“Concerning My Recent Encounter With the Eagle People” edited by Jeff Baker, for Friday Flash Fics, February 8, 2019.

51053090_10158257654126110_7786054664243380224_n

Concerning My Recent Encounter With the Chief of the Eagle People

Edited by Jeff Baker

(NOTE: The following MS was found in the author’s paper’s at the University. It was doubtless intended to be published with the rest of the book in 1872, but was not included, for reasons unknown. It may have been lost or the author may not have considered it suitable. It is here reproduced in its entirety.—jsb.) 

In the Summer of 1861 I followed my brother Orion west, to the Nevada Territory. We travelled through the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, mainly by stage, at which point I acknowledged that actually riding on the mountains, like a horse would have been less painful. It was while we were camping out between the plains and the mountains that I decided to take a horse and do some rudimentary exploring, despite warnings that the local Natives tended to get irritated. I responded that my Brother had campaigned for Lincoln in the recent election and that I was not unfamiliar with irritated natives and I considered the ones in the East to be far more savage than the ones in the West. So, I set out upon my borrowed horse, confident in my knowledge and skill.

I promptly got lost.

The sun was setting when I saw what looked like campfires ahead. I rode cautiously, realizing that whoever was ahead I was probably in a predicament; if I was returning to the stage line, late and in my haggard condition I was bound to be lectured by the driver but If I fell among the natives, they might decide to take out on me the indignities they had suffered at the hand of my well-meaning brethren during the last two centuries. While I was percolating over my options, suddenly two large young braves appeared at my sides so swiftly and silently that I had not heard or seen their approach. They indicated that I should dismount and I marched with them leading my horse by the bridle on foot toward their camp. I observed them and tried to discern what tribe (from my little experience) they might belong to. They wore long pants, shoes of the same material and instead of shirts, their shoulders were covered with cloaks that I at first thought were fur but I quickly realized were feathers. Eagle feathers. Most astonishing to me was the fact that they were unmounted and had swiftly approached me on foot without the aid of horses.

We arrived at the camp as it was getting dark, apparently in the middle of some form of trial or ceremony. What I imagined to be the whole tribe was seated around a large fire. This was some thirty men or women. Standing in the middle were three young men, like all of them draped in the same feathered cloak, the one in feathers darker than the others.

As we approached, a tall, white-haired man stood up and held a hand out, indicating quiet. Then he spoke, to my surprise, in English. He told me that I was at a gathering of the Eagle People, the day on which these three were to “ascend to manhood.” He introduced himself as the Chieftain and wise man of the tribe, and said a name I couldn’t pronounce; full of A’s and K’s. I would have written it down but I hadn’t brought a pencil. Then he said something that took me by surprise: that I was here because I was destined to be a wise man and that I should sit and watch.

The ceremony (I assumed it to be such) was quick and I did not understand the language, but I got the basic meaning; Each of the three young men was questioned by the Wise Man and at the end of the questioning, took off the necklaces they had been wearing and handed them to the Wise Man who, at the end, tossed the necklaces into the fire. This was followed by a rousing cry from all of the assembled and I caught a slight smile on the face of one of the three young men, and one of the others seemed to thrust his chest out. In another moment, the Wise Man sat down beside me and the three young men stepped to the edges of the circle and (wonder of wonders!) what I had assumed to be feathered cloaks unfurled from their shoulders and revealed themselves as wings, not unlike those of birds. Then they left the ground and soared into the darkened sky where the stars were beginning to be visible, and I was torn between staring upward, slack-jawed at the sight and looking around at the other members of the tribe closely examining them and realizing their feathered cloaks were indeed wings.

“We are the Eagle People,” the Wise Man said to me. “Our ancestors were the eagles of the heavens, and we walk the earth as men and soar in the skies.”

I was thinking to myself that the dark-winged boy must have had some crow in him, maybe a catbird, when I suddenly thought of a question and turned to ask the Wise Man. He must have known what I was thinking for he smiled, and

(Here the manuscript ends.)

Advertisements
Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, M**k Tw**n, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wise Words From “The Writer,” (the magazine, not me. Jeff Baker, February 4, 2019.)

013

                             Short Words From The Writer

                                                By Jeff Baker               

            I got a small stack of back-issues of “The Writer” today, most from around 1970. Browsed through them and found a few things that may interest writers out there, especially writers of short-stories. 

