Nebula (#8) Is Proud To Present
TRIPTYCH: THREE NOT SO EASY PIECES
by Colin Ward
This, our eighth, feature is a sampler of the work of Colin Ward, a writer living in 'Winterpeg, ManItsColdA'.
It includes a poem, an excerpt from an unpublished novel, and -- in the Nebula tradition of eclecticism -- a song.
Triptych: Three Not So Easy Pieces
by Colin Ward
Left Panel (Poem)
When our teacher told us to rise
for the "Lord's Prayer"
Siddhu and Abdul
looked at me
with dog-to-the-vet eyes
But I could not understand.
driving through the God-is-dead section of town
I saw the atheist version
scribbled on slum walls
one line on each surface
as I proceeded north:
Who aren't in heaven
Hollow be thy threats
Thy kingdom's gone
Thy will be read on earth
As there is no heaven
Divvy up this day
Our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we shoot those who trespass against us."
Far too late
Central Panel (Novel Excerpt)
Chapter III: Phoenix Son (from In The Shade)
It was more than a year since Grandpa McGuire had died. Three
years since the divorce. Occasionally some of Grandpa's friends
would drop by 'to see how Jim was making out'. This
was a thin pretence. Usually they were desperate for refuge against
agents, debtors, fans and/or the law. Some were curious to see
if Jim was continuing the open house policy of his grandfather.
Jim tried to be a gracious host. No one was turned away. He
would greet them at the door, lead them to the living room, fetch
them a cold drink and begin polite chit-chat. How have you been?
Oh, fine. How long has it been seen we've seen you? Has it
really been that long? Eventually the guests would yawn or glance
at their watches and say 'It's getting late...'
Jim lacked the empathy and charisma of his grandfather. He couldn't
keep an audience spellbound. He hadn't inherited Grandpa McGuire's
ability to open heart and hearth to acquaintances. After a day
or two the guests would leave. None of them ever returned.
Jim hadn't written a word since the funeral. He still did some
reading and editing for Stork. The bills had to be paid.
Only now was he beginning to appreciate the inspiration that
his grandfather had been. It wasn't that Jim used his grandfather's
story lines. He considered them silly allegories with no popular
appeal; no 'bad guys', sex or violence. What Jim missed
was experiencing Grandpa's ability to hold an audience spellbound
with those diatribes and parables. If only he could hold
such sway over an audience! If only people paid the same fascinated
attention to him that they had to Grandpa. Even if it
were an audience of one. Sarah, perhaps. Or Margaret.
Without Jason's story-telling to draw upon the younger McGuire
floundered. What was there to write about? And what was the
point? The world had far more hack writers than it needed.
'I heard a feminist woman say that men are useless,'
Grandpa had said shortly after the departure of Sarah and Margaret.
'She didn't know how right she was. We are useless.
Superfluous. And what's worse: we know it. When the ships
go down it's women and children first. We used to have wars to
get rid of `excess' men. Pacifism became popular only when war
got too messy; when too many women and children were killed.
We're hardly needed for procreation; the population actually
booms after a war has killed off half the men. In the family
the father is a luxury--a luxury that fewer and fewer families
are affording these days.'
'So what's the point?' Jim had asked.
'We don't always miss the things we need. It's like being
deficient in a vitamin. Time goes by, our condition slowly gets
worse. So slowly we hardly notice it. I've heard of an experiment
some psychologists conducted. They put a frog in a pot with some
water. They began heating it up. The frog simply adjusted his
body temperature. As the water got hotter and hotter the frog
continued to accomodate. Eventually, the frog boiled to death
without ever trying to jump out of the pot.
'We men get separated from our families and we never really
understand how much we miss them. We forget how nice it was to
be part of a family. We adjust too easily. Too well. Like the
'We never consciously voice it but we know, in the back
of our minds, that we're...expendable. Unnecessary. Extra.
Is it any wonder why we drive fast cars, play dangerous sports,
smoke, drink, start wars and look around for other suicides?
You know, we men take great pride in the fact that we're not afraid
of dying. Sometimes I wonder if we aren't afraid of...living.'
