Marooned–The Movie


Ok, this film has a few faults. To be honest more than a few faults. But this film gets a bum rap, and based on sci-fi films of the sixties I can’t figure out why. Sure, the book was ho-hum so the source material was far from fantastic.  But the author of the book did not write the screenplay. If anything this is your atypical sci-fi film from the sixties. It’s an Academy award winner. It won for having the best visual effects of any other film in 1970. The novel the movie is based on originally depicted a single astronaut marooned in a one man Mercury capsule. That book was released in 1964. The movie, after many significant alterations, was released on November 10 1969, with its Los Angeles opening one month later.


Original Novel(1964)

The acting in this film is pretty bad most of the time. Gregory Peck, who plays Charles Keith, is either having the early onset of rigor mortis or he’s trying to emulate a tree. He’s so wooden and ridgid at times his performance is laughable. His primary job is to save three astronauts stranded in orbit. Three astronauts have just spent several  in the Apollo Applications Lab and it’s time to come home (this same lab would later become known as SkyLab). They are 280 miles up going 17,500 miles per hour. They have to fire the engine attached to the service module to slow the orbit  just enough for re-entry to begin. There’s just one problem. It refuses to work. The flight is designated as Ironman 1. For the movie the author, Martin Caidin, re-wrote sections of his original novel and expanded the crew from one man to three men, and he  added biographies of the crew which thankfully did not make it into the film. He kept the original premise – engine failure. A lot of Caiden’s dialog made it into the screenplay which was written by Mayo Simon. Some of the dialog is dry and cryptic. Unless you know what they’re talking about you’re going to be lost. But that’s was the language of the manned space programme in the sixties. The men that orbited the earth were test pilots and scientists.

             Richard Crenna   Gene Hackman  Jame Franciscus 

               Richard Crenna         Gene Hackman       James Franciscus

are the men stuck inside one of the most complex machines ever constructed, and they only have 43 hours of breathable oxygen and they’re dying. The chief astronaut,Ted Dougherty, played by David Janssen sticks his neck out and becomes a thorn in the side of Charles Keith. He helps organize a rescue of his three friends. Unknown to the Americans the Russians are organizing a rescue too. This movie was prophetic in that it correcting forecast the peaceful cooperation of space by the two countries. What a great many didn’t know was if anything went wrong with any American spaceflight in the sixties there was little, if any, hope of rescue.

Of all the space vehicles used in the film only one is fictitious. The American X-RV was created for the movie. The Russian vehicle is a Vostok/Voskhod. The movie tie-in book states its a Soyuz. The Russian government had yet to disclose to the west what it really looked like.

Cover_of__Marooned_,_the_1969_novelization_of_the_motion_picture_of_the_same_name,_by_Martin_Caidin       9780552083706-us

                              American print                British print

You either like the film or you hate it. Columbia pictures spent 8-10 million dollars and barely broke even get only 4.1 million at the box office. It became more successful when it went to video.

The following is from the American Film Institute catalog. The links work I hope.


G | 133 mins | Science Fiction | 1969

Gregory Peck

, Richard Crenna, David Janssen [ More ]


John Sturges


Mayo Simon


Mike Frankovich


Daniel L. Fapp


Walter Thompson

Production Designer:

Lyle Wheeler

Production Company:

Frankovich Productions, Inc.

Give it a try. I’ve read the American and British movie tie in books, had two VHS copies of the film, and I’ve ordered the remastered version of the film on DVD. I can’t get enough of this film.

Finding the #Write #Words? No.1

This post was written by one of Britain’s greatest wordsmiths Stuart Aken. For the last few years he has taken us on a journey about words that are difficult to pronounce, misused, abused, or simply misunderstood. Of all the titles mentioned my favorite is “The Grouchy Grammarian”. He has used this title among others in search of “just the right word”. Take it away Prof. Higgins…

Stuart Aken

For a few years I’ve been posting about word choice here. It seems timely to let you know the sources for the information and ideas I’ve presented. Before I started writing seriously, which preceded mobile phones, personal computers, and even electronic typewriters, I developed an interest in words: a fascination for the huge variety of words available and the way in which the English Language has stolen from other languages to form a vocabulary capable of great subtlety. I then began to buy books that took word usage and choice as their topics.

Below, is a list of books I now own
on the subject; a small personal library. 36 titles are listed here. They range
in size from the petite softback ‘American English English American’, at 47 pages, to the weighty,
hardback, two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary with its 3,743 pages. In
price, the cheapest was the free Reader’s…

View original post 506 more words

Chapter 1–The Next Plain

I wrote this to try and deal with my own mothers death. Some the things in it reflect some the thing my mom believed and requested take place after her passing.

The setting is my bedroom. The décor was picked out by my late wife Mary. My son Morgan is sitting in one chair and my doctor, Dr. McCallum, is in the another. My lungs are failing and I’m dying. I just don’t believe death is the end. I want to find out what’s on the other side. I just told Morgan of my plans and he is none too pleased. Well, I really don’t care. I just don’t believe death is the end.

“Are you nuts? Father McNulty will have a fit if he heard this hair brained scheme of yours”

My son Morgan is not the most receptive person in the world to new ideas. At the bank, his place of work, he is known as “The Old Man” for his rigid and somewhat archaic attitudes. Right now, he is the chief mortgage officer who hopes to become president of the bank one day. Right now he’s seated in a chair near my bedside and we’re chatting. He has this rather annoying habit of pinching the top of his nose when he speaks which only serves to make him appear far older than he is. At 33 Morgan has ascended the corporate ladder at a far greater speed then I could have imagined. I am very proud of him. I am also concerned he will grow old and feeble at a far greater speed than I had.

“I really don’t care what Father McNulty does or says. The concepts of heaven and hell are nothing but concepts perpetuated by the church and dogma used to scare the socks off little children. You know that I don’t believe in either of those places. You also know that I don’t believe death to be the end of our life. I want to find out what happens next. I know I’m dying. Dr McCallum has confirmed that. In a couple of weeks I’ll slip into a coma and in a short while  I’ll be dead. -”

Morgan decided to interrupt me. Something he knows bothers me greatly. When I’m talking I like to finish what I’m saying. With these infernal breathing problems I have to pick my words very carefully. Morgan sat forward in the chair. Looking frustrated he ran his fingers through his hair. He pointed at Dr. McCallum who was seated in another chair content to let him drone on.

“You don’t know that for sure dad. You don’t know for sure what’s going to happen. Doc McCallum could be wrong. Maybe we should get a second-”. This time Dr. McCallum interrupted Morgan. Dr. McCallum and I had being friends for almost fifty years. In that time I had learned he rarely spoke while seated and at this point in his life took some time getting to a standing position.

“I don’t wish to burst your bubble Morgan but your father is suffering from an extreme lack of oxygen in the blood. And the timeline of his degeneration and demise is almost word for word what I told your father. Concerning what you were about to say you would be wasting your time, money and what little time your father has left getting a second opinion. Any first year medical student would give you the same diagnosis. As for calling me “Doc” I have asked you time and again not to call me that. I am a doctor of medicine. I have been your doctor for thirty-three years. However, if you persist in calling me that particular appellation you may have to start looking for a new doctor. I worked very hard to become a doctor and I will not stand for anybody belittling that achievement. Do we understand each other?”

Morgan was not in a mood to be talked down to, but he had to understand his particular brand of humour did not tickle every bodies funny bone. Dr. McCallum looked in on me everyday. During that time I wrote my wishes for my funeral and I am very glad I did. Two weeks later my lungs gave up the ghost and shortly afterward I became one – if they exist.


