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White glistens off the ocean’s waves crashing to shore like a line of marching angels crying to heaven in thunderous silence. The distant lighthouse blinks its one eye at me as I watch an old man playing with his white dog on the beach. Decaying tang of salt air wafts indoors as I shut the window of Amy Tan’s room. Comforted by the eerie presence of all these authors cradling me, I walk down the hall and fade from the ocean’s shimmer. 

A night in the Nye Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon. Every room is dedicated to an author and yes, tonight I will lie with Amy Tan, others with Shakespeare, Jules Verne or Rowling in the Gryffindor room, or for the kids at heart, Dr. Seuss. As I check in, the cat Shelley curls on a chair, warming in the sun. “She’s a sun-catcher cat. Wherever the sun is, she catches it,” the innkeeper states. 

   “Unlike the poor author.” The smell of musty volumes permeates, reminding me 

I’m in a familiar haunt. “I hear this old place either comforts you or spits you out.”  

  “Correct. You'll either love it or hate it.”  

  I hear light sobbing. There is no one there. Mere literary sniffles, I assure myself. 

“Do you have Wi-Fi?”  

  “No internet, phones or TV. But at night there's the creak of old bards’ footsteps in the hall, ocean crashing on the beach and we serve mulled wine in the library. Will that do?” 

Already I taste the sweet tinge of cinnamon and cloves, heady musk sliding down my throat. “As long as I don’t have to drink Dickens under the table, this is my idea of perfection.”  I signed in. “Feels like being home again.” 

  I unpack, my wife Cynthia is shedding old memories in the Irish Pub up the street. 

She hates travelling and Austen or Hemingway do nothing for her.  

  Gentle cries rend the air. In the hallway, no one.  

  The third-floor library and coffee room beckon. High above the beach, I am alone amid overstuffed sofas, unfinished puzzles, a wood-burning fireplace and little dangling ceramic suns. Seagulls squawk in mock soliloquy and foamy whiteness glistens off the ocean’s waves, a line of marching angels crying to heaven in thunderous silence.  

From nowhere, she’s there. Younger than me but that isn’t hard these days. Tearfilled eyes, trembling lips, a cloud of dark hair wreathed in lavender and patchouli, bitterness oozing from her. “Sorry," she mutters, "didn’t mean to disturb you.”  

  I stare side-to-side, a sun-catcher gleams off the sun’s rays bouncing in the room. Where has she come from? “That’s okay. I was wondering if the seagulls were squawking at me. But most likely it was at you.” 

  “Me? Why would you say such a thing?” Fire steals through her glare; she wants to take her nails across my face. Nothing quite like a lusty woman -- ask Shakespeare, or Yeats, or Mae West herself.  

  “Got your mind off the pain, didn't it.” 

  “You bastard! Can’t you see I’m upset?” Lightning shies from her glare. 

“Can’t you see I’m happy and enjoying my holiday? Good day, lady.” 

   A long pause as I leave. 


  Ah, I’ve cast a rod and I’ve a biter. 

  “I’m Jane Stevens." 

  “Whew, I thought you were going to say Austen or Eyre. Bad enough thinking 

I’m seeing ghosts. Actually talking to one would scare the crap outta me.”  

  She smiles on lips luscious without red lipstick. Round doe-like eyes and high cheekbones; add twenty pounds and she’d resemble Raquel Welch. Why do most women think pencils and coat-hangers are attractive? "My ex used to call me 'lady'.” She sniffles. 

“Ah, so you’ve lost someone.” 

  “Isn’t that why people cry?” 

  “Some cry over a good movie, their pets dying, eating the best chocolate cake ever. I knew a woman who cried with every orgasm.” 

  “What? You’re rude!” Brows frown. Eyes widened. Lips pout. I taste the stinging salt of her pain on my tongue.  

  “No, I'm Tom. Rude was my brother. He’d say things that'd make priests blush and nuns wet their habits.” 

