Friday, September 29, 2006


      By the way, we only have 92 days left in 2006. Quick, accomplish all your goals! If you give up sleep, food and shelter, you just might do it. Wahoo!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Too bushed to boogie

      I am exhausted. This play could put me down for the count if I'm not careful. I hope your day went well. I'll be back tomorrow, good Lord willing.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Good morning to you, good morning to you ...

      Did you ever sing that song when you were the first grade? "Good morning to you, good morning to you, we're all in our places with bright, smiling faces, good morning to you, good morning to you." I don't know why I thought of it this morning, but it's been running through my head ever since. I have good feelings associated with that song. Once again, I don't know why.
      I have very few memories of when I was young. Just flashes. My memories seem to really start when I was in the third grade. I guess I wandered around in a daze 'til then. Or perhaps I got picked from the cabbage patch around that time. I've always envied people who have tons of vivid memories.
      Rehearsal last night went well. I think it's going to be a good cast. There are a couple of trouble spots, but nothing that we can't fix with some work. Tonight we will rough block Act 2. Then we can get down to the nitty gitty of acting.
      The set is coming along. I forgot to take a photo of it last night, but will try to remember to do so tonight. I try to keep the cast working as much as possible so that they don't get bored. I want them to have a happy, productive time.
      My house is slowly falling into ruin while I've been gone. Clothes and clutter are piling up. I've got to try to excavate my living room this weekend. I need a maid! Several maids. And a ghostwriter, too. And maybe a lovely lady to massage my shoulders. Sigh.
      The big problem in keeping up with my chores and projects is my back. I'm ready for it to be better. Patience has never been one of my virtues, and I'm not developing it now. The back does seem to be better. Or at least I'm learning what does (everything but chewing) and doesn't (chewing) bother it. I'm quite grumpy these days just to warn anyone who hasn't had the misfortune to be around me lately. Just the other day, a guy came up to me and interrupted me to ask what time it was. So I killed him. Twice.
      It's (almost) official, by the way. I won't be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. The play will be November 1-5. I don't think I can make up those five days. I'm still toying with the idea, but I don't see how I realistically could reach the NaNoWriMo goal. I think I might participate, but I will just write daily starting on November 6 and do as much as I can, but not attempt to reach the 50,000 word mark that NaNoWriMo calls for. Unless, of course, the writing soars and I get a couple 10,000 word days (I've actually done one 10,000 word day ... in my life) and then the game will be back on.
      Only 88 more shopping days until Christmas. Thought I'd throw a note of panic into this post. And now I have to get back to work. Talk to you later. Have a wonderful day and tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Early Tuesday morning

      I need to plot out my book for National Novel Writing Month in November. First, I need to decide what type of book it's going to be: mystery, fantasy, contemporary, etc. Then I can work on the plot. I have a couple of characters wandering around my head that might be interesting to explore. I also thought about converting Murder at the Witch's Cottage into a book. The play would function as an outline.
      There's that word again: outline. I know writers that don't use them. They just sit down and write, holding the entire story in their head. I'm not made like that. I need to know what's going to happen in the story. Even if I don't stick to the outline -- and I rarely do -- it still gives me a framework to build the story on. I like to know where I'm going before I leave. Of course, I may find somewhere else to go as I travel, but at the beginning, it helps to know where I'm bound.
      But there's a chance I won't be able to participate in NaNoWriMo. We might have to push the play back one week due to schedule conflicts with various cast members. If that happens, the play will run November 1-5, the first week of NaNoWriMo. I'd lose five days to write. I don't think I could make that up. I'll make a decision about moving the play over the next couple of days.
      The read-through went well tonight. One cast member had to leave early and another one was late, but the rest of the cast had a good read-through. Today we will rough-block Act 1. Tomorrow night we will do the same to Act 2. At least, that's my current plan.
      The set is slowly getting done. I'll take a photoe of it tonight so that you could see the progress. Most of the walls are up.
      Yes, pretty much the play is all I'm going to talk about for a month or so. Sorry. It's about all I'm doing other than back therapy and work at my office.
      I have to get ready for work now. Y'all have a good day. Talk to you later.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Nada once more

