Regrets

 

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Regret.

That’s a tough pill to swallow. Most people just flat out refuse to do so. Not me though. I know better. I should have known better, at least. That’s where the regret comes in.

Marley was a business partner of mine, selling luxury condos in the Cayman Islands. Sounds more glamorous than it is. Mostly it’s just a bunch of paperwork and wooing rich wives of absent rich executives so that they buy our properties. Not a bad gig, but not too interesting either.

Once a year, though, it’s interesting.

Our property manager down in the Caymans is a company called “Isla Hoy.” I asked somebody what that meant once and they told me “Today Island,” or “Island Today,” or some crap like that. I don’t really get where that comes from, but what do I know? I just sell the land. Once a year I actually get to see it all, because “Isla Hoy” is insistent on an owner review and inspection annually. I’m more than happy to oblige. The condos are beautiful, I stay in a nice hotel, and the sunshine and mai tais aren’t too bad either. Everything was great, or good enough, anyway. That is, until Marley got involved.

I make it a habit to only hire people I trust, and the really important stuff I leave for myself. You ever stab yourself in your own back? It’s difficult, and that’s why I take care of the big things alone. It’s easy for someone else to reach that spot on your back when you least expect it. So I don’t let it happen. Some government seizure on the east side of the island changed all of that. Land was being sold for nothing. It was a feeding frenzy, but I’m the biggest shark. The fastest, anyway. I was first in line. In three weeks the amount of property I owned had tripled. I was going to need some help.

That’s where Marley came in.  I knew that I needed a partner, or at least a dang good assistant, so I started putting the feelers out there. I let it be known that I was looking for somebody interested in the right kind of opportunity. I get a call from my sister telling me that her nephew is right for the job. That should have been my first flag. Nepotism has a nasty way of tearing down a good, strong business. She whined about it until I relented and told her I’d give the kid an interview. What could that hurt? I figured I’d humor her and then hire somebody serious, somebody real. I went ahead and set up a date.

I have to hand it to him, the kid interviews well. Good school, not that I went to one. Good grades, not that I had gotten them. He had an infectious smile and he motioned really big with his hands. He seemed full of ideas and drive for something better. He kept talking about growth and expansion- two things I’d only ever pursued when the opportunity came along. Somehow, all of the things that had never impressed me before- a fancy education, the approval of some professors I’ve never looked in the eye, and big ideas in the grand snake oil style- they impressed me. That was my second mistake.

I took him on, and true to his word, he got right down to business. Sold three properties in two weeks, and that’s nothing to shake a stick at. Rent from one of those properties alone pays my nut, and each additional sale is just money in the bank.  My earlier suspicion aside, I was starting to think I had made the right choice in an assistant.

Time went on. Properties sold. Marley found us some primo property offshore, and before you knew it we were in the private island business. I hadn’t ever thought to sell whole islands to bored millionaires, but the kid was passionate, and he was family, and it brought in some dough, so who was I to judge? I let him do it. I looked over his shoulder and made sure he dotted his t’s and crossed his i’s- and I meant to say that backwards, trust me. It took off. Started earning a positive income in less than a year. Marley made me money, I made him a partner.

My third mistake was easing off. I used to do late nights in the office when there was a lot to finish up. I take care of the important stuff myself, remember? But this kid Marley started offering to stay with me and help. He’d buy coffee, we’d work till late together. Eventually he just offered to stay and do it himself. I might as well have burned the place down the first night I finally agreed. I don’t know if it’s because I got old or tired, but the kid started working when I wasn’t looking, and I had given the okay.

You know the rest of the story. You know about the bodies they found, the missing persons buried in unmarked cemeteries on my islands. You know about the drug safe-houses, the cartel conspiracies, and all of that racket. I hear we even rented out one of my islands off of Nova Scotia to a Canadian forger. Money Launderer. What do you call it? A counterfeiter, that’s right. Anyway, crime being sheltered by my company to an unprecedented degree, enabling the free reign of pushers, murderers, runners, and general crooks for something like six years.

