ARIZONA LITERARY MAGAZINE
Presenting the winners
Arizona Authors Association
DESIGN, LAYOUT andEDITING
PANEL OF JUDGES:
William Gartner, Cathy McCormick, Gerry Benninger
GretaManville, Yvonne Masters, Nancy Brehm
Mary Rahrig, Katie Hamiiton, Mary Koski
Larainne Herring, Betty Joy, Vijaya Schartz
© 2000 Arizona Authors Association, on behalf of the authors. None of the material in this publication
may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of the Arizona Authors Association or the
individual copyright holder.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ARTICLE & ESSAY
SANDY'S SMILE, by Marion Ekholm. ................... .. ......... . 06
THE BLUE WALTZ, by Jodi Lawrence ............................. 26
NO ISES IN THE N IG HT, by Audrey Bailey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 46
THE CLASS OF'68, by Michael Murphy ................ . ........ 16
AGAINST ALL ODDS, by Janice MacDonald................. ... 28
THE HUNTER, by K .M. Lang. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 54
THEY SAID IT WOULD BE BEST, by Betty Brownlow .. .. . .
SENSITNITY TRAINING, by Sheila Dickson ................. .
ON SEEING A SATELLITE COMPOSITE OF ANTARTICA,
by Lynn Veach Sadler .............................................. .
SHORT S TOR Y
SAFE FEELINGS, by Constance Gelvin ......................... . .
SLUGGER, by Denis Mandel ........................................ .
TWENTY -ONE, TWENTY -ONE, by Marion Ekholm ............ .
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
"Did the doctor scare you?" I asked my 12-
year-old daughter when we were alone in the car.
Sandy slumped against the car door. "It's
going to hurt."
The orthodontist had informed us that
braces alone wouldn't correct Sandy's bite and
crooked teeth. Her complexion had paled when he
described breaking the lower jaw and wiring it shut
for months. I had remained calm while inside I
seethed. Why hadn't he sent Sandy to the waiting
room and informed me alone?
"They have pain killers for operations," I
said, trying to allay her fears.
But my own worries went way beyond pain.
Could I have prevented this? Who would pay for
it? Would an operation solve the problem or create
more? The doctor said nothing could be done until
Sandy stopped growing. That was years away, and
although he wanted to see her again in 12 months, I
was hesitant. Not everyone had their teeth straightened,
and she could eat and talk without difficulty.
A year went by and I ignored the note from
"When will I see the doctor?" Sandy asked.
"Soon." I hoped she'd forget about it.
"He said a year, and it's past that already."
Sandy continued to remind me for several
months. Finally, when her prodding became daily
fare, I made an appointment.
The second time around, I appreciated the
doctor's candor. He explained every detail thoroughly
and answered all my questions. He stressed
that Sandy had to understand all aspects of the procedure
because the commitment had to come from
her. There was no turning back. Once he started,
ARTICLE & ESSAY
every problem would be accentuated before completion.
Sandy wanted this. Without her constant
reminders we would never have returned.
Before any work began we met the oral surgeon
for photos, x-rays, tooth molds, and a plaster
face mask. Teeth on the lower jaw turned inward
and the back teeth had sunk. The front teeth were
at odd angles and had to be repositioned. Her main
problem, a Class III skeletal malocclusion, required
moving the upper jaw forward as well as bringing
the lower jaw back. The top had not developed sufficiently
while the bottom had grown too much,
leaving a space of half an inch between the two.
The problem was inherited from the strong jaws on
my side of the family and malocclusions which existed
on my husband's side.
Now fourteen, Sandy showed mature patience
and never complained. Once a solution existed
to improve her looks, she told me how much
she hated her jaw.
"Granny. That's what the kids call me. And
I ached for all the pain she had endured, but
I knew there was more to come. "Well, now
they're going to call you metal mouth," I replied.
"Y ou think you can handle that?"
"Sure," she said, with a shrug. "Everyone
Only most people didn't have the full metal
ones that completely hid her teeth, a necessity to
provide the strength needed for wiring the jaws together.
Pain or discomfort only occurred during adjustments,
and only a few occasions required pre-
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
scription codeine. For all her fear of pain, Sandy
rarely asked for any kind of medication.
The first procedure widened her upper jaw
from only four top teeth visible to an expanse of
eight in a period of three months. Since her wisdom
teeth might destroy the new alignment when
they eventually came in, the surgeon removed
them. He also wanted to check Sandy's pain tolerance
and her healing capabilities. She was an excellent
The operation was planned for the following
summer, days before her sixteenth birthday.
Just as the orthodontist had predicted, her appearance
altered. Her lips no longer met when she relaxed.
The lower jaw looked more pronounced,
and insensitive children continued to taunt her.
At Halloween: "Wear black and color your
face yellow, Sandy. You can dress up as a quarter
In class: "Would you mind moving your
chin? I can't see the blackboard."
At a ski resort: "Man, did you see the chin
The taunts still hurt, but she was able to discuss
her feelings and her eventual new looks. "I
want the chin reduced." This was relayed to the
surgeon who said it could be done at the same time
as the jaw alignment--providing it was necesSary.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My father's death in 1982 forced me to
look at my life. I had accomplished most of my
dreams - college education, career, marriage,
home, children, extensive travel - with only one
regret. I had never followed my first dream
originally started in grade school - to become a
published writer. Since then I've been published
in newspapers, Woman's World, True
Love, Writer's Digest and Romance Writers Report,
and also edited a newspaper, several newsletters
and Glendale Community College's The
Traveler. What I've learned - send your work
out. It will never get published if it sits in a
"I want you to meet someone who's gone
through this," the surgeon told us at one of Sandy's
checkups. We met Jill, a woman in her twenties
whose jaw had grown more on the left side than the
right. She was bubbly and talkative, stressing the
positive side. I grilled her with questions for over
ten minutes before realizing her jaw was still wired
shut. Sandy's only question was about pain, and
Jill assured her that it had been minimal.
As the operation drew near, Sandy started a
regime of vitamins to improve her blood. Two
pints would be lost during the operation. She
dreaded giving her own blood, but it was necessary
to avoid the risk of infection or rejection.
Throughout this ordeal, my daughter was
the brave one. My original fears continued to
plague me everyday. What if this didn't work?
What if it led to sinus blockage, headaches, constant
pain? At least we didn't have to worry about
the cost. Our insurance would pay the brunt of the
Four surgeons took more than eight hours
to perform the operation. The upper jaw was cut
and pulled forward with permanent metal pieces in
the cheekbones holding it in place. The lower jaw
was cut, brought back, and both jaws secured with
wire attached to her braces. The chin was not reduced.
My immediate reaction was dismay. Sandy
had no interest in teeth alignment or a good bite.
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
She wanted attractive features so no one would
make fun of her again. To have gone this far only
to need another operation! However, when I sat
with her later and saw her profile, my distress disappeared.
Her features were perfect.
Except for the drastic change and some superficial
swelling, no discoloration or other signs
indicated her face had gone through any trauma.
She suffered no pain although there was discomfort,
especially through the first 24 hours. She took
care of all her needs and talked clearly without
moving her jaw. Four days later she was home.
Sandy had planned to stay in hiding all
summer. I was surprised, therefore, when she decided
to go to the last days of her sophomore year
only a week after the operation. Teachers and
friends who knew her well had no idea who she
was, while acquaintances asked if she had changed
"Sandy! Is that really you?" people asked
when she fmally told them who she was. She was
The up turned to down suddenly when
Sandy's hyperactivity became bizarre and totally
out of character. Despite her wired jaw, she talked
incessantly and called people on the phone at all
hours of the day and night. But the hallucinations
were what really worried me.
Was this withdrawal from drugs or a permanent
new behavior pattern? I asked the doctor. Neither.
Sandy's body was reacting to her sudden eating
restriction, and her symptoms were typical of a
dieter on a crash diet. After more than seven weeks
of eating pureed everything, including her favorites,
chicken and French fries, the wires were removed,
but the braces remained for another year for
Sandy's pursuit of change in spite of her
fear of pain paid off in more than a proper bite and
attractive appearance. Her self--confidence improved,
and she became active in the local theater
productions. When she went to the ski resorts, the
young men stared for other reasons and often lined
up to sit with her on the chair lift.
It's a delight to see her face light up in a
natural smile. Few people have had to endure so
much to attain one.
Right after I'd committed to the Hollow Falls High
School workshop, I got the call requesting SafeFeelings for
the five-year anniversary of the Macedonia Madman's little
Then I read that Gerald Stacey's "Smash the Violence"
was chosen to kick off the Macedonia events with
"Dateline" covering onsite. I wondered if the arrogant asshole
knew I'd been approached first.
I trotted over to the Quik-E-Print to copy Julie's article:
"SafeFeelings' Slam Dunk" for my press packets. I remembered
her last message: "Rumor has it there've been
sightings of the elusive Mr. James Jamison in beautiful,
downtown Squanee Springs. If so, would the said Mr. Jamison
please call me? Don't wait a minute more, just ca-ll-ll
me" she'd warbled. I didn't. Her neediness put me off.
I copied and collated, glad I'd let Tiffanee go--her
lack of boundaries was so unprofessional-because scut-work
gives me time to think. And I thought this assignment would
be a real resume builder.
I arrived at the airport sixty miles north of Hollow
Falls "The Town That Banned Halloween," and was met by
Judith Schreiver, Director of Counseling Services, who carried
a sign lettered "Jamison," a heart sticker dotting the "i".
"Our principal Mr. Engelen wanted to send a student
teacher, but I said, "No way, Jose. Said I wanted to pick your
brain." She chuckled nervously, muttered "Just kidding."
She sported the improbable mullet-style hairdo of your typical
country singer: bristly short in front, wispy tendrils in back.
No wedding ring.
Over the obligatory drink at the hotel bar, she chattered
non-stop, and I knew instantly she was one of those
counselors who pride themselves on their listening skills. She
oozed the mental health party line about students "traumatized
by recent events," their "trust issues." As she blathered on, I
mentally fleshed out the outline of the book I'd pitched to Actualization
Press: "The SafeFeelings Revolution!"
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
My disappointment at losing Macedonia had evaporated.
Redneck-ville Hollow Falls was back in the news bigtime
because local businessman Torrance "Tiny" Thompson's
trial was fast approaching. He'd pled innocent to the Halloween
night murder of Fonda Kay Franklin, and insisted he
knew nothing about the disappearance of either Reeba Taylor
or Brittany Brewington, who'd vanished the Halloween a year
A garden-variety perv's protestations of innocence
don't rock my world, as the kids say. And the whole Halloween
thing was just too slasher-flick for my taste. But not only
could this job blast SafeFeelings into the anti-violence stratosphere,
I much prefer the unworldliness of the students at the
smaller, rural schools.
The SF Seminars are a cinch to run. I give a rousing
introduction (short, teenage attention spans being what they
are) about the "SafeFeelings Seven: Number One: Your feelings
are your most precious possession; never let anyone tell
you how you should, or shouldn't, feel."
But these "Holler"-to use the vernacular-High
kids were even more blank-faced than your typical Genericus
High Schoolus. One kid in Jethro-style overalls dozed off,
but the weight of his descending head snapped him back into
I had everybody split into small groups, which was
accomplished with much noise and confusion. One girl with
doughy fat pouching out of a "Pray Hard" t-shirt sniveled:
"I'm scart 'cause I, like, knew Mr. Thompson. Had the coolest
car-an Apexa XKE. When I learnt he'd been arrested, I,
like, uh ... "
"How did that make you feel?"
She looked confused. "Well, like, um ... "
Jesus. I'd been squatting in front of her with both
hands clasped around her damp, ham-hocked sized one--my
Empathy Position. I dropped her hand and stood quickly.
About the author
Constance Gelvin has won several major writing
contests including: Writer's West, Garden Valley
Horror Writers, MileHiCon 30 Short Story Contest, and
in 1998 and 1999 she placed several stories in the top
100 Short Stories of the Writer's Digest Annual Writing
Competition. "The Disappearer", the prequel to "Safe
Feelings, can be read at www.deathlings.com.
This October, Love Creek Productions will
stage her one-act play: Mentp1 Health and Other My ths
in New York City.
Constance has a 16-year-old daughter, Vanessa,
who is her first reader.
"Listen up, people. Quiet down. Everybody close
your eyes. Now. Imagine you have a magic wand. What do
you wish for Hollow Falls High?" Always a good reprieve
from their inarticulate attempts to verbalize their feelings, but
rarely does anyone come up with anything original. "I wish
everybody would get along." "I wish we didn't have gangs/
cliques/hatred between the races." Since it's almost always
violence that brings me to their schools, I get a lot of "I
wish" (someone's name) "hadn't" a) "committed suicide" or
b) "been murdered."
