RED STAR PINES

The sun was just beginning to rise over the Sangala Valley and the day was already warm. Ekon, a middle-aged widower and his son Mosi sat outside as they did each morning eating their breakfast before beginning their long day in the fields. It had been just the two of them since Ekon’s wife Bisa died from a fever several years earlier.

The Sangala Valley is very small but a good home for Ekon and Mosi. There is an abundance of sunlight for growing crops and copious amounts of fruit trees to provide much needed shade during the hottest times of the day. Mosi goes fishing daily in nearby Lake Caballo; he has become quite proficient but Ekon is the hunter, always keeping them well-fed with rabbits, pigs, deer or fowl. They also keep roosters, chickens and have a female mule for milk.

Three other families live in the valley and share the area peacefully, frequently trading with each other. Ekon and Mosi are fortunate to have a variety of foods to eat; however, they have had no luck growing wheat or other grains – something Bisa excelled at. Sometimes the women bring them flatbread and loaves of Green Mealies, a fluffy corn bread, in exchange for various items.

Forests of wild pine trees grow in the distance and the view from the valley is magnificent. One evening as father and son relaxed by their campfire after a long day, Mosi expressed his greatest desire: “Father, one day I shall visit the Red Star Pines.”

“One day?” exclaimed Ekon and laughed heartily. “My son, the pines are thousands of miles away, a rigorous and dangerous journey of many months. It is a quest, not a day’s adventure.”

“But how can that be, Father?” Mosi questioned. “I can see them as clearly as I can see Lake Caballo.”

“Mosi, the wild pines are enormous and tower over everything” Ekon explained. “Their closeness is a mere illusion.”

“But Father” Mosi argued. “Look across the lake. The pines are plainly visible and the land is flat. We can get there in half a day!”

“That is true, my son, but they are just saplings. There’s much more to the pine woods than meets the eye. You must give up this fantasy. Now, off to bed for both of us.”

Mosi did not mention the Red Star Pines again for a long time but he never abandoned his dream. One morning during breakfast Mosi told his father that he had decided he would not be able to rest until he traveled to the woods – or at least tried. Ekon’s first reaction was to once again talk Mosi out of his idea but as he looked at his son he realized he was no longer a child and his mind was made up. Ekon told Mosi he understood the need that drove him and they would make the trek together.

Mosi was thrilled and immediately began to prepare. Ekon said they must bring only the barest of necessities, their fishing and hunting tools and their mule Shiga. There was also one priceless object which Ekon would never leave behind, a treasure handed down from generation to generation – a tiny vial containing the Tincture of Jal’mboor. One small drop on the tip of the tongue would allow the user to speak in any language chosen and the spell would remain until no longer needed.

They set out the following morning, reaching the woods in a few hours. Mosi was shocked to find he was taller than the saplings. The terrain was flat and easily passable until the fifth day when they came upon a vast, swiftly-moving river blocking their path. Having no craft, the duo consulted an old map and chose to travel east. This would take them out of their way but is was the safer route. After many days of walking they reached a shallow section of the river which they crossed safely.

The new terrain was steeper and difficult. The forests were dense and hardly any light shone through. They were keenly aware of strange sounds and Ekon kept his spear by his side. Without warning the trees began to quake; suddenly hundreds of birds flew out and disappeared. A second later a massive tiger appeared. He stared at Ekon and Mosi, slits of amber eyes observing their every move. He snarled, exposing razor sharp fangs. Ekon whispered for Mosi to stand perfectly still but Shiga was spooked and whinnied loudly. In an instant the tiger leapt but Ekon was ready and felled the giant cat with his trusty spear. The duo dined that night on sinewy tiger meat, refilled their water skins from a babbling brook and went to sleep. They would start fresh in the morning.

However, when Ekon and Mosi awoke they were not in the same place as the night before. They were in a higher elevation; it was colder and there were traces of snow. They were comfortably covered in blankets next to a small fire under a giant pine tree. Shiga happily munched in a nearby trough. Besides the change of location, there was a much more obvious and disconcerting difference: both men had aged approximately five years! Mosi looked to be about 25 years old and Ekon had some grey in his hair and beard.

A group of men emerged from the woods; immediately Ekon reached for the vial in his wrap and placed one drop on the tip of his tongue. Quickly Mosi did the same. The leader of the group spoke rapidly, explaining how his men found Ekon and Mosi unconscious near the brook five years ago and brought them back to their village. The brook had been poisoned years ago by after a mysterious storm and an antidote had yet to be found. The men were members of the ancient San tribe, learned men of science who assured Ekon and Mosi they meant them no harm. When Ekon answered in San, the men were surprised but quickly deduced Ekon possessed the power of the Jal’mboor. As they spoke some San women approached with food and clean clothes. Mosi immediately caught the eye of a beautiful young woman called Tayla and they smiled shyly.

