Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Friday, December 23, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine: Ralph MacDonald, R. I. P.: NY Daily News : Ralph MacDonald, the Grammy-winning writer, producer and percussionist who worked with everyone from Luther Vandross to Amy ...
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Today, December 18, is release day for Jardonn's WWII ebook story, The Good Shepherd, and this is the cover created by its publisher, MLR Press.
As promised, here is the third excerpt. Harold and Frank exit the latrine and walk the yard inside their POW camp, trying to figure reasons for a particular guard dog's unusual behavior.
* * * * *
We didn't talk inside. I peed a little, and the only reason I stayed with Harold was in case other guys started asking him questions about us being singled out. The Nazis frequently put plants amongst us prisoners. Germans acting like Americans hoping to hear useful information, and I didn't want Harold to go it alone if he was accused by the prisoners of being such. Fortunately, nobody said a word to either of us.
"What do you think about that dog?" I pondered as we exited the building. "What confused him?"
We drifted about the yard walking slowly to nowhere in particular. "I don't think he was confused." Harold seemed to have limbered up from his soreness, moved with more ease. "The dog's eyes told me he wants out of here. Like he knows the Nazis's days are numbered."
"Sure. Animals have expressions same as we do."
"Hmm. Guess I've never noticed."
"Well, I have. Growing up on a farm, you get to know what animals are thinking. Or at least tell whether they're happy or sad. Or angry, which comes in handy when you're dealing with a thousand pounds of Hereford bull."
"I'll be damned. So, you think this dog's ready to abandon ship?"
"Yes, I do."
"Then, why did he approach us? Any ideas on that?"
"Don't know. Maybe he felt sorry for us. Knew they'd take us into a well-heated room for a search and we could warm up."
I laughed at that one. First time in many a week. "If that's the case, I hope he stops by to see us every day."
We came to a spot where down a corridor between buildings we could see the kennels. The dogs, all males, had their own fenced yard and wooden houses for shelter. Harold stopped, grabbed my arm. "Do you see what I think I see?"
The Germans had a dog on a leash attacking a man protected by a helmet and face mask, plus padded coverings roped to his limbs and torso. "Looks like a training session."
"Or retraining," Harold knudged me with his elbow. "Can we get closer without getting shot at?"
"Sure, but let's not go between buildings. Follow me." I circled back to an open area where we could view the fenced pen without drawing attention, caddy-corner and about twenty feet away. "Think it's him?"
"I'd put money on it. The Nazis are afraid he's lost his nerve. No longer aggressive."
"Guess they're wrong. He'd eat that man alive if he could get at him."
"If I could get a better look at his tail, I'd know for sure."
I took a few baby steps closer. "His tail?"
"Yep," Harold craned his neck. "His black turns gold on top before ending at the tip. Usually it's black all the way." He inched a bit closer, a few steps ahead of me. "That's him. I guarantee it."
"Good. He's proving himself so he can stay." I grabbed Harold's sleeve, tugged him back. "We better go. Don't want to get him in trouble. I'd hate to lose the only Nazi who's ever been friendly to me."
* * * * *
The Good Shepherd is now available in ebook formats at MLR PRESS.COM
Saturday, December 17, 2011
What say we start at the beginning of the story? This excerpt nearly leads to yesterday's posted piece.
* * * * *
You belong to me, Harold Tripp, and you are beautiful.
On the day Harold's plane went down, Lady howled all night long. Made sense. Animal sense, you know, like when all the beasts ran for the hills hours before the Indian Ocean tsunami crashed ashore.
Lady was Harold's dog more than mine. He picked her out from a litter of four pups. He named her, and from her puppy years to full-grown, she followed him everywhere. Lady and I got along fine, too, until Harold joined the Air Force and shipped out to Korea. During Harold's tour of duty, Lady had very little to do with me. Kept her distance. Staked herself out a spot in our yard thirty feet from the house where a barbed wire fence bordered our west pasture. At feeding time, she'd stand by the fence watching me while I filled her bowl on the back porch. Calling her did no good. Only after I'd gone back inside would she approach the house and eat.
The dog shelter Harold and I built for her sat near our house, but she never used it after Harold left, and so as winter approached I loaded the damned thing into the pickup's bed and moved it out to her spot. Couldn't bear the thought of her shivering in the Illinois cold, and my gesture worked. She slept in her dog house. Crawled inside when she needed to warm herself or get in from the rain, but otherwise most of her time was spent sitting by the fence and looking west, toward Korea and Harold. Understanding her need, feeling it myself, I turned her house so her doorway faced west.
Through the winter of 1950, I rarely saw Lady. It was almost as though she thought I'd done something to Harold. Taken him away so she could never see him again. I sympathized, because in actuality Harold had taken himself away from me and from her.
After we both returned safely from Europe and our service during World War II, Harold and I enjoyed five years together. Five glorious years, no doubt, but when news broke that the communist north had invaded the south of Korea, I knew he'd be joining in the new fight. Nothing could keep Harold grounded. Not Lady. Not our southern Illinois farm and home. Not me.
Harold Tripp grew up on a farm but was born to soar. After eighty-two missions of piloting B-17's over Nazi-occupied territory, all successful save one, Harold itched to be back in the air for a worthy cause. I needed him to be happy. How could I possibly hold him back and expect our love to be the same as before? Doesn't work. Misery of one partner infects the other until hatred consumes both. Besides, Harold and I had both seen our share of misery.
I like to say Harold was my Christmas gift, delivered to me December 15, 1944.
When the Germans dragged Harold into our seventeen-man Stalag barracks, I took notice like never before. In my three-plus months as a prisoner of the Nazis, I'd seen several downed airmen brought in to join us, but Harold affected me differently. Could have been pity more than infatuation. He'd been roughed up pretty good. Lacerations marred his face, hands and arms. Purple bruises colored his left eye socket.