            First off, from the excellent Flannery O’Connor; an essay The Writer republished in its January 1970 issue:

            “Being short does not mean being slight. A short story should be long in depth and should give us an experience of meaning.”

            The Writer’s columnist Lesley Conger presented “A Writer’s Alphabet” in her May 1977 Off The Cuff column in that issue. Here are a few gems:

            “M is for Mailbox. If you feed the public mailbox on the corner regularly, your own mailbox may begin to feed you.”

            “P is for Publisher. To be able to preface this word with ‘My’ is the aim of every beginning writer.”

            “T is for Time. …the best way to make use of time is to deal with it even if there are only minutes of it foreseeably available ahead of you.”

            “E is for Envelope. Going out, manila envelopes are fine. Coming back, envelopes should be thin, long and white.”

 

            The Writer is still publishing. Back in 1977 they were celebrating their 90th year. Times have changed since the days of manila envelopes and mailboxes. But I wish for all the writers reading this the metaphorical white envelopes of success.

 

                                                —end—

Posted in Fiction, Non-Fiction, Short-Stories, Uncategorized, Writing | Leave a comment

“The Frog on the Pillow.” Pillow talk for Friday Flash Fics ( a day late!) Jeff Baker, February 2, 2019.

50472064_10158236865571110_3526070718682890240_n

                                                           The Frog on the Pillow

                                                                        By Jeff Baker

                       

            “Oh, the ring?” he said. “With the silver frog? It’s a family heirloom. Supposedly we’re descended from; well you know that story about the princess and the frog?”

            I nodded.

            “Well, that’s supposedly one of my ancestors. Supposedly.”

            “Wow,” I said.

            “Back in the Middle Ages (the story goes) there was a young prince (which is not as impressive as it sounds.) He was the youngest son of the son of a Feudal Duke, and probably wasn’t really a prince, but that’s how the story goes. Anyway, he got turned into a frog somehow and a genuine princess kissed him and he turned back and that was it. Well, she was a genuine princess, the niece of some other princess somewhere (they were probably some kind of cousins) but they did get married…”

            “And you’re all descended from all the little tadpoles?” I said grinning.

            “Yeah,” he said. “And I don’t know when we started getting these rings, but they’re kind of cool.”

            “Yeah,” I said. “So are you.”

            We kissed.

            “Well,” I said. “I guess you have to kiss a lot of princes to find your frog!”

 

                                                —end—

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, LGBT, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“If you’ve got a problem no one can handle, and if you can find them…” Friday Flash Fics, January 26, 2019 (Saturday) by Jeff Baker.

50458337_10158218267351110_2684373556640350208_n

 

                                                      Reboot

                                                   By Jeff Baker                                       

            “Oh my gosh! I remember this! I loved this!”

            “Me too! They used to show the original on cable all the time.”

            “The original? I thought this was the original.”

            “I’m not counting the movie.”

            “The October Boys? I loved that!”

            “It was better than the series.”

            “Yeah, it had a literate script. To say nothing of people who could act.”

            “But it didn’t have that kick ass opening! The two police cars colliding and our four heroes walking up to the camera as the big fireball erupts behind them and the titles swirl out of that.”

            “We wanna do a reboot. The network is interested.”

            “You’re kidding! Are any of the cast even still alive?”

            “A couple of them are.”

            “How old are they? Ninety?”

            “About eighty. They’re doing cameos.”

            “Who are we getting to play Mort?”

            “One of the original cast suggested Jay Hernandez.”

            “Uh, I think he said he wanted to go out with Jay Hernandez.”

            “Maybe he wanted to be Jay Hernandez. Forget Jay Hernandez. What else do we have?”

            “Reboots of ‘Bewitched, The A-Team, and something called The Love Bot.”

            “Remake of Love Boat.”

            “No it isn’t. It’s about a robot re-entering the dating scene.”

            “Maybe they should call it Crashed on Reentry.”

            “Maybe we should go to lunch.”

