Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oral Roberts and Gorgeous George

My step-Grandson Dakota was over tonight with Ron and Shannon, my stepdaughter and her husband. As we watched episodes of Dog the Bounty Hunter, I told Dakota the producers of the program made it more dramatic for the camera and that little about the story was actually real.

“It’s real,” he said. “It’s all true.”

Dakota is only nine and still believes in Santa Claus. My Grandmother - although much older than Dakota - also believed in the impossible.

Grandmother Rood liked two things in life: Oral Roberts and Gorgeous George, and not necessarily in that order. Oral Roberts, as most people know, is an evangelist. Gorgeous George was a professional wrestler. They both had a couple of things in common.

Oral Roberts started out as a tent preacher and raised lots of money from “true believers.” When touched by the Holy Spirit, his voice would grow louder and higher pitched. Often, before administering the healing touch, his thin hair would become mussed, and as wild as his hypnotic rants.

Gorgeous George made no pretense of being holy, but in the heat of every wrestling match, his beautifully coiffed, bleached blond hair would become mussed. GG was a middle-aged flabby white man, but he was supposedly one of the best professional wrestlers of his day. Even as a kid, I could tell the fix was in.

“You don’t really believe this is for real, do you Grandma?” I would ask.

It did not matter if I were asking about Gorgeous George or Oral Roberts, her answer was always the same. “Of course it’s real.”

I loved my Grandmother dearly, but even at a very young age, I knew that she was letting faith get in the way of her good sense.

Tonight, as I watched Dog the Bounty Hunter, the very popular reality show, I realized just how gullible the American viewing public is, and that little has changed since I was a kid.

Eric's Website

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Oyster Dressing - a recipe

Oyster Dressing, New Orleans Style

3 doz. Oysters
1 qt stale bread, wet and squeezed
2 tbsps butter
1 chopped onion
1 tbsp parsley
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tbsps sage
salt and pepper to taste

Drain the oysters, carefully removing all bits of shell. Save oyster liquor for stuffing. Wet stale bread with hot water, squeezing thoroughly. Mix and season with sage. Chop fowl’s liver and gizzard finely, and put 1 tbsp butter into frying pan.

Mix in chopped onion, and chopped liver and gizzard in the pan. As the mixture browns, add the herbs, and then the bread. Mix well. Add remaining butter and stir, blending thoroughly.

Add the oyster liquor, and then mix in the oysters. Stir for several minutes before using it to stuff the fowl

Fiction South

Friday, December 26, 2008

Eric's Love Potion - a recipe

Jilted by your lover, or maybe just temporarily lost use of your mojo? Here's a recipe to reverse your fortune when it comes to amore:

1 cherry, the juice from
3 grapes, the juice from
1/4 cup of banana paste
1 cup of ice chips
1/4 cup basil
1 pinch sage
1 tsp vanilla
1 honeysuckle bloom
Crushed pieces of geode, preferably with amethyst
3 rose petals
Few drops of rainwater - March rainwater is best
2 pine needles
3 spiderweb threads

Mix the potion and add but a few drops to the drink, preferably alcoholic, of the person you wish to desire you. Use sparingly.

Eric's Website

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Message From an 1111 Lightworker

I got this fascinating comment to my article on the meaning of the number 1111. I am publishing it in its entirety because it contains lots of both interesting and enlightening information that I want to share with everyone. Thanks, Bing, for your wonderful post.

A Message from an 1111 Lightworker

My name is Bing and I am an 1111 Lightworker. I like the picture of you and your dog. My wife and I are Basset hound lovers. We are currently on Basset Hound number six Chloe. I have a “Google Alert” that searches the web for individuals who are interested in 11:11. If you are curious about the 11:11 time prompts and are looking for more information please follow these links and they will help you immensely.

In a while, you will notice that the prompts will change to include the number of the hour plus 11, 22, 33 and so on. You will start to see the prompts on sales slips, license plates of cars that “just happen” to pull in front of you, and on addresses. Another topic that you may find interesting is Crystal and Indigo children. These are children born with a raised level of consciousness. Some of them have two extra genes that allow them to see auras and be more psychically in tune. Here are some sites that will provide information on this topic.

A book that I would recommend is Angel Numbers by Doreen Virtue.

The links leads to some short inspirational videos that I hope you will enjoy and pass on to others. I have no connection to the authors; I just like the messages.

Here is a link to a site that will help you to focus on the Law of Attraction. I have read these books and they come highly recommended not only by me but by many professional book reviewers and people who have followed their advice. These books will really bring what you want into your life.

These two links are to great meditation music sites. The first one is a link to the music of Chuck Wild who goes under the artistic name of Liquid Mind. The second is to an online radio station that is free and features 10,000 genres. This particular genre is New Age relaxation music.

The following link is to a definition of the word Namaste that I feel should become more commonplace in our vocabularies. Whenever I feel that I am becoming judgmental, I say this word to myself and it puts me back in the right frame of mind. There is no us and them - only US”.

I hope that this information will help you on your journey to become a better person, and to help raise the level of Life, Light and Love in our world.Throw some love into the wind


Eric's Web

Monday, December 22, 2008

Aunt Dot's Southern Pecan Pie

My grandparents had a large pecan tree in their backyard and it must have been a hundred years old. Summers in Louisiana are hot and in the fifties, no one had central heat and air. Most houses had window and ceiling fans, but they did little to cool the sweltering summer nights.

My family spent lots of time outdoors during the summers, not because they enjoyed swatting mosquitoes, but because it was cooler and more pleasant outside than indoors. My grandparents had a half-dozen or so lawn chairs and a garden swing beneath the giant pecan tree, and the family congregated there on many a summer night.

Grandpa’s pecan tree, it seems, produced tons of pecans every year and he always gave bushels to my mom and dad, and anyone else that asked. When I was young, my parents bought six mail-order pecan trees. None of the trees even came to my waist when Dad planted them.

Three of the pecan trees still survive. They are large, although none as big as Grandpa’s pecan tree, but they still produce tons of pecans. For years, while my parents still lived in Vivian, they gave us pound after pound of pecans, usually already shelled, thanks to my wonderful mother.

This past Thanksgiving, Marilyn used the very last bag of my parent’s pecans to bake a pie. Marilyn is a great cook and the pie was wonderful. When I asked her for the recipe, she informed me that it was in her head and sometimes changed, depending on the mood she is in when she bakes.

Here, instead, is a recipe from someone that is also a great cook and that knows firsthand how to make a great pecan pie – My Aunt Dot Pittman Pourteau. This recipe is from her cookbook All the Foods We’ve Loved Before.

Aunt Dot’s Southern Pecan Pie

3 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
½-cup white Karo syrup
½ cup dark Karo syrup
1/3 cup butter, melted
1-cup pecans, chopped or whole
1 pie shell

Beat 3 eggs, thoroughly with sugar, salt, dark and light Karo Syrup, melted butter. Add one cup of pecan halves. Pour into 9” unbaked pie shell.

Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 50 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean. Cool and enjoy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Eureka Springs Scene - a pic

Here is a colorful picture I took in scenic Eureka Springs, Arkansas. You can tell by sky that it is early autumn. The New Orleans Hotel is in the background, up a level in this little town built in a circular tier.

Eric's Photo Page

Friday, December 19, 2008

Beer Battered Baker

My good friend David Beatty of Livingston, Louisiana is a Renaissance Man. He does many things well and is now into baking. Here is his learned primer on the do's and don'ts of making bread:

I have recently gotten into baking bread, and above are two recent examples of my newly found skill. In an attempt to be healthier, I have been making whole wheat and sourdoughs. All who have seen and tasted my early attempts might find it difficult to describe what they ate as bread. Things have changed.

Bread making is a science. It requires a chemical reaction, and thus an exact recipe. Add the ingredients in the correct amount and bake. Presto, you have bread. Well, not exactly. If you have success at making bread, it may be because you followed the recipe exactly as written. If you do not, the world as you know it may not be the same.

With the chance of sleet and snow tonight and in the morning, the weather in south Louisiana looks very much like the Christmas season, so it must be bread-making time. The first whole-wheat loaf I baked was beautiful, and with butter and jam, was something for which you might even pay good money. That is where my troubles started.

Once I made the first good loaf, I got cocky and began considering myself a real baker. This loaf tastes so good, I thought, why not improve it by adding a few favorite ingredients - some additional this, and a little extra of that. Before long, you have the perfect, new and improved loaf of bread. Well, not exactly.

It could have been the small amount of sourdough starter that I added, or the extra yeast, or that little detail of using instant buttermilk instead of the required milk. About now, some of you are probably thinking that I added too much beer to the mix, or perhaps drank too much of it myself during the process. WRONGAMUNDO, ladies and gents!

I refer to the aforementioned pictures of my culinary creations. The loaf on the right is actually the second loaf I made; the near-perfect loaf on the left included the liberal addition of my favorite beer, not only in the batter, but also in the baker.

Therefore, the moral to the story is this: Be very careful when you alter a proven bread recipe, unless, of course, the altering ingredient happens to be your favorite alcoholic beverage. Then, as you can see, you cannot go wrong.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

You Can't Juice an Avocado

Marilyn and I recently purchased a new juicer and she is juicing practically every morning. I began juicing years ago when my second wife Anne and I learned that she had cancer.

The two primary treatments for cancer are radiation and chemotherapy. Both treatments harm a person’s entire body, as well as the cancer cells, and most patients soon lose their appetites and desire to eat. Anne used to say that most food tasted like the working end of a ball peen hammer.

An oncologist told me once that many cancer patients die of malnutrition because ice cream and a few cold desserts are the only foods they can tolerate eating. As Anne’s cancer progressed, this became a problem.

Some friends of ours had juiced for years and suggested that I get a juicer. My cousin gave me a basic recipe that included soy protein, but it was much too bland and doughy. I would not eat it myself, so I knew it was a lost cause trying it out on Anne. I devised my own recipe instead and I began making it for her every morning. It did not cure her cancer, but I feel strongly that it kept her alive, and with a better quality of life, for at least an extra six months. Here is the recipe:

The Juice

2 apples, any variety
1 pear, any variety
3 carrots
1 broccoli stalk and crown

I would often add grapes, blackberries, blueberries, red bell peppers, etc. Try these out for yourself. I like to experiment, and sometimes the ingredients that I like make others wince.