Jim hadn't fully comprehended this sermon when he'd first heard
it. But now that he was alone Jim began to understand what 'unnecessary'
meant. Sarah and Margaret didn't need him. Sarah had a good
job selling computer software. Didn't even need child support.
Knowing his circumstances she had told him not to bother sending
money. Something about 'shipping coal to Newcastle'.
Jim was more than proud of Sarah. He was envious of her. Sarah
was alive. Jim was entombed in this cabin, lost in the
northern wastelands. Sarah had her friends on the coast. Parties.
Gatherings. Jim had only Bernice, his St. Bernard. And Sarah
had little Margaret. Sarah would continue to play an integral
role in raising their daughter. Sarah was part of a process that
stretched back to the beginning of humankind and forward to its
ultimate destiny. It was something primordial. Perpetuating
the species. Sarah's role was important. She was needed. In
every sense of the word Sarah was vital.
Little Margaret would be starting grade one in a couple of weeks.
Margaret was a survivor. She would do well with or without a
father figure around.
Jim sat in front of his blank computer screen. He had the best
hardware and software that money could buy. His system had excellent
word processing, style checking, text searching and print spooling
programs. The computer itself was state-of-the-art for that era:
a 60 Megahertz 80486 with 128K cache memory, eight Megabtyes
of Random Access Memory, Super VGA colour monitor and a 426 Megabyte
hard disk drive boasting a fast 9 millisecond access time. With
a 14,400 baud fax-modem Jim could use his phone line to exchange
manuscripts and revisions with Stork. At 17 pages per minute
his laser printer could produce documents in seconds. Facing
$20,000 worth of computer equipment Jim could not produce one
word. After an hour the screen was still blank.
Jim swung clockwise 180 degrees in his leather swivel chair.
He stopped as he faced the east wall of his den. Shelves of
old books--mostly Grandpa's--stretched from floor to ceiling along
this entire wall. Perhaps, if he read for a while, an idea might
come to him. Sure. Read a little Vonnegut, some Voltaire, a
dash of Kirouac and a sprinkle of St. Exupery. Jim shook his
head in disgust. What would come out of such a combination?
Mutant Princes from Mars?
A restless feeling overcame him. If only he could write a best
seller! To be free of money worries! He could set up a trust
fund for Margaret. Wouldn't have to sit here like a fool wishing
that his computer could write books for him. He could assert
that his grandfather hadn't wasted his time raising him. He would
be able to demonstrate that, at one time, a man named Jim McGuire
had passed this way. These things were important to him now.
Jim could deal with the feelings of uselessness. That was part
of being male. He could handle the loneliness. After all, he
had Bernice the St. Bernard with him. At least Bernice would
never leave him.
It was cold comfort to know that even Grandpa had suffered fromloneliness. Jim's grandmother, Mattie, had died when Jim was
only seven. Jim didn't remembered her very well. But he remembered
how disconsolate his grandfather was without her.
'Jim, do you know what a taboo is?' Grandpa asked a
few days after Grandma's funeral.
The young boy shook his head.
'Do you remember last week when you couldn't sleep because
you were afraid of the boogie man? Remember how you didn't want
to tell me that you were afraid of the boogie man?'
'You knew that the boogie man doesn't really exist, didn't
Again the boy nodded his head.
'A taboo is like the boogie man. It's something people
won't talk about. We know we shouldn't be afraid. But, in fact,
we're so afraid of it that we refuse to even talk about it.
'You know, we used to have lots of taboos. Boogie men.
Death. Guilt. Even love! Lots of taboos.'
'But we can talk about those things now, can't we?'
'Yes, we can. But there's one taboo left. One of the boogie
men still survives.'
'Which one is that Grampa?'
'Loneliness. You know, it's almost funny. We can talk
about anything. We can admit to anything. On the talk shows
we see people admitting to murder, abuse, theft, anything. But
we can't talk about loneliness. And loneliness isn't even a crime!
The worst of it is that the lonely usually don't even have anyone
to tell it to.'
