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Gene R. Strantz


Snippet from a novel in progress by Eugene R. Strantz. It's title will be presented at a future date. If you wish to be notified when it is available, please email me at WolfFair. Protected by copyright & not for distribution.





Chapter 10

The wind howled like a wolf in love with the kisses of rain caressing its soul. Yes, of course wolves have souls. Look at the way a child looks with joyous wonder at all animals, birds, and nature's many glories. They communicate on a level of understanding that transcends mere words. Their souls move in and out among themselves like the warm breath of God. Only arrogance born from insecurity of fearsome proportions would insist upon being the sole repository of soul.

Papa loved the sound of hard-falling rain and the voice of thunder. He felt comfort from the light of his fireplace and the warm sensation of brandy fumes filling his nostrils. The two wolves lying beside him looked up as lightning danced across a sky darkened by clouds. Playing softly was the Gneiss Wind. It was one of his favorite recordings. Its repetitively rhythmic and melodic patterns were weaving through his senses when he heard a knock on the door.

There was Squawk, as wet as a muskrat. She was wearing a long cloak with a hood. As she walked across the room and stood in front of the fire, Papa felt strangely vulnerable as he looked at her. She was so radiant. He wondered if that was how love looked to its captive. He wondered why she had come to him. Then he remembered the poet, Emerson, who had insisted that "....if eyes were made for seeing, then beauty is its own excuse for being."

He handed her his brandy and then poured some more for himself. The thought of her touching her lips to the same glass he had drunk from excited him.

"You don't remember me, do you?"

Squawk looked directly at Papa as she inhaled from the glass of brandy made warm by her hands.

"Of course I remember you, Squawk. I'm not so hopeless that I'd forget you, even if you are Crow's woman. What brings you out on a day like this? Here, take that wet thing off and sit down close to the fire.

"These are my friends, Riva and Bounder. They've been with me since they were cubs. Some moron killed their mother, and we're hoping to meet up with him some day. They won't hurt you. Actually, they're pushovers for pretty women, even those belonging to other men."

"I'm not anyone's woman. I belong to nothing, except in my heart, and my heart was taken from me long ago. Do you know the obligation of being the chest that contains another's heart? Would you bear a woman's heart with sacred honor...or would you, like a pallbearer, bear it onto its grave?"
The flames from the fireplace danced in Squawk's eyes as she spoke.

"Crow is not my man. He's a dear for letting me stay with him until I find a place of my own, but I'm not his woman. You men are such possessive little boys who play with hearts like toys. Shame on you...you really don't remember me."

Papa looked very carefully at Squawk. He didn't know what she was up to, but he decided to go along with her little game. Yet there was something about her eyes and mouth. It wasn't just the way she talked. It was something more. The way it turned up at the corners and made her look friendly even when you knew she was angry. Those eyes and mouth...he just couldn't place them in the right setting. He walked away and returned with the bottle of brandy. Again he studied her.

Squawk took the violin hanging above the fireplace mantle and handed it to Papa. Then, in a most soft, haunting voice, she began to sing, "Fhir a' Bhata", a song Papa had not heard since he was a young boy. That was during a time when his beloved homeland was being destroyed by insane struggles for dominance by madmen who all believed their every whim and will were dictates directly from God.

If we believe the often discordant preaching of the Interpreters of divine purposes,then God must be in a constant state of self-destruction. Maybe that's what the Big Bang is all about. Some believe that the very essence of life itself is dependant upon destruction for birth and survival. According to this theory...wars, famine and disease are all necessary components of survival.

Even so, such a reality is not very comforting to those caught up in the cycles of our being a long progression of big bangs. Maybe that's why Albert Camus used the cognitive trickery of returning to the zero hour while trying to resolve the Myth of Sisyphus curse, thereby giving meaning to our lives by playing tricks with time.

As Squawk sang, tears slowly made their way from the corners of Papa's eyes onto his cheeks and down to his mouth. They tasted salty,like the images of that painful time that was now a distant memory. Papa then began to play the violin in counter harmony. As Squawk and Papa looked at each other, she continued to sing...and tears where now flowing between them like an umbilical cord nourishing their souls. The last time they performed that song together was when they were children.

