The Blink, Chapter Two

26 May

The Blink

Chapter Two

By L. Stewart Marsden


She was young, but strong. She pinned his arms down with her knees, which peaked from beneath a doeskin cover. Her look was fierce, and made more so by the decorative scars on her cheeks and nose. Her black eyes shone from beneath thick eyebrows, and her facial features were noble in ancestral design. Her aquiline nose, while dominant, was not unattractive, and her pursed and ample lips, inviting.

“Uncle! I give up,” Adams repeated in a calm voice. He smiled. She frowned.
He looked in the direction of her knife, still held tight against his throat. He tried to indicate through various expressions how harmless he was, but she would have none of it.

A breezed fanned smoke from the fire over them, and the smell of the cooking animal was strong.

He smiled and sniffed in an exaggerated fashion, looking over at the fire with his eyes, and murmuring “Mmmmmm!”

She sat straight up, and moved her knife to the side, but still held it in threatening fashion. She looked at the cooking animal, and back to him.


He looked at her quizzically and shook his head.

“I don’t understand.”

Ja-yo-si-ha-s?” she repeated, then moved her hand to her mouth as if eating something.

“Yes! Yes! I am hungry! Ja-yo-si-ha-s!”

They smiled and he made an attempt to sit up, but she quickly brought the knife back to his throat and shoved him back. She said something and motioned him to roll over on his stomach. When he obeyed, she grabbed both arms behind his back, and bound them together with a long leather thong.

Then she motioned him to get up, which he found awkward with his arms bound until she helped by pulling on one of his arms. Her knife pressed to his bare chest, she prodded him towards the campfire, and against a young sapling, where she had him sit with his back against the tree. She bound him to the tree with another leather thong.

Her eyes always on him, she moved to the campfire and took the spit down, leaning one end on the ground and holding the other end up while she sliced pieces of meat from the animal. She ate one of the pieces, and closed her eyes with pleasure, then brought a slice to Adams.

He opened his mouth and she fed him the bit of meat.

It was delicious!

He nodded and smiled, muttering “Thank you!”

Wa do,” she replied. “Thank you.”

She continued to eat and feed him, still careful to keep a safe distance, though he was bound to the tree. At one point she pointed at his skirt made of ferns. She lifted up one of the ferns that covered his crotch and giggled.

U-le-lv-ha!” She covered her face with both hands and shook her head. He laughed with her.

“It’s like a kilt,” he said. “You know, like the Scottish men wear? Nothing underneath!” And he laughed heartily. “What is your name? I am Kyle Adams,” and nodded his head. “Kyle Adams.”

She repeated, “Kyle Adams.”

“Name. It’s my name — what people call me. What do your people call you?” He was painfully aware how difficult it was to communicate without using his hands.

“Name? Kyle Adams?” Then it became clear to her. “Dagwado!” She thumped on her chest and declared brightly, “Si-quo-ya! Dagwado … Si-quo-ya! Name!”

“Your name is Sequoia?”

“Uh! Dagwado Si-quo-ya!” and stood and danced about excitedly. Then she knelt in front of him and poked his chest, “Kyle Adams!”

Her voice was loud, and echoed into the darkness. She smiled, and her deep eyes sparkled.

“Siquoia,” he said, and implored her with his eyes and motion of his head to please untie him. She sat back and stood, shaking her head “no.”

“Tla! TLA!” She marched back to the fire and sat on the other side, peering at him through the dying embers. Then she lay down on her side, watching him intensely, gripping her knife tightly.

A log shifted in the fire, and a last spray of embers showered the campfire. As uncomfortable as he was, Adams fell asleep, exhausted.

§ § §

The Blink, Chapter One, continued …

26 May

The Blink

Chapter One


By L. Stewart Marsden

The only things on Adams’ mind were to find the source of the smoke, and not die. Both were challenges. Once he made it to the base of the peak he had spotted the smoke from, there was no way to see its plume. The forest thickened and night had fallen. All he could see of the starry sky were small openings in the forest canopy.

He came upon a small creek that appeared to run in the direction of the smoke, but couldn’t be sure. He bent and cupped his hands, drinking thirstily. He reasoned that anyone trying to survive in the wilderness would need a source of water, and as the smoke appeared to be quite a distance from the lake he had spied from the summit earlier, he followed its flow.