What happened next might best be described as an out of body experience. I remember floating near the ceiling. I could see the entire bedroom. Morgan was there as was Dr. McCallum and a few relatives. My cousin William was one I could have gone without seeing. He had only one interest in life and that was the accumulation of wealth. His obsession ruined his marriage and drove most of his friends away. He was a rather lonely person with no one to share his life. But that was his by own doing and he gave no indication of changing his ways. When William came near the bed I fully expected him to take the pennies from my eyes. William was on one side of the bed, my body was on the bed in the middle, and Morgan stood like a guard dog on the other side of the bed opposite William. He knew of my dislike for William and why I disliked him so. I don’t know why Morgan informed William I had died. Maybe it was Mary. William and I competed fiercely for Mary’s affections. Near the end of her life Mary confided to me that it was Williams love of money that killed all romantic feeling between him and Mary. William loved money more than he did Mary. When anybody spoke it was always in hushed tones.

Shortly before I shuffled off this mortal coil Morgan and Dr. McCallum finally put the gloves on.

“Is the old boy dead yet?”

My son Morgan, had just entered my bedroom to check on my mortality. Dr. McCallum, a man who always wore a three piece suit and wire frame glasses, a man who always tucked them into his vest pocket when he wasn’t wearing them, and a man who I think was born with white hair, finally reached his breaking point and lost his temper.

He turned and faced Morgan while cleaning his glasses.

“Morgan, only you could so tactless. The man you so callously called “the old boy”, a man who has been my friend for almost sixty years, a man who is your father is dying and there’s not a blessed thing I can do about it. You caused me to break a vow I made to myself when I graduated from medical school and that was to never loose my temper in front of a patient. Out of plain simple curiosity why are you so anxious for your father to be dead?”

The flap over flapping

Right Hand

The following is a combination of what I can remember, what I think might have happened, and what I know for a fact did happen. I lived this hell.

It was somewhere after 9:00 AM that my own personal hell began. I didn’t know what to call it then, and still don’t. But it was hell. My own personal Hell.

It was early in school year. Mr. Stoynoff, my grade 2 teacher, was having parent-teacher consultations. If you’re an adult now you know what I’m talking about. Your mom or dad talks with the teacher about you. The following is a theoretical transcript of what I think might have happened.

Mr. S. – Glad to meet you Mrs. Austin. May I ask you a question?. From time to time Toms shoots his arm  and he waves his hand in front of his face. Does he do this at home?

Mom – His father and I have noticed this too. We’re taking him to our family doctor to see if he can shed any light on this.

Now, Dr. Cox was a great doctor. His prowess at giving injections was second to none, however his ability to communicate verbally with some of his more diminutive patients stank. The parents were told what was going to happen and it left to them to explain what was going to happen. I don’t recall either of my parents actually telling me anything. All they might have said was something like this.

Mum: “You’re not going to school tomorrow. You and I are going to accompany your father when he goes to work. And in few hours we’re all going to see Dr. John Stobo Prichard at Sick Children’s Hospital”.

There are few words in the English language that strike fear and terror into a kids heart and “Hospital” was #1 or near number one. That’s were vampires lived and nurses gave you four foot long needles. When we met Dr. John Stobo Prichard I noticed he talked strangely. I quietly asked mum why he sounded funny. She said it was because he was English. He wasn’t. He was Welsh. When I was growing up few adults had genuine interest in what I was doing. Most feigned interest. When I was 7 I was in my dinosaur phase. I couldn’t get enough of them. Dr. Prichard and I talked about dinosaurs for what seemed like hours. He asked me (remember….I was 7) if I would consent to some tests. I consented on the basis that any doctor who liked dinosaurs couldn’t be all that bad. A nurse, who was about as attractive as The Phantom Of The Opera, took so much blood out of me I think I shrunk. And at seven years of age you can’t afford to lose any height. After Vampirella was through with me Dr. Prichard asked me to have an E.E.G. I said “okay as long as there are no needles”. The E.E.G. machine was about ten feet long (Remember….this is the fall of 1964). Today, in 2019, E.E.G. machines are about the size of the first laptop computers. My first E.E.G. had this light which strobed at different speeds. After all was said and done it turned out I was allergic to an unseen wavelength of light. And that I was borderline epileptic. I learned a whole more after my first seizure when I was 13 but that’s another post. Dr. Prichard and Dr. Cox put me on orange flavoured goop called phenobarb. My hand simulated the strobing of a light source and I….well, sort “zoned-out” for a few seconds. I became different and a prime target for some of the worst teasing and taunting imaginable.

Kids can be really cruel and some can be really nasty. And at school some kids teased me when ever they could which was most of the time. I remember many a lunch when I would trudge home crying and miserable from all the teasing. When kids tease they can be really creative. They teased from nine in the morning till 3:30 in the afternoon. Even after school I wasn’t safe. They would taunt me all the way home. But the absolute worst insult was they called me a “retard”.

I decided to call this hand waving flapping. It sounded and looked like a bird flapping its wings. And they’d taunt me. I didn’t know I was doing it. All I know there were less and less kids to play with. I was so unhappy I wanted the earth to eat me alive. During my entire childhood I was only invited to only one birthday party. My brothers weren’t quite sure what to do with me and life  became lonelier and lonelier. Grade three was awful. Miss Smuckler was a real piece of work. She only wore black (at least it seemed that way), and had horn rimmed glasses. There were 45 pupils in my class with half of us in grade 3 and the other half in grade 4. At Blythwood Public School life was miserable. My friends became fewer and fewer until I only had a handful. The teacher didn’t have a clue what to do with me, and the flapping was getting worse and worse.

My teacher in grade four was Mrs. Kerr. She was neat. She got a kick out the Charlie Brown comic strip. She was able to look past the flapping which was now happening with alarming regularity. At recess there was this one kid named Fred who liked to get his jollies by teasing me. One day he went too far with his “retard” comments. I went ballistic in the extreme. Fred was too busy flapping his gums and getting me furious. With no warning I lashed out. I gave him three shots to his abdomen which made him double over. When he bent over to prevent further pummeling to his stomach I slugged him as hard as I could in the side of his head. He went down. I knocked him out cold. After this experience Fred gave me a wide berth and was a little more conservative with his teasing. Grade five was horrible. The staff didn’t know what to make of me. The French teacher really had it in for me. Whenever she called on you you had to stand. And one day she called on me when the flapping was really bad. She asked me this question. Nervous as hell I started to flap. Then she got under the collar about my flapping and not answering her. Then she really lost it and called me a fool. Well, the rest of the class came to complete stand still. No student had ever been called a fool before and slowly the class looked at me. I was so embarrassed, so humiliated, I pulled the neck of my turtle neck sweater over my head and sat down. The teacher went on to pester someone else. I knew I soon be going to Glenview Senior Public and there was no way on gods green earth this private hell was going to follow me there. I started looking for something to weigh my arm down. I experimented with lead. Too little wouldn’t work at all and too much…well, I might knock myself out. I needed to secure it to my wrist too. The only good thing about grade five was leaving it. That summer (1968) I went to Kilcoo Camp. For a month the flapping wasn’t much of a concern. I felt relatively relaxed. And for once I finally felt like I fit in. You couldn’t tell if I was flapping or brushing away mosquitoes. Grade six was mildly informative when the teacher, Mr. Legge, wasn’t salivating about his car (a Dodge Charger) or using his wife’s hairspray to slick down his hair. I have never seen a guy so obsessed with his appearance. That summer (1969) two things happened that helped me form a plan. In July mankind landed on the moon for the first time. The papers covered every conceivable angle. I saw the kind of strap I would need to hold the lead in place. At Kilcoo a counselor-in-training (C-I-T) had an ankle injury and was required to wear a lead ankle bracelet to strengthen a tendon. When I came home I bought a five pound ankle bracelet of lead shot. I wore that ankle bracelet on my wrist the entire time I was in grade 7. If anybody asked why I wore it I’d say it was to strengthen a weak arm muscle. The only time I didn’t wear the bracelet was when I was asleep or in the shower. I wore the bracelet for an entire year. In August 1968 I took the bracelet of lead shot off my wrist and I haven’t flapped since.

