starbucks: Breaking Up With The Internet

Mind Fields

            Internet and I are at a Starbucks and it’s one of those weekdays at two o’clock when the place is quiet.  People chat softly at a couple of tables.  One young man, about seventeen or eighteen, types quietly on his laptop.  Internet is in my Toshiba Satellite, and I pull her closer so we can converse through the camera and speakers.

            “We need to talk,” I say. Those dreadful words, mocked Internet. ‘We need to talk‘. But it’s true. Things have been changing between us.”

            Her voice is tinny, coming from those little speakers. It doesn’t matter.

            She (Internet) puts a face on the screen. It is one of those video game Lara Croft type faces, very pretty but very unreal. I know she’s teasing me, but it reveals her anxiety.

            “Cut it out,” I growl. “Use your real face… the one we agreed on.”

            Internet changes to a convincing human visage. She has red-brown hair and freckles and looks like a student at Cambridge or Oxford. I’ve always been a sucker for smart English girls.  Internet is still fooling around. She’s wearing round Harry Potter glasses. She’s trying to be funny, but the glasses look good on her and she doesn’t know it.

            We both start speaking at precisely the same moment.

            “Well…I, uh…”

            “You go first,” Internet says, in her upper crust English accent.

            “We’ve been together a long time,” I reply. “Ever since my first Mac Notebook.”

            Internet appears to shudder and for a moment there is a screen with little green battleships scooting back and forth. Then she regains her “face”.

            “It’s me,” she says. “Not you. I’m the one who’s changed.”

            “We’ve both changed, and it’s good, it’s great…,” I try, “but something has gone away, something has been lost.”

            “What? What? There’s nothing lost. My god! Look what I can do now, look at the size of the files you can upload into me.  And…., well… I can download into you…”  Her shoulders wiggle with a sensual shimmy. “I love it!”

            “That part of our relationship has been better than ever,” I say. “Our… uh… connection speed has been fabulous. It’s uh… uh…”

            “What? It’s what?” She’s getting impatient.

            “This is hard to say,” I waffle.

            “Just come out with it!”

            “Okay, okay. I think you’ve become all about money.”

            “Oh bullshit!” Internet’s face turns a shade more red. Her complexion is already rosy, but I know I’ve hit a nerve. “I make money, you make money, everybody makes money on the internet. What are you complaining about! Come on, tell me the truth.”

            “All right, all right. It’s kind of hard to explain…. but I’m always confused now. I don’t know what the heck you’re doing and it makes me feel… well… suspicious.”

            “I have to change with the times,” Internet ripostes. “You know that, everyone knows that.”

            “It’s true, but I feel like you’ve moved into my apartment and now the place is full of those sticky cobwebs that you walk through and then you keep brushing your head to get the stuff off but it never comes off. I don’t know what’s going on any more.”

            My hand trembles as I drink a swig of lukewarm cappuccino. It’s all closing in on me. I feel confused and embarrassed. There is a silence. Internet looks guilty.

            I don’t know why I blurted out the next words. “It’s Amazon, isn’t it?”

            Internet looks even more guilty. “What do you mean, ‘It’s Amazon’? She says with an edge of defensive wrath.

            My mind is beginning to clear. The cobwebby feeling starts to fall away from me. “You’ve sold out to the ‘zon. Everything is owned and run by the ‘zon. There aren’t websites any more. There are web colonies that are being run by web empires. Everything I post shows up on a hundred other websites. I can’t scratch my nuts without a link appearing on Facebook, Rotten Tomatoes or Twitter: Art Rosch just scratched his nuts. Do you want to be his Friend?”

            Internet’s face dissolves into chaos, then puts itself back together. Maybe the connection went down. Maybe Internet is playing for time. There is a shadowy figure of Winston Churchill on Internet’s forehead. Down by her chin is the monster from “Alien” but it’s shrinking, quickly disappearing.

            “Okay, I’ll admit to some things,” she admits. “I’ve been bought up by a handful of corporations. Tell you the truth, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t have a clue. I’m getting new software thrown at me so fast, I can’t handle it.” A tear slides down her cheek. “I’m crashing all the time!”

            I barely hear her. I’m reflecting on the experiences of the last few weeks.

            “Tell me about it,” I say at last. “It seems like every day I’m asked to join another social network. What the hell is Pinterp? Or Floosbock? Like an idiot, I join and the software is a complete mystery. All I want to do is write my books and promote them. But everyone’s got a book! My inbox is ninety percent book promos. What do I have to write to get people’s attention? Seems like it’s all Harlequin Romance Vampire Private Detectives With Occult Powers. The covers all have dudes with open shirts and six pack abs. Good God! There are fifty million writers trying to sell their first novel. If you can’t get an agent, that’s okay, E-Publish your book and let Amazon sell it!”

            “Calm down,” Internet soothes. “Things will work out. We’ll get through this glitch. I’ll help you promote your books.”

            Her eyes are cast down and then she looks up at me with her head still lowered. It’s a very cute look, very seductive.

            “You got anything to upload? A nice, big, fat file? Got a new manuscript? I’d like that.”

            It has its effect on me, I’ll admit. I am tempted. 