      I don't know what happened to me this weekend, but I did nothing. No, really. A little laundry and a lot of watching TV, reading books, napping and lounging around. I'm amazed as I look back. Crystal thinks my back got hurt because my body needed to take a break. Maybe she's right. But now I need my back to be better.
      Tomorrow night we will have our first read-through of the play with the cast. Tuesday night, we will block act 1. Wednesday night, act 2. After that, we will go into doing scenes, and the whole cast won't have to be there every night. That's how it will go and how I will spend my time until the production is over.
      Boring, isn't it? To read the same thing over and over. I really need to have an adventure or two to share with you. Like the time I was involved in a police chase accidently. But I've already told that story, and while it's exciting, it doesn't have much of an ending.
      I could share my streaking story, but I think I will have to let that one be found in my journal after I am dead and gone. (Which is better than being dead and here. Just ask any ghost.)
      I could talk about writing some more, but frankly, I don't find talking about writing as interesting as writing itself. I'm a member of several writing groups, and all of them have members who like to talk about writing endlessly. I often wonder if they ever actually get any writing done. Writers write, talkers talk, walkers walk, runners run, swimmers swim, bees be ... and so. "Fish got to swim, birds got to fly, Democrats got to steal, Republicans got to lie ..." or so the song -- slight paraphrased -- goes.
      Time for bed again. I bet you're feeling sleepy just from reading this, aren't you? Hey, maybe I could sell my blog as sleep aid. Something to look into. Night!

Friday, September 22, 2006


      And what have I been doing this evening? Nada. Zip. Nothing. I've been doing nothing. It's quite nice. I've just been relaxing, watching life pass me by. I suggest you try it if you're all wound up. I have things to do, but they can wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow I will be mega-productive. Just a blur. Well, as much of a blur as my back will let me be.
      I'm very tired of my back problem. I'm ready to be over it. It is better, but certainly not like it should be. Perhaps this is meant to teach my patience. Which is odd, since I thought my job was doing that. Eventually I will be overflowing with patience. You'll be able to stand near me and feel your patience increasing. Or maybe not.
      Anyway, that's about all I have to say tonight. I hope things are going well for you. If not, well, maybe you're supposed to deliver patience, too. Or pick up a flame-thrower and cut a way through your obstacles while laughing madly! Hmm. These deep philosophical questions always confuse me.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


      The play is at the printer to be duplicated and bound. I should be able to pick up the bound copies tomorrow after work. As always when the writing is finished on a project, I feel at loose ends. And a little depressed. The concentration necessary for a creative project is sort of like a drug. You miss the thrill when it's over.
      But I know the cure. It's time for another project. I'll start rehearsals next week on the play, and that will absorb me as actors attempt to recreate what I've seen and heard in my head. Perhaps you should pray for them. They're in for an interesting experience.
      I'm a fairly demanding director. Not that I expect them to make the play their whole life. It might be different if they were paid, but they're all volunteers. They have lives outside the theater, just as I do. I don't expect them to make it into their top priority, but I do expect them to move it up on their list. And they will do it. I've never had an actor who wanted to look foolish in front of an audience.
      I told Crystal that directing is basically learning what compromises you have to accept. That's somewhat true since the finished product isn't the shining creation you have in your head, but it's still a creation, not necessarily worse, just different. Learning how to accept that difference can be rewarding. More than once, an actor has shown me something new in my words, a truth different from the truth I wrote, but still valid. That makes directing a worthwhile experience.
      Tonight, I did nothing except watch TV. I don't do that often. I can't see me doing it alot. There isn't much worth watching on the airwaves. I have over 100 channels, but I found myself flipping around channels, trying to find something that was interesting and/or worthwhile. How do couch potatoes become couch potatoes? I don't think I could manage it.
      By the way, after I dropped the play off, I started thinking of the ending and who the murderer was. I realized that with just a bit of tweaking, I could have four different endings to the play with the murderer revealed as a different person or persons each time. I probably won't write those endings -- it's a little too much like the movie version of Clue -- but it's interesting to consider. And I might write them, just to see if one of them would fit the play better. It's project for another day.
      Speaking of another day, it's late, and I need to get to bed. I hope life is treating you well. Good night.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What's happening

