The Great Liquor War Notes
By D.M. McGowan
Hank had a gold claim in Rossland
Where he got some color, enough to meet his needs.
But decided he’d had quite enough of freezing
And water up to the knees.
In town he met a BC policeman
Who gave him an inside tip
On a major local attraction
Where he bet his gold … every bit
The bet paid off big time
Enough for a business setup
He felt he owed the cop for the tip
This Constable Jack Kirkup
So he headed up to Farwell
That had not long been a town.
A place enjoying construction,
They where laying a rail bed down.
Hank rounded up some horses
Mules, pack saddles and such
For hauling tools, food and clothes
To the construction bunch
Then the BC Provincial Policemen
And the federal Northwest Mounties,
Faced off with conflicting laws,
Jurisdiction, enforcement and boundaries
The BC cops, small force that they were
Had help from citizens through out the years
Propped up their numbers when needed
With auxiliaries and volunteers
Auxiliary Constables where sworn and paid
Though pay didn’t amount to much,
While Assistant Constables where volunteers
Citizens concerned with safety and such.
Hank felt indebted to Jack
And stepped right into the breach.
He felt not helping the cop
Would be cowardly and cheap.
But it’s good to know you’re needed
And sometimes good to be asked.
But Jack didn’t acknowledge his helpers
As he issued mission or task.
As the two groups of lawmen
Feuded one with the other,
The outlaws did as they chose
Sometimes without any cover.
So Hank lost livestock to the outlaws
And interrupted his own daily work
To help Jack with law and order.
A duty he never shirked
The outlaws thus emboldened
By the law’s internal fighting
Planned to rob a pay-train resting
On a secluded local siding
So what became of Hank
His sweetheart and the rest?
You’ll have to read the novel
To see who passed the test.
THE OLD ENGINE
By P.S. Joshi
The old, rusting engine had been a beauty in her day, glistening black with red trim. She ate up the miles from Washington, D.C. to New York City and back, carrying commuters to their work and home again. I was one of those passengers. Even earlier, she had carried soldiers to board ships delivering them overseas to battle in World War II, or back from camps for leave trips. After the war, she carried them home to waiting parents, sweethearts, and wives to begin new lives.
Men shoveled coal into her metal belly, and it belched steam and jet black dust to coat the country through which it passed. In winter, the shining, pristine new snow didn’t stay white long.
People near the tracks in those days would wave to the trainmen as the big beauty thundered by.
Home furnaces also burned coal in those days, and men on the trains had been known to toss off some of it into the back yards of pretty women in swim suits sunning themselves.
That was then. Now the once glorious engine sits out rusting in all types of weather on a deserted stretch of track, her glory days far in the past.
Cows graze around her, and children play engineer in what’s left of her cab. The grand old lady has fallen on hard times, a disintegrating shell of what she once was.
I know a little how she feels. I’m not as bright and handsome as I once was either.
Lived that experience in upstate NY. Actually gathered up the tossed off coal for our coal stove. Peter
Peter was one of a kind. Raised in an orphanage, he had an unfortunate past whose parentage was never disclosed. As soon as he turned 16, he opted to leave the orphanage. An ingrown pain always hollered inside. He wanted out. Peter set off one evening with a loaf of bread and cheese in a satchel. Not too far, he viewed a farm. It was a pig farm; wallowing pigs in a pitch of black paste. Approaching the fence, he heard a voice coming from behind a haystack.
“Looking for work?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Peter managed.
“I could do with an extra hand. Payment will be on the basis of workload. No work, no pay.”
“What’s the job?”
“All farm work. $5 an hour.”
“Do you have a place to stay, boy?”
“Stay in the barn house.”
“What’s your name?”
“There’s a shower upstairs. Take one and then come downstairs. I’ll have the dinner ready,” he said. “And on second thoughts, the room next to the shower is yours to sleep. It isn’t much, but there's a bed there and a wardrobe.”
After the shower, peter came downstairs. The farmer looked up at him and smiled.
“I call it the jaundiced sky.”
On the western front, the sky was yellowing in an over ripened lemon pickling in a jar. The farmer lit some candles. Shepherd’s pie was in the oven. Peter looked up at him. He cherished a dream of leading a peaceful life. Untouched by quandary, he felt already secure in his company.
Farmer Brown sat looking out at the evening. A quick storm picked up and gradually became ferocious. Winds howled and pounded at every turn, taking its toll on the farm; the passive evening changed dramatically. Farmer Brown looked at the barn. Before he knew it, Tornado ripped its roof apart in one lashing sweep; the placid farm in grips of devastation.