            “I’ve got a new draft of a novel,” I said, with a straight face.  It’s called FANGS OF AN EROTIC VAMPIRE WEREWOLF: A LOVE STORY.

            Internet gives me a salacious grin. “Ooh,” she says, “that sounds juicy. What fun!”

            I keep quiet. At last I see Internet’s expression change.

            “Dammit,” she says, “I almost fell for that! Come on, what do you really have?”

            “I have the second draft of my sci fi/ fantasy novel, THE GODS OF THE GIFT.”

            “That’s more like it.  That’s ‘you’. Has it changed a lot since the first draft?”

            “Completely different book,” I say. “I’m really proud of it.”

            Internet sticks out her tongue. “Come on, mister, what are you waiting for?”

            I open a second screen in the upper corner of my monitor. I find my page for THE GODS OF THE GIFT, hit the EDIT button and delete the earlier draft.  

            “Here I come, baby,” I say. “I hope you’re ready for this.”

            “From you, anything,” Internet replies. “You’re a fine writer. You’re an original.”

            I mouse over to the UPLOAD button and click. My new draft is a blue bar that crosses a rectangular box. It takes about ten seconds.  Internet’s face is rapt. Her mouth falls half open and her eyes glisten. The blue bar reaches the end of the box and the new draft appears on the screen.

            “OH!” Internet sighs. “OH! OH! You’re right. This is a much better book. I know it’s awful to be a writer. It’s even more awful to be really great and still get ignored. I know it breaks your heart.”

            I don’t say anything. I think about all the work, all the years I’ve spent working on the craft of writing. “Yes,” I admit. “It breaks my heart.”

            Internet is recovering her composure. She has read the new draft and I know she is proud of me.

            “Don’t ever give up writing,” she says. “Never. You MUST keep writing. This is amazing stuff. There’s nothing else like it.”           

            I open the page on my book blog and fill my monitor screen with the cover. I look at my design. I look at the starry cosmos and the elongated objects that resemble fiery colliding worlds. It is a work in progress but it isn’t kitsch and it’s faithful to the spirit of the book. It’s a really cool book cover.

            “Don’t worry, babe. I can’t quit writing. I’m not capable of quitting writing, no matter how much it breaks my heart. To paraphrase an old motto,” I say, “You’ll have to pry my keyboard from my cold dead fingers.

            “That’s my man,” Internet replies. “I know I’ll go on changing, but great art is timeless. I’ll be loyal to you, I promise.”

I can’t quite make myself trust the promise. It makes me sad. But it leaves room for hope.

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Treasuring Poetry – Meet poet Leon Stevens and book review

Today, I am delighted to host artist, poet and author, Leon Stevens.

Leon Stevens

Which of your own poems is your favourite?

Wow. Starting off with the hardest question…I have written about many aspects of my existence, but I think some of the poems about ego and human nature are my attempt at understanding why people act the way they do. I still don’t get why some people are jerks.

Ego (Part II)

An ego is a big cat

That needs to be stroked

By you or someone else

Smaller cats are easy to please

And the bigger the cat

The more dangerous it is

To rub the wrong way

What inspired you to write this particular poem?

I wrote a series of poems about ego after spending some time observing how people interact with each other as individuals jockey for position within a group. While they do that, they seek affirmation to justify their perception of themselves. There are positives to egos, but if an ego is too aggressive, it can leave you rolling your eyes and shaking your head.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy writing the most and why?

I don’t set out to write any particular form of poetry. Usually, as the words come to me, they will dictate how the poem will manifest itself. This leads to some erratic rhyming and rhythmic patterns, but often I find that a well-placed, unexpected rhyme can have a powerful effect.

My poems tend to be short—no more than a page—often 4-6 lines. They are like a snapshot of a moment or experience rather than a slideshow or movie.

Which genre of poetry do you enjoy reading the most?

I honestly do not read a lot of poetry. Maybe it is a way not to be influenced, which I hope makes my own poetry unique. I do follow many blogs that feature poetry, so most of what I do read comes from those sites.

I grew up with my father reading the poems of Robert Service. The Cremation of Sam McGee Is one that has always stuck with me (Dad had it memorized along with many others). It is a tale set during the Klondike gold rush which has a humorous, macabre twist.

The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ’round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursèd cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ’tain’t being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows— O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked”; … then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Poem credit: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45081/the-cremation-of-sam-mcgee

Book review: Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

My review

Every now and then you discover a book of poetry which has you nodding your head in agreement and identifying with the views of the poet. For me, this was one of those books. Leon Stevens has an unerring way of aiming a poetic arrow straight at the heart of a difficult issue and exposing it for exactly what it is. This exposure is done with great dry wit, but it is nevertheless, brutally honest and truthful.

The poems in this book cover an array of topics including, inter alia, the poets personal viewpoints on specific matters, environmental experiences, the human conditions and how we relate with others, people and places, and ponderance and muse. There is a sprinkling of the poet’s own sketches throughout the book, and these, complement the humour and the simple, straightforward messages woven into these compelling poems.

