Saturday, 8 September 2018

The next Drake Alexander Adventure

People have asked me, "When is the next Drake Alexander adventure coming? What's after Wall of War?"

I wish I could say next week but the reality is that it takes a lot of time to write a story. Full time authors that we all enjoy have a new novel every year it seems. All they have to do is write. But me, well, I write when I have time, two or three mornings a week. That is going to change soon. This month I turn 65 and retirement is supposed to kick in. Careful planning has me sitting to write at least four mornings a week for several hours, which means that instead of two to three years to write a novel, than maybe only one year.

At present, I'm almost finished my work-in-progress that takes my readers back to Scotland in 1911to meet Drake's grandfather, Dominic Alexander. I've shared several excerpt from the new story here on the Scribbler. There is lots of interest in this historical fiction and I'm having terrific fun writing it.

Having said, that, I am also eager to write the next "Drake Alexander Adventure".  I have a brief outline that continues from the last chapter of Wall of War. There is no title other that a tentative 'Bordeaux' yet, but I've written the opening chapter and want to share it with you this week.

November 1, 1985
Bordeaux, France

No one leaves their home thinking they might die that day.
Such a macabre thought is the farthest thing from Anne Chouinard’s mind when she enters Rue Ste. Catherine in the shopping district of her home city of Bordeaux shortly before lunch. It’s a Friday and she has the day off. Dressed in jeans and a white cardigan which is left open so the tattooed face from the Rolling Stones 1981 hit album is clearly visible on her red t-shirt. Stopping in front of the nearest storefront, she checks her image in the mirrored window of Bonvivant Vetement, the men’s wear store next to La Croissant where she's meeting her best friend, Mireille Lambert, for a snack before they go to the bank. She left home a little earlier and had all her long hair chopped off against everyone’s proclamation that her thick brown hair is to be envied and shouldn’t be cut. She’s about to make serious changes in her life and a haircut is a good way to start. She hopes Mireille likes it.
Peering closer to the window, she removes a small case from her shoulder bag and touches up the pink lipstick, brushes a stray eyelash from her cheek and enters the café. The popular eatery is ablaze in colors, deep reds adorn the walls that are covered with blow-ups of tantalizing pastries. The air is redolent with the welcoming scent of ground coffee beans and baking pastries. The tables are bright pink and the seats are charcoal colored. Mireille is sitting in a window booth and notices her right away. Pushing aside the morning paper spread out on the table, Mireille waves for Anne to join her and stands to offer her a hug. Anyone regarding the two young ladies would be quick to notice the glee in their eyes upon seeing each other, as well as the contrast in their stature.
Mireille is about six inches taller, dark hair, almost black, that is in a perpetual ponytail, more curvaceous and a no-nonsense, tomboyish allure. Anne on the other hand is tiny, just under five feet with more delicate features and smiling eyes. They are the same age, only two days apart and will be twenty at the end of the month. Anne’s father is the master vintner at the Lambert Estates, one of Bordeaux’s oldest vineyards, started by Mireille’s ancestors over three centuries ago, so they’ve known each other since the could walk and talk, like chicks from the same nest. Sitting down across from each other, Anne is anxious to share her news and waves an open page in front of her. Mireille is staring at her friend’s new haircut.
Wow Anne, you look so pretty in that new style, I love it.”
Thank you Mireille I was a little nervous about cutting it but I like it too, but guess what? I received my acceptance letter to the University of Lyon. I can’t wait to start. All I need is an approval for my student loan and I can start in January. I’m so excited.”
That’s wonderful news Anne. Let me see the letter.”

Anne passes the page to Mireille who reads it carefully. While she is concentrating on the text, Anne orders coffee and cheese croissants and ham for both. Mireille glances at her friend as she reads and can see the change in Anne’s manner, more confidence. She knows how much Anne wants to be a teacher like her older sister. Laying the letter on the table, she starts in on her meal and they chat between bites.