In Group Three, a redhead with a creamy complexion
and startled-looking eyes sat, elaborately bored. She
looked up from her toe-ringed foot and blurted, "I wish we
didn't have to sit through psychobabble bullshit sessions like
this one. It's not going to change what happened, bring Fonda
Kay back or anything. It's ... "
A pimply girl with road-cone-orange hair snarled,
"Fonda Kay was a friend of mine. And I don't want no smartass
Yankee bitch disrespecting her memory."
I couldn't believe it-she actually called her a
"Yankee." Shouts, curses welled up. Counselor-Lady Judy
charged over, whispered in the ear of the redhead who stood,
tossed the "Do You Have Safe Feelings?" quiz, tugged down
her flowered skirt, and flounced out behind Judy. Emotions
were running pretty high, but a SF credo is: "Confrontation
Afterward some brown nosers collected the scattered
quizzes, dragged the chairs back into rows. I answered a few
questions from kids who lingered. Judy lumbered back with a
gangly kid in tow who "needed a one-on-one," but I pointed
out that he should forge a relationship with someone he could
continue to bond with. Like her.
Later, I spent a couple hours replenishing the well.
I'd brought a gym bag, so I did some laps around the school
track, followed by a walk to the four-block downtown. Judy
had lovingly described its major "prettying up." Striped awn-
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
ings jutted from the hotel, shading filigreed bistro tables and
chairs that looked uncomfortable as hell. Next door was
"Brew-ha-ha: A Coffeepub" with the requisite brown-tipped
ferns, posters, chess sets. But a few storefronts were pure
Mayberry: Milt's Tack Shop, Mode O'Day, Jones' Sundries.
I nursed a beer, and jotted down notes about the
day's session. The goings-on were perfect for my "Chaos and
Catharsis" chapter. I wondered if the redhead was in trouble
for simply expressing her opinion. I dug out the "Hellcats
Howdy" card with Judy's home number scribbled on it--"in
case you need anything."
She joined me at the bar less than thirty minutes
later. She beamed, lipstick smudged on her long upper teeth.
"I'm glad you called. I wanted to tell you that today's session
really got to the core of what's eat-ing
at these kids."
"Yeah, it was pretty intense.
Crumple the facade, that's a SafeFeelings'
sound bite. But a mental
health professional like yourself
knows that. But about the redhead,
slender, who ... "
"Just Katie Burke being
Katie Burke. She's an uppity little
thang with quite the mouth on her.
I've tried to cut her some slack 'cause
she's from Philadelphia."
Civil War's over, folks.
"Judy, do ... "
"Excuse me-Judith. I admire
people like yourself, in the
schools-the trenches, as it were-who
deal with every conceivable
emergency, every problem."
She rhapsodized about her counseling successes,
touched briefly on the failures, denigrated peer facilitating. I
held forth on a topic I've studied extensively: Juvenile Accelerated
Dissociative Behavior Syndrome.
"It's nice to talk with someone so knowledgeable.
James--or Jim?--no? James Jamison--<iid ... "
"Yes, my parents named me that. They suffered
from a lack of imagination, needless to say. But I must tear
myself away, my publisher ... "
"You're writing a book? I'm so impressed. I've always
wanted to ... "
"Well, it's still in its infancy. But something you
said earlier interested me."
She raised her eyebrows, furrowing her forehead to
"I'm doing a chapter on the more difficult kids I've
encountered during SafeFeelings. Could you arrange for me
to meet with Katie sometime tomorrow?"
"But you said the kids should talk with someone they
could establish a relationship with."
"That's usually the case. But I'm hoping if I take the
time to talk to her personally, it might make things easier for
you in the long haul. In-your-face as she is, she probably
made life fairly difficult for you."
She had, and Judy painstakingly filled me in on the
details "fit to talk about." Katie'd organized a three-member
Green Club to protest the "raping" of Black's Forest. She'd
plastered a "What Would Satan Do?" bumper sticker in her
locker, had refused to cook meat in Domestic Sciences class.
Every day for a solid week, she'd had to reverse the
Deathrocker t-shirt she'd worn to school.
Tah duh. That would be my in-Deathrocker's lead
singer Japeth Case grew up in
Squanee Springs, my hometown, had
hung out with my daughter Dawn.
The booth's cheap vinyl
made a squinchy sound as Judy
peeled away her thighs. "Okay, I'll
arrange for you to meet, say threeish?
Maybe you'll be able to tum her
* * *
A thumbtacked poster next
to Room 10 1 's door read: "Quit
Stallin'Note Stolns." Katie sat,
stared through crooked venetian
blinds toward a commons area bor-dered
by a concrete wall painted
with a mural of a leaping tiger. Holler
Hellcats. Groups of kids huddled on the lawn, the cement
planters, the sidewalks. Although she jumped slightly when I
entered, she didn't tum toward me.
"Katie? Thanks for stopping by. Let's talk about
what you said yesterday."
She swiveled and eyeballed me coolly. "Don't tell
me. Let's see ... you wanted us to meet for-what?--closure?"
"You don't take too kindly to what you consider
'psychobabble' words like closure. Call this a friendly chat."
I rested one arm over a dented file cabinet labeled: Advanced
"Did you ever in your whole life say you didn't take
'too kindly' to anything 'til you arrived in this shit hole?"
"Cain't reckon as ah ever did."
She laughed, then grabbed a handful of hair and
studied the tips. Dawn used to do that too, looking for split
ends. Finally she looked up, "So why don't we get right down
to it?" She winked.
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
"About why Shreive-port dragged me here. Hear
things got pretty crazy yesterday after I spouted off about the
Franklin bitch. And I was oh-so-heartbroken about not getting
to role play this morning." She smirked as she studied
her stubby, robin's egg blue nails.
"Well, some kids' wounds are still pretty raw af-ter
There's only one thing I like better than mixing it up.
I've badgered Neanderthal jock-boys down to their penitent
knees, reduced gangbangers to quivering blobs of emotion. "I
understand you're fairly new to town. It must be hard moving
here where everyone's grown up together."
"You're an intelligent girl; I can tell. Imagine how
you'd feel if a friend from your former school had been murdered."
"You're right. I am an intelligent woman who's
smart enough to know everybody should just shut up about
what happened, quit grandstanding, giving interviews-how
fucked is that? It's like they think living through three girls
dying, presumed dead-whatever-makes them special, interesting
or something. I've got news for them."
She picked up another strand of hair. Silence didn't
seem to make her uncomfortable.
I waited. "I hear you saying you don't like--"
"What difference does it make whether I like, or
don't like, this dead-ass town, this retard school, or your fucking
seminars? You get paid big bucks for this shit, right?"
"I'm not in this for the money. You seem pretty an-gry
"Is there anything I can do to help?"
She sat back, scooted her elbows along the chair's
metal armrests. Her bra-less breasts wobbled under her faded,
spaghetti-strapped top. I knew to tread carefully.
"You hate it here."
"But you are here, and I'm assuming you'll have to
stay until you leave for college or get a job."
"Think I'll have to stay, huh? I turned eighteen last
Perfect. "I doubt you'll drop out after you've made it
this far. So what can you do to make your enforced stay in
this 'shit hole'," I comma'd my index fingers in the quotation
mark gesture, "more tolerable?"
"I knew someone else who hated the town he'd
moved to. Name was Japeth Case, ever heard of him?"
"You knew Japeth Case? The leader of Deathrocker,
Japeth Case? When--"
"He was my daughter Dawn's first boyfriend."
A !lls/f 01 !lal,.
By Dar Tomlinson
Genesis Press - September 2000
When Beau St. Cyr finds himself caddyless
as the PGA tour begins, he has no choice but to hire
his ex-wife, Perri Hardin, for the job. She may have
walked out on him years ago, but she can coax the
best from him so he can accomplish his life's
goal - the coveted grand slam of golf. The couple's
pairing on the world's finest courses brings back all
the heartache that accompanied the dissolution of
their brief marriage. It also stirs up old hatreds, lingering
jealousies, death threats and mysterious parties'
determination to keep Perri and Beau apart -
on the circuit and in bed. Still, day by day, tournament
by tournament, trust grows between Beau and
Perri, but the anonymous threats against her escalate.
Who's behind the mounting violence? Beau's
affiuent grandfather, Braden, who can't see past the
color of her skin? Or does someone else have a
more sinister reason for keeping the glory boy of
golf from the only woman he has ever loved, a
woman who harbors a secret that could drive him
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
by Stella Pope Duarte
"A lovely collection of stories ...
honest, luminous, humorous,
and very touching. It reached
Ursula K. LeGuin
"You're shitting me! Before he married Taryn, right?
Did Dawn go to his concerts and stuff? Did she go to his memorial
"She didn't. Dawn died right before Japeth came out
with his second album."
"The Blankness Within" we said in unison, then nodded
at each other appreciatively.
"Sorry about that; I mean, about your daughter and
A smidgen of empathy-a start. "Thanks, Katie.
Dawn was always very troubled; her death is what ultimately
led me to form SafeFeelings. But, hey ... " I cleared my throat.
"Tell me why you liked Deathrocker." Sometimes, you just
need to listen, show you care.
During the next morning's session Katie was a real
firecracker. When someone suddenly buys into the program,
it's amazing how they can transform a group. She cracked
everybody up with her dead-on nagging mother imitation during
the "Get off My Back!" role-playing session. When I
huddled with Group Four's troublemaker, I could feel her
watching me. Later, when I left the locker room ready for my
workout, she stood, resplendent in skimpy running shorts,
studying the track trophies.
She waggled a finger. "Don't go getting a big head.
I'm not a teenage girl nutcase doing a transference number."
"Transference? Bet you got an "A" in Beginning
She looked embarrassed. "I have something I want
to talk about."
"Fine by me. Feel like running while we talk? You
"I used to be in cross country."
"Used to be?"
"It's a long story." We ran the first two laps in silence,
her breathing ragged. "Hey, you're pretty fast. For an
"Gee, thanks. What's on your mind?"
"Whew, I can tell it's been a while since I slapped the
"Let's stop. Cool down. Get a Coke."
* * *
Outside the Brew-ha-ha, Katie sipped her first-ever
iced cappuccino. She hung on my every word.
"No, I don't buy the Taryn-Hait-murdered-JapethCase-
conspiracy-theory nonsense. He'd always been suicidal.
The rumors are just rock urban legends. But I think there's
something else you wanted to talk about."
"Yeah, it's ... well, one of the things I'm pissed off
about? The way everybody goes on and on about the murders
and all?" She'd lapsed into teenage girl tentative-speak:
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
"Just venting, talking things through. It helps."
She sucked her whipped cream noisily through the
straw, blowfishing her cheeks. "It's just...they're railroading
Mr. Thompson. Here you're guilty before proven innocent.
They never really investigated any other suspects."
"Well, Fonda Kay's body was found in Thompson's
barn. But since you feel so strongly about this, you must have
a different suspect in mind."
She squinted off into the distance. "Yeah."
"If you were so suspicious couldn't you have anonymously
called or written the police?"
"I'm not going to say 'brilliant suggestion, Sherlock'
'cause I'm on my best behavior. Notice?"
"I did. So who do you ... "
She grimaced. "A weird guy who ran this kind of
like Inaminit Mart store. That boarded-up place down the
block, see it? It's being renovated for a real estate office."
"So where's this guy now?"
"People say his rich old lady aunt died, left him her
home in New Orleans."
"So what makes you think ... "
"The guy creeped me out. We'd just moved here; it
was right after that Brewington chick gone missing. This
freaky dude-Merwyn was his name-hardly spoke, stared
holes through you like he was mad you were shopping at his
store. My Mom got to where she'd send me over to the Holler
Stop practically every day for one thing or another. One night
he kind of stuttered, "K-K-katydid."
"Katie did what? Was he being funny?"
"Katydid. It's an insect that looks like a leaf to hide
from its predators. Merwyn was this complete yokel, but
turns out he'd studied on his own, knew all about protective ... "
There are no coincidences in the universe; I firmly believe
that. How likely was it that our conversation would veer into
this subject? It was a sign. "Protective coloration."
"You know about... "
"I've done some reading on cryptic coloration."
"One of the forms of protective coloration like camouflage
and disruptive coloration."
"Yeah, right, it's coming back to me. I ended up doing
my Science Fair on the subject. Stupid teacher wouldn't
let me use Merwyn as a reference, even though I went and
bought a Mini'Corder just to tape an interview with him about
his original research. Everybody in the Science Department
hates my guts."
"So he helped you, and called you katydid. That
creeped you out?"
"No. Duh. When I returned his poster, Nature's
Sneaky Survivors, he started stroking my hair like you'd pet a
"So this inappropriate gesture made you suspect he
could have killed Fonda Kay?"
" ... Throughout this fastpaced,
fun read, Cathy
McDavid skillfully tugs at the
heart ... This one's a keeper."
Bridges Romance Magazine
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
WEREWOL VES SERIES
TOPAZ Historical Romance
In reply, she grabbed a handful of hair and dabbed
the ends like a powder puff over her face.