Other Ingredients

½ cup of soy protein
½ cup of green stuff *
1 banana (a mango, papaya or other similar type fruit can be used instead – be creative)
½ blender of ice

I think this product is Source of Life, but I cannot really remember. It came in a large round can with a pop-off top. The product itself was dry, like flour, and green. It contained practically every nutrient, enzyme and vitamin known to humanity and was very expensive (about fifty bucks). The product did not have an appetizing look and I don’t mind telling you that I thought about the movie Soylent Green every time I opened the package.

Put all the ingredients in the blender and then pulse until thoroughly blended. Makes 2 large shakes.

Along with Anne, I drank variations of this concoction for over a year. I never got sick during this time, not even a sniffle. My blood pressure was perfect, as was my cholesterol, my body weight, etc. I also had exceptional strength, and I believe I could have lifted the front end of a heavy car if I’d had to.

There is no good disease, and in the case of cancer, sometimes the side effects of the attempted cure are almost as horrible. I am not a juicing spokesperson here, but if you are trying to care for a person with an appetite destroyed by radiation and chemo, try my shake on them. If you are simply looking for a healthier life, try it yourself. You might even like it.

Hey, if you try to juice an avocado, it'll just turn into pulp. Use it instead to make guacamole.

Check out Eric's books on his Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBook author pages.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Alligator Gar - a pic

Here is a recent pic of a hundred pound alligator gar caught by my stepson Shane. He caught the gar in the Red River where it borders Oklahoma and Texas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Headaches and Padded Bras

My stepdaughter Kate lives with her Dad in Texas and she visited Marilyn and me during the Thanksgiving holidays. She had a headache when she got here and Marilyn quickly did something to rid her of the pain, and put a big grin on Kate’s face.

Marilyn left her daughter lying on her bed and went to the freezer for something cold to put on her forehead. When Kate saw what Marilyn handed her, she burst into laughter.

“Where did you find this?” she asked.

“I don’t know, but I keep it in the freezer and use it when I have a pain in my head.”

“Mom,” Kate said. “This is a silicon insert from one of my Victoria’s Secret bras.”

“Well I’ll be damned!” Marilyn said. “I thought it was a headache thingy from Wal-Mart. That’s how I’ve been using it for six months now, and it works like a charm.”

When Kate quit laughing, she placed the silicon falsie over her eye, learning a valuable lesson in the process: Almost everything has more than one use.

Eric's Web

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Meaning of 1111

Shortly after a life-changing experience, I began to notice the numerical sequence 1111. I would suddenly glance at a digital clock, whether in my car or on television, precisely at 11.11. I know this sounds strange and I thought so too. It is strange!

Digital dials were not the only place this number would appear. I began seeing it on license plates, billboards, newspapers, etc. Well, you get the picture. I decided to search the internet to see if anyone else had noticed this phenomenon. To my amazement, the answer is yes.
Like me, many others have noticed the numerical sequence 1111 but no one seems to have a precise explanation for why it appears. After seeing the sequence for many years now, I have developed a theory of my own.

I am neither physicist nor mathematician but there are things I do know about nature. Everything in the universe connects with everything else. Even chaotic events form perfect patterns. A precise mathematical function can explain almost anything. Any action by a creature or object, no matter how small, affects the entire universe. Those of you that have seen the movie Butterfly Effect or have heard about Archimedes Last Breath know what I mean.

The last breath expelled by Archimedes before he died has supposedly mixed and remixed so perfectly that every time anyone on earth takes a breath, that person is breathing at least a single molecule of the same air that Archimedes last breathed.

My thinking is that everything is universally connected (not an original idea) and the universe a giant mathematical function. The numerical sequence is a sign. I have become to believe it is a sign from the universe, of which we are all an integral part. What does 1111 mean? It means everything is okay in the universe.

Eric's Web

Monday, December 08, 2008

Anna's Porkchops - a recipe

Aunt Dot sent me one of Anna Pourteau’s recipes. Anna, Dot’s mother-in-law and Uncle Bertrand’s mother, was a wonderful cook. It sounds great, and Dot - a wonderful cook as well - gives me her personal guarantee that it is.

Pork Chops, English Peas & Tomatoes with Steamed Rice

4 pork chops, center cut
¼ cup canola or olive oil
14.5 oz tomatoes, diced
15 oz LeSuer English peas, undrained
15 oz chicken broth (fat free)
½ medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ c green bell pepper, chopped
½ c red bell pepper, chopped
½ tsp sweet basil
2 tsps parsley
½ tsp oregano
¼ tsp thyme
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp Louisiana hot sauce

Steamed Rice

1 c rice
2 ¼ cups water
½ tsp salt

Salt and pepper pork chops. Put oil in large non-stick skillet. Heat oil to a medium hot temperature, add pork chops and brown on both sides. Remove from skillet. Turn heat down to medium and add onion, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Cook until limp. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, Worchester sauce and Louisiana hot sauce.

Stir, mixing all vegetables well. Add pork chops back to skillet and cook until tender. When chops are tender, add English peas. Taste to see if you need to re-season. Simmer approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Cook rice and serve the pork chop with tomatoes and English Peas over the hot steamed rice. Enjoy.

NOTE: Cook rice according to directions. Serve pork chops, tomatoes and vegetables over hot steamed rice. Serves 4.

Eric's Website

Friday, December 05, 2008

Jalapeno Hushpuppies - a recipe

I grew up eating catfish at the many restaurants on Caddo Lake. It didn’t matter which place you visited, the five courses were always the same: catfish, French fries, Cole slaw, green tomato relish, and hushpuppies. I’m not saying that I liked the hushpuppies the best, but they are much like potato chips – you can’t eat just one. Here is a recipe for jalapeno hushpuppies I think you will like.

2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
3 tsps baking powder
1 ½ tsps salt
1 small can cream corn
3 jalapeno peppers, chopped
¼ bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, minced
A pinch of soda

Combine all ingredients using just enough buttermilk to create the consistency of cornbread batter. Shape and drop into medium-hot oil and cook until golden brown. Enjoy.

Eric's Website

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Silkwood Story

In 1974, Marilyn and her two kids, Shane and Shannon, lived in a small apartment near the Edmond college that is now the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). Living in an apartment directly across from Marilyn was Karen Silkwood and her roommate Sherri Ellis.

Karen Silkwood was the subject of the 1983 movie Silkwood that starred Meryl Streep, Kurt Russell and Cher. Silkwood worked in the Cimarron plant that processed plutonium for Kerr-McGee. Mysteriously contaminated with plutonium, she died shortly after in a single car accident while on her way to give an interview to a New York Times investigative reporter.

Karen, according to Marilyn, had discovered that a large number of the workers at the plant had developed cancer, as had she. She, along with many others, believed it was because the plant had lax procedures for handling the deadly plutonium. The plant had de-unionized and she was one of the few remaining members. As such, she felt it was her responsibility to expose the plant’s dangers.

As a union spark plug, Silkwood became a target, either by workers fearful of losing their high paying jobs, or by Kerr-McGee itself. More than once, Marilyn observed Silkwood in intense arguments with some man driving a blue pickup, the last argument occurring the day before her death.

Before her death, Kerr-McGee personnel conducted a search of her apartment, finding high degrees of contamination. They even found an object, clearly marked as radioactive, in Shane’s toys. The Company maintained that Silkwood had contrived to contaminate herself, and thus implicate Kerr-McGee.

Karen Silkwood swerved off the road on her way to meet the investigative reporter. The car, when searched after the accident, contained no contaminated evidence, but had blue paint on a rear fender from an accident with another vehicle.

Did Kerr-McGee plant radioactive material in her apartment? Did Kerr-McGee have Silkwood killed? Did she have illegal drugs in her body at the time of the crash? I do not know, but I do know that the resultant lawsuit filed by her family settled out of court for more than a million dollars.

As a geologist, I also know that Kerr-McGee had another plant in Gore, Oklahoma - a place that insiders now consider one of the most contaminated places in the United States. Carroll, a friend and fellow geologist, once worked for Kerr-McGee Minerals and told me that they would calibrate their helicopter-borne Geiger counters by flying over Gore.

Eric's Website

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Naked and Possessed

Many people believe voodoo is the practice of black magic, but this is only partially true. Voodoo is a contraction of the word Vodoun, a religion brought to the New World from Africa, primarily by slaves.

Vodoun is a complicated religion that has morphed many times since reaching the New World, adding elements of both Christianity and Native American beliefs. Priests and priestesses of the religion are houngans and mambos, respectively, and they often practice both magic - black and white - and the healing arts.

In my novel Big Easy, Mama Mulate is a conundrum within the religion. She is a practicing voodoo mambo, and has a doctorate in English literature, teaching at Tulane University. Unlike most practitioners of Vodoun Mama uses her talents only for good. In the novel, she comes up against a vicious serial killer that is the embodiment of voodoo deity Baron Samedi.

A turning point in the novel occurs during a ceremony on the banks of Bayou Rigolettes. An influential mambo assumes the persona of Lasyrenn, loa of fishes and Queen of the Sea, to instruct a naked initiate. Homicide detective accompanies Mama Mulate to observe the ceremony, and becomes a possessed and unwitting participant.

I personally think the ceremony scene is one of the hottest, most sexually charged chapters ever to appear in modern mystery fiction. I invite you to read Big Easy and decide for yourself.

Eric's Website

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sauce Paradis - a recipe

Frequent readers know that Marilyn and I are avid collectors of old cookbooks. Here is a recipe I found in The New Orleans Cookbook by Rima and Richard Collin. Yes, I admit I was first attracted to the book because of one of the author’s first names and its connection with the great novel, Green Mansions, but the cookbook’s wonderful recipes go far beyond one of my favorite characters of all time.

The book is subtitled Creole, Cajun, and Louisiana French Recipes, Past and Present. It is an eighth printing from Alfred A. Knopf, published in 1980. Not only are the recipes good, the pictures and illustrations alone are worth the price of the book. I highly recommend it. If you can find a copy, buy it. Here is one of my favorite recipes from The New Orleans Cookbook.


