Category Archives: NOVEL WRITING

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 13

Canto 13 – The Doll’s Bargain

The owl-guy had demanded that Maria work for another half hour dusting toys that apparently hadn’t been moved even an inch in five decades.  And when she was done, the toys seemed to have accumulated the exact same amount of dust as they had possessed before she started cleaning.

Stan had spent time talking and prodding the weird old man all the time Maria had been working, and then when it was over, the private dick wouldn’t even tell her what they had been gossiping about.

She went straight to her room, her laptop and her cell phone, as soon as she was home.

Mom was no help.  She had gone to bed the moment that she had drug herself home from work.

And then… the phone rang.


“Ma-Maria?  C-can I talk to you… please?”

“Who is this?”

A little girl was crying into the phone on the other end.

“Hannah?  Is that you?”

“Yeah… you said I could… call you?”

“Of course, I did.  But what’s the matter?”

“I have to tell you something.  Something terrible.”

“What is it?”

“It’s something terrible… that I did.”

“What did you do?”

“If I tell you… You will never forgive me.”

“Yes, I will.  I promise.”

“You can’t.  Daddy won’t forgive me if I tell him.”

“Please, Hannah.  You can tell me.  And maybe I can help you tell your daddy in a way that will make him forgive you…”

“Really?  You would do that?  For me?”

“I promise.  I like you, Hannah.  You are a nice little girl.”

“No, I’m not.  I made a deal with a Lonely One.”

“A Lonely One?”

“She was a ghost… err… something… inside a really cool doll.  And she… she was…”  Hannah dissolved in tears, unable to finish the sentence.

“You can talk to me, Hannah.  You can tell me anything.  I wish you were here right now.  I could hold you… hug you.  Make you feel better.”

“The doll was made of hard white stuff.  And she was beautiful… She looked just like me… but her hair was all white.”

“And the doll did something?”

“She asked me for something.”

“What did she want?”

“She asked if she could play with my mom.  She said if I just let her play with Mom for a while, she could make Mommy love me better…  She said…  But she lied to me.”

“What was the lie?”

“She was supposed to give Mommy back to me.  But when… when she was done playing her tricks, Mommy was sleeping on the floor and couldn’t wake up.  I let a monster play with my mom.”

“She tricked you, Hannah.  You didn’t do anything bad.  She did.  It was not your fault.”

“But, can your daddy get my mom back from the ghosts?  I mean… the Lonely Ones.  She said they were not ghosts, but Lonely Ones.”

“Stan is a very good detective.  He’s solved cases nobody ever thought he could.  If anybody can get your mom back, he’s the one who can do it.”

“You promise me?”

“I can’t promise for sure.  But if he can’t do it, then nobody can.”

“Thank you, Maria.  I love you,” Hannah said in a tiny, strained voice.

“I love you too, Hannah.  Hang in there.  I’m gonna tell Stan.  Then we’ll figure out these Lonely Ones you are talking about.”

Maria spent the next half hour listening to the little girl cry over the phone.  She tried to comfort her whenever she was given the chance, but it was mostly just being there to listen that mattered.  Maria was crying too by the time she went to the living room to tell Stan.

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Illustrating in Novel Ways

I have just finished a novel project that I worked on for a year, from Spring of 2016 to Spring of 2017.  And part of my personal project procedure involves using drawings to help me visualize the characters in the story and begin to view them as real people, even when they most certainly aren’t real.  I even have this derfy Mickian idea that Paffoonies (those picture ideas that are inseparably fused to words) are essential to Mickian fiction.  (Mickian fiction= another frighteningly goofy idea that needs to go unexplained.)

Gingerbread Children

The book, Recipes for Gingerbread Children is about an old woman, a German immigrant and Holocaust survivor, who comes to a small Iowa town with a gift for story-telling and a gift for baking things, especially gingerbread cookies.


