Detective Robot and the Murderous Spacetime Schism
by Jeff Bowles
We found victim one face down in a giant vat of beer. Red beer, frothy, churning and roiling in blood. Not precisely the best brew of the batch, I knew, but I couldn’t help wonder what it might taste like on a mechanical tongue.
“Detective Robot,” said Officer Allen, a short, stocky, often uncharitable young fellow who always seemed to smell of cooked sausage. “I can’t believe they called you out for this.”
I formed my golden jointed lips into a pleasant smile. “Why wouldn’t they have called? Rain or shine, we always get our man.”
My partner and fellow investigation consultant, Gorilla Todd, beat his big furry chest and pulled his lips back over his teeth.
“Step back, beat cop,” he said in his deep, gruff voice. “Let the man work.”
Gorilla Todd was five hundred pounds of hyper-intelligent simian. He was a post-nuclear, neuro-enhanced military lab experiment, lots of those wandering Grim Land. Bit of a bruiser, to be sure, but an honest and a loyal one.
“Thank you, Gorilla,” I said. “Officer Allen, must we really?”
Allen snorted. “Boy oh boy, you fellas need to learn your place. Are we still short-staffed on actual detectives? What’d you do to get the call on this? Grease a few palms? Robots run on grease, don’t they?”
Point of fact, we run on million-core supra-processors the size of toenail trimmings. But I wouldn’t expect a technologic druid like Allen to know the difference. We got the call because the Chief appreciated our work and professionalism. She requested us by name; the place was ours for the next few hours.
“Why a fusion brewery?” I said, taking in our surroundings.
“People don’t die in fusion breweries?” asked Allen.
“Usually not fashion models, no,” said Gorilla. “Not in the middle of the night.”
“And certainly not old women dressed up like them,” I said.
Allen blanched at this.
“Old women,” he said, scratching his head as he turned to face the vat. “Holy cow! She’s gone all pruney in the lager.”
“Ale,” I said. “Shall you fetch the net or shall I?”
* * * * *
Fusion brewing, popularized at the dawn of the last nuclear holocaust, involves the high-speed collision of plutonium-rich barley nuclei with the nuclei of hops machine grown in the atomic soils found in the ancient ruins of Hackensack, New Jersey. The resulting photonic explosion produces a bubbly, effervescent ale, light on the tongue, but with just enough zing to potentially threaten male fertility (as all nuclear beverages should).
Zippy Beer, or rather, Zippy Beer’s northeast production plant, did seem a rather strange place for homicide. Zippy was known throughout Grim Land as the safest, most environmentally conscious nuclear beer on the market. Fifty years without a tainted batch, their ocu-tisements often declared. Fusion belchers spat florid ale, sluicing through sloshers, roaring down pipeways, collecting and aging in anti-grav refrigeration closets.
I studied Allen carefully. He looked tired and overworked.
“I swear to God, she was young when I found her,” he said.
“Sure she was,” Gorilla Todd chuckled. “Makes all the sense in the world. Hey, mac, you been smokin’ them funny cigarettes?”
I tapped my chin with platinum fingers and examined the poor old dead dear. We’d pulled her from the vat and sprawled her out on the tiled factory floor. I searched and picked at her with the robo-pincers I used for toes.
“You’re having us on, aren’t you Officer Allen?” I said. “You see that high, high ceiling all those many meters up above? See how there’s no skywalk, no roof access?”
“Yeah?” said Allen.
“Now do you see this is the last vat in the line? Eleven vats down that way, but here, just the one. No ladder, either. Do you see?”
Gorilla Todd jumped to his feet and waved an arm over his head. “I know this one, robot! I know it!”
I nodded at him agreeably and opened up my chest slot with a bleep, bleep, bleep, CLACK. A high-protean banana cube flopped out and jiggled on the factory floor like jelly. All five-hundred pounds of Todd landed on it and gobbled.
“She materialized in the beer,” he said, smacking his lips. “And she aged on the spot. Some kind of schismatic time disruption, I think.”