The way was much easier. Spongy moss grew abundantly along both sides of the creek, and the underbrush was less dense. He had picked up a long, straight branch to use as both a staff and a weapon, should he need one.

The creek bent and wound through the woods unpredictably. He became more alert around the large turns.

It surprised him that he was doing so well physically. A man half his age would be panting and straining. He thought perhaps John Andrews was a bit premature in wanting to put him on blood pressure medication.

“You are living too recklessly, Kyle. The pressure of your work, your diet — it’s like you’re tempting the fates.”

“Look, Doc — everyone dies of something, right? I’d shrivel up to nothing if I had to be so consumed about a little fatty steak. Look at you, for cryin’ out loud! You’re what — fifty? And I bet you work eighty-hour weeks easy.”

“I’m forty-eight.  One-hundred hour weeks. And I’m going to retire to Bimini when Tracy completes college.”

“You’ll be dead before I am! And I’ve got almost twenty years on you!”

Flat out. That’s the speed Adams wanted to maintain. Whether working or playing or whatever -ing he was involved in. Flat out. And when he checked out? Boom! Like that — the snap of a finger.

His father often told of a good Navy buddy who was friends for years after the war. The two had gone to a dockside restaurant for lunch in Tampa, and as Tom slid into his side of the booth, he sneezed three times, then collapsed dead.

“That’s the way I want to go!” his dad often repeated. “Sneeze three times and then — poof!”

But his dad didn’t go that way, and lingered weeks in a hospital bed.

“Not me. Carpe diem! Eat, drink and be merry!”

Adams knew all the trite and fatalistic phrases that dealt with death. Some of his exes, and most of his friends thought he should have been a NASCAR driver, or a test pilot.

He rounded a long, easy bend of the creek and caught sight of light flickering against the trunks of trees ahead.

The fire!

His heart raced, and he felt the blood throb in his temples.

He crept slowly towards the source of the light, making sure to keep hidden by brush or trees.

He neared the fire, and could hear it crackling as flames arose into the dark air, exploding showers of red-orange flecks of ash that billowed up with the smoke. There was no one by the fire, and he could see no one in the darkened edges of the firelight’s reach.

Yet he could feel the presence of another.

Where were they? And how many?

Two forked sticks were stuck upright on either side of the campfire, and a longer stick hung just above the flames between them, like a spit. On the spit was the roasting body of an animal, which sizzled in the heat.

He sniffed. Whatever it was, it smelled wonderful! Adams’ bowels gurgled in response to the aroma.

Where are they?

As the thought entered his mind, he heard a loud shriek, and felt someone pounce on his back, pull his head back with one arm and thrust a knife under his chin pressed to his neck. The odd thought “wisdom is the better part of valor” came to mind, and he relaxed — indicating with his body that he had no intention of struggling.

“Uncle!” he cried aloud, then dropped to his stomach and slowly rolled onto his back.

His attacker — his foe — was a woman, and held the knife against his neck and shook her head, as if to say, “Don’t try anything!”

§ § §

The Blink

25 May

The Blink

Chapter One

By L. Stewart Marsden

Kyle Wyndham Adams blinked, which in and of itself was nothing unusual. He had blinked countless times during his sixty-six years, and for many reasons.

This blink, however, was different. Like an oncoming sneeze, he knew he was about to blink, yet instead of it being an instantaneous fraction of a second, the blink slowed to a fair creep, as though time suddenly down-shifted to a lethargic pace.

As he blinked, he felt himself — or the essence of himself — pull away from his body. Not pulled away, as if he were taffy being stretched, but pulling away in the sense of fleeing — escaping.

One moment, he was driving a switch-back road in his smart sports car, top down, sun and wind rifling through his long, gray hair. The next moment, he was feet above the bright red car with its driver, and getting further away. The car bore steadily up the switchbacks, its driver leaning into the turns and shifting gears in the ascent.

He hadn’t died, obviously. Merely vacated. And what was left of him in the car below was oblivious to the change of condition.