Late autumnal afternoons were lazy. Peter stumbled over a log running through a bush, as he made his way back to the orphanage. Later that afternoon, he lay on his bed looking at the dream-catcher hanging by his window. He dreamed that he would be rich one day. That hot, lazy afternoon, the feathers of the dream-catcher waved gently in the breeze as a fly buzzed around it. Wealth, he believed, could ward off all the evils of poverty. On life’s flip-side, there was heaven and happiness waiting. Crazy fly! It got stuck in the net. Wishing about these silly reveries such as finding a gold mine in a backyard, or a sudden windfall from gold rush was not going to make it happen. However, day-dreams kept him hooked on the notion of acquiring a mining industry or a farm. Dreams inspired him. Until that happened, he would just have to be patient.
Peter reflected on this mad pandemonium.
“I brought bad luck, didn’t I?” Peter asked hesitatingly.
“ I’m just glad that you didn’t sleep in the barn. I had half a mind to put you there. Your luck just turned.”
Peter smiled. He considered himself lucky. A metamorphosis was underway. That dream from rags to riches might actually come true. Peter’s eyes eluded Brown. He gleaned something in them that mystified him. But he also knew that a new gateway had just been unlatched.
Shivkumar Mythili's story
I was in the class room of my college. I could not concentrate on the lecture as my mind had wandered to Jitesh and his pranks. We met each other one year ago in the college canteen. As usual our first meeting was not pleasant. He bumped into me spilling the food from my tray. I got annoyed “Can’t you see where you are going? You chaps always have to bump into girls deliberately and then say sorry.”
“Sorry Miss, it was my mistake. I didn’t do it deliberately. You can punish me any way you feel like. I will get you a fresh plate of food. Sit at that table. I will come.”
“I am Jitesh and studying in the final year of Commerce. May I know your name?” I introduced myself as Reshmi the second year commerce student. The discussion started smoothly and we parted with assurances that we will meet again. I was very much impressed with the grace and handsome personality of Jitesh. We met each other frequently since then in the nearby coffee shop.
I listened to Jitesh saying, “I have now completed my Degree and am footloose. My father is having a manufacturing unit of auto spare parts and we are quite rich living in a posh locality of Mumbai. I do not have any intension of joining my father’s business. I want to start an investment company with initial finance from my father. Till then I want to enjoy life. My mother gives me spending money whenever I ask her, without my father’s knowledge. She, like all mothers, strongly believes that once I get married I will become more responsible leaving all my undesirable habits!”
I am now in the final year of my degree course. My college friends were telling me that Jitesh is having lots of girl friends and that I should be careful in getting entangled with him. I ignored their advices thinking that they must be jealous of my friendship with Jitesh. We all know that love is blind! I was happy that he treated me in a special manner, without knowing his ulterior motive.
I persuaded my father to open an office for me in Bandra to start my Investment business. The office started functioning in a lavish manner. I took an experienced person as my partner who did all the leg work, while I enjoyed my life with my girlfriends.
I convinced my parents that Jitesh loves me immensely and wants to marry me. My father, Santosh having a Jewellery business near Opera House, Mumbai, made several enquiries in his circle about Jitesh’s family. He was convinced that Jitesh’s father was doing well in business and their reputation was quite good.
The marriage was conducted in a grand manner. My father gave Jitesh an Audi car along with other wedding gifts to him. We started living in an apartment in Bandra which was gifted to me by my parents. We enjoyed our lives for six months spending major time in holiday resorts in Kerala, Goa, Bengaluru, Simla, Delhi, Chandigarh etc. apart from some foreign locales. I was very happy with the jovial attitude of Jitesh and the special care he took on me. He showed me his office three or four times.
After six months, I revived my friendship with my girl friends. I came home late and initially my wife did not feel the difference in my behavior. One evening I was sitting quietly in the hall and Reshmi asked whether I have any problem. “No Reshmi, nothing is wrong.” After much persuasion I told her that my partner has made some losses in the investments. I have to make it up by investing some cash. I do not feel like asking my Dad as he has already spent Rupees Forty lakhs for our office needs.”
“Oh, how much cash do you need?”
“I need at least Rupees Ten lakhs immediately. How can I get this amount?”
“Don’t worry. I will ask my father today itself.” By that evening I got the cash from my father who asked me about the need for the money. He sensed some warning signal about Jitesh. But he had to help his daughter when she needed it.
I spent the money on my usual activities of gambling, treating my girlfriends and horse racing etc. I was spending lesser time with Reshmi. When she asked me about this I said “Reshmi, I have to do lots of work in the office. I have to visit my clients in other cities like Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi etc. I am sorry I am unable to spend more time with you. Bear with me for a few more months. I will give more attention to you. I love you always.”