      Crystal said in her comment on the last post that, since my play was written, I should have plenty of time to blog. I am Laughing Out Loud. I am Rolling On The Floor. I am Weeping Hysterically And Contracting A Hit On Her. Because now I have no time at time.
      Of course, she knows this. She's just having a little joke. Just sharing her humor with all of us. And tormenting me unmercifully. A win-win in her book, I'm sure.
      Yes, the play is done except for one more polish edit that I will do tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow afternoon the play will go to the local printer to be duplicated and bound. Then I will hold a finished script in my hands, filled with pride, open it up and run my hands over its pages, and at that moment, I will realize the title is misspelled. Or several pages are missing. Or some glaring plot hole that will swallow the play. Nothing is perfect in this world, and all you can do is fix what you can find and trust that you write well enough that the audience will forgive the errors.
      And they will. As long as you entertain them or move them to some emotion or make them laugh, most of them will forgive plot holes big enough to drive a semi through. Of course, they will talk about the flaws later, but they won't demand their money back or attempt to beat you with sticks because you wasted a couple of hours of their time. Someone once said -- and I'm too lazy to look up who, but it was someone who went around saying things like this -- that the audience will forgive everything except boredom. I've always found that to be true.
      Crystal, by the way, has been invaluable in being my reader and editor for the play. She improved the play immensely by her corrections and suggestions. When I'm rich and famous, I will remember her fondly and wave to her as I drive by in my limo.
      But I digress. The topic was my lack of time even though the writing is finished. As you know, I'm directing the play. In a community theater -- at least in this one -- that means I will be responsible for seeing to it that the actors know what to do and say on stage, that the programs and posters are made and printed, that the set is built and decorated, that the actors have adequate rehearsal time, that all the tech requirements (lighting, sound, special effects, etc.) are met, that the local newspaper and radio stations have publicity material, and so on. Naturally, I won't be doing this alone. The cast and crew will help tremendously, but they all depend on me to point them in the right direction.
      Somewhere in all this madness, I need to plot my novel for National Novel Writing Month in November. And put out four family newsletters. And continue my back therapy. And all the day-to-day stuff that we all have to do, like our jobs, laundry, etc. And of course, blog.
      It's weird, but when I confront a list like this, instead of being dismayed, I find myself looking forward. There's a real joy in being able to handle what's thrown at you, to rising to meet it. It gets my juices going. There's almost an exhilaration to it.
      Well, the penultimate edit of the play is now printing. When it finishes, I'll just have one more polish edit, and then it will be ready to be duplicated and bound. I'm looking forward to that.
      I hope you are doing well. I hope you have a great tomorrow. I wish you lived near me so that you could help me do all this stuff! Good night.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


      The play is done! Well, it still needs some polishing, but it's finally in place! It came in at 85 pages. Not bad at all. I feel blasted, but I'm grateful to have it out of my head and on paper. That's a strange feeling that I don't think I can adequately describe. You just have to experience it yourself one day.
      My back is better. Not healed and I'm still using the cane and a wheelchair, but things are definitely looking up. I have auditions Monday and Tuesday night, and I will have to be careful, but I think I'll be okay.
      I've not been doing anything except taking care of my back and writing on the play. Thus I don't have a lot to tell you. I did want to thank Crystal for doing a great job in editing the play for me. She has a keen eye for errors and an unerring ability to point out plot holes. I appreciate it.
      We'll start rehearsals next Monday night. I'll be down at the theater from 7 to 9 each night and probably a little later some nights. The play presents some technical challenges in terms of lighting and sound effects. That should be interesting. I need a backstage crew of about four people every night. I hope I can find them.
      Anyway, how are things in your world? Good, I hope. I'll be catching up on everyone's blogs over the next few days. For now, I'm going to call it a night. Pleasant dreams.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wednesday & Thursday's Newsworthy Events