            “L.A. Lunch. That’s another one. Instead of a high-powered law firm, it’s a high-powered lunch counter…”

 

                                                —end—

Posted in Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Grand Slam for Friday Flash Fics, by Jeff Baker (January 18, 2019)

49947700_10158198898016110_4199610801461395456_n

 

Paolo MacGillivray and the Five Run Homer  

By Jeff Baker

 

You can say that there’s no such thing as a five-run-homer in baseball. You can even look it up if you can find a rulebook. But I saw it done. And it was Big Paolo MacGillivray who did it. Now there’s a whole lot of stories about Paolo MacGillivray and some of them are just stories. But some of them are true. No, not the ones like Paolo MacGillivray was so big that he stood up once during a game and blotted out the sun so they had to cancel the game because they don’t play games at night anymore. Or that when Paolo went out for a few beers with the team he drank his beer so fast it pulled in a brewery foreman from two states away. But the five-run-homer was true. I saw it.

I was equipment manager on the Mailingsbouro Marauders when Paolo showed up. The stories about his being big were true. He didn’t block out the sun, but that day in the locker room he bumped his head on a hanging light. He was brawny, had a reddish beard and holding the bat on his shoulder he reminded me for all the world of Paul Bunyan. He had a long first name that I couldn’t begin to spell, let alone pronounce and insisted we call him Paolo. He said he’d got the name playing in the Greater New Mexico Southwest League. I found out later that “Paolo” meant “small.” Anyway, after six years in the GNMSL, he decided to cross the Arkansas and try his luck in the U.S.

Being as big as he was, Paolo had a few problems. His uniforms had to be custom-made; he tended to break a lot of bats with his powerful swings; and most of all, when he really got to running he had trouble stopping. He smashed through the backfield wall trying to catch a ball. And once, while rounding the bases, he lost control and veered off course while rounding third and his momentum slammed him into one of the makeshift bleachers. So, one afternoon, late in the game, bases were loaded and Paolo came up to bat. Sometimes he held back but not this time. He swung, the bat shattered and the ball soared out of the park. The first two runners made it to home but the last one kept looking behind him, as Paolo was just a few feet behind him leaving a huge cloud of dirt in his wake. It was like watching an out-of-control atomic train. The runner touched home plate and he and the umpire dove out of the way as Paolo rounded home and kept running, aiming for first base again. I could tell from Paolo’s expression his momentum was carrying him and he was afraid of slamming into somebody so he rounded the bases again, and this time he dove into home plate. There was a loud WHOOOMPF! And when the dust cleared, Paolo was half buried in the ground, clutching home plate with both hands, grinning sheepishly. Everybody in the stands cheered and they gave him the second home run anyway, and not that long afterwards, Paolo left baseball to do something else. As big and powerful as he was, we all  figured he could do anything.

Now the story is that Paolo slid into home so hard he dug a trench that became the Great Northwestern Canal. I never saw that, but he may have worked on the Canal which was about a decade later. Like I said, you could look it up if you could find the record books.

 

—end—

 

AUTHER’S NOTE: The picture made me think of Paul Bunyan, and I may have unconsciously imitated Ring Lardner and James Thurber.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, Science Fiction, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“Sherlock Holmes vs. The Invisible Man.” Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker for January 11, 2019. (Okay, a day late!)

49614607_10158181235886110_1310273352392245248_n

Sherlock Holmes vs The Invisible Man

By Jeff Baker

 

(AUTHOR’S Note: This is a sequel to my story “Boot-Scootin’ Boogie,” from November 13, 2017.)

 

“Whatcha reading?” came the voice from over my shoulder. I was sitting in the overstuffed armchair and barely looked up. “Oooooo! Sherlock Holmes again! The original, too!”

“Mmmmmm yeah,” I said.

“There’s what, fifty-six original stories and you’ve been reading them all week? Over and over?”

I could hear the smile in the voice, even if I couldn’t see it at the moment.

“Why not?” I said.  “You watch the same thirty-some episodes of the Honeymooners all the time.”

“Okay, that’s different,” the voice said as a teakettle, seemingly by itself, poured a cup of tea which set down on my armrest.

“Should you be pouring hot tea naked?” I asked.

“Should you be keeping the empty cups on the floor in front of your chair?” the voice asked. “And I’m not naked and this tea isn’t hot. I let it sit for a couple of hours.”

The youngish-looking man with the reddish-brown hair suddenly appeared beside me, wearing sweatshirt and pants. Henry and I had been married for three months, having known each other since High School and the little accident that let him turn himself invisible.

