Oh Moon, Thou Climb’st the Skies; Friday Flash Fics for June 13, 2019 by Jeff Baker

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                          Oh Moon, Thou Climb’st The Skies

By Jeff Baker

 

The weather was warm, the rainbow flags were flying and I was feeling as conspicuous as hell in my “Nobody Knows I’m Bi” t-shirt.

“Relax,” Schuyler said. “You’re as stiff as…well, this is a party! It’s Pride Month! Gay Mardi Gras!”

“Yeah,” I said.” But if we weren’t 1,400 miles away from Wichita, I probably wouldn’t be wearing the shirt,” I said.

“Hey, Billy,” Schuyler said. “Coming out isn’t easy for anybody. But you’re here, you’re wearing that cool shirt and nobody’s going to…Hey! Hey! Over here!”

Schuyler waved, and two people waved from across the street full of waving flags. They were about my age, twenty-something; the girl with long blond hair, jeans and a white tee-shirt with rainbow stripes around the middle; the guy in black jeans, a black tank top and a rainbow striped top hat. Striped top hat looked like he was feeling no pain.

“Guys!” Schuyler said. “Meet a friend of mine, he’s just out.”

“Wha?” the girl said. The crowd was getting pretty loud.

“I said, THIS IS BILLY GONZALEZ,” Schuyler yelled. “WE WENT TO SCHOOL TOGETHER. HE JUST CAME OUT A WHILE BACK!”

“Hey,” the guy said, flashing a peace sign. He introduced himself as Leo. The girl was Melinda. I allowed myself a lingering glance at Leo’s bare arms.

“Let’s sit down over here,” Melinda said. “Less noisy.”

The makeshift outdoor café was further away from the street. We sat down at the table and ordered drinks. Schuyler finished his in a couple of gulps. Then he had another one. Like Leo, he was feeling no pain. He’d done the same thing when we were in college.

“This makes me think of France,” Schuyler said. “About eighty-four or eighty-three. The Queen wasn’t too crazy about me so I went there,”

“I got some queens who don’t like me, either.” Leo said.

“Yeah, but I remember us marching through France on a street like this and they were waving flags a lot like this,” Schuyler said. “Or, maybe it wasn’t France. Maybe it was further north. I think it was. Sir Phillip was with me.”

Schuyler always got like this when he was drunk. Harmless, but nuts.

“We were heading through Zutphen. That was when the Spanish came,” he said. He was speaking strangely accented English. He’d done it before. “They were going to engage us. We were near the water. I had lost one of my cuisses in the long march. Sir Phillip gave me his, saying ‘Edward! I will not be better-armored then my own men and he bade me take his.’”

“Ooooooo!” Leo said.

“Oh, Phillip, Phillip, the arrow came too fast,” Schuyler said. “And you, un-armored in your thigh. I could never profess my love.” Then he began reciting:

“With how sad steps, Oh Moon, thou climb’st the skies,

How silently and with how wan a face…”

All this sounded familiar. One night in the dorm, Anthony Cardno, a psych major, had hypnotized Schuyler and supposedly taken him back over 400 years in his own memory. I’d remembered a lot of it and had told one of my professors a while later, and he was amazed at all the detail. Detail he’d said Schuyler couldn’t have known. Schuyler was no history geek; he thought the American Revolution had something to do with RPMs. And he didn’t give a damn about poetry. Especially Elizabethan poetry. Reincarnation, or somehow picking up on lives of people who had lived before, wasn’t the strangest thing I’d run into.

“He’ll be okay,” I said. “I’ll get him to the hotel and he’ll sleep it off.”

“You’re a good friend, Billy,” Melinda said.

“Yeah,” Leo said.

They both stood up and kissed me. In public. I was surprised. I smiled.

“Happy Pride,” Leo said.

I was remembering the lines I’d heard before:

Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess?

Do they call virtue there ungratefulness?

I sat back, feeling a lot more relaxed. Sometimes, you have to be who you are.

—end—

 

 

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Mischief Following Anger for Friday Flash Fics, June 7, 2019 by Jeff Baker

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Mischief Following Anger

By Jeff Baker

 

I discovered one of my ancestors was a witch right before my twenty-fifth birthday. I inherited a box of pictures from my Great Grandmother. It included a letter from her Great Grandmother warning about the influence of Naomi Harker, who had died in 1699. I had the feeling the letter was meant for me. That was when I started doing research into the family history. The internet was a wonderful resource. I found out that a lot of women in my family had greenish-blue eyes, like mine. But I wasn’t a woman, of course. I found that Naomi hadn’t been the only family member accused of witchery; there had been four sisters burned in England, and several others had been accused during the proceeding centuries.

Time, some sources said, meant nothing to a witch. But a witch was nothing until reunited with her coven. Twelve witches and a male sorcerer; an acolyte who was their go-between in their dealings with the dark forces. I lay awake one night, wondering what it had been like for these ancestors in the superstitious past. I suddenly remembered: I had found a line of witches stretching back to the Fourteenth Century. Twelve witches in all.

There was a wind blowing in my room, a fire burning in the ancient stone fireplace (where there had only been a space heater before.) I could hear the call of wild animals outside, and see moonlight, but there was no moon.

My eyes were glowing blue-green as I rose to greet the twelve women who appeared in the dark and to take the flowing robe they offered me.

 

—end—

 

 

 

NOTE: The title comes from a Seventeenth Century charge brought against supposed witches. —-jsb.