Ekon and Mosi learned much from the San people. They knew how to preserve food in such a way that it could be dried, shrunken to a compact size and last for years. They developed a shield of invisibility to disappear at the first sign of danger thus avoiding any conflict or violence. They were philosophers and great thinkers but lacked basic skills such as carpentry. Even their tents were falling over!

Mosi and Ekon told the San people of their quest to reach the top of the Red Star Pines. Many had tried but very few succeeded. It was a treacherous journey but the San could help if Ekon and Mosi did something in return for them: teach them to build huts. The pair agreed and spent the next two years working with the San people. During that time Mosi and Tayla fell in love and he promised to return for her after they reached the summit.

The San warned Ekon and Mosi about the Sanguine Precipice, the Eikae Dragon Den and the bloodthirsty Madosu Gorillas. The San said they would provide Mosi and Ekon with a map to get them safely passed the precipice and presented them with the invisibility shield to evade the monstrous dragons and gorillas. Mission now complete, Ekon and his son prepared to leave the next morning.

Shiga was loaded down with new flasks containing safe water, bundles of food, blankets and the invisibility shield. Bidding Tayla farewell, Mosi and Ekon followed the San people until they were safely on the other side of the poisonous brook. At the last minute, Mosi fetched a few old water skins and filled them with poison water. Now they were truly on their own, prepared but anxious. The higher they climbed the colder it became and they blessed the San women for their gift of warm clothing.

The pair hiked forever, sometimes not uttering a single word. Their silence was soon disturbed by horrifying screeches and savage bellows. They knew they reached the first hazard: the Eikae Dragons. The sound of huge flapping wings filled the sky and Mosi quickly grabbed the invisibility shield just before catching a glimpse of the nightmarish creatures. They covered themselves just in time and the Eikae hovered over them, sniffing the air suspiciously with gargantuan nostrils, then angrily flew away. Mosi and Ekon remained where they were until they were sure all was safe. They carefully retracted the shield and secured it onto Shiga’s back.

At first Ekon kept a record of the passing number of nights but eventually lost count. They walked for what seemed an eternity and Mosi questioned himself a thousand times over. They came to a divided path but the San map was unclear so they chose a path with no particular reason in mind. It proved to be the wrong choice. Rounding a bend they found themselves face to face with the Madosus. They were hideous beasts, a combination of a gorilla and a hippopotamus. Ekon froze as the savages slowly came closer, snorting loudly and beating their breasts. But Mosi thought quickly and placed a drop of the Jal’mboor potion on the tip of his tonge.

To the bewilderment of the gorillas Mosi began speaking in fluent Madosu: “We are travelers. We seek no trouble. All we wish is to pass by safely.”

One of the gorillas asked: “How is it you can speak our language?”

“We are magicians. We can offer you whatever you desire. What is your greatest wish?” Mosi asked, covering his fear.

“TO EAT YOU!” shouted the Madosu.

“But you can do that any time” countered Mosi.

“ABSOLUTE POWER!” roared the gorilla.

“If that is what you desire, I can provide it. It’s as easy as drinking the supernatural waters in these skins” and Mosi tossed the sacks to the gorillas. They greedily drank the brook water and were poisoned within seconds.

Elated with their great success over the Madosu, Ekon and Mosi quickened their pace and moved on. Their relief was short lived, however, when they reached the Sanguine Precipice. Never before had they seen such a narrow path nor so steep a cliff. Mosi checked the San map and saw a widening in the path about four feet ahead. Crossing those four feet would be crucial. They could not make one false move. Mosi believed he and his father could do it but he wasn’t sure about Shiga. The men decided to lighten Shiga’s load by dividing it beween them. She stood a better chance without the extra weight. Slow as snails they proceeded, placing one foot before the other, Mosi leading Shiga and Ekon gently pushing her rear.

Just as they safely reached the clearing, Shiga lost her footing and landed full force on top of Ekon who howled in agony. Working quickly Mosi got Shiga upright and tied her to a tree; then he returned for Ekon. As soon as Mosi tried to lift his father, Ekon screamed and lost consciousness; Mosi immediately knew his father’s back was broken. Mosi carried Ekon like a newborn baby and laid him in the shade of a Red Star Pine; it was only then that he realized they had made it to the summit. His quest was complete but at what cost?

