Touch and Go. Short Short by Dave Moores

by Dave Moores

Dave Moores is the author of Attitude and Windward Legs. Both published thorough MiddleRoad Publishers.

The grassy pathway before me descended into an empty valley. Pretty summer clouds graced the sky, the day was bright, and the air carried the scent of fresh-cut hay. I had no notion of my purpose here and strangely this did not concern me.

An odd little man appeared at my side. His face displayed the lines and papery pallor of advanced age. He was formally clad in black, a cloth jacket over a white shirt and black tie. On his head,  a bowler hat. He carried a walking cane and wore unexpected black shorts. The ensemble was completed by dress shoes and socks, black as well—hardly appropriate for a ramble in the countryside. When he spoke his voice was surprisingly clear, the accent and diction refined. “Come along, we have to get below right away.” He beckoned to me and set off down the path with a nimble gait. I felt compelled to follow.

Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on Pexels.com

A single-track railway line came into view. Strange again, that I had not observed it sooner. My guide pressed on and our path turned left beside the track. Around a bend we came upon a small structure having the appearance of a shed. I recognized it as what used to be called a halt, not exactly a station but a place where a local train might pause for passengers to alight or embark. We drew near and climbed weathered wooden steps to a sheltered platform.

The man consulted a timetable displayed in a glass-fronted case. He checked a pocket-watch and gave a satisfied nod. “You won’t have to wait long. Five minutes, it’s always on time.” For reasons I can’t explain, I still felt no curiosity, merely a sense of anticipation. I have always enjoyed train-rides. We seated ourselves on a bench. 

The hoot of a train-whistle was followed by the rumble of wheels. A small steam locomotive puffed into sight pulling a couple of carriages. The sight recalled childhood day trips to the seaside with my parents. The train pulled in with a hiss of steam and gentle grinding of brakes.

We got to our feet. The man reached for a door handle. “Farewell, the train will take you where you need to go.” He handed me a business card which I pocketed as I boarded. There were no other passengers.

As the train moved off, a nagging sense of unmet obligations replaced anticipation. Had I failed to make a payment, or missed a crucial appointment? I searched my memory in vain.

Miles went by and the day darkened. Landscape passing the windows turned to wild moorland and sombre woods. My unease deepened to fear, but fear of what, I still had no idea. Who was this person who’d put me here, anyway? I reached into my pocket and withdrew the business card. The name read “Sebastian Angelo D’Eath.”

Angel of . . ?  

I awoke to a beeping sound. Two paramedics stood over me. One held something against my chest. He let out a breath and gave me a smile. “Touch and go for a minute there. Thought we’d lost you.”

HOME

WRITING

My Writing: Over several decades I have documented my life in [unpublished] Journals, written two novels and a collection of short stories, all published by MiddleRoad Publishers.

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A Guest Writer also features his short story here occasionally

 


RACING WITH THE RAIN. A PHENOMENON WITNESSED IN THE TROPICS

A fast moving rain cloud in an otherwise clear sky triggers a sudden downpour and people run helter-skelter for cover. Is it possible to outrun the rain? Can one ever really escape the past and avoid the inevitable? The novel spans three decades, shifting locations between pre and post independent Guyana, Cuba after the revolution, and Canada in the 1970’s.

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Guyanese born-Canadian naturalized CARL DIAS’ relationship with his family is unravelling. And now, he receives news that his father has died back in Guyana. His return for the funeral will reignite memories of a period in which the political and social fabric of the colony collapsed into racial conflict and instability. Carl’s past link with the opposition party and a North American group planning to unseat the current government will also place him in jeopardy with the country’s security force. Will he be able to return to Canada?

 

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Racing With The Rain

 

 


CAN AN INDIVIDUAL MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN POWERFUL FORCES ARE ALIGNED AGAINST DEMOCRACY? CAN SOMEONE AVOID THE STIGMA OF HIS HERITAGE?

These questions are essential to the theme of Ken Puddicombe’s new novel JUNTA.

Expatriate Marcus Jacobson wants to make a difference on newly independent Saint Anglia where he is taking up a professorship but there are forces that will test his expectation. The military, under General Marks stages a coup, and Hurricane David is heading for the island. Front Cover of Junta A Novel by Ken Puddicombe

Marcus also has skeletons in his closet. He’s descended from the Planter Class that once owned slaves on the island. He’s torn—does he have the right to get involved in the politics of the island or should he be a bystander?

The people Marcus encounters will determine his attitude to the Junta. These people include: Melanie, a student who thinks force should be used to restore democracy; Father Bert, a priest who believes in Liberation Theology; Clarence Baptiste, editor of the local newspaper who will use the media to oppose; The Reverend who runs a dirty tricks campaign for the Junta; Kentish, an islander who is a pacifist by nature and believes that events should run their course. Marcus finds himself being inexorably drawn towards Melanie and when she takes matters into her own hands, the decision is made. But, the Junta is determined to hold on to power at all cost.

