Desert Island Authors

There are certain authors that strike a chord with me. Their works have probably formed my world view as much as anything, other than my faith. Strangely, only three from this list are Americans. Is that because I am drawn to things other than what I already know? Perhaps that sort of sedentary wanderlust has informed my taste in literature, but regardless, I would be perfectly happy with works from any of these authors on my desert island.

Graham Greene
Ernest Hemingway
Jack London
Joseph Conrad
C. S. Lewis
Gabriel Garcia-Marquez
J.R.R. Tolkein
Naguib Mafouz
Milan Kundera
Paul Theroux

DIR : Nick Drake

Song Time Artist Album
Northen Sky 3:46 Nick Drake Bryter Layter
One of These Things First 4:52 Nick Drake Bryter Layter
Fly 3:01 Nick Drake Bryter Layter
Poor Boy 6:09 Nick Drake Bryter Layter
Hazy Jane II 3:47 Nick Drake Bryter Layter
Hazy Jane I 4:29 Nick Drake Bryter Layter
Time Has Told Me 4:28 Nick Drake Five Leaves Left
Way to Blue 3:12 Nick Drake Five Leaves Left
Day is Done 2:30 Nick Drake Five Leaves Left
Fruit Tree 4:51 Nick Drake Five Leaves Left
Pink Moon 2:07 Nick Drake Pink Moon
Place to Be 2:43 Nick Drake Pink Moon
From the Morning 2:32 Nick Drake Pink Moon
Which Will 2:58 Nick Drake Pink Moon
Which Will 3:50 Lucinda Williams Sweet Old World
They’re Leaving Me Behind 3:17 Nick Drake Family Tree
Tomorrow is a Long Time 3:40 Nick Drake Family Tree
Milk and Honey 3:00 Nick Drake Family Tree
Bird Flew By 2:55 Nick Drake Family Tree
Strange Meeting II 4:27 Nick Drake Family Tree
20 Songs/1.2 Hours

DIR : Joe Strummer

Song Time Artist Album
Should I Stay or Should I Go 3:09 The Clash Combat Rock
Armagideon Time 3:47 The Clash The Future is Unwritten
Lost in the Supermarket 3:47 The Clash London Calling
I’m Not Down 3:06 The Clash London Calling
Train in Vain 3:08 The Clash London Calling
Up in Heaven (Not Only Here) 4:32 The Clash Sandanista!
Charlie Don’t Surf 4:54 The Clash Sandanista!
King of the Bayou 2:52 Joe Strummer Earthquake Weather
Island Hopping 2:37 Joe Strummer Earthquake Weather
Sikorsky Parts 3:36 Joe Strummer Earthquake Weather
Trash City 4:12 Joe Strummer & The Latino Rockabilly War The Future is Unwritten
Get Down Moses 5:05 Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Streetcore
Ramshackle Day Parade 4:03 Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Streetcore
Burning Streets (London is Burning) 4:32 Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Streetcore
Midnight Jam 5:50 Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Streetcore
Global a Go-Go 5:55 Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Global a Go-Go
Mega Bottle Ride 3:33 Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Global a Go-Go
Tony Adams 6:33 Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Rock Art and the X-Ray Style
Diggin’ the New 3:08 Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros Rock Art and the X-Ray Style
Keys to Your Heart 3:39 The 101ers The Future is Unwritten

20 Songs/1.3 Hours

Book Excerpt: Chance

The absurd temptation to remain and see what would come of it got over my better judgment. I hung about irresolute, wondering how long an embassy of that sort would take, and whether Fyne on coming out would consent to be communicative. I feared he would be shocked at finding me there, would consider my conduct incorrect, conceivably treat me with contempt. I walked off a few paces. Perhaps it would be possible to read something on Fyne’s face as he came out; and, if necessary, I could always eclipse myself discreetly through the door of one of the bars. The ground floor of the Eastern Hotel was an unabashed pub, with plate-glass fronts, a display of brass rails, and divided into many compartments each having its own entrance.