Slowly, Ekon opened his eyes and whispered “We made it, son!” Then quietly he exhaled and died. Mosi cried out in sorrow, the mountains echoing his mournful wail, and Shiga softly nudged him with her head. Mosi buried Ekon on the summit of the Red Star Pines, laying his trusty spear, bow and arrow across the grave. Snow lightly began to fall as Mosi packed all their belongings and securely placed them onto Shiga’s back. Now knowing the safe route Mosi and Shiga began their trek back to Tayla and home to the Sangala Valley.

NAR © 2021

A SHELL OF A MAN

A SHELL OF A MAN

Who the hell do you think you are,
Sitting out there in your fancy car?
Everyone know that you’re just a tool
Strutting around town like a Goddamn fool! 

You spend more time on your pretty boy look
Thinking you can snag me with your Devil hooks.
Well, let me tell you something that you might not know:
Your looks count for nothing when it’s all for show.

You’re not a man, just an empty shell
Of someone I thought I knew so well.
It’s obvious to everyone who called you friend
You care for no one and deep wounds never mend.

What happened to your soul, your spirit, your heart?
Did you ever once wonder why we had to part?
Of course you didn’t; your conscience is clean
Of every misdeed you claim to have never seen.

You used and confused me, deluded and abused me
And made me forget the strong woman I used to be.
I don’t look any different; it’s inside I’m not the same.
It’s gotten so don’t even recognize my name.

It won’t be long before you’re all alone.
No one’s gonna call you on the telephone.
You’re the biggest loser so face the facts:
People will judge you by your deeds and acts.

You think you’re perfect like Christ walking on water
But what kind of man abandons his wife and daughter?
My father always said you were a piece of shit
But I turned a deaf ear; I just didn’t want to hear it.

I trusted you once; I was blind, deaf and dumb
To the fact that you were nothing but a piece of scum.
How could I have been such an idiot not to see
What a snake in the grass you’d turn out to be?

You wooed and chased me, swept me off my feet
With pretty little gifts and whispered lies so sweet.
I felt so very special when we were out together.
Never listening when told I could do much better.

I loved you so much and you promised me all
So we ran off and got married at Buxton Hall.
A quiet little honeymoon at the Tan Hill Inn;
No more sneaking around and ‘living in sin’.

It didn’t take long for your true colors to show.
I caught you making time with some floozy named Flo.
That was just the start of a whirlwind of deceit.
You broke my heart to bits and I kicked you to the street.

So now you’re sitting there just like you own the place
With a look so smug I want to slap it off your stupid face.
You thought you could control me, break me down, but in the end
I turned into a willow tree and I learned how to bend.

Do us all a favor and get the fuck out of here.
Don’t come close to me or those I hold so dear.
Drive as far away as you can and don’t ever return.
You’re going straight to hell and I’ll be laughing while you burn.

NAR © 2021

GUEST POST: BEFORE MY EYES

BY PETER DAVIES

IT IS AN HONOR TO PRESENT TO YOU A POEM BY PETER DAVIES, MY FRIEND FROM ACROSS THE POND. I’M SURE ONCE YOU READ THIS INSPIRING PIECE YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY I CHOSE IT FOR MY SITE. THANK YOU, PETER, FOR YOUR BEAUTIFUL PROSE.

Why do I feel so pointless
As a broken pencil to be cast away;
My mark fades now on this true Earth
These eyes are turning from blue to gray.


Why do I feel so shattered
As a window looking far into the Sun;
My words sinking away to the shadows
These eyes beholding the kingdom come.


Why do I feel so helpless
As a sparrow with a broken wing;
My heart becomes hollow and empty
These eyes searching for a soul to cling.


Why do I feel so unloved
As a beast of burden before the blade;
My hands are cut to the bone and bleeding
These eyes they close in a dream of shade.


Why do I feel so mortal
As a child who is born only to die;
My tongue it tastes the salt of the shore
These eyes have drowned in tears to cry.


©️ Peter Davies. 2021

SHOULD HAVE GONE FOR PIZZA

“End of the Line. What a clever name for a seafood restaurant!” declared my mother as we rode down Main Street in Sag Harbor. “Let’s stop for dinner, Mark. I’m starving.”

My sister Mckenzie, brother Jake and I exchanged looks and rolled our eyes. Going to a restaurant with our parents was our least favorite part of vacation.