After his two-man-German-guard escort unceremoniously pushed him through the door and slammed it shut, several airmen rushed to his aid. Guided him to his bed, a two-feet-wide plank of wood with a two-inch-thick mattress recently vacated by a man dead from dysentery. They removed his prison-issued shoes. Laid him down. Tucked him under a thin grey blanket of wool, and then the entire gang, all Americans from downed B-17's, surrounded him.
end excerpt from The Good Shepherd by Jardonn Smith. My MLR Press holiday story is scheduled for release this coming Sunday, December 18.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Bibrary Book Lust: REVIEW: Best Bondage Erotica 2012 edited by Rache...: I must say, the good folks at Cleis Press have really spoiled me this year. First it was the five-star transgender collection, Take Me Ther...
Frank Jenkins says Harold Tripp was his Christmas present, delivered to him December 15, 1944. Unfortunately, both men were in a Nazi POW camp at the time. My fictional U.S. airmen arrived at different times after having survived the downing of their B-17 bombers. Their friendship is instant. Their relationship with a Nazi attack dog is highly unusual.
The Good Shepherd is scheduled for release by MLR Press on December 18th. That's three days away, and so I'm posting one excerpt per day until the ebook's release. I made this cover photo. MLR Press will make their own cover, which I will also post on release day. Here is today's snippet, as Frank and Harold get acquainted.
I strolled to my bed while gazing down at him. His eyes were open, staring at nothing. Arms outside the blanket, hands folded atop his chest.
"Needing a snooze?" I asked, taking a seat on my bed to his left.
"Probably," he sighed, forcing a half-hearted grin. "Doubt if I can, though."
"Yep. I know the feeling. Too much thinking about how things could turn so bad so quick." I stood over him, extended my hand. "Sergeant Frank Jenkins. Turret gunner on the Lucy Lu out of Cheshunt."
His grip was stronger than mine. "Lieutenant Harold Tripp, pilot of the Yankee Pride out of Nuthampstead."
I sat on my bed, scrutinized his cut-up face. "Tell you what, Lieutenant Tripp..."
"Harold," he gave me permission.
"Sure, sure. Call me Frank. Are you thirsty?"
"Very," he gingerly drew back his blanket.
"No. You stay put. I'll get it." I dropped to a knee, reached under his bed, pulled out his washpan with a tin cup, bar of soap, toothpaste and brush, shaving razor, and a towel inside, his one-week supply, courtesy of the Red Cross. "I'll be right back," I said with cup in hand. Upon my return, he greedily gulped while I supported the back of his head with my palm. "Want another?"
He wiped his mouth with his fingers. "No, thank you. That will do."
"All right, Harold," I put his cup into the pan and pushed it under. "Try to rest. That's what I'll be doing right here next to you."
"Can do, Frank. Thanks again."
True to my word, I laid down and kept quiet, but only for a minute or two. That's when Harold rolled onto his side and faced me. "Frank?"
"Every man here is skinny as a rail. I'm guessing you didn't come in that way."
"True." I turned onto my side so I could see his reaction to what I had to say. "They're starving us, Harold. Slowly but surely. We get water in the morning. Soup and a chunk of black sawdust bread for supper. We call it that because there's more sawdust in it than flour. Most men don't eat it. Those that do get stomach cramps something awful. Soup is a rutabaga boiled in water. Every now and then we get a potato, but either way each man gets about ten swallows of soup, one tiny piece of vegetable."
"How long have you been here?"
"Since September. I'm guessing I've lost thirty pounds or better. There's no man here who's been in camp more than a year. They're all dead. Dysentery or starvation, take your pick." I waited, taking his silence to mean he wanted to hear more. "Some of the officers and enlisted men who were in bad shape got shipped down to Luft 3 last spring. That's Goehring's quality camp for airmen, or so I'm told. The one the Germans show off to the outside world so they'll think all prisoners are in a good place. This camp here, Harold, is not a good place. I don't even know why it's called a Luft. Only Luftwaffe I've seen is the Commandant. Rest are regular Army or SS." I reached for the corner post of my bed. "See this?"
"Been sawed off. These used to all be tripled-decker bunks. This was once a forty-eight man barrack, according to Jack."
"You mean the barrack's rep?"
"That's him. He's been here since May, and he said that's when the Germans came in and cut off all the top bunks. Chopped them into firewood for their stoves. Officer's quarters and soldier's barracks."
Harold stared blankly toward the floor, and then locked eyes with mine. "Think the guys here can make it another month or two?"
"Yeah. I heard you telling them our men are in Belgium and the east side of France."
"Some are saying we'll be inside Germany by first of the year."
"Well, I know it's getting rough on the Nazis. Our portions of grub shrink every day. I mean, how desperate are they? Can't even spare a few rutabagas for their prisoners. Tell you something else I've noticed."
"Fewer guards. Like they're taking soldiers out of here to be used somewhere else."
"Maybe east. The Russians are closing in, too."
"Could be. All I know is, if I see a way out of here, I'm running. Hell, before long I'll be too weak to stand. I'd rather take my chances roaming the countryside than to stay here and starve."
"Hmm... I don't know, Frank. This camp might be liberated by New Year's. Can you hold out a few more weeks? No use getting shot when the end is so near."
"Well, Lieutenant, you know more about it than I do, so I'll hang with you for now. All right?"
"Sure, sure. We'll stick together."
Funny how he made it sound as though we needed each other on equal terms. After all, I was the three-month veteran of prison life. Of course, that also meant he was stronger than I by three months. Guess it all evened out.