'Are you lonely, Grandpa?'
The elder McGuire nodded.
'Maybe it's never been said by one human being to another.
But I'm telling you, Jim: I am lonely.'
Jim remembered how he had felt at that moment. Even a seven
year old knows that loneliness comes from being alone. Grandpa
had Jim there but considered himself alone. It was as if Jim
didn't exist. The Invisible Child.
With Grandpa, Sarah and Margaret gone, Jim felt that way again.
But worse than these feelings of isolation and insignificance
was the feeling of powerlessness.
Grandpa had felt powerless too. A few months before he died
the old man sat motionless on the living room couch, staring blankly
at the coffee table in front of him.
'Something wrong?' Jim had asked.
Grandpa McGuire did not respond.
'Gramps!' shouted Jim as he snapped his fingers in
front of his grandfather's face. 'Earth to Grandpa. Is
there anything wrong?'
'Yes,' replied the septuagenarian, 'very much
Jim waited patiently for further disclosure. Grandpa had recently
been diagnosed as having Alzheimer's. His speech was slower now
and his memory lapsed at times. This was one of his last fully
'Jimmy, when we were young we thought we were gods. Invincible.
Many of my friends went off to war in Europe and Asia. Some
didn't make it back. Must have been a shock to them; they all
thought they were invincible. And powerful. Thought we could
change the world ourselves. We even thought we had magical powers.
Used to yell at the television set, trying to direct the football
players. At the bowling alleys...we'd twist and yell at the ball.
Thought we could change its course after we'd thrown it. Used
to judge everyone all the time. Like God on Judgement Day. Hard
to figure the world was here before us. Hard to figure it would
be here after we die. Used to get angry when people wouldn't
do what we wanted 'em to do. Didn't make sense.
'Yes, Jim, we were gods. Invincible. Immortal. Always
sitting in judgement. Gods on a planet full of gods!'
Jim squinted his eyes as he tried to keep up with his grandfather.
'But now that I'm old I know how mortal I am. And I'm not
so judgmental. The world was here before me and will get along
fine without me. At last, I'm human!'
'Of course you're human.'
'That's right. I'm not...all-powerful. Not all-knowing.
I'm human. And so is everyone else, although they may be too
young to know it yet. That's what this is all about. That's
what all of this bullshit is all about.'
The elder McGuire was excited; his voice was stronger, his words
were rushed and he was using a word like 'bullshit'.
For this one last moment in the sun Jim got to see the old Jason
'What `bullshit' is that, Gramps?'
'Life. Conflict. Self-examination. Philosophy. Humananity.
Fate. Everything. Don't you see? We're all gods, becoming
human! And until all of the gods become human we humans must
protect them. We have to remind the gods of their humanity, even
if they choose to ignore it. We have to see that they live long
enough to discover their own mortality. Their own humanity.
'And to do this we humans must draw strength from our own
Jim remembered a time when he himself felt this way. In fact,
on that occasion he too collapsed on the couch and stared blankly
at the wall. Then it was Jason's turn to ask what was wrong.
Jim had been very slow to reply. His eyes were moist and his
voice was unsteady. Grandpa had caught him at a very bad moment.
'I just got back from town,' he began. 'I saw
Debbie Morrison on Molte Street. You know her. She was in my
high school class. She lost her job when Siberry's went mobile.'
Siberry's had been a manufacturer of designer jeans. It had
been the largest employer around Gopher Brook. When the union
contract had come up for renewal the company demanded pay concessions.
The union refused so the company simply packed up and moved elsewhere.
'Going mobile' was a very common practice in the conservative
1980's. Many companies, large and small, took advantage of freer
international trade to go overseas. Others, like Siberry's, simply
moved on to the next town down the road. Siberry's made a big
fuss about being 'forced' to close down because of 'unreasonable
union demands'. A week later, under a new name, the company
with its same equipment and owners moved 200 miles west to Busterton.
A simple change of address and name became a powerful union-busting
'Debbie's husband left her a few years ago. She's got two
kids. Living on welfare. When I ran into them on Molte they
were trying to sell their furniture at Muldoon's Second Hand Store.