The richest sauce in Creole cuisine, made with Madeira wine, currant jelly, green grapes, beef stock, and truffles. When green seedless grapes are in season, we buy them in quantity and freeze them, for this sauce and for Trout Veronique. The truffles are a grand touch but do not change the flavor of the sauce, so if you have none on hand, do not be deterred. We like Sauce Paradis on squab, quail, duck and chicken.

1/4 cup salt butter
1/8 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 cup green seedless grapes (drained if they have been frozen)
2 cups rich beef stock
1/2 cup Madeira wine
3 large truffles, sliced thin
3 tbsp red currant jelly

In a heavy 2 to 3 quart saucepan melt the butter over low heat then add the flour stirring to keep the mixture smooth. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes, and then slowly add the beef stock, stirring as you pour.

Cook over low heat until sauce thickens slightly (about 6 minutes), then add the wine, currant jelly and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Cook until the jelly has melted and then add the grapes and truffles.

Continue cooking for about 3 minutes more, just long enough to heat the grapes and truffles through. Remove the pan from the heat. Right before serving stir gently to mix.

Eric's Web

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Winter Foxes

It’s late fall, the nights growing longer. Earlier, my barking dogs alerted me that something was at the front door. It was dark outside as I got out of my Lazy Boy to look, but the porch light was on. Through the glass door, I saw a large gray fox, and he did not seem to care that I was looking at him as he gobbled what was left of the food in my cat’s bowls.

I live near the east edge of Edmond and have seen every manner of wildlife in my front yard. My vet told me the animals live in the many creeks that crisscross the area. There is a nip in the air and I understood why the fox already has his winter coat as a chill wind blew through the open door, into the house.

I thought about the abundant wildlife in the area as I put on my robe and padded into the backyard to my hot tub. Once up to my neck in hot water, I closed my eyes, letting wisps of steam rise up around my ears and disappear into the darkness around me. The solitude reminded me of a chapter in my first published book Ghost of a Chance, that also has a bucolic setting.

Buck McDivit, ex-cop and petroleum landman, has inherited an island in a mysterious lake in east Texas. There, he encounters southern racists and the ghost of a girl that died a hundred years before. He also meets the beautiful Lila Richardson, local antiquities expert and heiress to the Richardson Plantation. Part of his own inheritance is the marina and lodge on the island. He and Wiley Johnson, the son of the caretakers, decide to take a late night swim following an interesting barbeque.


Wiley interrupted their conversation. "Anybody up for a swim? The lodge has a great indoor pool."

"Better pass," Brice said. "Sally will come after me if I don't join her." He waved and hurried up the stairs.

"What about you, Buck?" Wiley asked.

"Sure. Maybe it'll sober me up."

"Girls?" Wiley called. "Anyone for a swim?"

Wiley's toddies had caught up with Lila and Sara, and both giggled uncontrollably on the couch.

"Let's do it, Sara," Lila said. "You know you're dying to show off your new bikini."

"And we're dying to see it," Wiley said.

Sara continued to giggle but Lila stumbled to her feet, her face awash in a silly grin. When she squeezed Buck's hand an electrical surge raced up his arm, momentarily clearing the cobwebs from his head. Heat lightning flashed over the lake.
"You and Wiley go ahead," she said. "If Sara and I don't pass out before we get to our rooms, maybe we'll join you."

Lila grabbed Sara's hand, pulling her to her feet. Arm-in-arm they made their way upstairs, still giggling like two pre-teens on their way to a slumber party.

Wiley smiled and said, "That's the last we'll see of them tonight.”

Buck nodded. "Just as well.”

"Suit up and I'll meet you in the solarium," Wiley said. "It's on the other side of the dining room."

After changing into his bathing suit, Buck joined Wiley in what turned out to be a magnificent solarium. Shadows danced on the walls of the dimly lit room as he eased down the short flight of stairs to the Mexican tiles. Two beams of light glimmered up from the bottom of the turquoise pool, melding with lightning flashing through the skylights. Amid massive palms, hanging baskets and aromatic tropical flowers, Buck felt as if he'd suddenly entered the Garden of Eden. Wiley waited by the pool, his feet dangling in the water.

"Wow," Buck said, gawking around. "Why didn't you tell me about this place sooner?"

When Buck joined him by the pool Wiley handed him a tall glass of ice water. "Guess I forgot.”

Aunt Emma's solarium was like an indoor tropical rain forest. Dreamy music, piped in from hidden speakers, blended effortlessly with the delicate scents of orchid, hibiscus and magnolia. Several slow moving ceiling fans generated a gentle breeze that dimpled the pool. It created the tropical feel of a south sea island.

Wiley grinned. "Miss Emma used to call this her own private Eden."

"I see why," Buck said, glancing at the redwood hot tub beside the pool.

Light from the submerged beam in the pool danced up through the water and gentle ripples further distorted the beam. Water trickled from a fountain at the far end of the pool, and soft light, lush vegetation and moving water slowly began to work on Buck's nerves. Diving into the pool, he leisurely stroked to the opposite end.

"The pool is a dream. Let's swim a few laps, then sit in the hot tub and talk."

"Help yourself with the laps," Wiley said, dipping his fingers into the steaming water of the hot tub. "You can join me when you finish."

"How is it?"


Wiley gingerly submerged his toe, then his whole foot into the tub. He slipped into the hot water up to his neck, lounging in silence, a relaxed smile on his face. After completing ten fast laps, Buck joined him. Steam, leaving him limp and relaxed, welled up in moist clouds from the surface of the water.

"This is really the ticket," he said.

Wiley's attention suddenly turned to the door and he held up his palm for silence.

Someone's in the dining room. Maybe the cross burners are back for more mischief."

Wiley slipped out of the hot tub and followed the shadows toward the front door of the solarium, grabbing a loose brick from the fountain. Buck held his breath and watched. The handle turned and the door slowly opened. When the first head appeared through the crack, Wiley raised the brick to strike. The resultant female scream came from neither Humpback nor Deacon John. It was Lila and Sara, scantily clad in their bathing suits, and still giggling.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Green Tomato Relish - a recipe

Caddo Lake is the largest natural lake in Texas. The lake’s history is as diverse as pearls and steamboats, and Caddo remains one of the most beautiful and mysterious lakes in the entire United States.

My Dad was born in Trees City, once a boomtown a few miles from Vivian. Jeems Bayou separates Vivian and Trees. During heavy rains in the area, it will result in water rising over the highway, leaving a boat the only way to get to Trees City from Vivian.

I remember, as a kid, fishing from the side of the road. My parents, Grandmother and I were not the only ones, hundreds of others joining in to reap the harvest of fish from the fabled lake.

There were always fishing camps both on the Texas and Louisiana sides of the lake. These camps would have a ramp for launching boats, and would rent boats, and sell bait, fishing gear and pop. Each camp usually had a restaurant where the locals went for catfish, hushpuppies and Cole slaw.

Kool Point, near Oil City, no longer has a restaurant but Pelican Lodge, not far from Trees City is still open. I always love eating at Pelican Lodge when I visit Vivian. It is far off the beaten path and only the locals really know where it is. One condiment all of these restaurants served is green tomato relish. It is probably best prepared in large batches, and then canned (bottled) but here is a recipe for a single batch, suitable for one dinner.

3 large rough chopped green tomatoes,
1 large rough chopped onion
1 hot green pepper, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp salt
1-cup vinegar

In a small pot, bring the sugar, salt and vinegar to a boil, and then add vegetables. Return contents of the pot to a boil for two minutes. Chill and enjoy.

Eric's Web

Friday, October 24, 2008

Mama's Pecan Pie

My grandparents had a giant pecan tree in their back yard and every year they would share its bounty with anyone that asked. My mother always got a few bags of pecans and would use them to make her famous pecan pie on special occasions. Her recipe is simple, its preparation easy but take my word there is nothing much better tasting in the world!

Mama’s Pecan Pie

1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dark corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs, whole
pastry for one pie
1 cup pecans, broken

Beat sugar and eggs until thick. Add corn syrup, pecans, vanilla and salt. Mix well and then pour into a pastry-lined pie pan. Bake at 300 degrees for about an hour or until filling is firm. Wonderful when served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

Eric's Website

Monday, October 20, 2008

Shrimp Arnaud - a recipe

I have found New Orleans Recipes, a great old cookbook by Mary Moore Bremer. The book I have is the Tenth Edition published in 1944. Unlike most modern cookbooks, this one presents its recipes in a simple way that encourages intuitive cooking. Here is Bremer’s recipe for Shrimp Arnaud.

Six tablespoons of olive oil, two tablespoons of vinegar and one tablespoon of paprika, one half teaspoon of white pepper, one half teaspoon of salt, four tablespoons of Creole mustard, on half heart of celery, chopped fine, one half white onion, chopped fine, and a little chopped parsley.

Mix well. Chill; Serve on cold boiled shrimp, about twelve to a serving.

Enthrone on crisp, chopped lettuce.

Eric's Website

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Brandy Ice - a recipe

Junior’s, in the basement of the Oil Center Building, is one of my favorite Oklahoma City restaurants. They serve choice steaks and strong drinks. Brandy Ice, one of their after dinner drinks, is a favorite of mine. In a recent trip to Junior’s, a waitress gave Marilyn and me their recipe. It’s simple but wonderful.

1 pint Vanell ice cream
¼ cup dark Crème de Cocoa
1/3 cup brandy

Blend in blender until smooth then serve in a brandy snifter

Eric's Website

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Red Heads and Banty Roosters

My Grandmother's farmhouse in east Texas was five miles from the nearest paved road. She raised chickens, and had one bantam rooster, her favorite pet. Realizing the little rooster’s place in my Grandma's hierarchy, my brother Jack set out to cause a disturbance, a way to get a rise between the two. He started by throwing stones at the banty.

Jack was always my nemesis, two years older, he tormented me any way and any chance he got. He was mean – at least I thought so - and he had bright red hair to prove it. He seemed to have a sixth sense about what he needed to do to get under my skin. I wasn't the only one he bothered.

Jack's plan soon worked, but not quite the way he had planned it. The rooster, seeing his flame red hair, attacked him, driving his sharp talons into his head. Within seconds, Jack was screaming like a banshee. Grandma soon heard the commotion and reacted immediately.

