The Ticketbooth 2022

The Ticketbooth Magazine is published by Inks and Bindings LLC, a publishing company based in the Golden State. The magazine holds a literary contest for aspiring writers, featuring works of fiction that have great potential to make it to the big screen. This magazine also acts as an outlet for authors to test the waters and reach potential movie producers, directors, and other writers in the industry through their submissions.

The Ticketbooth Magazine is published by Inks and Bindings LLC, a publishing company based in the Golden State. The magazine holds a literary contest for aspiring writers, featuring works of fiction that have great potential to make it to the big screen. This magazine also acts as an outlet for authors to test the waters and reach potential movie producers, directors, and other writers in the industry through their submissions.


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the<br />

ticketbooth<br />


<strong>2022</strong><br />

short stories<br />

Victor Cino<br />

Mziwonke Qwesha<br />

Serguei Bychkov<br />

Alan Cumming<br />

ww.inksandbindings.com<br />

Hello!<br />

cover story<br />

Dorothy<br />


For as long as human civilization was<br />

established, we as a species have been<br />

storytellers. First as a way of communicating<br />

the tribe’s needs to its members, then to<br />

preserve history, and then to ponder on<br />

possibilities and impossibilities. Some might<br />

argue that telling stories is one of humankind’s<br />

earliest attempts at achieving immortality, an<br />

argument I don’t completely disagree with.<br />

Whatever our reasons for telling stories, it<br />

will always be, in my humble opinion, one of<br />

the most beautiful artforms there are. And<br />

when you come across a few rough diamonds<br />

which are polished into true gems before your<br />

very eyes, well, it’s a true delight!<br />

editor’s<br />

note<br />

We are fortunate to have witnessed such a<br />

thing in this year’s crop of entries for our Short<br />

Story Writing Contest. <strong>The</strong> limited structure of<br />

a short story makes it one of the easiest and<br />

simultaneously most difficult media in prose<br />

writing. How can you flesh out your characters<br />

enough to make the reader care in just a<br />

few pages? How can the plot be resolved<br />

satisfactorily? What about the setting and the<br />

secondary characters? What of them?<br />

But it is with these limitations that our finalists<br />

truly showcased their mastery of their craft,<br />

and it was so thrilling to read their entries<br />

first-hand. We spanned a unique collection<br />

of genres in this year’s entries—from dramas<br />

to psychological horror, from actual horror to<br />

dystopian fiction. We know that these stories<br />

will be as much a delight for you to read as it<br />

was for us to screen them. Enjoy!

author’s focus<br />

06<br />

14<br />

26<br />

28<br />

31<br />

40<br />

46<br />

52<br />

bookhighlights<br />

09<br />

14<br />

62<br />

Fresh Catalogue<br />

17<br />

What <strong>The</strong> Wind Blew In:<br />

6 Stories to Read With Children<br />

Tell Us Your Story, Marilyn Wassman | Q&A<br />

Have We Found Our Better Selves?<br />

Meril R. Smith<br />

Acid and Bribery<br />

Jeann Anne Off<br />

Cowboy on the Wrong Train:<br />

Mouse with a Clue<br />

Jeann Anne Off<br />

From Homeless to Heaven<br />

Jeann Anne Off<br />

Tough As Nails<br />

Karen Chisholm<br />

At <strong>The</strong> Feet Of Angels<br />

Vernon Bargainer<br />

Matters Of <strong>The</strong> Soul | Transformation Work Book<br />

What Ruth Cherry Thinks | Q&A<br />

Airplane Stories and Histories<br />

Norman Currey<br />

Life In <strong>The</strong> Hands Of Jesus<br />

Sharmila Panirselvam<br />

Object of Balance | Object of Destruction<br />

Lesley Fisher<br />

Inks and Bindings Publishing <strong>2022</strong> releases<br />

short stories<br />

14<br />

32<br />

42<br />

48<br />

Father and Son<br />

Alan Cumming<br />

Thirteen Steps<br />

Victor Cino<br />

Auction<br />

Serguei Bychkov<br />

From My Memory<br />

Mziwonke Quesha | Q&A

54<br />

cover story<br />

HELLO<br />

by DC Mountain<br />

61<br />

Small Talk With Dorothy<br />

Dorothy Carlson



Airplane Stories<br />

and Histories<br />

PAPERBACK | $ 9.99<br />

EBOOK | $ 2.99<br />


chronicles two hundred years of aviation<br />

highlights including the exploits of pioneers<br />

such as Sir George Cayley, the Wright<br />

brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Wiley Post,<br />

Amelia Earheart, R. J. Mitchell, Sir Geoffrey<br />

de Havilland, Allan Loughead, Frank Whittle,<br />

and Kelly Johnson. Notable events and<br />

developments are discussed, first Atlantic<br />

flights, World War airplanes, jet engine<br />

development and post-war dedesigns.<br />

It concludes with a discussion of new<br />

designs…<br />

NORMAN CURREY was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1926. He graduated as an<br />

aeronautical engineer in 1948 and was a stress engineer on the de Havilland<br />

Comet. He went to Canada and helped design the Jetliner and Arrow. He<br />

spent 30 years at Lockheed, working in the C-130 JetStar, C-5 and special<br />

projects. He is a Chartered Engineer and a Fellow of the Roya Aeronautical<br />

Society, and has lectured in the U.S. and abroad. He is also the author of<br />

Aircraft Landing Gear Design:Principles and Practices, AIAA1988.<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



What <strong>The</strong> Wind<br />

Blew In:<br />

6 Stories to Read With Children<br />

PAPERBACK | $7.99<br />

EBOOK | $ 1.99<br />


collection of stories for children written<br />

by Marilyn B. Wassmann, featuring six<br />

tales of adventure, fun and learning.<br />

Marilyn Benjamin Wassmann was born<br />

in a leap year and earned four degreestwo<br />

in art history, one in library science,<br />

and one in studio art. Before retiring in<br />

2011, Marilyn worked as an art cataloger<br />

at the Library of Congress. She has<br />

illustrated and contributed to anthologies<br />

for the Greenbelt Writers Group. In 2016,<br />

she published Pen Scratching Poets:<br />

A Collection of One Family’s Creative<br />

Pursuits with her husband Paul.<br />

Tell us your story, Marilyn<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />

6<br />

I, Marilyn Benjamin Wassmann was born on February 29 th in a Leap Year, so I am one of<br />

the unique people who only have real birthdays every four years. I grew up in Connecticut,<br />

and I earned four degrees in four universities in New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C., and<br />

Maryland—two in art history, one in library science, and one in studio art. I worked in several<br />

libraries in the District of Columbia, before working as a cataloger at the Library of Congress<br />

for twenty-eight years. After retiring in 2011, I continued to contribute to the anthologies of<br />

the Greenbelt Writers Group, and with my husband’s assistance, I wrote and published a<br />

children’s book entitled WHAT THE WIND BLEW IN. In 2016, I published a collection of poems<br />


with my husband Paul. Our latest children’s book is entitled THE OPOSSUM AND THE CATS. In<br />

my spare time away from time-consuming household activities, I strive to achieve my creative<br />

goals, because I do like to draw, paint, write poetry, and research various topics. I am happy<br />

and busy creating and living in Hyattsville, Maryland with my husband Paul, some fish, one<br />

dog, and several cats.


Who Inspired You?<br />

During my childhood in Connecticut, I<br />

was an avid bookworm, who often escaped<br />

to her treehouse to read and write, so I<br />

think that, even then, I probably wanted to<br />

be a writer in the future. However, I needed<br />

to direct my educational accomplishments<br />

toward librarianship in order to earn a living,<br />

and it was only in the years when I was<br />

approaching retirement that I began to<br />

pursue creative writing, especially because<br />

of my experiences with the Greenbelt<br />

Writers Group in Greenbelt, Maryland.<br />

Your personal favorite book and<br />

author?<br />

This is a particularly difficult question<br />

for me to answer as I have seen, read,<br />

cataloged, and treasured so many books,<br />

especially in the years when I was a<br />

librarian. However, I would have to say<br />

that my favorite book is THE BIBLE, and<br />

that my favorite author is the poet William<br />

Wordsworth (1770-1850) who wrote many<br />

of his poems in the way that I like to do, by<br />

writing lines in rhyming couplets, a form<br />

of rhyme that helps to make poems more<br />

interesting. I like to think of myself as a poet<br />

who specializes in creating these couplets,<br />

perhaps because I feel that children and<br />

even adults generally enjoy rhyming,<br />

especially the sound of the rhyming lines.<br />

Rhyming, which requires words or phrases<br />

to end on the same sound, has always<br />

been an especially enjoyable pursuit for me.<br />

I value and respect it as one of my “gifts,”<br />

and I love to share my experiences with it in<br />

my stories.<br />

What’s your book(s) about?<br />


READ WITH CHILDREN is a children’s book<br />

that I wrote and illustrated which contains<br />

six meaningful stories written in rhyming<br />

couplets so that children can easily enjoy<br />

and understand them. Each story aims<br />

to encourage children to cultivate good<br />

values, varying from thoughtfulness to<br />

listening before they act, and other similar<br />

important lessons. <strong>The</strong> first story urges<br />

children to be more thoughtful, while the<br />

second story teaches them to listen before<br />

they act. In the third tale, children learn<br />

that even animals can rescue people from<br />

disasters while the fourth story lets readers<br />

know that healing always comes after pain<br />

at the right time. According to the fifth tale,<br />

even stuffed toy animals may be looking<br />

out for us, and the final story shows how<br />

working together can rescue friends in<br />

trouble. This collection is both entertaining<br />

and educational, and the illustrations have<br />

been described as “delightful” and “very<br />

pleasing to the eye.” Another commentator<br />

wrote that the pictures “will definitely<br />

capture the imagination of the kids reading<br />

it.” And one press release stated that this<br />

book is “a must-have” for parents looking<br />

for tools in teaching their kids some<br />

valuable life lessons.”<br />



PURSUITS has been described as a<br />

“mesmerizing collection of poetry and<br />

artwork dedicated to all family members.”<br />

This book, initially published in 2016, is a<br />

showcase of poetry from the Benjamin<br />

side of the family (Marilyn’s maiden name<br />

is Benjamin). Wassmann discusses and<br />

identifies the “poetic gene” which has<br />

come alive in her family, and readers will<br />

be treated to many of Marilyn’s own works<br />

and illustrations throughout the years. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

will also get to read poetry by Wassmann’s<br />

relatives, including her father and sister, and<br />

some of her cousins, nieces, and nephews.<br />

A major highlight of the first part of the<br />

book are the poems of her grandmother,<br />

Ethel Tillotson Benjamin whose poems<br />

about her children, her relatives, and her<br />

pets capture deeply personal and moving<br />

encounters. Wassmann has also bravely<br />

shared her own hopes for her country in<br />

poems like “America” and “Longing for<br />

Peace,” while cheerfully celebrating the<br />

holidays with the “Seasons Greetings”<br />

section. Readers both young and old who<br />

are interested in honest expressions of<br />

affection should enjoy the contents of PEN<br />

SCRATCHING POETS, both for the simple<br />

and direct lines of poetry, and the vibrant<br />

sketches which accompany many of the<br />

poems.<br />


children’s story in verse, written in rhyming<br />

couplets, and interspersed with facts about<br />

opossums and a moral about coexistence<br />

that readers both young and old can<br />

appreciate. Solitary and set in his ways, the<br />

opossum is slumbering the day away when<br />

a laboring mother cat begs him for a safe<br />

place to have her kittens. Although he does<br />

his best to ignore the intruder, the opossum<br />

suddenly finds his den six cats richer when<br />

the mother cat, no longer able to prolong<br />

her labor, gives birth to five kittens.<br />

With little alternative, the opossum<br />

permits the mother cat to stay and raise<br />

her litter in his den, which isn’t all bad.<br />

Certainly the kittens love to tumble about<br />

the place, and they sometimes snuggle so<br />

hard against his sleeping form and curving<br />

tail that they wake him up, but before he<br />

knows it, his original reluctance is replaced<br />

with reserved adoration for his young<br />

co-inhabitants. It is with this affection that<br />

the opossum turns from loner to hero the<br />

day the kittens’ adventuring goes too far.<br />

When he is asked to save the kittens from<br />

impending danger, he gladly does it! (This<br />

is a story that is predominately fictitious,<br />

which I originally wrote to read at a meeting<br />

of the Greenbelt Writers’ Group, and it is<br />

somewhat based on the mysterious animal<br />

that we felt was living for a while under the<br />

shed in our backyard.)<br />

What’s your advice to future<br />

writers?<br />

I would advise aspiring writers to find a<br />

place where they can totally concentrate,<br />

and become completely absorbed and<br />

engrossed in the tasks of writing, diligently<br />

focusing and working on one piece at a<br />

time, always aiming to outline, if not finish<br />

their compositions. I would urge them<br />

to thoroughly explore and research any<br />

information written about the subject that<br />

they choose to write about, so that they are<br />

completely familiar with their subject, and<br />

so that they will be able to write intelligently;<br />

hopefully adding something fresh, original,<br />

and meaningful for their readers and for<br />

the world of literature. I would also advise<br />

new writers to be willing to change, edit,<br />

and rewrite their compositions until they<br />

reach a point where they have created<br />

something that they can be proud of. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