“Very good, Gorilla,” I said. “You see, Officer Allen, once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the—”
A hole tore open in the air above us. It went Riiiip, and then it stretched itself wide in a kaleidoscopic clash of colors and voices. Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, fell through and landed on Officer Allen with a heavy thud.
Gorilla Todd shouted, “Holy cannoli! Who is that?”
“It’s Abraham Lincoln,” I said. “And he’s been shot!”
I checked my tertiary memory banks to be sure. The beard, the hat, it was Lincoln, all right. Bullet wound in the back of the head. He wasn’t dead yet. Eyes fluttering, gasping, but not dead yet. He’d arrived only moments after his famous assassination. Remarkable. His body aged on the spot, grew older by the second. Wrinkles, thinning skin, hair gone long, gray, brittle.
Allen wheezed like strangled bagpipes. He gave a final stifled groan, then he lay his head back, twitched, and went limp. I rushed over and checked him for a pulse.
“He’s dead, Gorilla,” I said. “The Great Emancipator snapped his neck.”
“Hmph. Don’t look too great to me.”
“Granted, though I’m certain he’s not at his best. Struck down by a cowardly actor. That’s democracy for you. What precisely are we dealing with, Gorilla?”
“Black magic?” said Todd.
“Sinister Martian technology?”
“Highly unlikely, though you earn top marks for making me chuckle. No, Todd, our suspect resembles nothing so much as thin air.”
“What do you mean?”
I walked over to another vat and kicked at the release valve until golden nuclear beer gushed out and sprayed my feet. Bending low under the faucet, I proceeding to fill my robot super stomach with hoppy ale.
My jointed fingers tapped a supple syncopated rhythm on my forehead. Performed a million mental processes. A million plus fifty. The span of a single human heartbeat.
“Eureka!” I exclaimed. “The cause of the murderous spacetime schism is—”
Rather out of the blue, a naked caveman came screaming at us from the shadows. He shouted, “Gooba! Blabba!” and then proceeded to club me over the head with a tree branch.
“Ouch!” I shouted. “Help me, Todd, you great galoot!”
Gorilla Todd ripped the branch away and roared a mighty challenge. The caveman roared back. His skin rippled with flash wrinkles, hair going brittle and gray, just like Lincoln’s. Hearty fellow, he attacked Todd, ripped out a chunk of gorilla hair and fish-hooked my simian companion.
“You rotten mook!” Gorilla shouted, caveman fingers sliding in and out of his mouth. He wrapped his meaty hands round the caveman’s throat and began to throttle the poor fellow.
“Gorilla, no!” I said.
Five new holes ripped open in the air above us. One long, continuous Riiiip, and that same kaleidoscopic clash. Out of the holes fell a cute orange kitten, a young renaissance painter, a popular ancient professional football quarterback, a potted cactus, and lastly, Richard Milhous Nixon.
Nixon crumpled to the ground, got one look at Lincoln and shrieked, “Jesus Christ! What happened to that poor bastard?”
All of them aged. The kitten grew, got fat, got skinny, and died. The renaissance painter, fingers covered in vibrant red and green oils, said something in Italian about unfinished masterworks, choked on his tongue, and summarily expired.
“We gotta do something, Robot!” said Todd, still choking the dwindling, gasping caveman.
“Do what?” I said. “And stop choking that caveman!”
Nixon died screaming, gurgling, clawing at the air.
“Todd,” I said, “we have to dump the beer!”
“The beer?” said Todd.
“It’s a bad batch! It must be. There’s no murderer here. Tainted Zippy Beer has caused a schism in space and time!”
Seven more air holes ripped open. From them dropped a sea bass, the Marquis de Sade, two members of a light contemporary jazz quartet, an earth worm, Eddie Murphy, and a two hundred twenty-five foot tall California redwood tree.
The redwood thudded to the factory floor, split the concrete, rose and sprawled, broke through the high white ceiling. The factory lights flickered. Ceiling chunks rained down on us.
“The beer, Todd! Dump it!”