Racing from the kitchen, she grabbed her pet rooster by the neck and twisted. Nothing happened immediately, at least anything good for my brother. The headless rooster continued flopping, his claws intact in Jack’s neck. When the beast finally stopped moving, grandma pried him off my wailing brother’s neck and then clutched him to her ample breast.

That night, we had chicken and dumplings, my grandma's specialty. Jack never got punished, even though he was to blame, but I will never forget that little red banty rooster working over my mean bro's own red head. Did I enjoy it? I’m almost ashamed to say that it was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Eric's Website

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dave Beatty's Spider - a pic

A new pic taken by my friend Dave Beatty. Here is his story to accompany the picture:
This spider (some call it a zipper spider because of the artwork she builds into her web) has lived on my back porch this summer. She was a pleasure to watch all summer.

Last week she was gone, but she was very busy all summer. She left me with three eggs (one pictured below) to watch for her this winter. My understanding is the eggs, which contain many babies, matures over the winter to hatch in the spring. Story to follow.

Junior's - an Oklahoma City Legend

Junior’s is a restaurant in the basement of the Oil Center Building. Junior’s was opened by legendary Oklahoma City restaurateur Junior Simon in 1973. It soon became an oily hangout and more oil deals were likely consummated there than in any boardroom.

I ate at Junior’s for the first time in 1978, shortly after meeting my second wife Anne. Anne was the accountant for a little oil company that had an office in the Oil Center. She had once worked for Carl Swan, one of Junior’s original partners.

Junior’s, at the time, was a private club as Oklahoma had yet to pass a liquor-by-the-drink law. You were supposed to have your own bottle (with your name on it!) to get a drink at a bar. It was rarely required and you could get a strong drink almost anyplace, at least if someone there knew you. The practice was known as liquor-by-the-wink. You could also get a “roadie” (an alcoholic drink in a plastic go-cup) to tide you over on your trip home.

Junior not only knew every one of his clientele by their first names, he knew the names of their kids, friends, employers or employees. I don’t recall ever seeing him without a smile on his face.

Since Junior’s was a club, Junior billed his members once a month. I had a medium-sized oil company and often took clients there for drinks, and dinner and my monthly bill almost always ran into the thousands. When my oil company went belly up, I owed Junior more than three thousand dollars.

“I’m broke,” I told him. “But I’ll pay you a little every month until I get it whittled down.”

Junior smiled and put an understanding hand on my shoulder. “Eric, I know you will. Just do your best and I’ll understand.”

It took me more than two years to finish paying my Junior’s debt and I felt like a giant weight have been lifted off my soul when Anne and I finally did. Junior didn’t make a big deal about it. He just smiled, nodded and patted me on the shoulder.

I was in Junior’s the night Penn Square Bank went under, just one of my many memories of the super club that would fill a small book. Mostly, I remember Junior Simon – the best restaurateur the State of Oklahoma has ever seen, and a fine gentleman to boot.

Eric's Website

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Underground Chinatown in Oklahoma City

I became an independent oil man during the late seventies, just as Oklahoma City began urban renewal of its downtown area. My partner John and I had an office on the eighth floor of the Park Harvey Center and we watched and listened as construction went on across the street. We soon heard rumors that the crews had discovered a maze of underground rooms, halls and passageways dug by former Chinese residents of the city.

The rumors were true. People of Chinese origin began arriving in Oklahoma City shortly after the Land Run. The Daily Oklahoman reported in 1969 that Underground Chinatown extended from the North Canadian River to Northwest 17th and Classen. If this is true, the “City” encompassed an area of several square miles.

According to eyewitness accounts, the tunnel system had a low ceiling and connected both large community rooms to tiny apartments where the residents of the underground city lived. Chinese writing covered the walls, including the words, “come gamble” at the entrance of one of the community rooms.

The underground city lay below restaurants and establishments owned by legal Chinese-Americans that likely took advantage of the cheap labor available from the illegal Chinese immigrants, afraid of deportation. Oklahoma City Fathers elected not to save the underground city and it was bulldozed in the name of Urban Renewal.

Like many of the historic Oklahoma City buildings destroyed during Urban Renewal, Underground Chinatown is now little more than a memory; all that remains are a few eyewitness accounts and the ghostly reek of opium often whiffed late at night in downtown OKC.

Eric's Website

Monday, October 06, 2008

Voodoo Crossroads

Perhaps the notion of the crossroads is the most powerful concept in the observance of voodoo. Vodoun practitioners believe there are two worlds - the one we inhabitant and the spirit world. The crossroads is where these two worlds meet, and literally every voodoo act is an attempt to reach this destination.

To reach the crossroads in Vodoun is the ability to communicate with, and to convince the various spirits and deities to intercede for the living with respect to healing, casting spells, or any other outcome desired by a practicing mambo or houngan.

The practice of voodoo is a dominant element in my murder mystery Big Easy. The murderer practices voodoo, his every action motivated by it. Mama Mulate, a voodoo mambo, uses her considerable powers to fight the murderer’s evil at every juncture.

Both characters are seeking the crossroads, and both, in their own ways, find it, as does Wyatt Thomas, the book’s primary character, and Lieutenant Nicosia, a pivotal personality in the plot that takes a definite twist near its conclusion.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Murder in OKC

When I moved to Oklahoma City in 1973, the downtown area was already a victim of urban sprawl. Many stores and businesses had moved out of the City’s original area for the more affluent outlying neighborhoods. Downtown OKC had long since fallen into disarray and disrepair. There was no new construction, no new businesses and little sentiment to revive this crumbling portion of Oklahoma City.

Like other cities, OKC had its skid row. In the seventies, and to a large extent today, beggars, panhandlers, winos, prostitutes and runaways congregated in an area near the downtown bus station. Hotels, many built shortly after the beginning of the city, remained along the Reno Avenue corridor. Most were run down, shabby, and homes for gamblers and prostitutes. One of these hotels was the Tivoli Inn on W. Sheridan Avenue.

The Tivoli was built in 1922 as a grand hotel. It went through several transformations but in October of 1972 it had degenerated into little more than a flophouse for transients taking a detour off I-40, one of the interstate highways that bisect the city. On October 13, 1972, the desk clerk of the hotel met her untimely death.

I hadn’t yet moved to Oklahoma in 1972 but I remember hearing about the murder of Phyllis Jean Daves. Daves, age 49, was the desk clerk at the Tivoli Inn the night of her death. According to accounts in the Daily Oklahoman, she was beaten, robbed and strangled to death.

On October 13, 1972 (yes, it was Friday) she was dragged into the elevator and apparently still fighting for her life when she and her attacker reached the sixth floor. Her nude body was found under a bed in room 607 and rape was likely attempted but never consummated. Two former employees of the Tivoli Inn were suspected but later cleared of the crime when they failed to provide a match to bloody hand prints held as evidence.

I remember hearing stories of blood covering the lobby walls from the horrific struggle that ensued. The crime remains cold, never solved. Urban renewal of downtown Oklahoma City began in earnest during the latter seventies, the Tivoli Inn razed in 1979 to make room for the Myriad Gardens.

Nothing remains today of the old Tivoli Inn but memories and some old photographs. Most Oklahomans don’t even remember it, nor does anyone remember Phyllis Jean Daves, or worry much about who killed her, or why.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

A Man Named Glome

Before the written word, there was only word of mouth. Unfortunately, oral history is often lost forever, or else progresses beyond the bounds of reality to enter the realm of lore and legend. It is absolutely true that many important circumstances occurred that were never recorded.

Often, only mysterious artifacts remain that possibly foretell significant historical events. Oklahoma has such a mysterious artifact. It is located in eastern Oklahoma, close to the Arkansas border, near the tiny mountain town of Heavener and it is now know as the Heavener Runestone.

Discovered in 1874, the Heavener Runestone is a large slab of rock that bears eight letters identified as Norse Runes. There is little controversy as to the origin of the runes. According to popular conjecture, Vikings visited Oklahoma around 700 A.D. to 1000 A.D. A Danish scholar has translated the Heavener Runestone as a land claim by a man named Glome. Four other runestones have since been located in Oklahoma.

What does all this mean? The facts are so sparse, that perhaps they lend themselves only to the dangerous imagination of a dedicated (or possibly demented) fiction writer. Since I fall into at least one of those categories, I’m presenting my picture (albeit fictional) of the Runestone’s origin:

By 874 A.D., people of Norse origin had begun colonizing Iceland. Continuing their westward quest, they reached Greenland in 984 A.D. Still hungry for colonization, these people wanted more. Sometime after 984 A.D., a lone Viking longboat powered by oar and sail headed south.
These fifteen, or so, explorers soon encountered the east coast of what would eventually be known as the United States. They continued sailing south, stopping only periodically to gather food and water. They didn’t stop for long because they were looking for something.

They were looking for a large estuary of fiord because the shallow draught of a longboat almost perfectly lent itself to the exploration of shallow and narrow waterways. It needed no harbor, and was light enough to pull ashore and be carried overland, should the need occur. The Norse explorers finally found this estuary at the mouth of the Mississippi River, some 5,000 miles from where they had embarked. Their trip to that point had taken three months.

The explorers continued up the Mississippi River until they reached the confluence with the Red River. They continued their journey up the smaller waterway instead of continuing north on the Mississippi because the narrowing river signaled to these ancient mariners that, like their faraway homes in Norway and Denmark, they were possibly nearing a settlement.

The Norsemen continued up the Red, a journey taking another month, until they reached what is now southeast Oklahoma. There they stopped because the gnarly, highly dissected Ouachita Mountains reminded them of their own Nordic homeland. Also, it was probably as far as their longboat could take them. By now it was fall. Exhausted from their arduous journey, the explorers established a base camp, intent on weathering the coming winter.

These early Norse explorers were a hardy lot, used to long sea journeys. This trip, though, had taken its toll, possibly because of periodic contact with inhospitable Native Americans. This is likely because many tribes, many of them hostile, settled along the waterways traversed by the explorers. When they finally reached southeast Oklahoma, only ten Norsemen remained.

