Edits, Magic, and Mayhem

It seems an age of the Earth ago that I started writing Slant Well. It is the first novel I finished writing. I started several others, on my journey to become a writer and be published, but chalked them up to the learning experience and put them in the proverbial file drawer unfinished. Slant Well is a tribute to my persistence. I wrote until I got the story told, then cut out a large book’s worth of excess.

In order to get the story told, the characters in Slant Well took over my imagination and made their adventures happen. They taught me a lot. Now, the time draws near when they will go public with their story of murder, mayhem, magic, and vengeance. The first round edits are done. The manuscript is in the works to be typeset. One more round of proofreading and it will be formatted for the various e-book formats as well as for the print edition.

I went to the bayou in the book and took pictures of the beautiful and magical world there.

cypress in Taylor's bayou      Cypress across from Pine Tree Lodge     cypress knees in water.

May Day

May Day

MRJones

The brilliant ribbons of a May Pole fluttered in a gentle breeze on the back lawn of Evelyn Eden’s home. Later in the day, a dance would weave the ribbons into a colorful sheath. Smoke and the aroma of roasting meat filled the air. Allyn Jones stood in the shade of a live oak, watching Etienne Comeaux tend the barbecue when his phone buzzed. He pulled it out and read the text from Vassily Alexandrovitch Nabokov. He snorted.  The Russian got himself invited to the May Day festivities on a promise to bring vodka from his private stock.

“Vassily’s almost here.” Allyn put his phone in his pocket.

“He’s early.” Etienne put another chunk of oak in the firebox of the smoker. “Probably all excited about it being May Day.”

“More likely he’s excited about seeing Evelyn again. He’s smitten with her.”

“Smitten.” Etienne scoffed. “Aren’t you jealous?”

Allyn laughed. “No. I know she’s a sucker for tall redheaded magicians.”

Suddenly, shrieks came from the tool shed and two men tumbled out, flapping their arms around their heads. Bobby Boudreaux yelled, “Buddy’s attacking us!”

“There’s a nest in there!” Jason Thibodeaux ducked a small silvery creature as it darted through the air. “Buddy built a nest!” It clipped the bill of his Astros baseball cap, flipping it off him. “Allyn, do something! Call him off!”

Etienne turned to the redheaded magician and asked, “You let him loose?”

“No.” Allyn whistled, then called, “Gwibber!” The creature continued to harass Jason and Bobby as they swatted and cursed.

Evelyn stepped out onto the patio with Vassily. His smile faded when he heard the noise and saw the fracas going on at the shed. Glacial blue eyes grew wide in recognition. Shaking his head, he said, “This is not good.”

Jason left his cap where it lay. He and Bobby ran to the barbecue pit. He snapped at Allyn, “Do something with that flying lizard of yours! He’s trying to kill us!”

Vassily said, “If he wanted you dead, he would eat you.”

“That little monster can’t eat something as big as me.”

“Trust me, he isn’t always little.”

Bobby brushed singed hair from the back of his head. “What’s he doing out?”

Evelyn looked at the ground. One copper eyebrow went up. Allyn asked, “What have you done?”

She shrugged and said, “I let him out to get rid of the feral hogs that were tearing up the pasture.”

Allyn’s jaw muscles worked and veins stood out on his forehead. His head tilted slightly. “And he’s still out because?”

“I left him loose because he was doing such a good job.”

“You left him loose?” Allyn sounded unnaturally calm. “You left Gwibber Cymry loose? Unsupervised? We’re having a party and you left him loose?” Allyn seemed even taller as he glared at his wife.

“He likes being out of the amulet.”

“Yes he does,” Allyn said. “Please go get the amulet.” She went into the house. He started walking down the path to the shed. “Come on, let’s see what kind of damage he’s done.”

Vassily walked alongside him and said, “Do not be angry with her, big man, she is protecting her property.”

“She should have told me,” Allyn muttered. “She has no concept of the damage he can do on his own.” They stopped in front of the shed. From within, they heard high pitched chirps.

Bobby said, “Jason and I heard that when we went in to get the tractor to haul the extra tables and chairs up to the patio. That’s when Buddy attacked.” He rubbed a red welt on his forehead.