“Sure, Jan. Looks like a nice little place!” my Dad readily agreed, as usual. “Whaddya say, kids?”

“Why don’t you drop us off at the pizza place and we can meet you back at the hotel?” I suggested knowing that idea would never fly.

“Rebecca Grace, this is the first summer vacation we’ve taken in years and we’re going to dinner as a family. There’ll be no further discussion, is that clear?”

Why do mothers always use our first and middle names when they’re cross with us? That conversation ended exactly as I knew it would but dammit it, I had to try for my sake and my siblings. Being in the company of our parents 24/7 sucked. We have dinner with them back home every night. We’re teenagers; we can handle pizza or burgers on our own once in a while – and some Mike’s Hard Lemonade! (You didn’t hear that from me!)

The restaurant was actually pretty nice – nothing fancy and it was right on the water. Even I had to admit it had potential. The proof would be in the pudding and by that I meant the menu. Mom was the pickiest eater on the planet and Dad, God bless him, had the patience of a saint. My sister, brother and me? Not so much.

First thing my eternally hormonal brother noticed was the pretty young waitresses in their tight white t-shirts and even tighter khaki shorts with “FORE” and “AFT” emblazoned respectively.

“Yeah, baby, this place is a bit of alright” Jake said, practically drooling over a cute redhead who smiled flirtatiously at him. Mckenzie laughed so hard she nearly choked on a breadstick and said “When did you turn into Austin Powers? You’re such a dickhead!”  I thought that was pretty hysterical coming from a 13-year-old. Jake gave her the finger under the table and Mom gasped “Mckenzie Faith! I swear sometimes the devil himself resides in that mouth of yours! Mark, why do you let them watch those nasty foreign movies?”

Dad was nonplussed and mumbled something that sounded like an apology even though he had no idea what he was apologizing for! He was just trying to avoid an unpleasant scene.

Much to Jake’s chagrin one of the head waitresses came over to our table. She wore black pants, a white blouse, a black vest and looked more like Sister Rosetta Stone than Emma Stone! She asked if we were ready to order; Mom gave her standard reply which we all silently recited, our noggins bouncing back and forth like those little bobble-head dolls on car dashboards: “Everything looks so delicious, I just can’t decide! You all go ahead and order first. I’ll be ready by the time you’re done.”

Dad ordered first: “I’ll have the salmon with mixed vegetables and a Sam Adams, please.” BAM! Four seconds flat.

Jake said he’d have the pizza. The waitress pointed out the window to Sag Pizza then announced that ‘our pizza is on the kid’s menu and available only to children aged 10 and under”. She jokingly asked if Jake was 10 years old. I couldn’t resist replying that he only behaved like a 10-year-old but he was really 15. Jake hid behind a menu, his face turning as red as pizza sauce.

Giving Jake a chance to cool down, the waitress asked “How about you, girls? Do you know what you’d like to eat?”

Mckenzie and I answered in unison: “Fried shrimp, waffle fries, iced tea and extra ketchup, please.” BAM! Five seconds flat.

Recovering from his embarrassment, Jake sullenly said “Fish sticks, onion rings and a Coke.” BAM! Two seconds!

Shocker of shockers: Mom wasn’t quite ready! Flustered, she said “Oh, my! That was awfully fast! Let’s see” and she buried her head in the menu which the rest of the family had now committed to memory. Finally her recitative began:

“You know, I’d really love to try that soft-shell crab sandwich but I remember when I was a little girl I ate one and the shell wasn’t soft
at all. I’ve never forgotten that;
very traumatic! Tiny shards of shell getting stuck in my throat!
How’s the blackened swordfish? Is it spicy?
I just can’t tolerate spicy foods.
Delicate constitution, you know?
Sometimes they say it’s not spicy when it really is
so you can’t be too careful.
Uh, sushi? Definitely not! Anyone who eats raw fish
is asking for trouble.
You have to be out of your mind to order that horrid stuff,
no offense.
Oh, now, this looks promising: grilled tuna, but it comes with a horseradish sauce.
Why does everything come with some kind of sauce?
Seems all the rage lately.
I’m not so sure how I feel about that – almost like they’re trying to
cover something up”
(and she laughed at the little joke she just made).
Hmm, baked potato or rice? All those useless carbs!
Can I substitute something healthy and gluten free,
maybe green beans or a salad but no cucumbers, croutons,
onions or dressing?
And absolutely no horseradish sauce!
Oh, yes, water to drink, with a lemon wedge, please.
Not a wimpy slice; a nice big wedge. Yes, that’s what I’ll have.
Thank you, ma’am.”