So you are moving to Lyon then I expect?”
Well of course silly, how else would I be able to go to school there, it’s over 400 kilometers from here.”
It was a moot question and they giggle at that.
I know, I just meant that you are going away and I’m staying here. I just can’t decide what I want to do. I promised father I’d help in the vineyard for one more season. I know he’d like me to take over some of the management because neither of my brothers are interested and there is only Gabriella and she’s still too young.”
Anne can see the concern in Mireille’s eyes, how it shadows her brows. Growing up, Mireille had always been glued to her uncle, her mother’s brother, when he would visit the family home. Thomas Marchand is an operator in the GIGN, France’s elite law enforcement antiterrorism unit which is part of the French Armed Forces. Mireille was a reporter for the school paper in high school and one winter she interviewed her uncle after he had been personally involved in a hostage takedown in 1981 at the Orly airport. He had even posed for her in full field dress and it was all she talked about for months. She always wanted to be like him. Her parents want her in the business. Anne tries to console her troubled friend.
You have to walk your own path Mireille. If being a police officer is where your heart is then I’m sure your parents will understand. You know you could apply and see what happens and then make your decision.”
Anne’s see the mischievous grin that is so like Mireille when she is hatching some wild idea and knows the answer already.
You already did, didn’t you?”
Mireille is smiling and nodding.
Yes, I too received word only last week that I was accepted into the academy but I haven’t acknowledged it yet or told my parents. I know my mother will hate it and worry, my father will be disappointed. Oh I don’t know Anne, I hate hurting their feelings but sometimes I feel this is what I should be doing.”
Like I said Mireille, it’s your life.”
Mireille only nods at that, heavy in thought as she finishes her croissant. The girls complete their meal and coffee in solitude, both with deep thoughts of their future. Anne changes the subject.
Let’s go then Mireille. I need to stop at the bank to fill out the loan application and then we can go see a movie later if you like. Out of Africa is playing and I can watch you drool over Robert Redford.”
The quip lightens the mood and the pair head off. Heading west, they have to don sunglasses because the sky is clear. They comment on Mireille’s new denim skirt and how chic it is with the red belt that matches the red stripes on her sweater with the boxy shoulders that are in style these days. The bank is at the very end of Rue Ste. Catherine where the pedestrian street ends and normal traffic prevails. When they are almost to the building on the corner, they can hear a siren in the distance, faintly wailing as it grows steadier, almost as if it’s heading their way. They speculate on what is going on.
When they move around a barrier that separates the side walk from a section that is being repaired to the corner, Mireille stumbles on a piece of broken concrete and loses a shoe. One of the construction workers comes to her aid and retrieves the shoe to offer it back to her. Anne doesn’t notice and is turning the corner where the main door to the bank is located. The door has a mirrored finish so that only the people inside can see out. Seconds after she enters the building, a gun blast shatters the air while the bullet shatters the door. The exploding glass showers passersby with sharp splinters and shards cutting exposed skin and tearing at their clothing. Screams and shouts fill the air as people scramble for cover.
Mireille and the two construction workers fall to the ground. Mireille lies behind a sawhorse with a yield sign propped against it. A car is speeding towards them. Without thinking she rises and runs to see what is happening with her friend but is knocked aside by four men rushing from the smashed entrance. They are all wearing ski masks and the only feature visible is the eyes. A lone policeman crouches behind a vehicle with pistol drawn, shouting for the assailants to stand down. The first man has Anne in an arm lock pulling her along using her as a shield. He has a gun pointed at her head yelling at her to be quiet. The second man has a large duffle bag and a gun. The last two stop where Mireille has fallen and the shorter one points his gun at her. Trembling with fear, she pleads for her life. The two men stare down at her while the second pair enters the car that has screeched to a stop.
The eyes glaring at Mireille from the masks are identical, the same pale blue, the same meanness, the same story. It only lasts for several seconds but the identifying images are seared into Mireille’s mind and she will never forget them. The taller of the two shouts at the other one.

Leave her. Enough killing. Get in the car.”
The sirens are louder, almost upon them when the getaway car spins around 180 degrees and tears away leaving  blue smoke from the back wheels in its haste to leave. The police officer steps into the street firing his gun at the fleeing car to no avail. Another gun shot and Anne is thrown from the car. She tumbles to the pavement and rolls out of the way from the momentum. It takes Mireille a few seconds to overcome her fear when she hears Anne calling her name.
Mireille, Mireille, help me, help…”
Rushing to her fallen friend, she gasps at the bloody mess on the bottom of the t-shirt, kneels to hold her friend in her arms. Tears streak from her eyes as she tries to focus on Anne’s face. Anne is panting and her face is knotted in agony. Mireille tries to offer words of encouragement and is disturbed by the approach of several police cars that come to a halt only a few feet from her. The furor of voices, sirens, policeman shouting, it all disappears and all she can hear is her own heartbeat when she looks at Anne. For a few seconds, a look of serenity smooths the features on Anne Chouinard’s face and she breathes her last breath, dying in her best friend’s arms.