Welcome Zackary into the world! My roomie's son and daughter-in-law are the proud parents of a 6 pound 11 ounce baby boy. Zack arrived Wednesday morning. Both mother and baby are doing well.
      I told you a couple of weeks ago about my sister-in-law's impeding surgery. She went through it well, and the tumor was not cancer! Thank you for your prayers.
      Wednesday was a bad day for my back. My back held out fairly well until the afternoon, and then slowly the pain level began to rise. I couldn't find a comfortable position to sit or stand. I was so grateful when the day was over, and I could go home, but it took a good hour after I got home for the pain level to drop down to a bearable level. When it did, I promptly fell asleep for an hour and woke up feeling groggy and out-of-sorts.
      I'm so tired of this pain. I want my back to be better now, but it's a slow, annoying process. I think it's getting better, but the progress is measured in tiny steps. That's life, I guess.
      I only got one page written on the play on Wednesday. I have this huge mass of material, but a lot of it doesn't fit now. I wrote a scene, but after re-reading it, I realized it was just filler: no new information for the audience, no laughs, no suspense, just three people talking and rehashing information that the audience already has. I've been trying to remember why I wrote the scene. I think that I compressed that character's actions and story into another character. So basically I didn't need that character anymore. Oh well, easy come, easy go.
      Today's work was a repeat of yesterday's work, but I think my back is a little better. It still gave me fits in the afternoon, but I handled it better. Tonight I didn't get much new writing done on the play, but I did work on the storyline and figure out what should be there and what shouldn't be there. I only have 25 more pages to answer all the dramatic questions that the play raises. That's not a lot of space.
      I'm going to close now and go to to bed. I hope things are going well for you. Have a great day tomorrow. See you then.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Today was Monday again

      So basically I could just repeat the entry from yesterday and have today covered. But I won't do that. I'll figure out something to say. Let's see what I can come up with.
      Well, the play is going well. I'm on track to finish Saturday. I'll spend Sunday editing and polishing and preparing audition sheets for Monday and Tuesday. I hope I have plenty of people to show up. It all depends on what publicity the local paper gives me and word of mouth. The play calls for six women and three men, but I could edit out one female role if I had to. But I have to have five women and three men. That's the minimum. I'll know Tuesday next week what changes I have to do. We'll start rehearsal Monday, September 25. The play will run October 25-29. We'll have exactly 30 days to rehearse. I've just got to believe my back will be better by then, and I'll be able to do the work it requires.
      Speaking of work, I had a discouraging and unsettling event take place today at my job. I can't go into details, but it wasn't much fun. I felt pressured to make a decision that I believed was wrong. It appears that the decision will go the way I felt it should go, but the whole thing filled me with foreboding. Probably I'm just being paranoid.
      The SlimFast diet is still going well, but since it's only been a week, why wouldn't it be? Catch me next month when I'll be stressed with the play. If I don't break into a ice cream shop and eat my weight in cherry praline and pecan, it'll be a miracle.
      Well, it's late here, and I need to be in bed. It's been a long day. I hope things are going well for you and yours. Night!

Monday, September 11, 2006


      I went to work, I wrote on my play, I'm going to bed. I hope your day went well today and goes well tomorrow. Good night.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Some thoughts on pain and weight loss