Grandma Gretel Stein, seen in the Paffooney on the left, is the main character of the story.  She tells stories, mostly fairy tales, that have lessons about being true and faithful even in the face of great evil.  The fairy in her hand is General Tuffaney Swift, an immortal Storybook fairy who leads the army of the local fairy kingdom called Tellosia.    Gretel believes he is real  Honestly, she gets so into story-telling that her fairy friends seem absolutely real to her.  And who is to say that there aren’t little magical people living in a hidden kingdom among the cornfields in Iowa?  Gretel convinced me that they were real.  She even has a hand in making new fairies by the baking of gingerbread.  She gets a magical recipe from the fairy Erlking, a wise and magical being, and uses it to create living gingerbread boys and gingerbread girls.


The gingerbread girl on the right is Anneliese, named after Gretel’s own daughter and decorated with frosting, food coloring, and gumdrops by the favorite story listener who constantly listens to Gretel’s stories and helps bake Gretel’s gingerbread, Sherry Cobble.

Sherry is a beautiful young eighth grade girl who reminds Gretel of her long-lost daughter.  Sherry has a twin sister named Shelly and they are identical twins, but Sherry not only looks like Anneliese once did, she acts like her with the same confidence and enthusiasm for life that Anneliese once had before the war.

Sherry and Shelly are both part of the Cobble family, who have a reputation locally as wacky-pants loonies because they believe firmly in being nudists and engaging in nature completely naked while not actually wearing any wacky pants.  I haven’t done any actual pictures of Sherry  in the nude, but if you look carefully at the first picture of her above and see clothing, then you are seeing things that are not there.  Yep, the girl bakes and decorates gingerbread men in the buff, wearing her pale pink birthday suit, even when the weather outside in Iowa makes that nonsensical.


So by now you can probably draw several conclusions about me as both a novelist and an illustrator.  #1, There is definitely something a little bit off about me.  #2, I haven’t said anything yet about this book having dead Nazis and a werewolf in it, even though I rarely talk about this book without throwing those things in somewhere.  #3, Number 2 is actually taken care of in a backhanded way if you are reading this whole list carefully.  #4,  This story is probably about things that really aren’t just gingerbread recipes.  #5, You should congratulate yourself if you read this far in this post.  You have unusual amounts of patience and curiosity, and an extremely high tolerance for levels of goofy that put actual Goofy to shame.

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The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 12

Canto 12 – The Interview with the Ghost Owl

“So, somebody’s going to pay you for all of this?” Maria asked in the car before they reached the toy store.

“The Merriweathers want their boy Mark back.  They are going to pay me the standard investigation fee for every day it takes to find him.  Of course, I have to find him to earn the money,” Stan answered while turning the corner in his run-down little Ford Fiesta.

“What about Rogelio’s parents?”

“The cops told them that he’s a probable runaway.  They didn’t seem interested in paying to get him back.  The dad says that if Rogelio ran away to be with Yesenia, then he’s following his heart.  And if he’s been murdered, they are not anxious to find that out.  Of course, no body has turned up for either of the missing kids.”

“And the little black girl?”

“To be honest, I got a real bad vibe from that stepfather.  They call him Poppa Dark, but his real name’s DeAndre Rork.  He doesn’t like answering questions.  And he’s probably the killer, if my instincts are right.”

Maria shivered as they turned into the parking lot near the toy store.

“Two dollars for the rest of the day,” said the attendant.

Stan grumbled something about wishing for an empty parking meter as he fumbled in his pocket for change.  Then he handed it to the attendant.

“Park in F13.”

Stan and Maria parked and went into the toy store.

The man behind the counter looked to be old… the indeterminate age sort of old.  He had white hair, a wrinkled white face, and glasses that made his eyes look huge, a magnifying effect.

“Eule Gheist?” Stan asked.

“Yes.  I’m still me.”

“We need to ask you a few questions.”

“The young lady still owes me a few hours of cleaning.”

“I finished picking up the mess I made that day, trying to open that door, I mean,” Maria said defensively.

“How about dusting the shelves where the wood goods sit?  That could count as another of your hours.”

Maria gave Geist a pouty-lip look, took the feather duster from him, and headed for the wood goods.

“So, Eule, how many toys did you sell today?”


“And how many have you sold this week?”


