dead ringers



        The church bell broke the morning, the broken church bell of the broken village.  In this Serbian village of the cross-roads, this village of Raskrsnica, wherein their first grave was dug amidst the 6th century, now rings this war of rebellion that had arched heavenly, the jet planes, the rockets, the artillery shells falling to earth, scorching the village.

        This broken church bell, briefly its flaring mouth clamored for divine retribution, for the surviving villagers, petitioning the heavens.

        The villagers halted their labors and turned their faces toward this declaration from the church, the church crowning the hilltop, defaced.

        Marinko and his wife, Josipa, startled, together raised their eyes.

        Josipa whimpered, raising a knuckle to her lip, saying, “He is coming.”

        Marinko stepped beside his wife to comfort her, whispering, “I know you want to believe.  I want to believe.  Hope is the last to die.”

        Marinko and Josipa descried the figure emerging from the church’s eminence.

        From the hilltop descended the humble Bishop Sava, his eyes heavy, weighted with his witnessing yet his lips gentle, uplifted with hope.

        Bishop Sava bore tidings once again for villagers.

        Marinko and Josipa both dreaded and yearned for those tidings of Bishop Sava.

        Josipa trembled with the anxiety, “I can have no peace.  Perhaps Bishop Sava has no word for us.  Maybe he has words that are only words…”

        Marinko interposed, “…of faith.  Only words of faith.”

        Josipa rested her head against Marinko’s shoulder, saying softly, “Faith is everything.”

        Down the path through the village trod Bishop Sava.  In nearly every house that he passed, in the window was a living triptych of a watching husband, a watching wife, and the reflection of Bishop Sava.

        Bishop Sava turned toward the home of Marinko and Josipa.  Bishop Sava held his hands, left hand over his right hand, against the waist of his flowing cassock.

        Marinko and Josipa opened their door without Bishop Sava announcing his presence.

        Marinko nodded, “Your Grace,” and he reached for the right hand of Bishop Sava.  Bishop Sava extended what remained of his right hand which bore only the ring finger.  Marinko kissed the wounded hand.

        Josipa glanced away downward and expelled a quick breath, “Your Grace,” reaching for the scarred hand of Bishop Sava.

        Bishop Sava softly commented, “My dear, you fear I cannot make the ancient sign of the cross, without a trinity made of three fingers.  I assure you I feel all my invisible fingers as if they remain with me.”

        Marinko said, “Please, Your Grace, sit with us.”

        Josipa offered, “Your Grace, would you like coffee?”

        Bishop Sava smiled, “Thank you, dear,” and he sat at the kitchen table.

        Josipa set the small cup of thick strong coffee before Bishop Sava who then absent-mindedly wrapped the lone finger of his right hand about the cup. He sat stirring thoughts without sipping.

        Marinko suddenly stepped forward, offering, “Bishop Sava, would you like this glass of plum wine?”

        Bishop Sava smiled in gratitude.  He took long swallows of the wine and then Marinko filled his glass again.

        Marinko and Josipa sat down together with Bishop Sava at the kitchen table.

        Finally, Bishop Sava spoke, “Last night Sister Yelena came to me with your daughter, with your Jasna.”

        Josipa stifled herself, repeating, “Jasna.”

        Marinko took her hand.

        Bishop Sava soothed Josipa, saying, “My dear, Jasna is well in Sister Yelena’s care.  Have faith, for I am responsible for her.”

        Marinko next asked, when Josipa could not, “Your Grace.  Bishop Sava.  What does Jasna say?”

        Bishop Sava smiled, “Jasna wanted me to tell you that she was very excited about going to the meadows today with Sister Yelena and all the other children.  She herself said to have faith for she loves you.  Oh, and she asked me to assure you that she can see you from the church.”

        Josipa whimpered yet she smiled.

        Marinko took Bishop Sava’s right hand again and kissed it, then saying to him with lowered eyes, “Bishop Sava, your tidings are blessings to both of us,” then Marinko glanced at Josipa and he added, “Please tell Jasna we are missing her and that we want her back home here with us again soon.”

