All Stories, Historical

The Hireling by Florianne Humphrey

I found him at a country fair. He sat apart from the other men, a distance only I noticed. Hearing the coin in my pocket, they turned when I approached. Money makes cocks of men. They tried hard to impress me with chest-bumping, fighting, and tidbitting. But this was the season for hiring, not mating.

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All Stories, General Fiction, Historical

The Broomstick Cowboy by Tom Sheehan

In the heart of Chicago’s new butchering center, in a ramshackle apartment in a ramshackle house, a truly destined cowboy was born to a hard-working Scots-born butcher and his wife. The year was 1864 and the Scotsman had just got a job with the newly formed Union Stock Yards. Ralston Condor was a meat cutter, one of many that came with the swelling herds in the yards. Eventually, after 7 years on the job, he’d come home at night and tell his wife and son all the stories he heard during the day, at work, at the tavern on the way home, from friends on the corner … all about the great herds of the west, the cowboys and drovers and ramrods and trail bosses and the Indians along the way as cattle headed for Chicago and the stockyards and the butcher plants. For all those years he longed for the open country again, like the land he had known on the moors of Scotland with Angus cattle, a distinguished and hardy breed.

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All Stories, Historical

Burial of a Dark Charger by Tom Sheehan

battle of chancellorville

Looking from one end of a story to another is enlightening in most circumstances. Often the surprises on tap happen out of the blue … or take a piece of forever to come around.

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All Stories, General Fiction, Historical

Flashing Mirrors at a House Built in 1742 by Tom Sheehan

I leaned against the largest maple tree, planted hungry years before upon a leech trench in my back yard, watching my going out of me at play and shining the souls of mirrors back, telling each other what we knew.

I loved him from the tree, later a window dark-squared above the wide grass, as I leaned toward his hands moving out of himself, making; and the corners of the house, the inners and outers hammered upwards from my hand in late repair.

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All Stories, Historical

Week 378: A Failed Attempt at Method Writing. And a Successful Saturday Special For Decoration Day

A Failed Attempt at Method Writing 

I recently streamed a documentary about the Stanislavski “school of acting”–aka, “The Method.” Like all other artistic endeavors that get over, there’s a bunch of pretentious pontificating associated with The Method (which first got big in America about seventy-five years ago). Once you get past all the verbiage and “pillars,” the Method is mainly investing your own emotions in a character, to “become” the role you are playing. If the character is supposed to be sad, think of the day your hamster died and act accordingly. 

To illustrate this the documentary showed clips of “mannered” performances from the 1930’s–those in which stage-like performances were filmed because talking film acting had yet to be invented. These were compared to James Dean and Marlon Brando emoting. To be honest with you I smelled plenty of ham baking in the early Method film performances. Marlon must have really loved that hamster named “STEEELLLLA!!!” But who am I to criticize?

Anyway, it got me thinking about bringing the Method to writing. I experimented with bringing forward a memory of someone I hated and attempted to use the emotion in fiction. 

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All Stories, General Fiction, Historical

Midwife Legacy by Tom Sheehan

On his twentieth wedding anniversary, and pondering various presents he might acquire for his wife Amanel, Viktor Drovnovich, a land manager in the eastern section of Pskov Province, scanned the offerings in Karpenko’s store front as he headed home from a three-week separation. The trip would take him two days, with a night spent at Madame Estelle’s Inn on the Tver road to halve the journey. He looked forward to that stop, for he left Madame Estelle always carrying good will and good spirits, warming him up for the return home.

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All Stories, Historical

The Seventh Wave by AJ Lyndon

Port Fairy, Victoria 1859

I am grown now; and the sperm whales and the southern rights that brought the ships here seeking their precious oil and the bones which make corsets for ladies in far-away places no longer visit. But still the people come, and the farming settlement thrives. Port Fairy, named for a sea captain who landed in this spot, part of the Port Phillip District in the great southern land.

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All Stories, General Fiction, Historical

What’s in My Wallet? By Tom Sheehan

For these past 70 years, since 1951 in Korea, I have carried a 1000 Won Korean Banknote in my wallet with the signatures of all my squad members on the face of that banknote, our unit being Headquarters section, First Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division, when we were deployed on the far side of Lake Hwachon, and when squad members put their signatures on that bank note, given to me by a Korean worker assigned to our unit, Lee Bong Ha. He was a chief figurehead in his own right when he made a replacement crystal for a comrade’s broken watch crystal out of a plastic spoon, which was carried in many military papers under the title of “Time to Spoon.” Lee Bong Ha had been paid off from his government contract with a basketful of such banknotes, and passed them out like the near-useless paper that they were (some of them used for the most unlikely reasons you might think of.)

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Historical, Short Fiction

WEEK 354: The Fine Art of Failure and a Saturday Special

According to the people at Guinness World Records, the world’s least successful writer (during the paper manuscript era) was named William A. Gold (1922-2001). He wrote eight novels and a vast amount of articles and shorts, but sold just one piece for fifty cents. 

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