BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, Chapter 3 – SMART ALECK

Ready or not, here comes the next free instalment of the backwoods novella BAT IN A WHIRLWIND. In this chapter Ben feels the usual woes of being a bright boy in a fairly dim world, reminisces about a moment nearly near Annette, and then gets blown away by a weird thought about best buddy Danny. The following excerpt is when the whirlwind hits.

To read BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, Chapter 3.  SMART ALECK, right click here and select “Open,” or to download as a free pdf file to read at home, select “Save Target (or Link) As.”

BAT IN A WHIRLWIND

Excerpt from Chapter 3. – Smart Aleck

            As usual, I wandered over to the café in the evening, got me a Dr. Pepper, and went to play some pinball. Daddy had about six different fun machines in the little room at the end of the building, a popular place for kids to hang out. No one was there right now, and I started playing on the Ace of Hearts machine, distracted by the shiny ball and flashing lights. I kept up a bounce game with my left flipper and a bonus bumper for a good while.

From the doorway I heard a wolf-whistle and “Hi ya, Benny boy.” It was Danny, looking very cool, with Terry right behind, who nodded hi and went over to the Carnival machine down the way. My buddy came over to mine and tousled my head in greeting. …

…        Sitting on the chain out front, Danny remarked, “Mickey told me you were great in English class today.” So I recited “The Raven” again with much drama for my very best friend. Leaning close, I intoned the verses. When I got to Is there—is there balm in Gilead? Danny looked at me with such sad eyes. On each stanza, he chimed in ominously on the “nevermores.”

Then, just as I got to talking about the cute puppies Duchess just had by Lobo—Maybe he’d like one?—some cars pulled up, and a whole passel of Lockjaw kids piled out, all old chums from when I went to school up there. I waved, but Danny didn’t know them, of course.

We stayed out on the chain while he smoked his cigar. The stars were real bright over the pines in our front yard. Maybe it was Jupiter just over the roof of the garage. “What do you call a bunch of stars?” Danny asked. Of course I said it was a constellation, but he protested, “No, I bet it’s a splendor of stars.” I was more than willing to take his word for it.

Then we just swung on the chain, rubbing shoulders, while he smoked his cigar. We didn’t have to talk all the time. Just being together was enough. Eventually, he stubbed the Roi-Tan out on the concrete post and suggested, “Let’s go see what the Terror is up to.”

The Lockjaw kids were scattered around the booths and counter, and Daddy had most of them served already. The juke box was blaring something country. Terry was down in number four making friends with Flossie, Patsy, and Liz. Danny scrunched in next to Flossie, and I pulled up a chair beside him. Both Flossie and Patsy looked real interested in my pal. Terry was making up to Liz and whispering with her.

Suddenly he got up and dragged Danny and me over by the Wurlitzer. He popped in a quarter and said to me, “You pick something.” Then he pulled Danny in close to us and whispered, “Look, Liz says her and Flossie want to go riding. Which one of you wants her?”

I stared at the selection board without reading. Danny was silent too, but then he leaned close whispering, “You oughtta, Benny. You need some lovin’.” Still speechless, I quick punched some random songs, telling myself there was no connection between this sex stuff and love. But if I went riding with Flossie, I’d have to sneak off without Daddy knowing.

Impatient, Terry got sarcastic. “Maybe you two should go parking together.” Danny glared and took a half-hearted swing at him, missing by a mile.

“No fighting!” Daddy boomed out from over by the candy case.

Danny turned back to me with a huge blush, and I bet I was blushing too at the thought of making out with him.   Terry looked sympathetic as he summed it up: “So Danny will go riding with the doll. Let’s go.”

We went back to number four, and Danny sat with his leg up over my knee. Rubbing his strong calf, I couldn’t pay attention to what they were talking, too overwhelmed by that thought of kissing my buddy, bewildered by the sensation. Ricky Nelson started singing about “Poor little fool, oh yeh!” Danny looked so handsome there laughing with Flossie, and I felt like a darned fool for even thinking of such things. Made me wonder if maybe there wasn’t a bat or two loose in my belfry.