        Bishop Sava rose up to depart and he added, “Jasna said that you must believe that her thoughts are always with you.”

        Then Bishop Sava went calmly on down the path through the village, stopping before other homes where the doors opened without his announcement.

        In the late afternoon, Bishop Sava was climbing the path back up to the church, when he noticed an odd figure standing beside the entrance.  In the shadow it looked like a scarecrow, an effigy to deter birds, yet its scraggly silhouette indicated a covering of tattered fur or perhaps vegetation, a pagan spirit of the forest.

        Bishop Sava, undaunted, called out with amusement, “Tutelary spirit, do you wish to confess and be saved?  Or are you a whiff of smoke in my face?”

        The creature that stepped forward was a man, a soldier in camouflage.  He answered, “I confess that I am Death the moment most are made aware of me.  I am a sniper.  I was passing over these hills to this place of eminence, to surveil the village below.  Were your losses great here?”

        “Sniper, none were truly lost.  Death merely limits our suffering here as well as death limits the sin that can be committed here.  I believe it to be God’s wisdom.”

        Sniper snorted, “I believe in death”.  He shook the rifle that he bore.  “I have waded through mass graves to get this far.”

        Bishop Sava answered as if in a liturgy, “As did our Lord.”  Bishop Sava gestured with a glance toward the porch to invite Sniper into the maimed, defiant church.

        “You are welcome in there, Sniper.”

        Sniper answered wryly, “It looks like hell, but then I do pass here to find Muslim devils.”

        “There is one Devil reflected in all warring sides.  Sit with me awhile in Sanctuary.  Sister Yelena and the children will be with us in the Tabernacle.”

        Sniper assumed that the young children of the village were taken to this church for safety and protection when the storm of battles began to slip overhead

        Inside the church, passing behind the Sacred Beautiful Gate of the Sanctuary, where should have been the Altar of the Tabernacle, the sniper saw that there was now only a fused mass of salt and soil and debris.  “And the children,” Sniper suddenly understood, making the gesture of the ancient cross.

        A thermal missile had struck this place.  Now the heavens peered through the hole in the ceiling of the Tabernacle

        Bishop Sava “That damage was not an intentional crime, I want to believe.  How could it have been?”

        Sniper cursed, “What matter if intentional, misguided, or wild?  This is havoc.”

        Bishop Sava sat upon his Bishop’s Chair before the fused mass of salt and soil and debris and explained, “Sister Yelena comforted the children and tended them.  They remain my responsibility.  They will be here soon.  During the battle in the heavens Sister Yelena took the children behind this Altar to pray. I went outside to stand watch and to witness.  Suddenly there was a roar and light and heat…I could not find my fingers”

        Sniper stared at Bishop Sava.

        Bishop Sava’s eyes glistened.

        Doves now began to fly into the tabernacle ruins.  One of the doves landed unafraid at Bishop Sava’s feet and peered up at him.

        Bishop Sava spoke to the dove, asking, “Ah, Sister Yelena, did the children enjoy their playtime in the meadows?”






The Outlaw Honey Moses and THE DOG NAMED PUSSY…::

__The Outlaw Honey Moses - COVER_120312a

Chapter 7 – The Outlaw Honey Moses and





          The Vinegaroon Saloon was a hornets’ nest right in the middle of that town of Passover.  A big swarm of troubles was buzzing around the whole territory ever since the banks’ land speculation failures.  The saloon was located right across the street from the Passover Territory Bank.

          Honey Moses, disguised in her ruffled skirt and lace bonnet, stood at the far end of the bar near the entrance with her head bowed to shade her glancing golden eyes.  She sipped a haymaker’s punch.  She studied Rex Ramsey as he stood near the card game where sat the bank’s hired security, Jubilee Dunbar, Clifford Austin, and Deuce Taylor.  Honey then looked over at a far table where sat Kate Grody raising a big glass of what looked to be cactus wine.  Kate was leaning ‘way back in her chair to drain that mixture of tequila and peyote tea.   Kate’s raised elbow was stretching her man’s-shirt across her cupid’s kettle drums.  Honey watched the drum roll of glances from men, and some women.  Even the cool sly Jubilee Dunbar got snared and hesitated almost imperceptibly as he played a card.

