A New Writers Life and Times


Can’t I decide in a solitary tone

I relentlessly leave myself dormant at home

Wanting to cocoon these terraced memories

Aimlessly lost in certain invisibilities

Stirring to sway off this pivotal sensation

A controlling and painful rationalization

Ones who have arisen—ones who have stayed

Not just me—you as well have paid

Windows embraced by my own obscurity

Leaving me to my repentance and anonymity

I truly want a revolution of the mind

An expulsion of suspicion—the absence of time

There seems to ever rise my broken capacities

These ceaseless callous certain invisibilities

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Novel Bits and Bites

The New Prologue

The splintering bark showered him as the shot exploded into the tree a mere foot from his head.
“You can’t hide. I know every corner of this forest, and it will be your burying ground.”
Cresting the hill, he was drawn faster and further from the other. The downward pull gave him enough time to look over his shoulder and see the brim of the others hat as it came into view. “You must let this go! Accept the truth and understand its implication.”
“The truth…I am your truth. I am your death to come.”
With that, the second bullet sprang loose and a branch to his left crumpled to the ground. Hoping to catch his trailer off guard, he spun around a downed Oak and quickly pulled his trigger. The puff of smoke rose into the air as his chaser was spun around and thrown to the ground. A creeping silence fueled his head as he quickly reloaded while keeping an eye on the other who was now up on one knee reloading as well. “Forgive me for what I have done…forgive and forget.” He was half preaching and half confessing to the one struggling to stand again.
“Your words fall short of anything that could be considered a means to a living man. You must pay for what you have done, and nothing less than death will be your regret. You think your one bullet will do me in?”
With those words still rolling about the trees, they both grabbed aim, and they both fired. The sound was deafening, and then the emptiness of silence crept back once again. The exchanges of words were traded for gasping breaths on one end and silent prayers on the other.
The conflict had been settled. The victor felt no joy. The remorse carried far beyond the dying man that lay before him. Sadness lay on every footstep from now until his last days. As he walked towards the dying man, he came closer to not an enemy, but a once good friend who found out his truth and was unable to keep his motives under control.
“Tell her I loved her dearly. Tell her I did what I thought was right for both of us”, the dying man said choking in a few breaths.
The secret was born.
Unbeknownst to the restless victor there were eyes watching as the day’s events unfolded. The secret lived beyond the two. The truth had taken on a life of its own. Little did those peering eyes know that they would become caught up in a lifelong lie. A lie that would take many lives, destroy all who came within its grasp, and send a few to the depths of hell itself.

The voices grew louder and louder until she finally gave in. It happened so quickly. If not for the warmth slipping from her blood soaked hands, she would have thought it a dream. Then the most forbidding voice slowly began to return, urging her to finish. The walls seemed to embrace her as she once again lifted the sodden knife.
She fell to her knees as her blood began to flow.
The voice then faded away as her eyes gripped the daylight, then a brighter light began to shine, and a knowing smile stole across her lips. One memory held tight—those who know will understand; the truth lies within.
“Forgive me.”

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Question of the Week

How would you escape from the grasp of young Grizzly cub with it’s mother running away from you?

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1 a : to grant or furnish often in a gracious or condescending manner
b : to give by way of reply
2 : to grant as a privilege or special favor

Did You Know?
Shakespeare fans are well acquainted with vouchsafe, which in its Middle English form vouchen sauf meant “to grant, consent, or deign.” The word, which was borrowed with its present meaning from Anglo-French in the 14th century, pops up fairly frequently in the Bard’s work—60 times, to be exact. “Vouchsafe me yet your picture for my love,” beseeches Proteus of Silvia in The Two Gentlemen of Verona. “Vouchsafe me raiment, bed, and food,” King Lear begs his daughter Regan. But you needn’t turn to Shakespeare to find vouchsafe. As illustrated by our examples, today’s writers also find it to be a perfectly useful word.

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“Juan Carlos, who announced on Monday that he is abdicating the throne, was long revered for his role in vouchsafing Spain’s transition to democracy following the death, in 1975, of the country’s geriatric Fascist leader, Generalissimo Francisco Franco.” — Jon Lee Anderson, The New Yorker, 2 June 2014
“By the end of ‘This Flat Earth,’ Julie comes to seem like a latter-day variation on Emily, the heroine of Wilder’s ‘Our Town,’ who is vouchsafed a glimpse of small human lives within a cosmic framework.” — Ben Brantley, The New York Times, 9 Apr. 2018

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Word Of The Every Other Day


adjective [too-too]

Definitions for too-too

  1. Informal. excessively and tastelessly affected:The movie was simply too-too.
  2. Informal. in an excessively and tastelessly affected manner.