should also always be learning as much<br />

as possible about the complex publishing<br />

industry, so that they will make responsible<br />

and successful decisions during their writing<br />

careers.<br />

Can you share a snippet/excerpt from your book that you think your<br />

readers will find very interesting?<br />

From WHAT THE WIND BLEW IN and the story “Ballad of the Birdhouse: “ “he (the baby<br />

bird) had really learned to see:/That it’s really better to learn a skill,/listen, study, practice,<br />

and then you will/remember to be careful with every step that you take,/and you’ll be safe<br />

not sorry for the choices you make.”<br />

From PEN SCRATCHING POETS and the poem “Princess Diana (1967-1997):” <strong>The</strong> world<br />

will never replace/Diana’s remarkable grace./We grieve for her friends, her family, and<br />

then,/we search for meaning in her tragic end./<strong>The</strong> “People’s Princess,” Great Britain’s<br />

rose/nobly endured the life she chose./She appeared to be so beguiling/especially when<br />

photographed smiling./From a shy, quiet girl to a storybook bride,/producing an heir, but<br />

unable to hide/from the press or the world which needed to see/the woman on her own<br />

who was rarely free./So rest in peace, sweet “Queen of Hearts.”/Your life has ended, but<br />

the legend starts./When we’re thoughtful and kind, we’ll remember your name./Perhaps<br />

that’s a more lasting type of fame!”<br />

From THE OPOSSUM AND THE CATS: “Well, every story has a purpose or a moral for the<br />

reader, and I guess that must be YOU!/All types of creatures can help one another, and I’m<br />

glad that this is TRUE!”<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />


the ticketbooth magazine<br />

A L A N C U M M I N G<br />

Father<br />

&Son<br />

“This isn’t my room!”<br />

“It’s your new room,” I countered and moved to the window. “Look,<br />

you’ve got a lovely view from here.” A lovely view across to the other<br />

wing, at least.<br />

“This isn’t my room!” More insistent.<br />

“We’ve even put your chair by the window so you can sit in the sun.”<br />

I patted the blue velvet headrest and launched a tiny puff of dust<br />

motes that shimmered and danced in the sunlight and hovered like<br />

miniature eavesdroppers.<br />

“Stick it!” His lip curled ever so slightly and I imagined I detected<br />

a lucid light behind his rheumy blue glare. So like him to allow the<br />

bastard to rise just below the surface of his smile. I glanced at Gillian<br />

and passed the baton to her.<br />

Gill led him gently by the arm over to the bed. <strong>The</strong> bedsprings<br />

squeaked as she sat beside him.<br />

“It’s ok, Dad,” her voice almost a whisper. “I know it’s not your old<br />

room but it’s going to be better for you here. Remember when Rosie<br />

was born and you and Mum had us move to a bigger house over<br />

on Kennedy Street? That was better for us, wasn’t it? You’ve even<br />

got your own toilet and shower here; you don’t have to share it with<br />

anyone else”. Gill flashed him a winning smile.<br />

He harrumphed and sighed and stared down at his hands. Rosie<br />

slid in beside him and snuggled against his other shoulder. I held my<br />

breath and waited.<br />

“Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place?” He’d tickled the bait<br />

she offered, and I knew we’d win out.<br />


<strong>The</strong>n — “Who’re you laughing at?”<br />

he barked at me.<br />

Gill’s frown wiped the smile from<br />

my dial. “No one. I’m just happy<br />

that you’re happy, is all.” It came out<br />

whiny and defensive and I hated<br />

that he still wielded his power over<br />

me. “Look,” I continued and glanced<br />

at my watch, “I’m going to have to<br />

shoot back to work, but I’ll try and<br />

call back later.” I shot an apologetic<br />

— I hoped — shrug at Gill who<br />

recognised the gesture for what it<br />

really was, and leaned forward on<br />

my way past to kiss the old man on<br />

his forehead.<br />

“Bugger off!” He brushed me aside.<br />

And you too, I thought as I burned<br />

bright red and made for the door.<br />

“Catch you guys later,” I muttered<br />

to my sisters before escaping to<br />

freedom outside in the hallway.<br />

Gill’s gruff reproval and my father’s<br />

insincere apology were muffled by<br />

the swinging door and the scuffing<br />

of the carpet as I fled the scene.<br />

****<br />

That marked my dad’s first day in<br />

the dementia wing of the nursing<br />

home, some fourteen years after my<br />

mum passed. I say passed when I<br />

probably meant stampeded, bolted,<br />

absconded into God’s waiting<br />

arms. Usually I have to be hit by the<br />

blindingly obvious behaviour bus to<br />

notice anything out of the ordinary,<br />

but even I knew from a relatively<br />

young age that she was trapped in<br />

a loveless relationship. Dad never<br />

beat her, never laid a finger on her<br />

as they say, and I think that was the<br />

problem all along; he never laid a<br />

finger on her. Never touched her,<br />

never cuddled her. He was civil,<br />

polite, condescending, remote. How<br />

Gill, Rosie and I were even conceived<br />

remains a mystery to me.<br />

<strong>The</strong> three of us fared better on<br />

Dad’s narrow emotional register<br />

while we were young. As we<br />

developed he gradually distanced<br />

himself so that from my teenage<br />

years I have no fond memories of<br />

him. That feeling, I’m sure, has been<br />

mutual for a long time. I can best<br />

sum up our relationship by saying<br />

that he’d always preferred my exwife<br />

over me.<br />

He soldiered on after Mum died.<br />

He had to learn to cook for himself<br />

and after some teething troubles,<br />

managed to get the washing<br />

machine, dishwasher and vacuum<br />

cleaner sorted. Gill kept a mother<br />

eye on him and he paid Rosie to<br />

cook and clean for him after she’d<br />

been made redundant once. What<br />

can I say? She wasted no time at<br />

all securing another job. Around<br />

the same time, I was promoted to<br />

manage the Hong Kong branch of<br />

my office and spent the following<br />

thirteen years overseas where he<br />

was far from my thoughts — mostly.<br />

From half a world away, it was easy<br />

to close ranks with my sisters and<br />

their husbands and encourage<br />

them to begin the tortuous process<br />

of transferring him to a retirement<br />

home. What a fiasco that turned<br />

into; enough so that I’ve resolved<br />

when my time comes, I’m going<br />

quietly.<br />

Anyway, he got used to the idea<br />

over the next three years, more so<br />

when we promised not to sell his<br />

home out from under him (especially<br />

since the rental income goes some<br />

way to covering the cost of his care).<br />

By the time I’d returned home, he<br />

was comfortably institutionalised.<br />

<strong>The</strong> bubble finally burst when he<br />

began wandering. <strong>The</strong> staff would<br />

lead him back to his room, but his<br />

forays took him further afield and<br />

he had to be rescued somewhere<br />

along the road leading away from<br />

the home with increasing regularity.<br />

Things came to a head when he had<br />

to be removed from the back seat<br />

of someone’s car sitting outside in<br />

the visitors’ car park, accompanied<br />

by an overnight bag containing<br />

the teddy bear one of my nieces<br />

had bought him. Gill fielded the call<br />

and we all attended the hastilyconvened<br />

meeting.<br />

“We can’t guarantee his safety.”<br />

“Can’t you keep a better eye on<br />

him?” I complained. “After all, he has<br />

to walk past the reception desk to<br />

get out of this place.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> director eyed me sternly. “<strong>The</strong><br />