          Honey’s plan was working so far.

          Just then, Honey felt a damp prod at her ankle.  She looked down, and there was a dusty little red miniature pinscher with uncut ears.  The dog danced backwards and sat and trembled and looked up at Honey with moist pleading eyes.  Honey figured the little guy was thirsty so she knelt down and let him lap her haymaker’s punch; besides the water, the punch’s molasses, cider vinegar, and fresh ginger would give the little guy strength.

          A bearded old fellow was walking in and laughed to Honey, “Lady, better feed your kitty outside.  He’s liable to get stepped on.”  The little dog growled.

          The bartender spoke up, “Don’t feed him, Miss Lady.  He ain’t supposed to come in here.  He keeps coming inside.  I seen him in the alleyways.  He got separated from Dr. H. Moe’s Traveling Medicine Show.  I’m surprised some crow ain’t eaten him already.”  The little dog growled.

          Honey put a coin on the bar, still averting her golden eyes, “Here, Mister.  Now he’s a paying customer.  Another haymaker’s punch, please.”

          Honey thought to herself, What am I doing?  I guess it can’t hurt to get the little guy back on his feet.  She was recollecting herself long ago as the child wandering, orphaned, blind and lost, in from out of that wicked dust storm right into Rex Ramsey’s arms.

          Across the room, Kate Grody stood up and went over to the upright piano in the corner.   She sat down at the piano bench trailing the great curiosity of her furtive admirers, including Jubilee Dunbar.  Kate took a deep rounding breath as she flexed her long strong fingers.  Suddenly, she struck downward to playing from Schubert’s Impromptu in A-flat Major.  I’ll bet you didn’t think we girls at the Whisper Glory knew of such things.  Well, Kate came to us just full of surprises.  Anyway, the whole Vinegaroon Saloon hushed in astonishment.  Soon the doorway darkened with curiosity seekers.

          Jubilee Dunbar arose from the card game.   The dealer was sitting like a statue, mid-deal, and just staring over at Kate Grody.  Right through the middle of that still-life crowd Jubilee glided like a snake over to Kate’s side and coiled there, listening.

          When Kate abruptly ceased playing, musica interruptus, the whole saloon was suspended in silence like a fly in amber.  Then it shattered into whoops and whistles and hurrahs.

          Jubilee Dunbar breathed into Kate’s ear, “My God, that was breathtaking as are you, my dear.  Who are you?  Where did you ever learn?”

          Kate bowed her head without looking at Jubilee, “Thank you.  You are too kind.  I haven’t practiced in a long while, as you can tell.”

          “Not at all.”

          “My mother used to say, ‘One day without practice and you yourself can tell the difference, two days without practice and then the critics can tell, three days without practice and then the audience can tell’.  I was…, I am Katyana.  Katyana Grodonovsky.  My mother taught piano.”

          “Not in this territory!” said Jubilee incredulously.

          “No.  In Chicago.  Long ago.”

          “I knew you were a most extraordinary woman when I saw you walk in here,” Jubilee looked around and then whispered, “I would surely like to continue our conversation.  I have a suite at the The Pharaoh.  It would be my honor to offer you an invitation for dinner this evening, if you please.  You are travelling… alone?”

          Kate hesitated just long enough, “Well, that would be interesting, I am sure, thank you.  My niece and I are staying at The Pharaoh as well.”

          Jubilee furrowed his brow at the mention of a niece, but Kate said, “My niece will be spending the evening reading her Bible.”

          Jubilee bowed briefly from the waist under the weight of that satisfied smile.  He turned back to his men at the card table and raised his chin toward the door.  The men arose, Clifford Austin, Deuce Taylor, along with the bearded old fellow who had teased Honey about the little dog, and two other wiry dust devils.  They departed into the slow vortex of people coming and going into the Vinegaroon Saloon.  Jubilee Dunbar then wove over toward Rex Ramsey whom Jubilee had recognized back when Rex first walked in.