I looked around, noticed a primer-streaked truck
parked across the street. A bee buzzed underneath a voluptuous
hanging basket, an old man standing by Jones' Sundries
honked a line of snot out his nose then chopped it off neatly
with his index finger. I reached over, patted her hand gently,
let it linger just a moment.
"Was there anything else? Did he ever try to ... "
I thought I had my answer when I saw Katie's jaw
drop in horror. But her gaze was focused over my right
shoulder, I turned to see Judy Schreiver standing, transfixed,
wearing one of those fluorescent jog suits. I felt Katie's small,
pulsing hand slip away from under mine. Judy's lips writhed,
like she was groping for words. I waved her toward us.
She stumbled forward. "I hope I'm not interrupting."
"Of course not. Katie and I were just discussing her
Science Fair project." I tossed Katie the subtlest of winks.
Her slight frown ironed out, like an invisible hand had
smoothed the sheet of her face.
Judy winced into the sun. A thick cloud of sweat
assaulted my nose, and I wondered why she was dressed so
warmly. As if she'd read my mind, she said, "I better stay put.
I'm probably a little ripe." She smiled and wiggled her nose
like the witch on that 60's sitcom. "Looks like a fun place for
a counseling session."
I could feel the chill that emanated from Katie at the
words 'counseling session.' "Our session started out with
what I call 'running therapy,' but Ms. Burke, despite her buff
exterior, was unable to keep up with someone she'd only minutes
earlier referred to as an 'old guy.' Judy flashed me a
knowing everybody-Iooks-old-to-teenagers look. "So I suggested
we adjourn to the legendary Brew-ha-ha for a medicinal
dose of caffeine."
I sensed both women waiting, sizing me up. I realized
how I finessed this situation could have enormous implications
as to the way I hoped things would play out. I stood.
"Why don't we continue our conversation while we head back
to the school?" I strode through a wedding partyish lattice
bower braided with raspberry-colored bougainvillea. Both
women followed me silently.
"Judy, Katie has shared a concern of hers .. ."
"I told you that in confidence! Don't you have, like,
a confidentiality thing, like a priest or something?" A small
muscle jerked underneath Katie's left eye.
I stopped walking. "Katie, what you told me involves
the possible commission of a crime. As a professional
counselor, I'm obligated to report."
"I don't fucking believe this!"
"Katie! Keep a civil tongue in your head. That'll be
another half hour detention, count on it. James ... " Judy's
voice caressed my name.
I snatched up one of Katie's hands, held it firmly
while she struggled to pull it away. Now Judy watched us
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
approvingly. "Katie has shared with me some information
that could impact the upcoming Thompson trial. She has reason
to believe that someone else killed ... "
Judy snorted a laugh that sprayed a thin film of spit
in my direction. I backed away. She looked at Katie with an
expression of disgust. "Oh indeedy, Miss Burke? Let's see ...
who are you mad at? Who do you think was hitting on you?
Who do you want to get in trouble? Remember, Missy, that
you're accusing someone of murder this time. Who?"
When Katie's face crumbled, I realized how truly
beautiful she was. Her nose didn't redden, her mascara didn't
trickle black streaks down her cheeks; she simply flushed and
her eyes, with one brow more arched than the other, swam
with aquarium-thick tears. "Fuck you. No, you two go fuck
yourselves. Each other, fuck ... whatever." Her tonguetiedness
made her angrier. "You deserve each other."
With that Katie swiveled, then darted behind the
beater truck, and ran with a lightness of foot she hadn't displayed
at the track; Judy's ineffectual "Katie, Katie!'s" bouncing
off her back. I was shaken. Things had taken an unexpected
turn. I'd envisioned a Seminar-Director-SavesInnocent-
Man-type scenario and instead... But, hey, thinking
on my feet is my specialty.
Judy looked at me, shrugged, "I feel I should apologize
for Katie's behavior." It seemed, in Judy's unbiased opinion,
that Katie had escalated from an occasional innuendo
here to a downright accusation there. I clucked disapprovingly
over Judy's litany. Katie'd claimed that the cross country
coach had used sexually-charged language. It couldn't be
proved, and no other students would back her up. She'd
maintained that Mr. Pottenger, the chemistry teacher, had fondled
her, and he'd ended up moving away, a broken man.
She'd accused the Hellcats' star quarterback of sexually harassing
her. Came out later he was gay ...
Katie was the Chicken Little of sexual accusation.
Someone who'd never be believed if worse came to worse.
* * *
Judy's front lawn was littered with huge, gnarled
driftwood branches, "All axe-cut," she informed me proudly.
"Some from the 1890's." I didn't ask how she knew, instead
asked if she'd be attending the upcoming NAHSC convention
in Orlando. I urged her to do so, told her I hoped we could
"hook up" there.
I knew she'd tell everyone.
I looked up the address in The Book. Burke,
Patricia. 141 Second Street. Katie's mother was about my
age. She stood in the doorway, one foot over the other as if
she were embarrassed at being barefooted. She wore a
stained Spleen Society Walkathon t-shirt over pendulous
breasts. Katie was barricaded in her room, and her mother
[? c==J c==J
An electronic Book Publisher
had to threaten her, just to get Katie to come out and talk to
I asked her Mom if I could have some time alone
with Katie to get to the bottom of what had happened that
Katie and I walked down the deserted street, stumbling
over the warped sidewalks.
She spoke, without looking at me. "Talk if you want
to. But I'm not saying shit. No one believes anything I say
There's only one thing I like better than a challenge.
I delicately drew her out about the accusations, and realized
something I couldn't tell her. That my guess was what had
happened between her and the coach, teacher, and football
player was partially due to her (admittedly probably subconscious)
When we returned to Katie's, her mother was gone.
Probably out drinking. We sat on a glider obscured by thick
lilac bushes. Katie rocked the swing gently with one foot
against the fence.
I took her hand. "Katie, I want to share something
with you. You remember the first of the SafeFeelings
She looked at me, seemed to be holding her breath.
"Never let anyone tell you how you should, or
shouldn't, feel." She nodded.
"Well, I have something to confess. I have some
feelings that people would say I shouldn't have ... "
SafeFeelings. Not too many people know that protective
coloration can work conversely. I'm a bit of an expert
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
In the evening when I sit,
osteo-spine ess-ing against
the ache of age, and trembling,
not from coldness, but cold
detachment from those I
once counted as friends,
my eyes mist with dimness
and tears, dried of expectancy,
would shadow time-raked furrows
carved in static permanency
and summon sighs of sorrow.
They said it would be best
for me to settle, in my twilight years,
with those who understand like afflictions
and mature restrictions, and I
would be happy being taken care of.
I long to hold my grandchildren
close on my lap and feel their eager
young-ness awake the sleeping
slowing pulses of tedium
so often now I feel.
I guess, though, I can understand!
The young need space for getting
on with living, building
in this whirling frenzy
a sort of peace to call their own,
I once was young, too,
and impetuous. Alive, with
eyes glazed and shiny,
I didn't want interferences
to interrupt my going forward!
Perhaps they did know best!
Maybe I have become
too mature, and too forgiving.
Resigned, though, might be
the better choice of words.
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
IT WOULD BE BEST
The first month they all came each Sunday.
Two sons, with wives, and
three grandchildren to "spend the day,"
but I knew it would only be an hour.
They didn't want to "tire" me, they said.
And then as each month came
and went, they visited less often,
Son they stopped, and I was left alone,
to live in remembered past
I tried to tell them
when they first decided
it would be best, but
my tears were veiled and silent
behind my torment.
And then I stopped the food
and drink. Perhaps I knew best!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Betty D, Brownlow, born in Chicago, Illinois,
presently lives in Sedona, Arizona, with
her husband of fifty years. She attended George .
Williams College in Chicago, where she received
a B.S. degree in Group Work Education. She
began writing as a young child but began the serious
pursuit of writing . after losing a teenaged
son. Much of her poetry explores the conflicts,
triumphs and despair of daily life while still rejoicing
in the comfort of faith. Brownlow has
self-published several small chapbooks. She is a
member of the Christian Writer's Guild and the
Sedona Authors and Poets Society.
My home is now a modest lot
where neighbors keep their peace.
Wind-worn scratchings carved
in bas relief show my name.
Drapes drawn close shield against
the brightness of moon-ghosts.
Sometimes a loudmouthed scrub
jay warns others of his kind
away from gypsy seed on my front yard.
Sometimes soft dusk breezes breathe
staccato yip of solitary coyote
into the stillness.
The ground is sanctuary now
for interred ashes grown cold.
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
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The author speaks:
Until three years ago, I had given up writing
that I had enjoyed so much while growing up
in the sixties. When I switched my major to Business,
my creative drive was put on hold in favor of
pragmatism. Then I attended a business seminar
and selected writing a novel as a long term goal.
From there, I began a journey called The Class of
'68. With the support of a critique group, and the
encouragement of my family and friends, the trip is
For Kevin Cooper, 1968 always began on the first day
of his senior year in high school, and it ended June 6, 1968, the
day Robert Kennedy died.
Sitting behind the wheel of his brother's yellow '58 Plymouth
station wagon, he stared down at Thomas's first letter
from Vietnam. Although the war was more than 6,000 miles
away, it now seemed to have reached California, in spite of his
brother's reassuring words.
But Kevin was angry. He was angry at Thomas for
joining the Army and leaving his family. The one person, who
could always assure him that things would be all right, was gone.
Now there was no one to tell him that everything would be fine
and his brother would return home safely.
He wanted to cry but couldn't. He was seventeen, and
this was the first day of his senior year. He took a deep breath,
held the letter tightly, and read it again.
August 25, 1967
Dear Mom, Dad and Kevin,
Greetings from Vietnam. We're in Cam Rahn Bay, for
now. Vietnam is what everyone said it would be. It's green, it's
hot, it's humid and it reeks. The smells are unlike anything back
home. The heat cooks the asphalt, the jungle, and the outdoor
latrines. They should include smell in the daily weather reports.
"Temperature and humidity are up today and the stench is soaring."
The heat is unlike anything in California. They call it
jungle hot. It gets under your skin and makes it hard to breathe.
Not that we've seen jungle yet.
Here there's movie theaters, swimming pools, bars, lots
of bars. Cam Rahn Bay is one of the largest ports in Vietnam.
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
M ichaef Murphy
Yesterday I walked down to the pier and watched huge gray
navy ships methodically enter the port unloading tons of heavy
equipment. The base is really a small city. Jets scream in and
out of here twenty-four hours a day. I'm sure it'll be the best accommodations
I'll see during the coming year. Although it looks
like it could be Florida, there are reminders that we are in a war.
When we arrived, we hurried off the plane and doubletimed
it to waiting buses. I could feel the heat from the baked
runway steam up through my thick, heavy combat boots. We
piled into olive-green buses with hard bench seats and no air conditioning.
Thick wire-mesh covered the windows. I asked the bus
driver why, and he answered "Viet Cong, buddy. They're everywhere,
I saw a skinny old man and two kids about seven or
eight cutting grass at the edge of the runway. I had seen my first
It's 9:00 p.m. I'm sitting under a light outside the barracks.
In orientation, they'll probably tell us that's not a smart
thing to do, but I wanted to take advantage of some peace and
quiet. I think about how my life has changed in the past year. I
think about Cal State, about Sarah. I think about the beach, and
surfing, and my Woody. And I think about my family.
Tomorrow we finish orientation, and then we'll be assigned
our permanent duty station. I'll write from there. Well,
I've spent enough time under this light, so I'll finish now.
Kevin banged his fist on the steering wheel, then
stuffed the letter in the pocket of his red flannel shirt, and stared
out the window. He jumped as he heard a rapid tapping against
the side window. He leaned over and unlocked the rear door.
"Hi Billie," he said, to the slender young girl who settled
into the back seat. "Where's . . ?"
"Big brother's right on schedule, late. Sorry."
"You look nice," Kevin said.
She smiled and brushed her hands across her blue cotton
dress. "Kevin, I think that's the nicest thing you've ever said
"No, it's not," he protested.
Just then, the door flew open with a groan, and in
jumped Byron Jacobs. He let out a window-rattling belch, then
reached over and clicked on the radio. The Beatles shouted, " ..
Help me get my feet back on the ground."
"To school, young man," Byron ordered. He stared at
Kevin's shirt. "Planning to cut down some trees later?"
Kevin smiled and shook his head. "You ready?"
Without replying, Byron threw open the door and
sprinted back to the house.
"I don't think he has any books," Billie said.
"I'm sure he doesn't. We made a pact when we were
freshmen. Decided to take all of the hard courses in our first three
years, so as seniors, we'd have hardly any studying or tests.
That's why he's taking Music Appreciation, and Marriage and
Family Living. He thought that was sex education."
"He could use that. What are you taking?"
"Journalism, Creative Writing, Speech. I'm also a
teacher's aide for Mr. Payton's English class."
"No sex education?" Billie asked with a smile.
Kevin felt himself blush.
Suddenly Billie looked around the car and bit her lip.
"What's wrong?" Kevin asked.