Todd let go the shriveled caveman. He leapt for the redwood, scaled its trunk hand-over-hand. He braced himself against the vat, pushed at it with all his might.
“It won’t budge!” he said.
Three more air holes ripped open. A snail, a circus elephant, a street vendor holding tacos.
I tapped a rhythm on my forehead.
“Eureka!” I exclaimed.
I leapt for the tree, climbed for a branch, squared my shoulders, and then I dove into the beer.
In haste, I began to drink it, slurp it all up. My robot super stomach swelled. Five hundred gallons. Seven hundred, a thousand. The roiling, bloody fashion model beer, it washed down my throat at a hundred-thousand PSI. Rushing, roaring through my alloy sternum. My body rocked and strained. I groaned like industrial machinery.
“It’s working, Robot!” said Todd. “The holes are slowing down!”
A riip here, small rip there. And then it stopped.
Bodies grew old and died; the redwood rotted, split. Half fell and crushed the factory wall. In rushed the night air, our arid post-nuclear wind. Our city out there—Grim City One—twinkled like starlight. Bricks and heavy steel beams and girders fell all around us. Clouds of dust lifted and lingered until well after relative stillness had filled the factory.
Gorilla Todd gasped from exertion. He stumbled down from the remnants of the redwood and sat against its trunk, eyeing the bodies, all the destruction.
“You did it, Robot,” he said. “You’re a friggin’ genius, you know that?”
Of course I knew. I also knew I was big as a house. Big like a beer vat and just as full. Body engorged, I looked like a head swimming in sea of scrap metal, jammed into the vat like some kind of sardine.
“Tainted spacetime-schismatic beer,” I wheezed. “I might have known! Perhaps a super-accelerated atomic contaminant—a mutation in the solitary photosynthetic apparatus, for instance—exceeded localized time dilation barriers and generated contiguous Einstein-Rosen pathways. And to think, Albert Einstein believed time was non-real!”
“Erm, Ein-who?” said Todd.
“Call in a containment unit, Gorilla. Call in the best they’ve got. And get the Chief down here, too. I fear, Todd, our troubles are just beginning.”
Gorilla Todd huffed. He pondered a moment, and then his thick brow lifted as realization dawned.
“Oh no,” he said. “You don’t mean….”
“Precisely,” I replied. “In approximately thirty-nine minutes, I will have to void my robo-bladder like a racehorse. The game, as they say, my dear Gorilla Todd, is afoot.”
Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative work can be found in God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, Love/Madness/Demon, Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. His latest novel, Resurrection Mixtape, is available on Amazon now.
Some opening lines are so well known as that the story can be identified just by them and nothing more.
- “Call me Ishmeal.” – Herman Melville, Moby Dick, 1851
- “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, 1859
- “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – George Orwell, 1984, 1949
Memorable opening lines like these are strokes of brilliance on the part of the authors, perhaps with a little luck and a bit of literary magic mixed in. But for the common author, the trick is to find the best opening possible, especially with the growing numbers of books and authors that are out there competing for readers. We need to find words that will make our work shine above the rest, words that will catch readers attention and draw them into the story, words that will be unique and memorable.
The beginning of a story can serve many purposes, only one of which is giving us a place to start. The opening sentences of paragraphs also need to draw readers’ interest, stirring questions that will make them want to read further, but they can also introduce the characters or offer a senseof place and time with vivid descriptions of setting. All my life I’ve heard about how important the opening lines of a story are, but it never really took root until I compiled five short fiction anthologies over the past two years.
My regular readers will remember that I sat on the editorial team for the Gilded Glass anthology and compiled a volume of Weird Tales to earn my M.A. in publishing. For new readers, who don’t know the story, we had over 600 submissions to comb through for Gilded Glass, and toward the end of the initial readings, if the beginning didn’t grab me right away, it was gone. There were just too many submissions to waste time on ones that I couldn’t engage with from the very beginning. This was rather painful for me, believe it or not, because I knew there were probably some good stories in there that just needed to be reworked a bit to become gems, and I didn’t have the time, or energy to find them.
