The Chicago Picasso

It was August 15th, 1967. I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just picked up my new girlfriend. She was quite a catch for me. I don’t think I ever had a girlfriend as beautiful. She was blond with a long ponytail.

Well, anyway, to get back to my story. The plan was to go to downtown Chicago, wander around, have lunch and maybe take in a movie. But we got caught up in a crowd at the Civic Center Plaza.

“What’s up?” I asked a bystander.

“They’re unveiling Picasso’s gift to Chicago.”

“Oh, he’s the guy that paints those funny pictures.”

“That’s right, but this is supposed to be an iron sculpture.”

“I can’t wait to see what it looks like,” said my girlfriend.

“Well, according to the papers, it will be a sculpture for people who like to laugh at the ridiculousness of the human condition.”

Up on the podium, were the Mayor and several men of the cloth, giving speeches. I thought that strange because Picasso was an atheist.

Then the Mayor pulled the ribbon and the covering fell away. My girlfriend and I stood there with a thousand other people with our mouths open. There was some applause but most of the audience were silent!

“What is it?” my girlfriend whispered.

“I don’t know,” I stammered.

Before us stood a three-dimensional, cubist iron sculpture standing 50 feet tall.

“It’s a big ugly metal thing,” someone shouted.

“If Picasso did it, it must be wonderful,” someone else exclaimed.

“It looks like a horse from the front,” a teenager shouted.

“Chicago now has culture,” someone said sarcastically.

My girlfriend and I walked around the metal thing to see it from different angles. Most of the people that were still there stood completely blank-faced.

Some people wandered off shaking their heads.

The eyes of the sculpture had a cold mean look. One man said it reminded him of Al Capone!

We were at the side of the sculpture, when I said:

“It looks like you in profile with your long ponytail.”

My girlfriend stared at me in disbelief.

The guy next to us said, “No, it looks like a baboon.”

My girlfriend walked off in a huff and got lost in the crowd. I never saw or heard from her again!

A month later, when I happened to be walking past the sculpture, I thought about the girl with the ponytail…

This is Chicago, land of the mob, home to scarface Capone, anything can happen. She’s probably just another victim of the Chicago Nightstalker, one of many that disappear in Chicago and are never heard from again. So I can’t blame myself for insulting her, it wasn’t my fault. If she didn’t like the Picasso, she had no soul!

It’s funny though, as the years went by, Chicagoans came to love the IRON LADY!

A Conversation With The Grim Reaper!

I was sitting on a park bench minding my own business, when up pops the Grim Reaper sitting next to me. I think I was the only one that could see him because the passersby paid no attention.

I kid you not, there he was black-cloaked from head to foot, with his scythe and hourglass. I noticed it wasn’t running out of sand yet in the top section.

“You haven’t come for me, have you?” I said, nervously.

“No, no, you’ve got some time left. I’m just resting.”

“From what I can see your face is quite bony.”

“It’s a skull, it represents the decay of earthly flesh.”

“Your robe and hood are entirely black, is it because you don’t like color?”

“I like black because it is the color of death and morning.”

“What’s the scythe for?”

“It’s for cutting the flesh and extracting the soul.”

“Wow! No wonder they call you, “GRIM.”

“And before you ask, the hourglass represents a person’s life and reminds them that their days are numbered!”

I sat wringing my hands.

“We are the only species burdened with knowing the truth about our biological destiny. WE ALL WILL DIE, SOMEDAY!”

“That’s right, you are very perceptive!”

“Do you have anything less grim to say?”

“Well, I’m not a very upbeat guy.”

“You can say that again.”

“How’s this for upbeat? Humans try to deny the reality of death, by “living on” through their legacies.”

“Oh, do you mean I will “live on” through the novels that I’ve wrote?”

“Exactly! You can also be motivated by me standing behind you.”

“How’s that?”

“As long as you are breathing, and are aware of me behind you, you will really live life to the full and enjoy every moment.”

“Well, Mr. Reaper, I do suffer from Time Anxiety. I fear it might be too late to do all I want to do. I am, after all, 76 years old!”

“My friend, you have to learn to squeeze a lot of life into a little time.”

“What do you recommend?”

“You’re a writer, so write! Through your stories you can weave your life into a coherent and meaningful pattern. You’ve still got time to think about your life and what it all meant. Your story could contain a mix of factual and fictional parts. Keep writing!”