          “What are you doing here?” Jubilee asked without ceremony.

          Rex played the simple straight-shooter, “I need a job.”

          “From me?  I thought you were too good for us, Mister Rex Ramsey, former U.S. Marshal.”

          “Had a change in philosophy you might say.”

          “Having no job will do just that for you, won’t it?” scoffed Jubilee, “Can’t afford to be so high-and-mighty when that happens.”

          “I’ve looked around.  You could use me right now.  You know what I can do.”

          “Yes, yes.”  Jubilee stroked his lips as he spied Kate leave.  She took the arm of her “niece” who was at the end of the bar dressed in a bonnet and ruffled dress.  He watched the niece bend over, pick up, and hold out to Kate what looked to be a puppy.  Kate let the animal lick her face.  Jubilee licked his lips.

          “Okay, Ramsey.  We can talk, but not here.  Follow me.”

          Meanwhile, Kate and Honey had to check into their hotel.  The Pharaoh always held one room for us girls from the Whisper Glory.  The hotel clerk, Marten Bêcheur, was a regular of ours.  He was a bespectacled little badger of a man, never married, and “will never have to be” he would always joke to us in the parlor.  He nodded discretely to Kate, whom he knew as well as any man can know a woman.

          Marten asked professionally, “Two of you this evening, ma’am?”

          “Yes, my very good fellow,” smiled Kate.

          “Business or pleasure?” asked Marten with a gleam in his glasses.

          Kate pouted for Marten’s sake, “Business, I am afraid.  A couple of days at least.”

          As Kate wrote their names into the hotel ledger, Katyana G. and niece Honey M., Marten leaned forward and whispered at breast-level, “Then you will owe me a Rainy Day.”

          “The weather should change in a day or so,” replied Kate as if making polite conversation.

          Marten smiled and nodded to Honey.  Then he noticed the miniature red pinscher for the first time, “Will ‘Miss Kitty’ be staying with you as well, my dear?” he laughed.  The dog growled.

          Up in the hotel room they had a view of the main street.  The street was a river of rippling commotion.  They could see the roof of the Passover Territory Bank.  There were men and activities on that roof besides the hired guns looking down.

          Honey set the little dog on the big bed, “Maybe we should name you ‘Kitty’, you poor little orphan,” she teased in baby-talk.  The dog growled and bared his tiny fangs.  “Yeah, that’s a sure way to make you tough out there in that mean ol’ world, isn’t it?” Honey giggled.

          Honey then turned back to the window and stood seriously awhile, trying to figure out what was transpiring on the roof of that bank.

          Kate Grody finally set herself down on the plush chair beside the bed to pull off her boots.  As she raised a knee to her chin, the miniature pinscher jumped off of the bed and dove right between her legs and buried his cold nose.  Kate whooped and picked up the little dog, raising him above her head, “Forget about naming you ‘Kitty’!”  The squirming dog yipped twice and licked downward trying to reach her face.  “I know now what your name is going to be!”  The little dog went limp and cocked his head.











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The Outlaw Honey Moses and THE PASSOVER BANK……

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Chapter 6 – The Outlaw Honey Moses and




          When Honey Moses and Kate Grody and Rex Ramsey arrived in the town of Passover there was already big trouble.  They could see the dust of turmoil from a mile out.  The wagons that were still arriving from all of the territory banks were being pelted by the gauntlet of angry townspeople.  Some wagons arrived with bullet holes.  One arrived with the top burned black.  One arrived with a wounded man slumped riding shotgun.

          With their cargoes of people’s money that “didn’t exist anymore” due to the banks’ land speculation failures, the wagons gathered at the Passover Territory Bank.  It was beginning to look like the bankers’ Alamo.

          The poorest townspeople who had “lost” everything just stayed in the streets, men raging, women cursing, children crying.  Children threw rocks with their parent’s blessing.  Women shook fists and men shook rifles.  Most citizens were still too civilized to do much more.  Yet.