reception desk is not always staffed.<br />

If something were to happen to him,<br />

it would be our responsibility.”<br />

I didn’t like the direction this<br />

conversation was headed. Did that<br />

mean he was going to have to come<br />

and live with one of us?<br />

<strong>The</strong> director shifted uneasily in<br />

his chair and continued. “We are<br />

assessing your father for dementia<br />

—”<br />

“He hasn’t got dementia!” This<br />

from Rosie who, I believed, was still<br />

in denial.<br />

<strong>The</strong> director held up his hand as<br />

if stopping traffic. It had the same<br />

effect on Rosie.<br />

“As I was saying, we’re assessing<br />

for signs of dementia. If this proves<br />

to be the case, we can transfer him<br />

to the dementia wing. We have a<br />

couple of vacancies at the moment,<br />

but they are available on a firstcome-first-serve<br />

basis. It’s a secure<br />

wing so your father can’t put himself<br />

at further risk.”<br />

I shrugged and looked at the<br />

others. That’d work for me. Gill<br />

looked worried and Rosie had<br />

begun to cry.<br />

“How long have we got?” Gill<br />

asked.<br />

“We ought to have the results<br />

of our appraisal tomorrow, next<br />

day at the latest. Shall we say we’ll<br />

need a decision by the middle of<br />

next week?” He was looking at me<br />

as he answered Gill. He knew the<br />

weak link in this chain. I nodded. Still<br />

worked for me.<br />

I thought of something. “What<br />

about power of attorney?”<br />

“I had to organise something with<br />

Dad when he first came here,” Gill<br />

replied, “but it wouldn’t hurt to give<br />

his lawyer another call.”<br />

“I’ll come with you,” I volunteered.<br />

Might even get a peek at the will.<br />

****<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />

“And finally, here.”<br />

Dad’s lawyer, Percy Stuart,<br />

pointed his hairy finger at the<br />

last blank space. Gill signed with<br />

a flourish and returned his pen.<br />

Stuart’s receptionist witnessed<br />

the document which was the final<br />

legal nail in the power of attorney<br />

coffin. Dad had signed off earlier<br />

in the week. His scrawl was less<br />

familiar than I remember as if signed 9

the ticketbooth magazine<br />

10<br />


by a squirrel in the terminal stage<br />

of anaphylactic shock, though its<br />

authenticity was attested by the day<br />

manager of the care home.<br />

Mr Stuart retrieved the papers<br />

and slid them back into a cardboard<br />

folder. As he did so, a key dropped<br />

from the folder onto the table. It<br />

was attached to a plastic tab with<br />

a number engraved on it. Stuart<br />

picked it up and handed it to Gill.<br />

“You should probably have this,”<br />

he said, “although we can keep it in<br />

with the file if you wish.”<br />

“What is it?” I asked, suddenly<br />

interested.<br />

Gill smiled. “It’s the key to Dad’s<br />

safe deposit box at the bank,” she<br />

said. “That’s where he keeps the<br />

number plates along with whatever<br />

else he didn’t want to part with.”<br />

“He’s still got those?”<br />

She nodded. Another of Dad’s<br />

great investment ideas, this one<br />

dated 1999. Back then, the Y2K<br />

bug would have had planes<br />

falling from the skies, gargantuan<br />

failures of computer systems and<br />

unresponsive traffic lights to grind<br />

the civilized world to a halt. Dad<br />

applied for Y2K personalised plates<br />

but found himself at the back of<br />

that particular queue. He toyed<br />

with a couple of other ideas before<br />

settling on MM. Apparently, M is the<br />

Roman numeral for one thousand.<br />

This was news to me and the rest<br />

of the country as well and explains<br />

why the plates’ value has remained<br />

the same as when he bought the<br />

damned things. Were they in the will<br />

too?<br />

Gill handed me the key as we<br />

left the office. “I’ve got to rush,”<br />

she explained. “I’ve got a dental<br />

appointment at four. Have a look<br />

and see if there’s something that<br />

we can use, something he will<br />

recognise, to put in his room;<br />

something personal.”<br />

“<strong>The</strong> plates?”<br />

She laughed. “Maybe not the<br />

plates.” She got serious. “When are<br />

you going to go and see him again?<br />

It’s been a couple of weeks, almost.”<br />

I shrugged; guilty as charged. I<br />

glanced at the key in my palm and<br />

changed the subject.<br />

“Is it the same bank, the one in<br />

Manchester Street?”<br />

Gill nodded and held my gaze for<br />

a few seconds as if still expecting<br />

an answer. Perhaps knowing better,<br />

she turned and waved. “See you<br />

later. Take care. Love you.”<br />

“Love you too,” I replied to her<br />

back.<br />

****<br />

<strong>The</strong> plates were bound by twin<br />

bands of opaque tape. I placed<br />

them on the table alongside a<br />

folded, limited edition All Blacks<br />

jersey bought sometime in the<br />

early 1990s. Maybe we could have<br />

it framed and put on his wall. <strong>The</strong>n<br />

again, someone could nick it.<br />

I dug deeper, thinking a deposit<br />

box this size must be expensive<br />

to rent. Pulled out a collection of<br />

service medals from his time as<br />

an artilleryman in World War 2. I<br />

seem to remember a story of him<br />

lying about his age to enlist. I was a<br />

whole lot smarter at his age and the<br />

Vietnam War just passed by me.<br />

I leafed through a stack of Bonus<br />

Bonds jammed into an envelope,<br />

then counted them. Almost twenty<br />

thousand dollars’ worth and, like<br />

him, past their expiration date and<br />

their usefulness. I lay the stack on<br />

the licence plates and kept digging.<br />

I picked out a pile of old, torn<br />

envelopes, dog-eared at their edges<br />

and tied tightly by a pair of black<br />

shoelaces. I read the top envelope.<br />

It was addressed to him, care of his<br />

workplace, dating back to when<br />

we lived in Kennedy Street. I didn’t<br />

recognise the handwriting but it was<br />

delicate, dark blue and beautifully<br />

scripted. Curious, I picked at the<br />

knots and undid the laces. <strong>The</strong><br />

envelopes remained stacked as if<br />

they’d clung so tightly together for<br />

so long they were unwilling to let go<br />

once released.<br />

I opened the top envelope and<br />

shook out its contents. A folded<br />

letter and a photograph slid onto<br />

the desk. A young woman in a<br />

black bathing suit, captured at the<br />

moment of rapturous laughter at<br />

some unseen joke lay face up at me.<br />

I picked up the photo and peered<br />

more closely at it.<br />

I’d never seen her before. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

was a vitality and freshness to her<br />

that was so infectious that I smiled.<br />

I flipped the photo but there was<br />

nothing written on the back.<br />

<strong>The</strong> letter was folded in four;<br />

lightweight, blue stock paper from<br />

a lined pad, sharply creased, almost<br />

brittle. I carefully pulled it apart.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was no address of sender at<br />

the top, no date.<br />

My Darling,<br />

I awoke to the smell of your skin<br />

on my pillow, the taste of sun and<br />

salt still on my lips. How this memory<br />

of you still lingers when nothing is<br />

left but the shape of you hollowed<br />

beside me in the bed.<br />

I ache from the gentleness of your<br />

touch. I long for the stolen moments<br />

we may still share together, and I<br />

understand that sharing you is the<br />

best I can hope for. Know that I will<br />

always love you.<br />

Virginia<br />

I blushed at the intimacy. Who is<br />

this woman? And, for God’s sake,<br />

that is my father she’s writing about.<br />

What the …? I fumbled for another<br />

envelope.<br />

Another photograph. Her again,<br />

radiant, impossible to ignore, this<br />

time relaxed and grinning at the<br />

camera alongside my dad, his<br />

arm draped casually about her<br />

shoulders while seated in a cubicle<br />

with another couple. She looked to<br />

be about half his age. This one had<br />

‘Wanaka 1972’ on the back. What<br />

was he doing in Wanaka? More<br />

importantly, where was Mum?<br />

I was reeling from the shock that<br />

I’d unearthed this mother lode of<br />

baseline treachery. I tugged another<br />

envelope randomly from the middle<br />

of the pile. As I unfolded the letter,<br />

it ripped along the crease line and I<br />

had to place the pieces one above<br />

the other to read what she’d written.<br />

Dearest William,<br />

Thank you for the cheque. I cried<br />

when I opened it. I have never known<br />

such generosity, given with no thought or<br />

expectation beyond the gift. How did you<br />

know? I didn’t intend to burden you with<br />

my problems.<br />

I love you more than you will ever<br />

know. If I had the power to release you<br />

from your pain I would do so gladly. I

understand this is not my decision to make,<br />

but together we can face the world and<br />

whatever it chooses to throw at us. Stay<br />

strong, my darling.<br />

Xxx<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was a postcard: a coloured<br />

print of the Auckland Harbour<br />

Bridge. On the back, written in the<br />

same flowing script as the letters:<br />

“If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to<br />

be right.” Darling, they’re playing our<br />

song.<br />

Xxx<br />

I couldn’t stand to read any<br />

further, but I shuffled through more<br />

photographs. Occasionally, the two<br />

of them, otherwise just her. She’d<br />

aged a little in a few; lines around<br />

her eyes, her cheekbones more<br />

pronounced, some grey around<br />

her temples, as if she’d succumbed<br />

beneath a relentless artist’s brush<br />

for detail.<br />

I regathered the papers and<br />

photos, stacked them in a rough<br />

pile, and tossed them back into the<br />

tin box on the desk. I kept a single<br />

photo of this woman; a small black<br />

and white studio portrait, head<br />

and shoulders only. I’m not sure<br />

why I chose this one except that it<br />

was the only one that lacked that<br />

essence of joie de vivre so openly<br />

displayed in the others. Here, there<br />

was an evident sadness behind her<br />

eyes, more melancholy than wistful.<br />

Defiance, too, in the way she’d<br />

turned towards the camera, her chin<br />

jutting forward.<br />

Gill had suggested something for<br />

the wall in his room. I thought I’d just<br />

found the perfect piece.<br />

****<br />

I twisted the door handle and<br />

stepped into the spacious communal<br />

room of the dementia ward.<br />

Dinner had mostly concluded although<br />

a few of the residents, Dad<br />

included, were seated at tables<br />

and picking at the remains of the<br />

meal. He saw me enter but made<br />

no sign he even recognised me. He<br />

fed another spoon of greenish-grey<br />

gruel into his mouth and wiped the<br />

dribble from his chin with a paper<br />

napkin. I knew he had been suffering<br />

from reflux, and I guess the staff<br />

felt if they passed his meal through<br />

a blender he’d have a much better<br />

chance of keeping it down.<br />

Someone in a floral dressing<br />

gown tried to elbow past me, and I<br />

quickly turned and pulled the door<br />

closed again. I knew about Gladys<br />

who shadowed the exit and tried to<br />

make a break through it each time<br />

we’d visited. I was sure she had her<br />

own vigilant minder, a soft-spoken<br />

Filipino nurse so skilful in the art of<br />

distraction that Gladys never made<br />

it past the threshold. What intrigued<br />

me most was that Gladys never<br />

took umbrage at being constantly<br />

thwarted. She’d do a couple of<br />

circuits of the room and eventually<br />

return to her chair across from the<br />

door. She must’ve been a whitebait<br />

in a past life or a homing pigeon.<br />

“I used to<br />

think he was<br />

just a bitter<br />

old bugger<br />

when I was<br />

growing up,”<br />

I admitted.<br />

“Still, if he<br />

was any sort<br />

of man, he<br />

could’ve just<br />

said ‘Screw<br />

you’ and<br />

gone.<br />

““<br />


One of the nursing staff<br />

approached and asked if I wouldn’t<br />

mind waiting while they took Dad<br />

back to his room and ran him<br />

through the shower. I’d organised<br />

to meet Gill but had turned up early<br />

and had time to kill. Well, that was<br />

fine by me.<br />

I sat beside Gladys and ended<br />

up having a surprisingly normal<br />

conversation, apart from a few<br />

detours down the rabbit hole.<br />

She was English by birth, married<br />

to a man who worked for the<br />

United Nations and had travelled<br />

extensively to unusual corners of<br />

the planet. He died of malaria, and<br />

she relocated to New Zealand to be<br />

closer to her daughter.<br />

Now she was here because of<br />

some creeping neurological defect,<br />

not by choice. <strong>The</strong> door opposite us<br />

opened again and Gladys paused<br />

mid-sentence, made another dash<br />

for freedom, and I ceased feeling<br />

sorry for her.<br />

<strong>The</strong> nurse returned.<br />

“You can go and see him now,” she<br />

smiled.<br />

I glanced at the wall clock which<br />

showed a couple of minutes past<br />

seven. I’d hoped Gill would’ve been<br />

here by now.<br />

“Sure, thanks.”<br />

I suffered a momentary sense of<br />

déjà vu along the hallway, all too<br />

clearly remembering the last time I’d<br />

passed along it. However, this time<br />

I came armed with a photograph<br />

tucked inside my jacket pocket, and<br />

I patted it protectively. My courage,<br />

my sense of outrage, redemption for<br />

my mother, all linked to that face in<br />

the photo.<br />

<strong>The</strong> label on the door read ‘Bill<br />

Conway’. I took a deep breath and<br />

shoved the door open.<br />

“Hey, Dad.” I pasted on a slick<br />

smile.<br />

He was sitting up in bed, resting<br />

against a nest of pillows. He sniffed<br />

and grunted a reply and watched<br />

me pull up a chair beside his<br />

bedside.<br />

‘How are you doin’? How’s the<br />

room?”<br />

He pursed his lips and I thought:<br />

Great, he’s going to say something.<br />

“What do you want?” Well, not<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