I chose lead because it’s a soft metal, mailable, and it’s inexpensive. And because another year of hell simply wasn’t an option.

Should You Hire a Professional Editor?

If you write for a hobby or maybe a living (we should all be so lucky) read this article by Milly Schmidt. It took a lot of courage to write this. Can anyone offer some words of wisdom?

The Cat's Write

All self-published authors must face this question at some point in their publishing journey. I am no exception. I have toyed with the idea of simply going through a few beta reader rounds and utilizing a program like Grammarly premium before finishing off the process with a proofread from a professional.

I have also contemplated hiring a professional editor for every stage of the process – copy/line editing, structural editing, proofreading etc…

In the end, it comes down to budget.

How much professional editing can you afford?

I would bet that most writers (if they had the money) would jump at the chance of hiring an expert – you would be crazy not to. But what if you will never be able to afford a professional editor? Should you throw in the towel and return to submitting your manuscript into that void filled with silence and a litany of…

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First draft completed–86,655 words – Holy Cow!

I finished “Blue Cottage” a couple of weeks after my mother passed away. After she passed I will admit there was a period of time when I wanted to chuck the whole thing in the nearest garbage can. But my mum got a kick reading about Cassie Carter and Peter Christopher so I decided to soldier on. In order to improve it I enlisted the help of a friend. She suggested I collect all the chapters I published on WordPress, put them in chronological order from Chapter 1 to Chapter 13B, so I could better see the problem areas. After doing all that I discovered two things about my first draft. First it was 86,655 words long (single spaced) and secondly it was 291 pages long. Up to then I had no idea it was novel length.

To honour my parents, who both got a kick out of my stories since grade school, I’m going to write a second draft. I conducted an experiment when I was writing “Blue Cottage”. I usually try and do some sort of outline but “Blue Cottage” I decided to write to write by the seat of my pants. I found the experience mildly liberating but I soon found myself mired in a sea of details. Some people may be able to write by the seat of their pants but I can’t. I said to another friend this morning that writing without an outline is akin to Herman Melville writing Moby Dick completely without an outline.

I already know a number of things. The second draft will not appear on WordPress. I want this draft to be ready for a publisher. I think its a real loss that publishers will not touch anything that has appeared on-line. I also find this attitude puzzling because Andy Weir, author of the book “The Martian”, originally had “The Martian” on his web site long before he had a publishing deal.

Not only will there be an overall outline but there is going to be an outline for every single chapter. I don’t intend to make the mistake of having someone being 5’ 5” then two chapters later have them be 5’ 8”. I’m going to work on one chapter at a time meaning I won’t go to chapter two until I’m positive chapter 1 simply can’t any better. And if takes until doomsday to get story ready for publication I’ll wait. I’m not going anywhere. And there won’t be any of this chapter “13B” nonsense. All chapters will have numbers. To paraphrase actor Charlton Heston they’re going to have to pry this laptop out of my cold dead hands before I begin my final sleep.

Chapter 13B – The Beginning


The first month was the roughest. We had to arrange three funerals and get Chez Willowby ready for sale. And it was toughest on Kenny. Thank goodness for Mr. Langtree.

One day shortly after the last funeral Kenny came home from school with a slip of paper Peter and I to sign. It was your standard parental permission slip for a school trip. You know the kind. You probably brought dozens home. As Kenny’s godparents, we didn’t give the matter a second thought. We should have. The school recognized Trina’s letter to us and her signature. However, godparents are not legally recognized as parents or guardians. Godparents are simply a religious or spiritual concoction. Godparents have no legal standing at all. After meeting with my aunts’ lawyer, Mr. Langtree, he explained our options to Peter and me which were next to non-existent. Trina wanted us to raise her son. A godparent has no legal standing to do anything for the child. To sign a simple parental permission slip, we had to adopt Kenny. We wanted to adopt Kenny but first, we had to grapple with a daunting question – did he want us?

Trina helped a lot by naming us specifically, but a godparents role is largely ceremonial. We wanted to change that.

We met in Mr. Langtrees office. We didn’t dress formally. He asked us to dress casually and for Kenny to do the same. As we entered his legal office Kenny’s eyes went incredibly wide.

“Wow, he sure has a lot of books”. Kenny was right. There were hundreds of legal tomes on shelves which seemed to be everywhere. There were some computer terminals but Kenny was impressed with the books which seemed to stretch on forever. As Mr. Langtree came out of his office he saw the fascination and awe on Kennys face.

“And you must be Kenny. How many books do you think there are?”

Kenny looked at all the books studying each one. “A thousand?”

Mr. Langtree chuckled. “No, good guess though. Three times as many”

Kenny took that information and did what he could with it. “Wow, you have three thousand books?”

Mr. Langtree laughed, tussled Kennys hair then put his hands in his pockets. “Not quite. Would you believe me if I told you I have three thousand and ninety-seven books?”

His eyes just about popped out of his head. I gently pushed him towards the formal looking office. He looked at every inch of the office and saw more books. But the part he liked best was the leather chairs. He climbed into one and looked very comfortable. The bankers light on the desk somehow looked out of place. So did the rice paper wallpaper.

As Mr. Langtree sat down he pulled out a small file folder and a large yellow legal pad and put them on his desk. He made a few notes, tore the pages from the legal pad and placed them inside the file folder. He then tossed the legal pad beside his inbox. He looked right at Peter and me.

“Okay, let’s see if I’ve got this right. Trina Willowby, deceased, asked you both to raise her son. She asked you in a letter. But right now you’re not the legal guardians. So you’re looking at adoption. Have I got that part right?” Peter answered.

“I know we’re only godparents, but I think we should make it legal. We can’t do anything a parent-” Kenny suddenly gave Peter the eye. Peter put his hand up and told him to relax. “Relax Kenny. Nobodies trying to take the place of your mom or your grandparents”. He then continued talking to Mr. Langtree. “As I was saying we can’t do anything a parent or guardian can. Cassie and I would like to legally adopt Kenny. Its fine with us if he wants to keep his surname or he wants to take my name. We just want him to be safe and have a home. A home with two people who love him and can act as his guardians till he’s of age. His mother asked us to raise him. Not Children’s Aid. Us.”

Mr. Langtree made some more notes on his legal pad then looked up at us.

“Normally what you want to do would be very difficult. But Trina made things much easier. She put her wishes on paper and specifically named both of you. The court will rule it what it believes are the best wishes of the child. But right now I would like to talk to Kenny. Alone.”

As Peter and I shuffled out the office Mr. Langtree asked to see the letter from Trina outlining her wishes regarding Kenny. I reached into my purse and handed it to him.

“Is this the only copy?” he asked.

I nodded my head.

