The Autumn Burn

4 Oct

Source: The Autumn Burn

Falling off the “A” List

1 Oct


Falling off the “A” List

By L. Stewart Marsden

Don’t have a recollection of ever being on the “A” list;

wasn’t really a goal;
not really …
not sure I coulda taken the pressure
or the scrutiny
or the criticism that comes with the territory.
And you gotta know the territory.

“Leave me alone,” I heard them say.
One by one.
At some point in time.
In so many ways.
And so, I do.
And I burrow down into the soft dirt
and curl — mammal-like —
to hibernate
and await a new spring.

“How you doin’?”
“Oh, hey! Yeah, fine … just fine.”
And the talk is awkward and full of hesitation.
“Well, nice talkin’ to ya!”
“Yeah. Me too.”

(And Chapin drones in the background . . .
you know we’ll have a fine time …”)

So, while the list was never really a goal . . .
not really . . .
I sometimes wonder what it might have been like.
You know . . .
to have someone ask, out of the blue,
because they happened to think about you,

and put you on their “A” list.

Copywrite © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 1 October, 2015




The curse

27 Sep

The Curse

By L. Stewart Marsden


“By the way, one doesn’t curse in or around my family.”

“Really? One doesn’t curse — what an odd expression. No one? I’ve heard you curse often.”

“Sure, but you won’t ever hear me curse around my family.”

“Absolutely no one in your family? Ever? Other than you, of course.”

“No one. Ever.”

“I’m impressed.”

“You shouldn’t be. While we don’t curse with our mouths, we find other ways that are far more effective.”

“Such as?”


“Oh, please! You can curse me with money any day you like! In fact, bury me in curses!”

“You say that now. But that isn’t how it works.”

“How does it work?”

“We accustom you to money. To its trappings, its finery — and worst of all — its expectations. You become used to exotic and sumptuous foods and drink. Clothing and jewelry grow boring. What you do and what you wear and where and with whom you go all become ridiculous and trite rote. Genuine life fades.”

“What a ghastly fate money is!”

“You don’t believe me?”

“You don’t believe it yourself. Not for one minute. Take all this away and you’d see very quickly.”

“AH! THAT’s exactly the curse! Once you are accustomed to it you worry if somehow you will lose it! Who will take my wealth away? The what-ifs haunt you throughout the night! You worry you’ll wake up and it will all be gone! Like the Prince and the Pauper! No one EVER wants to be the Pauper, do they?”

“I’m sure most don’t.”

“So there it is in a nutshell — the curse! And people like us know that. We reel others into our boats by dangling the promise of a life of riches. Get our victims off-guard and when they begin to relax and enjoy everything — BAM! We’ve got you!  And then we throw you back. Oh, god how I love it!”


“That’s why we don’t curse with our mouths. We don’t have to.”


  Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 27 September, 2015


25 Sep


by L. Stewart Marsden



“Are you angry with me?” she asked.

“Why the hell should I be angry with you, for God’s sake?”

“That I’m thinking of him?”

“I can’t help what you think about. I can’t even help what I think about, for that matter.”

“I do try.”

“Yes, you do.”

“But sometimes I can’t help myself.”

“It’s called PTSD.”


“Post traumatic —“

“I know what it stands for. It doesn’t really apply in my case. I mean, I wasn’t in battle or anything. It wasn’t traumatic like that.”

“No, but his death was traumatic. Look — this is my issue. It’s perfectly natural for you to think about him and about what happened. I understand that. Intellectually, at least. I know this sounds a bit glib, but what if he hadn’t died? I mean, what if you had gotten a divorce and he was still out there?”

“I think I would prefer it.”

“I sure as hell wouldn’t. Does that sound selfish? Mean?”

“No. I don’t know — I’m sorry I’m so screwed up! I should be able to let go and move on!”

“You will. And I’ll be with you along the way. Promise. You can’t feel guilty for thinking about him.”


“No. But not every minute of every day. You’ve got to find some space for me, right?”


“I mean that. It’s okay. I understand. And, I love you. I wish I had met him.”

“You would have liked him.”

“Yeah. But we would have had a problem.”

“What problem?”


“I love you.”

“I know.”


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden 25 September, 2015


Rant of the day …

25 Sep

When the evening news rifles through all of the sound bytes of the day, particularly those of the dozens of candidates running for office, I’m struck our nation is not looking for a leader with sound judgment and background. We are looking for the Right Reverend POTUS.