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JUNTA -a novel

 


My First Collection of Short Stories, some of them previously published in literary journals

A taxi driver notices the changes in Independence Boulevard since freedom was gained from Britain. A free-wheeling spirit spends his time gambling and engaging in riots. A man is sentenced to death for the murder of his lover. Two women escape racial conflictand seek a better life at home and abroad. A housewife has faced the last straw with her husband. A mailman is caught in the middle of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack. These are some of the characters encountered in this engaging collection of short stories from the pen of Ken Puddicombe.

 

 

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Down independence boulevard : And other stories / by Ken Puddicombe.

Down Independence Boulevard and Other Stories

On Amazon


 

INTERVIEWS

Q and A with different personalities. Writers about their muse and how they arrived at their work(s). Poets who share their approach to penning their published works.

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INTERVIEWS


 

SLICE OF LIFE

Our world is filled with interesting people and as they say, truth is stranger than fiction. I have met a substantial number of people in my lifetime, many of them fascinating characters worth chronicling in this Blog. Of course, names have been changed to protect the innocent. Perspectives: everyone has a point of view and I have a few. So, you can say that I have something to say about quite a number of subjects. My Blog will provide an outlet for this, mostly about what I think needs fixing in this world of ours.

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SLICE OF LIFE


 

TRAVELS

I have visited many places in a number of countries and some of those places have held a fascination for me. They will feature in this Blog.

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TRAVELS


 

BEST PICTURES

Photographs taken over the years, at locations all over.

Guest Photographs are also featured here

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Best Pictures (Work in Progress)


 

FOR WRITERS

Information to help the struggling writer along the way

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FOR WRITERS

 

CHINA: THE GREAT WALL

Video by Ken Puddicombe

Left on our own by our tour guide to trek up the wall, we joined hundreds of others, most of them I suspect from all over China, arriving to visit the location that is now famous, worldwide.

The section of the wall at Badaling (Chinese for “eight reach ridge”) where we climbed, is the most visited section of a wall that runs approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Beijing and running about 7.6 km (4.7 miles) long. This portion was built around 1504 during the Ming Dynasty and its highest point is 1,015 meters (about 3,330 feet) above sea level.

The wall at Badaling commands a strategic position to protect Beijing to the south and was the first line of defense on the main pass between Beijing and the Mongol tribes in the north (the first Mongol emperor had marched through Badaling with his army and took Beijing, beginning the Yuan Dynasty—1368-1644). First built in 1504, after restoration, this was the first section of the wall to be open to tourism in 1957 and is visited annually by millions of tourists.

Walking the sometimes torturous concrete steps and looking at the surrounding scenery of steep hills, I couldn’t help but wonder about the source and reason for so massive a construction of what was planned as a military stronghold. Its major platforms, watchtowers, signal fire stations and parapets all enabled the repulsion of Mongol tribes from the north. Started around 221 B.C., it took close to 2,000 years to complete and the workforce consisted mainly of soldiers and convicts, eventually claiming the lives of close to 400,000 workers, many of whom are rumoured to be buried in the walls, but this was never verified. Even today, trekkers run the risk of severe injury or even death along the steep trails surrounding the Great Wall.

The thought also occurred to me that engaging soldiers and a civilian workforce in such a massive project guaranteed that the surrounding population would be so involved with the immense project that they wouldn’t have the time or energy to plot an insurrection or attempt to overthrow the emperor. Indeed, those who died, succumbed either to subsistent rations or accidents on the project. And what about the topography itself? The steep hills along Badaling certainly did not provide for an easy invasion, often done on horseback in those days. So why was a colossal wall necessary in the first place?

It was also uplifting to know we were walking in the footsteps of other world leaders and VIPs who thought this section of the wall significant enough to visit. Visitors have included 372 state leaders and VIPs, including presidents Nixon and Regan, Prime Minister Thatcher, and Queen Elizabeth 11.

The Great Wall is now considered among the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Video was taken in 16th July 2016 on our guided tour of the wall.

FROM MY WINDOW

On occasion, I am awake as early as 4:30 am, I wander to the toilet—the reason I am awake. On my way back to bed, I look out my window and often see the most glorious sunrise. The sky is blazing from the red sun peeking over the dark line of night as it makes its way into the dawn. From an orb burning itself into memory I watch it rise and change colour as it stretches to reach its zenith. From red to orange through to white it goes higher and higher over the horizon.