the ticketbooth magazine<br />

12<br />

quite what I had expected.<br />

“I just stopped by to see how<br />

you’re getting on here. Gill’s<br />

coming in too. I wanted to show<br />

her something.”<br />

He gave me a searching look.<br />

I think he was checking for a<br />

package of some sort, a box or a<br />

newspaper or a present, perhaps.<br />

I smiled at him, left him hanging.<br />

“Nice room.”<br />

“What?”<br />

“I said, nice room.”<br />

“No, what are you going to show<br />

Gillian?”<br />

“It’s a little secret, but it does<br />

concern you.”<br />

I lost him for a moment. He<br />

stared back blankly, and I figured<br />

he was having some internal<br />

struggle staying in the moment.<br />

His eyes danced in confusion,<br />

then narrowed as he pieced the<br />

fragments of our conversation<br />

back to a coherent whole. <strong>The</strong><br />

little guy who switched the lights<br />

on in his brain was back at the<br />

helm.<br />

“What’ve you got? Show me!”<br />

Well, I thought, you did ask. I<br />

reached into my top pocket and<br />

withdrew the photo. I flipped it<br />

onto the bedsheet.<br />

He retrieved it and held it close<br />

to his face, squinting to focus. I<br />

studied him intently, waiting …<br />

His fingers trembled and his<br />

eyes glistened yet never left the<br />

photo. He sniffed and his lower<br />

lip trembled. He clenched his lips<br />

tightly, though the corners of his<br />

mouth turned down and his jaw<br />

started to quiver.<br />

He lowered his arm onto the<br />

bedspread and the photo slipped<br />

from between his fingers. He<br />

turned to face me, and two large<br />

tears tracked down across his<br />

grizzled, unshaven cheeks. He<br />

released a sob, choked back<br />

another, all the while staring at me<br />

through hollowed, hopeless eyes.<br />

I didn’t know how to react. I’d<br />

expected something, but nothing<br />

like this.<br />

“Dad—?”<br />

<strong>The</strong> dam finally burst. He<br />

wailed, long and slow before<br />

surrendering to a paroxysm of<br />

heaving sobs. I gripped his arm<br />

tightly and shook him.<br />

“Dad! Look at me! Stop it!<br />

Sshhhh!” I shook him again, I<br />

couldn’t bring myself to hold him<br />

or comfort him. Gillian chose this<br />

moment to burst through the<br />

door. Her gaze flickered across<br />

the two of us and came to rest on<br />

the photograph stranded in the<br />

chasm between us.<br />

“Oh, Jesus, James, what have<br />

you done?”<br />

“Nothing! I —”<br />

“Get out! Just get away from<br />

him. Let me deal with it.”<br />

“Gill —”<br />

“Go!”<br />

I’d like to think that I didn’t slink<br />

away, but at that moment the<br />

only thing dangling between my<br />

legs was a tail. I paused in the<br />

hallway to try and regain some<br />

composure, some semblance of<br />

dignity. I could hear Gill’s soothing<br />

voice as my dad’s subsided to<br />

a rhythmic weeping like waves<br />

lapping a shore. Finally, I fumbled<br />

my way through the fire doors<br />

and slumped back into the chair<br />

I’d recently vacated. Mercifully,<br />

Gladys was nowhere to be seen.<br />

An hour later, Gillian reappeared,<br />

holding the photo at her side. She<br />

came across, sat in Gladys’s chair<br />

and dropped the photo on my lap.<br />

“I’m sorry,” she sighed, “it’s my<br />

fault. I completely forgot about the<br />

letters. I should’ve told you.”<br />

“What? You mean you knew<br />

about them? Since when?”<br />

“When we moved him into the<br />

home. We were going through<br />

his belongings, y’know, boxing<br />

up stuff and dropping it off at the<br />

hospice shop, mostly chucking<br />

stuff out though. Alan found the<br />

letters bundled in a pile shoved to<br />

the back of a high shelf in Dad’s<br />

wardrobe. He showed them to<br />

me; I showed them to Dad.”<br />

“I bet that went down a treat.<br />

I hope you twisted the knife. He<br />

was such a shit to Mum and then<br />

he went and did this behind her<br />

back.” I was indignant, angry with<br />

him. <strong>The</strong>n something occurred to<br />

me.<br />

“Why the hell did you let him<br />

keep them? In a bloody safety<br />

deposit box, too, for God’s sake!”<br />

“<strong>The</strong>y weren’t mine to toss<br />

away,” Gill replied. She reached<br />

across and touched my knee.<br />

“James, I think you have this all<br />

wrong.”<br />

“Wrong?” I pointed at the fire<br />

doors. “I just find out the only<br />

person that … man … has ever<br />

cared about has nothing to do<br />

with this family? I can’t believe<br />

you’re sticking up for him.”<br />

“You know nothing about him,<br />

and you’re his son,” she chided.<br />

“Did it never occur to you to<br />

wonder why Mum and Dad were<br />

married and I was born in the<br />

same year?<br />

I couldn’t remember the year<br />

they were married. Why would I<br />

want to know that?<br />

“Dad got Mum pregnant. She<br />

didn’t want to marry him, but<br />

Grandma and Grandad made<br />

them go through with it. I think<br />

Mum wanted a career and, well,<br />

I put paid to that dream. Dad told<br />

me they tried to make a go of it<br />

early on; you were born, I don’t<br />

think Rosie was planned, but<br />

there we were. Dad was unhappy,<br />

Mum was unhappy, and in the<br />

end they both knew it.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n Dad met Virginia. I don’t<br />

know how or when it started — he<br />

never told me — but over a year or<br />

so, it apparently developed into a<br />

full-blown love affair. James, you<br />

ought to have seen him when he<br />

spoke about her. He was just so<br />

intense, so alive, I’ve never seen<br />

him like that before.”<br />

“He could at least have told<br />

Mum,” I sniped.<br />

“That’s just it. He did. <strong>The</strong>y had<br />

this big argument. He told Mum<br />

he’d met another woman and<br />

he wanted out. He was going<br />

to marry Virginia. Mum flat out<br />

refused to grant him a divorce.<br />

<strong>The</strong> church didn’t sanction it,<br />

so why should she? And what<br />

about the three of us? Dad said<br />

she pulled out all the stops. So he<br />

stayed, for our sakes, that’s what<br />

he said. Mum wouldn’t sleep with<br />

him after that. She wouldn’t let<br />

him go but wouldn’t let him get


near her.”<br />

I was stunned. “I always thought it was him.”<br />

“Yeah, well, they did a pretty good job of hiding it<br />

from us.”<br />

“I used to think he was just a bitter old bugger when<br />

I was growing up,” I admitted. “Still, if he was any sort<br />

of man, he could’ve just said ‘Screw you’ and gone.<br />

That’s what I would have done in his shoes.”<br />

Gill smiled at me. “One spectacularly failed marriage<br />

later and you’re suddenly a marriage guidance<br />

counsellor?” Checkmate.<br />

“Besides, there was nothing to go to.” She picked up<br />

the photo and gazed at it. “This was the last photo she<br />

mailed him. He’d told her he couldn’t get a divorce.<br />

She hanged herself shortly afterwards.” She looked<br />

back at me and tears well in her eyes. “So this was all<br />

he had left.”<br />

I felt sick, clammy. I shut my eyes and squeezed the<br />

bridge of my nose, took a long, slow breath and held<br />

it.<br />

“Does Rosie know about this as well?”<br />

“No. I think that whenever Dad would look at us, he’d<br />

see in us the choices he’d made but he’d made them<br />

for us and not for him. No need for Rosie to have to<br />

live with that.”<br />

“Thanks,” I said, “Just you and me then.”<br />

We sat together silently, digesting the past,<br />

rearranging the jigsaw to fit the new pattern. Gill<br />

reached across, patted my cheek affectionately and<br />

slipped the photo back into my pocket.<br />

“You’ve still got the key. Perhaps you can put this<br />

back.”<br />

I thought of my dad, weeping inconsolably at those<br />

memories of what could have been which continued<br />

to resist the onslaught of dementia. How much longer<br />

did he have?<br />

“How was he, after I left, I mean?”<br />

“Best you don’t come back for a while. Give him<br />

some time to forget what you did.”<br />

“Not my fault.”<br />

“No, no, not your fault.”<br />

I left without saying goodbye. Can’t say when I’ll be<br />

back.<br />

Alan Cumming has been writing<br />

since 1986 and has published a<br />

trilogy of because in 2012, and<br />

you can really tell that he enjoys<br />

the art. <strong>The</strong> subject matter of his<br />

entry, “Father and Son,” where an<br />

aging father is being committed<br />

to a home by his children, is<br />

difficult and painful, but Alan’s<br />

keen eye for human emotions captures the many<br />

layers of this interaction and frames it for the readers<br />

in a very real way.<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



Selves?<br />

Have We<br />

Found Our<br />

Better<br />


SELVES? is a follow-up to a “survival”<br />

book that was written during the<br />

first three months of the COVID-19<br />

Pandemic. With over a year and a<br />

half of living with the COVID-19 virus<br />

and with the probability of COVID-19<br />

finally being under control, this book<br />

helps all of us step back and take a<br />

look at how we have thought and<br />

acted during the months and months<br />

of pandemic. Ask yourself, “Am I just<br />

trying to forget the whole thing as if it<br />

were just a nightmare? Or, are there<br />

things I have learned about myself<br />

and my family that are important<br />

now and in the future? What new<br />

skills have I learned? Are there ways<br />

I think about and treat other people<br />

that have changed? Do I like myself<br />

better? Am I finding my better self?<br />

Am I also helping each person in my<br />

family find their better selves?<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />


“<br />

template that Covid has imposed.<br />

PAPERBACK | $9.99<br />

HARDBACK | $12.99<br />

EBOOK | $ 1.99<br />

MERIL R. SMITH grew up at the<br />

end of World War II with children of<br />

migrant farm workers, with children<br />

born in the Japanese internment<br />

camps, and with children of day<br />

laborers and blue-collars workers.<br />

Poverty, recessions, and helping<br />

each other were all basic parts of<br />

surviving in his childhood world.<br />

“<br />

... a manual for now and the<br />

future, providing intelligent,<br />

practical guidance for all<br />

concerned with the new lifestyle<br />

- Barbara Bamberger Scott,<br />

<strong>The</strong> US Review of Books<br />




Living through the times of the<br />

Berlin Wall, epidemics of polio,<br />

measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough,<br />

and chickenpox, economic recessions, the<br />

assassination of President Kennedy, the space<br />

race, the development of Silicon Valley, the<br />

Vietnam War, and the tragedy of 9/11 have<br />

all fueled Meril’s passion for understanding<br />

people and events.<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



<strong>The</strong> book is about being touched by one<br />

true living God, that is Jesus, and how life<br />

is like in the hands of Jesus. Walking with a<br />

living God changes the entire perspective<br />

of life on this earth. <strong>The</strong> constant worry<br />

about death and dying once upon a time<br />

was comforted by the Lord Jesus Himself. In<br />

summary, He gave the author a new life with<br />

a destiny to fulfill on this earth, the ability<br />

to live in the presence of God 24/7, and a<br />

promise of eternal life. <strong>The</strong> author is fully in<br />

love with the Lord Jesus, and the book was<br />

birth at the appointed time from the Lord as<br />

a gift to the world.<br />

Ever since a young<br />

teenager, the author<br />

was keen on the<br />

subject of God and<br />

His existence. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

were many burning<br />

questions about<br />

human existence and<br />

God and what life is<br />

all about. In the midst of being born into a<br />

family with strong faith, the author was yet<br />

searching for God. <strong>The</strong> hunger went on for<br />

many years due to the fear that everyone<br />

will die one day and where they will go after<br />

that. Born and raised surrounded by many<br />

faiths, the author was keen on learning<br />

about the other faiths with the hope one day<br />

the author will meet God. <strong>The</strong> search ended<br />

when the one true living God touches the<br />

author on an unexpected, ordinary day, and<br />

ever since then life took a 180-degree turn,<br />

and the rest is history.<br />

<strong>The</strong> reason for writing this book is to<br />

reach people walking in my shoes. <strong>The</strong><br />

author wanted to announce to the world<br />

that there is a living God. By writing this<br />

book, the good news of the gospel can<br />

be delivered. <strong>The</strong> book also stands as a<br />

testimony to the world that Jesus saves and<br />

He gives a new life once you are born again.<br />

<strong>The</strong> inspiration was the Holy Spirit that is<br />

in the author’s life. <strong>The</strong> Lord gave the author<br />

a season of writing, and this book was<br />

produced simply by obeying that voice.<br />

<strong>The</strong> target audience is everyone that can<br />

read from any age and is interested in the<br />

subject of God and human life. Additionally,<br />

this book was written to reach people in<br />

areas where the good news is not being<br />

heard. <strong>The</strong> Lord Jesus said in Matthew 24:<br />

14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be<br />

preached in all the world as a witness to<br />

all the nations, and then the end will come.”<br />

<strong>The</strong>refore, this book can be well served<br />

to deliver the message of Jesus to the<br />

unreachable places in the world.<br />

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Where is the<br />

Justice?<br />

Second Edition<br />

William F. Hill<br />

I have always felt that we have greatest country in<br />

the world. It has always given me great pleasure<br />

to see honest, hardworking people and who are<br />

willing to take risks to get ahead and succeed. I<br />

always felt that this was that America got to be<br />

great and that we all should be working hard to<br />

help improve our own lives and the lives of others<br />

by carrying on this great American tradition. As a<br />

result of being brought up with this thinking, I am<br />

more than willing to go out of my way to try to<br />

help people succeed and obtain their goals. To see<br />

people succeed in their life’s goals and ambitions<br />

has always been very gratifying to me and given<br />

me a good feeling.<br />

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<strong>The</strong> End Of <strong>The</strong><br />