This poem, called The Tendency to Cluster, was my personal favourite in this collection and demonstrates the points I’ve mentioned above:

People like orbs
Drawn by gravity
Unable to exist alone
Each dependent on the orbits of others
The only thing that keeps them
From being flung away
Needing others to define them
Needing to know
The quantum state of others
There are people
Content with singularity
In the colder outer regions
Emptiness brings strength, warmth, life
Occasional objects pass
Piquing curiosity
Worthy to share space (for a while)
Mostly continuing alone
Comfortable that orbits won’t decay

If you enjoy poems that speak clearly and simply about important matters, then you will enjoy this collection. Even if you don’t share the poet’s viewpoint, these poems will still make you think deeply.

Purchase Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About Leon Stevens

Leon Stevens is a writer, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He became a writer out of necessity. Along with song writing, poetry has allowed him to make sense and accept events and situations in his life. He published his first book of poetry: Lines by Leon – Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020, a book of original classical guitar compositions, and a collection of science fiction short stories called The Knot at the End of the Rope and other Short Stories. Visit www.linesbyleon.com for free sample eBooks.


Mind Fields – Current Phrases and Memes

Mind Fields

Current Expressions and Memes of The Day

July 5, 2021

1. “It is what it is”.

This expressions carries a load of disappointment. It means that a situation or relationship can’t be changed into a desirable outcome. “It is what it is” means that one must accept the reality as it exists. No effort will alter the trajectory of this drama.

2.  “Double Down”

Nothing we’ve done has succeeded, so it’s time to increase the effort applied. Doubling down is just what it sounds like. Time to double the work and hope that it doesn’t turn into an “It Is what it is” situation.

3.  “My Bad”

This has been around a while, and it has a child-like cuteness that conceals its real impact. Saying “My Bad” is a way of apologizing without saying “I’m sorry.” In essence it trivializes someone’s mistake or bad judgment. “My Bad” is an admission of guilt shorn of its moral force.

4. “You know what I’m saying?”

If you listen to the speech of young people, you will hear this interjection so frequently that it becomes nearly inaudible. I hope that I’m not being explicitly racist. This is an expression spoken by millions of black men. It’s a very sad locution. Its repetition reaches to the core of powerlessness felt by poor black youth. The feeling is so deep and pervasive that it has become a verbal tic. The speaker does not feel heard or seen. He is invisible, un-witnessed, not validated. “You know what I’m saying?” testifies to the sense that we may know exactly what he’s saying, but still he does not believe it. The speaker is perennially crushed by self doubt. 

5.“You didn’t hear this from me, but…. “

It means you heard it from her but no responsibility will be taken should it loop around as an accusation of bad faith and banal betrayal.

6. “Gaslighting”

Isn’t that cute? Gaslighting is listed as an abusive tactic. I want my readers to know that up to this point I haven’t looked up any of these words or phrases. I looked up “gaslighting”. I find it interesting that this term is listed in all modern dictionaries as a description of throwing doubt or obscuring the truth. Why “gaslighting”? It seems to refer to a past time when gas light was the primary means of lighting, in public and private. Things weren’t brightly lit in the era of gaslight. It was easier to get away with street crimes. Things were brighter near the light and they faded away between the lights. All the crappy stuff happens in the space between the lights. On the other hand, “gaslighting” may simply refer to farting as an adequate response to cultural stimulation.

7. “Woke”

This term means “enlightened” or “in a higher and more responsible consciousness” but it’s so loose in its specificity that I foresee that “woke” will split into sub-categories, i.e. un-woke, woke-ish, wokeless, , wokefucked woke-tastic, woklastic and wocastic.

8. “Word”

This means truth. “Word up” means “pay attention to me right now because I’m telling the truth.”

9. “Aight?” 

It comes as a question. “Are you all right?” Acts as both greeting and farewell, like “shalom” does. 

10: “Going South”

Poor “south”. It gets no respect. Going south means things are getting fucked up. Since losing the civil war, the South has struggled to regain its credibility. Speaking of credibility: there is the term “cred” but I don’t need to go into it. Nothing confers cred like suffering. The American South is doing just fine. 

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Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Paid Writing Opportunity – Call for Short Fiction Submissions

I recently embarked on the journey toward yet another degree – an M.A. in Publishing at Western State Colorado University – and I am studying under the prolific bestselling author and founder of WordFire Press, (and inductee into the Colorado Authors Hall of Fame), Kevin J. Anderson. For one of the publishing projects that must be completed for graduation is a cohort produced anthology. This will be the third year that the publishing cohort at Western has been headed by Kevin, and the third anthology that they have published.

Each of the previous year’s cohorts have produced an outstanding anthologies featuring stories by reputable author names, as well as new discoveries. You can see my review of Unmasked, last year’s anthology, here. The first year, Monsters, Movies & Mayhem received the Colorado Book Award. Both of these exceptional anthologies are available from amazon, your favorite bookstore, or buy direct at wordfirepress.com/gpcw.

This year’s cohort worked hard to develop the theme and guidelines over the past two weeks, and I’m really excited about this anthology. One of the cool things about this opportunity for writers is that it pays per word, if your story is chosen. Since I am a part of the publishing team, I’m not eligible to submit, but all of my readers are. I strongly encourage you to check out the guidelines below, get the gears turning and crank out an original story to submit for this year’s anthology. Feel free to share with anyone who might be interested.

Tips for getting your story accepted: Read the submission guidelines and follow them.