But of course all this was silly. The marriage, the love, the affairs of Captain Anthony were none of my business. I was on the point of moving down the street for good when my attention was attracted by a girl approaching the hotel entrance from the west. She was dressed very modestly in black. It was the white straw hat of a good form and trimmed with a bunch of pale roses which had caught my eye. The whole figure seemed familiar. Of course! Flora de Barral. She was making for the hotel, she was going in. And Fyne was with Captain Anthony! To meet him could not be pleasant for her. I wished to save her from the awkwardness, and as I hesitated what to do she looked up and our eyes happened to meet just as she was turning off the pavement into the hotel doorway. Instinctively I extended my arm. It was enough to make her stop. I suppose she had some faint notion that she had seen me before somewhere. She walked slowly forward, prudent and attentive, watching my faint smile.

“Excuse me,” I said directly she had approached me near enough. “Perhaps you would like to know that Mr. Fyne is upstairs with Captain Anthony at this moment.”

She uttered a faint “Ah! Mr. Fyne!” I could read in her eyes that she had recognized me now. Her serious expression extinguished the imbecile grin of which I was conscious. I raised my hat. She responded with a slow inclination of the head while her luminous, mistrustful, maiden’s glance seemed to whisper, “What is this one doing here?”

“I came up to town with Fyne this morning,” I said in a businesslike tone. “I have to see a friend in East India Dock. Fyne and I parted this moment at the door here . . . ” The girl regarded me with darkening eyes . . . “Mrs. Fyne did not come with her husband,” I went on, then hesitated before that white face so still in the pearly shadow thrown down by the hat-brim. “But she sent him,” I murmured by way of warning.

Her eyelids fluttered slowly over the fixed stare. I imagine she was not much disconcerted by this development. “I live a long way from here,” she whispered.

I said perfunctorily, “Do you?” And we remained gazing at each other. The uniform paleness of her complexion was not that of an anaemic girl. It had a transparent vitality and at that particular moment the faintest possible rosy tinge, the merest suspicion of colour; an equivalent, I suppose, in any other girl to blushing like a peony while she told me that Captain Anthony had arranged to show her the ship that morning.

It was easy to understand that she did not want to meet Fyne. And when I mentioned in a discreet murmur that he had come because of her letter she glanced at the hotel door quickly, and moved off a few steps to a position where she could watch the entrance without being seen. I followed her. At the junction of the two thoroughfares she stopped in the thin traffic of the broad pavement and turned to me with an air of challenge. “And so you know.”

I told her that I had not seen the letter. I had only heard of it. She was a little impatient. “I mean all about me.”

Yes. I knew all about her. The distress of Mr. and Mrs. Fyne–especially of Mrs. Fyne–was so great that they would have shared it with anybody almost–not belonging to their circle of friends. I happened to be at hand–that was all.

“You understand that I am not their friend. I am only a holiday acquaintance.”

“She was not very much upset?” queried Flora de Barral, meaning, of course, Mrs. Fyne. And I admitted that she was less so than her husband–and even less than myself. Mrs. Fyne was a very self-possessed person which nothing could startle out of her extreme theoretical position. She did not seem startled when Fyne and I proposed going to the quarry.

“You put that notion into their heads,” the girl said.

I advanced that the notion was in their heads already. But it was much more vividly in my head since I had seen her up there with my own eyes, tempting Providence.

She was looking at me with extreme attention, and murmured:

“Is that what you called it to them? Tempting . . . “

“No. I told them that you were making up your mind and I came along just then. I told them that you were saved by me. My shout checked you . . .” She moved her head gently from right to left in negation . . . “No? Well, have it your own way.”

I thought to myself: She has found another issue. She wants to forget now. And no wonder. She wants to persuade herself that she had never known such an ugly and poignant minute in her life. “After all,” I conceded aloud, “things are not always what they seem.”

Her little head with its deep blue eyes, eyes of tenderness and anger under the black arch of fine eyebrows was very still. The mouth looked very red in the white face peeping from under the veil, the little pointed chin had in its form something aggressive. Slight and even angular in her modest black dress she was an appealing and–yes–she was a desirable little figure.

