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Those Who Speak

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Prelude – The Awakening, October 16, 1637 The morning of their final day arrived biting and redolent of the smoke from the night’s nearly-dead fires. ...

Those Who Speak

Posted by BKS | 1 comment
I. My grandmother once said to me, “There are those who speak about what happened, and there are those who do not.” And when prompted to elaborate, ...

Iron Law

The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world. — Malthus T.R. 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population. ...

Animal Instinct

My father prowled the plains of the Serengeti, crept stealthily among the vines of the Borneo jungle.   In those long blacked-out grand mal moments, as he lay broken at the foot of the stairs, I imagine him striding proudly over the land, flinging himself effortlessly upon the face of Everest.   His life, his legacy is now how I choose to remember it. Whether real or imagined, I can make of him what he could not. And I see his weathered face gazing up defiantly at a god who gave him nothing but pain, I watch as he smiles and says out loud,   Is that all you ...

Two Roses

I planted two roses this evening, and they seem content enough with their places in the garden. Out of sight of one another, so no cause for jealousy. Each free to do its level best, to reign supreme among humble hydrangea and pedestrian plumbago.   When spring at last returns, each will throw itself skyward in search of accolade, insecure in the absence of blossom, uncertain of its place.   Until there comes a day both roses reach a height where each comes in sight of the other, and in that moment there will ensue a febrile rush, to be first—taller, brighter, more fragrant than the other.   Only we do not know their souls, their foibles and insecurities. We see only the outcome, the wondrous outburst born of envy and ...

The Queue

“Damn, it feels like we’ve been standing here forever!” Flynn shifts his weight from one foot to the other and back again. He removes a tissue from his pants pocket. It’s already crumpled from previous use, but he wipes his brow one more time and exhales with loud exasperation. “Is this how it’s supposed to work? Seriously?” he continues. “We haven’t moved an inch in, like, an hour.” Flynn Simon has, in fact, been in the queue for over an hour and a half, which is how long it’s been since he drove his 2007 Toyota Highlander into the back end of a stopped eighteen-wheeler on the Long Island Expressway. He had looked away for only a second at the sound of his cell phone ringing on the passenger seat. He never got a ...

Alabaster Egg

Leave it be, the alabaster egg, alluring as morning, tenuous as rain.   Touch it and the mother will never return, the chick consigned to abandonment and death, she cursed to a life of regret and recrimination.   Only leave it be and the chick will one day burst through, moist, dazed, confused at the world, uncertain who to believe, unsure why he has come, not at all clear what’s expected of ...

Everything Old

Who could have imagined that the universities would be the first to go? Anyplace where you went to learn how to think. The trades turned out to be much harder though. They can make you a competent contract attorney or psychiatrist in fifteen minutes, but if you want to learn plumbing or welding, you still have to go spend a year or more in a trade school, just like back in the day. When the technology first started to emerge in the late twenty sixties, it was driven by the work of Columbia neurobiology researchers Pelton and Yamaguchi, who had collaborated decades earlier on identifying specific sites in the human brain where learning occurred, research that had subsequently earned the pair Nobel Prizes in medicine. With the benefit of ...

Turtles

“I can’t help it, Rob. And I can’t explain it either. Well, I can, but it will never be a satisfying explanation.” “That’s certainly true,” Rob said. “I will tell you this, though, because I’m your friend and someone has to tell you. You’re freaking people out with this business. There’s talk of interventions, counseling, possibly restraint.” “You’re totally overreacting. It’s not even that big of a deal. It’s only a feeling after all.” “Yes, a feeling—a feeling you’ve now shared with everyone we know, in every conceivable social situation for going on three weeks, a feeling that you—we—aren’t real. That we’re just characters in a story being written by some author somewhere, who we—well ...

Before the Fall

Three seconds of rushing wind precede the violent thunderclap of a body impacting asphalt. There is a limit to the velocity with which the human body can strike an unyielding object and still retain any semblance of intactness. Former Mayor Roger Hendricks had exceeded that limit by at least an order of magnitude during his plunge from the thirty-seventh floor rooftop terrace of the Flemington Tower on June the sixteenth of the year preceding. As of today, now nearly seven months on, why he took that plunge remains a mystery—one that, alas, it was now Benedict’s sworn duty to unravel.   Thursday – January 7, 1937 “I confess, sir, that I have no earthly idea. No idea at all,” Senior Detective Malcolm Benedict sat ...

a story in which

…because if she didn’t, there was a decent chance Bret would react precisely as her friends had, on multiple occasions, suggested that he would react, which seemed unlikely to be good. And so Melody had spent a fair bit of time avoiding Bret in recent days. She had, in fact, found his behavior of late to be borderline erratic, almost as though this whole situation wasn’t really as innocuous as he had led friends and associates to believe. And if that was the case—if Bret was harboring some misguided sense of indebtedness on her part—well, then, she was pretty sure that being around him right now was not high on her list of things to do. Still, there was the interview day after tomorrow. There was no denying Bret had made that ...

Stones

The stories that we tell one another are stones buried deep in the ground. We need only unearth them, wrench them from the moist clutching soil with pry bar and shovel, muddy our hands with the travail of protagonist and heroine.   Sometimes the stone, once lifted, reveals hidden creatures that scurry from the light, threads of a story yet untold. Other times the stone is just the stone, clean and complete. And we raise it proudly above our head like Moses on Sinai, shouting to all who will listen.   And then there are stones we do not share with others. We just place them quietly into a wall with all the others, then look out proudly across the meadow of our life as our stories roll away into ...