Somewhere in the wilds of southeast Oklahoma the remnants of a Norse settlement remain, still waiting to be found. When spring finally arrived, there weren’t enough men left to crew the longboat on its trip back to Greenland. Six men decided to try anyway and abandoned their settlement. After saying their final farewells, they started their trip downstream, toward the mouth of the mighty Mississippi River.

Three men remained, one of them named Glome. They headed due north, looking for that elusive Viking settlement they hoped in their hearts might exist. Although they never found the settlement, they soon found the peaceful valley where the tiny town of Heavener is now located. On a flat spot on the way to the top of Heavener Mountain, they rested. From this vantage, they could see the entire valley below. There was game in the mountains and fish in the streams. They felt safe and established a base camp.

Two of the men finally departed, continuing their quest, while Glome waited behind on his mountain-top vantage point. During his time alone, he marked his stay with what is now the Heavener Runestone. His two companions never returned, but marked other rocks along the way to mark their journey.

All six Norse explorers that left in the longboat made it to the mouth of the Mississippi River, into the Gulf of Mexico where a seasonal hurricane forever ended their journey. Glome and the other two Vikings lived out their lives in eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. Did they prosper, or were their lives fraught with danger? No one can say, but next time you see a person with bronzed skin, high cheekbones and blue eyes, I hope that it gives you cause to ponder the question.

Eric's Website

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mavis' Magic Moonflowers

My Mother died in 2006 and Marilyn and I haven’t had any moonflowers since then. We have both blamed her for the absence of the gorgeous flowers. Today, Marilyn said, “I’m not planting any moonflowers next year. I don’t think they’re ever coming back.”

“Maybe I’ll try,” I said. “Surely Mom will forgive me for whatever it is she thinks I did.”

“You think you have a better green thumb than me?” Marilyn asked.

“No, but maybe it has nothing to do with having a green thumb.”

I got a resounding “Hmph!” from Marilyn.

When I noticed a new flowering vine today and pointed it out to Marilyn. “Do you have a clue what it is?”

“There’s one like it on the front fence,” she said. “Want to see it?”

I followed her out the door, to the fence surrounding the dog pen. We found the pretty little pentagonal bloom known as a Cardinal Vine plant, but we also found something else - a beautiful moonflower in full blossom.

Yes, it is the mystical season of autumn, the time when moonflowers are supposed to bloom. Maybe my Mother has finally forgiven whatever transgression she thought Marilyn and I may have committed and is once again blessing our gardens. Maybe! At least it’s what I like to think.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Peaches in Champagne - a recipe

During the almost six months that I spent in the boonies of Vietnam, I ate many C-Ration meals. Most of the foods, contained in small, Army green tin cans, were very forgettable. There were only two entrées that could even remotely be described as “good” - the peaches and the pound cake. Unfortunately, they were in short supply and never came in the same box.

I still love both peaches and pound cake and recently found a wonderful recipe that includes one of these ingredients. It’s in a cookbook called Recipes from an Old New Orleans Kitchen by Suzanne Ormond, published in 1988 by Pelican Publishing Company, Inc. Here is Suzanne’s recipe for Peaches in Champagne.

6 large fresh peaches
24 whole cloves
1 cup sugar
1 bottle chilled champagne
6 sherbet glasses
½ cup Napoleon Brandy

Peel peaches and leave them whole. Press 4 cloves into each peach. Place peaches in a large saucepan. Pour sugar over them and cover them with water. Bring peaches to a boil. Add brandy. Lower heat and simmer until peaches are tender to a fork. Drain peaches and remove cloves. Put peaches in covered bowl and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. Place peaches in a sherbet glass and fill glass with chilled champagne. Serve with cookies. Serves 6.

Eric's Website

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Digging for Treasure

I may have already told this tale but that’s okay. A story is never really complete until it’s been embellished and retold at least twice.

This story happened during the time I spent in the boonies with the First Cav. We were patrolling the Jolly Trail System near the Cambodian border when we happened upon a freshly deserted North Vietnamese bunker complex. After a nervous couple of hours deciding if the NVA were truly gone, or set up to ambush us, we decided on the former and established a base camp, sending out several patrols to see if we could find out which direction the enemy had gone. I was one of the lucky ones that remained at the base camp.

I have always been enamored by buried treasure and soon I had myself and everyone else convinced that there was probably a fortune in gold buried somewhere within the perimeter of the bunker complex. This was not such a far-fetched idea as the NVA were known to carry large amounts of money and gold to trade with the locals.

Since they had abandoned the complex in such a hurry, perhaps they had forgotten to take the treasure. Before long, practically everyone left at the base camp was poking around with trenching devices (military shovels). As luck would have it, I was the first one to find something.

“It’s here,” I said, beginning to dig feverishly over a spot of loose earth.

I was quickly joined by others and we soon had a large hole in the ground. I soon became apparent that what we had found was not a treasure trove – well, unless you were a maggot. The bunker complex, it seemed, was a well-established stop along the trail from North Vietnam, our covered treasure no more than a buried latrine. The other soldiers were soon shaking their heads and looking at me as if I were freshly escaped from a loony bin.

“Hey, I’ll bet the treasure’s in the latrine. No one would think to look there.”

The other men didn’t buy my argument and, since I couldn’t convince anyone else to poke around in the smelly remains of an NVA latrine, I decided that even if there were treasure a few feet from where I stood that it wasn’t worth digging through the sh-t for.

No, I didn’t find any buried treasure during my tour of Vietnam. Come to think of it, I don’t recall ever seeing a single rock during the entire time I was there. As a geologist, you’d think I would have noticed.

Eric's Website

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Gravel Fossils and Alluvial Diamonds

As a geology student at what was then Northeast Louisiana State College, I concentrated on partying as much as I did “cracking the books.” Being a small department, all the professors and students knew each other and we all looked forward to the geology picnic held every spring at a camp on Lake Cheniere - hot dogs, hamburgers and a keg or two of beer provided the usual fare.

One memory I have of these seasonal events is witnessing a geology professor – goaded by several grad students – attempting to drink the last gallon from the keg. He didn’t make it, and thank goodness final grades for the year were already posted.

The camp on Lake Cheniere was near a large gravel pit, a strip mining operation that had already removed tons of gravel for construction and road building. The pit was a favorite with geology students because it was a virtual endless repository of what we called gravel fossils. What kind of fossils? Silicified, Paleozoic fossils of the marine variety – brachs, corals, bryozoans, cephalopods, etc. Well, you get the picture.

How did these three hundred to five hundred million year old fossils end up populating geologically young Louisiana alluvium? In the case of the gravel pits near Monroe, they were eroded and washed down dip from Paleozoic deposits in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas.

There were rumors that alluvial diamonds were also sometimes found in the gravel – rumors because I never talked to anyone that had actually found a diamond, or knew anyone that had. Still, the possibility is legitimate since Murfreesboro in the Ouachita Mountains is the location of a known diamond deposit, with diamonds exposed at the surface of the earth there.

Is it possible that a large, undiscovered alluvial diamond deposit exists in north Louisiana? Consider this – such a deposit is very real in South Africa where alluvial diamonds are found in gravel deposits, much like those in Louisiana. From 1926 to 1984 over 667,000 carats were produced from this part of South Africa known as the Ventersdorp Alluvial Diamond District.

Where would you look if you wanted to find this elusive north Louisiana diamond deposit? That gravel pit near Lake Cheniere might be a good place to start. Hey, and invite me along as I would love to find one of those elusive glitterers.

Eric's Website

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Garden Spider - a pic

Here is a pic I took of a colorful spider in my garden. Yes, I played with a few filters.

Company D, 1st Texas Infantry, CSA

Autumn is here, a magical season fraught with changing colors and spirits of long ago. I remember a few particular spirits and have my own mystical tale – one I have never told before.

I grew up in north Louisiana. My Grandmother lived nearby on a farm located near the tiny community of O’Farrell, in Cass County, Texas. When I was young, we visited my Grandmother at least once a week.

Grandma Rood married a man named Oscar, a company pumper for Humble Oil. I remember a picture that hung proudly in their house - her parents, my great-grandparents, Annie and J.P. O’Rear. John Pinkney was sitting in a chair, his wooden leg detached and propped against the wall, Annie standing behind him with her right hand on his shoulder.

Pink, as he was called, served in Company D, 1st Texas Infantry during the Civil War. How he lost his leg I haven’t a clue but he was captured and spent much of the War in a Union prison camp. When the war ended, he was released and hiked the entire distance from somewhere in Georgia back to his homestead in east Texas.

I had seen Pink and Annie’s picture many times and heard their story, although I was just a kid and promptly forgot most of it. Pink was just a picture on the wall to me – until something unexplainable happened years later.

I was drafted into the Army in 1970 and bound for service in Vietnam as an infantry foot soldier. If I told you I wasn’t frightened, I would be a bald-faced liar. Vietnam was different than Iraq. Every night on the news we witnessed row after bloody row of body bags being unloaded from transport planes. Worse than coming home in a body bag was to return limbless, or eyeless - or hopeless!

I was young and strong but I was frightened to the very core of my being that I would be killed or maimed – or worse yet, I would kill or maim some other poor human that didn’t deserve to die. I was having a hard time coping and none of my family or friends had the right words to say. And yes, I had trouble sleeping. It was during a particularly restless night when I saw a specter, or perhaps had a vivid dream. I don’t know, but this is what happened:

Something disturbed my dream and caused me to open my eyes. Gail was asleep beside me but she never woke up. There was an ephemeral glow at the foot of my bed, not a strong radiance but a peaceful aura that surrounded an apparition I vaguely recognized. As I lay there, eyes wide and unbelieving, the old man spoke to me with a raspy voice in a dialect so southern that at first I hardly understood him. He stood erect on a very noticeable wooden leg.

“I’m Pink, your great-granddad. You’re going to war, Son. I spent most of my powers getting your Daddy back from the last big war. I ain’t got much left but now you’re in need and you ain’t got nobody to help ‘cept me. There ain’t no good wars but the one you’re headed for is real bad. You keep an eye on what’s going on in front of you and I’ll keep an eye on your back. Have faith, Son, pray, and I’ll be with you every step of the way.”

I awoke the next morning with no memory of the dream and many years passed before it crept back into my psyche. I was visiting my parents in Vivian and it came pouring forth, back into my mind, as I stared at the picture of my Great-grandparents in my parent’s front room.