Closet<br />

Vincent R. Petrucci<br />

<strong>The</strong> story talks about a young boy who spends a<br />

lot of time at his Nonno and Nonna’s house growing<br />

up. It is a farm and he is always busy there with<br />

his cousins and grandparents. He loves adventure.<br />

<strong>The</strong> book illustrates how a young boy lives on his<br />

family’s farm. His everyday life one summer and<br />

enjoying being with his family. <strong>The</strong> comfort of love<br />

that turns into a mystery, the book leaves a person<br />

wondering what happened. <strong>The</strong>re are several<br />

allegory meanings throughout the short story.<br />

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Simple Man’S<br />

Dreams: Stories of<br />

the Hunt<br />

Victor Scarinzi<br />

Victor Scarinzi, a self-described Italian redneck,<br />

shares stories that range from daydreaming as a boy,<br />

to getting into trouble as a teenager, to learning the<br />

lessons of adulthood in this collection of memoirs.<br />

It was by spending time in nature that he became<br />

convinced that there must be a God, because<br />

who else could create the wonderful woods, lakes,<br />

mountains, swamps, deserts, and animals that you see<br />

in the outdoors? Fishing, hunting, thinking of faraway<br />

places, sorting out his dreams, and planning his<br />

future usually with a dog tagging along by his side are<br />

some of what he treasures most. <strong>The</strong> stories will no<br />

doubt make you think of your own happy memories<br />

in nature and inspire you to protect the outdoors and<br />

all that is in it. Join a simple man as he shares simple<br />

dreamsmany of which hes accomplishedand thers<br />

that he hasnt given up on yet.<br />

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I Remember<br />

Running: Sequel to<br />

It Is Morning<br />

Vernon Bargainer<br />

Young Lorrie Dean did it all for love—and now, she’s<br />

running for her life. When she learns that Andy,<br />

her childhood sweetheart, is searching for her, she<br />

makes the bold choice to find her. Trouble is, she<br />

is in the witness protection program, and for good<br />

reason. As soon as she surfaces, her enemies rush<br />

in for revenge.<br />

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From a Distance<br />

Vernon Bargainer<br />

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Lock is on a desperate<br />

run for safety. As she sits behind the wheel of a<br />

stolen truck and speeds away from Dallas, Texas,<br />

she knows the battle is not over. Emotionally<br />

devastated, Sarah watched helplessly as her<br />

dream of finding someone to love her despite her<br />

shame—despite the wounds of a humiliating stigma<br />

thrust upon her as a child—shatters before her<br />

eyes.<br />

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At the Feet of Angels<br />

Vernon Bargainer<br />

This is the tale of Jenny Burnett, a young child,<br />

kidnapped by her uncle and sold on the black<br />

market to a childless couple. It is the compelling<br />

drama of Jenny’s endless pining for her real<br />

mother, of her instinctive, yet daring, attempts<br />

to escape, of growing abuse at the hands of her<br />

adoptive mother, and of the hapless efforts of a<br />

sympathetic but inept adoptive father. It is a story<br />

of the child’s quest for salvation in her play, in the<br />

enduring friendship she strikes with a little neighbor<br />

boy she never gets to see, and in daydreams of<br />

angels and fairies she wills into the sky above her<br />

prison playground<br />

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It Is Morning<br />

Vernon Bargainer<br />

Twenty years ago, young Andy Boone shared an<br />

absorbing and unforgettable experience with his<br />

fifth-grade sweetheart. Now, laden with sadness<br />

and guilt, he searched in vain for the young woman<br />

and her family. <strong>The</strong> search begins when he crashes<br />

his car into a prairie fence in East Texas one rainy<br />

April morning in 1992. Little does he know that this<br />

chance blunder is destined to have repercussions<br />

far beyond the deep scratches on the rear of his<br />

car. Inexplicably, he will be drawn back to this spot<br />

again and again.<br />

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Airplane Stories<br />

and Histories<br />

Norman Currey<br />


hundred years of aviation highlights including the<br />

exploits of pioneers such as Sir George Cayley, the<br />

Wright brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Wiley Post,<br />

Amelia Earheart, R. J. Mitchell, Sir Geoffrey de<br />

Havilland, Allan Loughead, Frank Whittle, and Kelly<br />

Johnson. Notable events and developments are<br />

discussed, first Atlantic flights, World War airplanes,<br />

jet engine development and post-war dedesigns. It<br />

concludes with a discussion of new designs…<br />

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Have We Found Our<br />

Better Selves?:<br />

(What We Can Learn from Covid-19)<br />

Meril R. Smith<br />

HAVE WE FOUND OUR BETTER SELVES? is a followup<br />

to a “survival” book that was written during the<br />

first three months of the COVID-19 Pandemic. With<br />

over a year and a half of living with the COVID-19<br />

virus and with the probability of COVID-19 finally<br />

being under control, this book helps all of us step<br />

back and take a look at how we have thought and<br />

acted during the months and months of pandemic.<br />

Ask yourself, “Am I just trying to forget the whole<br />

thing as if it were just a nightmare? Or, are there<br />

things I have learned about myself and my family<br />

that are important now and in the future? What<br />

new skills have I learned? Are there ways I think<br />

about and treat other people that have changed?<br />

Do I like myself better? Am I finding my better self?<br />

Am I also helping each person in my family find<br />

their better selves?<br />

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Out of Habit<br />

Kathleen Dutton<br />

Since the age of ten, Allison Weston has lived<br />

under the sheltering arms of the nuns at St. Ives<br />

Institution. Sister Margaret, Allie’s guardian, is<br />

concerned that Allie is hiding from the nightmares<br />

of a tragic childhood. So after Allie’s college<br />

graduation, Margaret insists that Allie experience<br />

life outside the institution before taking her vows.<br />

In Allie, rookie reporter Ryan Harper suspects<br />

secrets so dark that he hungers to break the<br />

story. But he doesn’t bargain on falling in love and<br />

struggles with the delicate balance of unleashing<br />

the torment of Allie’s past without breaking her in<br />

the process.<br />

With Ryan’s unyielding support, Allie discovers the<br />

courage to face the shattering truth of her past and<br />

change the things we do strictly... OUT OF HABIT.<br />

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Kaleidoscope of<br />

Being<br />

Jennifer Toth<br />

Kaleidoscope of Being is my spiritual<br />

journey with the Lord through the<br />

ups and downs of Bipolar Disorder as<br />

well as life in general. God and nature<br />

play main roles in seeing me through<br />

this illness every day in every way.<br />

Welcome to my world.<br />

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From Homeless<br />

to Heaven<br />

Jeanne Ann Off<br />

Usually Cody Cambres had to do ranch work alone<br />

in the winter. However, he had a standing order<br />

with an employment agency for an employee. One<br />

winter he was surprised to get a call saying a man<br />

would be on the bus that evening. Alan told Cody<br />

that he wanted a job and a warm place to sleep<br />

instead of living outdoors as a homeless man. Alan<br />

had refused to stay in any mission shelter because<br />

of life experiences involving religion. He does<br />

enjoy ranch work. In the spring Cody and Alan are<br />

checking cows and the calves born that spring<br />

when a bullet hits Alan. Later a bullet from the same<br />

rifle kills Cody’s best horse. Fire begins on Cody’s<br />

ranch and spreads. Aimi’s house burns down and<br />

Aimi’s husband is murdered by a bullet from the<br />

same rifle. Alan helps both Cody and Aimi with<br />

ranch work. Friendship develops.<br />

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Cowboy on the<br />

Wrong Train<br />

Jeanne Ann Off<br />

“Jeanne Ann Off has written a combination cattleranching<br />

murder mystery, which is enhanced<br />

by being dialogue-driven. Exposition is kept to<br />

a minimum except to explain some of the beekeeping<br />

intricacies. It has a fast-paced plot that<br />

never drags. Even the cattle-raising scenes are<br />

informative. When a young (18-year-old) cowboy’s<br />

curiosity gets him on a stopped train in the middle<br />

of nowhere while looking for stray cattle and he is<br />

kidnapped, the action gets even more exciting.<br />

“ Throw in a little bit about bees and beetles, and<br />

you have a well-rounded story. And of course,<br />

there’s the boy-girl buddy relationship. <strong>The</strong> book<br />

could have used some basic punctuation editing,<br />

but there’s nothing serious enough to distract the<br />

reader.<br />

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Acid and Bribery<br />

Jeanne Ann Off<br />

Tomar El Oro, the stakes winning three-year-old<br />

American Quarter Horse stallion favored to win<br />

the race, unexpectedly lost miserably. Having<br />

overheard a conversation that suggested bribery,<br />

Kelsey Kelley wondered if her best friend’s father,<br />

Eustacio Rios, was bribed to lose.<br />

While Kelsey searched for clues, her father, who<br />

had deserted his family, arrived wanting to make<br />

amends, much to Kelsey’s disgust. Kelsey learned<br />

to accept both disappointment and success as she<br />

was caught by the intrigue and personal danger,<br />

while dealing Pete Kelley’s sudden new involvement<br />

in her life.<br />

24<br />

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Where Poetry<br />

Dwells<br />

Connie Holt<br />

Born in Belfast, Tennessee.<br />

I have loved writing since<br />

the age of ten. Writing is a<br />

good encouragement for<br />

thoughts and imaginations,<br />

building blocks for strong<br />

faith and love. Before there<br />

is a book, it is merely gaining<br />

life experience. Love for<br />

my husband, who has<br />

passed away two years<br />

ago and privilege of kids,<br />

grandchildren, who I love<br />

and they love me.<br />

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101 Shades<br />

of Clay: Vol I<br />

Genesis<br />

Catherine Elizabeth Clay<br />

Catherine Elizabeth Clay was born<br />

on June 1st and lives in Los Angeles<br />

with her teenage son. She lives with<br />

a brain tumor you get to age with,<br />

an arachnoid cyst, over her pituitary<br />

gland that caused her to come<br />

so hard she hit the ceiling. “<strong>The</strong><br />

Gentle Art of Female Ejaculation<br />

AKA How to Fuck Like a Porn Star”<br />

OneOpinionatedBitch.Com/I/love/<br />

sex was written in 1997 for “the<br />

Post Feminist Playground” for the<br />

naysayers of the power of the pussy<br />

and Skene’s gland that caused a<br />

girl to “squirt”. “Resistance Training<br />

(pushing down on someone when<br />

they are inside you) grows both<br />

muscles to give you a better sex life.<br />

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What the<br />

Bible Really<br />

Tells Us<br />

Adrian Benard<br />

So many of us grow up being<br />

constantly reminded about an allforgiving,<br />

merciful, and beneficent<br />

deity. All throughout life, it can<br />

even be drummed into us that we<br />

cannot live happy, purposeful lives<br />

without a heavenly father who<br />

protects us and grants our wishes<br />

through prayer. And if things don’t<br />

go according to plan, then we<br />

are simply told that God works in<br />

mysterious ways! But what if we<br />

have more questions? What if these<br />

things we are being told, taught,<br />

and even sold just don’t live up to<br />

expectation?<br />

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Acid and Bribery<br />

PAPERBACK | $9.99<br />

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Tomar El Oro, the stakes winning three-year-old American<br />