“Thanks for straightening out my situation. I’ve got so many questions for you.”

The Grim Reaper jumped up and said:

“I’m sorry, I’ve got to get going, I’m late for an appointment!”

As he was leaving, I said:



Why Be A Writer?

Because you have to think of your feet, your identity, and if you’re lucky, you will have a beautiful woman as a MUSE!

What inspired me to write? That question was posed to me on my seventieth birthday. Fifty years ago I had a problem with my feet, my identity, and how I was going to get inspiration for my novels.

The questions that haunted me were: Who am I? Where am I going? Do I belong? Why do my feet ache so much?

What is a MUSE? It’s the seat of your creativity, personified in a beautiful woman!

Oh, that’s all in your mind!

Yes, it is in your mind, the MUSE is your subconscious mind talking to you!

When I was eighteen and fresh out of high school, I got a job in a factory moving material from machine to machine. I was always on my feet and they HURT!

I learned one thing from this job. It was hard on my feet and mine were FLAT!

So, my life’s work would have to be something that wouldn’t give me aching feet. This was one part of the inspiration.

The second part was when I went to a book signing at a bookstore. The writer was very successful. This was his fourth blockbuster novel.

I asked him about his typical workday. He would arise, have a bit of breakfast, and write until noon. Then he and his friends would go fishing and sip tall cool ones on his cabin cruiser. On days that he didn’t feel like fishing, he would write until noon and then go and sit in an outdoor café with his friends and sip tall cool ones!

This, I thought, was a sensible way to earn a living. So, I’ll become a writer and answer my identity questions.

Who am I? I’m a writer.

Where am I going? I’m going to sit down and write and save my feet.

Do I belong? Yes, I will have many friends that write until noon and then sip tall cool ones.

As a writer, I will have a MUSE that gives me inspiration.

Then the writer said something that took me aback!

He told me that he stood up to noon everyday writing. He liked to have his typewriter on the mantel and he typed while standing.

Well, this sounded grueling to me and it certainly wouldn’t do my fallen arches any good.

“Why stand and not sit to write?”

He said he had hemorrhoids and they hurt when he sat!

Well, I did set out to become a writer. I’ve never achieved that writer’s success, but the job has never given me aching feet because I sat down to write.

I have been compared to that writer. Well, sort of. My readers tell me that I’m a real pain in the whatcha-ma-callit!!!

My Friend Finds His Muse

My best friend, Tom, likes my stories and he thinks I’m a good writer. He has heard me talk many times about my muse. So, naturally, with Tom’s super curiosity, he wanted to know about the muse.

“Is it like a fairy at the end of the garden?” He asks.

“Not exactly.”

Tom looked excited.

“The muse originates from Greek mythology. The Greek God Zeus had nine daughters called Muses.”

“Nine daughters, he must have been inspired!” Smiled Tom.

“Yes he was, and these muses represented the arts and they were supposed to inspire us to be creative.”

Tom had a dreamy expression on his face.

“I have a vision of my muse. She has long flowing blond hair and a beautiful body. She is wiping my brow and feeding me grapes.”

“Does she inspire you, Tom?”

“Oh yes, she does inspire me.”

“Now, Tom, you’re getting to know a little about Muses.”

“I want to know more.”

“Well, I know when my muse is around because I feel a change in the energy in the room. My muse has such an influence on me that I just tingle with creativity.”

“Holy Cow, Dave, that must be quite a spiritual feeling.”

“Yes, it is very spiritual.”

“What is a muse like?”

“Well, she is a strong woman who knows what she wants. She wants to inspire creativity in people. She has an urge to create and experience life to the fullest.”

“Sounds good to me,” Tom’s eyes were glistening.

“Are you going to start a writing career, Tom?”

“Maybe. Now, how do you keep the muse to stick around?”

“Well, you have to feed her!”


“That’s right, she needs food.”

“What kind of food does she like?”

“In our lifetime we stuff ourselves with sights and sounds, smells and tastes, textures of different people, events large and small. All this data goes into our subconscious. These are the stuff that feeds the muse, and the muse grows.”

“That’s very interesting.”

“To feed your muse, you must always be hungry for life’s experiences.”

“How do you handle a muse?”

“Very delicately. If held too lightly, the muse will fly away. If held too tightly, the muse will die.”