“This month?”

“Again, none.”

“Not a very profitable business, it seems.”

“Mr. Mephisto is a collector of rare antique toys.  We are not in business to sell toys.  He is a billionaire, and he uses this business as a tax-write-off.”

“Hmm.  How much do you make working here, if I may ask.”

“I make nothing.”

“Then how do you live?”

“Quite well for a barn owl that was made human by magic.”

”That’s just a tale you tell kids, right?”

“If that’s what you choose to believe.”

“A barn owl?”

“What the Latinos call a Lechuza.

“Sure they do.  Did the police ask you about a boy named Mark Merriweather?  Or a girl named Shandra -Johnson-Rork?”

“Yes.  They were in here, apparently right before they decided to disappear.”

“Did you see where they went?”

“Not where, exactly, but I know they left with a dark gentleman.”

“Did you tell the police that?

“Yes.  It seemed to be exactly what they wanted to hear.”

“Wait a minute… did you say a black man?”

“Of course not.  He was dark of personality, not skin color.”

“Did the police verify that too?”

“Of course not.  They heard dark and accepted that as what they wanted to hear.”

“So, what do you mean by dark?”

“Like the devil is dark.”

“Are you saying the devil took them?”

“Something like that.”

As Stan was pondering that, Maria came back to the front of the store with a decorated paper skull like the one she had told him about before..

“This is the one Rogelio was talking to,” she said, showing him the decorative thing.

“Eule?  What do you know about that?”

“It’s cursed.  It’s also a family heirloom.”

“Can we borrow it to study it?”

“Help yourself.  But don’t damage it in any way.”

“Because it’s valuable?”

“No.  Because it’s cursed.  And it can take revenge.”

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The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 11


Canto 11 – The Safe House

“Where do you expect me to go in this world that isn’t even in my… time?”

Molly looked at her with those creepily lifelike glass eyes.  “There was a place I could safely go when I was alive.  Let’s go there.”

Brittany was in a fog as the doll guided her down one street and then onto another.  They kept going past all those clunky-looking old-time cars with lumpy and rounded body parts, like out of a black-and-white gangster movie.  The ladies all wore dresses with big shoulders and puffy sleeves.  The men were mostly older and mostly all wearing those old-time hats like Indiana Jones or something… “fedora” was the word stuck in Brittany’s mind.

“This house!  This is Dora McMaster’s house.”  The doll pointed at an old Victorian-style house with a rounded, tower-like structure on the left side of the front of the house.  The whole thing was painted slate gray with black trim.

Brittany knocked at the door, rapping half-heartedly with her knuckles.

The door opened, and a woman with a bee-hive hairdo and reading glasses answered the door.

“Oh, hello.  How can I…?”  The woman swallowed audibly as she saw the doll.

“Is something wrong?” Brittany asked.

The woman held her right hand in front of her mouth.  “That’s Molly’s doll…  But it can’t be.  I haven’t even finished painting the face of it yet.”

“You… you made this doll?”

“No!  That isn’t possible.  Come in… I’ll show you why.”

Brittany followed the woman into her home.  Through the entryway and into a sitting room where there were hundreds of porcelain dolls, only half of them finished.  In the center of the room on a worktable stood the hairless head and upper torso of the very doll that Brittany held in her arms.

“This is the doll I was making for poor little Molly.  It is a portrait of her.  I made it myself, and shared the design with no one, although I do have the mold for the head in the basement next to my porcelain kiln.”

“You’re a doll-maker?”

“Yes, and if you have stolen one of my designs, I am not happy about it.”

“You have to tell her lies to make sense of it,” said the doll.  “She will never understand otherwise.”

“I can’t lie…” said Brittany aloud.

“I should hope not.”

“You obviously made this doll.  It looks like my own daughter Hannah, which is why I bought it.  She somehow must look exactly like your Molly.”

“Well, if that’s the truth, then that doll must have my mark on it.  Show me the back of her neck.”

Brittany handed her the doll.

Mrs. McMaster’s eyes bulged as she spotted her own signature in blue porcelain glaze at the base of the doll’s neck where the ball joint fit neatly into the neck socket.

