WE’LL WORK ON THAT

WE’LL WORK ON THAT

The place was dark. Very dark, all things considered. The whole house seemed closed off into small compartments. However there was still light streaming in from a full moon by a window to the right of the room.

Precisely why Steinthal had chosen this night. He knew that because of the full moon his night vision equipment could make good use of the available ambient and residual light and he could operate “in the dark” without giving himself away.

Time to put on my googles he thought.

He heard a small creak.

Instinctively he ducked low but something still hit him from behind and from his left. It had struck the top of his shoulder, the backside of his neck and the base of his skull. It was wide whatever it was. And it had only been a glancing blow but Steinthal saw a flash from the impact, heard a ring in his ear, and stumbled forward a few feet. Then as he caught his balance he ran forward another five or six feet and swirled as fast as he could recover.

Someone stood there. A big someone. Big and dark. If it had growled Steinthal might have taken it for a bear. As it was Steinthal thought it might be even more dangerous.

The thing seemed to just pause there as if considering what to do next. Steinthal’s head cleared completely and he started to make for his gun when the shape charged. It came in close almost instantly and surprised Steinthal, not with a jab or a horizontal swing, but with a ferocious right uppercut. Steinthal barely had time to react but twisted some and got his left arm stiffened and intercepted the shot down low. That took most of the punch out but the guy was still so strong that he lifted Steinthal onto the balls of his feet just from the sheer momentum.

Steinthal counterpunched furiously with his right. Hit the guy solidly on the left side of the front of his neck. It should have rocked the guy on his heels, caused him to splutter and choke. He hadn’t hit the trachea but it still would have stunned most men.

As it was the only two things that seemed to happen as far as Steinthal could tell was that it made a sound like the guy had been hit with a wet fish, and the man stepped back one step. He hadn’t even bent over.

Realizing fully what he was now facing, Steinthal swiftly backtracked three or four feet and grabbed his revolver with his right and his combat knife with his left. He had only glanced down for an instance to retrieve his weapons but when he looked up the guy already had a semiautomatic in one hand and a shiny machete in the other. Where the machete had come from Steinthal had no idea but it did impress him.

The guy was now closer to the moonlight. You could partially make him out. Steinthal decided he wasn’t big after all. He was monstrous. But he didn’t look stupid. No, there was a kind of set to his face and a sort of light in his eyes that Steinthal took for real and raw intelligence. Even more dangerous.

There were several moments of tense silence while they pointed their weapons at each other.

“That kind of hurt for such a little fella,” the big guy suddenly said and spit. There might have been some blood mixed in but it was too dark to tell. “What’s your name?”

“Huh?” Steinthal said.

“I said, ‘what’s your name.’ I don’t like having to repeat myself.”

Steinthal cleared his throat.

“John,” he replied. “But most everyone calls me Steinthal.”

The guy seemed to mull over the answer.

“Yeah, you’re the one,” he said as if mentally verifying a fact-sheet.

“What one?” Steinthal asked.

“The one I’m meant to kill tonight,” the big guy said.

“Well then,” Steinthal said. “You’re one up on me. I usually know nothing about most of the people I kill until it is all over.
“Why is that?” the big guy asked.

“Because they tend to ambush me,” replied Steinthal.

The big guy chuckled quietly.

“Well then, are you going to shoot me?” he asked.

“I’d rather not,” Steinthal said warily. “But at this point anything seems possible.”

Seemingly to spite himself the big guy chuckled again.

“I like you.” The big guy said. “You’re funny.”

“Trust me,” Steinthal said. “I’m not trying to be, but if helps any then let’s just go with that.”

The big guy seemed blithe. “Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to snap your neck, but now I sort of like you.”

Steinthal noticed that despite the relaxed and easy going tone of the man’s voice his aim had remained absolutely fixed and his breathing so steady that he seemed motionless. Even while he spoke.

“Yeah, well,” said Steinthal “We all do what we can.”

The guy laughed again. If not for the circumstances then to Steinthal this would have seemed ridiculous.

When the guy finished laughing he said, “Seems kind of a shame now though.”

“Don’t it,” said Steinthal. “But, you know, the guns and all…”

The big guy looked at Steinthal’s revolver.

“I’ve been shot before you know,” he said. “By a lot bigger and more powerful weapons than that. Never killed me.”

“I’ll bet,” said Steinthal. “But there’s always that first time. And I’m pretty damned determined.”

“Also I’m armored,” said the big guy, as if he hadn’t noticed Steinthal’s reply.

“Thanks for the heads up,” said Steinthal. “Now I know where not to aim.”

There was silence again. But no movement.

“Say,” Steinthal finally said. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the distinct feeling you’re not just playing for time here. Do you get the idea that there might be something else going on with this whole affair that neither of us are quite square on? And that maybe we should skip the strangulations and compare notes about in private?”

More silence. But then the big guy shrugged nonchalantly and holstered his gun. It kind of disappeared entirely into the huge black mound that was his chest. But the machete remained. And the guy had never even shifted his gaze.