“How can I make sure she won’t leave me?”

“There are no guarantees, but if you observe as you live everyday, noting the world around you, and read voraciously, she will not leave you. There will be times, however, when you might have to meditate when she strays afar.”

“Does a muse have to be a person?”

“My dear Tom, it can be anything that inspires you.”

“Then I know who my muse is.’

“Who is that?”

“My bitch Labrador, Aphrodite, her love and inspiration are unconditional.”

Well, like Tom always says:

“Different Strokes For Different Folks!”

Staying Sane!

I was enjoying a margarita at my favorite watering hole, sitting on my favorite green padded stool, when in walked three identical looking chaps. They sat on the three stools next to me.

Now, they weren’t truly identical, one had brown hair, one had blond hair, and one had red hair. But, they all had an identical confused look on their face!

“Hello fellas, how are you this fine day?” I said, trying to be friendly.

The one next to me smiled and said: “I’m Sane, and next to me are Eccentric and Mad.”

“Those are your names?”

They all nodded.

I gulped down my margarita and ordered another.

“I’m trying to help my two friends here back to sanity,” said the one called Sane.

“Do you often talk to strangers about your mental states?”

They all nodded.

“One of the great joys of life is talking to strangers and getting involved in “real” conversations with them,” said Eccentric.

“I try to take a bath everyday,” said Mad.

“Good for you, Mad,” I said, smiling. He didn’t smile back!

“I tell my two friends here to take at least 15 minutes a day and do nothing, it helps to slow things down in this frenzied world,” said Sane.

“Are you frustrated? Are you depressed? Or, are you mad?” I said, taking a sip of my third margarita.

“You hit the nail on the head,” said all three in unison.

“That’s good, because these could be your motivators towards change.”

“How can we relax and retain our sanity or get it back?” They all asked, even Sane.

“Sit very still and listen for a few minutes. What do you hear?”

“I hear my breathing,” said Sane.

“I hear my heart beating,” said Eccentric.

“I hear someone laughing,” said Mad.

“Now, do you all feel relaxed and sane?”

“Yes, we do,” they all said together.

“Well, you feel relaxed and calm because you are experiencing being in the present, which we seldom experience now days.”

We all started laughing. It was a wonderful moment.

“If we couldn’t laugh, we would go looney,” I said wisely.

“Well, we have to leave now, nice meeting you,” said Sane, and they all walked out into the sunshine.

I thought… I think I will go home and have a bath!

The Mantra

“Dave, help me, I’m completely confused!” cried my friend’s son at my front door. I was like an uncle to him.

“Come in Tom, and take a load off.”

I ushered him into my lounge and sat him down on the sofa. I sat opposite in an easy chair. He was disheveled, completely untidy and disordered. He was only thirty years old but he looked much older!

“Now Tom, what’s the problem?”

“Well, I signed up to a meditation class to try to figure my life out and they keep talking about life mantras. I am totally confused,” he said, wringing his hands.

“What are the mantras?”

“They keep repeating them over and over: Individualism is good, Pursue your passion, March to your own drummer, Find yourself, and on and on.”

“Well Tom, these mantras all preach the SELF as the center of life. Lets take them one at a time…”

“Someone told me individualism is bad yet the mantra says it’s good! I’m going crazy,” said Tom, interrupting.

“Okay, take it easy, you’ll give yourself hypertension!”

Tom took a deep breath and waited for my remarks.

“These are people who have doubts about individualism-with its attendant selfishness and divisiveness.”

“But I want to know if individualism is good,” Tom shouted, “I feel naked before the assaults of life.”

“Hey Tom, I like that line. You are naked, there is only you, only yourself against the world.”

Well Dave, do I strive for individualism or not?”

“Yes, I think striving for individualism is a good thing. It has fuelled invention, two revolutions, agricultural and industrial and all the enterprise that has brought the better things in life to us. None of this would have been possible had not people been encouraged to be themselves and create.”

“What about the contention that individualism is selfish?”

“It’s not selfish at all. We develop ourselves to be useful to ourselves and others. Much of what people do benefits others and humanity as a whole.”

“So Dave, we should reflect on what we can do individually to realize our potential and make the world a better place.”

“You’ve got it, Tom.”

“Now, what about this “pursue your passion” mantra?”