The Monteux brother’s will kill more people on their bank robbing spree that fall. One of their compatriots will die from a policeman’s bullet. The second one will be imprisoned when captured in Belgium two years later but the brothers will go free, their whereabouts unknown.

It takes along time to write a story but it doesn't end there, revising, rewriting, the editor, the book cover, etc. Right now I'm having trouble with the title for my work-in-progress. I've been calling it The Alexanders - The First Decade. Not sure if that fits but the novel takes place over a decade in Dominic Alexander's life, the ups and downs of separation from family, loss of loved ones, a new beginning in a new country, finding love and success. My plan is to write the long story in stretches of ten years per novel, thus, the term Decades. It's been called ambitious. But the point is - it's fun. No matter what happens.

Thanks for visiting today. Please leave a comment if you have time.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

The Food Bank - a short story by allan hudson

Welcome to the "Scribbler

I had an opportunity once to visit a food bank to drop off a donation one time and the experience inspired a story. I posted this previously on the Scribbler in 2014 and I thought it might be time to re-post for your entertainment.

The "Food Bank" was originally published on, as well as in the limited edition of SHORTS, Vol 3. It will be featured in an upcoming collection of short stories titled "Boxes of Memories", due for publication in the fall of 2018.

This is a comment left by a faithful reader.
 Our storyteller, the maintenance worker, craftily draws his readers through the doors of the food bank. Once inside, we cannot help but feel the author’s varying emotions. And we soon discover his deep compassion towards the less fortunate members of our society. It makes for a good read. Very poignant, specially during this holiday season of festivities, excess and abundance.
(Paul Chiasson)

The Food Bank

Food is a necessary staple of everyone’s life. Because of that I toss my loose change in an old cookie jar daily, a bust of Woody Woodpecker I bought in a yard sale, sans cover. Stationed on my night table by the lamp he faces the closet; the ceramic peeping-tom watches me change my clothes all the time. At the end of each month, he and I probably save up sixteen to twenty dollars. Whoopee! But today is cause for celebration; I counted this month’s take after breakfast and found a couple of misplaced toonies for an all time high of $23.44. I am elated. There will be eight more Mr. Noodles to dole out.
Today’s my day off, Wednesday, the end of January only one day away. My to-do list lying on the kitchen table nags at me, do these, do that, do this, do that, but I grab the pencil sitting next to it and tick off number one, “Donation time!!!!” The Maritime Megamart with over two acres of supreme shopping pleasure is where I’m headed. It’s not far so I decide to walk. I retrieve my wool pea jacket from the closet, gloves from the basket on the upper shelf, boots from the rack. Just before I’m ready to leave, I remember the frosty abstract art on my bedroom window. It’s likely colder than it looks I think, deciding to use a scarf. A Tip Top Tailors suit hanger holds a bevy of colored wraps, snaked about each other; the brightest and flowered ones belong to my wife. I opt for my favorite grey and black checkered one pulling it from the tangled mess. When I do so, a beige scarf falls to the floor.
I’d almost forgotten about it. It belongs to my son. It’s thick and dotted with flecks of dark brown, if it was stretched open it would read, “Burton” in orange letters. He won a bunch of gear in a snowboarding competition four winters ago. There had been two identical scarves, he gave one to me. I don’t know where mine is now, I gave it away. The memory it evokes is forceful and gives me shivers; the irony of finding it today causes bumps about my flesh. I have to sit down, my mind races with the memory of my first and only visit to the Food Bank. It was the end of January three years ago that this ritual began.