      Now and then you'll hear on the news of some celebrity who's become addicted to pain pills. Almost always the story will say that the addiction happened after a back injury. Listen, I understand. These past few days have been painful. On a scale from 1 to 10, the pain has been about a 33. I've survived from one dose of pain medication to another. Today is the first day since Wednesday that I've been able to actually move around a bit. Not much and I have to use my cane or the walker, but at least I can drag myself from room to room. So I think that means I'm healing.
      Several years back I hurt my back so bad that I ended up in a wheelchair for a couple of weeks. When I return to work tomorrow, I'll be back in that wheelchair. It's mostly so that my back has support while I work. I'm hoping that it goes okay. I've already missed three days of work over this. I don't want to miss any more.
      I've been working on the play as much as I can, but now I'm behind on my schedule. I have auditions next Monday and Tuesday night, and we'll either start rehearsals on Wednesday or on Monday, September 25. It depends on how my back is doing.
      I've went on the SlimFast diet. So far so good. I've lost four pounds, and that's while I've not been able to do anything remotely resembling exercise. I'm hoping as I heal that the weight loss will pick up. Years ago, I lost 35 pounds with SlimFast, and did it in about three months. I'm hoping for something approaching that now. SlimFast isn't a bad way to lose weight, but I've certainly noticed being hunger. But not starving, if you know the difference. It's just a steady hum of hunger. It would be easy to ignore if I'd been able to do some things instead of just waiting for my back to allow me to move again.
      I think I've come to this realization about dieting for me: I'm just going to have to get used to being hungry for a while. Yes, I know all those diet gurus and web sites proclaim that you can lose weight and never be hungry, but so far, I haven't found that to be true. I think, for me, hunger is going to be the price I pay to be healthy -- at least until my body gets used to the new caloric intake. And I'm okay with paying that price. Let's face it: I'm not getting any younger, and the longer I wait to lose this weight, the harder it will become. I have some customers at work who are in their 50s and 60s and who are obese, and they have miserable lives. It's interesting that I can't think of a single customer I have who's obese and in their 70s or 80s.
      So I'm going to be hungry for a while. And that's okay. I know I will have cravings for a while -- I've been craving KFC fried chicken and mashed potatoes all day -- but I'm in charge of this body here, and I'm going to decide to be thin and healthy.
      I'm doing this for me, by the way. I've also come to realize that when I lose weight, I won't suddenly become Brad Pitt. I'm still going to be me. I don't know why that thought seems to be significant, but it does. Maybe ... just maybe ... when I tried to lose weight before, I was doing for the wrong reasons. Trying to become something that I never was. That time has passed. It's time for me to do this for me. I want to be thin, healthy and more active. I have things to do, and I need a healthy body to do those things.
      I've been working on this post all day. Just writing bits of it as long as my back let me. And now I need to close and get ready for bed. Take another pain pill, and get myself situated on the heating pad. And that's the news from my little part of the world. Good night.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bad back, bad ...

      My back went out early Wednesday morning. I've done nothing except the turtle act the past few days. (You know, a poor turtle on its back.) Anyway, I am unable to sit up for long so that's the extent of this post. Hope things are going well for you. Hope to see you tomorrow. Or Sunday. Maybe Monday. Someday soon. Tomorrow. I hope.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A not-as-good day

      Work was stressful today and very, very, very busy. It made the day go fast, but I couldn't finish one project without two more being added to the pile. Very frustrating.
      And I came home exhausted. I know part of this weariness is due to the SlimFast diet. I'm a sugar junkie, and this drastic reduction in sweets brings me way down. I've been through this before, of course, with various diets, and after about a week or so, my body will adjust and rebound. If things go as in the past, then I'll have an excess of energy. I just have to survive this long enough to reach there.
      The rest of it is because my back is trying to go out on me again. My body seems determined to keep me from exercising and to hang on to this fat. It's like fat has a mind of its own. However, with SlimFast I will lose weight no matter what. So take that, fat! The battle is joined. En guarde, fat! I had a mental picture to go with that, but I won't share it.
      Yeah, I'm tired. Dueling with fat. That's an image you won't find at Weight Watchers, but maybe you should. It really is a war for good health. Fat is busy trying to kill you. You've got be crafty and wise and outwit the fat.
      Okay. Enough of that. I'm starting to freak myself out.
      What about the play? you're asking.
      Mind your own business, I say, and then began weeping.
      Yes, it's going poorly tonight. Yesterday the words were as smooth as butter. Today they're more like chunky peanut butter. Tasty, but hard to get spread on the page ... Mental note: Don't try to think up any more similes tonight.
      Mama Rose, who comments here and on The Great Slimdown and has the blog SAHW, linked a video that her son and friends made to advertise the Dungeons and Dragons game. If you're a role-player of any sort, you'll enjoy it. Watch it here and be sure to rate it (highly). I enjoyed it. Oh, although it asks you to certify that you're 18 before you can view the video, the video is G-rated.
      And now I'm going to bed. Tomorrow will be a better day. Where's that heating pad? Night.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A good day

