Tuesday, May 20, 2014


He didn’t want to be there.
When Charlene had come home gleefully waving two free tickets to hear the sensational new virtuosa, Malcolm told her he wasn’t interested. When she’d said, nonsense, he loved concerts, he’d shrugged and said, “Not necessarily.” When she’d insisted he wear his tux, he looked so handsome in it, he’d said handsome was overrated.
But there he was, sitting Row Five, Center Front, in his tuxedo, next to his girlfriend, watching this woman fiddle the heart out of a bunch of helpless dead composers.
Charlene tried to hand him the opera glasses. “No,” he said. He could see the performer well enough without them.
She was gorgeous, Malcolm gave her that. She was like all these female soloists, thinking a low-cut dress and ample cleavage were a fine stand-in for talent. Though talent she had– if you liked an overdone, pseudo-passionate display that manipulated the emotions and bypassed the brain. She wasn’t moving him.
It was all for show. She was French. She must despise the whole audience as ignorant Americans, himself included.
Let her.
Charlene would not stop jostling him. “Oh! It’s too beautiful!” she whispered, grinning like a jack-o’-lantern. Malcolm folded his arms and stolidly ignored her.
God! How many curtain calls will the woman take?
“All right, Charlene, it’s over,” he said. “Let’s go home.”
“You’re crazy. There’s a reception for Mlle. Duchesne in the Schubert Room and I’m not leaving until I’ve met her. You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t meet her, too.”
In the Schubert Room, he raked his eyes over the crowd. “She’s not here,” he announced. “We can leave.”
“Silly, she’s still in her dressing room. Why don’t you go to the Men’s? She’ll be here by the time you’re finished.”
Or she wouldn’t be. Fine with him.
Head down, he escaped into a side passage marked Restrooms. A woman, hurrying out of the Ladies’, cannoned into him.
“Hey! Watch where– ” he began. And stopped.
“It is you truly?”
Her look.  Her voice.  Her scent.  His whole being reeled, remembering. She offered her hand. In a dream, he took it. “That night. Why did you– ?”
“Hush. We will not speak of that. You are still composing?”
“Yes. Amelie, your performance . . . were you trying to kill me? Do you realize how hard it was to keep from– ”
She laid a finger on his lips. Her other hand remained in his.
“I could not forget you. I am yet alone,” she said. “And you: that girl you sat with. Is she anything special to you?”
Even through the door Charlene’s laugh vibrated down the hallway.
Yes, let me introduce her to you.
He opened his mouth.
by Catrin Lewis, 2014.  All rights reserved

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Carboot Sale

(Easter Sunday, 1995)

By camper, car, and caravan
they come
Creeping, slowly seeking
Along the sloping open road
Alert with eyes rolled naked
Lest they pass  The very town,
The turn, the way (it's told)
Will lead to reborn treasure, wholeness' heart,
To all they've learned this lurching life
can give.

On this desired, this dream-deferréd day--
This day of all the year, at last arrived--
They find for watchfulness a full reward
As booted angels, flinging back the lids,
Reveal old wares, seen through their eyes
as new.

While in a lonely land so long away
Three weeping wishing women seek the Dead.
With him their dreams have died, yet they would pay
With love's small coin grief’s yearning due.
But finding not, with angel-opened sight
They know the Dead Alive,
Who from his life full treasure gives
Of life and heart and eyes.

While here, numb eyes dead toys caress
And cannot find the road.  The turn, they miss.

by Catrin Lewis, 1995, revised 2014.  All rights reserved

Monday, May 12, 2014

Nothing More

What was it, Herb Tyler wondered, that told a hound to wait for Saturday evening to chow down on a gun-grease rag?

It was past 1:00 AM and he was waiting to hear from the emergency vet in Robbinsville.  If Floozy didn’t pass the scrap they’d do surgery.  Routine procedure, nothing to worry about.  They’d call and let him know.

He settled back in his recliner, rereading Zane Grey and relaxing to the pummelling of the rain on the cabin roof.


Hell!  Damn phone made him jump.  Hey, ease up!  Floozy needs an operation, I can swing the cost.   She’s a good dog.  She’s worth it.

“Herb? . . . ”

Not the vet.  Just that moocher Russ Henson.  What’d he want this time of night?  Bail?


“ . . . favor?”  Bad cell connection.  It figured.