Photo: Rena Flannigan

As the day passes, I will see it fade away, often to be replaced by the moon as it continues its cycle illuminating the earth. From the pitch dark of the sky, I will see it transform into a sliver of a moon until it finally becomes a full moon as the month changes, day by day, when it begins to fade again.
Eventually it too will disappear from the horizon and a velvety black sky will take its place. On the darkest of nights, I see stars twinkling above. These are not always visible; too often, there is a lot of cloud-cover, hiding the sparkling gems. Clouds are interesting to watch overhead, seeing the shapes formed as the breeze moves them along. White as the driven snow to dark grey, sombre colours, clouds with tints of pink edges in a variety of shapes and sizes. After a cloudburst, rainbows may appear, though not always, only one at a time, and often doubles. I debate, are they there for me to follow in the hope of finding that elusive pot of gold? If there are Leprechauns guarding the gold they need not worry, the pot and their gold are safe. Living on the seventh floor makes it difficult to reach the pot quickly. By the time I would get downstairs the rainbows have moved on and taken the gold with them to torment another person observing their attractive colours.
The climate is changing so much we unfortunately don’t always see bright blue skies. Blue is such a changeable colour, from icy blue to warm blue, the sky has all the variations. If no clouds mar it, I can see a clear horizon stretching away into limbo. When the temperature cooperates, it is pleasant to sit in the garden or park enjoying it all. This is when I reflect on how much I previously enjoyed my little garden patch before I sold my lovely house to move into a condominium. I hated losing my house but not the work attached to it. Now everything is taken care of, and all I must do is enjoy what I can see outside. Nature is so magnificent; we don’t appreciate it as much as we should. Mine comes with a hefty price-tag unfortunately.
Having only recently gone through a stiflingly hot period, the air is cooling now. The grass is parched and the farmers need moisture for the crops to survive. Nature works her wonders again, I hear thunder in the distance, it might come closer as it seems to rumble right outside my window. Now the clouds are an ominous dark grey and, here it comes, rain in a torrential downpour accompanied with another brilliant show of lightning. To watch the lightning as it streaks across the sky, or in stabbing zigzag lines hitting the earth below is fascinating, even the best technicians could not produce an exhibition in the way Nature does. Magnificent. From the window, I see beautiful firework displays on occasion, even the best of them cannot compare.
Concern starts up again, from so much heat to sudden heavy rain which probably will not do much good because the earth is like a rock, hard and dry. The rain will only land and not saturate the land for some time. It will overflow the creek below, almost reaching the road. One shower of rain was so fierce I could not see across the road below me. The water hung in the air like a fine drape, blocking any view outside. Sometimes a storm will arrive, doing damage in some areas and set off on its way, again. Too often, the short wild spell can uproot lovely old trees. Or, as only a few minutes ago, a short burst of rain and dark clouds resulted in a full crescent rainbow displaying all its colours. Stunning, and just outside my window, it was smart of me to look and take a picture of it.
A main road with a lot of traffic intersects the trees but they deaden any sound emanating from the vehicles below, apart from police cars or ambulances when their sirens are howling as they respond to some emergency. I look over the treetops, there are so many stretching as far as the eye can see, it is almost as though a forest surrounds me. I see them in the glorious Fall when the colours are so incredible. I see them with a touch of snow, heralding winter, and bitter weather. Not the most pleasant time for outdoors or drivers unless you are a winter sport person. My days for those are long gone, I can only be happy others are able to enjoy the outdoors as I once did. I become jealous of them because I can no longer participate in my own winter sports, skating and skiing.
Spring arrives and the buds appear on the trees bringing the various shades of green and leaf sizes to gaze upon from my window. I love spring because it signifies new life as the leaves open and flowers bloom again. It is so sweet to hear the chorus of birdsong from the hideouts in the thick depths of the foliage. Summer arrives with the heat and humidity, solace for those who cannot bear the cold, who love spring but it is gone too soon. Once more, it is again glorious autumn, with the reds, gold and dark brown dying leaves. Fall tells another story as nature once more starts to steal the beautiful leaves and there are only bare branches to observe. Occasionally we can observe the bird and squirrel nests hidden from sight all summer. I often wonder how the animals can bear the snow and rain falling into their homes. The cycle of nature has begun and ended for another year.
The trees are so still, there is no breeze to set them waving, or to set a gentle rustle through the treetops as the wind blows in and out of the branches. When Mother Nature decides it is time to create a bit of havoc, she blows these same beautiful trees so hard they bend and twist so much it is a wonder they are not uprooted. Many of them are, unfortunately. In the area where I live some trees are quite old and the earth holding them is not always deep enough to secure the roots. Today the leaves are dancing gently in the breeze, turning the leaves here and there to show the underside of their colour. On quieter days, it is pleasant to sit by the gazebo watching the squirrels romping about. On occasion, there are rabbits bouncing along the grass verges too. How nice it is to hear the birds chirping away to their hearts content, such a variety of birdsong around the colourful garden. When I was on my way home late one evening, I saw a deer in the middle of the road. The animal’s eyes shone so brightly in my headlamps; it did not move right away so I got a good look at it as it headed into the ravine below my condominium window. I had no idea I was living so close to nature until then.