"Don't get mad or anything," Billie said, "but this car
seems different without Thomas driving it."
Kevin looked around the car, at the metal dash and the
frayed green vinyl seat covers. His hands squeezed the large
metal steering wheel.
"This car means so much to him," Kevin said. "When
he drove it, it was a Woody, with surfboards in the back, and
pretty girls up front, usually Sarah Johnson. When I drive it, it's
just a ten year old station wagon."
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
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Kevin glanced at the house then turned to Billie. "Don't
tell Byron, but sometimes I go out, just to sit in this car by myself
I close my eyes and imagine Thomas here, driving me
around, razzing me about being a geek and helping me with
problems that now seem so ... insignificant. Thomas is . . . "
Billie placed her hand softly on Kevin's shoulder.
The car door flew open again, and Byron landed in the
front seat, clutching a large acoustic guitar. He carefully laid it in
the back seat next to Billie.
"So what's with the guitar?" Kevin asked.
"Man, that's what I do, that's who I am. You know,
Zorro had his blade, Samson had his hair, and I've got my guitar,"
he said. "Besides, chicks dig it. Now are you going to drive
or what?" He glanced at himself in the rear view mirror and ran
a hand through his bristly straw-rolored hair that seemed to grow
in different directions.
Kevin turned the key. The car rumbled to life. As his
foot eased onto the accelerator, Byron grabbed the gearshift and
shifted the car into neutral. The engine shrieked and Kevin,
caught off guard, stalled the car.
"Hah," Byron shouted, slapping the metal dash with a
loud smack. "Gotcha again. How many times is that?"
Kevin took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. "I bet you
won't be doing that to the bus driver tomorrow. Remember, this
is Thomas's car and he'd beat the shit out of you if he knew you
were messing with his car."
"Thomas beat the shit out of someone?"
"You're right. Okay, I'll beat the shit out of you."
"Yeah right," Byron laughed. "Cool it old timer. I've
got just one thing to say to you." He paused. "Fuckin' seniors
"You two can be so immature." Billie said.
"Thank you, Miss fourteen going on thirty," Byron
Kevin restarted the car and slowly entered traffic. Several
cars quickly passed. Byron shook his head, and stared at the
speedometer, as the needle bounced between 25 and 30.
Kevin glanced at Billie in the rear view mirror. "I can't
believe you're actually going to be a sophomore, Billie. It seems
like yesterday I was maybe nine years old spending the night at
your house with your brother, and I walked in while you were
taking a bath."
Billie caught his eye in the rear view mirror and smiled,
"So Kevin, do you think of me naked often?"
"Oh, good come-back, Kevin." Byron said. "Lets see,
what was that 'Yeah sure?' Hey, forget about her, she's a nerd.
We're seniors, man. The class of'68."
But Kevin's attention wandered to the back seat as he
drove. In the rear view mirror, he saw a cute teenage girl, with
big green eyes and a small turned up nose. Maybe she was a bit
too skinny and slightly pale, but he loved her short black hair,
which curled just behind her ears.
Byron leaned over and whispered, "Don't even think
about it, Kev."
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
"What? I was just looking at her shoes. Hey, nice
shoes, Billie." Kevin said.
"Size fourteen," Byron said, "if you get my drift. Four-teen.
Billie leaned forward and placed her hands on the back
of the front seat. "Have you heard from Thomas lately?" she
"We got a letter Saturday. Want to read it?" Kevin
handed it to her as they pulled into the crowded school parking
"Oh," Billie said softly, "he's really there." The letter
shook slightly in her hands. She read as they searched for a parking
Rio Rico High School was a large school of mostly
identical brick and glass one-story buildings. All two thousand
students seemed to be entering the parking lot at the same time,
amid pounding rock music, laughter, and frequent shouts of obscenities.
After parking, the three joined the stream of students
walking toward the school. They paused by the marquee at the
front gate. Bold black letters proclaimed "Today is the First Day
of the Rest of Your Life."
''It's going to be some year," Byron said.
''It already is," Kevin said.
September 2, 1967
I must have started a dozen letters only to throw them
away after a few sentences. I struggled for days to say just the
right things, to use just the right words to help you understand
what I have to say. Maybe I should start by telling you I'm
fine, where I am, and what I'm doing.
We arrived at our permanent duty station, near the village
of Phu Bai. It's not too far from the border of Laos. Since
you know more about this war than anyone I know, you know
that Laos is the out of bounds line for Americans, but not for
the North Vietnamese and Viet Congo
There's no jungle or rice paddies around here. When
we go out on patrol, we go through hills littered with rocks and
shrubs and trees. It's hot, and it rains every day. But I chose to be
I wanted to let you know that I'm doing fine. I didn't
want to write you earlier, because I didn't think I should use you
as an emotional crutch to prop myself up, then come back and
say thanks, have a good life. That can happen here.
Sarah, everything we had, everything we were in high
school and at Cal State, will always be precious to me, but I had
to move on.
I moved on to a most unusual place.
Our camp is a muddy, filthy place. We live in hootches
made of canvas, scrap lumber and tarpaper to keep the rains out
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Alison McPhearson, a Scottish immigrant,
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Such scandalous behavior for a lone
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When the Jacobite Rebellion brings an
English lieutenant to the inn door,
Alison falls in love.
With courage and an independent spirit,
Alison will be tom between career,
her townspeople, the safety of her child,
and saving the life of her beloved enemy.
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
I share a hootch with Jessie Davis from Tennessee. That's all
I've gotten out of him since I've been here. The guys who have
been here the longest walk around with a slump-shouldered look
of despair. The new guys like me have a wild-eyed look of wonder
We go out on patrol several times a week, and our
camp gets shelled from across the border in Laos, but so far, I
haven't been shot at and I haven't shot at anyone. I'm learning to
keep my head and ass down, so don't worry about me.
Now comes the hard part, Sarah. Please don't write. I
know it's a selfish thing to ask, but I can't dwell on what might
have been. It's tough enough that I think of you every day, of
what we meant to each other. Please understand.
Sarah Johnson sat alone at her
desk in Cal State's Draft Counseling
Center. She finished reading the letter,
crushed it and held it to her face while
the tears flowed. She sobbed into the
paper, her shoulders lurching as she
rocked in the chair. The cry of the chair
against the cold tile floor and her muffled
sobs echoed in the empty building.
After several minutes she
pulled the letter from her face. Her tears
had dribbled long black streaks on the
"Oh shit!" Quickly, she
smoothed the paper and dried the wetness
with her hands. She snapped open
the top desk drawer, grabbed a tissue
and resumed preserving the letter.
She stared at Thomas's faded
and smeared words and thought back, not to their last meeting, a
tender good-bye at the airport, but the cool April evening alone
under the stars at People's Park, sipping red wine from paper
cups and listening to the Beach Boys. She remembered him turning
to shut off the radio, and with a click of the knob he changed
their lives forever.
He took her hands in his and told her he was leaving
college to join the Army. If she had not been staring into his eyes
she would not have believed it, but she saw it was true. She
knew, in spite of the number of fights and arguments they would
have in the coming weeks, that nothing she could say would
change his mind.
She cried that night, not in front of Thomas, but alone
in her darkened room. They were the last tears she had shed until
receiving his letter.
There had been arguments. She could not let him go
quietly, not when he would surely enter a war she had fought
against so passionately. When the time drew near for Thomas's
departure for boot camp, Sarah ceased her protests to lessen his
She knew now she would respect his wishes and not
write, no matter how desperately she wanted to or needed to.
After assuring herself the letter was dry, she pulled a
heavy dictionary from the bottom of her desk. She smoothed the
wrinkles as best she could, placed it face down on the blank last
page, and with a loud bang, slammed the large book closed.
She carefully placed the dictionary back in the desk
and took a deep breath leaning back in her chair. She grabbed
more tissue from the desktop and dried her eyes.
Snapping forward in her chair, she threw the tissue
across the room. There would be no more tears shed for Thomas
Cooper, or for anyone else.
He waited outside the tiny one-story building on the
northern edge of Cal State's sprawling campus.
On the door, a black and white bumper
sticker read "Draft Beer, Not Boys." A
large blue peace symbol was painted on
one dusty window.
He scratched at his black mustache
and tugged at the sleeves of his faded
army fatigue jacket. He reached for the
door, then hesitated and almost turned
away. Just then, the door flew open and he
came face to face with a startled blonde.
"Fuck," she said, "you scared the
shit out of me!" She wore a plain gray
sweater and blue jeans. Wire rimmed
glasses failed to hide the ocean blue intensity
of her eyes. She reached up and
touched the initials T and C, which hung
from a gold chain around her neck.
"I'm real sorry." He coughed. "I
wasn't sure in should go in. Are you Sarah Johnson?"
She nodded, then slowly her face broke into a bright
smile, and she held out her hand. "And you are?"
"Kingsley, Brad Kingsley."
"Like Bond, James Bond." She laughed.
"Not hardly. He's a cop or a Navy officer, isn't he?"
"And a spy." She turned and closed the door.
"Welcome to Cal State's Draft Counseling Center, better known
as The Shack'. But you came at a bad time. We have to close up
for a couple of hours. There's a march on the draft induction center
"Look, I'm not even sure why I came by. I've only been
in Bakersfield since the start of summer. I haven't even been accepted
to school here. I was told you were the person to talk to
about, you know, if you have a problem with the draft."
"Maybe you came at a good time, Brad. Come on,
walk with me awhile. We're meeting up at People's Park and
marching from there."
It was a warm September moming. The Bermuda grass
lawns of the university smelled freshly cut. They dodged people
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
hurrying to class on bicycles, on roller skates and on foot. Sarah
pointed out the various important landmarks of Cal State. She
showed him the Administration building. Students had seized
and occupied the building the previous spring while campus police
Brad mostly listened. He did not talk about why he had
come to the shack, and she did not ask. It didn't take long to reach
"People's Park?" he asked.
"We named it after the one in Berkley. It's not as large
or elaborate as that one, but it means the same to the students
here. It doesn't really belong to the university or to the city. It's
Brad looked out over patches of dirt and areas of well
kept grass. Freshly planted flowers of various kinds gave the park
small explosions of brilliant color. In the farthest comer, the
ground sloped towards a small stage forming an amphitheater.
"Last year, one of the students created that amphitheater
with a tractor and grader. Others added the stage last spring.
There are concerts here all the time, some organized, but most
are spontaneous. It shows you what people can do when they all
pull together toward a common goal. That's what today's march
The air smelled of incense, tobacco and marijuana.
Students gathered in small clusters. A purple and orange beach
ball ~as tossed from group to group. A girl with black braids, sat
blowmg soap bubbles into the air, staring as the multicolored
globes slowly drifted over the park before silently exploding.
"Brad, why don't you come with us and we'll talk after
the march? Ever tried to stop a war before?"
"Is that what we're going to do?"
"That's what we're fucking going to do. Not today, not
tomorrow, but soon."
Brad turned and stared into Sarah's blue eyes. "Why is
that so important to you?"
Her eyes started to fill with tears, but she rapidly
blinked them away and her look hardened. "Because it's the
right thing to do. If we don't do it, who will? Who will stand up
for what's right? It's not just about saving American and Vietnamese
lives, it's about our nation's moral direction. We're
headed down the wrong path, Brad, and if we don't speak out
now, it won't just be about us waging war on a small backward
·country, it'll be about where we as Americans go from here, as
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As she spoke, her eyes blazed and her face flushed.
Brad held his breath at her beauty and passion. Sarah took a
deep breath and smiled, the warmth returning to her face.
They walked toward the amphitheater.
The atmosphere of the park was festive and reminded
Brad of the joy of county fairs from his youth. There was a variety
of music, from the protest songs of Dylan, Seeger, and Baez
to the rock and roll of the Beatles and Rolling Stones.
It seemed that everyone had lots of hair. Most of the
men had shoulder-length hair and mustaches. Many had beards.
The women ~l~ wore their hair long and mostly straight. Bright
colors and VIVId patterns of tie-dyed t-shirts were everywhere.
People wore beads or jewelry with peace symbols. Several
women had flowers painted on their faces.
Brad watched Sarah, whose mood seemed to have
brightened considerably since they arrived at the park. Her warm
smile greeted everyone she saw. She seemed to know everyone
and wanted to know those she didn't.
He liked her already and knew he shouldn't.
A tall black man with a large, round Afro haircut called
S~h'.s name. He ran up and gave her a hug. As he bent down,
his harr bobbed like a cork going through a ripple.
"Lionel, you're back. I missed you."
He let her go and stepped back to light a cigarette. He
stared at Brad and asked Sarah, "You stayed here on campus all
"Mostly. Plenty of work to do keeping guys from being
2000 Arizona L iterary Magazine
"This one of your customers?" Lionel asked, nodding
Sarah shrugged. "I don't know yet. Brad Kingsley, this
is Lionel Washington, head of the Cal State African-American
Lionel looked at Brad for a moment then they shook
hands. "You a veteran?" he asked, looking at Brad's Army
"Father John? Ray?" Sarah asked.