On the other side of things, there were so many really good stories submitted that there was no way we could include them all, so many of the stories I truly loved didn’t make it into the anthology, and I felt it was a shame to have to turn them all away, so I kept a list of stories that I had fallen in love with, and after the final selection for Gilded Glass were made, I invited each author to have their stories included in a WordCrafter Press anthology. Not all of the authors accepted my offer, but enough did that I had material for three anthologies, and Once Upon an Ever After, Refracted Reflections, and the Visions anthologies were born.
Although I’ve strayed a bit in telling you all this, my point was that many of the stories included in those three anthologies got there because they had beginnings that were good enough to make me continue reading. Let me share with you three of my favorite story beginnings from the Visions anthology.
“I followed the two men down the beach for over an hour before I realized they were kidnapping me. I noticed howm far we’d strayed when the sun touched its reflection on the Carribean horizon, forming a perfect figure eight that shot rays of gold in all directions. The failing light and my primitive camera meant an end to the day’s photo shoot, so I decided to let them take me.Julie Jones – “Tourist Trap”
“Tourist Trap” is one of my favorites because it not only does a great job of giving me a sense of place with its setting description, but also leaves me with several questions, which now must be answered because my curiosity has been picqued. The nonchallant delivery of the words gives the impression that our character is not concerned by what most people would consider to be unusual, and maybe even alarming, circumstances. Why? Come on. Be honest. Now that you’ve read the above paragraph, don’t you just need to read more?
“He came toward her. His body moved lithely and confidentely, muscles rippling under tight-fitting jeans and white T-shirt. Thick, black hair covered his well-shaped head with its tawny skin and lightly stubbled jaw.
She peeped at his eyes. Those mysterious eyes she’d heard about. Her stomach dropped, lips numbed, and a strange ringing started in her ears.His eyes shone amber in the late afternon sun, like a predator before the kill. Even if she hadn’t known who and what he was, those awful eyes with their many sides like a diamond, would have filled her with terror.”Roberta Eaton Cheadle – “The Bite”
This visceral opening comes from the winning story from the 2022 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, “The Bite”, which is feaatured in the anthology. It sets the tone for the story, while offering hints about the characters, and stirring up just enough questions to make readers want to know more. Cheadle describes some very unusual eyes, and hints that this character is more than what he appears to be here. Who is this guy?
“I was staring out across the darkness of space, ignoring my hunger and isolation, when an alarm blared, startling me out of my meditations. I pulled my thoughts from where they’d wandered, sinking once again into my real-time brain, just as I pulled in my two-dozen tentacles in toward my body. Instead of presenting a sprawling mass, I was now a streamlined bullet.”Leah Cutter – “The Survivor”
The opening for “The Survivor” offers up a lot of information about the setting and situation, and enough about the character to make readers curious, and make them want to read more. Who is this lone character in space? Obviously not a human. Why is the alarm blaring? Has Cutter picqued your curiosity as much as she did mine?
It wouldn’t be fair to use the openings of others without taking a look at one of my own, so let’s take a look at my contribution to the Visions anthology, as well. My story was “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, which was originally published in The Collapsar Directive anthology, by Zombie Pirates Publishing in 2017. Give it a look and see if you think I did my job well with this opening.
“The way everyone was acting, you’d think it was a crime to be happy. And looking back, maybe it was, or at least, it might as well have been.
I think it started on a Saturday, or maybe a Sunday, so no one really noticed at first, including me. Everyone had recieved their regular allotment of S-Dopa for the weekend, so if they noticed anything, they would have assumed I’d just recieved a double dose, which didn’t happen often, but it did happen. On Monday however, when I sang along with the radio which ws always playing in the background at the computer factory as we slaved away everyday, the others gave me sidelong glances, as if, perhaps, I’d lost my mind.”Kaye Lynne Booth – “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
Which beginnings make YOU want to keep reading? I invite you to share your favorite beginning in the comments below. It will make it more of a conversation, (as Joanna Penn says).
For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.
Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, as a sampling of her works just for joining.
