Tag Archives: Novellas

Queen of hearts

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Boldness can take you to unpathed trails and to undreamed lands, transferring all your yesterdays into all your tomorrows in one fell swoop. For we are such stuff made on dreams, hopes, and wishes however far-fetched they may seem. You live only once, so why not roll with it as you wish? And this touch of adventurism can make your soul emboldened to do things that you wanted to but couldn’t because the grit buried under the flotsam and jetsam of your aborted dreams and discouraged expectations begins to bloom in your secret garden of the mind.

With the mysterious aura of haze vanished beyond the endless horizon, Judy suddenly felt a sense of destiny filled with adventures in the wild that set its unsullied beauty and quiet sovereignty apart from the crowded theaters of Reality where spectators and players hoot and holler for the most beautiful, powerful, and successful only she could not feel allied. And within this sanctuary of nature, this wondrous sense of go-aheaditiveness felt real but unbelievable. Rufus, Ben, Raphael, and Judy were all together in this joint adventure that was forming a kind of mental alliance among them, which was also felt but unseen. Forget Reason! For their faculty was more physical than metaphysical, less reasoning than instinctive in response to any such fantastical experience that delivers a burst of sensation to their beings spreading like a prairie fire sweeping every part of their bodies.

“Gee, I wonder what it was. I know there’s something in the air because my gut feeling never failed me,” said Raphael, the Talker. “Yeah, I felt it too. Otherwise, the dog wouldn’t have barked at the thing in the air so persistently. You know, dogs and cats have special eyes to see ghosts and things we can’t. But whatever that was, it’s gone. Let’s get on with it and leave.” With this sententious statement, Ben started climbing up the saddle that was placed a bit too high for his stocky figure on his Californian mustang. His artistic inclination made him a believer of supernatural beings, but his work experience as an itinerary musician made him a practical dreamer with a view to match in the real world. But of course, his ability to cope with existential strains of daily life paled by comparison when it was juxtaposed with Raphael’s shrewdness pleasantly blended in his avuncular charm. While Ben was struggling to make it to the top of the saddle, Rufus was being pensive about the present and the future with a dream to make it big with the Aztec gold so that he could set up his younger brother Joe with a general store in their hometown. He was secretly in agreement with Ben that they should just forget about the free magic show to continue their journey for the buried treasure. My dear reader, you should not regard Rufus as a materialistic, footless young man hell-bent on being rich because once you get to know him more, you will want to be his best friend. Must I go further to affirm his character reference?

Judy was looking and listening to this funny trio like Artemis, the goddess of hunting and the Moon, watching the comedy of the mortal from the top of Mount Olympus and thought they were indeed a curious band of wayfarers in quaintly old-fashioned attire and even more antebellum deportment and parlance, which piqued her historical curiosity feeding on her love of good old Westerns and stories of pioneers and gunslingers. To her big beautiful brown eyes, Rufus, Ben, and Raphael looked just like the characters from one of those Westerns starring Clint Eastwood, James Garner, Steve McQueen, and Lee Van Cleef. No, not John Wayne, Paul Newman, or Henry Fonda because they possessed no natural screen charisma surrounding their physical appearances as well as the mental force that could only be generated by real-life experiences and natural endowments. Judy was hooked on these characters still discussing and arguing about what to do next in front of her without regard to the pretty lass. If these men were a bunch of perverted thugs, she could have and should have known it at the first sight of them because she prided herself on her Sixth Sense inherited from her mother who was also spiritually gifted. All seemed intriguing and fascinating, thought Judy, who was on one-weeks’ vacation from her job as a secretary at a busy law firm. So, she approached the trio now all on horseback to offer herself as their scout. This gotta be fun. Judy secretly entertained the thought of being a frontier scout and thought her course had already been set for the Wild West.

Fellowship of the arts

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Music has such a charm; it makes bad good and conjures memories of the places and faces of the past with nostalgia in a magical way. It’s a kind of mind teleportation, artistic time-machine, which takes you from the rut of life to anywhere you can dream about. So much so that ever witty and lively William Shakespeare said: “There’s nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is.” Just as reading makes the reader pass over to the literary world of imagination, listening to music carries the listener over to the auditory feast of melodies and rhythms, wonderfully harmonized, all in the mastery of fine musicianship inspired by the Mousal, the music muses, which is demonstrated by the fabulous  Biltmore Trio.