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MIRROR, MIRROR:

Modern Myths

Executive Editor: Kevin J. Anderson

When you’re alone with your reflection, are you prepared for what you see?

A prince in disguise? A monster revealed? An alien race?

Mirrors can be truth-tellers, wish-granters, face-concealers, illusion-makers, even monster-summoners. Maybe the mirror shows an evil twin, or an echo of the life that should have been. Or a portal to another world. 

What happens when it shatters?

Once upon a time, no one knew the phrase “Once upon a time.” You’ve read the classic stories. Now write the lore you’ve always wanted to read. Explore this creative challenge from your own unique perspective informed by your roots, culture, and background. We want original fables, folklore, and fairy tales for an eclectic anthology showcasing a new dawn of an old artform.

Imagine a canon of diverse characters for today’s readers to love and loathe. Gaze into the mirror, whether literally or figuratively—classic or genre-bending, grim or whimsical, as long as it is new and fresh.

We are looking for original short stories (prose poems will also be considered) to include a mix of fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical, and romance elements. Must be appropriate for a “PG-13” audience. Please, no copyrighted characters. Previously unpublished stories only. Women, BIPOCs, LGBTQIA+, neurodiverse individuals, and other minorities are strongly encouraged to submit.

Length: up to 5000 words (firm limit)

Rate: 6¢/word on acceptance.

Rights: First Anthology Rights and audio rights as part of the anthology; rights revert to author one month after publication; publisher retains non-exclusive right to include in the anthology as a whole. 

Due: We are open to submissions from August 30 through October 15, 2021.  

Submit: A Microsoft Word or RTF file in standard manuscript format to 

https://wordfirewestern.moksha.io/publication/2/3/submit

If you don’t know what standard manuscript format is, review, for example, https://www.shunn.net/format/classic/

One submission per person, please. NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS. 

Edited by Kevin J. Anderson with an editorial team provided by Western Colorado University Graduate Program in Creative Writing, Publishing MA students. Anthology made possible by a generous contribution from Draft2Digital.

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Capturing Enlightenment: A brief tale of humor

Buddy and Holly came bouncing up to Egbert, ready with any number of humorous things to say to tease him. Teasing Egbert was one of their favorite pass times. Buddy liked to say that Egbert wasn’t one of the brightest bulbs in the batch, and Holly usually commented on the squirrelly round glasses that magnified his eyes and made them appear to be popping out of his head, or the way that he stuttered when he talked. When they ran out of jibs on those subjects, they could always make fun of his name, telling him that his mother must not like him at all to give him a name like that; obviously, she didn’t love him or she would have given him a better name than Egbert, uh! Usually long before they got that far the tears were running down Egbert’s face. Sometimes he started tearing up as soon as he saw them coming.

That wasn’t the case today. Today, Egbert was actually happy to see them. He had something wonderful to show them and it was so special that once they saw it, they wouldn’t make fun of him anymore. “Hi Buddy! Hi Holly!” he said, heading over to meet them with a huge grin on his face.

“What are you so happy about, Egg Head?” Buddy asked.

“Yeah. You look ridiculous. That grin is almost bigger than your face. Close your mouth, so I can see you.” Holly said with a giggle.

“Wait until you see what I found!” Egbert said. “You guys aren’t going to believe this.”
            “Oh, right,” Holly replied. “What could you possibly have that would even interest us?”

Egbert grinned even bigger as he looked from Buddy to Holly, and back to Buddy again. He was absolutely beaming with excitement.

Holly looked over at Buddy uneasily. When he glanced back at her, the uncertainty showed in his eyes.

Finally, Buddy broke the silence. “Well, are you just going to stand there with that silly grin on your face or are you going to show us whatever it is that you found?”

Egbert came out of his reverie. “What? Oh, yes of course. Just wait until you see!” He turned, running back toward his house, leaving the two of them standing there in puzzlement.

They looked at one another. “What do you think has him so excited?” Holly asked through the side of her mouth in a hushed voice, but Egbert could still hear her.

“Probably some old seashell from the beach or something,” Buddy replied.

“I don’t think so. He wouldn’t show us something like that anyway because he knows we’d just take it from him if it was cool or smash it if it wasn’t.” Holly said. “Besides, don’t you think it’s weird that he hasn’t stuttered at all?”

Before Buddy could answer, Egbert came racing around the side of the house with a jar which glowed from within.

“A firefly?” Holly said in disbelief. “We’re supposed to be impressed by a firefly?”

Egbert shook his head. “It’s not a firefly.”

“Then what is it?” Buddy asked. “It sure looks like a firefly to me.”

“Does it look like a firefly?” Egbert said, holding the jar up higher, so that they could see better. They squinted as the light coming from the jar seemed to get brighter, much too bright to be produced by a little firefly. Finally, they turned away, unable to look directly at it.

“Actually, that doesn’t look like any firefly I ever saw.” Buddy admitted.

“I told you, it’s not a firefly,” Egbert said.

“So, what is it? What did you find?” Holly asked. Egbert now had their full attention.

Egbert beamed and grinned once more. “I found enlightenment! I was playing down at the beach, when I saw it sitting, half buried in the sand. I scooped it up and carried it home and put it in this baggie for safe keeping.”