"They're here." Lionel pointed to the street. "I think
we're about to get underway. Let's go see the fellas."
"When does it start?" Brad asked.
"Hey man, this ain't no parade," Lionel said. "It starts
when it starts. Come on. "
As they reached the edge of the park, students gathered
and the procession set off for the induction center a mile away.
Gradually they spread out for almost a block, stretching and
bending down the road like a snake slowly seeking the sunnier
part of a rock
Lionel went ahead and spoke to a pale, intense looking
man in his early twenties with long thin brown hair and a receding
hairline. A bullhorn hung from the man's leather belt. He
walked hand in hand with a redheaded girl in denim shorts and
thin yellow t-shirt.
"Who's Lionel talking to?" Brad asked.
"That's Ray Erickson, just back from the summer of
love in San Francisco. He's pretty much an asshole, but he gets
things done. He's also a member of the Students for a Democratic
"S.D.S., I've heard of them."
"Well, don't believe what you read. There's probably
five or six members on campus and they don't go around blowing
up buildings or anything like that."
"Who's the big guy?" Brad nodded to the front of the
procession. A tall man walked slightly ahead of the others with a
determined stride, dressed all in black He appeared slightly older
than the others, with flecks of gray in his thick beard.
"Father John, but he's not really a priest, at least not
anymore. He's one of the first people I met at Cal State. I guess
you could say he's the conscience of the anti-war movement here.
No one seems to know his real name, or where he came from.
No one really cares."
Ray removed the bullhorn from his belt. He turned
and shouted into it, raising his hand into a fist, "Fuck the war!
Fuck the war!"
The demonstrators immediately took up the chant.
Brad watched Sarah shouting and pumping a fist into the air.
Someone from the rear of the procession took up the beat with a
drum and another tapped on a tambourine. Soon the chant
changed to "Hell no! We won't go!"
The chants finally ended as the procession neared its
destination and came to a stop at the steps of the Bakersfield
Draft Induction Center. Two military guards and a Bakersfield
policeman stood by the entrance and watched the students with
amused disinterest. Father John mounted the steps in front of the
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
building, and turned to address the students. He was not fiery, but
they listened with rapt attention to his calm, reasoned words.
"We come here today," he said "to demand an end to
the unlawful activity conducted in this building in support of an
unlawful war. Thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands
of Vietnamese revolutionaries have died so American imperialism
can flourish thousands of miles from our shores. These
deaths cannot continue without the machinery of the draft standing
before us today."
Brad glanced over at Sarah during Father John's talk
Her right hand absently played with the gold initials that hung
from the chain around her neck Father John concluded his remarks
amid another chorus of "Fuck the War! Fuck the War!"
Lionel Washington bounded up the steps. Soon his
deep booming voice caught a rhythm and excited the crowd. "I
come to you from a summer of discontent not previously seen in
America. Our cities smoldered throughout the land, and as the
flame of despair spread, our government's response was not more
jobs, not more opportunity, not more equality. The response of
our government was more police, more National Guard and more
"In Vietnam, the killings grow, and the stalemate continues.
More Americans have died so far this year than the previous
six years of the war combined. And the response of our government?
Was it talk of peace, or negotiation to end the war?
No, it was more American soldiers, more bombs throughout a
growing area in Southeast Asia.
"This war is being waged by old white men using
young black men to kill yellow men, women and children, while
young white men benefit from a system of draft deferments and
"My brothers and my sisters, you may not like what
I'm going to say today. We stand in front of an evil component of
our government's ability to wage this illegal war. But those of us
here today benefit from a system which gives draft deferments to
those rich enough to afford a college education. I challenge you
today to work to end this war, not because you or your friends
might get drafted, but because it is right.
"Black people's gains in the '60's, in terms of educational
opportunities and voting rights, have been lost against the
burden we are forced to carry in Vietnam. This year will bring on
a birth of black pride and black power, and with our white brothers
and sisters we shall overcome this struggle. We shall overcome
this draft. We shall overcome this war!"
A loud cheer erupted from the students as Lionel hurried
down the steps and stood next to Sarah and Brad.
"You should have been a preacher," Sarah shouted to
him as the cheers died down.
"No money in it, I checked," Lionel answered.
Ray Erickson took the top step, his bullhorn at his side.
"I see many new faces have joined our loose knit organization, or
as my friend Sarah Johnson calls it, 'our disorganization.'
"I also see familiar faces who, with Father John,
Lionel, Sarah, and myself, have struggled in this community and
. at our university against oppression which has gone unchecked
for too long. We have demonstrated and we have sat in, we have
Also available in e-books
A Practical Guide for
High School Speech and
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
chanted and we have sung songs of peace and still, the war goes
on in Vietnam more savagely than ever."
Ray paused, as the crowd became silent.
"For the war to end, fundamental change, must come.
And that my friends, will require a revolution. Demonstrations
like these have their place, but demonstration must give way to
resistance if the revolution is to succeed."
Again the crowd cheered. Brad looked over at Sarah
Johnson's wrinkled brow. She looked at him and he saw concern
in her eyes. But as five young men made their way to the top of
the steps, her face relaxed. The five faced the induction center
and one by one burned their draft cards as the crowd cheered
Brad watched the two guards talking to the policeman.
They appeared bored by the whole event. None of them had paid
* * *
Kevin rushed into his journalism class. Desks were
scattered in random fashion throughout the room. Students
worked individually and in small groups, hurriedly writing or
rewriting copy. Others leaned over a large wooden table, organizing
the layout of the first edition of the Rio Rico Reporter.
Kevin saw the instructor, Henry Payton, working with
the sports editor proofreading copy. Mr. Payton looked up and
tapped his watch, indicating Kevin was facing a deadline for submitting
his first column of the year. Kevin nodded and gave Mr.
Payton a reassuring thumbs up.
When he found an empty desk near a window, he
flipped open his notebook and stared out the window at the eucalyptus
trees. His journalism grade was significantly based on
timely submissions of assignments. He glanced at the clock. He
had 50 minutes to formulate a topic, write it in long hand, type it,
proofread it, and submit it to the student editor.
Out the window, he noticed a young boy picking up a
stack of books he had dropped. Almost out of nowhere came one
of the school's football players wearing a gold letterman's jacket
with several medals pinned to the front. He hurried over to the
young man and scattered his books with one kick.
"Freshman!" he shouted then smiled and walked on,
whistling the tune from Bridge on the River K wai.
Kevin turned to his paper. He picked up a pencil and
tapped it a few times, laid the pencil down, pulled a pen from his
pocket, and began to write. He finished in less than twenty minutes,
went across the room, sat down in front of a typewriter, then
typed his first column of the year.
My first column of the year is devoted to helping freshmen
become oriented to high school. Become involved, join a
group. You may have received information on formal clubs and
organizations at Rio Rico. Below are the informal groups available
Geeks. Geeks are band, choir or drama students, who
will go on to college to major in band, choir or drama. Band
members who wear pseudo-military regalia and march around in
step, are definitely geeks. Choir members enjoy dressing up in
robes. Drama members have never quite gotten over dressing up
in their parents clothes when they were younger.
Nerds. Nerds take all the math courses that are offered
and are usually members of the chess club. They frequently take
summer school for fun or so they can graduate in three and a half
years rather than four. They also have nothing else to do in the
summer, unlike geeks, who have band, choir and drama camps.
Dweebs are journalism students.
Jocks. Some jocks will go on to college with scholarships
and aspire to professional jockdom. All will end up with
knee injuries and look back on their senior year in high school as
the highlight of their lives. They will marry early, have lots of
children, drink beer, and gain lots of weight. They will get together
weekly to relive their glory days.
Hippies. Male hippies wear their hair long, tucked into
their collars during the day to hide from the dress code. Female
hippies wear no makeup and iron their hair. They rally in support
of their individuality, yet no group dresses more alike.
In-Crowd. Although many are elected to student council,
the in crowd is mostly self appointed and can be identified by
the expensive cars their parents have bought them. They all have
major credit cards. They are admired by all and liked by few.
A lot has been written about not judging people by the
way they look. So the next time you see a hippie, a jock, or
someone you think is part of the in crowd, think again. Better
yet, get to know that person and judge them not by the color of
their skin, the type of clothes they wear, or whether they wear
glasses, but as Martin Luther King said, "by the content of their
Sarah opened the door to the Shack and let Brad in.
He looked around the small dark room. It contained
two metal desks and three bright yellow beanbag chairs. He went
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
over to a beanbag , removed a pile of newspapers and flopped
down in the center with a loud smack.
"Hey, I'm not the fucking cleaning lady." She jumped
up to sit on the desk facing him. "So, Brad Kingsley, why did
you come to see me today?"
"I'll give you the condensed version. I went to college
for a couple of years in Michigan. I lived with my dad, who's
retired from the FBI, and a brother who is majoring in police sci-ence.
"It just wasn't working out for me. I mean, they both
expected, hell everyone expected me to be a cop. It got too intense,
so last year I split. I've been kind of drifting around the
country since. I came to California and, well, you know how
things are, kind of laid back. That seems to be what I need now.
I'd like to go to school here, see in can make sense of my life."
"So far, so good," she said.
"Yeah, well, I guess it's my by-the-book upbringing,
but I let the draft board know about my new residence. Since I
haven't been a full time student, they notified me yesterday that
I've lost my student deferment and have been classified I-A.
"I'm not afraid to go to war or anything like that, but
I'm not a revolutionary or anti-war activist like you and your
friends. It's not like getting drafted would interrupt my plans to
be a doctor or a lawyer, or whatever. I've not only been drifting
around the country; I've been drifting my whole life. I don't know
what I want to do with my life, but I know what I don't want to
do, I don't want to go to Vietnam right now.
"I think my dad would welcome me being drafted, and
I know my brother would. They've both said as much. It's funny,
but if he wanted to, I'm sure my dad could pull some strings and
get me into the National Guard or something, but I can't ask for
his help. I just can't."
Sarah jumped down from the desk and stood next to
Brad. "Then you've asked the right person for help. Because you
have been classified I-A doesn't necessarily mean you're going to
get drafted. What you need to do is get admitted to school and
apply for reinstatement of your student draft deferment."
"It's that simple?" he asked.
"Oh, fuck no. They have to feed the war machine, so
nothing's simple. You need to get enrolled first and if they don't
send you a notice to report for a physical by the end of the semester,
then you can get your student deferment. I can get you registered
on an interim basis, but you'll need to arrange for your transcripts
from your last school to be sent here." She clapped her
hands together. "Let's do it!"
"Why do you do this?" Brad asked.
"Why does it matter?"
He smiled and didn't ask any more questions. They
spent the rest of the day getting Brad registered. They hurried
from office to office, often receiving conflicting instructions.
Sarah cursed and Brad laughed. But Sarah knew how to cut corners
and help people in Brad's situation. She'd done it many
times. She was good at it because she cared.
By the end of the day, Cal State adrnitted Brad as a
probationary student. Sarah had missed a class, and they had for,
gotten to eat lunch. They grabbed cold sandwiches and iced tea
from the student union and found a metal bench outside. Brad
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The ideal website for
drank his tea in one gulp while Sarah devoured her chicken salad
sandwich. They were both tired and neither one talked while they
ate. The sun was setting behind the tall buildings, and the campus
was rapidly becoming deserted. When they finished, Brad
walked Sarah back to her dorm room.
The next day Brad stopped by to thank her for her
help. The following day they had lunch together. On Friday
they went to dinner.
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
ESSAY & ARTICLE
THE BLUE WALTZ
"Put my purse down!" Debi shouted at Serena.
Her ten-year-old daughter pushed her dark hair away
from a sunburned face to stare at her mother. "But, Mom .. .l
was only looking for ... "
"Don't lie. And put my wallet back. Now!"
Abruptly, tears flowed from Serena's big blue eyes,
bounding like tossed pebbles skipping across a rapid stream.
"I'm sorry, Mommy," she managed to whisper. Tightly as
ivy wrapped around a tree, she clung to her mother, unaware
of the mess being made on her mother's expensive green silk
Moments danced by.
The little girl continued to cry.
Finally, Debi hugged her daughter back and slowly,
carefully stroked the child as her own mother's tired hands
had once done, erasing the shadows of stealing. As Debi held
her Serena, she began to speak carefully, "Every child tries
stealing. I did ... because I wanted to look as nice as all the
other kids ... " She paused and closed her eyes, seeing the
days that had been. After a moment she continued, "I wanted
to look special so I'd feel special. In my mind, I danced .. . to
the Blue Waltz perfume I'd stolen. And then the music
As a child to Debi, it had been a spring day overflowing
with the essence of life. Even grapes in her father's
shady arbor dripped juice on her fingers as she plucked as
many as she could. She would eat them on the way, walking
to school. Near her soiled hands, bees on a gathering mission
ignored the intrusion, all too bloated from a sugar banquet.