Then he felt a new compulsion, and Kyle Wyndham Adams craned his neck upwards to the deep blue sky above, dotted with small puffs of white clouds. He blinked again, and found himself high above the earth at cloud level, all below him stretching out in an immense patchwork of color.

Another blink, again staring upward into the deepening blue above, and he was at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere and on the cusp of the expanding, eternal dark and light of space.

He had sensations of movement — of the passing of air over his essence — and of slight variations of heat and cold. He sensed his body — his head and face and neck and shoulders as he looked, blinked, and moved. His arms and hands, legs and feet were like trailing wisps of transluscence. He felt himself breathe, and air filled his lungs to a capacity he knew he could hold forever, if necessary. But he knew that would never be necessary. He was safe and unharmed, and would remain so if he chose.

The earth spun slowly behind him like a beautiful blue-white agate — the most perfect shooting marble one could ever want or play Ringer for.

He looked out into the expanse and blinked, finding himself so deep in space he could see the entirety of the Milky Way. Even as he looked, small bursts and flashes spotted the vacuous darkness — like blinks. He knew innately creation was playing out before him, and that new and strange things — planets and objects and beings of all sorts — were coming into existence. At the same time, great and small lights suddenly went dark, as if a light switch had been tripped. The ends of suns and worlds and vast histories.

He was struck by how satisfying and expected everything was. He hadn’t fallen into an anxious state, asking who, what, when, where, why or how. It was as though he had always known the answer to each question. Now was a matter of confirmation of those answers.

It was his moment of Ah!

Serendipitously, he reversed his direction along the invisible trail, and began tracking back, following luminous markers left as if to guide him. A thin line of return urged him along, and as he neared the familiar, he felt himself pulsing and speeding up, his trailing parts stretched far behind him.

He reentered the earth’s atmosphere, which seemed to him less cloudy and clearer than before. He fell headlong into dark and bulky storm clouds, and shared the sky with torrential rain and wind, that soaked and buffeted him about arbitrarily.

Finally, he returned to the mountain slope where his blink launched his brief journey, and as he did, so returned the thoughts and feelings that had cluttered him before the blink.

Just before he landed, before he impacted into the soft-soiled mulch of a thick mountain forest, he realized that everything was different.


He had regained form, but was stark naked. So painfully aware was he of that nakedness that he immediately looked for some way to cover himself. He was tentative and careful moving through the thick undergrowth of the forest. The steep incline of the hill added more to cope with, and he slipped on fallen pine needles and tumbled down until his descent was abruptly stopped by a rotting tree.

He lay still, panting. His skin began to itch from the touch of bark and pine needles and various vines. A shaft of sunlight pierced through the tightly woven canopy of oak and elder branches and their bright green leafs.

It was still spring, he judged from the size and color of the leaves. That hadn’t changed. Thankfully it was not terribly cold, although his skin was pimpled from the chill air.

He stood to a crouch, expecting a hiker to break suddenly through the brush.

“Hi there! I see you’re naked! Well, imagine that!”

He caught fleeting images of birds darting through the treetops. He heard their various avian chatter, and imagined him to be the source of their conversation.

“Have you seen the naked man in the forest? Look! Down there! Such a vile and ugly creature without his plumage, don’t you think?”

Adams worked his way carefully back up the hill, thinking he might find a break in the forest at some point where he could see beyond his close confines. His tender feet were sensitive to every step, and immediately reacted to any twig or stone that he stepped on. Thorny vines hung from low-hanging branches and attacked his bare ankles and calfs.

He came upon ferns, and fashioned footwear by stripping Virginia Creeper and using the vines to bind the ferns to his feet. He did the same in covering his genitals and buttocks, making a belt of vines braided together, and anchoring large fern fronds with it as a skirt.

“If the board could only see me now,” he said aloud, remembering how he had raged about the financial jungle out there, and how the company needed to behave with primitive aggression, attacking and debilitating its competition.

“Survival of the fittest,” he had let echo in the room of head nodders as his hand slapped the mahogany board table.

He smiled at the irony, and continued his ascent.

He finally began to reach the summit of whatever hill or peak or mountain he was climbing. Trees thinned, and grew shorter and more gnarled. Groupings of granite erupted from the forest carpet more frequently, until the stone took over and the vegetation all but disappeared.