"Papa, will you be my sailor when you grow up to manhood? Will you sail the seas and bring me to many lands and adventures? Will you always be my lover, Papa? Will we wed and lay upon a bed of roses for all the gods to envy?"

It was as though they were in a gyroscope that transported them back and forth in time. Her voice was now that of a woman, then that of a young girl, and now she was a woman again. Her voice was now more controlled. Yet she stood before him like a mesmerizing siren luring him to who knows what fate.

Again and again the images flashed back to the horror that burns into the eyes and hearts of children turned into stone by adult savagery. He had been certain his MoonFlower had been killed. The madness had ravished their beloved country, causing the peacemakers to scatter themselves like leaves in a cold, ruthless wind.

Papa lowered the violin to his side and gently caressed her face. Then, lovingly tracing her tears with his finger, he spoke words that had seemed impossible:

"Yes,Squawk,now I recognize you. You're my MoonFlower, sister of FayJay."

Papa hadn't seen her since they were children running across the green hills of home, chasing butterflies, stopping to pick flowers, wrestling in the grass, making up silly rhymes...and kissing ever so innocently with lips as soft and rosy as petals. She now stood before him with all the magical beauty of a woman.

Riva and Bounder, who were resting close to the fire, looked up and gave a soft howl of approval.

Papa didn't realize that it had stopped raining until sunlight shown through a window with a diffusion of colors that captured MoonFlower like stage lights. Then there was a thump on the door. "Who's there?" Well...it was a goat, of course.

"What are you doing? Your wolves are going to eat that poor creature, Papa."

"Don't worry. When Riva and Bounder were orphaned, they were suckled by LauraLamb. She's like their mother."

Just as LauraLamb began to look around the room for something to eat, there was a scratching sound at the door.

"Look out"...it's a skunk. Don't let it in. It'll spray all over the place, and your wolves will kill the poor thing. Or are you going to tell me that she also nursed them when they were pups?"

"Naw! Wolves aren't stupid. They know better than to mess around with a skunk. Look at how cute she is. Go on, give her a little pat. She's really very affectionate."

MoonFlower really didn't have much to say about it. Before anyone could spit across the room, that little, fluffy tailed furry was rubbing up against MoonFlower's leg. After such a display of Skunk's audacious affection, MoonFlower let out a torrent of expletives that suddenly transformed her back into Squawk. Damn, that woman had a mouth on her. How could it summon up such stinging utterances while at the same time being capable of such sonorous beauty?


Fear-a-Bhata
       by  Jennifer Leiko


Fhir a' bhata 'sna horo eile Fhir a' bhata 'sna horo eile Fhir a' bhata 'sna horo eile Mo shòraidh slàn leat 's gach àit an teid thu

'S tric mi sealltuinn o'n chnòc a's aired Dh'fheuch am faic mi fear a bhàta An tig thu'n diugh no'n tig thu màireach 'S mur tig thu idir gu truach a tà' mi

Fhir a' bhata 'sna horo eile Fhir a' bhata 'sna horo eile Fhir a' bhata 'sna horo eile Mo shòraidh slàn leat 's gach àit an teid thu!

Tha mo chridhe-sa briste brùite 'S tric na deóir a ruith o'm shùilean An tig thu nochd no'm bi mo dhùil riut No'n dùin mi'n dorus le òsna thùrsaich

Fhir a' bhata 'sna horo eile Fhir a' bhata 'sna horo eile Fhir a' bhata 'sna horo eile Mo shòraidh slàn leat 's gach àit an teid thu!

"Come on, Papa, it's beautiful outside. Do you remember how to run? I'll bet I can beat you to the river. The last one there makes dinner. Wait, silly...let me take off my shoes......and my long, black stockings......and my......why, you're blushing, you naughty boy! Here, catch..."

Well, guess who made the meal that night? How's that? You say it's only fitting that women serve up sustenance according to the divine order of things?
Bless you!
Yes, and may peace one day come onto your bed.



Fhir a' Bhata...Credits: Vocal by Jennifer Licko, Produced by Bob Noble, Executive Produced by Duane Engstrom, Arranged by Bob Noble and Jennifer Licko, keyboards-Bob Noble, Guitar-Bradley Ditto (courtesy of Clean Reords Hollywood CA)


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