After about a month Jitesh asked me for more money. “I have to invest in lots of shares and mutual funds now. The share market has come down to a very low level. This is the right time for us to invest and make profits when the market rises again in a few weeks. All my funds are presently locked in other investments. Can you ask your daddy to give me Rupees Fifteen lakhs as a loan? I will return it in three months.”
I had some doubts but assured him that I will ask my father in a day or two.
I rang up Jitesh’s office and spoke to his partner Dinesh. He said “Jitesh has gone out and will return only in the evening.” I decided to go to the office and speak to Dinesh and other staff in the office. To my horror I learnt that Jitesh came very rarely to the office. He only spoke to Dinesh on the cell phone to get the updates on the activities in the office. Dinesh, when forced by me confessed that he had not made any losses to the company by any wrong investments, as mentioned by Jitesh. He and his team are working efficiently to bring profits to the company. But Jitesh withdraws all the money from the banks and spends in a lavish manner. I was shattered by the news but did not reveal my feelings to Dinesh and others. I asked all of them not to tell Jitesh about my visit to the office and about our discussion. I could not understand how Jitesh can spend the money so lavishly ignoring his business activities.
I came late in the evening and asked Reshmi about money from her father. She assured me to get it by tomorrow.
I met my Daddy next day in the morning and confided in him what I learnt about Jitesh. He said “I had known from some sources that Jitesh is concentrating more on enjoying his life in various unpleasant activities. I did not want to aggravate the situation by interfering in your lives. I have decided to give the money to Jitesh for the last time.” Without telling me he arranged for a detective agency to track Jitesh’s activities. I came to know about this later.
I gave the cash to Jitesh in the evening. He kissed me saying “Darling, I love you so much. I will return all these amounts to your father soon. Thank you for saving me from my tensions.” I trusted him again in spite of my doubts in my mind.
Time went by and my father got daily reports from the detective agency about the activities of Jitesh. He was shocked by the news and did not know how to convey these facts to me. He called for his legal advisor to get his opinion. Ronen Das was a family friend of Santosh, providing all the needed legal support to the family and the company for several years. Ronen studied all the reports on Jitesh and said “Atrocious. How could Jitesh cheat your daughter so blatantly without her suspecting? It is a very delicate situation. If you directly ask him about this he will start punishing Reshmi physically and mentally. She will be totally shattered once she comes to know about the true face of Jitesh.” I learnt all these details at a later date.
I was called by Reshmi’s father to his office. I was surprised to find my father and the legal advisor Mr. Ronen Das sitting in the cabin.
“Jitesh, sit down. We all know about your stupid activities. You have been cheating Reshmi who loves you immensely and trusts you fully. We want you to stop all such revolting activities and concentrate on Reshmi and your business.”
“Sir, were you tracking my movements? How do you know what am I doing? I love Reshmi and she loves me. You all have no business to interfere in our lives. She has never complained to me so keep off from my affairs. If you want your daughter to be happy and nicely treated by me, give her money whenever I ask her. Please do not entangle in our lives. I will make Reshmi happy in my own interests.”
My father took me aside and had a frank chat with me about my behavior. But I was adamant and told my father to keep away from my affairs. My father told Santosh and Ronen “Let us wait for one more month. If he continues with this reckless attitude, we will all tell Reshmi about him. Let her decide the next step. She has to choose the right path in her life.”
I came home and started abusing Reshmi. “Did you complain to your father? It seems you do not trust me. I needed money for investing in my business and you gave me the cash. Why should your father and mine call me and ask me so many questions about this?”
“Jitesh, I do not know anything about this. My father never told me that he is going to talk to you. I will ask him.” The matter rested there.
After two days I got a phone call from Priya, my college mate. “Reshmi, how are you? I am living in Bengaluru after my marriage. My husband is Marketing Director in a multinational company. He is having a conference here in a 5 star hotel today. I also came with him as I wanted to catch up with my college friends. You are the first person I am calling. Where can we meet?”
“Jitesh has gone to the office. I am alone now. Why don’t you come home and have lunch with me?”
Priya came and we started reviving our recent past. “Reshmi, Are you happy with Jitesh?”
“Why are you asking this question? He loves me and we are happy.”
“Reshmi, I saw Jitesh with another girl in the same hotel we are staying in. I was shocked to find their closeness and happiness with each other. I am sorry if I am shocking you with this news. Take care, you are a lovely girl and you should not be taken for a ride by anybody.” I started crying as she was confirming the nagging doubts I was having in my mind about Jitesh. She consoled me and my grief became uncontrollable. After Priya left, I called my father to come home for his advice. “Appa, I am in trouble. My doubts about Jitesh have been confirmed by my friend, Priya. I do not know how to face this problem. If I ask Jitesh, either he will deny or he will become aggressive and start abusing me.”