      A good day here. I hope you had a good one, too. I got a lot of chores done and added another 12 pages to Murder at the Witch's Cottage. Less you be too impressed by my high page count, I admit that I've been thinking about this play for months. All sorts of scenes and bits of dialogue wander around in my head, and I have a lot of notes from when I had ideas and jotted them down for use when I actually put the play to paper. Now it's just a matter of making all those pieces fit into a coherent whole. If everything goes right, I should have the play finished by Sunday. I'll spend the next week polishing and trying to fix everything I can think of.
      Auditions are scheduled for September 18 and 19. I hope to cast the play right off and start rehearsals September 20. We'll see. Sometimes we don't have enough people show up or don't have the right ages. But we have to start rehearsing by September 25. That will give us four full weeks of rehearsal. The place will be October 25-29. I get two days of rest, and then I start National Novel Writing Month 2006. I must be crazy.
      Between now and when we start rehearsal, I hope to have the set completely or mostly finished. And I'm already working on the poster and the program. I don't want to wait until the last minute or I'll be overwhelmed. I'm making a list, of course, and marking off items as they get done. Right now the list is just growing, but I'll be able to mark off a few items this month.
      Oh, I'll be taking pictures of the set as we build it. I think it will be interesting to see how it comes together. And did you have any luck with the code from the play? Here it is again in case you missed it the first time: TTENU ITTRM HHNEI HBTRO AOTUC TERKH CES. I hope you give it a try. And remember my clue: It's not a substitution cipher.
      In non-play related news, my car is running better after the fuel injectors were cleaned. It still needs to have the fuel filter changed, but I hope that gets accomplished this week.
      I've started on SlimFast again. I used it about 15 years ago to lose 35 pounds. It has the virtue of being simple. Two shakes a day instead of breakfast and lunch. I get a mid-morning snack (Smart Ones blueberry or double chocolate muffin or a piece of fruit). Then a sensible evening meal. Yes, I'll be a bit hungry on it at first, but some of that hunger is simply habit, I think. Anyway, I started today, and I did okay.
      Have you ever watched the TV show The Closer? It's excellent. My older sister got me watching it, and I've been hooked ever since. It had its season finale tonight and won't return until December.
      By the way, it truly sucks green swamp water that SciFi Channel cancelled Stargate: SG1. Yes, I've mentioned it before, but it bears mentioning again. The SciFi Channel has to have the stupidest executives in charge of it. They make a habit of getting rid of good shows, i.e. Farscape and now SG1. When SG1 is gone, I don't think I'll have a reason to watch it any more.
      Well, I think I'm going to go to bed at a decent hour tonight. I hope things are going well for you and that you have a great week. Night!


      I'm up to 40 "keeper" pages on Murder at the Witch's Cottage. I intend to add another 10 tomorrow since I have mostly the whole day to devote to it. After I have 90 pages -- and hopefully have ended the play -- I will cut 10 pages out, attempting to edit out anything that doesn't advance the story. The final version will run around 80 or so pages.
      I'm basically using two songs to inspire me. "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield and "Skeletons in My Closet" by the Fatman (from the computer game The 7th Guest). The songs are creepy and fun ... if you can put both of those adjectives in the same description. Do you have any creepy, fun, lively music to suggest to me?
      I hope you're having a good weekend. Have any plans for tomorrow? If you're driving, please drive carefully. Every holiday it seems people die on the highways due to drinking. Please don't drink and drive.
      Besides writing this weekend, I've been doing a lot of household chores, working on a few projects for the local theater group and working on the July (!) family newsletter. I should have the July one done this week, and then I'll turn around and do the August one and then the September. I'd like to catch up on them this month. I've actually done four in one month before, but that's a hard month. I shouldn't have any trouble doing three since the July one is half-done already.
      Well, as you can tell, it's late here, and I need to get to bed. Have a great tomorrow, and I'll talk to you then.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Randall's excerpt from Darkness, Oklahoma