I miraculously made it home from Vietnam unscathed, although I barely missed death, often by friendly fire, at least a dozen times. I once had a mortar round land between my legs without detonating. Old Pink was with me every step of the way, his powers diminishing every time he turned a bullet away for me.

Autumn is here, a magical season fraught with changing colors and spirits of long ago. It caused me to remember a dream I had many years ago. Or was it a dream?

Eric's Website

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mavis' Mayhaw Jelly

If you are lucky enough to find a mayhaw bush loaded with luscious red berries, pick a batch of the very nicest ones. Take them home and wash them up. About six cups of water are needed to cover two quarts of mayhaws.

Put them in a large pot, add the water, bring to a boil and cook for thirty minutes, or so. Press the berries in a colander using a big wooden spoon, and then strain the juice through damp cheesecloth. Now you are ready to make the jelly.

5 cups of the mayhaw juice you just extracted
7 cups sugar, preferably cane
1 box of pectin, powered

Mix the juice in a large saucepan with the pectin until it is completely dissolved then place on the fire. When the juice reaches a rolling boil, add the sugar, return to a boil and continue boiling for five minutes.

Remove from heat and skim the foam with a metal spoon. Skim again after placing juice in clean, sterilized jars. Seal jars and place in boiling water for fifteen minutes. When you finish, you will have eight or so jars of the best jelly you ever tasted.

Eric's Website

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mayhaws and Other Wild Louisiana Things

Growing up in northwest Louisiana, I recall trekking to Jeems Bayou in search of wild mayhaws so my mother could make mayhaw jelly. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this is the fruit of a variety of Hawthorne bush that grows profusely throughout the south, especially in swampy environments. Jeems Bayou, near Caddo Lake is a perfect spot for the elusive mayhaw.

Mayhaw jelly is thought by many to be the finest jelly in the world. I can’t argue with that sentiment. If you can find a jar, buy it and try it. You won’t be disappointed.

Mayhaws grow ripe in May and June, a time of abundant vegetation and wildlife, including snakes, in the area around Jeems Bayou. Once, far from the car and deep in the heavily vegetated area where mayhaws abound, my mother crossed paths with a snake – probably a harmless grass snake. It didn’t matter. It may as well have been a boa constrictor. My mother screamed bloody murder and didn’t stop running until she reached our brown and tan 1950 Ford.

My brother and I found the scene pretty funny but we didn’t laugh when we learned that we had also missed out on mayhaw jelly for the rest of the summer.

Eric's Website

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Butterfly with a Damaged Wing - a pic

Here is a pic I took of a butterfly with a bite out of its wing. Despite the missing piece of wing, the butterfly was flying just fine and didn't seem affected by the results of an apparent mishap.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pecan Charmante - a recipe

Marilyn did it again. She found a magnificent old cookbook filled with wonderful recipes. The name of the book is New Orleans Creole Recipes, written by Mary Moore Bremer. The original was published in 1932.

The copy we have is the nineteenth edition published in 1962. Our initial browsing of the book revealed an appetizing dessert called Pecan Charmante and Marilyn couldn’t resist whipping up a batch. If I’m any judge, the final product was awesome and reminded me of what an early-day candy bar probably tasted like. defines a candy bar as “A confection made with sugar and often flavoring and filling with a shape that is longer than it is wide.” If this is so, Pecan Charmante should have become a famous candy bar. It didn’t, as far as I know, but here is your chance to taste it anyway. In my mind, it’s a scrumptious delight.

Pecan Charmante

Cream one cup of sugar with one stick of butter. Spread this over fifteen large graham crackers; sprinkle on this one cup of chopped pecan nuts. Put in moderate oven and bake for eleven minutes.

Hey, I said it was simple!

Eric's Website

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Joy's Wild Sandplum Jelly - a recipe

Marilyn and I were taking my Dad to lunch on Sunday when she pointed out to me a bushy tree loaded with small reddish-orange fruit. “Do you know what it is?” she asked. She went on to explain that it was a sand plum bush, the fruit of which produced her mother Joy’s second favorite jelly; blackberry was her first.

Sand plums grow wild in parts of Kansas and Oklahoma and served as an important food source to the native Indians and early settlers. Joy isn’t around to make us any sand plum jelly and the last jar we had we purchased in Guthrie, Oklahoma while shopping for souvenirs. Marilyn and I agreed that we would find a sand plum bush and plant it in our yard. Maybe then she will take a stab at Joy’s simple recipe.

Wild Sand Plum Jelly

4 c. wild sand plum juice
4 c. cane sugar
1 tbsp. butter

Wash well and barely cover with water both ripe red wild sand plums and partially ripe pink plums. Boil until fruit is soft and liquid is bright red. Cool until warm only and strain through cheese cloth to obtain clear pulp free juice. Make jelly in proportion listed above. Bring strained juice to a boil, stir in butter to keep juice from boiling over sides of pan.

Slowly stir in sugar, stirring constantly until mixture reaches 220 degrees on candy thermometer. Remove from heat immediately and pour into dry, warm sterilized 1/2 pint jelly jars, leaving approximately 1/2 inch at top of jar for expansion when jelled. Seal jars tightly. Wild plums contain natural pectin. Do not over cook because jelly will continue to jell while cooling in the jars.

Yields approximately 8 to 10 jars.


Saturday, September 06, 2008

Night Crawler - a picture

Here is another spider pic. I got home after dark last night and walked through the web of this spider. As I drink my coffee this morning I'm still combing bits of the web out of my hair. No, she didn't bite me.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Pommes de Terres Souffle - a recipe

Marilyn and I are both avid collectors of old books, especially cookbooks. Miss M recently found an old cookbook on eBay titled New Orleans Creole Recipes by author Mary Moore Bremer. The book was first published in 1932 by Dorothea Thompson of Waveland, Mississippi. I could find nothing on the internet about the author but the book is a culinary treasure. If you can find a copy, buy it! Here is just one of its wonderful recipes. Here is an original recipe straight from the book.

Pommes de Terres Soufflé

This famous dish is difficult for any but a professional chef. All authorities agree that the kind of potatoes used is of great importance. I would suggest the use of a starchy potato.

Peel, cut square, and trim off corners. The pieces should be absolutely even, not thicker than a silver dollar, and cut lengthwise of the potato.

They are hard to cut. Do not soak. Wipe each slice dry. Have two pots of lard. Pot number one must be warm. Put in ten or twelve slices at a time. Let them cook slowly until soft and nearly done, then take out and cool.

Heat second pot of grease quite hot, but not smoking. Have the frying pan hot so as not to chill the grease.

Put into it not more than six slices at a time for the same reason. Turn on a fierce heat and fry until they puff and become slightly amber in color. Keep slices turning constantly.

If they do not puff in a moment, they will never do so.

The exact temperature of fat depends upon the quantity of fat and the texture of the potatoes; so accurate directions are impossible.

I would not advise one unskilled to try this for the first time when strangers are invited to dine; but anyone that likes to experiment might get great pleasure in mastering this dish. It is quite a feat, and puts one in a class with professionals. Besides, it is ever so nice.

The puffs may be served on a napkin and hurried to the table, having been salted first. One may get them in New Orleans, served most beautifully, sometimes in a hot basket made of pastry, tinted in various colors.

When you eat them, be sure to appreciate the one behind the scenes who prepared them, and say with the colored folk, “Ain’t dat sumpin?”

Eric's Website

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Oil Patch Moonlighters

The modern oil industry employs many safe and effective fracturing methods to enhance the flow of oil from producing wells. This was not true during the early annals of oil exploration and production.

Nitroglycerin was first used in 1867 to “shoot” a well in an attempt to enhance production. The experiment was a success and led to The Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company obtaining a patent on the process. Independent shooters, unwilling to pay for rights to the process, often shot wells at night earning them the nickname “moonlighters.” The patent expired in 1883.

Shooting a well consisted of a shooter filling a metal canister with nitroglycerin. The canister was lowered into the borehole of a well and ignited, the resultant blast sending mud, water and oil high over the crown block. Nitroglycerin is highly explosive. A half gallon can supposedly blow a hole in the ground large enough to bury a freight train. It is also unstable and very dangerous to handle. Accidents often occurred.

Despite the risk, shooting a well greatly enhanced the flow of oil and gas and the process continued until safer more effective treatments were found. One note of interest: Clark Gable worked in the oil fields of Oklahoma before becoming an actor and reportedly sometimes assisted in the shooting of wells.

Eric's Website

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Conch Fritters - a recipe

Here is a recipe for Conch Fritters I found at Believe me; they taste great, but good luck finding any conch unless you live in Florida!

2 cups freshly bruised conch, cleaned and diced
3 teaspoons tomato paste
1-1/2 Tablespoons flour 2 onions, diced
1 Bahamian sweet pepper, diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 Tablespoons baking powder
3-4 cups vegetable oil
Hot Peppers and salt to taste

Combine all ingredients (except oil) in a large bowl. Blend well. Heat oil in deep frying pan or pot until water dropped into oil sizzles. Drop batter by the tablespoonful into hot oil. Fry until brown. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Makes 40 fritters

Wilder's Website

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Larkin Edward's Louisiana

My Aunt Dot is the family historian and probably knows more about north Louisiana than anyone alive. She sent me this interesting email after I published the piece on the Great Red River Raft. I’m passing it on for those of you as interested in the history of Louisiana as I am.


Just read your log on Jefferson, Texas. You do know that our ancestor Larkin Edwards was an interpreter for the Caddoes. In the Caddo Treaty of Cessions of 1835 the Caddoes gave Edwards his choice of property. He chose a square mile of land, said that was all he wanted, that is now downtown Shreveport. The next year he turned around and sold it to eight men for five-thousand dollars. They formed the Shreve Town Company. The eight men were: Angus McNeil, James Cane, Wm. Bennett, Bushrod Jenkins, James Pickett, Sturgis Sprague, Thomas T. Williamson, and Captain Henry Miller Shreve.