“I apparently did make this doll.  Did you come here to buy new clothes for it?”

“I don’t want any new clothes,” said the doll to Brittany.  “I prefer to be nude since the fire.”

“I don’t really have any money right now.”  That, at least, was not a lie.  “But I would like to learn more about this Molly who looks like my Hannah.”

“Oh, of course.  But, may I ask…?  Where did you get this doll?  I don’t remember making it or selling it to you.”

“Um, Aunt Phillia’s?”

“Oh, that explains a lot.  That old devil’s toy store never sells anything that I didn’t give them for free.  I still don’t remember making one for anyone whose daughter looks so much like poor Molly Beeman.”

“Tell me more about Molly…”

“Ah, the poor little thing…  She would come around here looking so lost and forlorn after her daddy died in the North Africa campaign.  The Germans killed him with artillery.  He was in Tunisia with the 1st Armored Division.  Molly’s mother took it too hard and went off the deep end…”  Dora’s eyes filled with tears.  She suddenly seemed to have lost the ability to talk.

“Something terrible happened?  A fire perhaps?”

“I could have saved Molly if I had known…  Oh, she could’ve lived here with me…  Such a precious little thing.”

Dora was openly weeping now.  Brittany put a hand on her shoulder.

“Molly died in a fire?”

“Yes.  Her mother burned their house down with Molly in it… on purpose.”  Brittany hugged Dora as the doll maker wept.

“Did the mother die too?”

“Not in the fire.  They called it murder.  She was hanged before the month was out.” Brittany’s stomach felt cold as the truth sunk in.  The porcelain doll seemed to be cuddling against Mrs. McMaster’s shoulder as the poor woman wept.  Was this thing of porcelain also a thing of evil?  What did it want?  And what was it doing to them?  Brittany intended to learn.

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Silly Sunday Stuff


I made a choice, long about 1980 or so.  And I have not regretted that choice.  I became a teacher instead of the writer/artist I thought I wanted to be.  And the more I look back on it now, if I had gone the writer route back then, I could’ve eventually become an author like Terry Brooks who wrote the Shannara books.  I might’ve even been as good as R.A. Salvatore whose fantasy adventure stories have reached the best seller list.  Back then, in the 1980’s I could’ve eventually broke into the business and been successful.  Even as late as when Frank McCourt broke onto the literary scene with his memoir, Angela’s Ashes in 1996, I might’ve been able to transition from teacher to writer the way he did.  But I chose to keep going with a teaching career that enthralled me.


Publishing and the literary scene is changing now.  And it is no longer possible for someone like me to break into the big time.  I am an author who has come aboard a sinking ship.

But I have stories to tell.  They have lived inside me for more than thirty years.  And I am scrambling now to get them told before my crappy old body completely betrays me and makes the chance go away.  I will get them told… even if no one ever listens.


And there are some advantages to doing it the way I have done it.  It is, and always has been, about the people in my life.  My wife, my children, my students, my co-workers, my cousins by the dozens, my little town in Iowa…  they are the people in my stories.  My stories are true to life, even if they have werewolves and fairies and living gingerbread men and nudists in them.  I live in a cartoon world of metaphor and surrealism, after all.  I would not have had the depth of character-understanding in my stories without my experiences as a teacher.  And I really don’t have to worry about the whole marketing thing any more.  I am not on that treadmill.  I do not have to be aware of what the market is looking for.  If my writing ever turns a profit, I won’t live long enough to see it anyway.  And that has never been what it is all about.


I can do anything I please with my stories.  They belong to me.  I do not owe the world anything.  What I give you now in this blog and in my books, is given for love, not profit.  I can even write a pointless blog post about Sunday blather and illustrate it with Tintin drawings by Herge. And you can’t stop me.  And, hopefully… you don’t even want to.

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The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 10

Canto 10 – Rogelio and Steven

Rogelio found himself standing naked in a dark, night-time alley.  A horse was tied up to a hitching post nearby and eating oats out of a wooden bucket.  But the horse, though moving and apparently alive, was nothing but the skeleton of a horse with a ghostly outline of mane, flesh, and saddle overlaid upon it.