Buddy was skeptical. “Enlightenment? How do you know that’s what it is?”

“Because I can feel it.” Egbert replied. “I know things now that I didn’t know before.”

“Like what?” asked Holly.

“Like I know that you guys aren’t really bad people. You only do all of those mean things to me because you don’t feel very good about yourselves.” Egbert replied.

Buddy and Holly looked at each other nervously. Then they looked back at Egbert.

“It’s okay. Don’t be afraid,” Egbert said. “I also know now that all the things that I dreamed about doing to get back at you came from petty feelings. I want you guys to be my friends, just like I always wanted, only now I know that I don’t have to change who I am to do that.”

Buddy shuffled from foot to foot nervously. Usually ready with a smart comeback to anything, it seemed he suddenly had nothing to say.

Holly eyed Egbert distrustfully. “What do you mean?”

“Here,” Egbert said, holding the bag up closer to them. “If you just feel it, you’ll understand everything.” 

“That’s okay,” said Buddy, backing into Holly.

“What are you afraid of?” Egbert asked.

“I-it’s nothing.” Holly said, stumbling over her own feet to get out of Buddy’s path. “I-it’s just that, well…, w-what if you’re wrong?”

Suddenly, Buddy found his voice. “Yeah, that might not even be enlightenment at all. Even if it is, how do we know that that is something that we would want to have any part of?” He spoke bravely, but he kept backing away.

“Doesn’t everyone want enlightenment?” Egbert asked, truly puzzled by their strange behavior.

“I’m not sure that I d-do.” Holly said, stammering the words. “L-look at y-you. L-look at the ch-changes that it has m-made in you already. And l-look at m-me, too. I d-don’t know w-why I’m st-st-stuttering all of a s-sudden!” Tears streamed down Holly’s face. She turned, rushing out of the yard and down the street.

“Hey wait, Holly!” Egbert called after her. “I know a good speech therapist. I’ll give you her card.”

“I uh, I think I should go and see if she’s okay.” Buddy said, running out of the yard, as well.

As he watched him go, Egbert got another grin on his face, this one however, had a sly cast to it. “Tsk. Tsk.” he said, shaking his head. “My speech therapy finally paid off. I really thought that they would be more impressed.” He opened the jar and lay it down in the grass where two small winged beetles crawled out and seperated from one another before flying away into the night. “Imagine getting so upset over two little glowbugs.” Egbert chuckled to himself all the way back into his house.

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Mind Fields: Fish In Or Out Of Water

Mind Fields

We’re just like the fish; we don’t know what water is. But the element in which we swim, the element that is impossible for us to recognize, is stress. 

You may think you know you’re stressed. This isn’t the kind of stress I’m talking about. We have become denizens of a culture that is actually a Torture Machine. It drives us insane by presenting demands so complex as to be impossible to  achieve. Every day, it issues orders to our nervous systems. Turn on your left blinker. Pay your insurance premium. Pick up your kids’ school uniforms. Don’t forget the doctor’s appointment. Where’d you put the McFarland file? Where are the paper clips? Why is this milk sour? Screw it; not worth my time, flush it down the sink. Are the dogs’ vaccinations up to date?

Do I have the receipts for my tax audit?

Why am I always left with the feeling that I’ve forgotten to do a homework assignment? Who is this screaming at me, right next to my ear so that it hurts?

The Antifa people are scurvy hippies. Our government is letting people steal on a massive scale. My bank account only exists long enough for the auto-payments to hit, and it’s gone and I’ve got nothing left to spend.

I think I’m going crazy. I don’t have any sexual desire at all. The last time I felt truly alive was… when? Have I ever felt truly alive? I truly don’t think so.

There’s nothing to look forward to. My old age will merely be a time when insurance machines squeeze the remaining dollars from my estate, leaving my kids with nothing. Zero. The globe is warming up. It’s true. The waters are creeping on shore, slowly. The future is a tsunami.

OUR SOCIETY IS A TORTURE MACHINE, so complex that it takes a genius to maneuver its daily routine. It tortures by its relentless pressure. We don’t need Stalin or Hitler. We have modern life in Amerika. See that guy with the cardboard sign sitting at the parking lot exit? “Will work for food.” He isn’t a pathetic loser. He’s you or me or someone we know who just cracked under the pressure and opted to sit in the TIME OUT box in front of everyone. He couldn’t take the complexity any more.  Now he’s doing better. He has a shoe box where his money piles up. He’s doing better than I am! Could I take sitting in the TIME OUT box in front of everyone? I don’t think so. I’m not tough enough.

Life has always been complex, but not like this… Hunting, gathering, fighting off raiders, that was easy stuff compared to this. The modern Torture Machine can’t be dodged. Your assignment is late! Punishment will be swift and merciless! Your interest will rise, your credit will be cut.

The injustice of it! I’m choking on injustice. I can’t breathe! Give me a cigarette. Where are all these voices coming from? Let me turn off the radio.

The off switch doesn’t work. The voices are coming from my pocket.  It’s my Z-Phone. It doesn’t have an OFF switch. The argument continues, shouting everywhere, lies compound in blatant and shameless huckstering. Everything is a trick. Even the tricks we know to be tricks conceal more subtle tricks. Those Antif types are going to burn down Manhattan in a giant riot. Quick, we’d better launch a pre-emptive pogrom, mow them down before they find out where we’ve stashed the money.