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Toy Story for Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker May 31, 2019

 

The Forlorn Bear

By Jeff Baker

 

I was twelve years old and I was in bed with a cold. Over my protestations, my Mother sent for the doctor. Our regular doctor having been summoned on another call, Old Doctor John was the one who showed up. He was semi-retired and must have been about eighty, He harrumphed and grumped a bit and made me laugh. He told me I had a cold and I said “I know.”

“Sometimes,” Old Doctor John said, “the obvious isn’t so obvious. It reminds me of something that happened when I was helping out a friend of mine. It must have been back in nineteen-oh…”

“Nineteen-oh!” I said. Old Doctor John glared at me. “Yes, Nineteen-Oh. Someday, the years won’t seem as far apart to you as they do now.”

I sat back and listened. I loved his stories. He went on.

I was in the rooms my friend rented in London (Old Doctor John said) and one afternoon he received an envelope with a photograph and a note. The note pertained to the recent kidnapping of a child which had been kept out of the London papers. The note taunted my friend, saying that he was known for solving the “pretty little problems” but couldn’t solve this one.

I examined the note for a watermark and found none as my friend examined the photograph; a child’s toy staring forlornly at the camera.

“We have to get this to the police immediately, John,” he said. “This man may not have wanted to be caught but he was careless.”

My friend usually didn’t call me by my first name, and so I caught the urgency of the situation. As we rushed out the door he said “We now have one vital clue.”

And the kidnappers were apprehended and the child reunited with his family by nightfall.

Old Doctor John finished his story and picked up his doctor’s bag.

“Wait,” I said. “How did your friend know? What was the vital clue?”

Old Doctor John smiled.

“The kidnappers ran a photography studio. The photograph was embossed with their address in gold lettering.”

I smiled and lay back in bed. In my dreams, I was rushing through the London streets with Younger Doctor John and his brilliant friend.

 

—end—

 

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Short-Story Month, Day 24. Anthologies I’m Looking Forward To

By Jeff Baker

I submit stories to a lot of anthologies and I only get in a few (which is a pretty good average!) and I’m looking forward to one I didn’t get published in: “Schoolbooks and Sorcery,” an LGBT inclusive YA anthology of stories set in magical schools, edited by Michael M. Jones. It sounds fun, and I almost always order a book I submit to, even if I didn’t get into it.

As for my story, “After School,” I’ll keep you posted if it ever appears anywhere!

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Short-Story Month, Day 23 (late!) Stuff I Don’t Usually Read

By Jeff Baker

I don’t read a lot of Westerns and probably will never read a Western novel but I found a treasure trove of Western short-stories  while back. Bill Pronzini and Martin H. Greenberg edited a series of paperbacks each featuring stories (and a few poems!) all with a specific theme: “The Railroaders,” “The Lawmen,” “The Outlaws.” The variety in the stories is fantastic and the list of authors is a who’s-who: Owen Wister, O. Henry, Dorothy M. Johnson, Edward D. Hoch. The stories range from classics (“A Man Called Horse”) to a few (then) brand-new stories. The anthologies aren’t too hard to find and not too pricy. Well-worth it for the fine reads. (I may try writing a Western short myself some day!)

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Something To Howl About for Friday Flash Fics, May 24, 2019 by Jeff Baker

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Mareck Silverlock and His All-Wolf Band

By Jeff Baker

 

Young Mareck cleared his throat.

“My report is on entertainment of the War Years. This was almost forty years ago. Europa and the American Continent were at war. Things were sad. People like, like my Grandfather decided to help.” He shifted on his legs and clutched the paper with his front paws. “In the early 1940s, most of the United States had never heard of Wolfsong. So, my Grandfather Mareck got some of his friends together and they toured the country performing. My Grandfather’s family had fled Europa after they passed the legga… legasha…”

“Legislation,” the teacher said, suppressing a smile.

“Legislation. Called the Wolf Act,” Young Mareck said. “The Wolf Act said that wolves were dangerous and a bad influence on other species.” He took a deep breath and glanced out at the class; everybody seemed to be listening. He went on.

“My Grandparents knew that those were all lies, so they set out to show the country what wolves were really like. They toured the country during the war using the name Mareck Silverlock and His All-Wolf Band. They were very popular and even made recordings. After the war, they were presented with a certifk…certify…with a paper that thanks them for their helping with the understanding of the Wolves in this country.” Young Mareck reached over behind the teacher’s desk and pulled out a large piece of cardboard. “And this is the poster my Grandfather used when he was touring thirty years ago.”

The kids leaned forward, rows of attentive ears and twitching whiskers, and wide eyes. The poster showed the head of a large wolf, head thrown back, mouth open in a howl, muzzle surrounded by frozen breath.

“Wow!” one of the cubs in the class breathed.

“Mareck, is that your Grandfather? In the picture?” one of the others asked.

“No,” Young Mareck said. “My Grandmother said this was someone who helped with the tour. He looked right for the picture, but he wasn’t in the band because he couldn’t sing!”

The other cubs and the teacher laughed and Mareck did too. He knew that when he got home, he was going to try out his howl.

 

—end—

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Side-Character Stories. Short-Story Month, Day # 22

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By Jeff Baker

“And then what happened?”

The question which may indicate  that a kid is going to try to become a writer, but writers ask it too. I’m actually thinking about the relationship (just friends) of two characters in a series I’ve written about. Their background story might not fit the story, but it’s dying to be told.

‘Nathan Burgoine is a master at the art of telling side characters’ stories. His collection “Of Echoes Born” brings a lot of characters onstage, and the interconnected short story grouping is a trick I’m not sure I could pull off as well! Just glad I’m able to read them!

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