Her lips moved very fast asking me:

“And they believed you at once?”

“Yes, they believed me at once. Mrs. Fyne’s word to us was “Go!”

A white gleam between the red lips was so short that I remained uncertain whether it was a smile or a ferocious baring of little even teeth. The rest of the face preserved its innocent, tense and enigmatical expression. She spoke rapidly.

“No, it wasn’t your shout. I had been there some time before you saw me. And I was not there to tempt Providence, as you call it. I went up there for–for what you thought I was going to do. Yes. I climbed two fences. I did not mean to leave anything to Providence. There seem to be people for whom Providence can do nothing. I suppose you are shocked to hear me talk like that?”

I shook my head. I was not shocked. What had kept her back all that time, till I appeared on the scene below, she went on, was neither fear nor any other kind of hesitation. One reaches a point, she said with appalling youthful simplicity, where nothing that concerns one matters any longer. But something did keep her back. I should have never guessed what it was. She herself confessed that it seemed absurd to say. It was the Fyne dog.

Flora de Barral paused, looking at me, with a peculiar expression and then went on. You see, she imagined the dog had become extremely attached to her. She took it into her head that he might fall over or jump down after her. She tried to drive him away. She spoke sternly to him. It only made him more frisky. He barked and jumped about her skirt in his usual, idiotic, high spirits. He scampered away in circles between the pines charging upon her and leaping as high as her waist. She commanded, “Go away. Go home.” She even picked up from the ground a bit of a broken branch and threw it at him. At this his delight knew no bounds; his rushes became faster, his yapping louder; he seemed to be having the time of his life. She was convinced that the moment she threw herself down he would spring over after her as if it were part of the game. She was vexed almost to tears. She was touched too. And when he stood still at some distance as if suddenly rooted to the ground wagging his tail slowly and watching her intensely with his shining eyes another fear came to her. She imagined herself gone and the creature sitting on the brink, its head thrown up to the sky and howling for hours. This thought was not to be borne. Then my shout reached her ears.

She told me all this with simplicity. My voice had destroyed her poise–the suicide poise of her mind. Every act of ours, the most criminal, the most mad presupposes a balance of thought, feeling and will, like a correct attitude for an effective stroke in a game. And I had destroyed it. She was no longer in proper form for the act. She was not very much annoyed. Next day would do. She would have to slip away without attracting the notice of the dog. She thought of the necessity almost tenderly. She came down the path carrying her despair with lucid calmness. But when she saw herself deserted by the dog, she had an impulse to turn round, go up again and be done with it. Not even that animal cared for her–in the end.

“I really did think that he was attached to me. What did he want to pretend for, like this? I thought nothing could hurt me any more. Oh yes. I would have gone up, but I felt suddenly so tired. So tired. And then you were there. I didn’t know what you would do. You might have tried to follow me and I didn’t think I could run–not up hill–not then.”

She had raised her white face a little, and it was queer to hear her say these things. At that time of the morning there are comparatively few people out in that part of the town. The broad interminable perspective of the East India Dock Road, the great perspective of drab brick walls, of grey pavement, of muddy roadway rumbling dismally with loaded carts and vans lost itself in the distance, imposing and shabby in its spacious meanness of aspect, in its immeasurable poverty of forms, of colouring, of life–under a harsh, unconcerned sky dried by the wind to a clear blue. It had been raining during the night. The sunshine itself seemed poor. From time to time a few bits of paper, a little dust and straw whirled past us on the broad flat promontory of the pavement before the rounded front of the hotel.

Flora de Barral was silent for a while. I said:

“And next day you thought better of it.”

Again she raised her eyes to mine with that peculiar expression of informed innocence; and again her white cheeks took on the faintest tinge of pink–the merest shadow of a blush.

“Next day,” she uttered distinctly, “I didn’t think. I remembered. That was enough. I remembered what I should never have forgotten. Never. And Captain Anthony arrived at the cottage in the evening.”