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To read BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, Chapter 3.  SMART ALECK, right click here and select “Open,” or to download as a free pdf file to read at home, select “Save Target (or Link) As.”

First Crusade

Recently I’ve read in the book “People of the First Crusade” by Michael Foss (Arcade Publishing, 2011) about an instructive, if senseless, historical situation. In summary:

There’s a deep division between two parts of the world, primarily defined by their different and antagonistic, monotheistic religions. The peoples of the different faiths have until recently been living in an uneasy but cordial truce, though there have been sporadic regional conflicts, and one of them has also recently made military inroads into territories of the other.

In the past few centuries, the culture and society of one religious group is fanatical and has suffered something of a dark age with its people living in ignorant but pious, rural squalor and poverty under power-hungry and avaricious warlords who constantly battle each other.

In those same few centuries, the other monolithic religious group has grown markedly tolerant and enjoyed an efflorescence in culture and society, both artistically and technologically, achieving enormous wealth and urban opulence.

To redirect the civil and sectarian violence in their society, the leaders of the fanatical faith, use the religion to focus the envy and greed of their fractious people on the wealth and opulence of the other group. Large populations infiltrate or outright invade the territories of their rich neighbors, resulting in massive death and destruction in the name of the one true god.

As a note, besides offering fabulous loot and undying military glory, the fanatical religious leaders promise their poor, downtrodden people that for dying in the fight for their true god, they’ll go to Paradise. A great many do. Die, that is.

The First Crusade started in 1096 when the dark-age, fanatical culture was Christianity in Western Europe, and the higher civilization they attacked with religious frenzy was that of prosperous and cultured Islam in the Middle East. Just switch the roles, and you’ve got 2015’s Islamic Jihad against the infidels of the decadent and wealthy West.

So how many centuries of barbarism and atrocity must we endure this time before Islam experiences its own renaissance and transforms into a sane, humane society? It took Christianity five centuries to start doing that, but it still hasn’t achieved sanity in nine. But maybe humane is all we can reasonably ask for from any religion.

 

Aztec Icon #3 – CHALCHIUHTOTOLIN, The Jade Turkey

It’s been long enough now that Aztec Icon #2: Chalchiuhtlicue, The Jade Skirt, has been hanging out here in the ether waiting for someone to look at her.  So I’ll gently retire her to the YE GODS!  THE AZTEC ICONS coloring book pasture along with Atl, God of Water .  If you care to, you can still see or download them through the links.

Now take a gander at this strange bird.  To download this icon as a pdf file with a page of caption and model images from the Aztec Codices, just right click here and select “Save Target (or Link) As.”  You can also download it in freely sizable vector drawings from the coloring book page.

ICON #3:  CHALCHIUHTOTOLIN

(The Jade Turkey)

Chalchiuhtotolin, The Jade Turkey

Chalchiuhtotolin, The Jade Turkey

CHALCHIUHTOTOLIN (Jade Turkey or Jewelled Fowl) {chal-chewh-to-to-leen} is a nagual of TEZCATLIPOCA.  Often called the Green Tezcatlipoca, he’s the magnificent patron of the Jaguar warriors of the night and of power and glory for warriors in general, cleansing them of contamination, absolving them of guilt, and overcoming their fates.  Appropriately he’s the patron of the deified day Tecpatl (Flint), the sacramental knife.  (Besides for political domination, Aztec wars were waged to harvest food for the gods—human hearts.)  A powerful sorcerer, he’s also a trickster who plays a flute in the night to lead people astray.  Whoever chances to see him should make bold to seize him and demand to be granted a wish.  Significantly, he’s also god of disease and pestilence.  (The Aztec civilization, like that of the Inca, was destroyed more directly by plagues than by the military conquests of the Spaniards.)