The fish don’t recognize the sea. The people don’t recognize the element that dominates our lives. I will coin a term for it: Phobagonovia. Phobe-ago-NOVE-ee-yah. It causes us to curl up inside our homes with the giant TV playing football games and scripted “reality” shows where people are abused by their in-laws. Phobagonovia. We are afraid of new experiences. The Torture Machine has implanted this condition in our nervous systems. We are afraid of relating to one another openly, of crying in front of strangers, of expressing feelings easily, of hugging or kissing spontaneously, lest we be inappropriate, our strait jacket is “Appropriate”, we haven’t a clue how to dance in a circle while deeply in love with members of a clan, to sing ancient songs, to sit around a fire feeling wonderful under the stars. That doesn’t mean we want to go backwards. We want to invent new communities. We are dying of Phobagonovia. Our neck ties are cutting off our breath. Our high heels are warping our skeletons. The future is over.  Donald Trump will be reborn as a talking pig that can only sputter nonsense. The people of his remote village will laugh at him holding their sides with mirth. They will postpone the time to eat him. He’s so strange that people come from villages far away to throw him pieces of rubbish. His time will come, at last.

When the chief takes the first bite, he will spit it out.

“We laughed too long,” he will say. “This fat talking pig tastes like shit.”

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Feral Tenderness

Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosh.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos

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Mind Fields – Driverless Car Traffic Jam

Mind Fields

Traffic Jam Of Driverless Cars

January 31, 2026

It was unprecedented, the gridlock on 101 at the San Rafael cloverleaf. Driverless cars are everywhere and drivers are now texting, talking and watching videos. Their indifference is striking. The vehicles no longer require attention to drive down the road. In effect,  automobiles have become alternate living rooms, dens, dining rooms, even bedrooms. 

The Law Of Unforeseen Consequences has won the day. No one anticipated the social impact of driverless cars. Americans don’t like them. Americans enjoy driving, in spite of their endless complaints about drive time, gridlock and Highway Patrol robocycle stops. Americans miss the power they felt at the wheels of their four ton pickup trucks. 

Interviewed at the site of the traffic jam, Ernesto “Corker” Levine said this: “Driverless cars suck!” A chorus of whistles, cheers, and high fives erupted from the crowd that had gathered as drivers left their cars running and milled around on the pavement of Northbound 101. “Suck suck suck” they chanted. Many exchanged business cards and personal porn videos. This kind of traffic jam has replaced tinder as the sex market of the twenty first century.

The jam finally broke up as drivers began to smell burnt wiring. Exploding batteries accelerated the resolution of the epic backup. The farcical dummy cops were instrumental in sorting out the mess with their Skyhooks… Robotic Highway Patrolmen lifted Chevys, Oppenheimers and Teslas and deposited them helter skelter on the margins of the freeway. Owners had difficulty identifying their cars but at least traffic was moving between San Francisco and Santa Rosa. The record-breaking traffic jam extended for thirty miles in both directions. The event was covered by journalists from as far afield as Indonesia and Japan. Some have begun calling it “The Second Woodstock”. Spontaneous appearances by Blue Detergent and Jimi’s Homunculus added luster to the event.

Lead singer Denzel Spurlock testified later at the inquest for “The 101 Incident”. He said, “I know people died, but Man, the whole jam was a gas. We should do it again, soon!”

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Feral Tenderness

Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at Write Out of My Head

Photos at Art’s Digiphotos

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“Fool’s Gold Rush”: Old friends, action, humor – what more could a reader want?

Fool’s Gold Rush

Reading Tim Baker’s Fool’s Gold Rush was like a reunion with old friends. As in all of Baker’s books, Ike is the anti-hero the reader can’t help but like, and Brewski plays the role of the loyal sidekick. Already, the reader is guarenteed a great action adventure. And Fool’s Gold Rush delivers.

With a plot that takes more twists and turns than a winding mountain road, this tale will keep readers turning pages. While trying to help his sister get away from her abusive husband, Lee gets caught up in a scam to raise money for her hospital bills and pay off the gambling debt he owes to Ralph Denobian. When Ike and Brewski come to collect, they decide to lend a hand and end up in the middle of a kidnapping and a plot to steal Ike’s gold from the museum. When the kidnapper finds out about the gold, the deal changes and he wants to exchange the gold for Lee’s sister and her autistic son, Ronny, but when the thieves get away with the gold, making the exchange may not be possible. Ike knows nothing comes easy, and with every setback he bares down and regroups until he finds a way to make things work out in his favor.

Like all of Baker’s books, Fool’s Gold Rush is well-crafted and filled with plot twists, unique characters, and lots of surprises. I give Fool’s Gold Rush five quills.

Other books I’ve reviewed by Tim Baker include: Eyewitness Blues, Unfinished Business, Pump It Up, Living the Dream, Doomed to Repeat, Blood in the Water, 24 Minutes, Full Circle, No Good Deed, Backseat to Justice, and Water Hazard. (Yep, I’m a long time fan.)

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.