“Ah yes. Captain Anthony,” I murmured. And she repeated also in a murmur, “Yes! Captain Anthony.” The faint flush of warm life left her face. I subdued my voice still more and not looking at her: “You found him sympathetic?” I ventured.

Her long dark lashes went down a little with an air of calculated discretion. At least so it seemed to me. And yet no one could say that I was inimical to that girl. But there you are! Explain it as you may, in this world the friendless, like the poor, are always a little suspect, as if honesty and delicacy were only possible to the privileged few.

“Why do you ask?” she said after a time, raising her eyes suddenly to mine in an effect of candour which on the same principle (of the disinherited not being to be trusted) might have been judged equivocal.

– Chance by Joseph Conrad

Chance is available in print and electronic editions from

My Animated Movies

Here’s a list of my favorite animated movies. Yes, I have children. But even if I didn’t, I can watch these movies over and over again.

Title Director
Wall-E Andrew Stanton
Finding Nemo Andrew Stanton
The Incredibles Brad Bird
Lady and the Tramp Clyde Geronimi
Aristocats Wolfgang Reitherman
Shrek Vicky Jenson
Fantastic Mr. Fox Wes Anderson
Antz Eric Darnell
The Jungle Book Wolfgang Reitherman
The Nightmare Before Christmas Henry Selick



The ubiquitous Interstate typeface is a relatively new font, 1990s vintage. It is a clean, san serif type with a wide spacing between letters and unique angle-cut ascending and descending strokes. I think what makes it so popular – think Southwest Airlines, Citibank, The Weather Channel and Army Strong (just to name a few) – is that the face works well in large formats and as body text or online. Whatever the reason, chances are you’ve seen it used before.

History of Interstate
Interstate is a digital typeface closely related to the signage alphabet drawn for the U.S. Federal Highway Administration in 1949. It was designed by Tobias Frere-Jones from 1993-1999.


Every year I get older. That’s not true, really, not anymore. Now I  see something on the satellite or on the web that makes me feel older every day. There have been a couple of documentaries recently that made my tooth longer. Both are about dead musicians, but not the usual famous, indulgent, overdose tales of woe. Sad none the less, and not simply because I recalled their epochs as much more recent to my memory then they actually were.

The first was A Skin Too Few, chronicling the brief career and death of Nick Drake, a British singer/songwriter of the early 1970s. He only record three albums. None of them were successful. His music did not fit into the acoustic folk tradition of that time, and his lack of audience exacerbated his history of depression. In November of 1974 he died of an overdose of antidepressants. It was ruled a suicide. He was 26 years old. A familiar story in many respects, but the music in the documentary made me pay attention.

I purchased all three of his records – Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1970) and Pink Moon (1972). There is a depth to the words and music of these recordings, and a powerful virtuosity to the acoustic guitar.  It is easy to see why Drake was difficult to categorize and promote in the early ’70s. It is hard to categorize him today, a Cat Stevens with a much more complex imagery, perhaps. I was certainly never aware of him during his lifetime. In 2000, a renewed interest in his music was sparked with the use of Pink Moon in a Volkswagen commercial. That song is often the first sited when mentioning Drake’s music, and it is a beautifully melodic bit of song, but it was his second album, Bryter Layter, that hooked me. I had heard the song Fly from this record before, from the the soundtrack of The Royal Tenenbaums. And like that song, this album features a much fuller instrumentation with Drake’s voice floating high above and his intricate guitar anchoring every song.

I have since acquired posthumous releases like Made to Love Magic and Family Tree. They are uneven, but still contain glimpses of brilliance. The somber home recordings found on Family Tree are particularly haunting in their often desperate lyrics, considering the nature of Drake’s death.

The Drake documentary attuned me to other such fare, and it was not long after that I saw The Future is Unwritten. It is the story of Joe Strummer, founder of The Clash. I was not drawn to this because of Strummer’s association with The Clash. I was never drawn to the punk bands of the late ’70s and early ’80s. The music seemed too one dimensional, almost without subtlety and always angry. Many of my peers raved about London Calling, but my interest in The Clash ended with Should I Stay or Should I Go and Train in Vain.