“What have I gotten into?”

“I paid the toy man the usual fee, and he gave me you to play with as the toy I need for this,” said Steven, apparently from inside his own head.

“What are you?  Are you a ghost possessing me, or something?”

“We don’t use the word ghost, actually.”

“Spook, then?”

“If you must know, we call ourselves the Lonelies.  Or, as you will soon see, the Bones of the Lonelies.”

“What are you if you are not ghosts?”

“We are the ones left alone when we died.  Those who died a terrible, lonely death.  Or were cursed.  Or simply did not have the love during life that life owed us.”

“How sad for you.  But what do you need me for?  And why am I standing here naked in an alley with a horse made of bones?”

“I need your body to do what I must do.  Just as Imelda needs the body she is playing with.  But we don’t need your clothes.  In 1875 nobody wears impractical crap like that.  And everybody is dead in my time compared to your time, so all you can see of them is their bones and the memory of their flesh.”

“Like the horse over there?”

“That’s Blue, my horse.  We’re gonna ride him to the quinceañera.”

“What quinceañera?”

“The birthday celebration of the girl I have to kill.”

“Kill?  What do you mean kill?”

“Don’t worry.  I will explain it before we go. That’s just a simple time-ride on old Blue.    I will show you everything that happened.”

“That’s why Yesenia and I are both here in the flesh?  You’re going to kill her?”

“I must kill Imelda.  But Imelda is using the living girl to relive the quinceañera celebration.”

“You have to let me go.  I won’t help you do that!”

“You can’t go anywhere until I am done with you.  And I will not be done with you until I stab Imelda to death once again.”

“You’ve done this before?”

“Hundreds of times.” Rogelio was suddenly sick to his stomach. But he couldn’t throw up.  Steven was in complete control of his body.  He was, apparently, merely along for the ride.

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Talking to Nobody

I entered the classroom silently. Death doesn’t have to make any sound when it enters a room, but I remember many times when I entered a classroom in a fully enraged-lion roar. Probably too many times.

This time it was a small lesson to a small class. Little Mickey, ten years old, was sitting there in a front-row desk. He was wearing that stupid purple derby hat that he always wore in his imagination. And he was wearing nothing else besides.

I gave him that old death-eye stare of disapproval. He grinned and shrugged. “Hey, I like to write about nudists, okay? They tell the truth more than most people.”

I simply nodded.

Sitting the next row over, in the front seat also, middle-aged Mickey was slumped in his seat like the cynical, world-weary teacher-thing he actually was. I nodded disapprovingly at him too. “I know, I know,” he said. “My time is running out. I have to get started on my writing plan for real this time. My stories will never get written if I don’t.”

The third seat in the third row contained Old Coot Mickey with his wrinkled clothes, his long Gandalf-hair, and his frizzy author’s beard. He grinned his goofy grin at me and nodded at me cheekily. “I’ve got fourteen novels written and published now. Taint my fault that nobody ever reads ’em. They are mostly good stories, too.”

I rolled my eyes at the dark ceiling.

On the chalkboard I wrote out. Today’s Lesson Is

“I know! I know!” shouted little Mickey, naked except for his purple hat. “The next novel is A Field Guide to Fauns. It is all about nudists in a nudist camp. I am definitely down with that!”

“Is that really a good idea, though?” asked middle-aged Mickey. “I think I was meant to be a writer of Young Adult novels, like the ones I taught so often in class. I know how those books are structured. I know their themes and development inside and out. I know how to write that stuff.”

“But the little naked guy has it right. You have ta be truthful in novels, even as you tell your danged lies.” Old Coot Mickey made his point by punctuating it with a wrinkled hand thumping on the top of his desk. “You have written novels with characters forcing other characters to make porn films in The Baby Werewolf, and sexual assault of a child in Fools and Their Toys, and lots of naked folks, and betrayal and death… All of that is the kinda stuff kids really want ta read. And them stories don’t glorify that stuff neither. Stories can help fight agin that stuff.”