“I’ll have ten copies made that will be certified and notarized. You’ll need every copy until the court awards you full custody. It’s not a sure bet but the court rarely changes the wishes of the mother. But before it does grant you custody a home check made by the court. They just want to make sure its a safe and happy home.”

Mr. Langtree closed the door to his office. I had no idea adoption could be so involved. And a home visit. I don’t know why but idea terrified me.


A few weeks later a young woman knocked on the door of Casa Christopher. As soon as I answered she pulled out her identification.

“Hello, Mrs. Christopher. My name is Lucy Singh. The court has appointed me to make out a report concerning the home life for the minor named Kenny Willowby. Is he at home?”

“Kenny is still in school. He won’t be home for another half hour.”

“That’s just perfect. I’ll just look around and make some notes. This is the sort of place my husband and I are looking for. We don’t have any children yet but we want to change that.”

Miss Singh looked in cupboards and made notes. She looked at what I was wearing and made notes. She went over to Peters study where he was working on the latest batch of rewrites requests from Random House. She went right into his study without being invited. Then she started pestering him with questions.

“I understand you had throat cancer a year ago. Does that affect the way you and Kenny communicate?”.

“Not really. He knows my voice has good days and bad days. If he can’t understand what I’m saying he hands me the iPad. Typing out what I’m saying almost always takes longer than saying it but sometimes ordinary words can’t convey the emotion behind the sentence. And that’s where confusion can set in.” said Peter.

“How does Kenny react when this happens?”

“Kenny knows that not being able to say what I want to say is very frustrating for me. If he doesn’t understand what I’m saying verbally he usually hands me the iPad and I “dumb it down” for him using much more simplistic language. He’s become more patient with me and will do his best to make things easier for me. Right now if we go into a restaurant and the radio is blaring away he knows my voice can’t compete with that and speaks for me.”

“Where does the boy play?”

Peter took exception to Miss Singh referring to Kenny as “the boy”.

“I believe you meant to say “Kenny” or “your godson”. I know you’ve probably got dozens of these reports to fill out but how would you feel if somebody called you “the woman.”

“I understand your anger. If-”

“Miss Singh, I don’t think you do. Firstly, I’m not angry. What you’re hearing in my voice is simple frustration. It’s not anger. What you may not understand is that our relationship with Kenny didn’t begin until last Christmas. First, he drafted Cassie as his “hot looking” aunt. Then he realized that when Cassie and I married I would be his uncle. Then four months later when his mother and grandparents passed away and Cassie and I were on our honeymoon we discovered we were now his godparents. I went from friend to uncle to godparent in a dizzying number of months. So I’m a bit touchy about titles you give anyone.”

Miss Singh adjusted an armload of case folders, and Peter showed her the basement where all Kennys toys were. She was surprised by the size of the slot car set.

“I can remember my brother having one of these only it wasn’t so big! He never let me use it.” Peter saw her eyeing it and offered her the chance to fulfill a childhood dream.

“I really shouldn’t…”

“I won’t tell him if you don’t”

“Oh, what the heck. What do I do?”

At this point, I came down the stairs. Miss Singh was holding a hand controller. That’s when I spoke up.

“Peter and Kenny spend a lot of time down here. This game is great for sharpening eye-hand coordination. And they’re always changing the track configuration. Sometimes is easy and sometimes it’s not. And it’s never the same shape two weeks in a row.”

After a short race (which Peter let her win) she was off.


Three weeks passed between meeting Miss Singh and our next phone call from Mr. Langtree. We were close to chewing furniture we were so anxious. So when the call came I pounced on the phone in the kitchen and Peter answered from the study. More revisions. More detail. More clarifications.

“Hello” I bellowed into the phone by accident. I didn’t mean to be so loud. I was just nervous when I looked at the caller ID.

Because of the damage done by the cancer, Peter developed his own rather unique way of answering the phone. It was based on the advice Dr. Willowby gave Peter not long ago. “When you are using your phone try to use words of one or two syllables. You’ll put less stress on your vocal cords” Over time through a great deal of experimentation Peter settled on “‘ lo, yes?”.

“Great, got you both. I got news and a question. Which do you want first”

We hadn’t heard from him in some time so I barked the word “news”.

“Well, the news is that the judge was all set to rule in your favor. The home visit report was as good as it could be. Miss Singh was more than satisfied your place would provide a safe, happy, loving home for Kenny.”

“But…” uttered Peter from the study.

“Some fellow named James Wilson is challenging your petition to adopt Kenny. He claims he is Kennys biological father.”

“Oh shit!” I said. I thought I said it quietly but not as quietly as I hoped.

“That exactly what I first thought. Then I remembered Trina had him declared legally dead. Despite what the movies tell you it’s bloody hard to come back from the dead. Now before either one of you get your stomachs in an uproar I’ve finally located Kennys birth record. He was born in Lindsay Memorial as we suspected. And James Wilson is listed as the father. Can both of you be in court tomorrow?”

“What’s going to happen?” asked Peter a millisecond before I could.

“I’m going to take this nasty little troll apart. I’m going to expose him for the money-hungry bastard he is.”

“How do you know he’s money-hungry,” asked Peter. Mr. Langtree then put forth a litany of reasons he doesn’t care for James Wilson.

“When all three wills finish going through probate Kenny is going to be rather wealthy. James Wilson was barely making a living working on a steamer in France. But this character has more strikes against him than he knows. First, he abandoned his family. Then he didn’t pay a cent in child support. To make matters worse he left the country illegally. His record of bad decisions doesn’t stop there. He flew to France under a false passport. When he surfaced again he became employed under a false name. He was never legally employed in France. In the past ten years, he’s incurred some rather significant debts while in France. This guy must be a product of swimming in the shallow end of the gene pool. This guy hasn’t paid taxes in France and France wants their money. With interest!  And the Feds want tax money too. If he gets custody of Kenny he’ll be in charge of all Kenny’s money till Kenny comes of legal age.”

Not quite sure what I was hearing I stopped Mr. Langtree dead in his tracks.

“Maybe I’m missing something but why do you want Peter and me there?”

Mr. Langtree sounded winded. And a little frustrated with me.

“Cassie, I want you and Peter there for moral support. Plus if the judge can see your faces it could go a long way to gaining custody. Right now you’re nothing but faceless names. It’ll help a helluva lot if the judge can put a face to a name.”


The judge came into the courtroom and it was obvious she was not happy. The bailiff called the court to order.  The judge started speaking.

“Anyone seated in the visitor’s gallery will notice I’m not wearing a smile. I was all set to make my ruling and write my judgment when I got a surprise. And anybody that knows me will know I don’t care surprises of any kind. James Wilson, are you represented by counsel?”

A man in an ill-fitting suit stood up.

“No madam judge.”

The judge closed her eyes and started muttering. She turned and looked right at him.

“For future reference whenever you address me you will use the words, your honor. Is that understood?”

“Yes Ma’am”

The judge was clearly upset by this response and started shaking her head.

“I fear I already know the answer to this question but where is your lawyer?” asked the judge looking very drawn and tired.

Mr. Wilson picked up some papers and appeared to shuffle them. It looked like he was hoping for his lawyer to drop out the pages he picked up.

“I don’t have one ma’am”.

“These are adoption proceedings Mr. Wilson and not traffic court! You cannot represent yourself! You have a choice before you. You have one hour to get a lawyer or you can withdraw your petition to assume the guardianship of the minor Kenneth Willowby. Will you have a lawyer in one hour?” the judge demanded.