I work in the maintenance department at the Jollywell Hospital. Every year since I’ve been there, our department puts out bins in the lunchroom at the first of December to be filled with non perishable food items. Not for Christmas as our supervisor explained, every one gives for Christmas, we would give ours in January when it was needed more, made sense to me. Someone taped a loose leaf to the side of one bin. It was a bit crooked with nicely shaped letters from a black marker, “For the Homeless and Hungry.” The bold lines were a revelation for me, I’d never been hungry; as my ample girth would suggest because I’m a bit overweight. I bought more. I even volunteered to deliver the bins. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t.
Manoeuvring four overloaded blue receptacles into my Ford wagon early one Saturday morning around eight, I set out with the elation of doing a good deed, of representing my co-workers, of benevolence. It took me some time to find the building, it wasn’t well marked, which seemed odd at first but I realized a fancy sign wasn’t important. The main building ran parallel to the street, curved sheets of corrugated steel formed walls and ceiling, crusted snow lie in some troughs, the virgin white softening the dull galvanized grey. A smudged and dented garage door about twelve feet wide on the left faces the road, the entryway of patched asphalt is neatly shoveled free of snow and ice. A cleared walkway leads to an extension, an add-on with a gable end facing the street, it looks like a store front except it has no window, only a dark green door, a lighted doorbell the shape of an angel, black four-inch high digits that said 41 and a white sign the size of a license plate, which I couldn’t read from the driveway but I knew it said The House of Plenty.
I backed my car up to the building, off to one side. There were neither windows nor any sign of entrance around the garage door; the whole building had an air of anonymity. I saw a few cars, older models, parked in front along the street. Two men, separate from each other, were on the other side of the roadway having a smoke. A shopping cart from a local grocer stood alone near the walkway entrance, it was rusted in spots, had a missing front wheel. I could see that it contained mostly returnables, some poor man’s daily wages I thought. 

It dimmed my mood just a bit. I lifted the lightest of the bins from the back seat and headed for the entrance of uninviting green.
The door squeaked a little as I opened it, an early warning system maybe. I pushed my way in with my rump, carrying the bin to enter a dimly lit room. Directly in front of me, six feet away, was a wall extending ten feet to the right. The balance of the room stretched out towards the rear for about twenty feet where there were people waiting. The only thing that matched the low wattage of the bare overhead bulbs was the look on the faces I encountered. It was too quiet. My good cheer vanished like the rabbit in the hat. I rudely stared at the small crowd, my curiosity so intense when I realized these people were here for food. I had come in the wrong door.
The area made an attempt to be bright; white benches along two walls, dark brown fabric padding the seats, the pale blue walls too institutional for me. The temperature was just below comfortable; no one took off their jackets. A faint scent of Lysol was the only welcoming feature. No one spoke, most were just studying me. I wondered what they must be thinking; am I some kind of saviour, am I just a good guy or maybe they resent that I can give, instead of ask for, I can’t tell. None of the expressions change. The only sound was when some of the standing in the back shuffled and a floorboard squeaked.
My eyes focused on a woman at the front of the bench closest to me. She was bundled in a pink ski jacket decorated with long use. Her disappointed face was wrapped with a white scarf in stark contrast to her coat because of its newness. Perched on her lap of tight jeans was a small girl of perhaps four whose hooded coat was neat and pink also. The child’s head rested on her mother’s breast, her little body, only clad in faded jeans and sneakers, shivered slightly in the coolness of the room. I had to look away, it was too sad. I quickly eyeballed the remaining patrons.
They‘re about equal of both genders, more middle-aged than young, all of them too thin. I recognized the older man that sits in the back on the floor; I’d seen him many times downtown trying to be polite as he asked strangers for some change. He wraps his many coated arms about his drawn up knees. Four or five plastic bags squat at his feet like trained pets, probably everything he owns. His head and beard are grizzly grey, unkempt and stringy. I have no idea how old he is nor his name. I doubt he’s going to be able to carry away much when I realize he’s here for the warmth, it’s a line up he won’t get thrown out of.
The two young men that sit on the bench to my right, I can only think of them as punks, are out of place; like that joke about an NAACP tee shirt at a Klan gathering. Open jackets reveal tattoos on their necks. The flames and trident’s make me suspect they’ve been in jail. They stare at the floor. I try not to judge them but with both wearing new clothes, I want to throw them out.