  She blinks, mouth agape. “I . . . Are you here alone?” 

“Well, if you count a suitcase and two dozen seagulls, plus an overweight couple thin on financial resources and long on lovemaking on the beach, then I’m alone with 

Amy Tan. Oh, the cat. I forgot about the cat. Chases mice on crutches.” 

  “Chases what?” She grinds the Kleenex in her fingers and another smile threatens to break. She's beginning to think I’m nuts when I already know I am. 

 “Old friend once said, in my maturity I’ve learned to chase fast whiskey and slow women. It’s a big beautiful world out there. Wait, I forgot something.” I pat my pockets, frowning. 

  “Forgot what?” Jane watches my hands, perhaps expecting a cheap magic trick.  

  “Cynthia! Must've left her in the Irish pub.” I laugh. Jane tries but fails.  

  “Sorry, it’s like being in hell right now.” 

  “Hell passes.” 

  “Feels like forever.” 

  “Yeah, I’ll bet they said that at the Alamo.” 

  “You’re a weird, off-putting man.” 

  “Better than a sad excuse for a happy, full-of-life woman.” 

  Her eyes fire venom. She storms by me. “I think this conversation has ended.” 

 “I think it's just begun. See you tonight. Mulled wine, fireplace and me. Couldn’t get any better.” 

“Not in a million years.” She harrumphs. I know she’ll be there. 

I stare out the third story window, the sun recently set, listening to the dull thunder of surf angels crashing to the beach as the sky darkens. Ocean’s coldness licks at me through the single paned glass as the cinnamon infused spice of the wine tickles the nose, adds to my mind and warms my belly.  

  A sniffle, Jane magically appears again.  

  “Ah, I see you found the mulled wine they brew every night. Lolls the guests, staff and ghosts to sleep.” Well most of the ghosts anyways, I thought.  

  “Ghosts? You think there’s ghosts in here?” She speaks, her face a little lighter, eyes less puffy and no tears, than this morning. Perhaps my tirade helped after all. 

  “Only good ’uns. Most are probably pondering their next book. Some literary greats like Left Me in the Wind, a sequel where he did give a damn and falls in love with the Aunt Jemima housemaid. Or Bridges of Jefferson County, the modern day version of the story where a travelling camera guy realizes he needs more pixels on his digital camera and falls in love with the blonde at the photo shop, only to find she's into bondage and leaves him tied up in a hotel room. Or even Frankenstein’s Monstrous Inventions, tales of organic experiments gone wildly wrong, in triple XXX of course. Wouldn’t want to watch your kids viewing drooling cauliflower cohabitating with lecherous broccoli.” I’m on a roll, the wine is starting to kick in. 

  She laughs with her eyes for the first time, smearing away the tatterings of bitterness clinging to her. The streaks of tears are gone, as well as the lavender and patchouli perfume she had on earlier. Darn, must have washed it away in a shower during the day. No odor, no perfumes, no makeup, this is Jane stripped bare. I envisaged what she would look like naked and wet. Well, how I could only wish anyways. She’s actually dressed in a simple flowered dress that hangs to the floor, not giving me a hint to the fact that her knees might be knobbled or dimpled. Or if she shaves her lady garden like so many these days.  

  “No, I was born a little more dexterous than that.  Spent most of my life changing spark plugs and oil. They do say mechanics have great hands. As for books and writing I’m more of a reader. I believe for every great book ever written there’s got to be someone or several someone’s to read it. Or at least someone to appreciate great literature and clutch the covers after they’ve read the last page and say something profound like, ‘Damn good book. So good, in fact, if I was stuck out in the woods with no toilet paper and had to do a number two, I’d use my fingers instead of these pages. It’s that good.’”  She makes a disgusted face, lets laughter adorn her face like bridal lace and chucks her wine back. “Your wife doesn’t mind you talking to other women?” 