A thirty five year old woman and two kids carrying a bed down
Molte Street. Nice life!
'I stopped her and asked if I could help. She didn't say
anything. She was embarrassed. Friends shouldn't be embarrassed
like that. Eventually she said that she could manage. I asked
her if she needed anything. She just shook her head. Friends
shouldn't have to lie like that.
'I don't mind telling you that I felt like a piece of dogshit
on that sidewalk. And it wasn't just her I felt sorry for. I
mean, there was so little I could do. And what's worse, I was
doing even less than I could. I sit here killing time, reading
and writing shit, while Debbie Morrison is selling her bed on
Jim was not the only one wiping tears from his eyes.
'Pretty shitty,' concluded Jim. But he always remembered
what his grandfather said next.
'The situation is, as you say, `shitty'. But there is something
'Wonderful? And what the hell might that be?'
'This is a very proud moment. Today, my grandson became
'Grandpa, I'm 39, for God's sake. I've been married. Got
Jason stopped him with a wave of his hand.
'I remember the day you graduated from high school. You
looked down from the stage at me. I knew what you thinking then.
You were thinking: `Today I am a man.' I know. That's how
I felt the day I graduated. You felt the same way when you graduated
from college. I remember the day you married Sarah. You looked
at me that same way, as if to say: `Well, today, surely, I am
a man.' And I remember the way you looked when you brought Margaret
home from the hospital.
'But today is the day that my grandson became a man. I'm
very proud of you.'
Jim could never hope to understand his grandfather. But he was
elated by the fact that this was the one and only time that Grandpa
had ever said those words: 'I'm very proud of you.'
Sitting alone in his writer's garret, struggling with his own
impotence, Jim did not feel elated. He couldn't bring Grandpa
back. Hell, he couldn't even bring Sarah and Margaret back--and
they were still alive. He couldn't force the world to buy his
next book. He couldn't even force himself to write the damned
Jim stood up. Clearly, he was not going to produce anything
worthwhile this morning. With his toe he hit the switch on the
power supply to his computer. The morning sun filtering through
Venetian blinds warmed his back as he crossed the living room.
Indian summer. Late October usually had the residents of Gopher
Brook shivering with cold and fear of snow.
The walls of the house's main room were alive with native North
American paraphernalia: a huge, gawdy mask, a ceremonial spear
and a blood-stained buckskin shirt stretched across the west wall.
The wall that divided living room and den sported another mask,
shaman's rattles and ochre-stained cooking utensils. All of this
was the legacy of his grandfather. Grandpa McGuire had been fascinated
by these artifacts. Native archeology, sociology and history
had always interested him.
English was a second language in the McGuire household. Jason
had taught his grandson what he called 'the Language Of Our
People'. Jim refered to it as 'LOOP' and assumed
that it was a native American dialect. After all, Jason was one
quarter native himself.
Jim remembered when, as a child, he had been taken to various
native meetings. 'Pow-wows'. He had always felt awkward
there. These gatherings were not well attended by other non-indigenous
people. Little Jim had been intimidated by the sea of red-skinned
faces evaluating him. These faces stared blankly at him whenever
he tried to communicate in LOOP. Perhaps it wasn't a native language,
after all. Maybe it was Gaelic.
Grandpa, on the other hand, felt at home at these outings. Jim
remembered the time they attended a meeting of the Iroquois nations.
The various tribes had met to discuss self-government. Some
had argued that native groups should establish independence.
Others feared abandoning the patronage of the federal government.
Much to everyone's amazement the grand council solicited Grandpa's
opinion. The old man picked up a stick and handed it to the leader
of the independence faction.
'Break it,' Grandpa had commanded. The chief complied
McGuire Sr. then handed a stick to the leader of the federalists,
asking him to snap it in two. Again, this posed no problem.
Grandpa then handed a large bundle of sticks to each of the two
'Break these,' he challenged. Neither was able to
accomplish the task. The chief elder of the council smiled.