Farther along the same bench sits an elderly woman. When I meet her eyes she haughtily turns them away. Her cheeks are too red from an abundance of blush, the rouge unable to brighten the pale, creased skin. A burgundy pillbox hat like the one Jackie Kennedy used to wear, is pinned neatly to her head. A luxurious fur coat bundles her slight torso. She wears black silky gloves with gemstones crested upon the back. Hat and coat are about fifty years old from my best estimate, the gloves, I’m not sure but they’re shabby too. She lifts her chin. I’m struck by the pride I witness in her bearing. I understand what the posture means; the neat, aging costume tells me she wasn’t always poor.
I try and focus on my mission; this wavering of feelings is unsettling. Setting the container on the floor I address a man that stands to my left in the corner. He’s chest level with a sliding panel that looks about twenty inches high and three feet wide on the wall in front of me. I try on my best smile.
Where would I take this... this bin?”
I feel guilty somehow about saying food or donation.
The man was bearded and wore workman’s clothes, clean but worn. His somber face seemed kind as he nodded the peak of his John Deere hat at the buzzer to the left of the sliding door. It was unlit and painted the same blue as the wall, playing find me if you can, I hadn’t noticed it.
Thanks” I said and thumbed the switch. I had to wait a few minutes. I’m usually a talker in a crowd but there didn’t seem anything proper to say; people didn’t come here to meet people. My thinking was disturbed by the cautious opening of the white colored panel. I was confounded by the image it exposed; so much that I didn’t respond to the opener’s presence or request. The portal was like a television set in the wall, the scene so different to the room that I was in. It was brightly lit with shelves of various cans, boxes and bags of food along the walls I could see. People were scurrying about with armfuls of items, others sorting them on tables. They were joking and laughing. I looked quickly around embarrassed at first by the sounds of merriment next door but then I thought, why not? I guessed that these workers are volunteers, people unselfish of their time; they’re not hungry so why shouldn’t they be content. It just seemed so odd, the imbalance of emotions, the uneven see-saw of have and have-nots. My amazement was shorted when a loud voice suggested.

We’ll only be open at ten.”
I was momentarily taken aback thinking he mistook me for a requester. I frowned at the older man; he was bald with white fringes overlapping his small ears. Round silver framed glasses were stuck on the end of his nose. He had a silver bushy moustache. He lifted his matching brows in question. I pointed to the container at my feet.
I have some bins from the Jollymore, where would you like me to take them.”
His can’t-you-see-I’m-busy attitude changed with a thankful smile smoothing out the man’s long face.
Go out to the garage door and give it a good thump or two and someone back there will help you.”
The cover slid back smartly, I was back in the gloom. As I was bending my knees to pick up the bin, the toes of the little girl’s shaking feet I see in my peripheral vision disturbs my concentration. I look up at the trembling child. The voice is frail but flowery.
Can we go home soon, I’m cold Mommy”
The woman opens her jacket and folds the ends about the little girl. She doesn’t speak words of comfort, perhaps there are none? I’m acutely aware of the bundle of wool and polyester around my neck with a flash of the dozens more at home. It suddenly weighs a hundred pounds. My son just gave it to me. I decided he’d understand, knowing him, he’d do the same thing. Unwrapping the scarf from my head I step towards the woman. She watches me as I extend my hand while pointing at the wrap with my other. She reddens as she looks me in the eyes. I only see uncertainty, nothing to do with the scarf. She accepts my gift to hastily twist it about her daughter’s lower body.
The other people are watching us and I begin to blush. I want to escape so I don’t wait for acknowledgment. Hurrying to my bin, a stranger conveniently opens the door to enter. I quickly dart around the man as he shuffles in. Before the door clunks shut I hear,
Thank you Mister”
The sincerity of her platitude waifs like warm breath in the nippy air, floating, lingering for only a moment. My neck is cold. Her words fill my heart. Pinpricks flourish along my neck and spine as I think of the crew indoors, the hungry, misplaced and the lonely. I vowed then to feed as many people that my skinny budget would allow. I would never volunteer to deliver the bins again.

The End.

I hope you enjoyed this tale. Thanks for visiting the Scribbler. Please leave a comment below, would love to hear your thoughts.

If you have a chance, drop something off at your food bank.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Guest Author Peter Gillet of New Brunswick.