And now I’m in here, talking to you while my great nephew Marlow, or whatever the heck he is to me, is off running his next venture in plain sight up in Eugene, Oregon. The paper trail is squeaky clean for him, and me- it all pointed back to me, and that’s why I’m stuck in this place, rotting inside four walls.

So you ask me if I have regrets? Yeah I have regrets. Three of ‘em that I just told you about.

I should have never let him learn my signature for business deals. That was my fourth mistake.

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On Music

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I saw a beating drum

Its mallet no man could move

But when it hit, the sounds in it

Fled, and flurry ensued

 

The beats hid in the alleys

Where vagabonds make their stay

It’s ever been to wanderers

That rhythm first finds its way

 

Some beats flew into hearts

But not into their hands

So they would know it when they hear it

But never truly understand

 

Some could be found by searching

Hidden in books and schools

Because harmony’s touch left them lurching

Needing to know all the rules

 

It came to me much freer

I’ll never understand

All I know is when music’s near

It always seems to land

A Powder Keg Differed

The Great War

In my continuing quest to become educated, I have lately been studying World War I, or The Great War. It is fascinating for so many reasons- it represents the clash of the old world with the modern. Fortress-ruining explosives are being drawn by horse and wagon. People in plumed battle hats are being mowed down by machine guns. The sheer scale of the war is intriguing and horrifying at the same time. For instance, the Civil War Battle of Antietam, often called the ‘bloodiest day in American history,’ had 2,700 deaths and 17,000 wounded. In the first few days of the Great War, France ALONE was showing numbers that dwarfed this: 75,000 dead and 200,000+ wounded. It is a riveting, sickening, dramatic, and tragic time in the history of our world.

Here is what strikes me as odd. In WWI the great powers of the West (and elsewhere, also) lined up against one another in a great and heroic struggle to the death. Men were sent to their deaths in futile charges from the trench again and again, dying because they were ordered to. Carnage scattered across the Western Front as all involved fought tooth and nail to emerge victorious. The cost was great, yet the purpose was not. World War I was fought for no reason.

That may not be a sentiment all of us are familiar with, so I will elaborate. Due to the great evil that swelled up in Germany during the era of World War II, we tend to associate the German military with all wickedness. This, coupled with the fact that the Allies in WWI forced the Germans to take the blame, makes us think of the Great War as a conflict similar to that of WWII: The free nations of the world link arms and stand against the imperialistic, barbaric, expansionist policies of a power-hungry nation-state. Yet when you go back and research the events surrounding the Great War, it becomes clear that this simply isn’t the case.

A “powder keg” is often the term used to describe Europe in the days leading up to the Great War. It is an apt appellation. Everyone was suspicious of each other, each terrified that if there was to be a conflict, they might be the last to mobilize and thus suffer the consequences. World War I was fought not because of competing interests, but because allegiances between nations were already determined, one small spark of an event in Yugoslavia happened, and swords were drawn in response. Once one party was threatened, (Austria-Hungary), its allies took up arms (Germany) and its enemies (Russia, France, UK) took up arms as well. There was still no reason to attack one another, other than preemptive strategy, but everyone involved believed that failure to preempt would mean a lost war- especially Germany. They had good cause to think so, in a way, since they were encircled by nations allied with their enemies, and yet as I read through the long and graphic histories of the horrors of this war, I cannot help but decry the fact that no one was really fighting for anything in particular.

It makes me wonder how we might be doing this sort of thing today- how I might be doing it in my own life. So many of my disputes, I suspect, are like this great and terrible war. Sometimes there isn’t much of a reason for contention, just that fighting is what we do. Allegiances are already determined. If I don’t get my words in first, maybe someone else will, and then where will I be?

Likely, I would be fine, and a “war” would be avoided.

It is a good thing to have a quick draw. It is an even better thing to possess the prudence to know when to use it, and when not to.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1

First Pages Reveal- Starborn

Hello, dear readers. As always, I want to thank you for reading my blog and supporting my work. This blog has been going for about a year and a half now and has been read in 57 countries worldwide! Pretty exciting stuff, and it couldn’t have happened without you reading and sharing my Wednesday whims.