Citations for too-too

Think of the frisson of awarding Best Picture to a 37-year-old movie. Isn’t it just,well, too-too ?The Bagger, “It’s Up to You, New York, but Not Really,” New York Times, December 8,


The too-too man was right and correct in everything he did or said in the irritating way of the catechism.Anthony C. Winkler, Dog War, 2007

Origin of too-too

Too-too entered English in the late 1800s and is a reduplication of the adverb too.

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The Novel Begins 3


            My name is Joseph Tooley, and it was my father Jacob that went missing nine years ago out here in these very woods. No trace has ever been found of him in all that time. And believe me it hasn’t been for a lack of looking. His disappearance was the main reason I moved out to this area and built my cabin. The only other is that after my mom passed I felt no motivation to be a part of society and all the trouble people have to offer. Truthfully though, people don’t like me much and honestly I prefer it that way. Don’t get me wrong there are a few folks in town I get along with and actually enjoy a conversation with now and then. Like old William and his younger brother Walter who runs the tavern on Briggs Street, Caleb the local preacher, who I run into at the tavern quite a bit by the way, Orville the grounds keeper of the cemetery, and Mrs. Beatina who I trade furs with for candles and coffee and such. But other than that the rest are ghosts I try to avoid.

If you’re wondering of any sort of family history beyond that I’ll do my best to pull some details from the mist of memories and the haze that comforts my mind.

The oak tree, till the day I die I’ll never forget that oak tree. A symbol of love and commitment to something bigger than all of us, standing tall and strong in the face of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly changes.

My parents met in New York City in 1861 arriving from Europe with hopes of a better life, a better life than their parents had, as all those stories go. They told me they met in a rainstorm crowded under an enormous oak tree with webbing branches full of green leaves big enough to catch the largest of rain drops in the hopes of remaining dry. As they told it, they began to talk about their new lives in America, where they were from, and what their plans were.

Mom wanted to become a painter; an artist. Dad said he hoped to become an officer; justice. But, truth be told, as much as they wanted a better life than their parents had they both yearned for the countryside, be it an American countryside rather than a European one but a country life nevertheless. As the rain let up they decided to continue their conversation while walking around the city passing the most popular landmarks but too caught up in their own words to even take stop and notice and from then on never left each other’s side again, getting married not even a year later on the 2nd of June 1881.

Sounds like a happy beginning, because it was, but the city can be a tough place for people whose hearts are outside of its persistent pursuit of an enlightened life and one day they decided to follow their hearts and head for the country with the memory of that old oak tree leading the way.

They settled in Hapsburg, Indiana, a small town in the south-eastern part of the state and populated by about two to three hundred people and surrounded on all sides by virgin forest, where the animals surely outnumbered the town folks by twenty to one, on the 7th of August 1882 where mom worked for Mrs. Beatina and where she made just enough money to have some left over to follow her painting dream and dad at the wood mill where his mind was always someplace else.

A year to the day after they came to Indiana I came along in 1883. I came along just in time for autumn to show its colorful face and bring a new sense of togetherness for my parents. My younger days were great by any standard and I was a happy child if not a little rebellious. I was never much at school and didn’t make it very far, but the one thing that I am grateful to have learned is the ability to read. People say numbers will open the future, but words will let us get there and my parents were not the least upset at my choice to leave school and start working with my father at the local mill.

But as I stated, as these stories go, money got tight, and dad started hunting and trapping to bring in more money. He quickly found he had a knack for this type of effort and most of all he loved being out there in the silence of nature; that’s probably where I got it from. Anyway, with me still employed in the mill dad decided to quit the confining mill and hunt and trap full time and that was the first step down his path of vanishing into the very forest that gave our family so much because some years later on a fall morning dad gets his gear ready and kissed mom goodbye and slaps me on the back and tells me to wish him luck.

I did.

That was the last anyone ever saw of dad. A few towns’ folk, including Walter, William, Orville, and Caleb, spent a few weeks looking for him, but they eventually gave up hope and stopped and decided he would return in time. I couldn’t blame them for that; they tried, and they helped. What else could they do? They had their lives to move along in. But, none the less they stopped looking.

I never did.

I searched all of his ‘secret’ spots in and around the pass the now carries his name. Those places where he had the best luck in bringing down the most elegantly furred foxes, fattest squirrels, and the biggest deer the forest had to offer. Places that he would tell me about late at night; they were my bedtime stories that seemed to drift me away into a remote wilderness that had everything a man could ever want if only he knew how to blend in with the forest itself and listen to what the trees and animals were saying by their movements or lack thereof.