      Randall chose page 200 from Darkness, Oklahoma. Father Paul is about to open a box that he found in a hidden location in his church. What he finds brings him more questions than answers.
      This will conclude the excerpts for a while. I hope you enjoyed them.
      Oh, I mentioned that there was a code in Murder at the Witch's Cottage. I thought you might like a chance to solve if you can. Here it is: TTENU ITTRM HHNEI HBTRO AOTUC TERKH CES. I'll give you a hint. It's not a substitution cipher.
      Do you have any plans for this weekend? I'm going to work on the play and on my car as well as work on the family newsletter. (I'm two months behind on the newsletter.)
      I'd also like to request that you add my sister-in-law to your prayers. The doctors have discovered a tumor on her throid. They're going to remove it next Wednesday and see if it's cancer. I'll let you know something when I know something. Just keep her in the Big Guy's attention.

From Darkness, Oklahoma

      "Forgive me," Paul muttered, making the sign of the cross. He opened the box. Three things lay inside. A smaller box still sealed with wax, a silver-tipped arrow held securely on a display board, and a small journal that was imprinted with Montgomery's name. Paul looked at the arrow in surprise. No one had mentioned that anything except the thread would be in the reliquary. Had Father Montgomery placed it in there?
      He left the other items alone and took out the journal. It was tied securely with white cord. He'd need a knife to cut it open. He rose, paused, and picked up the reliquary. He opened the altar and returned the reliquary to the cavity. He could always reopen it if he needed to.
      Carrying the journal, he went to the front of the church and unlocked the doors. Then he went into his office. He sat the book down on the desk and looked at its worn leather cover. He felt a strange reluctance to open it. He shook it away and began to read.

To the priest that follows me,
      I know what I am about to say is fantastic and unbelievable, but I swear on the all the Saints that it is true. Read with an open and prayerful mind; then make up your own mind.
      This story begins eons ago when the earth was without form and a great conflict raged between Good and Evil. In this battle, armies of light and armies of darkness met in pitched battle to determine the fate of the universe. Good triumphed, and a great evil was struck down and cast into the depths, there to sleep until the Last Battle.
      Now know that the weapon that delivered the final blow was known as Gladius Silentium, the Sword of Silence. It is said the Sword of Silence was the weapon of the archangel Michael.
      After the battle, the Sword was hidden in the earth until such time it was needed again. But an earthquake seventy years ago opened a Way to the sword. It was found by a wandering monk known as Enoch Sorrow. Brother Sorrow brought the Sword to the attention of the church and then delivered a prophecy concerning it. The sword became the concern of a group of bishops known as the Scarlet Fellowship.
      The Fellowship, formed during World War II to protect the interests of the church, first built a church with an underground vault on the hill overlooking Wilson Lake to house the sword, but before it could be moved to the vault, lightning stuck the church and burned it to the ground and a great wind scattered its timbers to the four corners of the earth.
      They then attempted to move the Sword to Rome, but no men could approach the sword without becoming sick unto death. Eventually the Fellowship was forced to leave the sword where it was found.
      Enoch Sorrow had warned them that the sword should be let alone and regretted having revealed its location. He feared the Scarlet bishops would continue their efforts and so he took a journey to Rome in an attempt to speak to the Holy Father. He vanished and was never heard from again.
      I have never seen the complete prophecy of Enoch Sorrow as it is suppressed by the Scarlet bishops, but I know he spoke of two people, a Swordmain and a Protector. They are meant to find the sword when a great evil threatens the earth. It is not meant for any other.
      The Fellowship, however, worried about leaving the sword with no protection and performed a dark ritual to create a guardian. In this ritual, a young girl was convinced to hang herself and her spirit was trapped to serve as that guardian. The girl's name was Alice Smythe. She was a good Catholic girl and deserved better than her fate. Her body is buried in the cemetery near the center cross. That part of the cemetery is not consecrated as it should be. It was necessary that she be buried in unconsecrated ground for the ritual to be effective. But to hide this fact, others have been buried there. This is an affront to what the Holy Church stands for.
      I have included instructions for consecrating the cemetery. A consecration, as you know, is supposed to be conducted by a bishop, but I fear you will not find one willing to oppose the Scarlet Fellowship. I trust the Lord God will forgive you for attempting it and will bless your efforts. It is the only way I can think of to end this evil as a consecration should end the girl's imprisonment and let her spirit travel to Abraham's bosom.
      I am sorry to have left this to you. I should have ended it myself, but I lacked the courage and now lack the strength. Forgive an old man if you can. If you are reading this, then I am incapacitated, or more likely I am dead, passed to a greater judgment that weigh my deeds and my heart. May the Saints bless and protect you.