This is an excerpt from my novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man:
The men get into the car and Zoot steers it carefully across the bridge. “Still need a Pissngas?” Zoot inquires mockingly.
“I forgot I had to pee,” says Aaron. “Now I got to pee really really bad.”
“Well shit, get out and pee, we about fifteen minutes from the Steelville turnoff.”
Aaron goes out behind a bush and relieves himself. He hears the sound of his own stream against a world that has gone supernally silent. There is no wind, no bird song. The sky is a weird shade of pink. As soon as he is finished the rain begins to fall again. The drops are huge, heavy, laden with silt. Covering his head, Aaron races back to the car.
After driving for ten minutes in silence, a black and white road sign appears. The trapezoidal shape of the state of Missouri encloses a number four. Fifteen yards past this sign there is a green board with white letters and an arrow pointing to the right. Steelville, eight miles, it indicates. At this one-sided intersection is a little gas station and a tiny grocery store skirted by a wooden plank walkway. Zoot pulls into the station. He gestures to Aaron to stay in the car. This part of Missouri isn’t explicitly segregated, but it has the taint of old rebellion. Zoot asks a black attendant to fill the tank, and Tyrone jumps through the rain towards the store, looking for another pack of cigarettes. Aaron watches the Schlitz Beer sign flicker, rolls the window down to smell the storm-soaked earth. He knows this country, too. He has come here for vacations with his family. They have gone to Bagnell Dam, Lake of the Ozarks, Wildwood Resort. In a childhood with a paucity of happy memories, this country means peace, relief, respite, jumping from a pier into the lake, riding horses, mom on her best behavior, dad relaxed and having fun.
Zoot chats with the station attendant about the twister, informs him that the Willens Creek Bridge is no longer covered.
“Be damned,” the man says, “twister blew the top the bridge away? No shit?”
“No shit, almost blew us away too, turned this here Lincoln Continental hundred eighty degrees backward but left a cigarette in the ashtray, still lit and ready to smoke.” Zoot’s dialects always reflect his circumstances. He pronounces “this here” as “thissheer”.
Hurriedly finishing the transaction to get out of the rain, the attendant takes Zoot’s money and rushes back into the shelter of the store.
A moment later, Tyrone comes walking out, holding a newspaper limply in his hand. His mouth is hanging open, his eyes have a staring and shocked quality, as if he has just survived a terrible battle. He opens the passenger’s door , throws the newspaper towards Aaron in the back seat and slumps abruptly on the plush leather, one leg hanging out the side.
“You look like you just got terrible news,” Zoot observes with concern.
Tyrone nods and points towards the newspaper.
“Coltrane’s dead,” he says mournfully. “It’s in the paper. He died yesterday.”
There is a stunned silence. Aaron feels as if he has just taken the first plunge on a roller coaster ride, his stomach goes up through his chest.
“No,” Zoot says. “No.”
Tyrone has the paper folded out to the entertainment section. It is the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. There is a big article about Barbara Streisand, a review of the new James Bond movie, a review of the Led Zeppelin Concert at Kiel Auditorium. Down in the far right corner of the page is a two-paragraph squib. ‘Jazz Musician John Coltrane Dies,” it says. There is sketchy information about the jazz giant succumbing suddenly to liver cancer.
Aaron puts his face in the paper and squeezes himself with it, crumbling it around his cheeks. “He is forty years old!” He wails. “Forty years old! What is happening? Why are jazz musicians dying? Why Coltrane, of all people, Trane? “
Desperately, he claws at Zoot’s shoulder. “We’re all professional jazz musicians, Zoot. Is this my future? Is this Tyrone’s? Are you going to die on us, too? Why can’t we survive? What are we doing to ourselves?”
Zoot stares straight ahead, seeing nothing. He reaches across his shoulder and pats Aaron’s hand, squeezing it.
“You’re just beginning to see what it’s like,” the old musician says. “It’s dangerous to be a genius. That’s why I stay in this chitlin circuit groove, play the college campuses, keep my mid-stream profile. And this is hard enough. You think Coltrane can be inspired every night? You think he can get up there and reach down into his guts and deliver a brilliant set five nights a week, be a genius?”