From the very beginning, I always promised mom I would find out what had happened to dad, and she would just turn away and smile one of those smiles that held more than I could ever guess. I think she finally gave up hope as well, along with the rest of the town, after five or six months had passed but she would have never admitted to it and her sorrow always came across to me as a sorrow that somehow I was not completely aware of or could entirely understand.

To me mirrors and dreams are the only way we are shown what we try to hide within ourselves.

It was during this time Walter’s Local 88, the best homemade whiskey around, began to play a bigger role in my life; as a companion and an escape, beginning each day earlier than the previous one and each night lasting a little later.

It was my attempt at trying to ease the daily pain of my mother’s loss, my loss, and the courage, or desperation some would call it, to keep looking for some sign of what had happened to my father on that fateful final trip out the door and into the forest. That sea of silent trees that see all but never speak of what they have seen. Some people in these parts call them witness trees because of what they look down upon on the forest floor and hold onto their sights tightly intertwined in the bark and grain and roots and limbs that reach out to tempt every passer-by with leaves of knowledge.

With dad gone I did what I could to help mom with money but it never seemed to be enough, how could it be because my drinking and my searching enveloped me like a hot bath that ultimately drowns you into a desired eternity. Eventually I gave up my job at the lumber yard to give my full attention to those witness trees and trails which meant we had to move to the outskirts of town where people who are slowly being swept aside seem to congregate in small shacks all thrown together as if they were a pile of dirty clothes. Unwanted land filled by unwanted homes built with unusable wood with unsatisfied people living a life chasing the shadow of optimism.

I hated those shacks like one hates themselves after a bad decision that costs more than imagined. Yet I hated them not because of the shacks but because of the way people who didn’t live in those shacks would look at mom and me when we came into town to get our supplies for the week; as little as those supplies became to be over the months.

Four more years passed and mom’s health got bad and slowly she lost her fight, I sometimes wonder if she was even fighting. There’s a saying that goes something like: the only way to win a fight is to walk away. I think mom walked away, and I like to think she won. After she had died, I had to sell most of mom and dad’s belongings to pay for the burial and headstone which read:


Mary Tooley

May the truth always lie within



I never quite understood why she wanted that saying on her headstone, but, she was always persistent in making me promise her that those words would grace the granite stone that marked her resting place. All she would ever say about it was that someday she hoped I would understand its meaning. To this day I still can’t figure out her intentions but those words burn deep into my consciousness every day at one point or another.

After that, I took the leftover money and the rug that now graces my cabin and moved out past Jacobs Pass and committed my following years to finding out what happened to my father. I was sixteen and on my own.

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The Novel Begins Part 2

On this side of Jacobs Pass, so called for the old-timer Jacob Tooley who went missing in these woods some time ago, I wake up every morning in my cabin some six miles out of town, a good distance to keep those refined types out of temptation.

Out of sight out of mind they say, there might be something to that.

Maybe—just maybe, sort of like a blind man whose hearing has been fine tuned.

And what do I get in return?

A pack of wild dogs that those cultured folks acquired for pets but then decided they no longer wanted and then chased out of town to fend for themselves and onto my doorstep. Damn those civilized folks and damn those dogs. But honestly, to hell with those ‘civilized’ folks because they give up quicker and easier than these damn dogs ever would, and I’d go to hell and back with those irritating dogs before I would with any of those damn cultured people—it’s a fine line; a fine line indeed.

Somewhere in those words the concept of respect swings in the direction of those dogs.

Sitting up I feel that familiar cold that these tired wooden planks share every morning with the soles of my feet.

Familiarity can be nice sometimes and at others nothing short of irritating.

Rubbing my eyes I can tell the iron stove in the far corner has lost all its embers and ceased to care one way or the other about it. I knew I should have placed a few more sections of wood inside last night as I was finishing off the last few sips of whiskey, but with a little whiskey in the body the air never seems as cold as it rightly should. Oh well, always something to kick yourself about even if you think you’ve done everything you can. However, the whiskey has the charmed ability to make that feeling go away. That charmed liquid has many abilities that only present themselves to an open mind and a willing soul.

Standing up, fighting gravities nonstop presence, the floorboards creak under the weight of my thinning frame as I make my way towards the stove to bring the blasted thing back to life again. With the sound of opening the heavy black soot encrusted door, the dogs once again erupt into a fantastic blur of yelping, snorting and scurrying that hits my ears like hammer to anvil.

That reminds me; I need a drink.

After placing a few slivers of scrap wood among last night’s ashes along with a few strips of an old rag I grab the tin of matches off the shelf above the stove and finger one out and put it to its purpose. With a flame jumping around, I add a few thicker pieces of the chopped cedar I keep inside and shut the iron door, leaving a small opening to let some air flow through. After making sure the thing is going good enough to leave it to its own devices I head for the door and stop close enough so I can hear what’s going on just on the other side: stillness greater than moving, silence greater than stillness and pure silence an impossibility.