          The wagoners were just citizens of the territory who had been contracted to haul the “assets”.  It was a job “to be thankful for” they couldn’t help thinking.  Those wagoners stood nervously by their wagons, watching their fellow citizens as the cargo of mostly paper cash and some gold and some silver was unloaded into the Passover Territory Bank.  It was the biggest and the sturdiest building in Passover, supposedly representing the security and stability of the banking system.

          But now, along with that damned notion of speculation credit, the banking system had turned into straw and was blowing away eastward with the dust.  The Big Bad Wolf was at the vault and the Little Piggy banker men were going wee-wee-wee in their pants from inside the Passover Territory Bank.  The Dunbar, Austin, & Taylor Security Company kept a semblance of order around the bank with the intimidation supplied by armed men, hired citizens, on the rooftop.  The pot was being stirred with a gun to keep it from boiling over.  So far.

          The “assets that didn’t exist anymore” were going to be hauled east to the Main Branch of the  Eastern Sovereign Bank.  The U.S. Government had refused to provide the U.S. Army to transport those “assets”.  The President’s advisors knew that there would be big trouble for sure and they did not want the national newspapers full of civilians being shot by soldiers.  Instead, the Dunbar, Austin, & Taylor Security Company had been contracted to deliver.  Any civilian deaths would come out of their commission.

          Honey Moses observed, “Dunbar, Austin, & Taylor must have one hell of a plan to make it out of here.”

          Rex Ramsey said, “Honey, you know, you may be right, they just might be convinced that they need to hire me after all.”

          For the first time Honey Moses replied a little unsure, looking at all the angry citizens, “This is going to be riskier than I thought, Rex.”  Her golden eyes waxed and waned.

          Kate Grody growled, “C’mon, let’s get us some spiritous drinks and calm down.  We can figure out how to approach Dunbar once the dust is out of our mouths.  That saloon there is packed.  Someone will know something.”

          Honey, Rex, and Kate left their horses boarded at Jacob’s Livery Stable and then stepped apart at different paces through the currents of people, on toward The Vinegarroon Saloon.  Honey Moses’ plan had begun.

          The The Vinegarroon Saloon was big, dark, and crowded, but as soon as his eyes adjusted Rex Ramsey recognized Jubilee Dunbar, Clifford Austin, and Deuce Taylor sitting playing cards with three strangers.  Dunbar, Austin, and Taylor were dressed incognito for their own safety, and for overhearing just exactly what the people of Passover were saying and maybe planning.  They were incognito to everyone except Rex Ramsey.

          Rex Ramsey stood quietly adjacent to the poker table, waiting for his chance to speak surreptitiously to Jubilee Dunbar, the brains of Dunbar, Austin, & Taylor.  If Jubilee had recognized Rex he never let on.  Jubilee Dunbar was sly.   

          Rex could see that they were playing that new kind of poker they called Texas Hold ’Em.  Jubilee had taught the game to Rex a time ago, in fact on their pursuit of the renegade shaman woman Chonkusha.  Rex knew that in Texas Hold ’Em the two cards you held face-down were the only cards that set you apart from the other players.  Face-up cards were community cards.  You needed to know what those cards could mean to your rivals as well as what they mean to you.  You especially needed to keep your eyes open for your rivals’ straight and flush chances.

          Rex looked up to see Kate Grody walking in.  Now, Kate Grody was a big boned gal and when she went riding she wore men’s clothes that got stretched in all the right places.  And so now she kind of stretched out the men’s eyes, and some women’s eyes too, as she walked right on through to a table in the far corner.

          Honey Moses, ruffle-skirted and with a fine lace bonnet, glided in the vacuum of attention that Kate Grody had caused.  Barely noticed, she hid her flashing gold eyes under a demurely averted gaze.









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The Outlaw Honey Moses and JUBILEE DUNBAR…..

__The Outlaw Honey Moses - COVER_120312a


Chapter 5 – The Outlaw Honey Moses and




          Jubilee Dunbar was a bastard and a mulatto.