No, what drew me in was the music Strummer made after The Clash, particularly with The Mescaleros. This oeuvre includes only four albums, the last released posthumously, following his death from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect in December of 2002 at the age of 50. I was also very interested by the songs Strummer identified as influences in the documentary. Songs like Crawfish by Elvis Presley and Corrina, Corrina by Bob Dylan.

Following the demise of The Clash, Strummer recorded Earthquake Weather in 1989. It was a precursor of his later solo work, but it was not what the public or critics expected and led to his release from Sony Records. Strummer didn’t record again for a decade until the release of his first record with The Mescaleros in 1999. Strummer and The Mescaleros recorded three albums from 1999 to 2002.  The jewel of these recordings is Streetcore, a stylized rock album in the tradition of David Bowie or Peter Gabriel. The sampling and world music instrumentation and subtle, sharp guitars are mesmerizing. It not only induced me to investigate all of Strummer’s solos efforts, but to take another look at his work with The Clash. What I found was the seeds of his solo work and a reggae aesthetic apparent, most notably, on Sandanista!.

And, ultimately, this brought to mind the dichotomy in many of my favorite bands. Are you a Lennon person or a McCartney person? Is it Page or Plant? Roger Waters or David Gilmour? The Clash offers this choice as well – two strong musical presences forming the core of a seminal band. When these presences are separated, one of the artists will tend to embody in their subsequent work what you liked most about the original band. Mick Jones was Strummer’s counterpart in The Clash. Jones had great success immediately following the break-up of The Clash with his band Big Audio Dynamite. But I found the music of Big Audio Dynamite encompassed all the things i didn’t like about The Clash. I didn’t realize until I saw The Future is Unwritten that Strummer’s influence was a part of The Clash that appealed to me forcibly.

To demonstrate the legacy of both these artists, Nick Drake and Joe Strummer, and to highlight what I like about them both, I have also posted playlists under the My Playlists tab on this site. I hope they don’t make you feel older, as they did me, but rejuvenated by the music.

If I could only play guitar

When I hear it, I long to be able to do it. Not just the music, but the emotion it carries. It must be jealousy, really. I’ve tried to play before, and I can’t. It is one reason I love music so much; it is something I will never be able to do. But if I could play guitar, I would want to play like one of these:

Mark Knopfler
Mike Campbell
Lindsey Buckingham
Eric Clapton
Carlos Santana
Stevie Ray Vaughn
Willie Nelson
Eddie Van Halen
Michael Timmins
Steve Howe

What I didn’t include here are three jazz guitarist I got to see once – Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco De Lucia. Their virtuosity is really beyond comparing to anything I have ever witnessed. And yet, those listed above carry lasting memories for me in their music and in my awesome air-guitar abilities.

Lie Like a Dog

The damn phone was ringing again. Sometimes Fallon wished he didn’t have a phone; he wouldn’t have to decide whether to answer it then. It depended on who it was, whether or not he answered it, but this time he knew who it was. He let the phone ring while he put ice in his drink.

The answering machine cut into the line on the fourth ring. “Hello caller,” the message droned, “this is Fallon. Leave a message and I’ll call you back.” Dial tone, so he checked the caller ID and shook his head.

Before he had time to settle down on the couch and take a taste of his soda, the phone rang. Fallon tensed, making the motions of getting up, but waited, instead, for the answering machine to answer for him. It was probably only Lynne again anyway. Ever since he and his wife had separated, Lynne wouldn’t quit calling. It was his own fault, he knew. After Nikki left, Fallon had allowed Lynne to ease the rancor of his loneliness. It didn’t help that Lynne was having troubles in her own marriage. Now she held on to the affection Fallon had showed her. She called him in the middle of the night when her husband was asleep, and knocked on his door unannounced when she was supposed to be out grocery shopping.