  “Oh, chatting is okay, but if the talk turns to baseball and getting to third base, she gets a mite cranky. No, at my age, cheering a beautiful woman up and making her blossom like a gorgeous flower is about as close I’m going to get to opening any of your rose petals I’m afraid. The younger generation only thinks of sex, sex, and sex. I once got slapped in McDonalds for saying a lovely pair of buns to the waitress picking up her burger tray. Nobody appreciates good well-rounded food these days. I tell ya.”  

  She giggles and goes to get another glass of wine. I sip mine in slower quantities, knowing warmed alcohol hits you pretty quick.  Jane returns and I decide to stir the pot again. “I think this is more you. Laughing, enjoying life, chatting up older, more mature and debonair men, over wine. But if I can ask, your ex? What happened, he absconds with the nineteen-year-old buxom next-door neighbor from the local Hooters restaurant? Turn raving gay, or offed himself in the garage by leaving the car running?” I was never great at being delicate about death, or splitting up, but how can you really approach the subject with etiquette? “Or maybe he died while walking the dog across the street by a . . 


  “Car crash while texting. Only I found later it was to spend the weekend with a co-worker and, yes, she was buxom. Bastard. I thought he was a good’un, as you said. Kind and honest. I would have born his children someday. Now thank goodness I didn’t bear his last name and kept my maiden name. We met here nearly ten years ago.” 

  “Here? Didn’t see that coming.” For once she threw me a curveball.  

  “My girlfriend thought it would be cool to attend a writers’ convention held here annually. I was into Chick Lit and thought why not. Always wanted to come back here with him, but we never did and now I’m here on my own. Starting out all over again, I’m afraid.” 

  “So you’ve come to bury his memory or at least pitch it into the sea and let the surf angels take him away to the sun-catchers.” 

  “Never thought of it like that, but I suppose you’re right. How do you know so much?” 

  “Been around. My skateboard is on its third set of wheels.” 

  “Or a long childhood,” she quipped back. “Look, you make me laugh and that’s quite a gift to this sad woman that was pretty angry with you earlier.” She stops and looks at me funny. “Surf angels? How funny, never viewed waves in that way.” 

  “Yeah, that’s the third glass of hot wine talking, makes you appreciate illusions in a better light. But laughter is good medicine, cheaper than Viagra and consumes fewer calories than frowning. Usually makes for better pictures as well. But it’s late and I must check up on my wife Cynthia. She’s probably still at the Irish pub telling rude Irish jokes or chasing leprechauns, or ruder Irish men.” Jane stares at me, lips plump, eyes wide with desire. I have her and if I were Rhett Butler or Austen’s Willoughby or Bridget’s Cleaver, 

I’d reach behind her head, pull her to me, holding her while I kiss those waiting lips. 

Unfortunately I was born a gentleman.    

  “But I must bid my adieus and go find my whisky besotted wife.”  

  “Wait! You said a minute ago something about the sun-catchers. Are they those?” She points to the ceramic suns, etched with native designs, dangling in the corner of the library. 

  “Yes. The little sun-shaped ceramics you see hanging around here. Me, I take them to be the opposite of the dream-catchers of native beliefs. These give you dreams and instill the faith to grow better things in your life. Or at least cheer you up with positive karma. I guess they give a little sunshine out to those that need it. Hey, maybe they also give you fantastic writing thoughts. Like, man, after I leave here I’m going to starve myself living off only Can Hardly Soup for weeks on end and write insanely like a madman.” 

  “Don’t you mean canned hearty soup?” 

  “Nope, soup so good I can hardly stand it.” 

  She laughs again nearly choking on the wine, “I really fell for that one. Thanks 

Tom for cheering me up.” She reaches her hand out, I shake it and she lets it hang on my skin for a second too long. Lingering. Like I said if I was dastardly those lips would be crushed to mine. 