Mr. Langtree approached the bench and a slowly simmering judge. The two spoke in hushed tones. The judge raised her eyebrows then cradled her head with her hand. When they were through talking he rushed to where Peter and I were sitting.

“If it’s alright with you two I just volunteered to be Mr. Wilson’s lawyer. There won’t be a conflict of interest. I just ask him questions. Hopefully just enough to hang himself and get this matter settled today. I can do this but the judge wants me to get your permission first so it’s up to both of you. But before you decide I’d like one of you to get Kenny. He should be here. I want the judge to see him and him to see his biological father.” I held on to Peter’s hand so tightly there was sweat on his brow. Peter nodded and simply said “GO”. I was a little more eloquent. “Destroy the little twerp”.

The judge had a glass of water, composed herself, then addressed Mr. Wilson.

“Mr. Wilson, the lawyer for the Christopher family has graciously volunteered to be your lawyer. All he is going to do is ask you a few questions to see how if you are fit to be a parent. But before we proceed this court will adjourn for one hour.”

As soon as the judge went into her chambers Peter bolted. He went to get Kenny. He knew the school would object but when they found out he had been asked to appear in family court but they would have to let him go. Mr. Langtree even provided a summons for Kenny if needed. I cooled my heels in the hall of the courthouse. I was as nervous as I was the first time I knocked on Peters door. Mr. Langtree sat beside me and tried to calm me down.

“Relax Cassie. I’m just going to ask him a few questions”.

I turned and grabbed the lapels of his jacket. There were tears in my eyes and I started crying.

“I love him more than you can know. I just want this to be over and take him to home. Is that so much to ask?” He turned his head and started looking down the hall for Peter and Kenny.

“I’ll wait here. You go into the ladies room and compose yourself. When we go back in I want the judge to see what a close, loving family you are. As god is my witness I’m going to do my best to make sure Kenny is your son by dinner time.”

Peter and Kenny came running up the stairs. They went into the men’s room to make themselves presentable. Peter mopped the sweat from his brow then from Kenny’s forehead. Peter put on a new tie and Kenny put on a permanent press shirt and tie. When they emerged Mr. Langtree gave them both another inspection.

“OK, you’re to go”. Then the chimes outside the courtroom went off. Our hour was up.


We entered the courtroom and took our seats. We reminded Kenny not to say a word. Mr. Langtree came into the courtroom and placed his attaché case on the tabletop before him. Then the judge came back in. The bailiff swore us in. Mr. Wilson was nowhere to be seen. Then the judge spoke.

“Mr. Langtree, do you have any idea just where Mr. Wilson might be?”

Mr. Langtree rose from his seat, buttoned his jacket, and addressed the judge.

“No, your honor I don’t.”

“He is now testing the patience of this court. If he is not in this room in ten minutes a bench warrant will be issued for his immediate arrest and his petition for guardianship of the minor know as Kenneth Willowby tossed out.”

I started looking at Kenny and my watch. After five minutes had passed Mr. Wilson oozed in mildly intoxicated. Not a good thing to do at all. The judge addressed Mr. Wilson.

“Mr. Wilson. Are you intoxicated?”

“To the gills babe, to the gills”.

The judge was already simmering but Mr. Wilson’s answer brought her to a fast boil.

“That’s it!. You have reached the limits of my patience. I find you in contempt of this court and its proceedings. I’m fining you twenty-five thousand dollars and dismissing your petition for guardianship. You have the option of paying the fine now. If you cannot pay you’re looking at a jail term. Which is going to be?”

“Which way to the dungeon?”he sang melodically.

“One last thing Mr. Wilson. You are not to contact Mr. Christopher, Mrs. Christopher, or their son in any way, ever! Do you understand me?” she said slowly.

Mr. Wilson pulled a bottle from his pocket and took a drink.

“Keep your hair on. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. Don’t say anything to those folks over there. Gotcha. Mums the word.”

A bailiff walked over to Mr. Wilson and led him out of the room where he was handcuffed, fingerprinted, and photographed. A boy should never see his father handcuffed. The judge then spoke directly to us.

“On behalf of the Family Court of Ontario, I must apologize to you for what you have witnessed. I also welcome you to the family of parents. It gives me great pride to grant you full guardianship of Kenny. Kenny, have you decided what your last name will be?

“You bet. I’m a Christopher like my mom and dad!”

I started hugging my son and bawling my eyes out. Then the judge spoke at Peter and me.

“Mr. And Mrs. Christopher. As a parent I can tell you they grow up fast. So make the most of it.”


We had a celebratory dinner at Gelert Gardens. On the way back I was in the back seat. I noticed that Kenny smelled a bit ripe. No doubt it was from all the tension. I laid down my first parental edict. “You, master Kenneth, are going to have a bath when we get home. You smell”. Kenny tried protesting but it was to no avail. “Aw Gee Mom!” I’ve never heard words so sweet.


I’m going to recharge my batteries, bury my moms ashes, and take a rest. I’ll be back at the end of September or early October.

Chapter 13B – The Summons


I felt a bit better after I took the Tylenol. And the sunglasses helped a lot. I had the mother of all headaches. Bright light and loud sounds where my enemy. As soon as I stepped out of the cabin the onslaught began. Big George was walking along the same path.  Normally the sound of Flip-Flops wouldn’t have bothered me. But the flip-flopping sound crashed inside my head and sounded like a pair of wall studs being smashed together repeatedly. The sun was behind me and when Big George smiled the sun magnified his incredibly bright smile. The glare felt like a red hot nail being driven slowly into my forehead. Peter walked beside me not saying a word. He had a very good idea of how I felt. Every time either one of us had to say “good morning”  to any one we said it very slowly and deliberately. Some time ago, Peter discovered that you when said a greeting in just this manner people somehow figure out you were in pain or under the weather. As we walked into the lobby we passed a clerk sorting the mail. Soon after we sat at a small table and started to peruse the morning menu.

“I think I’ll have bacon and eggs. I’m hungry as a horse. What’s m’lady going to have this morning?”

I couldn’t believe what I just heard. He demolished enough lobster the previous evening to put a significant dent in the seafood industry. Against my better judgement I simply had to enquire why he had such a voracious appetite.

“I’m on the verge of death and you’re thinking about your stomach? How can you possibly think about eating anything at all?”

There was a pause while Peter looked at me. I could tell from his expression he was trying to compose his answer in his head before he said anything. He buttered some bread then put some jam on top of it. Just watching him eat made me queasy.

“I simply want to make m’lady happy. To do that I have to eat from time to time. I want to be able to perform anytime you ask me to.” He winked then there was a gleam in his eye. And there was something special in the way he said “perform”. Ohh…

Then a busboy appeared and handed me a telegram. He would have handed the telegram to Peter but he was busy buttering yet another slice of bread. Peter looked at me while I read the telegram.

“Well, what’s happening in the world?” He saw my eyes bulge out and the color in my face drain away. “Let me guess. There’s been a coup somewhere hasn’t there?”

I read it twice and simply couldn’t believe it. I was in a state of shock. All I knew was that as soon as Peter read the telegram he would be worried.

“Peter, I think you should read this right now.” I handed the telegram to him. He read it and went silent.

Urgent. Stop. Return at once. Stop. Willowby near death. Stop. Meet you at the airport. Stop. Urgent. Stop. Come now. Stop. Explain more when you arrive. Plane waiting in Nassau. Stop. Doctor Wilson. Stop End.