“First, you must discover your passion. Mine is creative writing. Following your passion will help you tap into your talents. Your passion will push you to become better in areas that you are strong and then it can be shared with the world.”

“Sounds good,” said Tom, smiling.

“Lastly, they keep banging on about “finding yourself”. Why is this so important?”

“Well, it’s all wound up in the things we’ve been talking about: Individualism, Chart your own course, Pursue your passion. You will be content in your own skin when you know who you are. But it will take some introspection into how you think as opposed to what others think.”

“Well Dave, I feel better now, after our little talk. When I sit down and ask myself questions that only I can answer, I will come to the realization that “I am nobody but MYSELF.”

“I think you’ve got the gist of those mantras now.”

“What should be my mantra now?” said Tom, waiting for a great revelation from me!



Reliable News???

It was a beautiful late summer day, so I took a walk in the park. The birds were singing, the sky was blue, everything seemed right with the world. Then I sat down on a park bench next to a chap reading a newspaper. He looked irritated.

“I don’t believe half of what I read in this newspaper, and everything is so negative,” he blurted out, throwing the newspaper in the bin next to the bench.

“I’ve lost trust in the media,” he continued, looking at me for a response.

I smiled: “It’s such a beautiful day, we don’t need any negativity today, do we?”

“That’s just the point, all there is in the papers is bad news!”

I wondered, should I get up and walk away or should I stay and say my piece. I decided to stay, since this was a topic I felt strongly about.

“Well, my friend, a great many people don’t trust the press. But, I don’t think the media cares or ever expected to be trusted.”

My bench mate pondered that statement for a minute. Then he spoke up: “In my opinion, the only thing that matters to the media is to get a “good” story, even if it is only partially true. The trouble is that people are more interested in bad news and negativity than in good news and positivity.”

“That belief might be somewhat wrong, in my opinion. If the world is to be a better place, we need more positive stuff reported. Then the public would be encouraged to have more positive attitudes and constructive thinking,” I said, taking a big breath of fresh air.

My bench mate squirmed on the hard seat. I smiled to myself, maybe the spin in the news had that affect on him.

“I realize the press has a duty to explore corruption and bad behavior, but they overdo it. Why not report more positive stories?”

“I’ll tell you why, my friend, because it is harder to write a positive piece than a negative one. More talent is required and many editors and news people seem sadly to lack such talent.”

My friend on the bench gazed at the sky and said: “Everyone yells about the news, it’s biased, it’s inaccurate, it’s manipulated, it’s full of political correctness. What we want is the “TRUTH!”

“We all want the truth, but it’s hard to get, when you don’t know what the truth is!”

“Many people respond to news stories in a dogmatic way, with a fixed viewpoint, unwilling to accept other views. And I have to admit I am guilty of this,” said my mate, reluctantly.

“I will also, make an admission. I respond to the news with a kind of “intellectual despair.”

“What’s that?”

“Well, I suspend my judgment on a article based on the idea that there is little truth out there OR that we can’t know the truth anyway, because we are told conflicting ideas and scenarios.”

My bench mate blurted out: “Sometimes I learn more about the article by reading the comments, than the article itself!”

“That’s because you are reading a cross section of views.”

“Lets get to the nitty gritty, who’s telling the truth?”

“Probably, hardly anybody, because 90% of the mass media is controlled by big corporations, who have their own self-interests and agendas.”

“So true,” my mate sighed and continued, “What about political correctness in the news?”

“Now, you’ve hit on a sore point with me…”

“Lets hear it, give it to me with both barrels,” my mate interrupted.

“Well, PC is the attitude of being very careful NOT to offend of upset any group who are believed to be at a disadvantage.”

“Give me an example,” said my mate.

“Lets say, you feel that unfettered immigration is a bad thing, the next thing you know, you are branded a “Racist.”

“Yes, you’re right, I’ve been called that before.”

“So, the news sources occupy the center ground, because it’s the safest place to be, then it is difficult to see where anyone stands.”

“Boy! All kinds of things block us from the TRUTH.”

“That’s right, PC is designed to subvert free speech, debate and reliable news coverage.”

“Well, how can we get reliable news with the TRUTH?”

“I think we have to figure out the news ourselves by practicing “critical thinking.”

“What’s that, exactly?”

“It’s analyzing the news to interpret it with caution and judgment. Don’t depend on one single source for news. As far as critical thinking goes, that is really objective analysis and evaluation of an issue.”