They’re out there as sure as I’m in here; all involved waiting for the morning ritual or annoyance depending on which side of the door you are on.

Slowly, I unlatch the rusty latch and brace my weight as I swing the door open and jump out screaming which sends at least eleven dogs running in eleven directions as if the great game has begun and there’s no possible outcome in which they lose. With a sly smile pulling at my dry lips I slip back inside and pour some water from the bucket near the sink into the coffee pot and set the pot on the edge of the stove, checking the flames inside and shutting the contraptions door.

Waiting for the water to warm I head to the one cabinet that holds my lover, my teacher, my friend, and my most trusted enemy all confined in the swirled hardened mixture of heated and then cooled sand that sends light curling in its own preferred way; whiskey, carelessly waiting in its bottle.

Opening the door, I’m surprised to see that there is only one full bottle left. I grab it in disgust; given it’s the kind of disgust that comes with getting what you want but knowing you’ll have to dodge the angels of heaven to get more, weaving my way through them I grab my coffee cup and I pull the cork and fill my cup about half way.

Ah, the first taste of contentment to bring in a new day. I take another sip and check on the coffee pot again; a few more minutes are needed, and I walk over to my chair that sits about four feet in front of the stove front.

Sitting down I look around at home sweet home. It’s not much; a fifteen by fifteen foot cabin I built with my hands from trees that once stood around where my home now sits. Two windows, one facing south the other west, didn’t place one on the east side because who wants to see that damn sun destroying the solitude of night. The ceiling reaches about six and a half feet, and the only door belongs on the north side. The roof leans at a forty-five degree angle, or at least as close as I could get it there, towards the south, away from my door, to let the rain fall off onto the downward slope of land that begins its descent at the edge of my flat plot where my home rests and constantly settles closer to its ultimate incorporation back into the landscape.

As you walk in you will find the stove in the closest corner to the right along with my overstuffed chair that offers the most comfort for miles around. In the far corner to the left is my cherished bed where I spend as much time as possible dreaming the dreams this world can never offer; realities of existence that will never be mine once my eyes are open, a universe in its self. Just to the left of entering you’ll find a sink with shelves above that hold my limited dishes and a stand where I keep the bucket full of water which I retrieve from the creek which is about a five minute downhill walk from the back of the cabin. My comfort cabinet hangs nailed to the wooden wall to the right of the sink where a crown of thorns would surely fit nicely on top. There’s another small stand next to my chair where a few candles and the latest interest of a book rest; this week it’s another Sherlock (1887) adventure where attention to detail always defeats the slyest of the sly. Next to my bed is a book shelf that is waiting for the inevitable collapse brought on by the combination of one of my nemeses, gravity, and one of my greatest pleasures, books.

When one doesn’t have the desire to travel in three dimensions, one can always travel in two.

In the middle of the room lays a rug that my mother left me when she died eight years ago, it is the only sophisticated piece in my entire home. One of those handwoven wool rugs from Europe that must have graced the room of some high society snob who never appreciated it. It’s about five feet by six and a beautiful thing to behold with its dark burgundy tuffs shadowing the deep green vines that glide their way around in a perfectly random pattern that is nothing short of amazing and splendor; it’s one of the two family attachments I have held on to.

Other than a single lantern and a few more candles here and there that’s pretty much it, nothing to brag about but nothing to be ashamed of either; bragging and shame, both nothing more than two sides of a worthless coin trying to be spent in a foreign country.

The coffee water is ready now, and I take my last sip of whiskey before pouring some hot water into the cup and dipping the twisted rag full of coffee grounds into it. Letting the grounds fuse with the water, I grab my pipe and cup and head out to the porch and sit down on my other chair made from a single piece of tree trunk, backrest, and all.

That thing must be one hunrded and eighty pounds or so; glad Caleb was around for that one.

Filling the pipe and taking the first puff I catch a glimpse of a few of the dogs that never seem to be very far away.

It’s a strange relationship the dogs and I have. I can’t say I’m glad to have them around because of the racket they make every morning but they do make a great early warning system for anyone and anything that comes within a half mile radius of my secluded home. We’re not cozy with each other; I don’t attempt to hurt them, but I don’t let them get too comfortably close to the cabin either. They get the entrails of the deer, rabbits, squirrels, foxes, and beavers that I’m lucky enough to kill for food and use for trade in town for this and that but mostly their hides bring in the money I need for that numbing happiness called whiskey. That great liquid that changes objective reality; and that my friend is not subject to debate. I don’t think the dogs would disagree, with the entrails that is.

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