“Maybe… Probably… Yes. I’ve had that idea for some time now,” he said. “But I didn’t want to make any snap judgements.”

“Yeah,” Steinthal said. “It’s one of the things I appreciate most about you.”

“People think I’m stupid, you know. Because I’m so big,” the big guy said. With a kind of sad resignation that seemed almost fatalistic.

“Well fella,” said Steinthal. “I’m not most people. And whereas you are stupefyingly big, you are most definitely not stupid.”

The guy chuckled again. Then sighed softly.

“You going to lower your gun now?” the big guy asked.

“I’m thinking about it, but, you know, I’m not exactly stupid either.”

The machete clattered to the floor.

“Very nice. Now can you do that with your hands, arms, and most of the rest of you as well?”

The guy smiled in the dark. And it seemed completely friendly.

“Probably not. I come this way,” he said.

“Alright then. I’ll just take your word for it.” And Steinthal holstered his gun and knife.

“Say,” Steinthal said relaxing a little. “Since you know so much about me what say you tell me your name?”

“You’ll laugh,” the big guy replied.

“Well, if I do, then don’t take it personally. I have an excellent sense of humor.”

“Okay then. It’s Maugham,” said the big guy. “William Somerset Maugham. But my friends call me Angus.”

Steinthal whistled. “Well I’ll be damned. I’ve read all your books!

“Yeah,” the big guy looked sheepishly at the ground. “My mother was real big on literature.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” Steinthal said. “But say, you’re a lot bigger in person than you look in the papers. Or the history books.”

“Yeah, I hear that a lot. Well, not a lot. Not recently anyway. Most people don’t read anymore.”

“Yeah, that’s a real shame, ain’t it? But that being what it is I’m not calling you Angus or Bill either,” Steinthal said.

“Well then, what are you going to call me?”

“I’m gonna call you Maugham,” said Steinthal. “Because you remind me of W. Somerset Maugham. If, you know, he had been as big as a damned Angus.”

Maugham nodded.

“What say though we get outta here now Maugham?” Steinthal asked. “Before they send in a troll?”

Maugham shrugged. “Okay. I’m game if you are.”

As they were sneaking out Steinthal said, “Say, what you said back there. Is that true?”

“Is what true?” asked Maugham.

“Do you really have friends?”

Maugham stopped in his tracks and seemed to mull over the question quietly in his mind before replying.

“You know, I’m not really sure.”

“Well,” said Steinthal. “The night is still young. We’ll work at it awhile. Then see what we can come up with. One thing’s for sure though.”

“What’s that?” asked Maugham.

“After tonight I owe you one. If you’ll take friendship as payment then I’ll sure call it square.”

(This is the first meeting between Steinthal and Maugham.)

From The Detective Steinthal.

MAN HAS ALWAYS BEEN…

MAN HAS ALWAYS BEEN…

a morally risk averse creature. Men will certainly do what is right and good when physically forced to do so, or for the pursuit of self-interest, or when they feel truly and personally endangered, or because others insist that must be the case (society, the law, those whom they allow to exercise power over them).

But the percentage of men who will do what is right (or even argue for or wish to do what is right) in every circumstance, and no matter the risk, the danger, or the opposition – simply for the sake of doing what is right – is at least as low as that percentage of men who seek to do harm or wrong or evil simply for the sake of doing harm, wrong, or evil.

(And trust me, there are huge numbers of people so naive and sheltered and willfully ignorant about both life and human nature that they cannot even believe that such men exist. Though they most certainly do.)

So to me the real tragedy of the entire history of man, and probably one of the highest real reasons for his need of salvation, is not that the extremely small percentage of men who are consistently dedicated to doing evil are consistently dedicated to doing evil, but rather that there is such an infinitesimally small percentage of men consistently dedicated to doing what is right simply because it is always best to do so.

(My observation for Maundy Thursday.)

TODAY I LEVELED UP

Tome and Tomb

LEVELING UP

Today I leveled Up. Several years ago I began directly applying the various gaming and wargaming techniques I have practiced most of my life directly to my “Real Life,” – to improve my character, nature, abilities, and to help me with my overall human accomplishments.

Part of my TSS (Transferable Skill Systems) and GPAD  (Games of Personal advancement and Development) Program.

Lately I have improved that system.

Today I made another Rise in my Accomplishments. Or, put in simplistic gaming terms I leveled up in Real Life.

This is basically my System and how I use it to advance myself (and those around me, like my wife and children).

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: (Rising or Leveling Up)

PROGRESSION – a minor accomplishment such as; making a ten pound increase in weight lifting routine, cutting time off of a sprint, climbing higher, faster, and farther, winning a sparring match (boxing…

View original post 661 more words

DEMOCRACIES AND THE REAL REPUBLIC

The Missal

DEMOCRACIES AND THE REAL REPUBLIC

In a democracy (especially a socialistic one) the general idea is that every man ought to be free enough to be able to do precisely as he will any time he chooses, be that for good or for ill.