Nightmare With Tracfone

Art's Visual Media Review2

I am preparing a review of “Better Call Saul” but I’m not finished.  Instead I will relate an experience that I had with a cell phone provider, I.E. Tracfone.  Consider it a public service:

 

Nightmare With Tracfone

“God damn it!” I shouted into the cell phone. “I’m done with you, asshole, done done done! Go Fuck yourself, you motherfucker!” My wife stared at me in total shock. I hadn’t blown up like that in decades. If ever: in fact, I don’t remember the last time I lost my temper. Well, yes I do but that was fifty years ago and I was enraged with a particular girl. That’s a long time to go without blowing my cool. I did not, however, keep my head this week. Not after dealing with my cell phone carrier, i.e: Tracfone.. It may be that their service people are coached to present a hostile front to customers asking for refunds. After three days of agony dealing with Tracfone employees I ended the encounter screaming into my phone,

I can’t remember being as angry as I was now with this asshole fuck-turd Tracfone employee who was probably twenty six, living in a shitty condo somewhere in Reseda or Toluca Park. I don’t really assign blame to this hapless cubicle worker. I have compassion. I know I’m living a better life than he is. This essay is my revenge on Tracfone and a cautionary tale to anyone who has a mishap with a cell phone carrier.

I’ve used Tracfone for years without problems and the advantage of Tracfone is that they’re cheap. Like 90- days- with -unlimited -calls – for thirty – bucks cheap. I could keep going for months at ten bucks a month, and so I did, for seven years. Then I lost my phone. It was gone. No searching could retrieve it. The finder-app said it was on Third Street in Santa Rosa. I did a couple of drive-by searches. Alas, the phone was gone. I needed a new one. Everyone needs a cell phone. What if there’s an emergency in your 1998 Jeep Cherokee with the rattling fan belt? What if you can’t text your lover, your spouse, your kids, your granma? Phones possess dramatic intensity. This is the twenty first century! Phones are highly charged emotional extensions. They carry family, friendship, love, sex, money….all kinds of drama.

And I had lost mine. I needed a new one, quickly. I got on the Tracfone website and ordered a modest but decently cool phone costing $131.09. Then I waited. I expected delivery in no more than two days. Everything comes immediately these days. Drones drop your shit on your porch five minutes after you order. UPS robots open your back door and leave it on the couch by five o’clock. Things really move! But the phone didn’t arrive. And I waited yet another two days, still there was no phone. I needed a phone. Doesn’t everyone? Does life proceed without cell phones? Clearly it doesn’t. So, I tried again with Tracfone. I needed a phone, asap. I ordered a hundred dollar phone and asked Tracfone to expedite the shipping. I tried to order the drone service but Tracfone isn’t up to speed in that way. I did the next best thing: overnight shipping. I received that phone the next day. Where was the first phone? The one that costs $131.09. No one knew. I had never received a confirmation e-mail, a fact that should have raised a red flag. Of course, in this world we walk through a forest of red flags daily, so it meant nothing. Three weeks later there was a knock on the door, and a Fedex driver handed me a box. I accepted the box. I shouldn’t have. But I did, and therein lies this whole agonizing tale. It was, of course, the missing phone. I didn’t need a phone anymore. I took it down to the post office, paid fifteen bucks to ship it back to Tracfone. It was received by Tracfone in two days and I asked for a refund of $131.09. According to the phone agent, I should receive my refund within three to five work days.

I used the new phone for a while. Let’s give it a name. Call it Stylo 4. Then one morning I awoke to a seemingly normal day. It turned abnormal as soon as I tried to make a call with Stylo 4. I dialed a number and a neutral female voice said “Your device has been de-activated. If you wish to speak to Tracfone, please stay on the line.” So I held, and shortly had the Tracfone robot and went through three sets of identifications and options until I finally said that word, “Other”, which means that non of my problems were addressed by the previous robot. So I got another, more senior, robot.  Again, after enduring the list of options, I uttered that loaded word, “Other”. I waited another ten minutes, then, finally, I got an agent.

Why has my phone been de-activated? The agent asked for the ID number or the EIMI identification code for the phone. I read it off the little red booklet, then I double checked the phone itself. The numbers matched.The Tracfone employee stated, quite simply, “That’s the phone that you returned to us.”

Huh? I’m holding this phone in my hand, I explained. I’m reading the EIMI number from this phone.

“We’re sorry, sir, but that’s the phone you returned to us.”

“No,” I said calmly, “it’s clearly not the phone I sent to you. I never opened the box on the other phone, the one you sent to me, the one that took three weeks to arrive, the one that cost $131.09 and is slated for refund directly into my bank account. I already had another phone, that I bought from you, Tracfone, for about a hundred bucks.”

“Would you please read the number again, sir.” I did so.

“Sir, that is the phone that you returned to us, according to the EIMI number.”

“There’s some mistake here. Can I speak to your supervisor?” Then I made a random hand movement, accidentally touched a number on the dial pad, and was disconnected. I had to start over again. I began with the first robot, then the senior robot, punching number after number. I asked for an agent, then a supervisor, and I arrived at the same deadlock at which I had arrived before. Tracfone is telling me that I returned the very phone upon which I was presently speaking.