Peter is a multi-talented individual that I met recently at the Author’s Fair in Moncton. I’m looking forward to reading his collection of short stories titled Mind Full of Prose. He has kindly accepted an invitation to be our guest this week and participate in a 4Q Interview with an excerpt of his work.

Peter Gillet lives by a lake in New Brunswick, Canada, with his wife and their two cats.  When not pondering darker worlds, Peter enjoys spending time with friends, and reading the works of many excellent authors.  He likes to study history and languages.  He published his first collection of short works, 'Mind Full of Prose', in October 2017 and is working to have his first novel published traditionally.  Peter also publishes his works through Patreon.  Peter sings, plays musical instruments, and makes music videos.  Occasionally you can find him dressed as a person from another time and place.

4Q: Please tell us about your book, Mind Full of Prose.

PG: Mind Full of Prose is my first self-published collection of short works.  When I would get stuck while working on my first novel, I would switch out and work on something else.  These other works included short stories, cartoons, and album reviews.  There is also an essay.  I had published these originally on Patreon, and in the summer of 2017 I asked if there would be interest in putting them all together into a book.  The response was quite positive, so I started gathering and arranging my works into a collection.  There is science fiction, fantasy, and horror of a Lovecraftian genre.  A series of stories is based in New Brunswick.  I call this my ‘Hidden Hill’ collection.  The response to the book has been wonderful, with signed copies sent to four continents as part of the fund raising campaign.  Since then, copies have also sold in Asia.  I’m considering releasing it in e-book format. 

4Q: You have many talents Peter, author, singer, drawer and game designer. Tell us how you divide your time with all these.

Lyre crafted by Jay Witcher
PG: The majority of my creative time is spent writing, especially these days.  Besides short stories and flash fiction, I’m working on my second novel and developing a children’s book.  I have contracted an illustrator, and she is really bringing the scenes alive with watercolour.  I’m hoping to have that ready to submit to local publishers.  I sing most often at social gatherings, but also when I attend middle ages events.  Sometimes at those events I accompany myself on a 12 string lyre.  I have to admit I need a lot more practice with that.  The drawing I do is usually to convey a particular message which I think would benefit from the visual element as well as words.  Those usually force themselves out of me, rather than peacefully waiting for when I need a break from the novel. 
For game design, I have two projects which I have worked on recently.  The first is a table-top game in which families struggle against one another for status and position in a renaissance kingdom.  There is very little direct conflict, and instead families out-do each other in shows of piety, loyalty, and patronage of the arts.  Players can also cooperate, especially when one player’s fortunes exceed the others’.  The other game I designed is really a campaign setting using d20 open rules in a science fiction environment.  The up-front costs for publishing games has kept me from developing these further, but I have used the ideas in some of my writing.  This is especially true for my Etherverse story setting.

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

PG: One of the memories from my childhood which is most striking is having climbed up on a tombstone, and then it fell over on top of me.  I was very young, perhaps not even four yet.  I had just assumed that it was one of the tall, thin 18th century ones.  Recently, when I asked my father where the cemetery was where that happened, he corrected me.  He told me it was a big modern headstone.  The cement holding it to its base had weakened, and it took my dad and two other men to lift it off of me.  He said the only reason I wasn’t seriously hurt was because that grave was shaded by evergreens and a thick bed of moss had grown over it.  The stone pushed me into the moss, like one of those eggs in the mattress tests.  I still have the scar under my chin, where the edge of the stone had cut me.  I was literally marked by death. 

4Q: What’s in the future for Peter Gillet in all the disciplines you practice?

PG: I’ve been bitten by the writing bug, so I most definitely will continue as an author.  I am going to clean up my first novel and write query letters to have it published traditionally.  Hopefully that will continue with the follow-up novels in that series.  I will also continue to publish via Patreon, since my patrons have been very dear to me.  Besides their financial support, their moral support has been incalculable.  I will certainly keep self-publishing collections of short works.  The main character in my children’s book has some more adventures to come.  Some of my patrons have suggested that I flesh some of the short stories into novellas, and I’m seriously considering that.  As for the singing, I think that will remain an amateur endeavour.