His fern shoes wore more quickly against the rock, and as he was afraid he might slip, he pulled them apart. The perfect recyclable footwear. But again his feet were unprotected, and he had some distance yet before reaching the climb’s summit. The going was slowed.

By the time he reached the top, the sun had begun to sink, and a blue-gray mist shrouded the valleys below. At the sun’s retreat, the air quickly cooled. He felt his scrotum and penis shrivel in response. It would soon be dark. He could not remain at the top of this peak overnight. He was tired. He was thirsty. His bowels groaned with hunger. The joints of his body reminded him he was not a young man, although he seemed less old since his journey began.

His nakedness reminded him he was not in his board room. “Survival of the fittest” reechoed in his mind.

He slowly rotated, scanning the world below for some sign of life or refuge. A large lake glistened with a sky rose-reflected surface many miles below and away. A source of water. Otherwise, the darkening tops of pine and oak and other trees undulated below. No roads. No lights. No houses or farms. No cleared areas.

A lone eagle soared above and kreed forlornly into the sunset sky.

He wondered if he could intentionally blink this away. Perhaps he could look up and shoot out into the darkening sky, into the stratosphere, into deep space again. He tried.

Nothing happened.

He wasn’t panicked, though, but strangely calm; as when he observed the interstellar creations and conception of new things and new life.

It was a trace of smoke that turned his head. The smell of burning wood, split and dried, roasting hot somewhere and emitting a trail of barely perceptible aroma. Comforting. Inviting. Alluring.

He turned his head and saw the thin wisp of smoke rise above the forest below. Cocking his head, he smiled. It was reachable. It was an attainable goal. It was within his ability.

He began the careful descent, filled with a new hope and a new venture. No stocks or bonds. No corporate takeovers. But a better hope provided by a thin wisp of smoke gesturing to him from the dark below.


All the difference

22 May


All the difference

By L. Stewart Marsden

My high school junior daughter, Livia, recently challenged me to reconsider Robert Frost’s iconic poem, The Road Not Taken.

“It’s tongue-in-cheek,” she proclaimed, based on her English teacher’s explanation.

For me, I had held the belief Frost was saying the path he took in life, which I had always believed was less-traveled, was the turning point of his life.

Nope. At least not according to my daughter and her teacher.

What the hell are they teaching in school these days?

So Livia pulled the poem up on her iPhone and slowly read it aloud, making her commentary after each of what I thought were pivotal lines.
The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

So somebody is walking through the woods and the road — or path — splits into two directions.

Yep. Got that.

And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

So this is the point most believe this path is less traveled. But Frost never says that. Listen:

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

They are both equally worn, hence, equally traveled.

Wait a minute! I don’t remember it that way! The one the narrator takes is definitely the one less traveled!

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

There he says it again: both paths are equal!

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Ironic, right? He never comes back to walk down the other path. Like well-meant intentions. And that’s the only difference.

It says “all the difference.”

Right. As in, I took one path, that’s all.

No! It means how his life turned out was the result of choosing one path over the other!

Does it? Or does it mean he could have taken the other road and the last line would be the same?

My dad used to say, “Nobody likes a smart-ass!” Which is what I was thinking during this debate with Livia.

How a trusted interpretation of a trusted poem by a trusted poet could suddenly crumble! Like a sandcastle when a wave washes over it.

Joe Harmon was my English teacher in high school my junior year. He always wore a wry smile on his face, and was a Kerouac fan. He introduced me to the novel Midnight Cowboy, before it became a film hit. He had the class read Richard Cory, a poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson.

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

Then Harmon asked the class, “What happened to Richard Cory?” To a student, we replied he committed suicide by shooting himself.

Then his wry smile.

“And how do you come to that conclusion?”

The classroom erupted with the same explanation, “he went home and put a bullet through his head.”

“Does it say he died? Or that he shot himself?”

“No. It’s an inference!”

“I say there is not enough evidence in the poem that Richard Cory committed suicide.”

Just what were they teaching us at that school back then?

Nobody likes a smart-ass!


14 May


By L. Stewart Marsden


Thank you for meeting me today. I realize it’s awkward, but it speaks tomes about the kind of person you are.