Allyn’s mouth set in a straight line when he stepped up to the door and looked in. In the dim interior, he saw a pile of twigs on top of the tool cabinet. The other men peeked around him. Vassily said, “That looks like nest. Something is in it.”

“KGB taught you to spot the obvious, didn’t they?” Allyn grouched. A buzzing sound rose from the nest and a glint of silver sparkled over it. As Bobby and Jason jumped away, a silver streak flew toward them. Allyn’s hand became a blur of motion. He caught the tiny dragon. It squeaked and wriggled as he inspected it. “This isn’t Buddy.”

Evelyn walked up and heard this. “Who is it?”

“I don’t know! It’s a female.” Just then, the dragon bit his finger and when he flinched, she got away and darted back to the nest. There, she turned to face the humans, hovering in place, ready to defend the tiny dragon who popped its head up and trilled.

“We have a baby dragon!” Etienne said.

“Great. Just what we need with all the friends and relatives showing up later,” Allyn grumbled. Blood welled and ran in large drops from his bitten finger. Suddenly, the air stirred as if a huge fan had been turned on. A solid thump shook the ground. Everyone turned to see a whole feral hog lying behind them. A gigantic dragon swooped in, landed, and folded his wings. Dazzling silver scales gleamed in the sunlight. Buddy stood taller than the shed. Brilliant amber eyes glittered as they darted from person to person. Flickers of fire shot from his nostrils with every breath. “Gwibber.” Allyn held out his hand. The large dragon lowered his head and made a cooing sound. His tongue flicked out and licked the blood off Allyn’s finger. The bleeding stopped.

Vassily turned to Jason, who stood gaping at the silver behemoth nuzzling Allyn’s hand. “I told you he could eat you. This is how I met him. He is not funny little toy.”

“No, he’s not,” Jason said as he edged away from the big dragon. He caught the sleeve of Bobby’s tee shirt and pulled his cousin along with him. Bobby yanked his shirt away from Jason and stayed close.

Allyn spoke Welsh to Buddy when two silver streaks bolted from the nest, flew like darts to the hog carcass and started tearing into it, rapidly stripping meat from the bones. Bobby’s eyes grew wide as he watched. “How can they eat so much?”

Allyn shook his head. “I don’t know. All I know is they can eat like that every day and still shrink down to housefly size.”

“It is magic. Never ask how it works,” Vassily said. He reached out and stroked Buddy’s head. “You are good dragon. You need to be small now. Jason is afraid of you.”

Buddy snorted sparks. Allyn said, “You heard him. Get small or get in the amulet.” A rush of air filled the void left when the hulking presence reduced to lizard size. The female dragon sat on a rib of the polished skeleton, grooming. Buddy landed by her and twined his neck with hers. The youngster took to the air and flew around Allyn’s head chirping and trilling until it sneezed. Flames shot from both ends. “Give me the amulet.” Evelyn handed the silver dragon medallion to him. Faster than the eye could follow, his left hand shot out and grabbed the baby. He said a few words and clapped his hand over the amulet. The baby disappeared.  The adult dragons glared at him. “I’ll let him out after the party.” They went back to necking.

“It’s a boy?” Etienne asked.

“Yeah.”

“Can I have him?”

“Only if you promise to clean up after him.”

“Cool.”

“Bobby asked, “What’re you gonna name him?

“May Day.”

Fight on the Fairway: an Easter Story

By MRJones

“C’mon, get a move on. Our tee time is in five minutes.” Allyn Jones slung his golf bag on his shoulder and strode out the door of the clubhouse. Etienne Comeaux was right behind with Bobby Boudreaux following.

“I thought we were gonna have a golf cart,” Jason Thibodeaux griped as he brought up the rear.

“Walking’s good for you,” Etienne said as they walked out into the bright morning light of Easter Saturday.

They teed off, and as they played through the first five holes, they saw brightly colored eggs along the edges of the fairway. Bobby asked, “Are they having an Easter egg hunt later?”

“I didn’t hear about anything like that,” Jason said as several small dark brown rabbits hopped across their path.

As they approached the sixth hole, they heard the two men ahead of them arguing. A man in red golf clothing was yelling, “EB, you stomped your big foot and made your ball roll in!”