We want someone to stand at the podium, or the dais, or whatever raised platform has been constructed for his or her national address, fully fitted with a huge background chorus as well as those planted in the audience to shout out AMEN! at the appropriate times.

We don’t want truth OR justice the American way.

We want fast-food rhetoric delivered in such a manner as to induce our complete obeisance. We WANT someone to take charge-ah! We WANT someone to tell us what we want to hear-uh! We want to be able to look to our left and to our right and see and greet those of like-mind and equal zeal-uh! We WANT to respond in a chorus of admiration and Ga-lor-ee-ah!


It strikes me, in these days of extreme rhetoric and promises and sincerity, that we, the jello-ed masses yearning to be free — have sold our souls and minds and ability to think to a group of stump-thumping politicians — insiders or out.

I Samuel 8: 6 — they said, “Give us a king to lead us.”

Religion is not the opiate of the masses. Politics is.

I love you …

25 Sep

I love you

a two Dewars’ conversation

by L. Stewart Marsden


As they sat on the veranda overlooking the lake, the blood-red harvest moon pulled itself into the starry sky. She pondered the thoughts swirling in her mind. Was it the scotch? Was it the gravitational pull of the full moon yanking at her loins? Was it his nearness and yet his remoteness? She breathed in slowly, smelling him.

“I want to tell you something,” she almost whispered, half hoping he wouldn’t hear her.

The lake lapped at the darkened shoreline. An owl hooted in the far bay south of them. A lingering time passed where neither dared break the spell.

“We don’t utter those words here,” he finally answered, rattling the ice in his glass, and taking a sip.

“What words?”

“We never say them here. Here they are poison. Certain death. Like uttering the name of that Potter character the grandchildren banter about.”

“Voldi —”

“Yes. And like his name, those words you’re thinking tend to put people into a trance. Into a stupor from which they can never regain their sensibilities.”

“Ah. Spoken from the heart.”

“Not a whole heart. A very fragmented and wounded one. Stitched together time and again with the merest of threads. A bit of time, as time heals all wounds — right?”

“So they say.”

“Do you hear what I’m saying?”

“Well, yes. But I wonder can we agree to disagree?”

“Seems rather useless. Pretty much a stalemate, I’d say. You won’t get me to budge.”

“Then Mohammed will come to the mountain.”

He laughed. “I’m anything but a mountain, my Dear. More like a hill. A mole hill, in fact. The result of some furry mammal burrowing inches under the soil. An easy prey for a wary cat.”

“You think that’s what I am? A cat?”

“I think you have no idea what you are. Of your power. Of your presence. I am just a contributor along the way to your discovering yourself. I am of no consequence to your future. And I intend to remain in that role. Nothing less, nothing more.”

“Oh. There’s nothing I can do or say?”

“I’m sure there’s a great deal you can do and say. But it would have the same effect as shouting down a storm.”

“And you’re the storm?”

“So you do listen! I was beginning to wonder.”

“And you are warning me?”

“This is a weather advisory, my Dear. You can heed it and save yourself a great deal of heartache, or you can throw caution to the proverbial wind. It’s your choice.”

“You have no choice in the matter?”

“I am what I am, and I go where I go. Some accept me as I am. Others try to bring me down. And still others think they can ride along with me.”

“That’s a helluv an ego you’ve got!”

“It’s about all I’ve got these days. Besides, I never promised you anything else.”

“You haven’t promised me anything.”


Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 25 September, 2015

Peek look . . . “Hurbert, the Family Lion”

22 Sep

Email me (see About) if you would like a peek view of “Hurbert, the Family Lion,” which is in its first rough draft in PDF format.



Split Rock: new upload

12 Sep



There’s a new addition available to “Split Rock.” You will need a password in order to access the story. To get the password, you will need to do one of two things:

  1. find my email somewhere on this WordPress site and ask for the password;
  2. go to my Facebook page (also found somewhere on this WordPress site) and message me, which will require a FB friend request.


My apologies for the rigmarole.

Split Rock new addition: The Lie Detector

3 Sep

A new addition to the story Split Rock: The Lie Detector.

Split Rock: Orleans County Superior Court

31 Aug

A new section, Orleans County Superior Court, has been added to the story, Split Rock.


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