Books, Memories, Rants, Short Stories, short-short, Young Adult


There was once a used bookstore just off of the Marion bypass. It was located in a little cul-de-sac, beyond a gravel parking lot, catty-corner with another shop I can’t quite remember. The bookstore was called Redbeard’s books. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would, thirty years later, use a digital publishing platform on something called the “Internet” to sell books by an author named Redbeard. But, I couldn’t have foreseen that at the time.

It was the typical, cramped little place, and very dim inside. Back then, my mother use to wait patiently while I combed video shops (those carried videocassette tapes, which are now essentially museum relics. Back in those days, there were specialty shops on every corner, catering to your particular taste in VHS.) and little junky bookshops. Often, she just sat in the car. Thank God for the patience of mothers.

All I remember of it, from thirty years on, is that the screen door opened up on to two rooms, one where a sort of fat hippie sat behind a desk or counter, surrounded by books…this room leading to two additional rooms, one with heaving shelves of books, and a smaller room with a sort of bin in the center, with books and comics stacked flat. At least, this is how I remember it.

My single purchase at this establishment was a graphic novel adaptation of the movie Bladerunner. A sequel has just been released the month I am writing this; which is a nice coincidence, but has nothing to do with this story.

The other book, Deviant by Harold Scechter, was a true crime biography of Ed Gein. I didn’t know it then, but I would go on to write about Ed Gein myself in three separate books. The Deviant book had grainy, black-and-white crime scene photos that made me feel rather sick. I put the book down as if the vibes from it could poison the soul. Maybe it could, and did. I turned to the comics because they cheered me. It was very dim in that store.

The store was the downstairs of a two-story house, bright white with a cracked pavement walkway around the side to the porch. Well-kept, which was what made the single, cryptic word of graffiti that had been spray painted on the side so perplexing. Around town, I, as many others, had seen such cryptic phrases as “eat shit,” and the even more utterly incomprehensible “1,2,3 CAT!” painted in dripping, horror movie letters on various alley walls and abandoned office buildings. But, “If”? If…what, pray tell? What the hell was the meaning behind this inscrutable expression? And, why was it allowed to drip there, day after day, on that clean white house wall, without anyone ever bothering to paint over it?

That it was the first thing you saw on the way to a bookstore, one brimming full of fantasy and science fiction books, comics, role playing games…maybe it was a challenge to wonder? To fantasize. To dream. It has always struck me that that might be what the mysterious “If” was meant to convey; a sense of plunging headlong into a world that challenged you to ask, “What…if?” What if dragons really slept on piles of gold, in lonely dungeons? What if spaceships flew through the galaxy, hopping from star to star, with alien minds aboard? What if? “Ask yourself,” it seemed to be saying.

“If” is the title of a poem by Rudyard Kipling. It ends with the line, “You’ll be a man, my son.” When I first saw the ambiguous “If” as it had been put upon the clean white wall by some rascally, unknown intellect, (trying to communicate, SOMETHING to the unwary observer), I was not yet, legally, a man. I was probably nine years away from that particular malady.

Rudyard Kipling is considered “politically incorrect” in the year 2017,BTW.

“If” was the name of a science fiction magazine edited by Frederick Pohl. That, in this context, seems appropriate.

“If” is the title of a British art house film, rather obscure, starring Malcolm McDowell, who played H.G. Wells in the movie Time After Time. The film “If…” concerns a British schoolboy who perpetrates a shooting massacre. Today, we live in a world that is rotten with massacres, both shooting and otherwise. Especially at schools. But, in 1987, not so much.

There are other “Ifs”. Silent films. Bad Novels. Forgotten popular songs.
IF I had known, in 1987, how much pain was in store for me in life, I might have decided to freeze time in that bookstore, like something from a bad sci fi paperback.

IF I had known what the world of 2017 would be like, what MY world would be like, thirty years ago, I would have chose to stop the clock. I’d be in that damn bookstore forever, and Mom would be waiting patiently out in the car, for eternity.

If wishes were fishes, boys and girls.