“Hey! I thought it was very hard or impossible to be objective, everything seems to be subjective because even the journalists look at things through their own eyes, as we all do!”

“Yes, but I’m talking about an OBJECTIVE APPROACH to interpreting what is printed or reported.”

“How do you do that?”

“First you have to gather all the evidence, then you have to know all the different views on the issue, and finally, you have to know all the facts.”

“So, to get at the “TRUTH”, you have to do an analysis of the issue.”

“Yes, if you want “TRUTH”, there is some study involved.”

‘Well, I have to go home now and watch the six o’clock news and get a headache.”

I laughed and said: “The TV people should put an aspirin commercial on right after the news!”

With that, we went our separate ways.

The Lady in the Mirror

I was out for a walk one sunny afternoon. I turned down a street I had never been on before. I was in unfamiliar territory, or was I? There was a pub at the end of the road called “The Meeting Place”. I was intrigued, so I went in. Inside, it was so dimly lit that I had to wait a minute for my eyes to adjust. Eventually, I saw a long bar with green padded stools, and a few tables and chairs. In the corner was an old jukebox, playing “What’s It All About, Alfie?”, sung by Cilla Black. There were a few people talking in whispers at the tables. But there was only one lady sitting at the bar. She was staring at herself in the huge mirror behind the bar. Her dark eyes focused on me, it was as if she was drawing me over to her.


I sat next to her and ordered a glass of red wine, which was what she was drinking. The bartender served me and eyed me up and down. I took a sip of my wine and stared at the lady in the mirror. She was an attractive, mature woman dressed entirely in black, with dark brown eyes, high cheekbones and red lips. Her long grey hair framed her face. Her low cut dress revealed a gold chain with a pagan cross dangling down her cleavage. She had a profound expression on her face, like she had seen and experienced many things. Maybe she could help me, I hoped.


“Hello, my name is Dave. Do you come here often?”

“No, this is my first time. I got lost and ended up on this street, so I wandered in here for a drink.” Her voice was sultry and mysterious. We both looked into each other’s eyes in the mirror.

“What do you do when you’re not getting lost?” I smiled.

“I’m into meditation,” said the lady, still looking into the foggy mirror.

“That’s interesting, when I turned down this street, my mind was drifting. I felt like I was in a meditational state, halfway between being awake and sleeping. It seemed as if I had been down this street before but I couldn’t remember when.”

The lady in the mirror smiled at me. It was weird, we were conversing while looking at each other’s reflection.

“Have any strange things happened to you?” I said, mesmerized by this beautiful lady.

“Oh yes, one time, at midnight, I got a phone call from someone asking me out on a date. I asked him what a young man like him, was doing asking me out. He then asked me how I knew he was young. So I described his looks on the phone. He hung up and never called again!”

“That’s scary! Maybe the young man thought you were some kind of witch.”

The lady in the mirror laughed. “No, I’m not a witch. I’m just able to see things. Do you understand?”

Someone played “What’s It All About?” again on the jukebox.

“What do you think it’s all about? What’s your purpose?” I said, wanting to hear something extraordinary.

“Well Dave, for me personally, it is to live consciously and courageously, to be compassionate to others and to awaken the spirits within others.”

“That’s a wonderful purpose. I find you very interesting. You could probably help with some of my problems. By the way, what is your name?”

“You may call me Lorelei, but I have gone by many names. I believe I could help you. We all experience what we believe.”


She smiled and touched my knee. We both emptied our wine glasses. I ordered two more. When the bartender served us our wine, Lorelei put her hand on mine. It was an electric moment. Her eyes were smoldering in the mirror.

“So, you’re into meditation,” I said, taking a sip of wine.

“Yes, meditation for the body, mind and soul. Now, what’s your problem?” she whispered, her face close to mine, her intoxicating perfume making me dizzy.

“Well, I get frustrated and anxious when I wonder what’s my purpose in life, what’s meaningful to me and what’s the point of it all.”

“What you need to do, my friend, is open up your chakras.”

“What are chakras?”

Lorelei squeezed my hand and I felt a tingling sensation in my fingers.

“Chakras are a concept featured in the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. They are centers of energy located on the midline of your body. They govern your psychological properties, instinctual and high mental.”

I drained my glass of wine and signaled the bartender to bring us a BOTTLE of wine.