Quickly, Debi grabbed her schoolbooks, pausing only long
enough before the dim mirror above her parents dresser before
slipping out the door. Safely secluded in her pocket nestled
the tiny bottle of Blue Waltz perfume, her bounty from
her first Saturday afternoon's "souvenir collecting" at the
convenience store with her best friend, Vera. They had overheard
the boys after their latest treasure hunt.
"That's a great cap," Georgie had said to Artie.
Artie had grinned at all the boys and girls around
him. "Can't beat the price either. I picked up three other col-
ors if any of you guys want to buy one . .. or trade for one ... got
some playing cards, too, and some whistles."
"Wow! You made out this time!" Davie said, admiring
Artie's loot. "I grabbed a bunch of candy bars .. .
different kinds! What do you want for that red hat?"
"Give me a half dozen Hershey bars!"
"It's a deal!"
Debi and her best friend Vera stared at the treasures,
especially the candy bars. It was a long time until lunch, and
their sandwiches of white bread and cheese seemed like bandaids
around flypaper. The boys had all the treasures, all collected
from their "visits" to the convenience store.
"They have everything .. . because they're not scared
to take it!" Vera said.
"I'm not scared!" Laura announced.
"Then let's do it, too."
And the two girls had slipped into the crowded store,
pretending to be casually "shopping" for a birthday gift for
Debi's weary mom and trying to look like they belonged in
the store, but Vera shuffled in her too-big dress she'd inherited
from her older sister while Debi ignored her homemade
dress carefully sewn by her mother from the only material
they could afford, old flowered chicken feed sacks. No matter
how much Mom washed those dresses, Debi believed that
people could smell the feed, marking her as nothing better
than a poor farmer's daughter instead of "rich" like the others.
Beckoning from the wall beside the store entrance
was a display rack overflowing with beauty treasures . ..
lipstick! Eye shadow! Bath powder! And it all smelled so
wonderful. In front of her hungry eyes were tiny bottles
curved like a musical note. The label proclaimed: BLUE
WALTZ perfume ... even the name made her feel elegant!
Subconsciously, she wrapped her hand around three of the
tiny bottles, sliding them under the edge of her long floppy
"What can I do for you girls?" a tightly corseted lady
demanded, severing the spell.
Giggling nervously, Debi whispered, "Just trying to
find out what Mom might like for her birthday next month."
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
"Well, enough looking for now girls," the saleslady
ordered. "I'm sure you have better things to do!"
They were a block away from the store before Debi
felt safe enough to reveal the precious containers to her friend
and say, "One for you and one for my mom 'from the babysitting
money' and one I'll keep in a safe place so I can smell
beautiful and rich."
The "special" perfume was cradled between the
books in her schoolbag like a constant companion, dabbed on
secretly before she had to be with the kids from "rich" families.
She hated it when the golden liquid was almost gone,
but it wasn't safe to try stealing more Blue Waltz perfume. If
only somehow she could be as fancy and special as all the
other kids at school.
"I sure wish I had some nice clothes," she told her
friend Pauline, who worked at her family's neighborhood grocery
store. "But that takes money!"
"Do some more babysitting ... Mrs. Johnson ... that's
that dentist's helper down the street ... anyway, she was com-plaining
that she needs an after-school babysitter. I don't
know if she'd take somebody who's only in junior high like
you, but you can try to get the job."
Mrs. Johnson hired her. The fancy house made Debi
feel like a princess when, during the child's afternoon naps,
she avidly explored her borrowed castle. The lady's closet
overflowed with a rainbow of blouses, skirts, dresses. So
beautiful! So wonderful to touch, and the clothes even
smelled faintly of Mrs. Johnson's perfume, as nice as Debi's
"borrowed" Blue Waltz perfume.
At first, she only looked and touched. Then she began
to dream of the clothes. Finally, she touched all the pink
blouses and "borrowed" one in her schoolbag to wear proudly
the next day, returning it to Mrs. Johnson's closet as soon as
little Carrie slept. Next came the dozen white blouses, some
with pleats, some bedecked with tiny flowers, and again she
chose one to "borrow" for school wear.
"Another new blouse? Boy, you sure look great!"
Vera told her. "Where are you getting all these super new
"From babysitting," she confided, then quickly
added, "It pays good!"
The next day, she went from color to color until she
reached the bright red, pleated blouse. She'd never seen Mrs.
Johnson wear red and even overheard her complaints, speaking
to someone on the phone that red just made her skin look
terrible. With careful hands, Debi folded the crimson silk
blouse into a tiny packet and slid it between her schoolbooks.
Beset by a cold, little Carrie was not into her usual deep nap
sleep. Debi did not notice as she slid the red blouse between
"What are you doing in Mommy's closet," the child
Startled, Debi quickly said, "Just straightening the
clothes up," and pretended to put the hangers in an orderly
row. ''Now get back to bed like a good girl." She waited un-til
she again heard the child's heavy breathing before slipping
her schoolbooks with the blouse into her schoolbag.
''Thou shalt not steal!" The eighth commandment.
The minister's recital of the commandments echoed in her
"But I'm only borrowing .. . " she argued subconsciously.
The next day, Mrs. Johnson was settled firmly
against the overstuffed living room sofa, waiting, as Debi
skipped through the front door and tossed her schoolbag upon
the dining room table. Usually, Mrs. Johnson was in a rush,
car keys in hand, waiting by the back door.
Quickly, Debi smiled ·at her, asking, "How's Carrie?
Hope she's feeling better."
"Sit down, Debi. We have something to talk about."
Although she knew it was her imagination, Debit felt
her schoolbag was glowing with a fiery light. She couldn't
help looking at it before her smile faded and she stared at
"I said sit down, Debi."
She sat down. Quickly. Her sight fastened on the
lady who employed her.
"Why? Why did you steal?"
"I brought it back. I always bring them back. I didn't
steal," she managed to say, fighting back tears. Tears
would show her as a weakling, not one of the Better People!
"Them? Then it's been going on a long time .. . until
Carrie saw you at my closet. It's the same as stealing to take
another person's property without their permission."
Little Carrie was peering around the side of the doorway,
staring at Debi.
Debi couldn't stop the tears flowing all over her face.
Jumping up, she grabbed her schoolbag and pulled out the red
blouse. "I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I won't do it again,"
Mrs. Johnson only nodded negatively as she said,
"You don't understand. Taking someone else's property
without their permission is the same as stealing. I can't have
that," Mrs. Johnson said.
"Please. Don't fire me. I need the job," Debi said
and quickly pulled her bottle fo Blue Waltz perfume from her
purse. There was little left in it but it wasn't completely
empty. "Here! Take my treasure. It's almost gone but it's
yours. I'm really sorry."
"No, Debi. That's yours, not mine. Try to learn the
difference and you ' ll be a better person.
Little Carrie hugged Debi around the legs as she was
leaving and whispered, "Goodbye. I still love you."
Debi wiped away her tears and put the bottle of perfume
in Carrie 's little hands, saying, "Here. This isn 't mine.
So it's yours now. It's not right for me to keep it."
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
Sometimes you have to tell a lie to
find the truth
"Absolutely wonderful! Intriguing
characters, great plot, solid writing.
Can't wait to read more."
Bestselling author of
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janice Macdonald is a free-lance writer
who lives in Vista, California. Her non-fiction
work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times,
Westways and numerous medical and professional
Against All Odds is her first novel. She is
currently working on a novel set in a newborn
intensive care nursery.
If there was any correlation between bad luck with
men and a poor sense of direction, Kate Neeson reflected, it
might explain a whole lot about her life.
She was lost. Again. Through the window of the
rented Peugeot, she stared out at the unfamiliar Irish countryside.
Isolated cottages, stunted windswept trees and stone
walls. Endless stone walls. The roar of waves breaking somewhere
far below suggested she was on the coast, but beyond
that she had no idea.
In the dim green glow of the dashboard, she peered
down at the map, spread like a napkin across her lap. Cragg's
Head, where she'd booked a week at a B&B called the Pot 0'
Gold, was like a fly speck on Connemara's ragged west coast.
The area reminded her of a piece of china that someone had
picked up and hurled to the ground in a temper tantrum. Jagged
chunks of land strewn everywhere.
Chilled by the damp air seeping into the car, Kate
tucked her hands under her arms and thought about the
woman who had fallen from Connemara's steep cliffs nearly a
year ago. Was the death of the young and popular folk singer
Moruadh Maguire an accident, as authorities claimed? Or, as
village rumors had it, murder at the hands of her estranged
husband? Kate, a free-lance writer, had come to Ireland hoping
to learn the answer.
While her instincts told her it was the ex, she was
willing to concede that this could be colored by her jaundiced
view of men, so she was trying to keep an open mind. Trying
being the operative word, she thought, suddenly struck by one
of those panicky feelings that come from too little sleep and
too much imagination. She glanced over her shoulder but the
drifting fog only heightened her sense of isolation. Now was
definitely not the time to reflect on the possibility of murder.
With her palm, she wiped away the blur of condensation
from the windshield and tried to decide whether to
plough on in the unlikely hope that she was headed in the
right direction, or to turn back to the last village. Through the
swirling fog, she spotted two figures out on the narrow foot-
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
AGAINST ALL ODDS
path. Shadowy and indistinct, they merged for a moment then
the smaller of the two began to run. The other followed in
swift pursuit. Wraithlike they appeared, then vanished in the
She watched a car's yellow hazard lights draw close
then disappear. The fog curled and drifted like a troupe of
ghostly ballerinas. Out on the footpath, the larger of the two
figures stood on what she guessed was the edge of the cliff.
Alone now, a dark outline against a watery backdrop.
Her hand on the ignition key, Kate glanced around
for the smaller figure, but saw nothing. A moment later, the
taller one had faded into the fog. Vaguely unsettled, she
waited for them to reappear, but the path was as empty as if
she'd imagined the whole thing.
Teeth chattering, she started the car. Her imagination
kicked into overdrive. The tall one had done away with
the small one, and he was out there now looking for his next
victim. A deranged woman hater, she could feel his eyes boring
into her head, right now, as he decided whether to drag
her out of the car before he pushed her, or just roll the car
with her in it over the cliffs.
Tense and jet-lagged enough to convince herself that
the scenario might not be that far-fetched, Kate let out the
clutch and the car shuddered to a halt. Cursing manual transmissions,
she started it up again and let it idle for a moment.
Her hands on the wheel were shaking. She told herself to
calm down. There 's no-one out there. This is Ireland, not
Santa Monica. Get a grip, or you 'll go nuts.
Then she looked up and screamed.
The man stood, pale as an apparition from the swirling
fog. A long face with dark brows, light eyes. For a moment
he just stood motionless at the open passenger window,
evidently as immobilized by her scream as she had been at the
sight of him. Hands up at chest level, palms out, he slowly
backed away from the window. "Look I'm sorry," he finally
said. "I didn't mean to scare you."
Kate stared. Even as the adrenaline rush of fear
slowly faded, the scream still rang in her ears. If she tried to
speak, she would cry and she wasn't about to give him the
'satisfaction of seeing that. She took a breath. He was probably
about her age, tall and slender, with a narrow face and
dark hair that fell down over his forehead. He wore a rough
woolen jersey unraveling slightly at the neck, and an open
sheepskin jacket dark with moisture. A couple of cameras
dangled from his neck, a leather gadget bag hung from one
A tentative smile flickered across his face. "Are you
"I'm fine." Given her panic a few minutes earlier,
the stranger's presence was oddly reassuring. "It's pretty deserted
out here ... I hadn't seen a soul for a couple of hours,
then I see two people in the fog. One of them disappears,
then the other, and suddenly you're at the window." She
managed a shaky laugh. "Another minute though, and I'd
have had my can of mace out."
"Would you now?" The faint smile appeared again.
"But what ifI'd been wanting to help you? Which I was."
"I'm naturally suspicious," she said, distracted momentarily
by his eyes. Pale as the fog and fringed with dark
lashes, they seemed focused on something beyond her shoulder.
In a split second though, she realized they were actually
watching her. It was disconcerting. Like looking through a
one way mirror and finding someone looking back at you.
Surreptitiously, she glanced at the door lock then
stared out through the open passenger window at him. He
gazed into the car at her.
"Did you see anyone out there on the edge of the
cliffs a few minutes ago?" she asked thinking again of the disappearing
"I didn't, no, but I was supposed to meet a girl up
here at six .. . " His glance took in the mist shrouded landscape,
then he looked at Kate again. "I was beginning to
think I'd been stood up, but maybe it was her you saw. Ten
minutes ago, you say?"
"I don't know." She glanced at her watch, then up at
him and felt vaguely envious of the girl who'd stood him up.
"About that, I guess."
"Did she have long fair hair?"
"I don't even know if it was a girl. I just saw two
people. One was smaller, I assumed it was female. She ... if it
was a she, wasn't alone though."
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
"Right." He studied her face
for a moment. "Well, I'll take a look
around then. Maybe she's just late."