And she handed the menu back to the waitress whose eyes had glazed over five minutes ago – much like Luca Brasi who sleeps with the fishes.

The blessed waitress, who was even more patient than Dad, innocently suggested Mom try the plain grilled tuna on a bed of fresh salad greens to which Mom replied “Oh, goodness me! I didn’t even see the salad section on the menu. Why don’t you bring everyone their drinks and I’ll just give the menu another look?” I think we all died a little just then.

Jake grumbled “Should have gone for pizza” and we sat there contemplating the scrumptious Sag Pizza right across the street and another two weeks of meals just like this one – all except Mom who still had her head stuck in the menu.

Dad discreetly motioned for the bartender to keep the fortifying Sam Adams coming. Way to go, Dad!

It was gonna be a long night.

End of the Line

NAR © 2021

CYBER HOOKUPS

Flower child, bohemian, hippie. No, she was never one of those. She was always cool with her oh so very low-rise jeans, halter tops, outrageously high platform shoes and drop-dead smile. She had a peculiarity for going commando, occasionally opting for the tiniest of thongs.

Classy in a smooth and sensual way that was second nature, she was never one who had to try too hard. Delightful imperfections that went unnoticed, she had IT and she was irresistible.

Living in the fast lane, she went to clubs and concerts, hanging out with everyone from hookers to Carmelites. She never really enjoyed drugs with the exception of the indescribably exquisite quaalude. She led a life of passion with no regrets, no apologies, no explanations.

Friends and lovers – never a lack of either. Women were jealous of her but she was too much fun to dislike. Men were ineffably drawn to her like the proverbial moth to flame. She was no alley cat, no “screw-‘em-in-the-disco-bathroom” type. She could be submissive when she wanted to be but knew how the game was played, never doing anything she wasn’t curious about, and stopping if she didn’t enjoy it.

And now in the autumn of her life when all her friends are winding down, she’s still starting up. A couple of seemingly innocuous messages online led to the start of a crazy, sexually charged and mutually intoxicating long-distance liaison. No attachments, no commitments, no worries. Something that could end as quickly as it began but would never be forgotten. Games with one roguish, audacious and charming devil who’s as insatiable as she.

And right now that’s exactly how she likes it.

NAR © 2021

DANCING ON THE BLACK KEYS

DANCING ON THE BLACK KEYS

Orlando Hightower – or “Keys” as he was known by everyone – was probably the hottest black jazz pianist since the legendary Scott Joplin. He was the real deal, on top of his game at the tender age of 17. The world was his oyster.

Times were dangerous in Harlem, New York. The year was 1923 – the United States’ era of Prohibition and racial segregation.

Orlando was born with fingers wiggling and toes tapping. He had an innate talent to play whatever popped into his head and danced out of his hands. Once he heard a tune it was carved into his memory. He created songs on his grandmother’s rickety upright as easily as someone writing a shopping list.

When Orlando was 12 his mother got a job as chief housekeeper for the Gale Family. Orlando would tag along with her, making himself useful and staying out of trouble. Mrs. Hightower kept him on a short leash knowing how easy it was for young boys to get caught up in the allure of unsavory activities. She always said Orlando was destined to be a man of noble position. A life of crime only led to the destruction of morals; once that happened you had nothing in your future except misery and a jail cell.

Moe Gale was co-owner of the world-famous Savoy Club and an extremely wealthy man. Orlando would entertain himself for hours at the Gale’s baby grand by penning original songs. One of his favorite things to do was write pieces in the pentatonic scale using only the black keys of the piano. Orlando’s talent did not go unnoticed by Moe and he was determined to have him play at The Savoy. Unlike many clubs, The Savoy had a no-discrimination policy. Moe implored Mrs. Hightower several times a week to allow Orlando to play at the club and her answer never changed: “When he’s old enough. Let him be a boy.” Moe would always ask when that would be but Orlando’s mother just shrugged saying “When I know, you’ll know.”

After almost five years of pleading with Mrs. Hightower, she finally relented and gave permission for Orlando to play at the club – on a trial basis. Moe was ecstatic; he knew a sure thing when he saw one. Moe became Orlando’s manager and kept him on the straight and narrow.

Orlando started at The Savoy as pianist with the large house band and his skills were quickly noticed by the clientele. Soon he became a member of the jazz quartet and shortly was featured as accompanist for some of the biggest singers of the day.