He praised Grandpa's wisdom. Jim watched as the council decided
to 'correct an accident of birth', conferring honorary
Iroquois status on Grandpa McGuire. Hearing that this honour
would also extend to his offspring unsettled Jim. Caucasian boys
of his age were generally more comfortable as cowboys than Indians.
Over the years that followed Grandpa was inducted into three
more tribes: Hopi, Huron and Cree. He struggled for recognition
of native rights in South American and Canadian parliaments and
in the offices of the U.S. Congress. The old man got his nickname
'White Owl' not from the natives but from a Canadian
Minister of Indian Affairs who had more dealings with Grandpa
than either man might have liked.
Jim's thoughts returned to the task at hand. Where was the television
remote control? Must be under all of this rubble on the coffee
table. Pizza boxes, beer cans, papers, TV guides and place mats.
Start by shaking all the pizza boxes. Open the ones that rattle.
Nothing but mouldy crusts. Rustle the beer cans and shake the
place mats. No luck. Drastic measures may be unavoidable. He
may actually have to--gasp!--clean up.
Wait a minute! There it was! Under the couch. Must have dropped
it there when he'd fallen asleep last night watching CNN. The
previous night's program had been about the media's role in the
fight against drug use. CNN's contribution to the struggle has
been the irradication of any need for barbituates.
Click! The television sprang to life at the touch of the remote
switch. CNN again. Some nonsense about this year's boogey man.
Gaddafi, Hussein, Castro, Idi Amin, Ceaucescue. Whoever. The
names where interchangeable. The stories remained the same.
Another murderous tyrant who wouldn't buy arms from North America.
Certainly not to be confused with Batista, Pinochet, Somoza or
the Shah of Iran.
Ten o'clock in the morning. Time to eat. Eating earlier than
10:00 A.M. was unthinkable.
'It's like tomahawking your stomach,' Jim would say.
The McGuire 'manor' did not distinguish between kitchen
and living room. The refrigerator was placed conveniently beside
the leather sofa. Behind this divan was a small preparation table
with a toaster and microwave. There were two cupboards beneath
the table: one for dishes, one for food. Utensils could be found
in drawers between these cupboards and the table top.
Jim opened the food cupboard. Empty. Not a crumb.
'Jesus!' thought Jim, 'This makes Mother Hubbard
look like a hoarder!'
One of these days he'd have to go into town and do some serious
grocery shopping. Come to think of it, Christmas was coming soon.
He'd have to do some gift shopping for Sarah and Margaret. What
does one buy for a 6 year old girl? Jim's stomach growled: 'Forget
Christmas! Feed me! FEED ME!' Obviously, Jim's digestive
tract had learned to speak from watching 'Little Shop of
Jim skipped around the sofa and opened the refrigerator. What
have we here? Hmm, typical bachelor fare. Beer and cheesecake.
'Breakfast of champions', he muttered. Cherry or blueberry
cheesecake? Decisions, decisions. Blueberry seemed more appropriate
to his mood. So blueberry it would be.
Jim couldn't remember shopping for this cheesecake. It could've
been there since the Big Bang for all he knew. Another decision:
should he microwave it to destroy the germs? Jim pondered the
questions for a moment. He came up with three reasons not to
mike his dinner. For one, there wasn't any visible mould growing
on it. For two, bacteria was the closest thing to culture found
in Gopher Brook; why kill it? Thirdly, the beer had fermented;
why shouldn't the cheesecake?
As he tasted it Jim felt vindicated by his thoughtful choice.
The 'aging' process had given the cheesecake a unique,
'I'm a genius,' he told himself. As he lay on the
couch he opened his bottle of beer against the edge of the coffee
table. Jim prided himself on never drinking beer out of a can.
He was a slob, not a boor.
CNN was showing the President of the United States railing against
the proliferation of nuclear arms in smaller, non-aligned countries.
'Harrumph!', grunted Jim. 'That's like the Boston
Strangler calling the Boston Red Sox `chokers'.'