There is a lot of info on Larkin Edwards. Unfortunately, a lot is not correct. I have copies of documents from the Shreveport Court House that a Katherine Jeter sent to me. She was or is an attorney in Shreveport who had her office on Edwards Street (this was named after Larkin Edwards). I never got to meet her but we talked by telephone a number of times. She was very interested in the information of Larkin Edwards. We exchanged Christmas cards for a while; I think she was somewhat older than I, so she might have died or retired or whatever. She was with the law firm of Tucker, Jeter, Jackson and Hickman.

I did get to visit with a distant cousin, Ashley Sibley, before his death. He had a museum, Grindstone Museum, off some road coming out of Shreveport. He was a very nice old gentleman. He was descended from Larkin through his daughter, Mary and we were through the daughter, Emily Jane. Emily Jane married James Schenick. Jeems Bayou was named after James Schenick. Mary Edwards married Jacob Irwin; I believe he was a gunsmith.

Dot Pourteau


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Great Red River Raft

The Red River begins in Colorado and flows east, toward Louisiana. It forms a physical barrier between much of Texas and Oklahoma, Texas to the south and Oklahoma to the north. In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson sent Peter Curtis and Thomas Freeman to explore the southern portion of the Louisiana Territory.

They found the Red River clogged from bank to bank with trees, brush and impenetrable debris. The Great Raft acted as a dam, effectively raising the water level north and west of what is now the city of Shreveport. This system of interconnecting bayous and lakes, with time, became a watery pathway from New Orleans to Jefferson, Texas.

What did Jefferson have that brought up to 15 riverboats a day from New Orleans? It was cotton. Michener talks about the superior quality of East Texas cotton in his novel Texas. Fortunes were established and antebellum mansions sprang up around Jefferson as goods and celebrities reached the booming town. At one point, Jefferson was the largest seaport in Texas.

In 1872, the Corps of Engineers attacked the Raft with snag boats, an invention of Captain Shreve, the founder of Shreveport. The snag boats, along with the help of explosives, cleared the Raft within the year. The result was a drop in the area water level.

The lakes and bayous no longer interconnected. The riverboats that had plied their trade, up the Mississippi River from New Orleans, to the Red River, Caddo Lake and finally Jefferson, could no longer make the trip.

Farmers found new methods to get their cotton to market and, like a jilted lover, the City of Jefferson faded into a mist of distant memory.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Louisiana Creeper Vine - a picture

Here is a pic of a vine growing on my friend Dave Beatty's back porch in Livingston, Louisiana. The flowers are pretty but I have no idea what they are. Some type of clematis?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

NASCAR and Goodyear's Brickyard Fiasco

All my readers know that I am a huge NASCAR fan so you may be surprised to hear my comments on last Sunday’s Brickyard 400. To put it mildly, it was a debacle and I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of Goodyear.

The Brickyard is known for the abrasive nature of its track but give me a break! Thousands of races have been run there, never with the result we witnessed Sunday. The track is usually rubbered-in as a race progresses, resulting in lessened tire wear. This didn’t happen Sunday because the Goodyear rubber compound simply blew away like so much dust in the wind instead of sticking to the track as it should have.

To compensate for the tire problem, NASCAR called a competition yellow about every ten laps or so. What ensued was a bunch of race cars lapping the Brickyard at about fifty miles and hour while half a dozen addled race announcers tried desperately and without much success to keep up the buzz, at least when there wasn’t a commercial running. The resulting race, the second most important race on the entire NASCAR circuit, was boring with a capital B.

The flubbed race Sunday rests solely on the shoulders of Goodyear. The tire company mixed up a bad batch of rubber with which to make the tires and NASCAR compounded the mistake by allowing almost no tire testing.

I’m not sure of this but I think the Hendrick group was one of the only teams allowed to test the tires on the track. They responded in the race by being the only team to change four tires on every stop - and they won the race. Did they know something the other teams didn’t know? Did they benefit from this knowledge? Hmm!

Goodyear should have to repay every loyal NASCAR fan that paid hard-earned money to watch a carnival sideshow that didn’t even hire a clown to lighten the situation. Hey, and I think we die-hard NASCAR fans also deserve an apology.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Origin of Sayings

I recently published an article titled Very Interesting Stuff that gave a brief and interesting history of the origin of certain sayings and names. It prompted a reply from my friend Dave Beatty from Livingston, Louisiana. Here is some more interesting stuff that he has uncovered:

Beatty’s More Origins

I read on you blog the origin of some commonly use phrases and thought you might like to ‘learn’ about some more. I say learn because with all of the internet sites, anyone can go to them and learn the origin of almost any saying. The sayings listed below are the ones I remember and learned in my many travels and did not ‘learn’ by just going to some web site. I think this is the way sayings should be passed on thought time, and not from web site to web site. I hope you enjoy and you might just learn one or two new ones.

“So cold that it will freeze the balls off a brass monkey“

As the story goes, in old sailing days, war ships would stack the iron cannon balls in a pyramid held at the base by a ring. This ring was/is made of brass and called a monkey. As it got colder, the brass would contract more than the iron balls did and the pyramid of cannon balls would fall ‘off the brass monkey”.

At a dinner party someone says “A toast” to or for whatever, and every one will lift their glass and touch them together with each other glass at the table.

As the story goes, in the old days the preferred method of killing your enemies was to invite them to a dinner party and poison them. To make sure that no one was being poisoned, it became the practice to have everyone at the table to pour a little wine from their glass into each and every one else’s glass. Therefore everyone was drinking the same wine.

The military salute:

This practice is reported to be based on the practice of knights of old raising their face shield to show their face as they approach each other on the road. As to say, look at my face, I’m a friend.

There are several more that I have learned over the years but they will come later, when I can remember them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shrouded Promises - a short story

Lust, self deceit, a single young mother and her two-timing boss. Add in a snowstorm, a party, a spurned suitor and a white rabbit. Mix well and you have a recipe for a promise never kept, or maybe never made.