 An Excerpt  from Beards & Bearability aka The Happy Dwarves (In Mind Full of Prose)

That evening, Gruntel was helping Lofmetz prepare for bed.  He opened the hypocaust and fetched an extra blanket from the closet.  The dwarf-maid looked down at the interlocking geometric patterns of the floor tiles, and grew very still.  Gruntel paused, and asked, “What bothers you, Mistress?”

The dwarf-maid moved her hands in a practiced series of gestures and began to trace the air with glowing golden lines.  They faded soon after she had drawn them, but not before she had produced the figure of an eagle.  Its golden wings were last to disappear.  Gruntel hummed his approval.  “Why must I marry?” she asked, finally.

“It is what a dwarf-maid does, Mistress.  She brings honour to her father’s clan, and sons to that of her husband,” he replied.  “This is the craft no dwarf-lord can master,” he added.

She looked up at the old servant.  He had always been so kind to her in the past.  “It is not fair, Gruntel.  I have been given no choice in the matter,” she added.

“Dearest Lofmetz,” he replied, in a softer tone.  “Some of us had all choices taken away,” he offered, rubbing his bare chin.  “Perhaps your mistake is in thinking choice is a thing held by the hands of another.”

Thank you for being our guest Peter. All the best in your future endeavors. And thank you dear readers for visiting the Scribbler.

For those wishing to know about Peter, please follow these links. 

Twitter: @peter_gillet

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YouTube Channel

Saturday, 11 August 2018

An excerpt from The Alexanders - 1916.

The Alexander's - The First Decade, is 85% complete. So far I've spent the last two years writing this story; a morning here, an afternoon there, whenever I can and I love it!

I'm happy to share parts of the story with you as it progresses and look forward to your comments.

I've shared several sections already and you can find them by doing a search on the left sidebar in Search This Blog. Type in Alexanders and they will all come up. 

Dominic Alexander makes a new life for himself when he immigrates to Canada, to Moncton in New Brunswick . Everything has been going smooth until 1916 when Dominic suffers his first set back.


The fifth day of March is overcast. Sprinkled across the belligerent blue of the skies are clouds stretched thin by shifting winds and they yellow from the promise of sun. Snow clings to the edges of buildings and lies brown and crusty in the ditches knowing it’s no longer wanted. Last year’s stubble of brown grass is visible and people talk of an early spring. The air carries an odd scent, seasoned by the surrounding industry of railways and a busy river and the warming earth. Dominic can smell it when a cool breeze ventures through the open window that brings with it the morning whistle at the repair yards reminding everyone that it’s 8 a.m. This is the only day he sleeps late. He loves his new home and ponders for a moment of how fortunate he is.
Stretching and tossing the bed covers aside, he sits at the edge of the bed rubbing the night from his eyes to gaze out his window. He’d hoped it would’ve been nice today but he gathers that the skies look mean and it might rain. That’d be okay too, get rid of the last of the stubborn snow. Either way, he’s off today, Sunday being the only time he gets to himself. He has plenty to do with the business but he keeps this day to himself to do whatever he wants. The only plans he has right now is to fry the rest of the ham that Nick’s mother sent him and fry some eggs with fresh bread from Bailey’s Bakery. While he’s eating, he’s going to paste in the last five entries to his scrapbook he collected since the beginning of the year.
When he washes up and shaves, he decides to grow a moustache. He likes the way the stubble looks under his nose while imagining it thicker. Freshly polished, dressed in his every day dungarees and brown flannel shirt, he sits with a plate of steaming vittles at the table where he’s left his open scrap book and loose cut outs. While he chews between bites, he dabs some glue on the newspapers sections and pastes them in on different pages.

The Yankees buy Frank “Home Run” Baker from the Athletics for $37,500. Canada’s original Parliament Building in Ottawa burns down. The first bombing of Paris by German Zeppelins takes place. Military conscription begins in Britain. Germany begins to attack ships in the Atlantic.