Father Timothy Joseph Montgomery

      The rest of the journal included instructions for the consecration. Paul closed the book and sat there for a long time. How much of this did he really believe? How much could he believe and keep his faith?
      He heard of the Scarlet bishops, of course. Church history was riddled with various secret groups, real and imagined, from the Knights Templar to the Opus Dei to the Scarlet Fellowship. A group of bishops and at least one cardinal supposedly formed the Fellowship during World War II to oppose what they felt were church appeasement policies toward the Nazis. But unlike the Opus Dei, you couldn't find anyone who was a member of the Scarlet Fellowship, or at least anyone who would say they were.
       The Fellowship was rumored to have smuggled Jews out of Germany and to have actually carried out various missions against the Nazis, but the Church never recognized the Fellowship or admitted its existence. If the group actually existed, Paul found it hard to believe that a group based in Italy would somehow be involved in Darkness, Oklahoma. And that such a group would use a "dark ritual" to bind the spirit of a girl to their purposes.
      What did he really know for sure? He had heard a voice in the church. He had gone to Father Montgomery to ask him about it and instead had heard some of what he was reading now. But other than the voice and Montgomery's testimony, Paul had no evidence to support any of this.
      He rubbed his eyes. Had he been misled by Montgomery? He didn't think the elderly priest had lied to him, but Montgomery could have been suffering from age-related dementia. He hadn't seen any signs of that, but he hadn't been looking and he was no doctor. Perhaps that could be his justification for the autopsy if he got called on it.
      He sighed. So where did this leave him? On one hand, he had a totally unbelievable story that included an archangel's sword, a trapped spirit, a prophecy, a secret society, and God only knows what else. On the other, he had the explanation that the old priest was slipping into a fantasy world, certainly not unheard of in men of Montgomery's age. As for the voice, Paul could have imagined it or even suffered a stress episode.
      He got up and walked into the sanctuary. He knelt and began to pray, but no answers came to him. After a few minutes, he rose. Perhaps a brisk walk around the neighborhood. He strode out into the hot, muggy night. Far off on the horizon, heat lightning glowed.
      He stayed to the lit streets, remembering the strange man of this morning who had accosted him. He wondered if he should have reported the incident to the police, but nothing really happened.
      He mopped his brow with his handkerchief. He slowed. He didn't think he could walk this off. He hated to go back to his empty house, but at least he could fret in air-conditioning. Then he remembered he hadn't locked the church. He sighed. He'd have to walk back there first.
      A faint sound penetrated his thoughts. He raised his head. What was that? He walked further down the street, listening hard, but only heard the crickets and a few night birds.
      He shrugged and started to walk back to the church. Then he heard a woman scream.

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