Fallon dragged himself off the couch and crossed the room when he heard the machine beep to see if Lynne would leave a message this time, but the call was from his wife. “Are you there?” she said. “I’m bringing Jessie over. Pick up the phone if you’re there. I’m calling your cell.”

“Hi, Nikki,” Fallon picked up the phone and answered.

“Are you screening your calls?” his wife asked.

“No, I’ve just got the ringer on the phone turned down,” he lied, “so you can’t hear until the machine comes on.”

“Well what time do you want me to come over?” Nikki asked. Her voice was vibrant even in such mundane conversation.

“Whenever you’re ready,” Fallon answered. “Do you want me to order pizza or something so we can eat when you get here?” he asked.

“Are you still trying to fatten me up?” Nikki said playfully. She was five foot ten, superbly proportioned with long blond hair and Mad Men curves, but still never spent a waking moment without worrying about what she saw in the mirror. Apparently it wasn’t the same thing Fallon saw. “Besides, I can’t. My first history homework is due tomorrow. I was going to go to the library to work on it and I want to go work out, too.”

“Okay,” Fallon said. He hadn’t really expected she would stay. He tried not to see some sort of gesture or symbolism in everything she said, but it was hard. He was always careful of what he said or did because he didn’t want to give her a false impression. He expected her to do the same, but he knew she didn’t. “I’ll be here all afternoon,” he said.

Nikki opened the door to Fallon’s apartment about an hour later without knocking. Jessie preceded her mother into the room. Jessie’s baby pictures looked just like Fallon’s, but every time he saw her now she looked more and more like her mother, except for the straight, black hair.

Fallon was stretched out on the couch watching television. He looked like a slide-rule “suit” from the fifties with his close-cropped hair and dark, horn-rimmed glasses with half wire frames. Only the baggy basketball shorts and Nike t-shirt betrayed a modern era.

“Daddy!” Jessie squealed when she saw him on the couch. Her smile was a sparkling star. Fallon smiled, too, and held out his arms. Her hug had all the purity of a two-and-a-half-year-old’s love. “I want to hold you, Daddy,” she said, and Fallon sat her on his lap.

“Well it doesn’t look like I’m going to get to go to the library,” Nikki started as she closed the door behind her and headed for the kitchen. “The library at Quad-C isn’t open. Can you believe that?”

Fallon didn’t say anything. He wondered what she expected at six o’clock on a Sunday evening in the middle of the summer. But Nikki always had to be doing something, like going to the library when she could study at home, working out, going out to eat or to the mall, anything. Even the whole going back to college thing was just something for her to be doing.

“Do you have anything to drink?” she asked with the refrigerator door open. “Anything diet,” she corrected herself.

“Juice,” Jessie said as she watched Nikki rummage through the refrigerator.

Fallon got up to get Jessie some juice and his daughter ran in front of him in anticipation.

“Do you want me to order pizza, and you can do your homework here?” he asked Nikki again when he got to the kitchen.

“I’ve got to work out,” she said.

“I’ve got a coupon for two medium two-topping pizzas for ten bucks,” Fallon tried to entice her. “Half price.”

“I can’t eat pizza,” Nikki protested, but then she hedged. “Do you know who Confucius was?” she asked.

“Confucius say,” Fallon answered in his best oriental accent, “pizza good for figure, Grasshopper.”

“What’s Daddy doin’?” Jessie asked with a laugh at the Jerry Lewis’ Japanese face Fallon made.

“Daddy’s being silly,” Nikki said. “Well maybe you know who some of these people are. At least we can look them up, I guess” she gave in. “Let me go to the car and get my cards.”

She left and came back a couple of minutes later with her school books and a question, “Doesn’t your old boss drive a silver Ford?” Fallon nodded even though his heart had stopped. “I think I saw her parked out in the parking lot.”

“Lynne?” Fallon feigned nonchalance, but even he knew the look he gave Nikki was shaky. “She doesn’t even live in Plano. She’s in Grapevine or Arlington or somewhere.”

“Look,” Nikki said, and went to show Fallon Lynne’s car. “Are you having an affair with your old boss?” Nikki said in a teasing voice as Fallon came to the window.