We try.

The waiter interrupts, asking for drink orders.

Make mine an Old Fashion.

Make that two.

He nods and whisks away.

I don’t normally drink before five. Certainly not at lunch. Not one of those people.

Nor do I. I think it’s warranted, given — well, you know.

Absolutely. So, you wanted to ask me something?

I do.

Ask away.

She pauses and looks out at the front sidewalk where passersby click away to their various destinations.

Am I making a mistake?

Beg your pardon?

Am I making a mistake? With him?

I’m not sure I understand.

You know him much better than I.

I suppose. Well, I thought I did.

There are things I already know about him. As a man, I mean. He has almost literally swept me off my feet.

Yeah. I know. Been there.

The waiter returns with the drinks. They clink glasses, and feebly say Cheers!

Are you making a mistake? I don’t think I can answer that. I don’t think I should answer that. That’s a question your best friend answers. Or your mother — and the answer from her is yes, definitely. At least that’s my experience.

They laugh, and the tension is reduced.

Are you making a mistake? What does your shrink say?

I don’t see a shrink. I don’t trust them.

You might want to reconsider that. How about your pastor — or who you go to for spiritual advice?

I’m agnostic. Bad experiences in that area.

Oh. Understood.

So, am I? Making a mistake?

A long pause and a deep breath.

Maybe you are. But, maybe not. When I met him we fell head over heels. It was so spontaneous! So incredibly unlike anything else I ever experienced before — and believe me, I was experienced!

Yeah, me too.

This isn’t easy for me, you know.

I know.

I hear about you guys — from friends as well as him, sometimes.

I’m sorry.

Not your fault. We came to an impasse. What had been wasn’t. The spark had died.

Why do you think that happened? If you don’t mind my asking.

We quit tending the fire, I guess. And it was as much me as it was him. One day I looked at him and thought, Who is this man? A relationship is so much more than the giddy stuff, you know. It’s the trenches stuff, like he would say. Dating and dancing and champagne and walking on the beach hand-in-hand are only moments you catch here and there after time.

The waiter returns, and asks if the two women are ready to order. They aren’t, but ask for another round.

Why would you come to me and ask me if you’re making a mistake?

I know what I know about him, and I’m so pleased with that. It’s what I don’t know I worry about.

Honey, every man has a basement full of things they never let you see at the beginning. To be honest, I didn’t exactly reveal all my warts in the beginning.

Why not?

What? Because I liked him and I didn’t want to scare him off! Men are skittish like that!

They laugh again, and the waiter delivers the Old Fashions.

Look, maybe you are making a mistake. But who cares? The mistake he and I made was letting things go over a long period of time. Our split didn’t happen overnight. Besides, you are always going to make mistakes, and they won’t be the same ones he and I made.

I know that. I’m not naïve enough to think it’s the fairy tale ending.

He’s not a serial killer or a bank robber or a secret agent, if that’s what you’re worried about. There was that time an enforcer from the mob showed up looking for money, though.


I’m kidding!

They laugh. The waiter reappears, and they order still another round.

I’m going to have to take a cab home!

We both will!

Honey, what’re you worried about?

Nothing. Everything! The data isn’t good for second marriages.

The data’s not good for first marriages, either.

True. But my parents have been married going on 45 years.

Wow! That’s a long time. Mine divorced when I was in college. Dad remarried got a second divorce. Mom said the hell with it and came out.

She’s gay?

And happy, if I can be redundant. So, nothing’s guaranteed.

I guess not.

But you want a guarantee, right?

I suppose. It’s not like I don’t know what pain is like. I’ve had three relationships I thought were it.

And they weren’t?

I don’t know. I couldn’t get past the what ifs.

Yeah. I can relate.

So, am I making a mistake?

Honey, I wish I could give you a definite answer. He and I were a different couple than you and him. That much I do know. You seem to be a nice fit. That’s really difficult for me to say, by the way.

I know. I shouldn’t have imposed on you.

Well, if it were the reverse, I might have done the same thing.


I know what you want. And I don’t blame you in the least. But I can’t guarantee you’re making a mistake by taking this relationship to the next level. On the other hand, I can’t guarantee it’s not a mistake if you don’t. Make sense?