“Remember, that stuff is hard to write about because I actually went through some of that stuff in my own life. It’s possible for even a fiction book to be just too real for a YA novel.” Middle-aged Mickey had entered fighting mode with his fists on his hips.

“But the underlying truth is why you had to write those stories to begin with. You have truth to tell… But in fiction form,” argued little Mickey.

“And horrible experiences turn into beautiful survival stories and heroes’ journeys with time and thoughtfulness and art,” said Old Coot Mickey.

I agreed with all three of me. I nodded and smiled.

“But you are Death, aren’t you?” asked middle-aged Mickey.

“And you’ve come to take away at least Old Coot Mickey!” declared little Mickey.

“You’ve got me all wrong,” I answered all three of me. “I am not Death. I am Nobody.

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Filed under autobiography, homely art, horror writing, humor, irony, kids, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 9

Canto 9 – Mr. Mephisto

Mark and Shandra were both hanging up against the theater wall by their strings.  Both were naked.  But they were no longer real children.  They were now both jointed wooden marionettes.

“Mark?  Can you still talk?”

“How did you say that without moving your mouth?”

“You must have some idea, dummy.  Your mouth didn’t move either.”

“Yeezus, Shandra, what happened to us?”

“That damned toy man changed us into Pinocchios.”

“Oh, no!  Does that mean we have to get swallowed by a whale in order to turn back into human beings?”

“Gawd dang, Mark.  You are such a child.  We have been cursed by some kinda monster devil-man.  We are screwed.”

The curtain opposite the two puppets parted and a man came through.  It was the man who had pulled them out of the toy man’s magic box.

“Well, well… awake again, are we?”

“What are you doing to us, devil-man?” shouted Shandra.

“You are a feisty one, I’ll give you that.  It’s no wonder the archangel asked me to hide you two.”

“That’s what you be doing to us?” asked Shandra.

“You need to not have Poppa Dark find you for a while, am I right?”

“Well… yeah.  But you changed us without our permission.”

“And you made us naked too,” whined Mark.

“Oh, shut up, Mark.  You ain’t suffering by being naked.  You don’t even got no little wooden dick on you as a puppet.”

“She has a point.  While in this guise, you can more-or-less be anything or anyone by simply dressing you up in new puppet costumes.  Want to be a girl for a while Mark?  New wig and a gingham dress, and voila!  Mark becomes Mary.”

“Do I gotta be a girl?  Or can I be like a pirate?”

“Or maybe a soldier?” said the man.

“Oh, yeah.  That would be neat!”

“Now, wait just a minute, devil-man.  Who the hell are you?  You gonna help us?  Or cook us and eat us?”

“Now, Shandra, my dear, if I were going to eat the two of you, would I have turned you into wooden puppets?  Kind of harder to chew that way, don’t you think?”

“Well, how do we know you don’t like to eat wood like a dang beaver?”

“I have no plans on changing myself into a beaver.”

“Who and what are you?” Shandra sharply demanded.

“My name is Nicholas L. Mephisto.  I am the owner of Aunt Phillia’s Toy Emporium.  And you two have been changed into marionettes to put on a few shows before we try to solve your collective problems.”

“Well, whatever you gonna do to us… you better at least put some clothes on us.  And don’t you dare touch my private parts while you are doing it!”

“Shandra, you don’t any longer have any private parts,” reminded Mark.

“Oh, yeah.”

Mr. Mephisto smiled at the girl marionette as he picked out for her a nice red dress with white polka dots and a frizzy blond wig to complement her ebony black-painted skin and super-sassy attitude.

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The Haunted Toy Store… Canto 8

Canto 8 – The Slink

On the car ride home, Maria worked up the nerve to ask her stepfather a few things.

“Why did you lie to those people, Stan?”

“I didn’t lie.”

“You were pretending to be that woman’s friend.  You never met her before.  How is that not a lie?”

“I only said I knew Brittany from her charity work.  When I researched her, I found that information about the charities.  So, that was exactly how I knew about her.  I can’t help it if he interpreted my words differently than that.”