The world has apparently turned inside out, upside down and is on a spiral we cannot begin to imagine with the climate changing constantly—where or when will it stop? I live close to Canada’s major airport, Lester B. Pearson. I can watch planes departing, taking people to far away destinations. I think, lucky them, off to some favourite place or heading to explore new destinations. Reuniting with family or friends or returning home to the country of their birth to say a sad goodbye to a member of their family or friends who have died. Flights come and go mostly in the evening, so it makes for a busy sky. They fly hither and thither, and I wonder where they have been or are going to. I hope their journey brings them happy memories, so vital to the human spirit. These were my thoughts on many occasions.
For those who remember a bitter time in our lifetime you may recall, and may you never forget, 9/11. So many days later, the sky was silent—no planes to be seen anywhere. An eerie feeling to look out my window and see only sky and trees, even they looked shocked and sad. The birds and Canada Geese flying around, appeared lost and may have wondered where all the traffic had gone.
Slowly, action took place again with flights coming and going to Pearson airport. I saw them day and night, which was reassuring on an extremely busy horizon. Life was back to normal, it seemed. Normal did not last long. At the start of 2020 disaster struck again. Not only to our part of the world, but for the whole world this time. Not a terrorist disaster but far more ominous, no one was safe from the Corona Virus, renamed Covid-19 which, supposedly started in China, and spread like wildfire throughout the world, almost overnight. Immediately, we went into lockdown, isolated in our homes with only essential outings allowed. Currently—for nearly two years the number of people affected by the virus is still rising, there is no visiting family or loved ones in hospital or nursing homes allowed.
My building was like a morgue, there was no movement in the halls, no voices of people chatting with each other on the elevator. We could only use them alone or with no more than two family members at a time. Wearing a mask became mandatory everywhere. I felt as if I was suffocating wearing a mask, but I did it, not only for my own sake but for those I may encounter if I had to leave my home.
Our world changed once again. As I gaze through my window there is so little activity in the street, and next to no air traffic to wonder about where their next destination is for the travellers aboard them. People can scarcely fly anywhere or escape the situation. We are trapped by the virus and government regulations trying to keep us safe. No vacations in warm places, particularly for the snowbirds, as seniors are jokingly referred to, in Canada’s upcoming cold weather.
My consolation will be seeing the light-snow falling and creating a picture of beauty—until the light fluffy snow becomes a nightmare for drivers but an income for snow removal companies. Another aspect of the terrible pandemic year of 2020 was when businesses closed, schools closed, stores closed and went into bankruptcy, no meals in restaurants but booming for food being delivered to homes, the world, literally closed.
With so many restrictions, looking out my window gave me much time to reflect on what I saw, on what had happened to life for everyone. Now with autumn here I see the colour changes all around me in ‘my’ forest below and in front of my eyes across the way. The beauty is fading as the days fly by and who knows how long it will be before life begins to be a semblance of how it was in the past. If ever. My consolation in all of it—I will see winter arrive followed by spring with a hope in my heart that I can once again enjoy these days outdoors and not only from my window.
It is so difficult to put the unrest and illness ravaging the world out of mind until, again, I look out of my window and know that no matter what the human does to our world, Mother Nature will see it right in her own way and time. The falling leaves drifted outside my window on the world this morning like hordes of butterflies preparing to head south to the warmth of other places. The trees are almost bare of leaves, skeletons of themselves for the next few months, waiting for the sun to brighten the days and say ‘Wake up’ after the dark of winter.
With luck I will see many more moons rising and passing my window, I will see beautiful rainbows, and sunrises on the horizon as I did before. The Master will paint the skies with many hues and shades from his palette. The birds will sing and the squirrels will again forage for nuts among the trees. Planes will fly, transporting happy people once more, and the world will be free of COVD-19, allowing us to appreciate a normal life where we can join friends and family and share those longed for hugs with them again. We will not forget those who did not make it but will appreciate it ourselves while thinking about the others.
I will continue seeing the world from my window and think how fortunate I am that I can do so. Today is a good example. It brightened my mood and gave me hope things will soon improve for the world. The Master Painter caused me to feel a bit more upbeat than I have been for a few days due to the lockdown we are all participating in. The grey skies are so depressing day after day, seeing some blue among the clouds and finally sunshine reflecting on the tall buildings I see daily gave a lift to my spirits. Some days I allow my imagination to go tripping to other lands where there are castles galore. The tall buildings I see, in my imagination, are also castles, only of a different kind. They are not of course, still, this is my story and if I want those condominium buildings as castles, to transfer me to places with wonderful memories, why can’t this be how I get there? It is the only way I can travel anywhere now. My travelling shoes and suitcases are near at hand in the hope to be used again some day.