By Eric Wilder

With gentle hands, Leslie Scott clutched the arms of Howard Pike's big leather chair. Pike was late, and welling tears revealed Leslie's gloom, blue and red neon pulsating through the open window as she imagined footsteps at the door. She longed for Howard's contagious smile and booming voice, but knew in her heart he wasn't going to show. She continued to wait anyway.
Snow was falling in sooty clumps on the sidewalk when Leslie remembered brave little Billy, waiting alone for his mother to return home and cook supper. Having no more time for tears, she grabbed her coat and started for the door just as Howard's phone rang. Leslie answered in a rush.
"Pike and Scull."
"Leslie. Why are you working so late?"
"Carla, is that you?"
"Yes, dear is Howard there?"
"Gone for the day."
"That rat. I wanted to remind him about the party tonight."
"Sorry Carla. I'm the only one here."
"Poor dear, why don't you turn off your computer and come to the party?"
"Oh, I really couldn't."
"Sure you can. Bern is here and Howard will show up before the night is over. You know how lively things get when those two party together. "Anyway, there's someone here I'd like you to meet."
"I don't have a sitter."
"Find one, Darling." Carla hung up the phone.
Leslie stared at the dead receiver. Maybe Mildred, the janitor's wife, would watch Billy for her. After finding Mildred alone in her one-room basement hovel, she gave the slovenly old woman half of her remaining weekly wages to sit with Billy. Forcing the guilt from her mind, she changed into her best blue party dress as Billy finished the half-cold hamburger purchased on her way home.
No buses traversed the Scull's fashionable neighborhood, so Leslie took a cab she could little afford. Waiting on the front porch, shawl pulled tightly around her neck, she listened as
violins created a beautiful melody, just beyond the door, feeling very much like an uninvited intruder. Blocking the entrance as if she were, the maid frowned when she opened the door.
"May I help you?"
"I'm Leslie Scott. The Scull's invited me."
"May I see your invitation?"
A woman in a thin party dress tapped the maid's shoulder, then stood shivering, arms hugged tightly to her chest. "Leslie's my special guest, Margaret." Margaret nodded and disappeared into the house. "Leslie," she said, touching the younger woman's shoulder. "Come in. Don't mind Margaret."
Instantly immersed in the noisy party going on around her, Leslie followed her into the house. Carla hurried through the crowd, grabbing champagne for herself and Leslie from a passing waiter.
"I simply must discuss something with you, Les," she said, leading her to an upstairs bedroom.
Leslie asked, "Have you seen Howard?"
Lighting a cigarette, Carla only stared. Leslie noticed her faded green eyes, strangely incongruous with her short-cropped, bleached hair, but somehow complementary to her anorexic figure and pale complexion. Raising her chin, she blew a wisp of smoke toward the ceiling.
"You look lovely Leslie, but you really should do something about your wardrobe. Baby blue isn't your color."
Leslie ignored her remark. "Your party's lovely, Carla. What did you want to talk to me about?"
Still staring, Carla said, "You should see my hairdresser. You're lovely, but there's so much he could add."
"Carla --”
"Sorry Dear."
Leslie felt uneasy, forehead flushing and a red flush spreading down her face as Carla eyed her like a butcher sizing up a cut of beef. Carla finally asked, "Are you warm, Dear?"
"I’m fine."
"Maybe, but your tits just turned the color of a boiled lobster."
Leslie put her hand over her plunging neckline, smiling weakly when she realized Carla's joke. Carla continued, unabashed, to stare, finally turning, puffing the cigarette as she gazed listlessly out the window.
"There's someone I want you to meet," Carla said.
"But --"
"My brother Joe. He's young and has a law degree. Most important, he's single."
Carla glanced around for an ash tray. Finding none, she deposited the butt into a vase and sat her empty champagne glass carelessly on the dresser. Grabbing Leslie's hand, she led her from the door. At the base of the stairs, they found Carla's husband Bern with an attractive middle-aged blonde woman. Leslie saw him touch the woman's leg, but Carla didn't. Pinching her smiling confidante before strutting away, the woman left Bern to peck Carla's cheek and plant a much too friendly kiss on Leslie.
Carla asked, "Who was she?"
Bern motioned a waiter for another drink. "Richard's - our banker's - wife."
Without commenting further about her husband's overly friendly companion, Carla also grabbed a fresh drink and asked, "Have you seen Joe?"
Bern pointed to the far wall. "Mr. Holier-than-thou is standing by himself in the corner."
"Come, Leslie," Carla ordered, dismissing her errant husband without another word.
As Leslie edged passed Bern on the stairs, he blatantly stroked her backside, causing her neck to flush. Pretending not to notice, she hurried after Carla.
"Joe, Darling," Carla said, embracing her younger brother. "Why aren't you mingling?"
With a shrug, the young man said, "Not my style, Carly."
Carla gave him the same visual once-over Leslie had received in the bedroom. Leslie sipped her champagne to avoid his embarrassing stare when the man's eyes caught hers.
"-- this is Leslie." Hearing the last part of Carla's sentence, she smiled, realizing she was being introduced. "Leslie, this is my handsome brother Joe."
Joe shook Leslie's hand, holding it a moment too long. Self-consciously, she pulled it away a bit too fast.
Carla edged away into the crowd. "Can you entertain this pretty-young-thing while I hobnob with the other guests?"
"My pleasure," Joe said.
Leslie glanced around the crowded room.
Joe asked, "Looking for someone?"
"Just seeing who's here."
"How do you know Carla?"
"Bern's my boss - and his partner Howard. You know Howard?"
"Is he here?"
"Haven't seen him, but I haven't done much mingling."
Again, Leslie glanced around the room, this time seeing Howard and his wife Cynthia enter the party through the front door. Margaret took their coats and they disappeared into another part of the house.
"If you'll excuse, me I have to go to the bathroom," Leslie said, barely glancing at Joe as she departed to find Howard.
Joe waited alone for ten minutes before abandoning his drink on a coffee table and starting after her. Halfway through the crowded room he bumped into Howard Pike's wife Cynthia.
Cynthia draped her slender arms around his neck and said, "You weren't trying to avoid me were you, Joe?"
Unwinding her arms, Joe pushed her gently but firmly away. "How are you, Cyn?"
"Much better." Hiccupping, she grinned foolishly, hand at her mouth.
"I'm looking for someone," he said, moving away.
"Wait," she said, grabbing his elbow. "Another drink?"
Cynthia had already had more than one, but Joe asked, "What are you drinking?"
"You know what I drink."
With a drunken attempt at seduction, she kissed her fingers and touched them to his lips. Joe grabbed the wobbly woman's shoulders, maneuvering her against the wall for support. Then, shaking his head, he looked around for the nearest bartender.
"You all right, Cyn?"
Cynthia nodded, eyelids drooping. After patting her cheek, he started to the bar. When he handed Cynthia the fresh drink, she greedily savored it, the half swallow of straight scotch reviving her. When she answered, her words were slurred.
"Who are you looking for?"
"One of your wonderful husband's employee's."
Confused, Joe's eyes narrowed inquisitively and he asked,
"How did you know?"
"Wives know. Besides, she found us when we got here, wanting to discuss company business with Howard."
"Company business?"
"Funny business is more like it." Draining her scotch, she pleaded, "One more, Joe?"
Again, Joe took Cynthia's glass, her words playing through his mind as he returned to the bar to refresh her drink.
When he returned, he asked, "Where did they go?"
"Probably to the nearest toilet with a lock on the door."
Grinning impishly, Cynthia explained. "That's where he made love to me the first time - at a New Year's party, both of us butt-naked on a toilet seat."
"You're incorrigible, Cyn."
"Maybe," she said, putting her arm around his waist and hugging him to her delicate breasts. "It was fun. Let's find a bathroom so I can relive old memories."
"Why don't you just browse through some photo albums," he said, backing away.
"The photos I'd like to see are in your apartment."
Joe winked and started through the crowd as Cynthia finished her drink and wobbled to the bar for another. True to Cynthia's prediction, Howard and Leslie had found a secluded upstairs bathroom. Leslie sat on the toilet stool, skirt hiked to her thighs and panty hose rolled down around her ankles. Her unbuttoned blouse revealed an ample expanse of bosom radiating an embarrassed shade of pink. Howard stood primping in front of the mirror.
"Please come home with me, Howard."
"Can't," he said his voice booming and distinctive. "I have business."
Leslie watched him comb his hair and preen his moustache with his little finger. "You haven't seen Billy in a week."
"Busy, busy" he said, turning around. "Besides, we've already made love."
Averting her gaze, Leslie stared sullenly at the tile floor. "When are you going to tell Cynthia about us?"
Caressing her bare breast, Howard bent forward and kissed her full on the mouth.
Howard patted her head like a pet dog and opened the bathroom door.
"Howard, wait."
"Gotta go."
Without bothering to close the door, Howard hurried away. Leslie shut and locked the door, then stumbled to the mirror. Hair a mess and dress torn and mauled, she began to cry.
Joe searched the party for Leslie with no success, soon completing the loop and finding the intoxicated Cynthia propped against the same wall where he had left her. Spotting him, she held up her empty drink glass.
"Please, daddy. One more."
Nodding, Joe returned with a fresh scotch for her and a tall bourbon for himself. With one hand on his shoulder for support, she tapped his glass and choked down everything but the ice.
"Drinking away your troubles, Darling?"
Joe glanced over his shoulder as Carla Scull approached through the crowded room.
Cynthia said, "You don't have enough booze for that."
"Someone knocking my booze?" Bern Scull said, appearing through the crowd behind Carla. From his wobbly gait, Bern was also suffering from alcoholic indulgence.
"Bern, baby," Cynthia said. "I wondered where you were."
Bern laughed, stumbled to Cynthia's side and grabbed her around the waist. Both leaned against the wall for support.
Carla ignored their obvious groping and asked, "Where is Leslie."
"The bathroom," Joe said.
"There she is," Bern said, pulling away from Cynthia and pointing.
Joe saw her, moving aimlessly through the crowded room.
"Leslie, over here."
In a haze, Leslie drifted toward them without a smile, or look of recognition.
"Leslie," he said, taking her hand.
Suddenly smiling at everyone as if in a trance Leslie looked at Joe and asked, "Can I have a sip of your drink?"
Joe handed her the drink laced with extra ice and she thrust it to her lips with both hands.
Bern, again, pulled Cynthia toward him, asking, "Where's that no good partner of mine?"
"Haven't seen him," she said, numbly.
"He left the party with Jim O'Brian and his long-legged, puff-brained secretary,” Carla answered.
Leslie's body stiffened. Her hands trembled and she dropped the glass. It exploded into flying ice and shards of crystal against the hardwood floor. Leslie sank to her knees to pick up the mess but Joe touched her shoulders and held her.
"No harm," Bern said, waving across the room for Margaret. "Let’s go to the living room."
Without waiting, Carla, Bern, and Cynthia walked away. Joe helped Leslie to her feet.
"Don't worry," he said. "Carla will never miss it."
"I have to make a phone call."
Joe pointed, through the crowd, at a closed door. "There's a phone in the den. I'll show you."
After leading Leslie to the empty den, Joe switched on the lamp beside the couch and handed her the phone. When no on answered, she put her finger on the button and dialed another number.
"Calling for a taxi?"
Taking the receiver from her, Joe said, "My car is outside. I'll take you home."
Remembering she'd spent her last five dollars getting to the party, Leslie accepted his offer, but remained passively silent during their icy trip to her apartment. Joe walked her to the door, watching her shiver as she fished in her purse for the keys. After opening the door a crack, she took his hand.
"Thank you," she said.
Slipping inside, Leslie shut the door behind her, leaving Joe to briefly stare at the peeling paint before starting back down the icy sidewalk. Before he reached the car, raspy hinges creaked behind him and the door opened once again. Leslie called to him, as if in shock.
"Wait. I need your help."
Disturbed by Leslie's voice, Joe returned up the walk and followed her into the squalid, cold-water flat, watching as she shook an incognizant old woman, lying on the couch.
Leslie demanded, "Where is Billy?"
After snorting loudly and rolling over, the old woman covered her head with her arm and dropped an empty bottle to the floor. It dribbled whiskey on the thread-bare rug. Leslie's impassioned question went unanswered and she glanced up at Joe, tears forming in her eyes.
"Billy's gone!"
Hurrying back outside, Joe searched the shadow-cloaked sidewalk which was faintly illuminated by the feeble light of the porch lamp. "I see some footprints in the snow."
Pushing past him, Leslie ran through the ankle-deep mire,
still wearing her baby-blue party dress. Joe stalked the tiny footprints by the light of the full moon. Before reaching the surrounding chain-link fence, flat ground around the apartment sloped suddenly downward. There they found Billy, foot caught beneath the wire. After releasing his foot, Leslie hugged him to her breast.
"Mommy," he said weakly. "I slid down the hill."
Draping his coat around the boy, Joe helped them back up the slope. Returning to the warmth of Leslie's apartment, they got Billy out of his wet clothes, dried him off and warmed him up, and soon learning he was more frightened than hurt.
Leslie knelt beside his bed, holding his hand, and asked, "Why did you go outside?"
"I saw a white rabbit through the window and chased him."
Granting them a moment of privacy, Joe vacated the bedroom and woke Mildred, still asleep on the couch. After ushering her out the front door, he poured a glass of water from the rusty kitchen tap as the ripple of soft fabric behind him interrupted his thoughts. It was Leslie, watching him from the bedroom doorway.
He asked, "Billy all right?"
Leslie started to answer but hesitated. Hearing the metallic rattle of keys in the lock, she wheeled around with startled disbelief. As Howard Pike opened the door and entered, eyes unfocused and dilated, she smiled weakly and her lower lip began to tremble.
Unmindful of Joe's presence, Pike removed his overcoat and went to Leslie, drifting forward in a drunken, exaggerated gait. Twirling her once in the air, he let her slide slowly through his arms to the floor. Joe waited for Leslie's negative reaction. Instead, her trembling lip magnified her smile. Enraptured by Pike's sudden appearance, she wrapped her willowy arms around his ruddy neck.
Feeling suddenly like an unwelcome voyeur as painful reality encompassed his soul, he watched Leslie unbutton Pike's shirt and cover his bare chest with passionate kisses. Opening the front door he stepped out into the cold then turned for one last look before plodding away through the snow.
Bathed in dim light filtering from the single remaining bare bulb in a corroded light fixture on the ceiling, Leslie's brown eyes registered some indeterminate emotion far beyond Joe's ability to fathom.
Blinking away his confusion, he backed slowly away and shut the door behind him. Two steps from the door he began whistling a broken tune. Without looking back he trudged through the snow to his car and drove slowly away.