As Jim finished his breakfast the President was calling for support
in a war against the latest prospective nuclear power. Jim scowled.
The guest seemed to suggest that the answer to nuclear weapons
was conventional warfare.
'It is true that there is a distinction between American
republican and British parliamentary democracies,' his grandfather
had once argued. 'The British have an intrinsic faith in
government. They see it as benign at worst, protective at best.
That's why socialism thrives there and not in America. But people
in the States rebelled against that very government. Americans
tend to view government as a hostile and intrusive entity. Hence,
the War of Independence, the right to bear arms, the Wild West,
the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And, since government
is seen as an adversary, people in America tend to elect very
mediocre Presidents. Men incapable of competently actualizing
all of the malicious and invasive intentions ascribed to governments.
No stuffy intellectuals in the White House, please. That's why,
while parliamentary democracies elected Churchills, Trudeaus and,
yes, Hitlers, Americans voted in Bushes, Reagans and Nixons.
Some might describe the latter three as evil. No one has ever
called any of them an `evil genius', like Hitler.
'Take Nixon, for example. Here was a man who not only bungled
the WaterGate cover-up but who actually retained tapes to prove
it! What was frightening was the fact that Nixon would have survived
the Watergate scandal. His downfall came when people began to
perceive him as being too clever. Cunning. Calculating. Nixon's
fate was sealed when the public began calling him `Tricky Dicky'.
That's the irony. He was forced out of office for the one crime
of which he was complete innocent: the unforgiveable `crime'
Jim smiled at the memory. Grandpa McGuire had taught him a unique
appreciation of current events. Nothing, however, could make
Jim appreciate CNN. With a deft flick of the remote control off
switch Jim put himself out of his own misery.
Jim carried his desert dish and fork over to the sink. He took
no notice of the crusted china and cutlery stacked there. There
were a few clean dishes and utensils left in the cupboard. No
need to do a wash yet.
After depositing his dish on top of this heap Jim leaned against
the counter. What to do now? He strolled over to the VCR and
checked the tape. Damn! He'd forgotten to record 'Donahue'.
Now, certainly, there was nothing to do.
He wandered outside, letting the screen door slam shut. October
was merciful this year. The sky was clear and the sun could still
lure bathers out to perfect their tans. Late autumn left the
wind scentless. There was no smell of pollen, blooms or harvest
in the air. Most would not notice these absences. Jim breathed
deeply, knowing that his allergies would not flare up.
The last time he'd seen such weather in October was when Sarah,
Margaret, Grandpa and he had gone to the coast to visit Sarah's
parents, the Flynns. Ten years ago. Mrs. Flynn suggested that
the men should rent a boat and do some fishing. Had they ever
fished for marlin? No. Brook trout and smelt. But fishing was
fishing. It was all the same thing, wasn't it? Sarah's mother
smiled and suggested that the McGuires go and find out. Mr. Flynn
agreed to tag along.
Mr. Flynn was a golfer, not a deep sea fisherman. But he'd been
out a few times. Compared to the McGuires Flynn could've played
a title role in 'The Old Man and the Sea'.
The threesome went to Walker's Wharf to rent a boat. They didn't
anticipate a problem. The proprietor took one look at the McGuires,
shook his head and muttered something about 'flat-landers'
being the worst sort of 'landlubbers'. A boat? All
of the larger boats were already rented out. They would have
to take two smaller dories. And a guide.
Alright, bring out the guide. Impossible, replied the proprietor.
All of the guides were already out for the day. At this impasse
Flynn suggested a day on the golf course as an alternative. Walker
sighed. His wife could look after the shop and he would accompany
them out. He approached this task with the same enthusiasm as
one might go to a dentist.
Jim marvelled at the tackle. What was this, the anchor? No,
groaned Walker, that was their sinker. A sinker? The damned
thing must've weighed a hundred pounds! And the fishing pole!
It looked more like a telephone pole. Why so large? Walker
fitted on the sinker and the reason became obvious. The rod bent
almost double under the weight. It was harder to make things
sink in salt water, Walker explained, his patience straining with
What was the club for?