A core of bitter reflection stains Zoot’s voice. These are things he generally keeps to himself. As he speaks, his anger grows and his voice scrapes with frustration and old pain.
“You have to use something, like Bird, like Lester, you have to use something to get to that place where you even feel like playing at all, let alone be great. Then you raise the standard, people turn out and expect to be transformed, to hear an oracular performance, night after night. I smoke my weed, that’s how I do it. And I don’t ask too much of myself. That’s why I’m sixty-three and still playing. I know how much I can give. Men like Coltrane, they don’t know moderation, they can’t know moderation, they have to keep pushing the limits or the critics jump on their ass, the fickle fans get restless, the talk on the street starts goin’ ‘round, ‘Trane’s lost it, Bird’s lost it, Jackie’s lost it, Prez’s lost it, Bud’s lost it! You have a couple bad nights and all these assholes who can’t play a note go talking, he’s lost it, lost it, getting’ tired, man, runnin’ out of steam, his great days are behind him, what a shame, used to be a great musician.”
Zoot pauses for a moment, looking at his sidemen, at his disciples in the mystic art of music. Then he spits a long gobbet out the window and says, with a lengthy and contemptuous drawl, “Sheee-it! Son of a fucking bitch!”
He turns backward to look at Aaron. Cobra-like, he shifts his body, glancing at Tyrone beside him. He is seething, indignant. “That’s why genius musicians die. They have to die! Ain’t no choice! Once they get a reputation as a genius, they have to be a genius every night. They use it up! Then they’re gone!”
He turns on the engine and drives about a hundred yards down the road. He pulls onto the shoulder and scrunches the emergency brake with his foot. He puts his large hands in front of his face, then leans into them and begins to weep.
It is contagious. These three friends, of different ages, races, different backgrounds, are not afraid to show their feelings to one another. The three jazz musicians, on their way to a gig, taking a short cut through the back roads of Missouri, pull onto the side of the country lane and weap for John Coltrane.
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.
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Feral Tenderness, by Arthur Rosch, is a poetry and photography collection like no other I’ve ever encountered. I can say this with confidence, because I am the editor and compiler for this book, however it exempts me from posting my opinions of this collection on Amazon. But Writing to be Read is my blog, so I’d like to tell you about this interesting and unique collection of creativity here, taking into account that the author is a friend of mine, so the opinions expressed are likely to be biased. Be that as it may, I’m proud to associate myself with this work of creativity, a collection of poetry and photography worth more than just a casual glance. Arthur’s works need to be savored, like a fine wine, simmered over, like a sweet glaze, and appreciated for their unique and delectable flavors.
As I’ve mentioned on several occassions, Arthur Rosch sees the world in a unique way. Through his creative endeavors, those who care to look are allowed a glimpse of things through his eyes. His photography is amazing. The images that he captures with his lense say so much in a single moment. His poetry, on the other hand, is often a lengthy, social commentary on higher powers, human behavior, or the world at large. Yet, even his short poems seem to have a lot to say.
To illustrate my meaning, the following poem is minimal, yet it speaks volumes. It is my favorite of Arthur’s short snippits of poetry and the only one for which a true companion photo was also available from his photo library for inclusion in the collection.
Dewdrops on spiderwebs:
sit lightly with life
Another of Arthur’s profound poems, “Stars“, declares, in part, (I did mention that some of his poems are rather lengthy, too much so to be reprinted here in full),
” …Stars know what they are.
Stars are alive and individual,
quirky with personality,
often pulsing and drawing
gravity blood, gas and heat,
combining with other stars
combining and mating with other
stars and forming unions of
in order to serve the Master of Stars… “
Another poem is an expression of nature, as seen through Arthur’s eyes. This one is one of my personal favorites.
Hunted By The Hawk
Make joy from stones.
Make wit from mud,
make humor from blood.
The tiny finch flies crazily,
for the sheer fun of it,
though it knows, each morning,
that it’s hunted by the hawk.