          His momma had told him that his father was Earl Dunbar the rich and famous “Earl of Industry”.  And it’s true that Jubilee’s momma had actually worked for a time in Earl Dunbar’s mansion.  But she was supposedly let-go for stealing.  She always claimed that she was let go because she was pregnant.  That was her story and no one could prove it or disprove it.  But Jubilee Dunbar grew up in a family where the main income was from the wash his momma took in, so he clung to the notion he was the illegitimate son of a rich white man.  In his mind he had been cheated.

          When he was a boy his momma would read to him at night.  She told Jubilee that he could be a lawyer like Frederick Douglas some day.  But he soon figured out that the pennies his momma tried to set aside would never pay for law school.  So, to get where he wanted to go, he “used his industry” to assemble a gang of young “entrepreneurs” that called themselves the Street Hounds Income Trust.  They laughed about that, but they swore loyalty to each other with blood.  What they couldn’t steal they sold “security” for.

          Since he was a mulatto who could pass for a white man, he was quick to assume a manner and to favor a debonair appearance in fine clothes in fine restaurants in fine hotels.  He had no guilt about assuming “that which was his due”, including the good name of Dunbar.

          For a while he even charmed an eccentric society widow into taking care of him while he took care of her, to put it politely.  That’s a whole other story in itself.  She eventually used her influence to get him appointed as a Deputy U. S. Marshal.

          I already told you about the time Jubilee Dunbar worked with Rex Ramsey. In those days, Jubilee Dunbar had been a ruthless Deputy U. S. Marshal and now, with that pretense crumpled in the dirt behind him, he was a ruthless Range Detective with a share in his own security company, securing for Jubilee Dunbar, you can bet on that.

          What was that you said?  Well, I heard all this right here at the Whisper Glory from Kate Grody herself after she carried out Honey Moses’ plan.  You can ask Kate yourself when you’re up there, if you feel like paying for talk.









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        Ruby and Scarlette Cooter are twins.  Cheyenne Daw, my cousin, she and them is best friends.  I am Duan Daw.

        My mom misspelled my name when I be borned.  She told the nurse, “No, not Dwayne, D-W-A-Y-N-E, it’s Duane, D-U-A-N.”

        I like it so’s I go by Duan,  D-U-A-N.  It’s cool.

        I am in love with Ruby and Scarlette, no kiddin’.  Tell me you ain’t.  Like cousin Cheyenne, they can look a lot older’n thirteen.  Me, too.

        I like tellin’ stories.  This one here’s a good one.  Y’know, us Southern men are known as story-tellers and fighters, right?

        One day I’m thinkin’ ‘bout myself kissin’ Ruby and Scarlette, as usual, then I get me a idea sweet as tea.  Ready?  I am gonna write a romance play with lots of kissin’.  A lovely trick, right?  Tell me!  Ruby and Scarlette is both gonna be in it.  They would like that.  It is gonna have rivalry, I’m thinkin’!  See?  That’s how I am gonna kiss ‘em both.  Lots!

        You know my Uncle Emory?  Well, Uncle Emory tells me I oughta call it A LOVELY TRICK.  And Uncle Emory reads a lot!  He laughed and slapped my shoulder.  He said he heared that a actress said once, “A kiss is a lovely trick.”

        So that’s it.  But I ain’t really callin’ it A LOVELY TRICK.

        And everybody knows Uncle Emory is rich.  He has big parties so’s I figure he’ll be tickled to have us kids put on a play.  And it don’t matter ‘cause that’s what I’ll tell Ruby and Scarlett anyhows.  They’ll be tickled pink.  I can’t wait to rehearse it.

        Yeah, Yeah, I knows I got to write it now.  I been writing’ it in my head alreadys!  You bet you know.

        But you didn’t know that I know Uncle Emory had a triangle romance years ago, I heard.  He’ll be pink!  Sure.

        Cheyenne?  Yeah, she’ll have to be in it, sure.  She could then maybe be the Director!  She likes tellin’ everyone what to do.  Ha, yeah.  I can tell her that she should keep on sayin’, “No, no, no,” that we all sure need lots more of rehearsin’ for the kissin’ parts!  Good one!  She’ll do it if I do some favor for her.