While he dabs the bread crust in the molten yolk on his plate, he considers the last news story. Ships being sunk in the Atlantic. It must be scary to travel cross the waters that are rife with U-boats. He’s glad he has no need to travel although he yearns at times to return to see his family and friends. It’s not as often now but missing everyone remains as intense. Popping the last bite into his mouth, he closes the scrapbook and finishes his tea. He pushes his plate aside and elbows the table while holding his mug in both hands. He stares across at the window in the kitchen to see the barren field next to his house and the Ingersoll’s farm in the distance. There is activity in the yard and he expects the family are getting ready to drive into the city to attend church. Reflecting upon his own spirituality, he feels that he should be attending church too. He knows they go St. Bernard’s Catholic Church on Botsford Street and even though his family are Protestants, he might visit one day, but not today.
Thinking of what he might do, he decides to work on his latest sketch of his new home he’s doing to send to Gloria. Now that he thinks of her, he hasn’t had a letter from her for quite a while. He answered her last one in February and she is usually quick to respond. He guesses she is busy at school and helping her parents at home or at the bar. One thing he must do is compose an ad for the Transcript to find someone to help in his shop. Part time for now at least. In fact, he’ll do that first.
He cleans up his dishes and the frying pan and puts everything away. Digging a notepad from a drawer in the kitchen and a pencil, he returns to the table to write the ad. While he thinks of the right words, he’s pushing the hair out of his eyes reminding him he needs a haircut soon. Twenty minutes later after a few attempts he comes up with what he feels is the right wording.

Help wanted. Alexander’s Jewellery Repair is looking for a part-time assistant to assist with the public. Must have retail or office experience. Please apply in person before March 15th.

Satisfied, he sets the papers aside. He will take it to the newspaper offices tomorrow during his lunch. He will leave a sign on the door for when he will be back. Donning a light jacket and his boots, he ventures out to the barn where he has set up an area for his sketching. He and Nick have installed a wood stove in the main floor where the hay was kept and he will light a small fire because even though the weather has been milder, it’s early March and the air still holds a chill.
Entering through the man door, set in the larger door, he walks into a wide common main level, open to the top lofts and enclosed by wooden walls on each side. Nick and Dave Ingersoll hauled old hay and debris from inside by the wagon full and the place is spotless. The rooms to the left are the old stables and storage, which Dominic has left for the same purposes. The rooms on the right are where the carpenter keeps his things in one and the other two are empty. Five feet from the back wall is a pot-bellied stove, sitting on a metal plate which rests upon a wooden floor comprised of heavy beams on their narrow side, strong as steel. Along the back wall away from the stove is a pile of split wood and sawmill tailings. Using old sections from newspapers, he soon has the dry wood ablaze.

He’s tired when he finishes the sketch. Only stopping for a quick sandwich at noon and a couple of short breaks he’s been at it all afternoon. From the two windows in the back wall, he’s noticed the faint light move shadows across the floor as the day passes and he knows it is close to supper time, his growling stomach is telling him the same thing. Putting away his pencils and things, he stops to admire the drawing. From the perspective of standing at the end of the driveway, the house is finely detailed as in reality, each shingle is meticulously placed, the flowers of summer decorating the base of the porch, the small sign by the door, the sparkle of the bevelled glass on the windows. The barn is half visible behind from this angle but the detail is the same. The edges of the picture fades out to empty fields. He likes it. He straightens out a few thing on the old desk he uses and remembers the stove. Thinking to check on it, he opens the iron door when a gnarled knot in one of the wood pieces boils inside with sap and when it becomes steam it bursts, shooting sparks out upon the metal plate. It startles Dominic who has jumped back from the stove. Seeing the sparks on the floor, he starts stamping them out with the sole of his boot. There’s a half a dozen pieces smouldering and they are soon extinguished by the stomping. Dominic is sweating from the scare. Looking around to see lf he got them all, there is no sign of any more errant embers. He closes the stove door, takes his sketch and leaves.
There is one spark he missed. The one that rolled off the edge of the metal plate and lodged in a crack between two beams. It fell on its dark side, it went unseen. The glowing portion, however, is turned downward. As hard as the men worked to clean the floor, there is still remnants of old hay that has been pressed through the cracks over the decades. The hot ember finds some and there’s soon a gathering of flame and dry wood. Dominic’s barn catches fire. 

I'm aiming for a 2019 publication of my historical fiction novel. I hope you'll want to read more. Thanks for visiting the Scribbler. 

If you haven't read Wall of War yet and met Dominic's grandson in 2014, it's available on Amazon. Hard copies available from me. $25.00 plus shipping.