“I’m doing an article on Doyle’s original stories and I thought I’d better read them first,” I said.

“Okay, but you ought to read The Invisible Man first,” Henry said. Kissing me on the forehead.

“Love the invisible man,” I said grinning up at him. We kissed. I lost my place in the book. I didn’t care.

“Hey,” Henry said after a moment. “I’d better let you get back to your reading.” He disappeared. An instant later, the two cups on the floor rose up and floated seemingly by themselves towards the kitchen. “I got those,” came Henry’s voice.

“I should never have bought you that My Favorite Martian box set for Christmas,” I called out mockingly,

I turned back to my book, hearing the laughter from the kitchen.

 

—end—

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Camera Obscura.” Friday Flash Fics by Jeff Baker for January 4, 2019.

49074718_10158159886241110_4077382698006478848_n

Camera Obscura

                                                           (A Demeter’s Bar Story)

                                                                    By Jeff Baker

            The man who looked like he’d slept with his tie under his pillow looked up from the bar and ordered another drink.

            “Sure,” Zack said. “You calling a cab?”

            “Yeah,” the man said. “Next week I may not be able to pay for one. I just lost my job.”

            “Sorry,” Zack said, pouring the glass. “I know how it goes.”

            “Of course, it wasn’t my fault,” the man said, swallowing the drink in a couple of gulps. “But it’s what I get for saving the world. Just maybe not this world.”

He ordered another drink and went on.

I work, worked for an electronics lab whose name I won’t mention (the man said.) I was part of R & D. I worked in digital. I was trying to develop a new kind of digital camera. I know that sounds almost useless in our era of cameras in every mobile device, but we were certain we were on the cutting edge of a breakthrough in digital photography.

When the prototype was ready, I took it with me and started taking pictures around town. When I looked at what I’d taken, I was certain I either hadn’t aimed the camera right or there was something wrong with the device. Nothing was out of focus, but there was just a shot of cloudy sky when I’d taken a picture of the top of a lamppost, I took a shot of someone walking their dog in the park and when I checked the viewer, there were kids playing baseball. Likewise, the picture I took of my car turned into a picture of a new pickup truck. And then I decided to take a selfie. I’m not a damn teenager so it took me a few tries especially with the new camera, which was kind of awkward, but I got a picture.

It was sort of me. Me but not me. I looked the same but younger somehow. My hair wasn’t styled; it looked like I’d brushed it almost as an afterthought. And the color seemed lighter somehow. Almost as if I’d done a half-assed bleach job. And there was a smile on my face, kind of a cocksure grin. I don’t usually smile for pictures and not like that.

I was staring at this picture when I suddenly remembered my Mother telling me how close she’d come to marrying somebody other than my Father. That got me thinking: what if the camera was somehow taking pictures of a parallel world somehow? You can laugh but scientists are starting to believe that alternate worlds might actually be possible. For openers, it would put the camera way out of the average consumer’s price range.

So I did some more experimenting, taking some pictures downtown. The results were extraordinary. A big stone-and-glass building where the old concert hall is. A huge turbine windmill at the edge of town. A monorail humming through the city. This was when I started to worry about what my company would do with this knowledge. So, I went to my bosses and told them I’d broken the camera deliberately after realizing it didn’t work. They accused me of trying to pull some con job and that’s when they fired me, but I managed to get the rights to the camera design in my settlement. It cost me my severance pay but I think it was worth it.

The man held up a lumpy steel octagon the size of his fist. It had a lens sticking out of one side.

“So I still have this,” he said. “I’m not sure I should try to market it and I don’t really trust anybody else to take it over.”

“What about the government?” Zack asked.

“Especially not the government,” the man said. “So I think I should keep this to myself for a while. Hey, how about a picture?” The man raised the strange camera.

“No, not me!” Zack said with a grin. “How about another drink and I call you a cab?”

“Deal,” the man said.

Zack poured the drink, keeping a wary eye on the camera which the man had set on the bar.

 

                                  —end—

            AUTHOR’S NOTE: Wasn’t going to do another bar story this week, but it fit the picture. So, mix in a splash of Jack Finney and a title borrowed from Basil Copper.

Posted in Demeter's Bar, Fiction, Friday Flash Fics, LGBT, Science Fiction, Short-Stories, Uncategorized | 2 Comments