Yes. And that’s what I’ve been struggling with. There aren’t any guarantees. And you’re right, I want one. So you can’t tell me whether I’m making a mistake or not?

I can’t.

You know what?


I think he made the mistake.

Which was?

Letting you go. Cheers!

Cheers! You hungry?




For a moment …

13 May

For a moment …

By L. Stewart Marsden


For a moment I thought it was you!
And was startled,
Thinking I should walk toward you,
Hold you as in the once-upon-a time
When rhyme and meter kept the rhythm of us.
But I was wrong.
It was not you.
And I was merely startled.

The New Dating Game

29 Apr

Single Woman Seeking Man No smokers Hopeless Romantic A few extra pounds

Single Woman Seeking Man
No smokers
Hopeless Romantic
A few extra pounds

The New Dating Game


How to tip-toe through the hopelessly romantic bevy of available women

and a few suggestions on what not to do and what to do on online match-maker sites

By L. Stewart Marsden


I’ll admit I’ve not been at this new dating game long. Just a few months. But long enough to figure out three important facts:

  1. It’s very difficult to tell what value online matchmaking provides.
  2. It’s very difficult to tell what value online matchmaking provides.
  3. It’s very difficult to tell what value online matchmaking provides.


I haven’t tried every dating format, but some of the companies that pat themselves on the back and tout themselves as industry leaders., Zoosk, and Plenty of Fish are three. I haven’t tried the big Christian match-making company because they, like Ted Cruz, have diluted their purity by allowing anyone onboard.

Of course, it’s probably very difficult to verify whether or not a member is truly Christian, as the litmus tests are as biased and broad as the definition of Christian these days.

My experiences with the three above is that they are difficult to distinguish. The exception is POF provides a pretty in-depth questionnaire on its members’ needs and desires. One assumes this complicated algorithm somehow filters out a variety of mismatches, but it doesn’t seem to work its way out into reality, unfortunately.

For the un-indoctrinated, the process is to sign on for FREE membership. Of course, free means limited by what you get and for how long you get it. Systems are designed to tease the freeloader into either upgrading to some higher status, Golden, Platinum, or Stratosphere (whatever sounds best).

The price for a month or longer as an upgraded member can be steep. And, gosh, if you’re on more than one site (I’ll bet many are, thinking they will draw from a wider pool), then it’s a car payment!  But with a car payment at least you end up with a car.

So, I suppose it’s more like playing the lottery. Another tax on many who can ill-afford the money. Few ever strike pay-dirt.

Why do people do this?

Many are like me, older — and don’t want to go through the bar scene, or the Singles Ministry at their church, or whatever social stepping stone. We hope against hope that the one (and there are many euphemistic adjectives for this person) will magically find us among the tens of millions of members and be so captivated it will be a matter of texting “Hi there!” to start an avalanche to the altar.

I have met some very nice people, who have interesting pasts and stories to tell. I remind all I meet that everything they say may end up in one of my stories! They laugh, not suspecting how true that really is. Having just written this, and because I direct potential relationships to my online writing studio, I recognize this disclosure will probably have adverse effects on my finding THE one.

Below are my recommendations to those who seriously want to separate the chaff from the wheat in this process:

  1. Keep your expectations low. You see a profile photo of someone and you go, “Wow! She’s/he’s really attractive!” Then reality sets in when you meet for a cup of coffee. The photo is several years old.
  2. Read the profiles and pick up on nuances. Things like, “If you are a jerk I will find out and kill you!” Or, “I really like to travel abroad, like evening strolls down the Champs-Élysées, or fine 100-year-old champagne.” Prepare to spend.
  3. When you make text contact and begin communicating, don’t drink and text. Like the bar scene, everyone looks better after the second or third glass of wine.
  4. ASK your friends and family members what they think of someone you are intrigued with. One story I am aware of is of an attractive and sexy woman who did not heed the warnings of her friends. The guy took advantage of her sexually and left her in a shambles. That was within a three-week time period from “Hi” to “Bye.”
  5. Don’t give information out, like phone numbers, emails, Facebook sites or other contact information until you have established the person has earned that information. Trust is one thing. Foolishness, another.
  6. Represent yourself honestly. “A few pounds extra” is, in most cases, not representative of most members’ body types. I put a disclaimer at the beginning of my POF account, and response has dramatically decreased. The problem is, probably the women I’d like to meet click on by. But, hey! I’m not looking for a harem!
  7. Limit the number of people you are in contact with. I was overwhelmed at first, and took the time to concentrate on one person. In the long run it wasn’t a fit, but I felt I gave it an honest shot.
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask any question and expect an answer. When the relationship warrants, do a background check. Expect and even encourage others to do the same, unless you are on the FBI Most Wanted list. Then you wouldn’t do this anyway.
  9. Consider the long-term versus the short-term. Take your time and be deliberate.
  10. Photos: don’t get me started! Your profile shot should be the best photo representation of what you look like today. If you want to show off how you looked when you were Homecoming Queen, or Captain of the football team, don’t use it as your main pic, and be sure you put a disclaimer. Update your profile photo often. Avoid the following in your profile picture: With other people. It’s difficult to tell which one you are. If you’re a woman, don’t have a man’s arm draped around you. I actually saw someone take a pic of a picture where someone had been cut out of the picture. Avoid selfies, or shots into the mirror. Don’t take a “come hither” shot — it cheapens you. No booby shots. No bikini shots where there is a suggestive pose. Your photos should give someone an idea of who you are and what your life is really like. NEVER take a picture of yourself from below looking up your nose!
  11. Remember that you are the person you are. Don’t try to be someone else. Bear in mind MANY on these sites are sharks. They want something. They sense vulnerability and go in for the kill. Don’t be a statistic in that regard.

Okay, eleven is an odd number to stop on. But I could go on.

I’ll continue to use these sites as a filter, and a way to meet people I wouldn’t have ordinarily. My goal is to remain transparent, and able to live with myself.


Here’s a quote I like from Brontë:

“I can live alone, if self-respect, and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give.”

Perhaps you will like it, too.

Mr. Goose

29 Apr

Mr. Goose

by L. Stewart Marsden

The other day I had an experience that reminded me how rude those in positions of authority can be when they wield such power.

One of my sons, who is well on his way to a record-setting traffic ticket all-time high, needed me to cover his attorney’s fee. Yes, I know all the reactions to this, believe me, from enabler to bad, BAD Parent!
Regardless, I drove to his lawyer’s office to make the payment. As I stood at the receptionist’s window, the primary attorney of this small father-son firm wandered into the area, looked at me, and said, “Thank you.”

“For what?” I returned.

“For helping me to make my mortgage and car payments,” he grinned.
“This is for my son,” I explained, not anxious to be cast in the role of an offender/client. “And we’’re going to do everything in our power not to pay for any more of your expenses.”

I was pissed! The anger steeped in my head all the way home and into the night until it split from the ends of my fingers onto my keyboard.

I knew what he meant. He meant I am a fool for doing something I needed a lawyer to defend me for, or arbitrate with a judge. Which is basically true.

It was the way he said it.

We will call this lawyer Mr. Goose. It rhymes with his real name. I’d run into Mr. Goose in the past, when I used to cover court as a reporter. A fine spectacle of a man who honked and bleated his way around the front of the court, Mr. Goose waved his arms and basically demeaned his clients before black-robed judges.

“Your honor, a plea for judgment! My client, who is an idiot and who may or may not learn from this experience, looks for mercy from the bench.”

Then he would turn to the poor waif of a man/woman//teenager, dressed as well as Goodwill Stores allowed, standing and awaiting judgment, and say,

“And he will not EVER dare to repeat such an offense again!”

To which the waif would look down and nod with repentance.

I can only imagine how Mrs. Goose tolerates her husband’s patronizing ways. Maybe the money is good. His is the first name that comes up when those who run afoul of the local law, or Highway Patrol, find themselves charged with various blue-collar crime. While he’s not an ambulance chaser, he’s damn close.

I suppose Mr. Goose to be a one-time wannabe who had aspirations to be a partner in a multi-million-billion-gazillion legal firm. Or, be elected to the district DA position, and then state attorney general and then governor. Or not. Perhaps he’s a settler, and prefers his role in court, twirling about and sashaying on the small stage before an audience of offenders and their parents and girlfriends and such.