A sarcastic, “Right,” was all Fallon could manage as Nikki pulled apart two of the mini-blind’s slats to show him the car.

“It’s not there anymore,” Nikki said.

“Are you sure it was her?” Fallon asked, seeing his chance to downplay the situation.

“Pretty sure,” Nikki answered and looked out the window again. “Do you know any of these people?” she asked, handing Fallon a stack of index cards out of one of her books.

Fallon looked through the stack of cards. About half of the names were familiar. “I know some of them,” he told Nikki, “the rest we can look up online.”

“Dr. Wright said we couldn’t just use Wikipedia, we have to have some other source, too.” Nikki said. “That’s why I wanted to go to the library.”

“We can look them up in the encyclopedia,” Fallon said, glancing out the window again as he handed the cards back to Nikki. He knew the danger was still out there, but surely Lynne had seen Nikki, too.

“I forgot you had that encyclopedia,” Nikki said as she followed his glance. “Do you see her?” she asked.

“No,” Fallon said, but his nerves jumped as he heard someone walking through the breezeway outside, sure it was Lynne coming to knock on the door. “Maybe she came to meet John. Him and Lance were supposed to come over here earlier.”

“Why would she want to see John?” Nikki questioned.

“I don’t know, but John said she called him and came over to his house the other night,” Fallon explained.

“That’s weird,” was all Nikki said as she sat down at the desk in the corner next to the window. The encyclopedia ran across the back between two globe bookends, behind the computer.

“Give me the first name and I’ll look it up,” Fallon said. He had just found Confucius when the phone rang. Fallon had four rings to decide. After the first ring he decided to let the answering machine answer, but what if Lynne didn’t hang up this time and left a message instead? He didn’t want Nikki to hear that message.

“I thought you said the ringer was off,” Nikki said.

“I turned it back on after you called,” Fallon said, setting down volume 7, COLO-DECI, of the encyclopedia on the desk next to Nikki. “I thought you might call again to tell me you were on your way.”

“Answer it Daddy,” Jessie said. Fallon picked up the phone after the third ring.

It was Lynne. “Is Nikki still there?” she asked.

“Yeah, sure,” Fallon answered cryptically. His voice was flat, full of a suppressed emotion that forced him to talk in almost a monotone.

“How long is she going to be there?” Lynne asked. Her voice didn’t suppress any of her emotion, it spilled out with every word she uttered. “I want to see you.”

“Nikki’s over. I’m helping her with some homework,” was Fallon’s answer. He could tell Nikki was listening to what he said as she transferred the facts of Confucius’ life to the index card.

“So I guess I should say goodbye.” Lynne said.

“That’s fine,” Fallon answered and hung up the phone.

“Who was that?” Nikki asked before the phone was nestled back in the receiver.

“Lance,” Fallon answered. He had anticipated the question. “He said some chick called his house for John and that John left, so they’re not coming over.”

“I bet it was Lynne,” Nikki surmised.

“That’s weird, isn’t it?” Fallon said. “Lance said he might come over later,” he continued as he went to where Nikki was sitting. He reached over her shoulder for the volume with the name of the next person on her index cards.

“What kind of pizza do you want?” he asked. “I thought I’d get one with sausage and mushroom and one with pepperoni and extra cheese.”

“That’s the kind I like,” Nikki said, taking the book from Fallon’s hand.

“Pizza,” Jessie said with her broadest of smiles.

© 2012 Wasted Space Publishing

and weary, too.

Restless is my mind, and weary, too.
Eaten up by the things of this world,
Searching for refuge from the eternal storm
Raging in the unsatisfied soul of man.

For there is no knowledge in man.
So I must trust instead an offer everlasting.
What man seeks is not wisdom.
So I will obey instead what is from the beginning.

And the heart of God stills then the waters
I could not calm through the searches of my soul.
Tranquil now is my mind, and clearing, too.
Filled with the glory of an awakened world

And a world to come.

© 2010 Wasted Space Publishing