The bread that had been destined for his mouth was put on the side of his plate. When he stood up the enormity of the situation hit him. “Holy crap! We’re outa here. Got a plane to catch. Let’s hustle.” Peter walked over to the desk Captain George sat at and explained the situation as well as he could.

“I think I better call my grandfather and get his input” A quick telephone call and Big George appeared. His trademark smile came with him but he was more business-like. He asked to see the telegram. Peter handed it to Big George. After reading it he folded it up and handed it back to Peter. He then gave orders to Captain George. “I want you to give Mr. Christopher anything he wants. If you have tours planned cancel them. This gets top priority.” Big George then walked over to the booth where I was sitting. Peter sat down beside me and Big George sat opposite us. First he just looked at us. Then he started talking. “I can see you two are very much in love. And I know this honeymoon was very important to you. And it didn’t turn out the way you wanted. That’s why I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to ask you to not check out. I’m going to erase all trace that you were here from our computers. You have a standing invitation to come back any time you please. That includes children too. Now fly back to the mainland.”


During the flight, Peter was pretty quiet. Not quite sure what to do I sat up front in the co-pilots seat. Captain George and I talked.

“If you don’t mind me asking Mrs. Christopher your husband seems pretty shaken up by whatever’s going on. Can I ask what is going on?”

I explained as best I could.

“One of Peters best friends is dying. He also saved Peters life when he had cancer.”

“Is that why Peter talks so softly and is hard to understand at times?”

I nodded my head.

“His doctor originally thought he had a mild case, but it wasn’t until after the radiation treatments that it was discovered the cancer did more damage than first thought. He has good days and bad days. Fortunately, the good now outnumber the bad.” Before I knew it the plane was landing in Nassau. Captain George turned towards me and said something very strange. “The tower has just informed me your return flight is a Lear Jet Lima Oscar Romeo Five Niner Five going to YYZ.” I wasn’t at all sure what he meant. I shook my head hoping some sort of translation would fall out of the sky.

“I haven’t a clue what you just said.”

Just then Peter came forward.

“Those are aeronautical terms about our next flight. It’s a Lear Jet with the markings LOR-595 going to Toronto.”

Captain George was impressed. “Not bad for an author. My grandfather has all your books. When’s your next one coming out?” Peter was caught off guard and started to stammer. I answered for him. “Our first book will be out this Christmas. Peter insisted the book have both our names on it. And it’ll be put out by Random House.”

Suddenly the radio squawked again “Upon landing kindly taxi beside Lear Jet Lima Oscar Romeo five niner five“. Captain George taxied till we were about five feet away from the Lear Jet. We tossed our bags through the hatch and were told to prepare for immediate take-off. I know the circumstances were kind of grim, but things were happening so fast I found it mildly exciting. And for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to sprint the length of an airport terminal to catch a connecting flight.

The flight was felt relatively speedy after we leveled off at thirty thousand feet. Peter took to pacing up and down the aisle. I wanted to say something but I didn’t know what to say and he was lost in thought. The reddish color of the seat covers was all there was to look at. That and a bedraggled copy of Time magazine. The pilot and the co-pilot didn’t say a word to us in conversation. Finally, after an hour, I couldn’t stand the silence any longer and spoke up.

“Will you please stop pacing and talk to me. Tell me what you’re thinking. I read that telegram and I don’t know what to think. Dr. Wilson must have been rushed. We know four people with the last name of Willowby. So we don’t know who is dying. Do you know something I don’t?”

Finally, Peter sat down in the seat across the aisles. His eyes were red and his skin was flushed. He had cried. But not because something happened to him. Because of what didn’t happen to me. “I wanted to give you the best, most fantastic honeymoon in the world. Not because I’m crazy in love with you, which I am, but because you deserve it. You’ve put up with me and my moods, and the cancer, and you really deserve a break.”

Peter caught me by surprise and I wasn’t sure how to respond.

“I know this lousy timing but we could become members of the mile-high club.”

Peter turned his head in the direction of the restroom then made a face. He looked at me. “Interesting idea but have you seen the size of that place? And if you’ll pardon the pun I don’t think I’m up to it right now. That telegram has me puzzled and you know I don’t care for mysteries.” I moved to the seat beside him, lifted the armrest, put my head in his lap and quickly fell asleep.


I woke with a start. The wheels of the jet had just touched the tarmac. The jet taxied to the area reserved for it. After clearing customs we entered the area meant for people arriving from the Caribbean. As the sliding doors opened we saw Dr. Wilson, the hospital administrator, waiting for us.

“Thank heavens you’re here. I know the telegram only served to create more questions than it answered and I apologize for that. The Willowby family has been hurt. Badly.” Dr. Wilson led us to his car and we all got in, not knowing what to expect.

My first thought was about Kenny. Was he injured or worse? The next thing Dr. Wilson did was to hand us an envelope.

“Before I say any more you’re supposed to read that letter. It’s from Trina to you both”. Peter took the letter from the envelope and placed in front of me so I could read it too.

Dear Cassie and Peter,

I should have done this years ago. Dads lawyer has been bugging me to do this for a long time. A couple of weeks ago Kennys father was declared legally dead. It’s not right for a boy to grow up without a father. And a boy should not be without a mother. That’s why I’d like both of you to be godparents to my boy. The odds of something happening to me, mom and dad are pretty slim but you never know. You both have a special connection to Kenny and him to you. If anybody should be parents you two should. Please, take care of my boy if I can’t.

       Trina Willowby

After reading the letter I had an uneasy feeling why the word urgent was peppered throughout the telegram Dr. Wilson had sent. Peter leaned back in the car seat looking shocked, surprised and winded. When we talked about adoption so long ago we never thought it would happen this way.

Peter put the letter back in the envelope. I asked Dr. Wilson what happened.

“Trina was driving her car through Coboconk. They were going from north to south. Her dad was in the front passenger seat and Wilma was in the back seat. Kenny had turned his ankle playing street hockey and was in my car which was three cars behind Trina. Do you recall a T-shaped intersection by the Patty house? Some drunk bastard came barreling out of that intersection and T boned Trina’s car. Trina was killed instantly. Dr. Willowby has deep cuts in his scalp as well as a broken hip. After he was extricated from the car the paramedics got to work on him. But he had a massive heart attack from the shock. That’s when the paramedics called in an air ambulance. The chopper was almost at the hospital when he suffered a second attack. He was gone two minutes later. Wilma got the worst of it. She has massive internal injuries and its only a matter of time. There’s only so much medical science can do.”

Then Dr. Wilson lost his temper. “God damn it. It’s just not right. Two generations of one family. If ever there was a reason to bring back hanging this is it! Bill Willowby was my best friend. I was his bloody best man. It’s just not right!” It wasn’t long before a siren could be heard. “Damn it all to hell! This the last thing we need. Cassie, you’re now three months along and you’re having premature labor pains. Leave the rest to me”. An OPP cop car appeared out of nowhere. Dr. Wilson drove his car onto the shoulder of Highway 35 and turned off his engine. A few seconds later the cop car parked a few feet behind Dr. Wilson. A cop wearing jodhpurs and sporting intimidating looking sunglasses walked towards the car. He held on to his belt buckle and had an OPP baseball cap. Dr. Wilson did a marvelous job of lying through his teeth.

“Officer, your arrival couldn’t have been more fortuitous. I’m Dr. Wilson of Lindsay Memorial. The woman in the back is three months pregnant and is having premature labor pains. It looks like an ectopic pregnancy. Can you be a good chap and clear the road for us? This a real emergency.”