Quarter Horse stallion favored to win the race, unexpectedly<br />

lost miserably. Having overheard a conversation that suggested<br />

bribery, Kelsey Kelley wondered if her best friend’s father,<br />

Eustacio Rios, was bribed to lose.<br />

While Kelsey searched for clues,v her father, who had deserted<br />

his family, arrived wanting to make amends, much to Kelsey’s<br />

disgust. Kelsey learned to accept both disappointment and success as she was caught by<br />

the intrigue and personal danger, while dealing Pete Kelley’s sudden new involvement in<br />

her life.<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />



Kelsey is a sixteen-year-old girl who loves horses and is<br />

lucky enough to work at a racetrack. When her favorite<br />

horse is the victim of an attempt to end his racing<br />

career forever, Kelsey races into action to discover who<br />

is trying to shut down Derbyrun Downs. Along with her<br />

best friend, Saira, Kelsey hurries to solve the mystery<br />

before more racehorses are hurt. When the girls get<br />

too close to finding answers, they begin to worry they<br />

may become the next victims.<br />

While Kelsey’s job at the racetrack is all about horses,<br />

her life is not. Whether she’s snooping for suspects or<br />

going to the movie theatre with her friends, Kelsey is an<br />

incredibly relatable character. She’s just a teenage girl;<br />

she makes poor decisions that her mother has to help<br />

her out of, she worries about whether the cute security<br />

guard wants to go out with her, and she struggles to<br />

forgive her previously absent father and his new wife.<br />

Saira also works at the racetrack, and gives Kelsey<br />

lessons in horseback riding and speaking Spanish. <strong>The</strong><br />

best girlfriends get into trouble and get out of it with<br />

the help of their friends and families. Together the two<br />

are a dynamic duo who work hard and play hard.<br />

As an author, Jeanne Ann Off creates a suspenseful<br />

mystery with all the makings of a young adult hit. Acid<br />

& Bribery is fun, fast and might actually teach the<br />

reader something about the racehorse industry. Off’s<br />

effort at realism separates her novel from scores of<br />

pony-in-the-bedroom books, and appeals to readers<br />

with mud on their boots and horse hair permanently<br />

installed in the lining of their jacket. <strong>The</strong> only obstacle<br />

to Acid & Bribery‘s place in the winner’s circle are a<br />

number of significant punctuation and grammatical<br />

errors. This issue can become distracting at times from<br />

the actual story.<br />

Acid & Bribery takes readers behind the barns at the<br />

racetrack, through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Kelsey.<br />

We cheer with her as her horses cross the finish line,<br />

and we cheer for her when the cute security guard<br />

finally asks her on a date. Kelsey is an adventurous<br />

teenage girl who dreams big and works hard to<br />

achieve her goal of becoming a racehorse trainer.<br />

She’s a good role model, and the best friend you could<br />

ever want to guide you through the mystery of Acid &<br />

Bribery. Overall, I did enjoy the book as a whole. <strong>The</strong><br />

storyline was a great idea and the characters have<br />

potential to be favorites. For anyone that likes to get<br />

lost in a story, I would recommend Acid & Briberyby<br />

Jeanne Ann Off.<br />

-Allison Walker, Pacific Book Review<br />

With so many stories filled with action and adventure<br />

in faraway lands, it’s sometimes easy to forget that<br />

a story more grounded in reality can still be just as<br />

entertaining. A title like Acid and Bribery doesn’t give<br />

you much to go on, but it does offer some mystery<br />

and mystique. Though this is a primarily human story<br />

focusing on the behind-the-scenes relationships at a<br />

horse track, there is little acid and bribery to spice up<br />

the story.<br />

<strong>The</strong> story follows Kelsey, a young woman who cares<br />

for horses at Derbyrun Downs. Horses are falling sick<br />

in the stalls, including Kelsey’s favored horse Tomar<br />

el Oro and it may not be as natural as they initially<br />

thought. While Kelsey is trying to figure out what has<br />

happened to Tomar and other horses, she also has to<br />

deal with a father who has recently returned to her life,<br />

her growing interest in romance, and a potential threat<br />

to her life. For the horses’ sake and to keep herself<br />

safe, she must figure out who is behind all the turmoil<br />

behind the scenes at the track.<br />

Author Jeanne Ann Off is an imaginative writer who<br />

tells a compelling story about a topic that many would<br />

find pedestrian. Readers will find themselves invested<br />

in the mystery surrounding Derbyrun Downs and all<br />

the chaos in Kelsey’s life, which is a direct result of Off’s<br />

writing style. One of the many significant strengths of<br />

this book is that there is no fluff, not a single wasted<br />

word. <strong>The</strong> book is still a perfect length, leading<br />

readers to feel like they got a fulfilling story that leaves<br />

everything on the table. <strong>The</strong> book ends with the first<br />

chapter of Off’s next book, which will excite readers<br />

who are fans of her writing style.<br />

Usually, horse stories are marketed toward a<br />

specific group, but this is truly a story for everyone.<br />

It does tackle some mature content, but it does<br />

it in a way that is not graphic, opening up a larger<br />

audience for the story. Jeanne Ann Off found a great<br />

niche and spun a great tale with Acid and Bribery, and<br />

readers should look forward to anything else on which<br />

she is currently working.<br />

-Arthur Thares, <strong>The</strong> Hollywood Review<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



Cowboy on the<br />

Wrong Train:<br />

Mouse with a Clue<br />

PAPERBACK | $12.99<br />

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This is Jeanne’s second book. <strong>The</strong> first was Acid and<br />

Bribery, also a young adult mystery. Cowboy on the<br />

Wrong Train is a fictional story based on Jeanne’s<br />

experience growing up in Colorado Middle Park<br />

cattle ranch and her imagination. It is a mystery for<br />

young adults, all mystery readers, those interested<br />

in ranch life and those who like reading novels<br />

without profanity.<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />



Cowboy on<br />

the Wrong Train:<br />

Mouse with a Clue,<br />

author Jeanne Ann Off<br />

gives readers an endearing and<br />

suspenseful tale of mystery in a novel<br />

which could be classified as a coming-ofage<br />

western, and a morality tale. Although<br />

set in modern times, these characters<br />

and this story harkens back to simpler times,<br />

underscored by the hard work ethic of the ranch, a<br />

nostalgic nod to earlier pioneering times of the west, and<br />

a spiritual message of goodness and Christian fellowship. This<br />

might be neatly classified as young adult fiction, but older readers<br />

will also appreciate the suspense, the relatable characters, and the<br />

deeper spiritual meanings that augment and even help drive the plot.<br />

Ty Grenshaw is a modest young ranch worker, living in small-town, Gully,<br />

Colorado. He prides himself on hard work and loyalty to the woman he loves:<br />

Patti Dileo. He is an unassuming man and, in the end, a reluctant hero. Patti, a young<br />

agent at Gully Real Estate, has brought out-of-state investors in to purchase a<br />

ranch. This group, led by the mysterious “Skeet,” seems legitimate at first. But when<br />

they are implicated in the murder of a local man, the simple life in this small town<br />

is upended. Ty, his friend George, and Patti go on about their work, all the while<br />

cautiously sifting for clues to unravel the real story behind the murder and these<br />

strange outsiders.<br />

While searching for missing cattle, Ty ends up literally in the wrong place at the<br />

wrong time. However, his brushes with real danger enlighten him in more ways than<br />

one. <strong>The</strong> author builds the suspense quite well, always keeping the reader and the<br />

protagonists guessing. Ty and Patti learn of a “Secret Organization” whose radical<br />

aims not only threaten their lives but their way of life; their cultural heritage. Add<br />

to that a mystenous young girl, named Nirvana, living in the forest, and you have<br />

mysteries begetting more mysteries. So, what seems like a small coup by the Skeetled<br />

cabal turns out to have much larger political and cultural implications. As these<br />

plots thicken, Patti undergoes a spiritual awakening mirroring TVs awakening to the<br />

cruel realities of the real world outside the quaintness of their small town.<br />

This story really is a page-turner because of the action and suspense-driven plot.<br />

<strong>The</strong> author’s knowledge of ranch life and command of Biblical scriptures shine as<br />

the foundations of the novel. She even provides a glossary of Biblical quotes. <strong>The</strong><br />

Christian themes give this mystery more depth and resonance because Patti’s and<br />

TVs spiritual awakening parallels their growing awareness of the conspiratorial<br />

threats to their very way of life. In the end, will the rnystery be solved? That wont<br />

be spoiled here, but I will say that this novel has some solid suspense and moral<br />

insights, giving readers a charming story with more than subtle hints at grander,<br />

spiritual significance.<br />

-Jason Lulos, Hollywood Review<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



the ticketbooth magazine<br />

Author Jeanne Ann Off’s From Homeless to<br />

Heaven is, in its very title as well as its narrative,<br />

a kind of rags to riches story. It centers around<br />

a formerly homeless man, Alan Washburn, who<br />

chooses to work on a Colorado ranch, instead of<br />

living in a homeless shelter. However, the “riches”<br />

Washburn experiences are far more of the<br />

spiritual variety than monetary kind. Although he<br />

arrived with little physical baggage when he went<br />

to live with and work for Cody Chambers, he still<br />

carried much emotional baggage.<br />

Washburn liked almost everything about the job and<br />

the outdoors environment at Chambers’ cattle ranch.<br />

He was a natural when it came to performing physical<br />

labor, and what he didn’t already know how to do,<br />

he learned to do quickly. Washburn and Chambers<br />

made a fine team and developed a symbiotic working<br />

relationship. Even so, Washburn brought some heavy<br />

unseen baggage with him to his new role. You see, the<br />

Chambers family (of a husband, wife and small son),<br />

were loyal churchgoing Christians. At first, Washburn<br />

resisted Cody Chambers’ church invitations. Washburn<br />

had had some bad experiences with church in the past<br />

and simply didn’t have room for any religion in his life.<br />

<strong>The</strong> book’s author, Jeanne Ann Off, has a Bachelor of<br />

Science degree from Colorado State University and<br />

a Bible College degree from Faith Bible Institute. This<br />

science education shows through on some of the<br />

book’s more technical sections, while her Bible studies<br />

come into play whenever the Bible or theology are<br />

discussed in the book.<br />

As a family of faith, the Chambers do it right when<br />

it comes to ‘being a witness’ to their employee/<br />

guest. Although Cody is quick to provide an answer<br />

whenever Washburn asks God-related questions, he’s<br />

not the type of man to ever push his faith on another.<br />

Instead of constantly thumping Washburn with his<br />

Bible, so to speak, Cody and his family show their faith<br />

in the way they live their lives, instead. Washburn and<br />

the Chambers face many hardships – both natural<br />

and human-made – throughout the story. In all these<br />

situations, though, the Chambers exemplify doing the<br />

right thing, which is not always the easy thing.<br />

One of Washburn’s biggest trials is his continuing<br />

encounters with his ex-wife, who has become a thorn<br />

in his side. He discovers that he impregnated his wife<br />

before they separated, which leads him to request<br />

and receive full custody of his young son. He also<br />

eventually comes to Christian faith. Furthermore, he<br />

falls in love with a recently widowed neighbor named<br />

Aimi, and they are married before book’s end.<br />

A big part of Off’s story is watching Washburn evolve<br />

from an angry, formerly homeless and recently<br />

divorced man, into a more spiritually centered family<br />

man. It is encouraging to watch Washburn’s life change<br />

– for the better. <strong>The</strong> message of the Gospel is that<br />

Christ died for all, and that nobody – no matter what<br />

bad things they’ve done in life – is ever completely<br />

out of God’s reach. Off tells this story by including<br />

appropriate scripture references whenever these are<br />

appropriate. This book is Christian-focused, without<br />

ever becoming overly preachy.<br />

From a Christian worldview, even folks living in the<br />

nicest homes are essentially still homeless. Yes, Alan<br />

Washburn was physically homeless, but he wasn’t all<br />

the way home until he found his heavenly home with<br />

his Christian brothers and sisters. It’s also worth noting<br />

that Washburn wasn’t promised some ‘pie in the sky’<br />

salvation by the Chambers family. <strong>The</strong>y helped him<br />

find joy and peace right here on Earth, long before his<br />

earthly life ended.<br />

All things may not always be good, but with a little faith,<br />

they do eventually work together for the good. This is<br />

the message of Jeanne Ann Off’s encouraging story.<br />

-Dan MacIntosh, Pacific Book Review<br />



From Homeless to Heaven<br />

PAPERBACK | $9.99<br />

EBOOK | $ 3.99<br />

Usually Cody Cambres had to do ranch work alone in the winter.<br />

However, he had a standing order with an employment agency for an<br />

employee. One winter he was surprised to get a call saying a man would<br />

be on the bus that evening. Alan told Cody that he wanted a job and a<br />

warm place to sleep instead of living outdoors as a homeless man. Alan<br />

had refused to stay in any mission shelter because of life experiences<br />

involving religion. He does enjoy ranch work. In the spring Cody and<br />

Alan are checking cows and the calves born that spring when a bullet<br />

hits Alan. Later a bullet from the same rifle kills Cody’s best horse. Fire<br />