        I’ll be seein’ ‘em all three, later after school.




        Well, guess which one am I?  We four all meet up, Duan, Scarlette, Cheyenne, and me, up at the creek.

        After us a while laughin’ about school, Duan is saying’, “Hey, I’m writin’ a play.”

        Cheyenne scoffs, “Probably a porno.”

        Scarlette giggles, “Yeah, callin’ it DOWN ON DIXIE.”

        I giggle, “Yeah, callin’ it WAY DOWN SOUTH.”

        Duan begs, “Come on, now, what do you know about…”

        Us girls laugh, and Scarlette and me go, “Oh, yeah, come on now, baby…”

        I’m thinkin’, “Sure, I’d like to sit by his face.”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “You mean ‘Sit on his face’.”

        I’m thinkin’ quick, “That’s whut I meant.”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “You don’t mean nuthin’.”

        I’m thinkin’, “I do so.”

        Scarlette is thinkin, “Sittin’ on his face means you ride him like a horse.”

        I’m thinkin’, “I thought guys was s’poseta ride us like a horse.”

        Scarlette is thinkin, “Now how does that make sense?”

        I’m thinkin’, “Well, then how’s he s’poseta hang like a horse?”

        Scarlette is thinkin, “That means hung way out like a stallion.”

        I’m thinkin’ sudden, “Hey, wanna go horse ridin’?”

        Scarlette is thinkin, “You mean like a mare?”

        I’m thinkin’, “Huh?”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “Rode hard and put up wet?”

        I’m thinkin’, “You are nuts.”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “You said ‘nuts’!”

        I’m thinkin’, “You’re the one talkin’ in my head.”

        Scarlette is thinkin’, “So we’re a pair of nuts.”

        I’m thinkin’, “You said ‘pair of nuts’!”


Three, DUAN


        Ruby and Scarlette are now just starin’ at each other like always.  So I’m thinkin’ what if they was both my wife and we all was livin’ together in a house away in the woods here by the creek and they was both got pregnant and they’d be arguin’ ‘bout which one of ‘em I got pregnant first.

        Ruby and Scarlette is both got long legs and long arms and they both have them cute buck teeth but Scarlette is got more meat on her bones and she don’t talk as much as Ruby.

        I love ‘em both.




        I’m the one my grandparents calls “Arrow Head” ‘cause I go straight for what I want.

        Now, I see somethin’ comin’ up along the creek here and I am sayin’, “Hey, Duan.  Your lover is comin’.”

        That homeless dog, she has adopted Duan.  Here poor thing comes along the creek looking for squirrels.  Lookin’ for Duan.  ‘Cause Duan’s kind’a squirrely I figure.  Duan named her “Dulcinea”.

        I say, “So what’s your porno play about, anyway?”

        Duan looks to Ruby and Scarlette and then he looks down and he pouts, “Quit sayin’ it’s a porno.”

        I say, “Ok, ok, so sorry, mister sensitive artist, are you gonna quit weepin’ and, oh, please, tell us?”

        Ruby makes a kissy-face and says, “Oh, please, please tell us.”

        Scarlette makes a kissy-face and says, “Ah’m beggin’ yoah favor, mistah sensitive ahtist.”

        Duan gets red and he raises his voice like a preacher and he says, “It’s about the War for Southern Independence.”

        Ruby says, “Oh, mercy. Do tell.”

        Duan sticks out his chin and he says, “Yeah, I do tell.  And I was gonna ask all y’all to be in it.”

        I laugh, “So it is a porno!”

        Ruby smiles, “Shut up.”

        Scarlette and Ruby stare at each other smilin’, smilin’.

        Duan continues all indignant, “It’s about a boy who runs away to be a drummer for his town’s regiment.  And there’s a girl helpin’ the doctor in the regiment.  And there’s another girl lookin’ for her brother…”

        Ruby and Scarlette say together, “Which one am I?”

        I say, “Hello, that’s two.”