In a Republic (especially a Christian one) the general principle ought to be that every man should be trained from birth to will himself to do only what is Good, Just, and Wise.

If you don’t understand the difference between these two radically different concepts and modes of governance (the one commanded by mere herds of mortal men, the other of the True Self) then it is probably because you have never been seriously or long trained in what is Good, Just, and Wise, or because you have made such an idolatrous fetish of liberty at all costs that what is Good…

View original post 15 more words

THE FALL ITSELF

The Missal

“…the Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
to reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.”

Most people think that Paradise Lost is first and foremost the tale of the Fall of Man and the loss of his Paradise on Earth.

In Truth Paradise Lost is first and foremost the tale of how Lucifer forever lost Heaven, Earth, Paradise,  and eventually even hell to become a mere romantic hero, a fool, a failure, and a ruin of his former Self. All because he mistook license for Liberty, revolt for Responsibility, fervor for Freedom, and wrong for Wisdom.

For the Fall of Man was but a worldly incident of a Fall Unmade by a Better and far more Universal Man.

The Fall from Heaven was a universal…

View original post 32 more words

A Short History of the Militia in the United States

For those of you, like me, who are historical novelists.

The Angry Staff Officer

The idea of a militia – that is, groups of armed citizens that enter military service in time of need – has a long and contentious history in the United States. The idea of what constitutes the militia under the Constitution is has stirred up a lot of debate these past few years, and was reinvigorated by the so-called militia that took over federal land in Oregon in 2016. The topic is fraught with Constitutional, legal, political, and societal issues that go all the way back to the nation’s founding. However, although the issue is complicated, with a little effort we can trace how the fundamental idea of the militia has changed over time to where it exists in State and Federal laws today.

English Beginnings

The idea of militia goes back to English traditions beginning with the Assize of Arms in 1181: “He will possess these arms…

View original post 2,174 more words

I GOT SAD TODAY

I GOT SAD TODAY

Rarely do I actually get sad. Well, not about myself anyway. But today I got sad about myself.

Oh, on occasion I become melancholy, but I enjoy being melancholy. But I do that primarily for aesthetic reasons (it helps me with creativity) and for personal enjoyment. But I do that intentionally. That is, I intentionally, from time to time, put myself into an intentional state of melancholy.

But rarely do I get sad and only on very, very, very rare occasions do I ever get sad about myself.

Today, however, I got sad. After taking Dorett to pick up her car I stopped by 2nd and Charles and Mr. K’s.

At Mr. K’s I picked up Les Fleurs Du Mal by Baudelaire in English translation. (The Flowers of Evil.) Perhaps my favorite foreign book of poetry read in college. I tried to get it in French to practice my French (I’ve been getting old texts in Latin and Greek and other foreign languages to work on my language mastery) but no such luck.

At 2nd and Charles however I got four CDs – the 36th and 38th symphonies of Mozart, the 6th symphony of Mahler, the 2nd symphony of Enescu, and four symphonic poems of Bax including Tintagel and the Happy Forest.

I was riding home listening to Tintagel (a favorite symphonic poem) when I suddenly thought of all of the symphonies and tone poems and concerti and operas and far lesser musical compositions I have either already sketched out or are in various states of composition and it made me very sad.

For lately I have felt a really pervasive, almost all-pervasive, desire to compose music. (Maybe because it is springtime, I don’t know, or maybe it is just one of those phases that hit me occasionally.) But I know I have no time. Certainly not the time I would need to do the kind of quality compositions I wish to do. For I am a self-taught and slow composer I have great ideas but am slow in execution.

And between my attempting to become a published fiction author, an established poet, a song-writer, seeking funding for my inventions and start-ups, and helping my wife establish her career and getting my kids through college (or into college) I simply have no time for anything else, and often not enough time for any of the things I am already doing. And that saddened me.

As a matter of fact I have come to the conclusion that I may never have enough time to do all that I wish. For their will always be other things that will also demand my time (children, family, friends, grandchildren, etc. and I am not complaining about those things, as they bring me satisfaction and joy, but I acknowledge the truth that they are a drag on my work efforts) and if I live to be one-hundred or more I may still not do all I have assigned myself to do. Or simply wish to do.

And unfortunately, given my current situation, music and art must take a back-seat or go completely ignored for the sake of my other efforts (which are likely to prove far more profitable and important anyway).

(I often, still to this very day, wonder if I did indeed choose the right careers to pursue, and should or will I ever be able to pursue all of the things I so very much desire to pursue. I guess only God knows, as I suspect I may never know. Not, perhaps, in this world anyway.)

But still, if I had the time then I could spend many a day in composing music and drawing and painting things.

I simply do not have the time.

So I don’t.

But if I had the time it would make me quite happy to do so.

Yet because I don’t have the time it makes me sad that I cannot…