begins on Cody’s ranch and spreads. Aimi’s house burns down and<br />

Aimi’s husband is murdered by a bullet from the same rifle. Alan helps<br />

both Cody and Aimi with ranch work. Friendship develops.<br />

JEANNE<br />

ANN<br />

OFF<br />

JEANNE ANN OFF has a Bachelor<br />

of Science degree from Colorado<br />

State University and a Bible College<br />

degree from Faith Bible Institute. She<br />

also took a writing course from the<br />

Institute of Children’s Literature. She’s<br />

married to her wonderful husband<br />

Don Off, and they celebrated their<br />

64th wedding anniversary in 2021.<br />

Both of them grew up on Western<br />

Colorado cattle ranches. 31<br />



STEPS<br />

Victor Cino<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />

32<br />

For three weeks now, Luke had listened to her screams, but<br />

on this night, one of her screams was an excruciating, shrill<br />

scream which forced him to muffle his ears. He could not<br />

stand her pain any longer, and so Luke lifted himself weakly<br />

and painfully from his den leather chair, took his cane and<br />

walked with slow steps over to his walnut desk.<br />

Outside, Vermont snow lay icy and crusted over the grass of<br />

his front yard, tall oak and maple trees stood barren of leaves,<br />

and he could see not a living soul. <strong>The</strong> sun began its evening<br />

descent to the horizon behind dark, gray clouds. Trickles of<br />

tears dripped down his cheek. It was time he thought.<br />

He opened the front drawer of his desk and pulled out the<br />

snub nose .32 caliber pistol he had kept there since New York,<br />

fully loaded but never used. He held the gun in his hand and<br />

wondered if he was about to do the right thing. Just then he

heard his wife scream again, a long scream this time<br />

which she could not control, her cancer tearing oked up<br />

to the second floor and once again counted thwe steps. It<br />

was his habit as he grew older to count them to measure<br />

his progress, for it was painful to climb those steps; but<br />

now, he knew he would not mind the pain he would suffer<br />

climbing them.<br />

With great difficulty he grabbed the bannister and<br />

began to climb with cane still on his arm and gun in hand.<br />

Crouching down he lifted his legs each step up the steps,<br />

his mission in mind, the gun in his hand shaking. It was<br />

not easy for him to walk the thirteen steps, but he did not<br />

mind the pain.<br />

He recalled the first time he had noticed her, her house<br />

across the way from his. How old were they he thought?<br />

No more than three. He watched her golden hair fly as she<br />

mounted her tricycle and rode up and down the sidewalk,<br />

smiling and laughing and screaming with joy as she rode<br />

her tricycle laughing and screaming with joy as her legs<br />

pedaled faster and faster. He knew even then he loved her.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was no getting around it. He loved her.<br />

Was this memory perhaps a figment of his imagination?<br />

He could not remember, but it was so encased in his mind<br />

that after all those years, the memory became a reality.<br />

He smiled through his tears as he continued his climb,<br />

carefully measuring every step to avoid a fall.<br />

And now they were both very old, wrinkled, weak,<br />

thinning bones, shrinking bodies, closer to death than<br />

ever before, and she would be gone once he reached the<br />

last step, walked into their bedroom and shot her.<br />

He thought again how he loved her from that first<br />

moment and how over the years she had saved him so<br />

many times. How could he kill her after she cared for<br />

him as if she were his guardian angel. And as he climbed<br />

the steps he knew the memory of that moment was real,<br />

not fictitious, and wondered how strange it was for him<br />

to remember her tricycle ride so distant in time, but<br />

still there strong in his mind. Tears flowed freely as he<br />

thought that he would now be killing this child who had<br />

became his guardian, his wife, his love for all his life.<br />

<strong>The</strong> third step found him thinking of second grade<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was Laura watching with her hand to her mouth<br />

as Biff held him face down, pushing his face to the floor.<br />

Luke recalled how he could barely breathe. He kept<br />

gasping for air and face down he saw Laura, her hand<br />

to her mouth, terrified at what Biff was doing to him and<br />

enjoying Luke’s suffering. He looked up and smiled at<br />

Laura, then laughed. He pounded Luke in the head and<br />

laughed again. That was enough for Laura.<br />

She looked around to see what she could find and there<br />

it was, a heavy metal basket full of debris.<br />

She picked up the basket, dumped the garbage, and with<br />

clenched teeth ran over to Biff and smashed it against<br />

his head again and again. Biff screamed. He let Luke<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



the ticketbooth magazine<br />

34<br />

go and felt his head which bled<br />

from a deep cut. Blood flowed<br />

freely down his neck. He got up<br />

screaming and ran down the<br />

school hall with Laura in pursuit.<br />

She stopped when he turned the<br />

corner, turned to Luke, ran back<br />

and lifted him from the floor.<br />

“Let’s go before anyone sees us.”<br />

She looked at his head. No blood.<br />

She smiled. She took his hand and<br />

leading him, ran down the hall<br />

the opposite way of Biff and out<br />

the door of the school; and then<br />

she laughed, that same laugh he<br />

recognized when she was three<br />

with blonde hair flowing riding<br />

her tricycle.<br />

“He’s not chasing us now. We’re<br />

safe!” She laughed and held his<br />

hand, the hand he now held the<br />

gun with. He recalled that time<br />

when she saved him from getting<br />

beat up by Biff.<br />

He could not recall what step he<br />

was on but rested. He was tired.<br />

He thought he was halfway up<br />

the steps, but he needed rest, and<br />

so he paused, and suddenly he<br />

recalled how he never needed<br />

rest when he played soccer at<br />

Colgate. He recalled how the<br />

coach pulled him from the field<br />

and had asked him if he was tired.<br />

“Tired? No sir. I feel great. Can I go<br />

back in?”<br />

And as he climbed the thirteen<br />

steps, he thought of Laura on<br />

that Saturday afternoon as he<br />

played soccer at Colgate. Just a<br />

few students watching his game.<br />

He could hear the crowd from<br />

the football stadium, and knew<br />

Laura was there watching her<br />

boyfriend, the star quarterback<br />

for Colgate.<br />

It was cold and his heart was<br />

breaking, knowing she was<br />

there just a few yards away,<br />

watching her boyfriend. He ran<br />

hard. He ignored the cold , felt no<br />

pain when he smashed against<br />

Syracuse players and knocked<br />

them down.<br />

But his heart was breaking, his<br />

pain almost intolerable, warm<br />

with love for her, but breaking<br />

from pain. That was love all right!<br />

Painful if not returned, and<br />

breaking as easily as a cold twig<br />

in winter, for he knew Laura was<br />

not a few hundred yards away<br />

watching the Colgate-Syracuse<br />

football game.<br />

Luke knew she was dating the<br />

star quarterback for Colgate. She<br />

was in the stands at the game, no<br />

doubt. He ran hard not to think of<br />

her, but it was no use. No amount<br />

of running could end the pain in<br />

his heart.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was a sidekick and action<br />

paused. He could hear the roar<br />

of the crowd of 30,000 at the<br />

football game, and his heart sunk<br />

deeper. He looked for her, but she<br />

was not there.<br />

And then the soccer ball fell out<br />

of bounds and he ran to retrieve<br />

it, and when he looked up, there<br />

she was, smiling , clapping her<br />

hands and waving to him! He<br />

smiled and waved back! She<br />

shocked him, and then he knew<br />

she loved him and they would<br />

be together! That was Laura, his<br />

great love. And once again she<br />

saved him from the pain breaking<br />

his heart, saved him from despair,<br />

and saved him one more time.<br />

That was Laura!<br />

He wiped tears from his eyes<br />

and smiled at one of the great<br />

moments of his life, a moment he<br />

would never forget. He knew that<br />

Laura had given up the Colgate<br />

quarterback for him. At the half,<br />

he went over to kiss her, cold<br />

cheeks, warm lips, tasty , sweet<br />

and loving.<br />

And he loved her still as he held<br />

the gun in his hand, pausing to<br />

rest. He lifted himself up gingerly,<br />

and began his climb shaking his<br />

head and gritting his teeth. Laura<br />

screamed again, and Luke gave<br />

out a frightful sound of his own<br />

knowing what was to come. Could<br />

he do it? He was not certain. He<br />

would know when he reached the<br />

top of the steps, walked into their<br />

bedroom and saw her lying there.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n he would know.<br />

He felt a chill run through his<br />

body. He suffered a bad cold the<br />

past winter. but there she was.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y loved Vermont but the air<br />