“If you open your crown chakra, you will release the wisdom to figure out your problems. But you must meditate hard and look for the answer. I promise the answer will come to you.”

“What should I do?” I said, as I refilled our glasses.

“We will hold hands and close our eyes and be still, very still. You will think about your problem while breathing deeply.”

I felt as if I was floating. It was like an out-of-body experience.

Lorelei whispered into my ear, “Be still, be still,” and then she brushed her lips on my cheek.

A few minutes of silence followed. Then she broke the silence and said: “It was not into your ear, I whispered, but into your heart. It was not my lips that kissed you, but my soul!” She kept holding my hand. I felt warm vibrations throughout my body. It was surreal!

“Did you come up with an answer to your problem?” Her eyes were burning me through the mirror.

“Yes, I think I have come up with my purpose and meaning in my life. I’m a writer, and through my writing, my readers might come to a better understanding of themselves and the world. There is truth in fiction. Through my writing, things will become clearer to me, also. But how did you bring this thought into my mind?”

She didn’t answer, she just looked at me in the mirror with her mysterious smile.

“I’m so glad I met you, I feel better in my skin now. I don’t want to lose you. I need your support. You could be my muse.”

She touched my cheek with her warm hand and said: “Close your eyes, Dave, and just think of me and I will always be walking with you through life!”

I opened my eyes and looked in the mirror and the only person I saw was myself. Lorelei was gone!

The bartender came over and said, “You owe me £20 for the wine!”


Dear John,

I think it would be best if we broke off our engagement, for now.



There were other words in the letter, but these were the ones that kept repeating in John’s head. It wasn’t bad enough that he had been away from home a long time and about to see combat action. Now this. He was feeling very depressed as he left the darkness of the pub into the afternoon sunshine.

A missile shot over John’s head of blond hair, cut short in military style. The American airman ducked and saw the missile end up in a tree, stuck between the branches.

John looked down and there stood a rather sullen looking boy, about eight years old, with black unruly hair covering his forehead and sad dark eyes.

“What’s your name, son?”

The boy looked blankly at John and whispered, “Ian.”

“Well Ian, I’m John. I’ll get your ball out of the tree.”

John climbed up the tree and retrieved the ball. Ian took the ball and started to walk away, without even looking at John. The airman stood there looking at the boy walking away. He had sadness in his blue eyes very similar to the sadness in Ian’s dark eyes.

“Hey buddy, would you like to learn some American baseball?”

Ian turned around, and showed a faint smile. The sadness left his eyes for a moment. He took a long look at the blond giant in the blue uniform. Was he worth his trust?

The smile from the boy lightened John’s heart and took his mind off the war and his depressed feelings.

Ian told John he was evacuated from London. He had seen some terrible bombings and he missed his parents. He had been from home to home as an evacuee. Apparently, he was quite a mischievous handful. The people that took him in said he was too much to control, when they gave him back to the evacuation officials. John told Ian that you shouldn’t take things that happened to you out on others.

During John’s explanation of baseball, man and boy were oblivious to their wartime situations. John told Ian about his hometown baseball team, the Chicago Cubs. The boy was spellbound.

In the weeks that followed, when John could get away from his base, he and Ian met at the field next to the pub. John would bring some baseball equipment from the base. They would pitch and bat the baseball or play catch wearing the big baseball gloves. They were becoming good buddies, as John often said.

Ian would say, “John, you’re my good mate.”

John would reply, “And you’re my good buddy.”

Ian was coming out of his shell, thanks to John. The people that he was living with said he was a changed lad, and they didn’t talk about giving him up anymore. John was seeing through Ian’s eyes that life was still worth living even in wartime.

Then one day, John was told that he was to be transferred out of the country for combat duty. Where? He wouldn’t know until the last minute, it was part of the secrecy of war. How would he tell Ian? How would Ian take the news? How would it affect their relationship?

These thoughts kept racing through John’s head as he walked to the field to meet Ian. He thought he would give him a gift to ease the shock of separation. They may never see each other again.

They played catch, both wearing baseball gloves. Ian trying to pitch fast balls to John. The day was full of happiness.

But finally, the moment came when John had to tell Ian the bad news.

“Hey buddy, come here for a minute,” said John, walking over to a park bench, “Sit with me, I’ve got something to tell you and something to give you.”

Ian looked up at John with happy eyes.