'You, if you ask any more silly questions!' Walker
must have thought.
'You'll see,' Walker assured him.
Old Man Flynn accompanied Jim while Grandpa McGuire went with
Walker. This would allow McGuire Sr. to mollify Walker while
Jim would benefit from the limited experience of Flynn. As soon
as the two boats settled in a location Jim stood up. Flynn turned
around just in time to see Jim's sinker flying through the air
like a wrecking ball, swinging towards his head.
'How do you cast with this thing?' shouted Jim as his
Walker tried to keep a tight rein on both dories. But after
an hour Jim's boat drifted out of earshot.
'I've got a bite!' shouted Jim. From the tug on his
line he knew it wouldn't be a salmon. A marlin, perhaps? Jim
giggled with glee. Flynn had already moved to the farthest end
of the boat. He now tried to move even further away. He almost
fell overboard in this effort.
Walker gasped as he spotted the tell-tale dorsal fins at the
end of Jim's line. A shark!
'I've got a marlin!' screamed Jim.
'Cut the line!' hollered Walker.
'It's huge!' exalted Jim.
'Cut the line!' Walker bellowed.
'I'm reeling him in!' vowed Jim.
'CUT THE LINE!' Walker begged.
For half an hour Jim fought his prey while Walker tried unsuccessfully
to start his motor. Grandpa watched helplessly as Jim struggled
to get the six foot shark aboard. Flynn recoiled in terror as
Jim landed his quarry. Jim's fish took up the entire dory; both
Jim and Old Man Flynn retreated to the gunwale at the front of
the boat. Every minute or two Grandpa McGuire could see the shark
thrash about and snap in the air. Jim armed himself with the
club and batted his catch repeatedly over the head. Neither Jim
nor Flynn could get to the back of the boat to operate the motor.
When Walker finally got his motor started he towed the other
boat back to the dock.
Jim would not be discouraged. He dragged his catch onto the
dock and exhibited it. Onlookers gathered around him. This was
his finest hour. He couldn't hear the observers commenting about
the fool who had not only landed a shark but displayed it so proudly!
Walker strode out of his marina, down the length of the dock
and handed the bill for his services to Mr. Flynn. Grandpa McGuire
snatched it from Flynn's grasp and paid Walker in cash. The grizzled
old seadog grabbed his money and started back up the dock.
'Can we eat him?' asked Jim as Walker passed by.
Walker stared vacantly at Jim.
'Can we eat him?' repeated Jim insistently.
Walker's patience snapped.
'Eat him? EAT HIM!? You're fucking lucky he didn't
Jim's relationship with his father-in-law cooled somewhat after
this trip. Flynn had always suspected that Sarah had married
an idiot. This trip removed all doubt.
'I can forgive you for marrying my daughter,' allowed
Flynn. 'But I can't forgive this attempt on my life.'
The October sun edged toward its zenith. Jim knew well enough
that he'd already passed his own.
Right Panel (Song)
A gambler sees his next card as his last source of mercy
G Em7 Am7 D7
He calls a St. Bernard every time he gets thirsty
G Em7 Am7 D7
He knows he's in the game; he knows the deck will be stacked
G Em7 Am7 D7
As he reaches for a bag that is never fully unpacked.
G Em7 Am7 D7
And I just don't know
C G Bm7
If it's a struggle or a show.
C G D
Debutante sees her dance card as her last source of pleasure
She steals a glance, she takes a chance, but knows she cannot measure
The world that lies behind those eyes, looking back in terror
Is this a test? A joke? A jest? Or just another error.
The fighter sees his next card as his last hope of glory
They say it's like a dance, just a little bit more gory
He leaves the fans all cheering; he leaves a man there kneeling
But it's cost him all his senses. It's cost him all his feeling.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Colin Ward is a writer, "itinerant computer consultant", and tournament chess and bridge player. He works and plays in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
A rumour has it that Mr. Ward might be willing to reveal more of his novel to anyone emailing him with words of sufficient enthusiasm. Write to Colin Ward
Visit Ward's Home Page