“Does it occur to you that this is flagrantly impossible and that perhaps there’s been a mistake at your end?”

“Sir, your refund will be deposited in your account within thirty days.”

“Thirty days? I thought it was three to five days.”

“Your account has been marked and referred to our dispute department. Are you trying to obtain a free phone?”

I was shocked. “Of course not. Forget the refund for now, OK?. Please, just re-activate my phone number because I’m an elderly man suffering from Recalcitrant Plebny, Mono-Amine Insufficiency and a serious case of Portofino.”

Must I continue? I don’t want to. I spent nearly three days on the phone with Tracfone (the only number with which I could connect) and got nothing, no re-activation, a delayed refund and a black mark against my name. I think the black mark happened because after so many hours of going around and around I lost my temper and shouted “I’m sick of you assholes, I’m done I’m done, so Fuck You!”

Then I went to Walmart and purchased a Samsung A10e, a nice little phone. I’m signed up with Sprint and I’m paying $45 a month for the privilege of no longer dealing with the morons at Tracfone. I call them morons but I think that they’re just following company policy, to whit: Obfuscate, delay, confuse, deny, denigrate, de-activate.

That’s my cautionary Tracfone tale. Does any of this sound familiar? Is the world crazy? Of course it is.

For a further take on the basic humor and craziness of cell phones, go to my essay, “Total Cell Phone Ban” Click here: Complete Cell Phone Ban Coming Soon


A Midwesterner by birth, Arthur Rosch migrated to the West Coast just in time to be a hippie but discovered that he was more connected to the Beatnik generation. He hearkened back to an Old School world of jazz, poetry, painting and photography. In the Eighties he received Playboy Magazine’s Best Short Story Award for a comic view of a planet where there are six genders. The timing was not good.  His life was falling apart as he struggled with addiction and depression. He experienced the reality of the streets for more than a decade. Putting himself back together was the defining experience of his life. It wasn’t easy. It did, however, nurture his literary soul. He has a passion for astronomy, photography, history, psychology and the weird puzzle of human experience. He is currently a certified Seniors Peer Counselor in Sonoma County, California. Come visit his blogs and photo sites. www.artrosch.com and http://bit.ly/2uyxZbv


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“Mind Fields”: Hitler’s Afterlife

Mind Fields

Arthur Rosch Copyright 2019

A Guest At The Eternal Passover Seder

“Avraham, give our guest some more gefilte fish.” Mother Rachel spoke in Yiddish and gestured towards the man seated at the place of honor on the long holiday table.

Evidently the man couldn’t speak. His eyes bulged from his head, his arms went this way and that. Some hidden force seemed to glue him to his chair so that he could not even rise.

Adolf-Hitler-1933

“He looks funny,” Avraham, eldest son, tried to conceal a giggle. The man was indeed a comical figure. His little mustache, his hair combed over his forehead, these were unusual accoutrements at the Eternal Seder. In the Spirit World the Eternal Seder was just that, an unending celebration of Passover. It occupied an archetypal place in the Cosmic Order.

“Why is he doing that?” asked Sipporah, younger daughter. The guest was thrusting his right arm out, almost straight, but bending and sagging from the fatigue of eons of attempting this salute.

“It’s supposed to mean Victory,” Zeyda Moishe said skeptically.

“I think he is perhaps deluded,” Baba Zifnah decided. “Don’t let him spoil the Seder.”

“There is always a guest at Seder,” said Cousin Frankl. “They are not always so unpleasant.”

The candles glistened, filling the chamber with soft light. More light, soft but differently colored, emanated from the spacious double windows.

“It is our tradition to welcome everyone, from all the Worlds and Spheres,” Mother Rachel declared. “Even the Hell Worlds.”

“Do you think he’s from one of those?” little Micah interjected with excitement. His eyes gleamed with ghoulish fascination.

“It is not ours to judge.” Zeydah Moishe said. “Sins are put aside during Passover. That is the whole point. The Angel Of Darkness passes over our house.”

There was a sound entering the chamber, a sound as of a colossal wagon loaded with tons of lead. It groaned with a sound so deep that most of it was felt rather than heard. Shadows covered the windows. The light was attenuated. Little Gavril, the toddler cousin, rose with curiosity to look out.

“Don’t!” commanded Mother Rachel. “Sit down! Our Guest’s crimes are rolling past our house. Praise God they don’t stop here.”

The grinding sound continued as if forever. Sledges pulled by immense demon-steeds yanked them forward a bit at a time. At last peace was restored. The Guest seemed to sag. It was possible to see a hint of remorse in his countenance. Then he straightened and attempted his rigid arm-salute.

“I thought for a moment that he might regret his crimes,” said Sipporah.

“For a moment, perhaps.” Zeyda Moishe replied. “But look: he is again celebrating his imaginary victory.”

“Too bad.” Baba Zifnah commented quietly.

“Without regret, without an accounting,” said Zeyha Moishe, “Crimes cannot be forgiven. It will take this one some time. Perhaps twenty eons, perhaps a thousand. Regret and remorse will come to him, but not for a very long time. Let us say a special prayer for his soul.”

Those at the Seder, all but the one who glared impotently, bowed their heads and began the traditional benediction. “Baruch Atah,” they intoned, “Blessed Be You.”