“So, you really want the man and his little girl to think of us as friends and call us?”

“We need to listen to anything they have to say.  If we are going to learn anything about why this woman was struck down in this way, it will come from what they want to talk about when they want to talk about the incident.”

“But why bother at all?  It doesn’t really have anything to do with the case we really want to solve.  We need to find out about Rogelio and Yesenia.”

“Strange things have been happening in and around that toy store for a long, long time.  I have a suspicion we will need to find out how more than one of those things happened in order to figure out what your boyfriend is caught up in.”

“So, what do you really think happened to Mrs. Nguyen?”

“I don’t know anything for sure yet.  You have to be open to anything as a possible clue.  Once you find some things out, you follow those leads and try to eliminate them as paths to the answer.  You eliminate all the false paths, and the one you are left with is the one that will lead you to the answer.”

“It makes you sound like Sherlock Holmes.”

“It should sound like logic.  In fact, it is the methodical application of logic that Sherlock might’ve called “ratiocination.”

“What ratio-whatsit do you already have about Rogelio?”

“Well, you said he seemed to be hearing voices in his head before he disappeared.”

“Yeah.  He seemed to be talking to a papier-mâché skull.  You know.  One of those Day-of-the-Dead Mexican holiday things.”

“Did you hear it say anything?”

“No.  It was just a toy on a shelf.”

“But was it really?  Do you know for sure he wasn’t talking to someone, somehow?”

“Like how?”

“A miniature radio?”



“Be serious!”

“I am.  At the start, you don’t throw out any possibility.  It is the weirdest ones that make it hardest to find the real answer.  You can’t discount anything without evidence.”

“Okay.  I see your point.  I hope it’s ghosts, actually.  That would be more fun than a miniature radio to contact Yesenia in the alley.”

“Yes.  We might want to see if we can eliminate the radio thing first.”

“You going to that toy store to check on it?”

“We are going.  I need your eyes and ears and brain there too.”

So, it was settled.  The investigation had a new lead to track down.

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Filed under ghost stories, horror writing, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Faun Art

I have completed work on a novel called A Field Guide to Fauns. In it, I will make use of one of the most central metaphors in all of my art and writing. The mythological figure of the faun is usually portrayed as a young boy or youth, nude, and potentially having goat horns, goat legs, a deer’s tail, and/or pointed ears. It represents sensuality, connections to nature, and a willingness to partake in enjoyments without hiding anything.

Fauns were defined in art long before I came along. The Marble Faun was a book by Nathaniel Hawthorne that I read in college. I looked endlessly in libraries after that for pictures of Praxiteles’s masterpiece from all angles. I would eventually be inspired to make the picture above by a picture made in print by Maxfield Parrish printed in Collier’s Magazine. I have been fascinated for years by fauns. And I began drawing them repeatedly.

As a teenager, I had a faun as an imaginary friend. His name was Radasha. He made it his business to lecture me about sex and nudity, morals, religion, and what was wrong with me. At the time I was repressing the memory of being the victim of a sexual assault, a very painful and traumatic experience that I did not allow myself to remember and admit was real until I was twenty-two. Radasha turned out to be a coping method who helped me heal, and helped me realize that just because it was a homosexual assault, that did not make me a homosexual.

Fauns would come to dominate my artwork through the eighties. I drew Radasha multiple times. I would use the image to express things I feared and fought with and won victories over .

I would come to learn that there were fauns in real life to be found. The portrait above is of Fernando, a favorite student from my first two years as a teacher. He is portrayed as a faun. The cardinal on his shoulder is a symbol of courage and endurance, a bright red bird that never flies away when the winter comes.

Devon Martinez is the main character of my novel in progress. He is an artist like I am. He is fifteen at the time of the novel, and faced with living the rest of his childhood in a nudist community. He doesn’t consider himself a faun to begin with. But that changes during the course of the novel.

Here is the first illustration done for the novel. It is supposed to be a picture drawn by Devon himself.

So, as always with Saturday artwork, there is more to come.

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Filed under artwork, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney