Saga of Bohok-Chapter 8

This is the eighth chapter of an online serial novel- to read the story from the beginning click here.

Chapter 8

Terrified, Bohok didn’t look back, he just ran.  The forest was home to two kinds of bears. Blacks and Browns. The blacks were smaller and usually left people alone. The browns were a different story. Kirso would have yelled and jumped around if it was a black bear and try to scare it off. There was no scaring off the browns.

Kirso was well ahead of him heading for a cluster of pine trees across the meadow. Bohok put his head down and sprinted after him. He focused on lifting his knees and driving his feet downward, running as hard as he could. He could hear the crashing of brush behind him he knew the bear was charging after him.

Bohok dodged around small trees and bushes as he ran. He gauged the bear’s distance by how long it took to hear the brush rattle or the trees snap as the bear charged through them. It was closing on him fast.

Kirso made the trees and to Bohok’s astonishment Kirso managed to run up the side of the pine tree and grab the lowest branch a good ten feet above the ground. Kirso pulled himself up onto the branch and scrambled up even higher into the tree.

“Run Bohok!” He shouted down from his perch urging Bohok on.

He could hear the bear grunting behind him as it ran. Each grunt was closer, until he felt the bear’s hot breath on his back. He wasn’t going to make it to the tree.

He braced himself for the attack. He knew the bear would overtake him any moment. He stared longingly at the tree, he would never reach it.

He thought he was prepared but when the paw hit his side Bohok screamed. The blow knocked him from his feet and sent him sprawling into the dirt. The impact knocked his breath away; he gasped for futility for air. Desperately he crawled forward on his knees and elbows; still trying to escape the bear. He could feel blood gushing out of the tears the bear’s claws had rent in his side.

Just as his lungs seemed to start working again Bohok felt a massive paw step down upon his back, pinning him to the ground. Five points like knife heads pricked the skin of his back. The bear didn’t press down hard, just hard enough to keep Bohok from moving.

The hot breath was there again. It came in gusts as the massive creature panted over him. First on his back, then he felt the breath move up his body, onto his neck, then each breath blew his hair around as it snuffled his head. The rancid meat stench of its breath was so strong, that it burned Bohok’s nose.

Bohok didn’t want to look back. He didn’t want to see it. He didn’t want to know when the killing bite came, as he knew it would.

Hot saliva dripped onto back and neck as the bear drooled on him. He could feel it pooling between his shoulder blades before it ran in warm rivers down both sides of his neck.  Bohok wanted to scream but his lungs couldn’t get enough air with the beast’s paw pressing down on him. He felt like he was drowning. His fingers were starting to bleed as he clawed in the dirt trying to get free.

Then, without warning, the bear bellowed a great roar and lifted its paw from Bohok’s back. His chest rose as he gulped in air.  He tried to get up but his body wouldn’t move. All he could do is breathe.

“Run you idiot!” He heard Kirso scream. It took Bohok a moment to realize what was wrong with the sound of Kirso’s voice. It was too low; it was from the ground.

He turned to see Kirso with a fist full of rocks and he was throwing them at the bear. The bear was starting to walk towards him. “Run!” He shouted before dropping his rocks and turning to climb his tree again.

Bohok sprung to his feet and started to run but something caught his eye as he spun around. Kirso couldn’t get back up into the tree. The branches were too high to get at without a running start. Bohok took two long strides in the opposite direction before stopping. Kirso didn’t have to climb out of that tree to help him. He could have stayed up there and let the bear eat him. Bohok couldn’t let the bear get Kirso; he couldn’t let Kirso best him in courage too.

Bohok scooped some rocks up off the ground and turned back towards Kirso and the bear; it was almost on him. Kirso scrambled desperately trying to reach the lowest branches on the tree.

Bohok hurled a rock and hit the bear in the back. It didn’t respond. Bohok screamed at it and threw another. The bear stopped and looked back at him, looked him in the eye. For a moment Bohok thought he could read its mind. The look seemed to say, “I gave you a chance and this is what you chose to do with it?”

The bear turned away from Kirso and stared at Bohok. Then the bear looked at Kirso, still scrambling to get up the tree. Bohok saw the confusion on the bear’s face, the indecision. Bohok threw another rock and hit it square between the eyes. That made up its mind.

The bear started running towards him. Bohok looked around. He was still far away from any trees that he thought he had any hope of climbing. What had he just done? He turned to run, but then he saw Kirso throwing rocks and screaming at the bear.

What was he doing? Bohok had just saved him and he was, he was… He was doing the exact same thing Bohok was doing.

The bear stopped again in a cloud of dust. He let out a roar in protest. He obviously had never had its food torment him in this manner. It stood up on its hind legs and bellowed another roar. On its hind legs the bear was easily twice Bohok’s height. The display made Bohok’s knees weak. There was no escaping this monster.

Just then a sound unlike Bohok had ever heard before came out of the woods. It was louder than a tree snapping in half but resonated like bowstring. There was a strange humming sound accompanying it.

Then the bear lurched forward and swayed in place. It looked around. It gave a confused grunt then went down on four legs again. Then, to Bohok’s amazement, the bear collapsed, flat on the ground.

Bohok was baffled. What had happened?  What was that noise? Why was the bear not moving?

“What was that?” Kirso shouted echoing Bohok’s thoughts.

Bohok only shrugged. The bear was still on the ground. “I think it’s dead.” He yelled back.

Both boys started edging toward the bear. They cautiously approached it from both sides. Bohok saw a pool of blood forming under its great body.

“Hold!” A strange voice called out from the woods. Bohok and Kirso spun towards it.

A man emerged from the forest. He was tall, taller than any man they had ever seen. He had furs wrapped around his body and leathers around his legs, like an Elk-Eater. A great beard swung from his neck, thicker than any beard Bohok had ever seen. The hair of the beard was as orange as a campfire, but that wasn’t the most shocking thing about him.

The most shocking thing was his skin. His skin was so pale that Bohok thought he must be sick; he had never seen anyone so pale unless they were deathly ill, or dead. But he didn’t move like a sick man he loped across the meadow with an easy gait.

“Hold.” He called out again, waving one arm. He pulled out a knife from his belt. The stone of the blade was as peculiar as everything else about this man. It shone like the side of a trout in the sun and it was longer than Bohok’s arm. “The first shot might not have killed it.”

The man closed on the bear. With a great thrust he shoved his long, strange knife through the side of the bear up to the handle. The bear did not move. The man freed his knife with a powerful yank. He flicked the blood from the blade and nodded, almost to himself.

He smiled a broad smile and put the tip of his knife into the ground.  It was so long that he easily rested his hands on top of the handle one crossed over the other. Bohok stared at the shiny knife. He wondered how someone could chip a knife so long and straight. He wondered why it didn’t break under its own weight; it was so thin.

Up close Bohok saw that the orange beard and his temples were streaked with grey. He was old; perhaps that was why he was so very pale. His face was weathered and his eyes hinted at secret wisdom, just like Chief Yoosin’s.

The man looked at the two astonished boys one at a time. “That was a very brave act. Both of you. I saw most of it. Impressive.” His words sounded strange, the inflections were all wrong, he had an accent like an Elk-Eater but even that was wrong.

Kirso spoke first. “Who are you?” He asked.

The man laughed, even his laugh sounded different, but it was long and deep and both Kirso and Bohok started giggling along with him. “I’m sorry boys, let me introduce myself.” He put a hand to his chest and bent his body in half in a bizarre fashion. When he straightened he said, “I am called Tymon.”

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Published in: on February 22, 2010 at 12:24 am  Comments Off on Saga of Bohok-Chapter 8  
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Smashwords and Authonomy

I am always thinking of publishing Midnight in Vegas on various eBook websites like Smashwords or Authonomy. The only reason I haven’t done it is that I worry that it might hurt my chances of being published by conventional publishers. I have read that some publishers like to see an author has published on these sites and is already marketing the book and others don’t like it and will actually refuse to publish a book that already is in eBook format. They don’t want the competition.

So here I am on the fence.

What to do?

Personally I like the idea of publishing on Smashwords. People can download the book on a bunch of formats and read it on Stanza (an App for iPhones, iPods and eventually iPads), Kindles, PC’s or Blackberries. Another benefit is you can set the price for your work on Smashwords. I can actually make money on the book. But I hate the idea of some “real” publisher not buying my book because it is on there.

I still don’t know.

So I thought I would put up a poll. What do you think I should do?

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm  Comments Off on Smashwords and Authonomy  
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Three Jack Night

The scratching woke him up again. Jack cracked open one eye and shifted his pillow so he could see the alarm clock. Eleven forty-five. Shit. It took him two rolls to get to the edge of his king size bed. He threw the blankets off in a dramatic gesture and sat up.

The little fucker was by the door, waiting, its brown and black body shaking uncontrollably. He was a Jack Russell Terrier and he shook when he was excited. He did a lot of things when he was excited, like piss all over the place.

Jack hated the dog. It wasn’t even his dog. It was his ex-wife’s dog, just like he was sleeping in his ex-wife’s bed. She had left them with Jack because they didn’t fit into her new lifestyle. They were relics of her old life; the life where she played house with Big Jack and Little Jackie and they all slept together in the big bed.

It was always a game to her, a phase, something she was bound to get bored with or grow out of. Jack had known it all along; he knew she was going to move on to something new and exciting after a while. She was too fickle, too distracted by shiny new things to stay doing one thing for too long. He had always thought that when she moved on to something new, he was going to come along with her. Instead she left him right along with the dog and the bed.

Now it was just Big Jack, Little Jackie and a big ass bottle of Jack Daniels.

He stumbled to the back door. The little dog pranced excitedly and shook some more. Jack threw the deadbolt on the door. It opened with an obnoxious squeak; the house was old, the whole place squeaked and groaned and popped. When Jack walked down the hall it sometimes sounded like someone was following him as the boards snapped back into place. It made the house really spooky sometimes, but he had gotten used to it.

The little dog looked up at him and then at the opening. Jack had opened the door just far enough to let the damn dog out. It was winter and it was cold and he was in his skivvies. He didn’t want to open the door any farther than he had to. “Well what the fuck do you want?” He asked the little pain in the ass.

The little dog looked at the cracked open door and whined.

“I’m not going to slam it on you.” Jack said; then added “Again.”

He wasn’t proud about trying to kill the dog. But he had been drunk and the fucking thing reminded him of her. He groaned and opened the door all the way. A cold gust of wind hit him and instantly hardened his nipples and shrank his cock.

“God damn it.” He shivered.

The little dog looked up at him, looked outside and shook some more.

“Now what are you waiting for?”

The dog just shook and whimpered. Jack put the side of his foot against the little dog’s ass and shoved him out the wide open door. The dog went skittering out into the dark, its little nails failing to get purchase as it slid across the redwood deck.

Jack slammed the door and threw the deadbolt. He looked down at the lock, chuckled to himself and unlocked it. The little fucker was going to want back in soon enough.

Jack walked into his bathroom and relieved himself. He was up, after all. He flushed and opened up the medicine cabinet. Grabbing the Xanax bottle he dumped two into his hand. The Jack Daniels was on his nightstand; he put the pills in his mouth and walked back to his bed.

The bottle of Jack was one of the giant Costco bottles. He had finished half of it this weekend. He spun the lid off with his thumb and took a shot to wash down the pills.

He looked at the door. Usually the dog was quick about his business. A couple of minutes then he was scratching to come back in. Jack wondered what was taking so long. He was loath to get back into bed. He knew the damn dog would want back in as soon as he got comfortable. He went to the door and opened it a little. “Jackie.” He called. Nothing. He peered out into the darkness. The night was overcast, there was no moon or stars. He couldn’t see ten feet into the yard. “Jackie.” He gave a little whistle. He didn’t know why, the stupid dog never came when called anyway.

He shut the door and flopped down on top of the covers to wait for the dog to return.

The cold awoke him. He was shivering. He raised his head, the door was open. Cold wind blew into the house. “Jackie?” He called for the dog. He must have left the door cracked a little and the fucker pushed it open.

Pushing himself off the bed, he noticed that he had been drooling. His comforter had a huge wet spot where his head had been. He licked his lips and wiped his slimy cheek. Slamming the door shut he called for the dog again. He listened for the chime of his tags jingling on his collar, nothing.

“Jackie you little shit.” He mumbled. His head was full of cottonballs from the Xanax. He peeled back his blankets and laid down. “Jackie.” He yelled to no avail. The dog must have gone back outside. Well he could fucking freeze, he didn’t care.

Jack’s eyes shot open; he had been sleeping but, he heard a creaking noise. He hated this house. “Jackie?” He called out. Was the dog in the house after all? He forced himself up.

The creaking noises went echoing down the hall. Something was in the house. Something bigger than a Jack Russell Terrier.

“Joanne?” His first thought was that it was his wife but then he remembered. She was gone, and she wasn’t coming back. He struggled to get his fuzzy mind to work.

The creaking noises seemed closer; they were coming down the hall. A jolt of fear went through him. Something or someone was definitely in his house. He scrambled to the edge of his bed and grabbed the baseball bat he had stashed underneath it.

The creaking stopped. “Who’s there?” He shouted down the hall. He sat up, holding the bat in both hands. He listened but there was no answer. He worked up some courage and leapt from his bed. Hitting the light switch with the tip of the bat he warily went out into the hall.

The floorboards gave their usual protests as he walked down the hall. Jack winced at each one. If somebody was in his house they would know right where he was.

He worked his way down to the front room and the kitchen. He tried to keep his back to a wall as he explored his house. He looked at the entryway.

The front door was open. What the fuck. He knew he’d locked that door. Hadn’t he? He cautiously approached the door and gazed outside. It was still darker than shit. “Jackie?” He called into the night, where the fuck was that dog anyway?

He waited a minute before he slammed the door and threw the dead bolt. He’d been drinking too much. It was windy; the wind had opened the door. There was no other explanation. He put the bat on his shoulder and went back through the house, turning off the lights as he went. He left the bedroom light on, what did he care, he paid the power bill and nobody was here to call him a pussy.

He leaned the bat against the night stand, took a big swig off the JD to calm his nerves and climbed back into bed. He adjusted the pillows and the blankets, got everything perfect. Then a scratch came at the door.

“Fuck!” Jack cursed. He threw the blankets off and got out of bed. He stomped to the back door. He wanted the little shit to know he was pissed before he opened the door. Where the fuck had he been, anyway? He threw open the door.

Nothing.

 He flipped the switch for the back porch light. The bulb lit up a tiny sphere in the gloom. No dog. “Jackie you little shit! Get in here!”

Nothing.

The creaks came from behind him, charging down the hall. His bat, Jack thought too late, was back by his bed. The dark form moved too quickly for him to make out what it was. Jack screamed.

The sun rose and Jackie crawled out of his hole in the rose bushes. He found his master’s body half way in and half way out of back door. The smell of blood made him excited, he started to shake, and piss everywhere.

Vegas Baby!

I will be attending the Las Vegas Writer’s Conference on April 15th – April 18th. You can check out their website here .

It looks like they have great program this year and some really interesting agents, authors, and publishers to hobnob with.

The other great thing about the conference is they limit attendance to 150 people. That makes it a little more intimate. I never got the final numbers from BEA last year but there were hordes of us there. You can read my thoughts on that here and here.

They also have dinners and “meet and greets” where they make the illustrious ones mingle with us dirty hungry ones.

I am looking forward to going to a west coast convention. It seems that everything in writing is so New York centric. Which is great, if you live back east. It’s a pain in the ass for those of us who can’t throw down a thousand dollars in air fare to cross the country for every major convention. 

Of course even as I write this part of me is still jumping up and down screaming and shouting for joy that the World Science Fiction Convention (where they give out the Hugo awards!) will be hosted in Reno next year. RENOVATION! I am so there.

Tchuss

Lystra

Saga of Bohok- Chapter 7

Chapter 7

They left before dawn. The light of the coming sun winked out the stars above them as they paddled the boat up the river. Kirso sat in the front of the canoe and set a furious pace for their rowing. It didn’t take Bohok long to figure out that Kirso was testing him.

Kirso had always been stronger than Bohok. When Bohok had been exiled Kirso could haul heavier nets than Bohok. He was a stronger rower than Bohok. He was a better wrestler than Bohok. When Bohok had been exiled Kirso was the better than Bohok at every skill the Fish-Eaters held high in esteem.

That, Bohok decided, was before he was exiled. He matched Kirso stroke for stroke and the canoe sped up the river. Bohok had fished hard, worked hard, fought hard to live all on his own all summer. He wasn’t weaker than Kirso anymore. He set his mind to his work and let the rhythm of the oars overtake him. He would not be the first one to break the pace, he would not tire first.

The canoe raced up the river. They flushed a bunch of ducks that had been sleeping in a calm stretch of water. The skein flew inches above the water, their wing tips touching the placid waters leaving pairs of rings expanding behind them. They flew just ahead of the boat daring Kirso and Bohok to catch them. Kirso gave a quick look back to Bohok before quickening their pace. They chased the ducks up the river until the flock finally veered off and headed up above the trees that hugged the banks of the river.

Bohok expected Kirso to slow. The ducks were gone but Kirso kept up the same pace. The muscles in Bohok’s arms were alight with pain but he swore to himself that he would not quit. Kirso stole a quick look over his shoulder. Bohok could see the same determination set in his eyes; Kirso wasn’t going to quit either.

The sun was well overhead when Bohok started to panic. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up. His body was screaming with pain. Each stroke was sheer agony. He knew that Kirso had to be feeling the same way. Nobody could row this long, this hard, and not be hurting. Bohok’s mind scrambled for a plan. He needed to end this contest and end it quickly.

Bohok stared at Kirso’s back as they paddled up the river; he saw the sweat pouring off it. He heard Kirso’s grunting with each stroke. He is almost done, he told himself, I just need to push him. With that thought Bohok increased his pace. Forcing himself to paddle even faster than before.

Kirso noticed the change immediately. He shot a furious look over his shoulder and matched Bohok’s new pace, then exceeded it.

Struggling to match Kirso, Bohok’s paddle just didn’t move fast enough. It seemed like Kirso was taking two strokes for every one that Bohok managed. Bohok shifted his grip on the paddle trying to get better leverage, he plunged it into the water and then, the water took it from his hands.

Bohok watched in horror as his paddle drifted away from the speeding canoe. Kirso kept paddling for several strokes before he noticed that Bohok had stopped.  He turned to see what had happened and a wicked smile crossed his face when he saw the paddle far down the river.

“I should have expected a Bug-Eater to drop his paddle.” He said with as much contempt as he could muster.

“It slipped.” Bohok said lamely. “Turn around.”

“What and waste half the day chasing a paddle downstream?” Kirso laughed. “In case you haven’t noticed we are about as far up the river as we are going to be able to paddle anyway. A true Fish-Eater knows the river. The currents get far too strong up ahead. We’ll beach here and start the walk.”

Bohok only nodded. He won’t go back because he knew that I almost had him beat and he doesn’t want to give me a second chance, he thought.

Kirso paddled the boat into the bank and they climbed out.  Bohok and Kirso hauled the boat up onto land and a good ways away from the river before flipping it over. Rainstorms and flash floods could wash a boat back into the river if it was right side up and then it would be gone forever. Kirso started piling up some large rocks around the bow and stern of the canoe to be double safe.

Bohok took out some dried salmon from his pack and sat down. The sun was almost at its zenith and he was hungry. He hadn’t had any properly dried fish in a long time, it was wonderful.

“Aren’t you going to help?” Kirso complained. His arms full of heavy rocks.

“Why should I?” Bohok laughed. “It’s not my boat, and a stupid Bug-Eater like me would probably do it all wrong anyway.”

“Probably.” Kirso nodded his agreement and kept placing rocks until the boat was completely surrounded.

Kirso pulled out some fish from his pack and sat across from Bohok. He ate in silence for a while then said, “So when are we going to do it?”

“What?” Bohok asked.

“Fight.” Kirso growled.

Bohok shrugged. “Now?”

“I figure I owe you one.” He made a fist. “Actually I owe you two. The way I see it we are going to end up fighting sooner or later on this trip.”

Bohok shrugged, his body was sore. He didn’t want to fight, but he knew it was inevitable. “You sure you want to fight me without all your friends to help you?”

“You sure you want to fight me in an honorable fight? You won’t get any sneaky punches.” Kirso stood up and assumed a wresting stance. He drew a line in the sand with his toe. “Cross it.”

Bohok stood and stretched his aching back. He twisted his arms in a circle, and tried to shake out the soreness. He walked up to the line and looked Kirso in the eye. “You ready?”

Kirso nodded and balled his hands into fists.

Bohok stepped across the line.

Kirso’s face suddenly went white with fear. He turned and started running away. Bohok laughed at him. “Come back here, coward!”

“Run!” Kirso yelled, not turning around. “Bear!”

Published in: on February 4, 2010 at 9:48 pm  Comments Off on Saga of Bohok- Chapter 7  
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Ready to Submit

Here is a run down of my life since Saturday.

Saturday- Recieve request for manuscript. Happy dance. Call family and friends. More happy dancing.

Sunday- Printed manuscript. bought red pencil and a starbucks (which I intend to write off if I get published.) Selected Warren Zevon on the iPhone, hit shuffle then play. Started reading manuscript to make sure it was totally ready for submission. Read until 10:00 pm

Monday- Went to work, came home read until 10:00 pm

Tuesday- Went to work, came home and finished reading. Started converting red pencil marks into digital form. Worked until 9:00 pm…passed out.

Wednesday- Finished correcting manuscript. Wrote new synopsis (Agent wanted a shorter one.) Re-wrote Bio. Reformated everything to agent’s very detailed specificatitions. Composed email to send it. Paused.

I am not sending it until tomorrow morning.

Giving myself a good night’s sleep and fresh eyes to look at the synopsis and bio one more time before I send it off.

Put Warren Zevon on the iPhone, select Keep Me in Your Heart, hit play.

Good Night.

Lystra

ps New bio is on the about lystra page if you want to read it.

Done reading my MS

Meanwhile I finished re-reading my MS for submission. There is a world of difference between thinking you are ready for submission and knowing you have to submit. Reading my MS, knowing that an agent is going to be reading it shortly put a whole new light on my work.

I enjoyed reading my MS. It has been a long time since I’ve just sat down and read it, so I saw it in a different light than before. I liked it. No, I loved it. I am extremely proud of it. A novel is more work than anyone who hasn’t written one knows. A novelist has a lot to think about while he is writting. He has to have more than just the scene he is writing in his head. He has to work with the pacing and the plot for the entire novel in each sentence he writes. He has to be aware of the larger story, even when writing the smallest parts. Reading my story after so long made me realize that I accomplished that goal. The story works well, the plot unfolds with just the right amounts of twists to keep the reader guessing. That is no mean task. I finished reading my MS last night and had to smile. It was a lot of work, but a job well done.

Now if I can just make somebody in the publishing industry to see that.

Tchuss

Lystra

Another Rejection

Jennifer Jackson sent me a really nice rejection letter. Much better than the first one, which simply said: Not interested thanks. Jennifer said that she wasn’t sure the book was for her and wished me good luck finding representation. Very nice. 

It helps that I have somebody interested to blunt the blow.

Printing it out and putting it in the file. Definately a keeper.

Tchuss

Lystra

Published in: on January 26, 2010 at 11:23 am  Comments Off on Another Rejection  
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Saga of Bohok- Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The rest of the trip was made in complete silence. Bohok focused on synchronizing his paddling with the chief’s to maximize their effort.  It still took a long time for them to make their way up the river. Bohok was exhausted from rowing so long alone and the chief’s age began to show after a while. Still when they arrived at the village the entire tribe was standing on the shores waiting for them.  

Chief Yoosin jumped out of the bow of the boat as they ran it into the bank.  He spoke to Bohok as he pulled the boat up onto land. “I must go and light the fisherman’s fire. You will stay with me tonight in the log house.  These people are eager to hear your story. I suggest you only tell them a little. Save the whole story for the fire. “

The chief scooped up his bag from the boat and walked through the crowd.  Bohok looked up at them. There were so many faces looking eagerly at him.  Several people reached out hands to help him from the boat. Bohok cautiously took them and they nearly lifted him off his feet.

Bohok found himself in the middle of a swarm of people. They pressed close, reaching out to touch him. He heard the questions but could not identify the speakers from within the mass of people. They all asked the same questions, over and over again, they came in an endless stream. “How big is it? How did you catch it? What does it look like? Where you scared? Are you proud?”

Bohok wiggled through the people, first he tried to answer the questions but he was always cut off by more. Finally he decided that the chief was right. He spoke as loudly as he could without shouting, “I will tell you all tonight at the fisherman’s fire.” He repeated the same answer over and over as he made his way to the log house. The crowd around him seemed to grow at each turn, until Bohok wondered if there was a person in the village that wasn’t crowded around him. He smiled to himself, it felt good, to be the center of all this attention.

Finally they reached the long house and the fire pit. The chief had the bon fire roaring. He was smiling into the blaze, pleased with his work. Most of the men who had accompanied them down the river already sat in their usual places on the logs surrounding the fire.

The crowd around Bohok dispersed as wives went to sit next to husbands and children went to sit at their father’s feet. Soon the bowl surrounding the fire pit was full of every man, woman, and child in the village. The air hummed with excited voices as the tribe settled in.

Bohok stood at the lip of the bowl and looked at all the people of the clan. He hadn’t seen the clan gathered since his banishment. He hadn’t realized how much he had missed them until he saw them all assembled together. These were his people, no matter what his bloodline.

The chief beckoned him down to the fire. Kirso and Yannin were already sitting down at the center of the pit next to the chief. Bohok picked his way down through the people to join them.

The chief patted Bohok on the shoulder and motioned for him to sit down next to Kirso. Bohok looked down at the log that Yannin and Kirso were sitting on. Kirso had deliberately sat far enough away from Yannin that Bohok barely had enough room to sit. Kirso smirked at Bohok as he sat down on the narrow section of log that was left to him.  Bohok teetered on the edge of the log as the chief began to speak.

“My people,” the chief held up his long pole. “We have been given a gift from the River. It has bestowed upon its people a great bounty. A great fish has come up the river and Bohok has caught it.”

The chief looked down with a smile at Bohok. Bohok smiled back, and he noticed that Kirso was fuming and distracted. Bohok used the moment to push up against Kirso and scoot him over a little, buying him some more room on the log.

“This isn’t the first time such a fish has come up the river. It happened before, long, long ago. In those times they named this great fish. They named it a whale. I so name it today. This whale will provide a bounty to all our people and even to the other tribes. It is our duty to call upon them and let them know that…”

Kirso shoved back against Bohok, putting an elbow in his ribs and nearly pushing him off the log.

“…we have received this great gift. In past times a feast was held when a whale was given to the tribe. All the peoples were invited…”

Bohok planted his feet in the sand and slammed a shoulder into Kirso knocking him into Yannin. He quickly scooted over on the log. Yannin pushed Kirso back towards Bohok and glared at both of them.

“…to share in this gift from the spirits. I have chosen three of our men…”

Kirso pushed Bohok off the log. Kirso started to shift into Bohok’s spot but Yannin grabbed his arm and held him in his place.

“…to go to the other tribes and invite them to our village. To enjoy our hospitality..”

Bohok scrambled back up on the log, careful not to draw the chief’s attention. He shot Kirso an angry look.

“…and share in the bounty provided by the whale. I have chosen Yannin.” The chief gestured to Yannin. “To go down the river and tell the Root-Eaters.” Yannin stood.

“I chose Kirso to go up into the mountains and tell the Elk-Eaters.” The chief pointed proudly to his son. Kirso stood up next to Yannin

“And I chose Bohok to go over the mountains and tell the Bug-Eaters.” Bohok stood as well.

“These brave young men will be our voices, calling our brothers and sisters from distant tribes here to join with us.”

The people cheered. Bohok felt a surge of pride like he had never felt before. He felt loved and honored, he let the feeling sink in as the chief continued.

“As Bohok caught the whale in his net. I think it is only fitting that we allow him to tell the first tale of the fisherman’s fire.” Again the crowd hooted and squealed.

“Bohok.” The chief addressed him. “Would you tell us how you captured the great fish?”

Bohok nodded and began telling his tale. He told them about swimming out to the sandbar. He told them how he thought that his net had caught a log and about his surprise at being pulled into the water by the whale. He told them about being dragged through the water and finally bringing himself to the surface. He described to them how the creature breathed from the top of its head. How its skin felt, what it smelled like. He described the awesome power of the whale as it beached itself on the sandbar. Then he described looking into its eye as it slowly died. Bohok tried to give the people as much detail as he could. He acted out much of the action, showing them the things he could not tell.

When he was done the tribe was silent. The only sound coming to Bohok’s ear was the popping of logs in the fire. Then one man started thumping his staff against the log at his feet, an acknowledgement of a story well told. Then another and another joined him. Women and children began clapping their hands, stomping their feet, and cheering. Bohok could not help but smile.

Then Kirso started laughing. He laughed so loudly that the people stopped clapping and cheering. He held on to his sides he was laughing so hard. Kirso’s friends in the crowd started laughing with him.

The chief spoke, “What is so funny Kirso?”

“That you would applaud that story.” Kirso wiped tears from his eyes. “That is not a story of triumph or bravery. That is a story of dumb luck. Did you hear the same tale as me? He did not catch the whale, it caught him.”

Bohok felt his temper rising, but he fought it down. Kirso was goading him, trying to get him to dishonor himself like at the last fisherman’s fire. Bohok steeled himself against Kirso’s words. He would not fall into that trap again. He had spent too many nights reliving that horrible night to make the same mistake twice.

 “This man is a half blood fool.” Kirso laughed. “Who was nearly drowned by a fish that caught him.”

“Kirso!” The chief glowered at his son. “You shall not speak to Bohok that way.”

Kirso glared at his father. “You are always standing up for him.” He complained. “Why can’t you see him for what he really is? He does not belong among us. He is a dirt washing Bug-Eater and a liar.”

Bohok’s fists tightened into balls. He squeezed them to keep his temper in check.

“No Kirso. He is a man, like you and I. You will treat him with the respect a man is due.”

“I have no respect for this liar. He said he caught the whale in his net. He did no such thing. He said it himself; the great fish swam onto the beach. He did not catch it. That business about looking into its eye, saying it was like a man’s eye, like the great fish had a soul. I have never heard such an outrageous lie told in my life. I have looked into the eyes of hundreds of fish and I never felt like one was communicating with me. I have had enough of his stories.” He launched himself forward and shoved Bohok’s shoulder. “I have had enough of his lies!”

“Kirso!” Chief Yoosin yelled.

Bohok didn’t remember hitting Kirso. He could remember being pushed and he could remember Kirso laying on the ground holding his bloodied nose. The only way he knew he had hit him was that his hand hurt.

“Bohok!” Chief Yoosin turned to Bohok. His face was red with anger. “Help him up.” He pointed down to Kirso.

Reluctantly, Bohok obeyed. He reached a hand down to help Kirso off the ground. Kirso slapped it away with a growl and stood on his own.

“Did you see that father?” Kirso spat out a glob of blood and snot. “That is your Bug-Eater. He does not follow the Way of the River.”

“And neither do you.” Chief Yoosin retorted. “You have brought me much shame this evening.”

“But Father!” Kirso started but the chief silenced him with an out stretched hand.

“I will hear no more words from you tonight.” The chief glared at Bohok and Kirso.

“I have never seen two people who were so alike hate each other so much.”

Bohok was shocked by the chief’s words, he was nothing like Kirso. He saw his own disgusted look mirrored in Kirso’s face.

“I have tried to guide both you boys in the Way. I have failed! Tonight I have given both of you honors that you do not deserve.”

Bohok’s knees went weak, he wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to stomach hearing this.

“I cannot let this go unpunished.” The chief looked at Bohok and Kirso. “As the Elk-Eater Tribe lives on the way to the Bug-Eaters you shall accompany each other to both villages. You will not leave each other’s side. You will return together or you shall not return at all. Get into the house and prepare yourselves for your journey. You will leave this village before the sun rises. I do not wish to look upon you until you return.” The chief pointed to the door of the house. “Go!”

Kirso lowered his head and started into the house. Bohok looked out at the crowd of people, and into their shocked faces. He wondered what they were more surprised by; his and Kirso’s outburst, or the chief’s. Bohok had never seen the chief lose his temper. He doubted that any of the tribe ever had either. Reluctantly he followed Kirso into the log house.

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm  Comments Off on Saga of Bohok- Chapter 6  
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I dream a lot

I dream a lot, and plot and scheme

And think of clever things to say and clever ways to say them

Sometimes when I am brave I wander over to you

Dropping my carefully construed dialogue along the way

And smile and wonder where I put my words and panic

And say something stupid

Then I make an excuse as I can do that pretty well now

As I have had lots of practice

And I walk back over to my side of the bar

Or my group of friends

Or to my little apartment

And I find my words and my dreams

There on the floor for me to kick

Like some imaginary can

So many plots and schemes and clever things to say

So many times when I am brave but not brave enough

To say I want you.

Written 1997- For my Deana

Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 10:29 pm  Comments (3)