Peter pinched my hand and I howled in pain.

“Oh, can do doc. Just follow me” said the cop who hurriedly returned to his car and gave us a high-speed escort.

We slowed down when we came to Fenlon Falls, but as soon as we passed through the town it was 80 MPH all the way. We got into Lindsay going like a bat out of hell and the cop gave us a police escort all the way to the parking lot. A gurney came out and I quickly got on but as soon as it was inside the hospital I slid off. All three of us ran for the elevators. Peter and I looked at Dr. Wilson. “4th floor” he barked. I wanted to get to Kenny. “How much does Kenny know?” I asked inside the slow moving elevator. “Not much. Delores, Dr. Willowby’s secretary, is with him. I decided to keep him in the dark but it wouldn’t surprise if the little scamp knows more than we do.” As we got to the fourth floor Dr. Wilson barked “turn right.” I ran down the hall till I could see Kenny. Then I fell to my knees and held him close. It felt nice holding him again and feeling his little hands on my back. Delores was seated nearby and I asked her how Wilma was. “Not good at all. I think she wants to see you and Peter.” Peter came out the room where Dr. Willowbys body was. He pale and his eyes were moist. “You all right Peter?” He pulled two handkerchiefs out of his pocket. “Just saying goodbye. We better get to Wilma’s room while she’s still here.” I told Peter she wanted to see us both. Before we entered her room Peter handed me a handkerchief. “Now I know why you hate hospitals” I said. As we entered Wilma started talking. “Is Kenny with you?” she asked. “I know I look like hell but could you go get him?” I wasn’t sure this was a good idea. Kenny was only ten. “We read the letter and we’ll do our best”. Wilma leaned back on the pillow. “Thank you. Now do a banged up grandmother a favor and get the boy”. Peter went and got him. But before Peter brought him back he gave Kenny a little pep talk. He pulled up his trousers and knelt in front of Kenny. “Your grandmother is not going going to look like the person you see at home. She’s been in a terrible car accident and there are all sorts of bandages and tubes.” Kenny looked at Peter and his tiny chin began to quiver. “Is Grandma going to die Uncle Peter?” Kenny had just put his uncle in the most uncomfortable position he had ever been in. “Yes, and there’s nothing we can do to stop that. But right now she wants to talk to both of us. She needs you to be really brave. Can you do that?”. Kenny tried to stop his chin from quivering. Peter was now standing and he looked down at his nephew. “If it makes you feel any better my chins quivering too”. Kenney put his hand in his uncles and they walked in. Kenny looked his grandmother and was afraid. “Kenny, come to the side of my bed and put your hand on the sheets” said Wilma. When Kenny put his hand on the sheets Wilma took his hand and placed it inside mine. Then she asked Peter to stand beside me. She took Peters hand and placed it on top of Kennys. “Cassie and Peter are going to take care of you now Kenny. Your grandfather and I can’t do it any more.” Wilma looked at me like she wanted to say something. Then I looked at Peter and motioned for him to take Kenny out.

Wilma looked incredibly tired. She slowly raised her head, looked at me and said “You are.” I had no idea what she meant. But she would never answer me. She slipped away quietly. Dr. Wilson, who was out in the hall, was doing his best to comfort Kenny. Peter was leaning against the wall crying. I started to break up and he embraced me. Without saying anything we started comforting Kenny had lost his mother, grandfather, and grandmother. One plus one normally adds up to two but in this case it became three. And we became a family.

…What happens next. Only Chapter 13C will tell you

Chapter 13A -Eleuthera


Getting married was a breeze compared to flying my countries airline. I fly very rarely and have heard horror stories about Air Canada. When we checked in at the airport they had two very nasty surprises in store for Peter and me. First, they had oversold the flight. Which in plain English means they sold more tickets than they had seats. Not a good way to run an airline. First, they asked for people to voluntarily give up their seats. One brave soul stepped forward but they were still overbooked by seven seats. The stewards prowled up and down the aisles looking like hungry panthers. Slowly they walked, staring at people who all had the same thought “please don’t pick me”. When they got to the hatch one of them grabbed a copy of the passenger manifest. After reading the manifest they simply picked seven names at random. Seven people were picked and were politely asked to “deplane” which is an aeronautical term to simply leave the aircraft. They now had the right number of seats. But they still had a problem. There was a family of five scattered all over the aircraft and they wanted to be seated together. The father was a frequent flier of Air Canada and the stewards knew this. I thought I was safe flying with my new husband. Not so. I was asked to give up my seat beside Peter and to move to another seat five rows behind him. Peter protested as loudly as he could which wasn’t very loud at all. I tried saying that my husband was still getting over cancer and that I was his nurse. That didn’t work either. I have a new name for the airline – Air Catastrophe.

When we got to Nassau we quickly learned it was a tourist trap. Everything outside the hotel cost a ridiculous amount so we decided to stay in our room and…well, you know what newlyweds do.


The following morning we returned to the airport and checked in at Out Island Airways. The “desk” where we checked in wasn’t as big as the desk for Air Catastrophe, British Air, or American Airlines. It didn’t even look like it belonged in an airport. It was an old wooden school desk! There was a fellow in a striped tee-shirt behind it. He picked up the passenger manifest, pulled his sunglasses down his nose then looked at us. He lifted a page and scowled at something. He put the manifest down, put his sunglasses in his shirt pocket, and looked right at us.

“Alrighty, Mr & Mrs. Christopher. I see you just got married. Congratulations. My name is Captain George. My grandfather runs the Arawak Cove Club. Since you two are the only persons going to the island today why don’t we get started?”

Peter said “Fine with me” or something approximating that, and George picked up our bags and we began our short walk to a waiting Cessna 172S. As it was taxiing towards the runway we passed a Boeing 747 jumbo jet waiting its turn to take off. And I have never felt so small. The Cessna was smaller than the 747’s nose wheel.

Shortly after take-off, we were soon at cruising altitude. Captain George punched some numbers into a device that looked like a GPS then asked us some questions.

“Is this the first time you have been to the island?”

I debated in my mind how to handle this question. After playing with several possible answers I settled on an answer I could live with. “First time for both of us.”

“Mind if I give you both a piece of advice? You both have very fair skin. Don’t lie in the sun for more than fifteen minutes each day. You’re much closer to the equator here and you can get a sunburn pretty quick. This place is pretty special and you don’t want a bad burn or sunstroke to ruin the experience. Buy a big floppy hat your noses don’t get burnt. Those Rudolph jokes are only funny the first time you hear them. And you might want to wear a tee-shirt when you’re in the water, Mrs. Christopher. I’m pretty sure you don’t want your shoulders getting crispy.”

Flying in the Cessna was much more pleasant and it very easy to see the ocean below us. The turquoise color was gorgeous and looked so inviting. We passed over one of the famous “blue holes” that is a favorite dive spot for scuba divers and skin divers alike.


Blue holes were originally limestone caves during the last ice age. When the surface of the Earth started to warm up the ice melted and the cave system flooded forming “vertical caves”. I couldn’t wait till I could swim in one. Peter had his own thoughts on the subject. “I’ve waited 35 years and I’m in no hurry to swim in something I can’t see the bottom of.”

Before we got married Wilma Willowby said that a wife should not be afraid to give her husband a little grief. She went so far as to say it was my duty but I suspect she was exaggerating. Still, I felt like needling Peter a bit.

“Where’s your spirit of adventure?”

Peter simply looked at the water below.

“Don’t tell me I married the original chicken of the sea?”