A tall man, wearing a pastel green shirt with pink, purple, and yellow pastel plaid golf pants, replied in a squeaky voice, “It fell in on its own.”

“You cheated!”

“Did not!”

The man in red took a swing at the man in pastel with his putter. EB hopped aside and morphed into a giant rabbit in golf clothes. The rabbit grabbed a club from his bag and parried the next swing with his nine iron. The brown bunnies scurried away from the two warring golfers.

Etienne looked at Allyn and said, “That’s Santa trying to beat the stuffing out of the Easter Bunny or someone put acid in my morning coffee.”

“No acid,” Allyn replied. Bobby and Jason stood gaping at the scene.

The battle on the green turned into something akin to a scene out of Braveheart with the combatants using their clubs as two handed broadswords. As Santa and EB stomped the green and turned divots up with their cleats, the bunnies scampered toward Allyn and his companions.

The scent of chocolate was strong in the air as the bunnies swarmed around. One ran across Jason’s foot, leaving brown smears with its feet. Jason bent to inspect the substance and said, “That’s chocolate! Those are chocolate Easter rabbits.” He took off running after the one that had touched him, saying, “I’m gonna catch me a chocolate bunny and bite his ears off!”

“Jason, come back!” Bobby hollered. Jason kept chasing the chocolate bunny as it zigged and zagged, leaving a trail of colored eggs. Bobby turned to Allyn and Etienne. “Somebody’s gotta stop this! We can’t let them kill each other. And Jason’s gone nuts.”

“I never knew the Easter Bunny was as big as Harvey,” Etienne said. “I’ll break it up.” He parked his golf bag and ran toward the battling duo. They paid no attention to Etienne’s attempts to separate them. Etienne ducked one club only to get hit in the head with the other. He fell to the turf unconscious. EB pressed his advantage and drove Santa back until he tripped over Etienne.

As Santa scrambled to his feet and charged at his opponent, Allyn used his power as Manawyddan to draw a fog from the water hazard. The thick fog obliterated the course from sight and muffled the shouts. The clanging of steel clubs stopped.

Santa called out, “Manawyddan, call off your fog.”

“No, Nick. You and EB have lost your minds fighting like this. I’m not clearing it away until you swear you’ll make up and play nice.”

A loud groan was followed by, “I swear I’ll kick both of you into the bayou for the alligators to eat if you even think about swinging a club at anything but a golf ball.”

“You okay, Etienne?”

“Yeah, Allyn, I have a goose egg on my head and a bad attitude toward those two, but I’m alright.”

“Fog stays till I hear your pledge of peace. I’ll go so far as to send you two into another dimension if you don’t.” Allyn started chanting in ancient Welsh.

“Stop, stop!” EB said. “I confess. I thumped the ground and made my ball fall in.”

“I knew it! You rascally rabbit, you cheated!”

“Like you didn’t call the north wind to help that long shot you played into the third hole?”

“You both cheated,” Bobby said. “You should be ashamed of yourselves. Little kids all over the world look up to you. You have rules about them getting Christmas presents and Easter candy. The kids have to be good. You have to be good. No presents or candy for either of you this year.”

“Boudreaux’s right. We’ve been bad, EB. I swear I’ll be good from now on.”

“Me too,” EB said. The fog lifted, revealing Jason holding the chocolate bunny, about to bite its ears. “No! Don’t bite that one. I’ll bring you a bunch you can eat, but don’t eat that one.” Jason looked up at EB, grinned sheepishly and set the chocolate rabbit on the grass. It hopped into the rough and hid.

“Let’s finish our games,” Allyn said. The rest of them looked at him and, for a moment, they saw the tall magician in his robes, green eyes glowing and long red hair flowing in the winds of time. Then, they finished their game.

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Easter bunny

Fight on the Fairway: an Easter Story

By MRJones

“C’mon, get a move on. Our tee time is in five minutes.” Allyn Jones slung his golf bag on his shoulder and strode out the door of the clubhouse. Etienne Comeaux was right behind with Bobby Boudreaux following.

“I thought we were gonna have a golf cart,” Jason Thibodeaux griped as he brought up the rear.

“Walking’s good for you,” Etienne said as they walked out into the bright morning light of Easter Saturday.