Finally the night arrived for the premier of Orlando’s solo performance and his career took off like a starship. Mrs. Hightower sat at the best table in the house, her face beaming with pride as she watched her son play. But the thing that brought her enormous joy was the marquee out front –

Appearing Nightly At The Savoy:
The Incomparable ‘Keys’ Hightower!”

Mrs. Hightower could now rest east knowing her job was done. Orlando had turned into an accomplished, successful and noble gentleman of high character. He made his mother proud.

NAR © 2021

GONE SOUTH

“Lie to me one more time, boy, and I’ll toss that mutt of yours right off the cliff” Sidney Granger threatened his stepson, Harry. “Now, I’m gonna ask you again; where’s my compass?”

Harry glanced up at Sidney with an indifferent look on his face. “I don’t know where your stupid compass is, Sidney. Have you tried looking up your ass?” Harry quipped, knowing the comment would only make matters worse. He didn’t care; watching his stepfather get apoplectic was worth it.

Harry immediately regretted what he’d said, not for himself but for his dog. Sidney reacted in his usual way – one swift kick of his hobnail boot directed at Harry’s springer spaniel, Charlemagne. The dog sensed what was coming and quickly darted away, baring his teeth and growling at Sidney. Charlemagne remembered the pain of that boot all too well.

You got lucky, mongrel. Next time I won’t miss” Sidney snarled. “And, boy, you keep calling me by my name and there’ll be hell to pay. You’re to address me as ’Sir’, is that clear?” Sidney turned and angrily walked away. Harry gave him the finger behind his back.

“Sir!” Harry muttered under his breath. “You’re not in the navy anymore, you bastard! Now you’re just an angry impotent nobody who abuses animals and women.” Harry’s eyes turned dark as he thought of the fresh bruises on his mother’s arms and legs. The man had no conscience.

Barbara Granger fell under Sidney’s spell the first time they met. She always had a weakness for a man in uniform and longed for the life as the wife of a highly regarded military man. Widowed for several years, Barbara happily accepted Sidney’s proposal but her joy was short lived when he was forced to retire due to his age before reaching the coveted position of Rear Admiral. Barbara’s disappointment paled in comparison to Sidney’s humiliation and indignation.

Now Sidney vented his frustration and disillusionment on Barbara and Charlemagne. He tried several times to dominate Harry but the boy’s resilience and stubborn dismissiveness caused Sidney to feel weak and powerless – a role he was not familiar with. He wanted nothing more than to wring Harry’s neck. He knew there was more to the boy than met the eye. Harry would not succumb easily, if at all, and that concept enraged Sidney. 

Harry waited until Sidney was far enough away before he whistled for Charlemagne. The two friends walked to a secluded bower on the other side of the large garden. Harry reached into his pocket for his treasured penknife, one of the few possessions he had from his late father. Harry looked for the small marker he’d carved in a tree, crouched down and snapped open the knife. Charlemagne sat quietly in the shade as Harry carefully cut a circle in the moss-covered ground, then painstakingly began to dig until the blade of his knife made contact with a rock he had buried. Harry wiped the knife clean and folded it closed, slipping it back into his pocket. He removed the rock and placed it to his side. Reaching into the hole Harry retrieved a dirty burlap pouch and gently loosened the drawstring to reveal Sidney’s precious compass. Even in the shade of the willow tree the compass gleamed.

Just then Charlemagne began growling and barking; instinctively Harry knew Sidney was standing behind him.  

“You thieving little liar!” Sidney spat out furiously. Harry reached for the rock but Sidney kicked it out of Harry’s hand, causing him to cry out in pain. Harry managed to whistle and Charlemagne lunged at Sidney with a force so powerful he fell backwards. The spaniel sank his teeth into Sidney’s neck. Writhing on the ground, Sidney managed to break away from Charlemagne who relentlessly attacked again in an effort to protect Harry. 

With arms flailing Sidney edged closer to the side of the cliff but once again freed himself from the clutches of the dog. Harry grabbed the rock from the ground and with a mighty force flung it at Sidney, hitting him squarely on his forehead. Stunned and bleeding, Sidney reeled and careened off the edge, bouncing off the boulders on his way down and disappearing into the choppy sea. 

Charlemagne ran to Harry who scooped him up in his arms. “Good boy” Harry said soothingly as they walked to the cliff’s edge. The only sign of Sidney was one hobnail boot sticking out of a crevice. Harry realized he was still clutching Sidney’s compass. Glancing at it, he smiled slightly. How fitting that Sidney had gone south.

NAR © 2021