“What’s up, buddy?” said Ian, imitating John’s American way of saying things.

“Well buddy, I’m going to be leaving in a few days and this will probably be the last time we will see each other for a while.”

Ian’s expression abruptly changed and he looked almost as sad as he did the first time they met.

Suddenly, Ian jumped up and ran into the woods shouting, “You never really cared about me, we’re not buddies anymore!”

John called after Ian, but he was gone. He ran into the woods to search for him. After a few minutes, he came across and old abandoned shack. John spotted the baseball glove Ian had, it was on the ground near an old well hole.

The airman dropped to his knees at the edge of the hole.

“Hey buddy, are you down there? Are you okay?”

No response, only dark silence.

John’s thoughts raced through his mind. Ian had become a happy boy and John had lost his depression over his situation. Life seemed to have meaning again. What the two buddies had accomplished can’t be all reversed now!

Tears were running down John’s cheeks.

“Hey buddy, I’m over here.”

John turned around and there was Ian, trying to look brave.

“Why did you run away?” said John, greatly relieved.

“I’m afraid I’ll never see you again and we had so much fun,” stammered Ian.

Putting his arm around Ian’s shoulder, John said, “Look buddy, what I’ve got here.”

John pulled an old worn baseball out of his pocket. Ian’s eyes widened in amazement, as he admired the ball.

“I got it when one of the Cubs hit a home run into the stands. This ball is signed by some of the Chicago Cub players. It is my most treasured possession and I want you to keep it for me, because I will be back for it.”

“Oh, I’ll keep it safe for you, John,” said Ian, fondling the ball like it was gold.

“We will always be buddies, Ian,” said John, “And I’ll write to tell you of my experiences.”

Man and boy walked out of the woods side by side.

They were real buddies. They had a bond that couldn’t be broken by any distance between them. John had faith that the war would come to a successful end for the Allies and that there would be a brighter future for the two buddies.

The Dreaded Grammar and Punctuation!

My friend, Jonah, who just started writing short stories and going to a writers club, dropped by my house unexpected one day. He looked haggard. I showed him into the lounge and we sat down opposite each other.

“What’s the matter, Jonah? You look down in the mouth.”

“I am, I just received a critique on one of my stories, saying it’s a great story and it should appeal to readers BUT it is ruined by grammatical and punctuation mistakes, and that nullifies the story.”

“It depends on how many mistakes were in the manuscript. Relax and we’ll talk about it,” I said.

“I can’t relax. I feel like ‘The Great Writing Oracle’ has thrown me in at the deep end and I’m in a dark place.”

“Well, your name is Jonah,” I smiled.

“Very funny, Dave, but this is serious.”

“So, your story, according to the critics, is an entertaining and compelling read BUT it is spoiled by grammatical mistakes and wrong punctuation. Consequently, readers will stop reading the story.”

“That’s right, but I don’t see it that way. I think a great story is of prime importance.”

“I agree, as long as the number of G&P mistakes are low.”

“Sometimes, I really get confused by the rules of grammar and punctuation,” said Jonah, dejectedly.

“Don’t feel bad, my friend, because G&P are the fiends that lurk in the shadows of our lives, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting writer, leaving confusion in its wake.”

“I know from my own experience if a book grabs me and pulls me into the story, I don’t mind a few grammar and punctuation mistakes,” said Jonah, confidently.

“Even though the story might be of prime importance, G&P are the framework that hold you story up.”

“Doesn’t it get up your nose, all this nit-picking by the pedants?” said Jonah, with a twinkle in his eyes.

“Well Jonah, it can tie you in knots at times, but G&P are necessary elements in a piece of writing. You want to communicate effectively, don’t you? So, if you want to make the meaning of your great story CLEAR, G&P are there to help you.”

“So Dave, what do you suggest I do?”

“Learn the basics of G&P, they aren’t the meat of your story, but they are the tools of your trade.”

“What about my readers?” said Jonah, quizzically.

“Don’t worry, your readers are NOT going to reject your story because of a few typos and G&P mistakes. They know how to recognize a great story.”

“I’m so glad I have you to guide me through this linguistic labyrinth,” said Jonah, smiling.

“My pleasure, but remember to study the mechanics and your stories will have a good foundation.”

We shook hands and I said:

“Remember, you have to know the ropes in order to pull the strings!”