Mr. Goose
Played it loose
Until he strangled on his noose.


Karma. One can only hope he and his ilk are indeed rewarded in kind.

They’re like turkey vultures, I guess — providing a necessary function in the cycle of life. You just don’t want them too close.

Is a Puzzlement!?

5 Mar



Is a Puzzlement!?


I’ve been writing and posting to what I call my “online writing studio” since November of 2011. I don’t call it a blog. I think the word itself is less than poetic or literary or romantic. Online writing studio infers you can enter and look around at the messy corners, the stacks of paper, the crumpled self-rejections of my efforts.

Over that period of time I have posted 599 pieces of work. I have a modest 23,925 views, which sounds impressive until you divide the totals by 4, which is the real total of my full years online. 8,737 people have stopped by, but many of those are repeats, so you can’t really trust the figure. The number doesn’t distinguish between one-time and repeat visitors.

  • 2012 was my best overall year for stats, with 2,263 visitors and 9,645 views.
  • My very best day ever was December 15, 2012, with 1,085 views.
  • Most people visit my site on Wednesdays. The most popular time is 1 pm.

It’s interesting to look at the data. I’m really not sure what to do with it.

What has struck me, though, is that one poem I posted back in May 2012 is consistently viewed. In that year it was viewed 13 times. In 2013, 25 times. In 2014, 133 times. And last year, 212 times. This month it has been viewed an average of 2 times a day.

Not a lot, I know. Not thunder and lightning impact. But consistently growing in who reads the poem, and very likely who comes back to reread it.

And I scratch my head over that. Nothing I have written appears on my stats consistently like the poem.

Here it is:


I'm Sick Today

I’m Sick Today

by L. Stewart Marsden

Today I didn’t feel so well —
My throat was very sore;
And Mama took my temp’rature
And stroked my hair some more;

Then measured out my medicine
Into a silver spoon,
With “down the hatch” she smiled at me,
And then she softly crooned …

“I love my girl, my pretty lass,
Who doesn’t feel so well,
You know I would — if I could —
Ring loud the healing bell!

“And up you’d jump and sing straight out,
‘My gosh! I’m ME again!’
And dance and play and laugh and shout
Until the long day’s end.”

But, sad to say, I’m sick today,
All nestled in the bed,
And I will sleep the day away
And rest my fev’rish head;

And dream wild dreams of Faerie lands —
Of castles, kings and queens;
Then of the prince who’ll take my hand
And fly to lands unseen . . .

Where he and I will rule with care
The lowly and the proud;
And when a subject isn’t well
We’ll ring the bell aloud!

And all’ll jump up and sing straight out
“Oh gosh! We’re US again!”
And dance and play and laugh and shout
Until the long day’s end.
Until the long day’s end.


Perhaps it’s the photo I took of my daughter, who was sick on the day I wrote the poem. In truth, it was I who watched over her, and not her mother, but I made the choice because — face it — how many dads really hover around their sick children?

Perhaps it’s that every parent resonates with the scene. Or the poem hies back to days when we were small and sick.

Or maybe the fantasy of a sick child’s dreams.

As the King of Siam said in The King and I, “Is a puzzlement!?”

So, I wonder, can YOU tell me why this poem continues to show up in my online writing studio stats?

The Best! Valentine EVER!

12 Feb

Ahhh…it’s that time of year again!

Writing Odds n Ends

The Best! Valentine EVER!

By L. Stewart Marsden

In the many years I have given and received valentines, there remains one gift that will forever come to mind on this auspicious occasion.

It was my freshman year at college. I’m not going to tell you how many years ago, but suffice to say it was a few years ago.

A girl I was dating at the time and I planned to spend Valentines Day by going to the fraternity I was pledging. That in itself is a story. I firmly believe that the classic film, Animal House, was modeled after Delta Pi Zeta, but I understand a west coast location was the honored frat.

My date, let’s call her Linda, and I went out to the local hamburger joint where the absolute best hamburgers ever were made. Two slices of Texas toast nicely browned, spread with Miracle Whip on…

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