Peter crossed his arms and produced an excellent humph.

“My spirit of adventure is comfortably ensconced in this seat. As for the character assassination, I’ll have you know I’ve seen every Jacques Cousteau special. Chicken of the sea indeed! I’ve never been so insulted.”

Just then Captain George spoke up.

“When we land you’re going to meet Elton. Elton is the customs officer for Eleuthera. Some people have said that he’s hard to understand. If this happens to you just look at me. I’ll translate.”

I leaned forward in my seat. I could see we were nearing the island and the reporter in me just had to ask.

“Why is Elton so hard to understand?” I asked.

Captain George cleared his throat then answered my question.

“When Elton was in high school some so-called “friends” threw a coconut at his face. Knocked most of his teeth out. He compensates and does a pretty good job. But it’s tiring. So he has good days and bad days. Next stop is Eleuthera.”

The plane ride was all of fifteen minutes. Far too short. As the small plane taxied I noticed a man standing at the side of the runway. He was the biggest man I have ever seen. His wasn’t tall and he certainly wasn’t fat. There simply was so much of him he would have put any professional football players to shame. And next to him was a rather tall fellow in a uniform. That had to be Elton. As soon as the propellers stopped the large man spoke.

“Welcome to the island. I’m Big George. I’m the owner and proprietor of the Arawak Cove Club. If there’s a problem tell a staff member and they’ll tell me. The man in charge of the bar is my son Lil George. And you’ve met my grandson, Captain George. I hope your flight was enjoyable. If you’d like to book a tour just pick up the phone and tell our operator you like to call Captain George. You can reserve flights and make emergency flights to the mainland. Mr. And Mrs. Christopher if you’ll follow me I’ll take you to Customs.”

Ten feet away stood Elton. He had only one question.

“Do you have any faa arms?”

What he said sounded familiar. Sort of. Peter offered him his iPad. “Can’t spell” was the only other thing Elton said that I could be certain of. Peter put the iPad back in his backpack. We then looked at Captain George.

Captain leaned over and whispered in my ear. “The mans asking if you have any firearms.”

I took a certain amount of offense to the question. I’m on my honeymoon and Elton wants to know if I have a gun with me?

“Of course not!” I replied with a certain amount of indignation in my voice. Peter replied using the iPad.

Elton heard me loud and clear. “Had ta ask.”

Big George bent over, grabbed our bags and trotted off in the direction of Casa Christopher South. Looking at him I figured he was in his seventies but he looked like he was in his early fifties. There wasn’t a wrinkle anywhere. And he was the blackest black man I’ve ever seen. Not the brownish-black you see in Canada or the United States. But welsh coal mine black. And he had the whitest teeth I have ever seen. When we got to our cabin and Big George put our bags down Peter started searching his pockets for a tip. Big George held up one massive hand and stopped Peter cold.

“No need sir. All gratuities will be on your bill when you check out.”

After he left Peter and I started putting our things away. I went up behind Peter and hugged him almost as hard as I could.

“I can’t believe it. We’re here! And we’re married! And we’re on our honeymoon! There’s only one thing missing. I want you to make wonderful, toe-curling love to me. Blue Cottage is well on its way to being re-built and now that we’re married we can start trying…if you still want to.”

“I most certainly do, m’lady” whispered Peter eagerly.

Peter turned around, put his arms around my waist and started pulling my blouse out of my shorts. Then he sat me on one of the two massive beds and started undoing my blouse. Each time he undid a button he would kiss me. He started at the top of my blouse.

“You’re sure?” -button, kiss.

Peter undid another button. Kiss.

Then he undid my bra. Another kiss and I could tell he was getting aroused. He buried his face between my breasts and sucked. Something inside me made me want more. Much more. His breathing became faster. I wanted him and he wanted me. I squirmed out of my shorts and panties. As soon as I tossed them on the floor I grabbed Peters and pulled them down. He got on top of me and the feeling was wonderful. He knew what I wanted and did his best to give it to me. I pulled him close. His breathing was almost frantic. My skin was pretty sweaty as was his and it wasn’t long before things got pretty wild and we had to hold on to each other pretty fiercely. He pushed himself towards me and gave me what I really wanted. For two glorious hours, we explored and pleasured each other as we never have before. I was in seventh heaven and Peter lay on his back with the biggest…grin I have ever seen.


That night I watched Peter chow down on lobster. It was like he had never had it before. The claws didn’t stand a chance. He went after every scrap of meat. He had so much I was really worried he was going to be sick. I had a drink called a Goom Bay Smash and some shrimp. I was looking forward to the following day. We signed up for scuba lessons in the morning and swimming in the blue holes in the afternoon. Later that night we were walking on the beach and I suddenly became very drunk. The innocent-looking Goom Bay Smash smashed me right between the eyes. We had been collecting shells when all of sudden I started to get very giddy. Peter said I was slurring my words and I suddenly sat on the beach. I don’t remember slurring my words but I do remember crashing fanny first and singing “What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor”. Peter also added that first verse sounded perfect but the second verse was pretty  raunchy. After that, it was like someone had put a burlap sack over my head then clubbed me with a baseball bat. In the morning Peter told me what happened.

“You collapsed on the beach and started singing. The first verse was spot on but the second verse was absolutely filthy. By the time you stopped singing you were totally legless and lay on the beach reciting some limericks. I picked you up and tossed on to my shoulder. That’s when you started getting frisky. You tried to pull my shorts over my head. You kept asking me to “slurp” you whatever that means. We were almost at the cabin when we passed Big George.”

When Peter told me that I was so embarrassed I buried my face in a pillow. “Have mercy. Take me out back and shoot.”

“You weren’t finished. Not by a long shot. Then you jammed a hand down the back of my shorts and clawed at my butt.” It took a bit of doing but I eventually asked Peter to take off his shorts and to turn around. When he did there were five bloody claw marks on his fanny that matched perfectly with the nails on my right hand.  It was then Peter handed me something Big George had handed him – Tylenol and really dark sunglasses.

“How did you know?”

“I didn’t but Big George did. I think it’s fair to say we now know why the drink is called a Goom Bay Smash. It sneaks on you and puts your lights out. You passed out after clawing my butt. I must make one confession though.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“After I undressed you and you were lying naked on the bed I thought about having my way with you but I didn’t. It was temping thought though.”

“What stopped you?”

“I want every time we make love to be memorable. And wouldn’t be fair to you because you were in no condition to remember anything. Does that sound weird?”

I leaned forward and tried to kiss Peter but he pushed me away. More than a little put off I demanded to know why.

“Hey, what’s the matter? You’ve never done that before.”

Then Peter walked to the bathroom and reached for the small bottle of mouthwash. After I rinsed my mouth things were much better. And I let him take advantage of me. Male fantasies can be such fun and so enjoyable.

…still more to come in Chapter 13B

Why You Need to Market your Book Before it’s Published

So, I thought it was high time I did another Monday Marketing post!

Now, no matter how much I say it, I’m still seeing new writers who claim they “don’t need to market” or that they will “Market after publishing.”

I get it, no one really likes marketing.  I’ve worked in Marketing Departments, and it can be uncomfortable and frustrating and since most writers are introverts and struggle to often talk about their work, pushing it a little can seem an impossible task.

But it’s not and it is important…and it really needs to be done before you publish.

So, I thought I’d share with you 7 reasons when you need to market your book before it’s published! 


Get your Foot in the Door

If you are a new writer chances are people won’t know you.  Yes, you may have told some people you’re a writer but the vast majority…

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