  “You’re welcome. Some of my stuff is kinda hooky, but then so am I. The wine has wiped me out and I’m not much for breakfast, especially Cheerios. I’m a late morning type of guy, kinda like getting out of bed around two pm and seeing what the day drags in. I leave it to others to kick-start it. So good night.” I leave her pondering, watching one of the sun-catchers as it begins to twirl when the heating kicks in.  

   I walk down the stairs before she can reply, turn at the last step and look back. She’s vanished again. The ceramic twirls, gleaming back at me, I didn’t tell her about the other side of them. Cynthia will probably get jealous knowing I chatted up a ‘young bird’, as she calls them. Still, Jane was in pain. They say even deep hurt is temporary, while madness is a lifetime sentence. Just ask Van Gogh or Picasso. Only madness doesn’t hurt as much, unless of course you’re trying to express or find yourself. Then there just isn’t enough canvases to paint or water colors to suffice. 

  I grab the dog instead and go for a walk along the beach. Mist hangs on the ocean’s tendrils like in the movie The Fog and begins to drift thickly inland. I wished I had Adrianne Barbeau to chat up on the beach or walk hand in hand with. Instead the dog barks and scatters seagulls. I laugh as the mist curls around us, knowing my hands would sooner be cupping other body parts if I had her in the room. 



Next morning in the Hemingway room Jane wakes early. In the mirror, a smile graced her lips. Him, he made her laugh last night. Before she checks out she must thank Tom.  

  Downstairs she pursues the items in the gift shop. “Don't you have any more suncatchers for sale? I saw a few here yesterday.” 

  “Sorry, lady, we’ve never had any . . . damn.” The innkeeper looks hard at her. 

“Old guy, dark green suit jacket, khaki pants?” 

  “Lacks fashion sense, that’s Tom.” 

  “Darn it. We keep trying to flush him out, but he keeps coming back.” 

  “What do you mean, coming back? Since when?” Shivers range down her spine.  

  “Since the forties, I’m told.” 

  “What? That’s impossible. . .  Tom and Cynthia. Stayed in the Amy Tan room.” 

  “Lady, no one stayed in that room last night.” 

  “No. You’re wrong.” She storms upstairs. Amy Tan's door is open and the bed neatly made. “How?”  

 In the hallway hang no ceramic suns. She runs up the next flight of stairs. None in the library either.  

  At the check-out desk the innkeeper eyes her apologetically. “I’ve owned this place since the eighties. Legend has it that one of the earliest writers hung a sun-catcher or two in the library. Guests say they’ve seen 'em. I haven’t. Seems they give people hope and life before they leave here." He sighs. "Did he say his wife Cynthia was hanging out at the Irish pub?” 


  “Right, something like that."  

  “Cynthia was his dog. Apparently named it after his wife, I was told, who died in a tragic accident on holidays. They used to go for walks together on Nye Beach. 

Sometime back in the forties. Sorry, lady."  

  Outside, the morning sun casts its warmth over her. “Too bad. If he'd kept plying me with that mulled wine, he might have gotten lucky.” She stares over the sands one last time.  

  Beyond the dunes, surf roars, the sky a vibrant morning blue and an old man with his back to her studies the Yaquina Head lighthouse. His white dog runs manically around chasing seagulls, their squawking tormenting the frustrated canine.  

“See you Tom, and thanks for the butt-kicking. I sure needed it.”  

  The old man lifts his arm, waving offhandedly, as if he'd heard her over the ocean’s drone. She walks away, the hotel sign creaking on rusted hinges warming in the sun.


The author has been called a natural storyteller who writes like his soul is on fire and the pencil is his voice screaming. Literature written beyond the realms of genre, whose compelling thoughts are freed from the depths of the heart and the subconscious before being poured onto the page. Known to grab readers kicking, screaming, laughing or crying and drag them into his novels.

To date he has over fifty articles/short stories, sixty blog posts and fifteen novels written or published. One, The Joining, top three finalist in the Canadian Book Club Awards in 2020, out of nearly two hundred entries.


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