Books, Fortean, Humor, Mystic, short-short, Uncategorized, Urban Legends, Weird

Fox Met Cromwell

George Fox, the esteemed Quaker visionary, once met Cromwell while out riding. In a burst of vision, he exclaimed that, “I smell the stench of death about you!” As bizarre as this seemed to Cromwell, it turned out to be prescient, as Cromwell died a few weeks later, on Sept 3, 1658.

Certain death portents include the stopping of clocks, raps on the door whe no one is there, pictures falling mysteriously from the wall, and raps on the headboard.

Books, Ghosts, Hauntings, Short Stories, short-short, Sightings, Spiritism, Uncategorized, Urban Legends, Weird, Young Adult

A-Haunting We Will Go

Note: First chapter from a new book for young adults.

One of the most frightening places to be is on an old, deserted country road, in the middle of the night. Stories of ghostly encounters abound in such circumstances, and, of course, the most famous account is of “The Vanishing Hitchhiker.”

It’s a story with a few different variations, but the most common one is a person driving home down a lonely, unfamiliar stretch of desolate road. The driver sees, most often, a young woman in the distance. She seems to be in trouble, but is dressed unusually for being out so late, and all alone. The driver of the car, most often a concerned male, a father-figure type, stops and asks the girl if she needs a lift. She gets in the car, saying NOTHING, sliding in beside the driver, who suddenly realizes how cold it seems. He offers to lend her his jacket, and she accepts. They drive on in silence.

The girl says little, but directs the driver to go to an old house out near the cemetery. He does so, but when he pulls up, he at first thinks that the place must be abandoned. He gets out of the car, and the girl gets out too. She then seems to mysteriously vanish! Maybe in a cloud of strange, smoky fog.

Startled, the man goes up on the porch, noticing that there is a light burning in the front window after all. He knocks. A lonely old woman slowly opens the door.

“Hello, I picked up your daughter a few miles back. She was wandering alone, out near the old cemetery. She didn’t say much, but was very cold, so I loaned her my jacket. She told me she lived here, but, now it seems as if she has run away again.”

The old woman has a sad, knowing look on her face. Nodding her head softly, she says, “This happens every year, I’m afraid. She tries to come home.”

The man blinks, not understanding what he is being told. “She tries to come home? From where? What do you mean?”

The old woman heaves a gusty sigh, and answers, “It happened ten years ago. My daughter was invited to the prom by a handsome boy. She had never been asked out on a date before, and now the most handsome boy in class was asking her out. You understand, of course. She was a wallflower her whole life, so this night was pretty important to her. She got the best dress she could find, and dressed up like a princess that night. Oh, she was so beautiful! My only child! She had taken it so hard when her father passed on. She was so introvert, such a loner.

“I waited and waited for her, so happy that she finally was getting the attention she deserved from the boys, and was going to go out and have fun, and, what do you know, I even found out later that she and her date had been crowned Prom King and Queen!

“But, I waited up past two in the morning, and she never came home. Finally, just before dawn, I became frantic, and was headed out the door to go look for her, when the Sheriff knocked, and I knew something horrible had happened.

“They had been to a party afterwards, and there was drinking. She had never been to such a place before, and had no experience of such things. There was a fight started between her boyfriend, and the other guy pulled a knife. She jumped in between them, and she was stabbed. She died from her wounds just a few hours later.

“That was all twenty years ago, but this happens when the anniversary rolls around. She hitches a ride with someone, who tries to bring her home. But, she can’t come home, because she’s already in her final resting place. You go to the cemetery and look for her grave. I’m sure you’ll find your jacket. As for me, I’m an old woman, and I need my sleep.”

And with that, she closes the door, leaving the astounded man standing there, in shock and amazement.

He goes to the cemetery of course, to search out the grave. When he finds it, sure enough, there is his jacket, resting on the headstone of the murdered young girl.
Variations of the above include one story of a couple who pick up a vanishing hitchhiker who tells them, ‘Before the night is over, you’ll have a dead man in your car!” He then vanished from the backseat. The couple drive on and, in a short time, come upon an accident. Since the ambulance is taking too long, the policeman at the scene asks them if they can transport the dying man tot he nearby hospital. They put him in the car, but he dies en route. Thus, fulfilling the prophecy.