We too, each morning,
are hunted by the hawk.
The cover image for Feral Tenderness also came from Arthur’s photo library. With this photo, I was able to create an awesome cover design, if I do say so myself. We created cover images using several of Arthur’s photos, but in the end, this one grabbed both author’s and publisher’s hearts.
The poetry and photos featured in this collection are so varied in subject matter and tone, that several book promotions with very different appeals seemed applicable to me. I used one of Arthur’s photographs for the background of one of them. Can you guess which one? Let me know in the comments which you like better.
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This is not the first time this author has appeared on Writing to be Read as a part of a book tour. At the end of July I had the pleasure of interviewing Scerina Elizabeth as a part of her tour for Nocturnia and Spellbound. Today’s post is a part of the Full Moon Bites book blog tour for her most recent releases, Eternally Yours and Fangalicious Divas, with an excerpt from Ms. Elizabeth’s erotica vampire romance novel, Eternally Yours: Bloodlines. The content may be adult in nature, so this post is for those eighteen and over only.
Unlike my book reviews, where I tell you what I think and rate the work for you, an excerpt speaks for itself and lets the readers decide. So, without further ado…
We all looked at each other, waiting for either Chloe or William to explain it all. It was Chloe who started.
“We had been working for your grandmother for over ten years. I was her housekeeper while William was the groundskeeper. We were the ones who managed the estate when your grandmother fell ill and was unable to handle things on her own. She was a beautiful woman who was the sweetest thing and very generous. She allowed us to live on the estate just above the horse stables. When she was in the last stages of her illness, she told us all about you and your whereabouts. She also told us about your dark family secret which she instructed us to tell you about once you arrived.”
She continued, “Your dark family secret is something you would not believe so for you to truly believe and understand, we must show you.” As she said that, she got up and waited for us by the door that led down to the cellar.
We all followed her down to the cellar where she stood in front of a steel sliding door that was padlocked and chained where she asked me for the keys. Expertly she rifled through the keys to the right one, unlocked the padlock and pulled the chain from the doors. She tossed the chains to the side and stuck the padlock in her pocket. Both she and William pulled the heavy sliding door open. There in front of us was another set of stairs made of stone that looked much older than the house itself. She lit a torch on the wall. Once there was light and we could see better into the stairwell, it looked like something that you would find back in medieval times, like an old dungeon or something. The smell was stale and musty. You could tell no one had been down here in years. She led us down to the lower level of the cellar where at the bottom of the stairs was another heavy, steel, sliding door – chained and padlocked like the one upstairs. She opened the door as she had done before, she knew exactly what she was doing which washed away any doubt I may have had of her. She seemed to know her way around this house and knew much about my family.
The inner room lit up as soon as the doors opened. It looked like a mausoleum, very sterile and white with hints of gold and silver here and there. In the heart of the room, were three white marble slabs and on top of each slab was a coffin.
The one in the middle was an enormous gold coffin with a massive silver crucifix was inlaid with rubies and diamonds in the center of it. Along the sides were more precious gems and it had detailed artwork covering it. It was gorgeous.
The two smaller coffins were bronze with smaller gold crucifixes covered in emeralds and diamonds on them. Just like the center coffin, the two smaller ones had gorgeous detailed artwork.
At the very front of the room in the center, were two silver columns that looked like a doorway. I figured it was mere decorations since two silver columns were not only covered in detailed artwork but more precious gems and diamonds. Not paying much attention and figuring it was just a decoration, I continued to take in the room. It was a family mausoleum clearly and I could understand in a sense why the dark family secret would be kept down here but what I still didn’t understand was – what was it? I was just about to find out because William began to speak.
“What lies in these coffins is your family’s dark secret. From generation to generation your family has watched over and protected the contents of these three coffins. In the center lies your great-great-grandfather Jacob LaBau and in the two smaller coffins lies your great-grandaunts Latrelle & Charlamaine LaBau.
Now what am about to tell you, you will have trouble believing and you might want to have a seat for this next part.” He gestured towards a marble bench on the side of the room and we did as he said.