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Chapter 2. TREASURES OF DARKNESS

So far I’ve got no evidence that anyone has looked at the blog post  announcing the first chapter of my novella BAT IN A WHIRLWIND, much less downloaded it.  However, I’m not going to let that stop me.  Herewith is a sample from Chapter 2 for your interest or lack thereof.  It is part of a “normal” school day for hero Ben and his best buddy Danny.  Enjoy.

For free download of Chapter 2 as a pdf file, right click here and select “Save Target (or Link) As.”

BAT IN A WHIRLWIND

Excerpt from Chapter 2 – Treasures of Darkness

At school I waited out front for Danny.  He came ambling up the walk under the oak trees whistling “Red River Valley.”  He was so hot-looking it should be illegal.  Danny’s flattop was a shade darker than mine with just a hint of a ducktail in back.  That point of hair on his nape didn’t look sissy at all.  Actually it was pretty darned sexy.

He had to go to the office and get him a newspaper article for Civics class.  I already had mine, a short thing about Congress passing some bill.  Afterwards, we hung out by the lockers, and he leaned lazily up against one.  Something made me poke his stomach.  Wiggling his hips, he asked, “Want something?”  Then he blushed like crazy, his cheeks the color of cherries.

Unable to answer his question yay or nay, I poked him again and asked, “Why don’t you ask Mary Nell to go to the Lions Club party?”

Danny put his middle finger on his cheek in a meaningful gesture and gave me a big smile.  “I’m through with girls.  I won’t never ask Mary Nell for a date.”  I must have looked shocked—because I was—and he explained, “She lives way up there by you.  All that driving, and her old man being… You know.”

Well, there went the party.  Still reeling, I choked, “You’re through with girls?”

“For a little while,” he laughed and poked my stomach.

Just then pretty Betty Lou, a cheerleader, came bouncing up to us, all smiles with her very white teeth like an Ipana commercial.  Hugging a clipboard to her prominent chest, she asked cheerily, “Have you guys made your annual deposits yet?”

We’d both already paid, and when she’d wiggled her butt and gone on to the next bunch of kids down the hall, I quipped, “I wonder if her bank only takes deposits once a year.”

Danny laughed and blushed once again. “Be quiet.  You’re about to get me on a bone.”

Going to our regular assembly seats, now on the very first row being seniors, he brushed my face with his red sweater in passing, and I caught a brief flower-like fragrance.  Waiting for assembly to start, Danny looked over at Betty Lou with intense carnal interest.  I whispered, “There’s a little muscle in your cheek that’s quivering.”

He didn’t take his eyes off of her and said, “That ain’t the only one.  Boy, I could make do with just half of her.”

Deadpan, I asked, “Right or left?”  Danny cracked up.

The Principal, Mr. Foster, a thin man with graying hair and a very high waist, stood up front and shushed the auditorium full of kids.  In a minute everybody settled down.  Then to my huge surprise, he called on me to give the Bible reading.  It was real odd what with me being a Catholic, but the school had been real good about it.  They even started serving fish for lunch on Fridays, and the other kids said they enjoyed the relief from Salisbury steak or such like.

I hoped even in a Protestant Bible maybe I could find a piece of Divine Wisdom for the kids and especially for my wonderful friend Danny.  So I went and stood in front near the flag.  When I opened the Bible, my eyes landed on Isaiah 45:  verses 2 & 3, and I read:

I will go before thee / And level the mountains. / I will break in pieces the doors of bronze / And cut asunder the bars of iron. / I will give thee the treasures of darkness / And the hoards in secret places.

A bit taken aback by what I’d just read, I went and sat back down.  Danny puckered at me and asked in a whisper, “You got some treasures of darkness, Benny, babe?”  Unsure, I shrugged.  The reading didn’t sound very Biblical to me, all that I’ll do this and I’ll do that.  But it was sure enough dramatic and poetic and said everything I’d do for Danny.

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