“Listen, man, you keep– ”

“ . . . last time . . . promise.”

Yeah, right.  “OK, whaddya want?”

“I’m . . . swamp . . . pickup . . . ditch . . . your place . . . ?”

Was that all?  “Yeah, sure, man.  Come on over and dry off.  You can walk here from where you are?”

“Yeah. . . soon.  Last time.”

An hour passed.  No Russ.

Not sending a search party after him, the fool.

Hour and a half.

Maybe he’s gone clean the other way.  

Wait.  That noise.  Somebody out there, or just trash blowing across the porch floor?  Floozy could’ve told: she barked at anything on legs.  But the dog was in Robbinsville.

Herb listened, his ears straining.

What was that?  “Russ, that you?”


He clutched the door knob.  You chickenshit.  Nothing’s out there. Nothing.

Nothing?  He jerked the door open.  The soaked-through body of a middle-aged man swayed, reached blindly forward, and fell face-down on the plank floor.


He helped him to a chair, got his wet clothes off him, and wrapped him in a blanket.  “Shit,” Herb said, handing him a mug of steaming coffee, “you look nearly dead.”

“I feel d-d-dead,” said Russ, his teeth chattering against the rim.

“Why the hell’d you take the shortcut through the swamp on a night like this?”

“C-c-couldn’t see the road.  F-f-followed some bastard’s t-t-taillights.  Felt something was wr-wr-wrong but it was t-t-too late.”

Too late.  It was too late.

Hell, no, it wasn’t!  Ignorant sumbitch was sitting here safe, wasn’t he?

“F-f-frigging lights dipped down, then back up again, like the road was c-c-clear.  N-next thing I know, the water’s p-pouring into my cab.”

“Shit, man, how’d you get out?  You’d be fried if you hadn’t.”

“More like one wet gh-ghost,” said the figure in the chair.


“Sorry, gotta get this.”

It was the vet.  Floozy would be fine.

Behind him, ceramic crashed against hardwood.  He wheeled.  The receiver fell from his hand.

On the chair he saw his blanket, empty; on the floor, in a puddle of mixed rainwater and coffee, the shards of the mug.

And nothing more.

By Catrin Lewis, 2014.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Back Again, with a Big Decision

Or maybe not so big.

It's about my work-in-revision, Free Souls, and its serial publication on this blog.

In my last post on the subject, I considered some improvements to the novel's plotting and characterization.  Well, I implemented those.  I also rewrote Chapters 19 and 20 so they'd have more action and less introspection, more showing and less telling.

Having rewritten them, I submitted them for critique on WritingForums.org.  And the tough love I got there has brought me to a decision.  No, I'm not going to cut the nested story of my MC's past out altogether as one critiquer suggested. Too much in her present is not intelligible without it (at least, I think it's not).  And I won't rewrite the whole thing chronologically starting with her high school or college years, as another urged.  That would mean ditching the thriller plot, which is necessary for Sandy and Eric to become the people they need to be so they can love each other as they should.

The advice I will take is to cut out all or most of the introspection, and the way I'm going to do that is by rewriting the nested story to set it entirely in the past and not coming out of it till it's done.  And making a distinct break between it and the parts set in "story present."

Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 . . . rather pretentious for my piece of fluff, but I think that's the only way to make it work.

I haven't started the work on the Big Rewrite.  Instead I've skipped ahead to a working on few chapters from Eric's point of view.  I wish they were getting themselves written faster, but with me putting in twelve to fourteen hours of (minimally) paid work a day my mind isn't always at top speed even when I do get a chance to write.

All this has an impact on this blog.  Posting this novel (as previously-conceived) was a way of generating content for it, right?

But not any more.

No, as much as I've enjoyed posting the book chapter by chapter, as much as it's been an incentive to stay hard at work and produce, as much as it galls me to give in to it, no more chapters of Free Souls will appear on this blog until it's reasonably done.  With the revisions I've made in the typescript, the ones that are up already need more alteration than I have time to do.  And I can't just tack the next chapter on and pretend those revisions don't exist.  That'd  be the same as assuming no one would bother to go back and read from Chapter 1.

Once the novel is completed, God willing, I'll put the whole thing up as a pdf on a separate page on the blog.  It'll be better for the readers that way.

Meanwhile, I've been experimenting with flash fiction.  And there's always the poetry.  I should be able to come up with something for regular posts.