        Duan says, “Well… I’m thinkin’ there has to be a Director.”

        I can hear the big “D” in his voice, for me.

        Duan says, “I figure you’d be a good Director.  And you can be the Narrator, too!”

        Sure.  But “What’s he up to?” I can’t help thinkin’.  I know my horndog cousin, I’m thinkin’.  I say, “Let’s hear it.”




        I am suprisin’ ‘em all, sayin’, “Dibs!  Let me read it all loud.”

        Duan is so surprised he hands me his little notebook, sayin’, “It’s just a outline.”




The woodland is broken from the great battle.

A doctor’s tent has been raised in the shattered clearing.

There is smoke and crying.

The battle has moved away to the distance.

Who is winning, no one can tell.

The blasted clearing is covered with twisted forms in blue uniforms and in grey uniforms.

A girl emerges from the tent and hurries to gather sticks of splintered wood to feed a fire.

She is the nurse helper.

She looks up with her face dirty and tear-stained to see a boy limping toward her.

It is the regiment drummer boy.

He is still holding his shattered drum and his drumsticks.

The drummer boy calls out, sounding delirious.

“Mama!  Mama!”

He drops his broken drum and his drumsticks.

He lurches to the startled girl.

She sees that the drummer boy’s eyes and face are all smeared with dirt and blood.

He starts crying in relief.


The nurse helper holds her ground.

She is hardened from what she has been seeing all day.

Stiffly, she lets the boy embrace her.

The drummer boy starts kissing her face.

“Oh, Mama, you came for me!”

The drummer boy suddenly slumps toward the ground.

He tries to hold on to the girl’s shoulders.

The nurse helper kneels helping the boy sit.

The girl musters her soothing voice.

“You are safe.  You are alright.  Sit easy.  I’ll get a doctor.”

The boy cries out.

“Don’t leave me, Mama.”

The girl kisses the boy repeatedly.

“I’m here.  I’m here.  You’re alright.  I’m just callin’ a doctor”.

The wounded, shaking drummer boy won’t let go of the girl.

Suddenly another girl appears from the smoke.

She is like a apparition, all dressed proper like visiting her neighbors.

She sees the other two and she stumbles over the broken woodland toward them.

She calls out.

“I been hearin the battle from town.  My brother was in the fight.  Have you seen my brother Dalton?”

The nurse helper looks up at the apparition and she says.

“I surely hope I have not this day, miss.”

The apparition asks politely.

“I beg your pardon?”

Then the nurse helper says to the apparition.

“I am sorry.  I hope your brother is alright.  Here, miss.  Help me comfort this wounded boy while I get a doctor.  Then I’ll try to recollect your brother.  Please, miss.”

The apparition stands above the nurse helper and the drummer boy.

The apparition she kneels.

The nurse helper then says to the boy.

“My helper is here.  I’m comin’ back with the doctor.”

The boy says real weak.


The apparition takes hold of the boy. She says.

“I’m here.”

The wounded boy opens his eyes wide.

He cries out.

“Sis?  Is it you?  Did you come for me, too?”

The apparition suddenly cries out.

“Dalton?  Dalton!  I have found you!”

The boy throws his arms around his sister’s neck.

They kiss and kiss.

The nurse helper is wide-eyed.

“This is your brother!  Oh, my Lord.  A miracle!”

In amazement the nurse helper is kissing them both.

“A miracle this day!”

Suddenly the boy slumps still.

The apparition cries out.

“Dalton!  Dalton!”

The apparition kisses the lifeless boy desperate like.

The nurse helper covers her mouth.

Then the nurse helper stands slowly and then she looks down at the brother and sister holding each other.

From the tent she hears the doctor calling impatiently for the nurse helper.

The nurse helper turns slowly and picks up the dropped sticks of wood for the fire.

She is not realizing that she has picked up the boys drumsticks, for the fire.




        Cheyenne is shakin’ her head real slow and she pats my dog Dulcinea.  Cheyenne can see.

        Ruby and Scarlette are wiping their eyes and they are both leanin’ in kissin’ me.