“Darling, I had some doubts about him which I got confirmed. I did not tell you but Jitesh’s father, I and Ronen uncle had a frank chat with him a few days ago. He is not at all repentant. He told all of us to keep off from his activities. I was reluctant to open this topic with you but tell you when the situation arises. You have to decide about your life. I and your Mummy are with you always. Whatever option you take, think ten times and then decide. My opinion will be one sided. You are a matured girl and you know what is best for you.”
I kept quiet and did not ask Jitesh anything.
I was happy that Reshmi did not ask me anything about my meeting with her father, my father and the legal consultant a few days ago. I told her to get me Rs.Five lakhs from her father urgently and went out.
I had three options before me now.
- Yield to his periodical demands for money to maintain a normal life with him.
- As the situation has gone out of control, annul the marriage by divorcing him. I felt my body and soul have become dirty due to his revolting activities. He has insulted my feelings and abused the trust I had in him.
- To avoid all gossips in our society arising after divorce, take sleeping pills or some poison and end this ignominy once and for all.
I never expected Jitesh will ditch me and cheat me like this. I knew that he had some girlfriends before our marriage but it is a great insult to me that he continued his relationships with other girls even after our marriage.
I was not a coward to choose the last option. I decided that I will divorce him and be free from such a wretched life once and for all.
I came home in the evening and reminded her about money. ”Jitesh, how many times can I ask my father for cash? He will get suspicious and ask me several questions. Why don’t you manage yourselves this time?”
I got annoyed and shouted at her “Are you going to talk to him now or not? I need the cash immediately. I am going to the kitchen and get a glass of juice for me. In the meantime, talk to your father and by the time I come back confirm to me that you are getting the money from him.”
I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse “10, 9, 8, 7 -------“
I saw him coming back with a glass of juice in his hand. I told him “Jitesh, things will not work between us. I have decided to divorce you. I have asked my father to arrange all the documents for our divorce. I feel sad that you have used me for your selfish needs. Let us part as friends. By tomorrow you make your own arrangements to leave this house. My decision is final.”
He was shocked by my statement but went to his room without any protest.
I would not have left him off so easily. Perhaps it's my early life that has taught me differently. Peter
Vinita Singh's poem and short story
Can we have everything the way we want in our life, Time just comes and then it’s gone.
A dreamer who dreams every day, has such vivid dreams, that
As she looked in the mirror, fixed her hair, and dressed in her beautiful yellow sari, with green embroidery. She gazed at herself putting lipstick and fixing her hair. As she twirled some hair in front of her face and clipped the other part in the back, She taught there was something missing. A bindi was missing on her forhead. She put a matching yellow bindi on.
As she heard the singing outside, The guests were arriving for the singing ceremony of the wedding.
Her sister-in-law walked in and told her you have to go to the other room. All the guests have arrived. They are all eager to see you. The daughter-in-law quickly put on her ring and bracelet. She was told by her sister-in-law that she didn't have to touch their feet. She then walked into the small room, with blankets on the floor, and saw her-mother-in-law sitting there. She was told by her mother-in-law that she must touch everyones feet. As she walked in She then touched everyones feet. She sat next to one of the ladies, and listened to everyone singing and clapping. She joined them. Than as all the older ladies stared and gazed at her, they said, The daughter-in-law, she doesn't understand the songs that we are singing, She doesn't understand hindi. The mother-in-law replied back in hindi and told the ladies no she does, she understands everything. The daughter-in-law listened carefully enjoyed the singing, put her sari on top of her head and covered herself like all the other ladies. Than she said wait, and she went in the other room and got a video camera. She than came back in the room and said in hindi to all the ladies, keep singing, I want to tape the singing ceremony, and she focused the video camera on the ladies. The older ladies all stopped the singing and started fixing their sari, covering their heads properly. The daughter-in-law than gave the camera to her sister-in-law to tape. She than joined the singing. After some time, the daughter-in-law was asked to dance, she listened quietly in amusement. Than the ladies asked what do you wear in America, you don't wear sari's there, Her mother-in-law replied she wears pants and jeans and dresses, not sarees. It was late, and the daughter-in-law than went to see her brother-in-law, who joked and made her laugh and told her she looked beautiful.
August 1, 2008
A Visit From St. Nicholas Poem
by Clement Clarke Moore
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all! ”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll lit
the mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”
Remember frost turns into blossoms—
slippery handles still open doors—
burned out stars are wished upon
and even good things hide in shadows.
Questions that stump
are suddenly clear.
Prune back the ivy--
let go of the fear.
your eyes squint--
your heart is pounding,
everything is glowing
but who is listening?
Who is right?
You lean toward the dark--
cowering—inciting a fight
but the kudzu is trimmed
letting in more of the light.
by Eve Gaal