Yet another variation has a driver picking up a man that looks and scounds like Jesus Christ. The Christ-like figure relates a prophecy of the end of the world, right before vanishing.

automatism, Dreams and Nightmares, Fortean, Ghosts, Hauntings, Holographic Universe, Humor, Mystic, New Age, Short Stories, short-short, Spiritism, Uncategorized, Urban Legends, Weird, Young Adult

Stead’s Folly

WT Stead

Socialist reformer W.T. Stead was fascinated by spiritualism and psychic phenomena, so much so that when a medium told him he must not, under any circumstances, travel by sea, he went and booked passage aboard an ocean liner for her maiden voyage.

He died aboard the Titanic, April 15, 1912.

Books, Cults, Fables, Hindu, Holographic Universe, Humor, Krishna Das, Mystic, New Age, Short Stories, short-short, Young Adult

Lord Krishna’s Mouth


There is a story told of Lord Krishna. When he was a toddler at Brindavan, he liked to steal butter and cream. He was roundly scorned for this, and his mother told him he should take care never to do it again.

So, the next time the little Lord set about playing at the homes of his young friends, instead of making off with the butter, he grabbed a baby fistful of mud, ramming it into his mouth. His young friends, seeing what the baby had done, were offended, and went to tell his mother, Yashoda.

When he returned home, Lord Krishna’s mother said to him, “You awful, unthinking child! I will teach you never to put filthy mud into your mouth again!”

And she started to enact his punishment. Perhaps she was going to make him suck on a sour lemon, or even a cake of soap. We are not told. Whatever the case, though, when Lord Krishna opened his mouth, his mother was treated to an astounding sight:

She saw hills and valleys, trees and fields, rushing rivers, and vast craggy peaks. She saw mountainous rises and shallow dips, the twinkling, starlit array of diamonds in the black, vaulted firmament of heaven. She saw the planets, each with its own life, and the suns burning brightly in wonder, and the forgotten depths of the ocean floors, and even the raging waters of other worlds.

She, indeed, beheld the universe in the suckling infant’s mouth.

Lord Krishna’s mother fell to weeping, as she realized that Vishnu had come to earth in the form of her son.

(We imagine that, after that, he was treated to all the butter and cream he liked.)

Purchase the “Bhagavad Gita: Large Print Edition” at AMAZON:

Art, Books, Experimental, Hauntings, Poims, short-short, Young Adult

Were I the Reflection within the Mirror

Were I the Reflection Within the Mirror

Were I the reflection within the mirror,
So skillfully,
So tastefully drawn, by time
And circumstance,
To stand erect and aloof, contemplating the contour lines
Of a face drawn and haggard
By the ravages of age.
I could dance amidst the tick-tock
Magic of days,
Wander through the empty, labyrinthine halls
Scream at the lonely hours hissing by
In somnolent reverie; and wonder, oh wonder, Where truth ends,
Reality stops,
And reflective illusion takes the reigns…

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Books, Fables, Fiction, Ghosts, Humor, Short Stories, short-short, Uncategorized, Urban Legends, Young Adult

50 Famous Fables and Folktales, Collected from Around the World – Tom Baker

A book your children and entire family will love! From a THREE STAR REVIEW:

“f you love fables and such (like I do), you’ll love this book. The stories are well written and enjoyable to read. The morals of the story are especially well done–sometimes there are multiple conclusions written with a sense of humor. I received the book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.”
–Diane, Amazon Reviewer.


Enjoy a collection of classical stories, culled from the greatest storytellers of all time, offering up tales of animals and other enchanted creatures to delight readers young and old. As fables, each story demonstrates a moral lesson or a piece of advice for readers―some of whom may be struggling with related problems, difficulties, and stumbling blocks addressed by the lessons in each tale. Whether it’s a rousing tale of stone soup, a tortoise and eagle, country and city mice, or foxes, hens, and farmers, readers of all ages will be entertained by the fresh story approach of Aesop, Robert Dodsley, Phaedrus, and others, some retold from tales of cultures as diverse as those of Native Alaska, Africa, Arabia, the Far East, and more.

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