Today’s post is something I’m eager to share with you. As many of you probably know, the final installment in the Starfall Trilogy is just a couple of weeks from being released. Below is the first two pages. Enjoy!

-W.A.

W.A. Fulkerson

Zinzio’s heart raced as he ran by the rushing waters. He dodged reeds and river plants, succumbing to the ever-increasing urge to hurry. A fire burned deep within him. He could hardly contain it.

The sun shone brightly over the riverside, catching rays in the beads of sweat that formed near Zinzio’s temples. He was young- barely twelve, and yet it had happened. The singing of the birds, the rustling of the leaves, and the smell of the air all passed unnoticed amidst his quiet desperation. He wiped the sweat away from his brow and ran harder.

The coursing river turned northward suddenly, and it cascaded into a calmer pool below. Zinzio hardly slowed down as he reached a steep drop-off and began to climb down the rocks. Spray from the waterfall misted his face as he descended.

Dropping the last few feet to the fertile soil below, Zinzio finally halted, looking at the magnificent sight before him.

The pool at the base of the waterfall was glowing. Such promising, pure light filtered through the water, saturating it from the river’s sandy floor. Zinzio’s young heart was stilled. He could scarcely believe that it was happening.

Without so much as bothering to remove his shirt, the boy began to wade into the remote pool, feeling its water rise up around him as he entered deeper and deeper in, until he could no longer stand. He kept his eyes fixed on the center of the pool, swimming smoothly across the surface as the waterfall crashed and shouted beyond.

Finally surrounded by the luminescence of the pool, Zinzio took a deep breath and dove. His eyes immediately lighted upon his submerged star. In wonder, he kicked to the depths of the water and took the star between his hands.

Everything changed. In an instant there was no water around him. Zinzio felt his arms pulled upward, and surrounded by nothing but complete, enrapturing whiteness, the boy hung suspended in the air, dripping wet. A thousand different thoughts and feelings crowded his heart.

The star hummed pleasantly as it freed itself from Zinzio’s grip and floated several feet away, its light growing in intensity, yet not harming the boy’s eyes. No darkness remained, not even in shadow. A deep and beautiful voice sounded forth.

“Puer amatus, bene fecisti quod stellam tuam invenisti. Elite, et te dono remunerabor.”

Uncertainty filled Zinzio’s young heart, but he knitted his brow and clenched his fists, hoping for the best.

“Donum Lux Sidorum opto!” he called anxiously.

The star continued to hum and drops of water continued to fall from the boy’s clothing, but the change did not come.

“Ille praemia terminata est.”

Tears filled Zinzio’s eyes and he blinked hard, shaking his head and turning red. He reverted to his native tongue.

“But why?” he shouted. “Why can I not choose the gift of my fathers?”

 

~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~~°~

That does it for the preview! If you haven’t yet gotten the chance to read Starfall or Star-Crossed, find them on Amazon or here on my website: http://wafulkerson.com/books/. Onward and upward, friends, and I’ll be back next week with something new.

Aspirations

make a wish

Once I had a dream

But it was messy in my hands

A freshly born desire

That I didn’t understand.

 

I hung it out to dry

So it wouldn’t stain my palms

When I finally went to fetch it

It had been stolen from the lawn

 

Once I had a dream

So I put it in a box

Ashamed and scared to let people see

I piled on the locks

 

Through the years that slipped away

My dream collected rust

When I finally went to fetch it

It had withered into dust

 

Once I had a dream

I held it tightly in my fist

Neglect destroyed and people stole

So I wouldn’t let go of this

 

My eyes were always on it

My knuckles, they turned white

When I finally went to use it

I’d suffocated my delight

 

Once I had a dream

So I took it to my father

“I don’t know how to care for this

Hold it until I’m stronger?”

 

He agreed and the years went on

Till I became a man

When I finally went to fetch it

It was just as it should have been.