Kate eyed the cameras slung
around his neck. The breast pocket of
his jacket bulged with what she
guessed was film and, in a lower
pocket, she could see the corner of a
green and white film carton. "You're
shooting a new Waldo book? Find
Waldo in the fog?"
He gave her a blank look.
"Waldo? Little blue and red
striped figure? You have to find him
in a page of ... Never mind. I was just
curious about what kind of pictures
you could take in this." Perversely,
given the circumstances, she really
wanted to know. Or, the thought
flashed through her brain, maybe she
just wanted to keep him there.
"It isn't ideal," he said. "But
there are certain settings and film
speeds that compensate." He leaned
into the window a little. "Listen, I'm sorry I frightened you
"You didn't frighten me." She met his eyes. "You
"There's a difference."
"Right, of course. I didn't mean to suggest .. . " He
shifted his bag to the other shoulder. "Can I do anything?
Your car's running all right, is it? You're not out of petrol?"
"No." Kate took another look at the dashboard
clock. It was five minutes to six. "Am I headed the right way
for Cragg's Head?"
"You are," he said with a smile. "But I'll draw you a
little map in case. It can be a bit tricky."
She watched as he reached into his inside pocket and
pulled out a notepad. Something metallic fluttered to the
She craned her head to see better and caught a
glimpse of a thin gold chain. As he reached to pick it up, she
saw a gold letter she couldn't make out. Briefly their eyes
met, then he shoved it in his pocket and finished drawing the
"All right, here's what you do," he said. It's five
minutes at the very most. Follow the road to Ballyconneely.
You can't miss it."
The reassurance probably fell into the realm of Irish
mythology. Thirty minutes later, green fields and more stone
walls gave way to a village and a jumble of sign posts, not
one of which pointed to Cragg's Head. She braked to let a
couple with a stroller cross the street, her eye momentarily
caught by a shop window and the picturesque clutter of stoves,
paraffin candles, Wellington boots and raincoats.
church over there?"
At the next village, she slowed
the car, rolled down the windows and
called out to an elderly woman in a raincoat
and elastic stockings.
"Hi." Kate smiled. "I'm trying
to get to Cragg's Head and the last
guy I asked told me to follow the road
for Ballyconneely. He said I couldn't
miss it, but I guess I did."
"Cragg's Head is it?" The
woman peered through the driver's window.
"Sure well it's easy enough, but
there's been a bit of signpost twisting
going on, so thing's aren't always what
they seem, if you know what I mean."
She shifted a bulging string bag to the
other hand. "Give me a minute to
"Right then." The woman's
eyes briefly registered the cake crumbs
and candy wrappers on the passenger
seat, then she looked back at Kate.
"Here's what you do. D'you see that
Kate craned her neck to look in the direction the
woman was pointing. At the bottom of a hilly street that
wound and bumped down to the water, she saw a small stone
building with a Celtic cross. "Sure."
"Pay no attention to it. You'll be going in the opposite
"Ab." Kate bit her lip.
"Go right and you' ll pass a ... Oh wait now, you
can't go that way anymore." The woman thought for a moment.
"Righto then, here's an easy way, you can't miss
it ... "
The directions would be wrong though. Kate knew
that, even as she steered the Peugeot up the hill the woman
had indicated. 'You can't miss,' was like 'trust me.' You
always did and you never should.
* * *
As he packed his camera gear back into the Land
Rover, Niall Maguire thought about the woman on the cliffs.
What, he wondered, was an American, apparently traveling
alone, doing in western Ireland in February? Despite Annie
Ryan's efforts at the Tourist Office, Cragg's Head wasn't exactly
a sought after destination. Back in the mid-eighteen
hundreds, the town had been a commercial center, but more
recently it was trying to re-invent itself as a tourist spot. A
few bed and breakfasts had sprouted up around the village
and from May to August there were quite a few visitors milling
about. By autumn though, accents in the village were
To his mind, the summer tourists missed a lot. Sure,
the weather was warmer in July and the flowers were out, but
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
it was an easy, uncomplicated prettiness. Niall far preferred
winter's dark melodrama. The white foam of the Atlantic
during a winter storm. Stars distant and bright in the windscoured
sky. The swift fall of darkness upon empty fields.
Thoughts drifting from one thing to another, he
drove slowly along the length of Cragg's Head Walk. Earlier
in the day, he'd done a photo shoot out near Roundstone. A
collection for one of those big, glossy books Americans put
on their coffee tables. Ireland's relics. Ruined keeps and
towers, roofless cottages and abbeys. All of it mosssmothered
In the gusting rain, he'd climbed a small drumlin to
take pictures of the disused graveyard where, as children, he
and Moruadh had played hide-and-seek among the grave
stones. One hot summer day, she'd lain very still on one of
the marble slabs, telling him to pretend she was dead.
Today, an old woman had walked by, bent into the
wind, her clothes the colors of earth and bogs. He'd used
nearly a roll of film on her, but his thoughts had turned back
to that summer day and a girl in a red cotton dress. After that,
his concentration was shot, and he 'd packed up and moved on
to another spot.
As he turned into the Market Square, an image of the
American flashed across his brain. With her red hair and
green eyes, she could be Irish , but her accent and the way she
had about her gave her away. In Dublin, he could spot
American women from a mile off. A certain self confidence
about them. I've a right to be here, they seemed to say. Still,
he'd noted the way fear had pinched her nose, giving lie to
her words. Her bitten nails said something too.
Slowly, he drove down Market Street, past the courthouse
and gaol, along by the harbor. Moments later, he
pulled up outside the Pot 0' Gold, Annie Ryan's bed and
breakfast. Once it had been a convent run by the Mercy Nuns
and then, much later, an orphanage. By the time Niall was
born, it was long disused and abandoned, but that had never
stopped the old man from threatening to pack him off there
with just the clothes on his back.
The place was all done up now with lace curtains and
amber lights in the windows, but he could still recall the cold,
hollow fear that had gripped him as he'd stared up at the
blank windows. Watching for the boy-eating rats that he'd
been told lived inside.
Slowly, it had dawned on him that his wailing and
begging and tearful promises to behave himself had quite entertained
the old man and that a sure way to prolong the ordeal
was to let on that he was scared. He had learned to hide
his fear by pretending that it wasn't really him standing there.
That it was all happening to someone else and he was just a
A twitch of the curtains, broke his reverie. He got
out of the car and walked up the pathway. Given the speed
with which Annie Ryan answered his knock, she'd evidently
been at the window. Her hand went to her throat and her
eyes registered his mud-splattered boots. A lamp behind her
. cast an amber glow.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Maguire?"
By SYLV~ NOBEL
From Nite Owl Books
Available Through All Major Bookstores
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
"I was looking
for Elizabeth Jenkins.
I have it right, do I?
This is where she's
"It is," Annie
said. "For now at least.
She's my niece. The
family's in England,
but Elizabeth had it in
her head to go to college
in Ireland. She
and Caitlin, my daughter,
they're both at
"Right." He heard the sound of the television from
inside the house. Behind Annie, he could see the polished
wooden floors in the hallway and, off to one side, the floral
chintz of a chair cover. He had never eaten a meal at the Pot
0' Gold, but Annie 's cooking was legendary and, as he stood
there, he caught a whiff of a roast or stew that made him suddenly
ravenous and more than a little lonely. "I would have
telephoned," he said, "But I haven't got the number."
"Elizabeth was to meet me tonight at Cragg's Head
Annie's eyes narrowed.
"She's a student in the photography class I teach at
the college," he explained in case she thought he had designs
on her niece.
"Ah." Her expression cleared momentarily. "Well,
that's the first I've heard of it."
"We were going to take some pictures . . ." He
stopped, unable to remember if he'd said that already. Uncomfortable
suddenly, he turned to leave. "Anyway, I'll not
keep you. I thought I'd just drop by and see if you might
know where she is."
Annie cupped her chin in one hand and gave him a
long look as though she had something to ask him, but didn't
quite know how to put it.
"Do you do that often then?" Her eyes didn't leave
his face. "Meet students after class?"
Niall felt an unaccustomed surge of anger. Her tone
was polite but the inference unavoidable. Obviously he was
up to no good. He took a deep breath and shoved his hands in
the pockets of his jacket.
"No, I don't Mrs. Ryan. Hardly ever. Most students
don't show the promise and enthusiasm Elizabeth does. I
don't do it because it takes time out of my own schedule that I
could use to do other things, but I try to encourage students
when they obviously have the talent."
"Elizabeth's a very young and impressionable girl,"
Annie said as though she were justifying her question. "It
wouldn't take much to turn her head." Her face had colored
slightly though and her glance shifted beyond his shoulder.
"It's awful foggy out isn't it? Could you have seen much?"
"Sure it's a bit patchy," he said, wanting just to end
the conversation. "Drifts in and out, but it allows for some
interesting effects. If
you wouldn't mind, I'll
give you my card. Perhaps
you'd have Elizabeth
ring me when she
She took the
card from him and
dropped it into the
pocket of her skirt.
"Right then. If there's
nothing more you need
then Mr. Maguire, I've
got supper on."
Niall was already
on the road back up to Sligo when he remembered
something his business partner had said that morning about a
meeting at the bank. For a moment he hesitated then, with a
sigh of resignation, he turned around and headed back for
Cragg's Head, the conversation with Annie Ryan still playing
in his head. It had been no more, or less, hostile than other
encounters he'd had since Moruadh's death, but he was usually
able to ignore it all. Tonight, he couldn't and he wasn't
If she'd walked into the pub stark naked, Kate could
hardly have provoked more interest. She peered through a
blue haze of cigarette smoke into the long, low room of Dooley's
main lounge. Half a dozen men in cloth caps and heavy
jackets, seated at stools along the bar, turned to stare at her
with undisguised curiosity. Another group, clustered around
a flickering fireplace, seemed similarly transfixed.
She waited, hoping that one of them would identify
himself as the reporter she was supposed to meet. No-one
moved. Doing her best to ignore the stares, she made her way
over to the bar. Back in Santa Monica, the tweed jacket and
beige wool pants, picked up at Nordstom's annual sale, had
seemed to strike exactly the right note of country chic. Here
in Dooley's they all but screamed American tourist.
At the bar, she pulled out an empty stool and sat
down. One of the cloth caps muttered something in the ear of
the man next to him. Both men laughed. Kate flipped her
hair back over her shoulders, suddenly uncomfortable. In
Santa Monica, she felt pretty much invisible. It took something
truly bizarre to draw anyone's attention. Like the man
she 'd seen strolling along the side of the Golden State Freeway,
wearing only a Santa hat and combat boots. He'd waved
his penis at her as she drove by. Three news stations had hovered
She smiled sweetly at a cloth cap who was still
gawking at her, maintained eye contact until he looked away.
If she could draw this much attention just by walking into a
bar, what would happen when she started going around town
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
* * : LISTEN TO THE LITERARY CONTEST WINNERS! :
*** ** INTERVIEWED BY *
** ** : Debbie and Pam :
* * : BOOKCRAZYRADIO : 5 KCTK 960AM 5
** Saturday December 30, 2000, **
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asking questions? A sudden image rolled across her brain.
Herself, earnestly scribbling down all she heard while the villagers
laughed themselves silly behind her back. Swept by a
wave of self-doubt, she chewed at her thumb-nail. Maybe
there never was any mystery about Moruadh's death. Maybe
all she'd done was project her own darker musings. She
pushed the thought away. Too late for all that, she was here.
Nearly three years ago she'd interviewed Moruadh
for Modern Woman. Phone cradled between her head and
shoulder, Kate had sat on the floor of her Santa Monica apartment,
the publicity shots mailed by Moruadh's Dublin agent
all around her, scribbling notes as Moruadh talked.
First she had corrected Kate's pronunciation. "Mora.
It's Gaelic. Some sort of sea creature." And then she'd
laughed. "Let's hope it's a mermaid and not a whale."
Since Moruadh was the same age and unmarried,
comparisons to her own life were unavoidable. Moruadh was
beautiful, a tall slender brunette with milky white skin and
eyes the color of cornflowers, framed by insanely thick dark
Kate thought of her hair as her own best feature.
Long and red and given to unruliness, it framed a small face
smattered with freckles. Her eyes were okay, green, but her
lashes disappeared without generous applications of mascara-
and she hated wearing make-up. Never, even in the
early, infatuated stages of a relationship, had she been called
Moruadh sang to packed crowds all over Europe.
Kate wrote about sheep-herding contests in Bakersfield.
Moruadh spent long weekends in an ancient and picturesque
stone cottage in Provence. Kate spent weekends shuttling her
ancient Toyota Tercel between laundromat and supermarket.
And Moruadh had been in love. Breathlessly, rapturously
in love with a man named Colm. "Sure, as soon as I've
a spare minute," she'd said in her lilting accent, "We'll marry.
It's what we both want."
"And I'm taking all the pans," Kate's ex-boyfriend
had snarled while he cleared his stuff out of the apartment.
"All you ever eat is take-out, what do you need them for?"