They teed off, and as they played through the first five holes, they saw brightly colored eggs along the edges of the fairway. Bobby asked, “Are they having an Easter egg hunt later?”

“I didn’t hear about anything like that,” Jason said as several small dark brown rabbits hopped across their path.

As they approached the sixth hole, they heard the two men ahead of them arguing. A man in red golf clothing was yelling, “EB, you stomped your big foot and made your ball roll in!”

A tall man, wearing a pastel green shirt with pink, purple, and yellow pastel plaid golf pants, replied in a squeaky voice, “It fell in on its own.”

“You cheated!”

“Did not!”

The man in red took a swing at the man in pastel with his putter. The pastel golfer hopped aside and morphed into a giant rabbit in golf clothes. The rabbit grabbed a club from his bag and parried the next swing with his nine iron. The brown bunnies scurried away from the two warring golfers.

Etienne looked at Allyn and said, “That’s Santa trying to beat the stuffing out of the Easter Bunny or someone put acid in my morning coffee.”

“No acid,” Allyn replied. Bobby and Jason stood gaping at the scene.

The battle on the green turned into something akin to a scene out of Braveheart with the combatants using their clubs as two handed broadswords. As Santa and EB stomped the green and turned divots up with their cleats, the bunnies scampered toward Allyn and his companions.

The scent of chocolate was strong in the air as the bunnies swarmed around. One ran across Jason’s foot, leaving brown smears with its feet. Jason bent to inspect the substance and said, “That’s chocolate! Those are chocolate Easter rabbits.” He took off running after the one that had touched him, saying, “I’m gonna catch me a chocolate bunny and bite his ears off!”

“Jason, come back!” Bobby hollered. Jason kept chasing the chocolate bunny as it zigged and zagged, leaving a trail of colored eggs. Bobby turned to Allyn and Etienne. “Somebody’s gotta stop this! We can’t let them kill each other. And Jason’s gone nuts.”

“I never knew the Easter Bunny was as big as Harvey,” Etienne said. “I’ll break it up.” He parked his golf bag and ran toward the battling duo. They paid no attention to Etienne’s attempts to separate them. Etienne ducked one club only to get hit in the head with the other. He fell to the turf unconscious. EB pressed his advantage and drove Santa back until he tripped over Etienne.

As Santa scrambled to his feet and charged at his opponent, Allyn used his power as Manawyddan to draw a fog from the water hazard. The thick fog obliterated the course from sight and muffled the shouts. The clanging of steel clubs stopped.

Santa called out, “Manawyddan, call off your fog.”

“No, Nick. You and EB have lost your minds fighting like this. I’m not clearing it away until you swear you’ll make up and play nice.”

A loud groan was followed by, “I swear I’ll kick both of you into the bayou for the alligators to eat if you even think about swinging a club at anything but a golf ball.”

“You okay, Etienne?”

“Yeah, Allyn, I have a goose egg on my head and a bad attitude toward those two, but I’m alright.”

“Fog stays till I hear your pledge of peace. I’ll go so far as to send you two into another dimension if you don’t.” Allyn started chanting in ancient Welsh.

“Stop, stop!” EB said. “I confess. I thumped the ground and made my ball fall in.”

“I knew it! You rascally rabbit, you cheated!”

“Like you didn’t call the north wind to help that long shot you played into the third hole?”

“You both cheated,” Bobby said. “You should be ashamed of yourselves. Little kids all over the world look up to you. You have rules about them getting Christmas presents and Easter candy. The kids have to be good. You have to be good. No presents or candy for either of you this year.”

“Boudreaux’s right. We’ve been bad, EB. I swear I’ll be good from now on.”

“Me too,” EB said. The fog lifted, revealing Jason holding the chocolate bunny, about to bite its ears. “No! Don’t bite that one. I’ll bring you a bunch you can eat, but don’t eat that one.” Jason looked up at EB, grinned sheepishly and set the chocolate rabbit on the grass. It hopped into the rough and hid.

“Let’s finish our games,” Allyn said. The rest of them looked at him and, for a moment, they saw the tall magician in his robes, green eyes glowing and long red hair flowing in the winds of time. Then, they finished their game.