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Biltmore Trio consists of Ben Lion (Piano), Claire Whitecat (Violin) and Julie Tigress (Flute). They are fine amateur musicians who get together two days a week to play music together for reason none other than being aficionados of music, especially of the Baroque music. All of them have full-time occupations by which they earn their livelihood: Ben is an associate professor of history at Avonlea Community College. He is also an established writer for various magazine and short stories. Claire is a free-lanced book illustrator primarily for children’s books. Julie is a legal secretary working at a busy litigation law firm that would not function without her presence. They are good friends from childhood and share their love of music, books and other interests that pique their intelligent minds with scintillating curiosities. Hence, Biltmore Trio is a musical manifestation of their fellowship in the Appreciation of the Arts and Altruism of Humanity based upon the idea that the beauty of art is for everyone, not a prerogative of a few select. It is important that the public has a right to art because as Oscar Wilde attested, “Nothing can cure the soul but the senses, just as nothing can sure the senses but the soul.” How true it is!

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With such tenets of art in mind, Biltmore Trio’s free lunchtime recital of Frederic Hendel’s “The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” at the eponymous hotel lounge fills the hearts of the audience with mirth and merriment and frames their minds with beauty and alacrity. The trio’s fine musicianship becomes even more brilliant with their milk of human kindness that benefits all regardless who they are and what day do.

Pleasure Garden, Emerald Thoughts

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        Mary’s Proud Pleasant Garden

What an immaculately beautiful sunny Saturday it is! The sun claims its indomitable superiority alone in the azure sky without the scatterings of clouds with occasional pleasant breezes sent from the nearby Pacific Ocean, or “the Lethe of the Pacific,” according to Henry David Thoreau, who saw the West as Land of Rebirth or Rejuvenation where you could exorcise all your past easterly mishaps and misfortunes by the baptism of water in the Pacific. In the poetic eyes of Thoreau, a Lethean stream flew through the West, and it was imperative we drink it to forget the Old World and its Institutions in order that we could start anew in the West. With this poetic justice rendered by Thoreau in mind, Mary Lamb, a benign spinster and loving aunt of Sally Lamb, couldn’t think of doing anything more pleasant and uplifting than tending to her lovely garden this afternoon.

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   Everything grows with love.

Mary is an expert gardener trained in her old family home in New Jersey when she was little. It was her father Ted who inculcated in  her the wonder of nature and the beauty of simplicity. On point of digressive notes, people think that it was Leonardo da Vinci who legitimatized the aphorism of “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” But come to think of it, who would not have arrived at such stratagem of aesthetics throughout our human civilizations? It’s all about the merits of whoever said it. That is, your status weighs against the validity of sayings.  For what’s worth, Mary’s gardening skills and her love of gardening prevails on any such abstruse philosophical musings of influential talking heads just for the sake of its pleasantness.

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Homegrown organic vegetables!

Laura Collie, a good neighbor of Mary and trusty confidante, calls on Mary’s to look at her lovely garden in the afternoon. Laura wants to decorate her backyard with flowers and hedges around it, but the whole task of doing it seems daunting because she has so many other businesses to attend to: a wife, a mother, a shopkeeper, and a member of church’s guild for women. Laura thinks that Mary’s spinsterhood imparts freedom from marital obligations to her, which sometimes Laura secretly covets. But then unlike Mary, Laura is always surrounded by her laconic but loyal and understanding husband Paul and their perky and smart daughter Julie at home. Surely, looking at Mary’s gardening makes anyone think about the life itself. It’s a visual exhibition of life with its vicissitudes, with its impositions, and with its obligations, all beautifully embroidered with flowers, plants, and trees.

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      The laborer is worthy of the reward.

When Mary finishes her gardening, she invites Laura to have refreshments with her in her proud garden to bask herself in the beauty of the sun and nature in general. It’s also very gratifying to have a glass of cold orange juice or Fanta after laboring on the nature’s work, which Mary regards as a religious experience of being a guardian of nature with the power of appointment by the Creator. Mary, who is also an admirer of Thoreau’s work, understands why Thoreau did not go to church despite being a Christian; it’s because of this feeling of sacred guardianship of nature conferred by the Creator, which can’t be felt by mechanical recitation of prayers without understanding the meanings. Although Mary’s unorthodox views on faith and the church worry religious Laura to a certain degree in a way that makes her unmarried friend look perched precariously on the brink of heathenism like a solitary village cunning woman in Elizabethan England accused of being a witch, Laura admires her spiritual friend’s tenderness toward nature and aesthetic expression of herself through gardening that is all the more resplendent with her erudition from reading many a good book, mostly classics pertaining to previous centuries. While enjoying the carpe diem of the afternoon, both Mary and Laura think in harmony that God is in his heaven, and all’s well with this world.

thanks-for-reading-Rok-Hardware

 

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