From the next room, Kate could hear the click of billiard
cues, raucous laughter and American rock music. The
smells of beer and fried fish hung heavily in the air, potent if
not particularly appetizing reminders that she'd eaten nothing
all day but cakes and chocolate.
Her thoughts drifted back to Moruadh. After the article
came out, she 'd received half a dozen or so calls from
Ireland and Paris, usually in the early hours of the morning.
For the most part, Moruadh talked while Kate listened. Inevitably,
the topic turned to men and relationships and love.
Things hadn't worked out with Colm, he'd left, she'd been
vague about the reasons, and they'd drifted apart. After that,
she fell in and out of love with a succession of men. Nothing
lasted though and she spoke often about the howling-in-thewilderness
bouts of loneliness that would strike in the early
"Ah God, I could die of it," Moruadh had said. "I've
crawled into the beds of men who mean nothing at all, just to
have somebody's arms around me."
It was that conversation Kate recalled three months
later as she stood at the row of mailboxes inside her apartment
building. From the pile of bills and supermarket fliers, she
had retrieved a thin white envelope with an Irish postmark.
Inside it, a newspaper clipping. While walking along the
cliffs near her home in Cragg's Head, it said, Moruadh
Maguire had fallen some three hundred feet to her death. The
gardai had ruled it an accident. The wind and rain had been
heavy that day, the cliffs unstable. Kate thought about love
and loneliness and couldn't get Moruadh off her mind.
Selling Tina, her editor at Modern Woman, on a follow-
up story had been tough. Moruadh wasn't really a big
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
name, Tina had said, her career
had declined. Still, the thought
that the musician might have
succumbed to the message of
her own music intrigued her.
Too expensive to fly Kate to
Ireland though, but she would
assign the piece to a Londonbased
writer. Kate argued that
Moruadh was her friend, the
article had a special meaning to
her. "Then do telephone interviews,"
Tina had countered.
Eventually, Kate offered to pay
half the cost of her air fare. She
had to be there.
"Jesus, Kate." Tina
was incredulous. "The most we
can pay you for this piece is five
hundred. What's the airfare to
Ireland? Around eight hundred?"
The ticket had maxed
out Kate's credit card, but she'd
felt better than she had in
weeks. It wouldn't make the
most gripping article, she thought, but if she left Ireland
knowing that Moruadh's death had been a tragic accident and
not a tragic mistake, it would be worthwhile.
The tape ended. Kate snapped it out and thought
about the eight days ahead of her. She'd booked into the Pot
0' Gold, a bed and breakfast in Cragg's Head, the village
where Moruadh had lived. From Santa Monica, she'd set up
interviews with Moruadh's friends and acquaintances. It
would have been helpful to talk to Colm, the former fiance,
but she didn't know how to reach him. Niall Maguire, listed
in the clipping as Moruadh's brother and only surviving relative,
had not responded to her two letters, and his phone number
wasn't listed. She would contact him later.
Actually she'd been surprised to learn that there was
a brother. Moruadh had never mentioned him. Her luck had
been better with a reporter from the local paper who said he
knew Moruadh and the brother quite well and suggested that
Kate meet him in Cragg's Head.
"What'll you have?" The bartender, rotund and
balding, swiped a cloth over the bar.
"A beer, I guess." He was going to ask what kind
she wanted, she realized, and she had no idea what to order.
"Whatever that guy's drinking." She pointed to one of the
cloth caps then eyed the menu chalked on the blackboard over
"Are you still serving food?"
"We are. Fish and chips. Sausages and chips. Egg
"Anything that's not fried?"
"Not fried?" The bartender scratched his ear. "Let's
see. Raw fish, raw sausage and raw potatoes."
She grinned. "I'll just
have some of those then." She
pointed to the bags of potato
chips stacked on a shelf over the
bar. Might as well continue the
junk food theme. "Salt and
vinegar, if you've got it."
"We've only prawn."
He put a pack on the bar in front
of her. "Here on holiday, are
"Not exactly." I'm on
assignment, she wanted to say.
It sounded so sophisticated and
accomplished. So far removed
from sheep herding trials in Bakersfield.
She couldn't quite
manage it. "I'm writing an article,"
"Actually, I'm supposed to meet
"Is it Hugh Fitzpatrick
you're to meet?"
"Right." She tore open
the bag of chips. "You know
"Cragg's Head Gazette has one reporter." The bartender
emptied an ashtray and set it back on the bar. "That's
your man. He was here earlier, couple of hours ago."
"Well, he'd better get back then." She glanced at the
clock over the bar. The face depicted a Toucan with a glass
of Guinness balanced precariously on its beak. It was six-ten.
She stifled a yawn, half hoping the reporter wouldn't show.
Until now, Moruadh had existed mostly in her imagination.
Talking to someone who had actually known her would require
a concentration she felt a little too tired to muster. She
sipped the beer the bartender had set down. If her stay in Ireland
weren't so short, she wouldn't have made an appointment
on the first day.
"What time were you to meet him?"
The bartender glanced over his shoulder at the Toucan
clock. "Sure he's only ten minutes off. Don't worry your
head about it."
Kate thought of the efficiency expert she'd recently
interviewed. What most employers didn't realize, he'd told
her, was that by using effective time management techniques,
three additional hours of productivity could be squeezed out
of every working day. Maybe that was pushing things a bit,
but she had a thing about being kept waiting.
Fifteen minutes. That was exactly how long she 'd
waited in a Beverly Hills restaurant for an actress she'd been
trying for three months to interview. By the time the flack
paged her, incensed that she hadn't waited longer, Kate was
already back on the Santa Monica freeway. She'd refused to
go back. Her time was just as valuable as the next person's,
that was how she saw it. At least back in California. Here in
Ireland, it seemed a tad uptight.
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
She glanced around the room. A couple of fiftyish
women, heads close together, sat at a table over by the wall,
smoking, flicking ash into a saucer on the table between them.
Through the window behind them, she could see out to the
dark street and the pale splash of light from the bar. The minute
hand on the Toucan clock moved to fifteen past. Fitzpatrick
had better move it. In the meantime, she decided, she
could at least call the landlady at the Pot 0' Gold to tell her
she'd be late. She motioned to the bartender.
"We've no public phone," he said after Kate explained
the situation. "But my wife runs the place. I'll let
her know." He folded his arms across his ample belly. "If
it' s a travel article you're writing, you should talk to her.
Loves to talk about Ireland, she does. That and marry off
everyone under eighty."
''I'm writing about someone you probably know,"
Kate said. "Moruadh Maguire?" The chip had a curious flavor
and she pushed the bag aside. "She lived right here in
"Ah Moruadh, right." The bartender nodded.
"Lived up there at Buncarroch Castle. A lovely girl. Tragic
that was, the way she died."
"The accident, you mean?" Kate tried to read anything
in his mild blue eyes that might suggest Moruadh's
death had been intentional, but they gave away nothing. He
filled another pint for one of the cloth-capped men, then came
back to where she sat.
"Moruadh was a great one for the outdoors. Out
there, every day she was, in all weather, going for her walks."
He wiped the bar in front of her. "For years, people have
been clamoring at the council to put a fence up. Tis a tragedy
that it took this to make it happen."
Her beer glass in both hands, Kate stared down at the
foam, reflecting on what he'd said. If she'd heard it before
she left, she might have been convinced that Moruadh's death
was indeed an accident. Again, she wondered if she'd just let
her imagination run away. She sipped her beer, looked up at
"Did you know Moruadh well?"
"Well enough," he said enigmatically. "Sure, she
was a friendly girl, a smile for everyone. Even though she was
bit of a local celebrity, it never gave her a swollen head the
way you might think it would. Always just a girl from the
village, she was. And we were all very fond of her." He nodded,
as if agreeing with what he'd just said. "We all loved
Moruadh. She was a treasure, right enough."
Kate sipped her beer and glanced up at him. His
brow slightly furrowed in concentration, he appeared to be
weighing what he was about to say next. After a moment, he
leaned across the bar.
"Of course, you've heard the theories?"
"Theories." She met his eyes for a moment. "What
kind of theories?"
"About the brother?" He laughed. "Ah sure, we're a
great lot for theories and conspiracies. MyselfI doubt there's
much truth to them." He grinned. "But sure there isn't much
for entertainment in Cragg's Head.
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2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
"So what about the
brother?" Kate thought of the
two unanswered letters. "You
mean Niall Maguire?"
"The same." The bartender
moved down the bar to
refill a couple of glasses. In a
moment he was back. "As
much as we all loved Moruadh,
he's not so well liked at all."
His voice dropped. "A bit of a
cold one, he is. Well, I suppose
it wasn't long after she died that
someone said 'twas a pity it
hadn't been him instead, and the
next minute the rumors are fly-ing
thick as fleas on a dog's
back. Of course, the gardai investigated and found nothing,
"Wait." She felt her pulse speed up. "You mean
people think she was murdered by her brother?"
"WelL" He gave a little shrug as though the words
said aloud had somehow embarrassed him. "There are some
who do believe that."
"Why though? Does he have a criminal record, or
"No, but there was talk about business losses, or
something of the sort. After Moruadh died, he came into a lot
of money. Inherited the castle and God knows what else."
He winked. "Convenient timing if you know what I mean."
"Do you know him?" Kate wondered again why
Moruadh had never mentioned a brother. "This Niall
"I've not spoken more than two words to him. Sure
we both live in Cragg's Head, but we're from two different
worlds." He waved his hand, the gesture taking in the low,
smoky room, the men at the bar, the solitary women over by
the window. "I'm a bartender." With a swipe of the rag
across the already clean bar, he looked up at her. "My wife
runs a bed and breakfast. We do all right for ourselves, but
we're not in Niall Maguire's circle. "
Kate sipped her beer. This certainly put a new spin
on things. Slowly, she felt her confidence trickle back. It was
just the weirdness of everything that had thrown her off-track.
In fact, there might be more of a mystery than even she had
suspected. Not just whether or not Moruadh had taken her
own life, but whether someone had done it for her. Her
brother, no less. A dozen questions rattled around in her
brain. She moved Niall Maguire to the top of the list of people
she had to talk to.
"Maguire lives in Sligo, right?"
"And Cragg's Head. Divides his time between Buncarroch
Castle and a lighthouse he has up near Mullaghmore
in County Sligo." He smiled. "Must be nice to have that sort
of money, eh?"
"Must be, I certainly wouldn't know." Kate stifled a
yawn and glanced at the clock. Hugh Fitzpatrick had evi-
dently stood her up. From her
purse she drew out a couple of
unfamiliar bills, glanced at the
denominations and put one on
the counter. The bartender
picked it up, came back with
"Listen, love, are you
Kate stared at him.
Jesus, he had to be sixty. Was
he trying to pick her up?
"Oh, not for me." He
laughed, obviously seeing the
shock on her face. "My wife."
"My wife. Look, do
yourself a favor. When you get to the house and she asks
you, tell her you are, otherwise she'll have you engaged to a
pig farmer faster than you can say Lisdoonvarna."
"Exactly. Married with two kiddies, tell her. Better
yet, say you've a bun in the oven."
* * *
After the warm smokiness of the pub, the night air
hit Kate like a cold blast. Jet-lagged and feeling a little weird
again, she darted down the narrow alley behind Dooley's to
the muddy patch of grass where she'd parked. Vapor streaming
from her mouth, she set the purse on the roof of the car
while she unlocked the door. Inside, she buckled her seat belt
then remembered the purse and got out to retrieve it. The
car's slight movement sent the purse sliding from the roof and
into a puddle of water. Naturally, she'd neglected to fasten it.
A tube of lipstick glinted up at her from the murky
water, the apple that she'd saved from the flight bobbed and
sank. As Kate bent down to retrieve her floating passport and
airline ticket, the day seemed to cave in on her and she felt
right on that edge of emotion where she didn't know whether
to laugh or cry.
After picking everything up, she got back in the car
and started the ignition. She suddenly felt so desolate and
empty that her chest hurt. For a moment she just sat there,
with the windshield fogging and the car shuddering beneath
her. Jesus, what screwed up directions had she taken that had
brought her to this place in her life? Sitting in a rental car in
some dark alley, in a remote village thousands of miles from
home, investigating what in the end would probably tum out
to be an accidental death? And the only person who might be
even a little concerned about her whereabouts was a landlady
who might be keeping a dinner warm.
What if the plane had crashed? Who would care?
Kate's brother Ned, with his pregnant wife and baby daughter?
Until he'd married, they were pretty close. Maybe he'd
be a little upset. And Emily, her best friend, would miss her.
Except that Emily was in the throes of a new relationship and
2000 Arizona Literary Magazine
blissfully oblivious to the world. She thought of her mother,
dead for years. Her father, married to a woman a couple of
years older than herself. Kate hadn't even told him she was
leaving. She maneuvered the rented Peugeot along the rural
roads of Connemara.
If falling in love with the right guy was a college
course, Kate Neeson would h
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