was cold, damp and wet, the sky<br />

cloudy most of the time, and his<br />

solace then was the fireplace<br />

as he shivered, and Laura. She<br />

placed a wool blanket over him,<br />

put a large cup of hot cider there<br />

for him to drink, the cider she<br />

made which warmed his heart,<br />

warmed his body and saved him<br />

from fever, pneumonia. Once<br />

again, Laura had saved him. And<br />

now he was about to kill her.<br />

Flames from the fireplace<br />

flickered and danced across her<br />

face and she leaned over and<br />

kissed Luke, and it was always<br />

for him a kiss as if their first kiss,<br />

warm and moist. In winter Laura<br />

kept the house warm and he was<br />

happy, at peace, and filled with<br />

love for her, for she cared for all<br />

his needs.<br />

And when early spring reached<br />

the mountaintop where their<br />

house stood, Luke held Laura<br />

in early morning, when cool<br />

clouds overhead finally gave way<br />

to sunshine and tiny droplets on<br />

the grass began to dry, he went<br />

out to the porch with Laura, his<br />

body free of wet air. He held her<br />

close for she had saved him once<br />

again, and he loved her there<br />

on the porch in early morning,<br />

looking out with her over the vast


expanse of one hundred acres<br />

they owned.<br />

And beyond their land, peaks<br />

of tall mountains were covered<br />

in clouds which moved ever so<br />

slowly. She brought him coffee and<br />

toast and leaned over and kissed<br />

him, and he wondered about her<br />

beauty and whether Laura was<br />

more beautiful than the grass now<br />

dry, the tall mountains now free<br />

of clouds and sky so blue, or the<br />

rays of sunlight which rose ever<br />

so slowly above the horizon. Laura<br />

was more beautiful than all of<br />

these. And he thought again how<br />

she had saved him.<br />

It was good to move away from<br />

New York. Bad memories and bad<br />

times.<br />

Back then she waited for him<br />

late at night until one in the<br />

morning. He went into their<br />

bedroom quietly not to wake her,<br />

but there she was , light on and<br />

reading, and with just an icy look<br />

from sad blue eyes. her blonde<br />

hair lying loose on her pillow, sat<br />

up, placed her book on the pillow<br />

next to her, and exposed him.<br />

He knew the jig was up. She<br />

was calm and Luke was terrified.<br />

What was she about to say?<br />

Would she throw him out? Worse,<br />

divorce him? But she did not<br />

shout; instead, she spoke calmly.<br />

“You’re drunk. I can smell you<br />

from here. Your suit is wrinkled,<br />

and your tie is barely hanging<br />

around your neck, a tie, which<br />

right now I would like to strangle<br />

you with.” She sat up in bed and<br />

stared at him coldly.<br />

“I don’t know where you were,<br />

or what you were doing, or who<br />

you were with, and I just don’t<br />

want to know because I love you<br />

and we all make mistakes, but,<br />

don’t make any more mistakes<br />

if we are going to last, and if you<br />

want me to still love you. No more<br />

mistakes. Understand?”<br />

She leaned over, turned out<br />

the light, and he stood there in<br />

the dark ashamed of himself for<br />

the terrible mistake he had done.<br />

He had almost lost Laura, almost<br />

lost her. She was right. His heart<br />

was pounding. But in one brief<br />

moment, she had forgiven him<br />

and saved their love.<br />

He sighed as he reached the<br />

sixth step. She had saved their<br />

marriage, and then sometime<br />

later, he recalled again when she<br />

gave birth to their young child,<br />

barely able to breath, with lungs<br />

so small it was clear to them he<br />

would not survive.<br />

He held her hand when her<br />

doctor stood there and told them<br />

quietly that her baby had died.<br />

Laura gripped his hand and<br />

looked at him, with grief on her<br />

face as if etched in stone.<br />

She did not cry but grasped his<br />

hand and held it tight. No tears<br />

for her; but he was not so strong.<br />

He fell to his knees sobbing<br />

uncontrollably.<br />

“Get up, now!” She said. ” You<br />

must be strong. You must! For us<br />

you must be strong.”<br />

He slowly rose, held her hand<br />

and let no more tears fall from his<br />

eyes, while she lay there strong<br />

in the face of his weakness to the<br />

death of their child.<br />

“Now you listen to me, Luke. You<br />

listen! He is gone but we must go<br />

on and live. We must be strong.<br />

Don’t get weak on me now. Don’t<br />

fall apart. We need each other and<br />

that means you don’t fall apart!<br />

Understand! Now get up and fix<br />

my pillow, and then go out and get<br />

something to eat.<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />


““<br />


the ticketbooth magazine<br />

36<br />

Oh, my<br />

God. I am<br />

such a fool.<br />

What a<br />

mistake<br />

that would<br />

have been!<br />

I love you!<br />

What was I<br />

thinking?<br />

A cold winter rain iced the<br />

clouded windows. <strong>The</strong>re she was<br />

lying there in her bed and looked<br />

up. Her nurse had come in to<br />

hand her the baby; and she held<br />

the baby gone. She held him for<br />

a few moments before her nurse<br />

leaned over and took the child.<br />

holding him for a few moments<br />

before her nurse leaned over and<br />

took the babe from her.<br />

Cold winter wind blew across<br />

the hilltop of dead stone. A blue<br />

sky captured puffed clouds<br />

moving rapidly, so close to touch<br />

, he thought. He turned to see<br />

the small crowd gathered there<br />

standing on the hard ground<br />

surrounding the small white<br />

coffin. He held Laura as they<br />

stood there. She stood ramrod<br />

straight, her frozen eyes gazing<br />

on the coffin as it lay there about<br />

to be taken down. <strong>The</strong> priest<br />

blessed the child, the crowd<br />

departed.<br />

Laura and Luke stood there<br />

silently to see the coffin laid down<br />

into the cold ground where wind<br />

nor rain nor cold could touch the<br />

babe, now dead, a life not lived,<br />

never to smile, or laugh, grow or<br />

love; but , Luke thought, given up<br />

to heaven! That for sure.<br />

Luke turned to see the men with<br />

shovels waiting to see their car<br />

depart and then turned away. His<br />

face wrinkled with tears about to<br />

fall; but Laura stopped him. She<br />

grabbed his chin and held it tight.<br />

“Now, look here, Luke. We’ll<br />

make it. We will, and you must<br />

be tough now for yourself and<br />

for me. Understand? Now come<br />

over here closer to me and hold<br />

me tight, and then kiss me like the<br />

first time you kissed me. I want<br />

that from you right now!<br />

“And then we will go on. You got<br />

that. Luke nodded and their car<br />

drove out of the cemetery with<br />

Laura holding him tight to her<br />

body.<br />

Six steps and he was nearly<br />

halfway there. He paused once<br />

more to feel a sharp tug. A<br />

cramp! He stopped and rubbed<br />

it and kept on rubbing it. He was<br />

ready to go and gingerly took the<br />

seventh step.<br />

It was not good news when his<br />

manager called him in. New York<br />

Telephone and a good job. Strong<br />

benefits , easy work, but he was<br />

not happy. It paid the bills and<br />

that was it. He tried to work as he<br />

did before to no avail. <strong>The</strong> baby<br />

gone kept him listless and useless.<br />

His manager sat him down and<br />

said what he thought. He was not<br />

performing. His mind wandered.<br />

He needed rest because, to the<br />

company, he said, he was useless.<br />

“Take some time off and then<br />

come back and let’s see how it<br />

goes.” he told him; but it was no<br />

use. He could not think, he hated<br />

his job even more, and he began to<br />

fall into a deep depression.<br />

She was there at the door when<br />

he came home to tell her what<br />

had happened. He sat down and<br />

shivered. She brought hot tea and<br />

biscuits to warm him. “What shall<br />

I do?” he asked.<br />

“I never liked the work you did.<br />

It was not you. You never had<br />

interest. You did it for us and the<br />

baby, but now you need to think<br />

otherwise. I think we need to rest<br />

and perhaps go where we wanted<br />

to be long time ago.”<br />

She turned and looked at the<br />

new walnut crib Peter had crafted<br />

for the baby, a beautiful crib,<br />

strong. Inside lay soft cushions<br />

and blankets.<br />

“I think that would be the craft<br />

for you. Yes, why not? Why not be<br />

a carpenter? We need peace and<br />

quiet, and yes, Vermont could be<br />

for us. <strong>The</strong>re is always work up<br />

there. Building wood sheds and<br />

barns, and later houses. Yes! You<br />

could that! Plenty of work and no<br />

pressure! I like that!”<br />

Luke’s eyes lit up. He gulped<br />

down the hot tea and munched


ferociously on the soft biscuits<br />

she had placed on the table.<br />

And she was right! That was<br />

his craft, and he was good at the<br />

craft. It was the craft of Jesus!<br />

That made him proud and he<br />

would built chairs and tables, and<br />

then barns, houses of three and<br />

four bedrooms. Yes. He loved the<br />

idea.<br />

And for Laura, he sold their New<br />

York apartment and bought an<br />

old house which needed work. He<br />

built the furniture, tore out walls<br />

and built new ones, installed new<br />

cross beams, strong enough for<br />

the strongest Vermont winter;<br />

and a house on 100 acres of land<br />

at the top of a mountain! And at<br />

the bottom of the hill, he could<br />

see how the ground was built as a<br />

natural bowl. He envisioned a pool<br />

which he could build, working<br />

with a stream which flowed right<br />

across it. Yes. He would build an<br />

outdoor pool in the spring! It was<br />

all Laura’s idea!<br />

<strong>The</strong> grass in front sloped<br />

down to a small barn, and above<br />

the barn, he could see the long<br />

ridge of mountains, their peaks<br />

touching clouds so clearly. And<br />

when work was done, and dinner<br />

finished, they sat on the porch he<br />

built for them to watch in the west<br />

the sun dip below<br />

<strong>The</strong> horizon with rays of deep<br />

maroon , to close the day to night<br />

with hot tea, a rocking chair and<br />

Laura, sitting there on that porch.<br />

It was Laura who had that idea to<br />

build the porch. Laura. He was at<br />

peace. He leaned over and kissed<br />

her cheek, warm as toast.<br />

Peter felt the pain of a cramp as<br />

he reached the ninth step. He held<br />

the bannister, cane and gun still in<br />

hand as he kept on climbing while<br />

listening to groans and louder<br />

screams. He bit his lip and shook<br />

his head. I must do this. I have no<br />

choice. I need to end her pain.<br />

He reached the twelfth step,<br />

paused and listened. In the<br />

bedroom there were no longer<br />

any screams. “Oh, God!” he<br />

thought. “Had she died?” He felt<br />

his heart pounding and a sharp<br />

pain. He stopped and gripped his<br />

chest. “Oh, God, don’t let me die<br />

here! Please, God! I am almost<br />

there!”<br />

His heart gave in while he lifted<br />

chunks of wood from an oak he<br />

had cut down, an old oak which<br />

had begun to rot. He loved the<br />

tree, but it was not to be. It had<br />

to go and he took it down and<br />

thought how strong the wood.<br />

It would make fine chairs and<br />

tables. But it was then as he took<br />

the ax and hit the old tree, the first<br />

pain hit his chest. He collapsed<br />

and lay there until Laura came<br />

running. She lifted him carefully<br />

so he could stand and limp to their<br />

car. He leaned heavily on her, and<br />

he could not believe her strength.<br />

Into the car and into Brattleboro.<br />

“None too soon! His doctor said,<br />

as he lay there fully conscious<br />

now. <strong>The</strong>re was Laura! She had<br />

saved his life.<br />

“How she carried you from the<br />

oak to the road is beyond me!” he<br />

observed. She saved your life. She<br />

sure did!”<br />

He held her hand and motioned<br />

to her to come closer which she<br />

did, and he kissed her, soft, wet<br />

kiss on her lips so sweet.<br />

“You saved my life!” he said.<br />

“No, silly. Your doctor is<br />

exaggerating. I just had you lean<br />

on me and lifted you into the car<br />

and then you fainted. I made it<br />

here in a hurry, and got no ticket<br />

along the way. None!” He smiled.<br />

She was proud of that. “You did!”<br />

Peter said. “<strong>The</strong> doctor was right!<br />

You saved my life! “<br />

“Oh, quiet you. Rest and in a few<br />

days you will be home and in two<br />

weeks you will be back to work<br />

doing God’s work!”<br />

As he stood on the twelfth step,<br />

he moaned. “Oh, God! Will I have<br />

the courage to take the gun, lift<br />

it, and pull the trigger. I need that<br />

courage. He wiped away tears<br />

and reached the thirteenth step<br />

and stood there for a moment to<br />

rest. And as he rested, he heard<br />

no sounds coming from Laura.<br />

All was silent, but then he heard<br />

a soft moaning coming from the<br />

bedroom.<br />

He stepped slowly to their<br />

bedroom, the door half ajar, and<br />

he was glad she slept. It would be<br />

easier that way! It will be quick.<br />

She will feel no pain and her pain<br />

would end.<br />

He walked slowly to their<br />

bedroom, barely tapping the cane<br />

on the hard oakwood floor he<br />

had lain years earlier. He recalled<br />

that when he was finished, Laura<br />

came over and walked up and<br />

down, up and down, prancing and<br />

smiling, and then she leaned over<br />

and grabbed him.<br />

She dragged him down to the<br />

oak floor, and she kissed him that<br />

soft , moist kiss he loved so much,<br />

the floor he now tapped gingerly<br />

and quietly with his cane in his<br />

left hand and the gun in his right,<br />

shaking and pointed downward.<br />

And now, he was at the bedroom<br />

door and walked in. He took a<br />

deep breath and shivered. He<br />

entered the room to see her lying<br />

there ever so quietly. She would<br />

feel no pain, he thought. Her<br />

hair , once chestnut now so grey,<br />

strewn across her pillow, her<br />

tanned face still so beautiful, her<br />

blue eyes hidden behind closed<br />

eyelids.<br />

He walked to the bed and stared<br />

at her for a moment and thought<br />

how much he loved her. Tears fell<br />

down his cheeks. He lifted the gun<br />

to shoot, but paused: his hand and<br />

gun shook! He sobbed. “I don’t<br />

want to do this! He thought. But<br />

shoot he must.<br />

He leaned over , pointed his gun<br />

at her head, and with hand still<br />

shaking, squeezed the trigger<br />

and fired!<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



the ticketbooth magazine<br />

<strong>The</strong> shot exploded , its sound<br />

echoed back and forth against<br />

the walls. Puffs of feathers flew<br />

into the air. His shot had hit her<br />

pillow, but missed Laura!<br />

She opened her eyes, gave<br />

a start and stared at Luke,<br />

and as the feathers fell to the<br />

bed, she could see him with<br />

gun in hand, still shaking and<br />

looking terrified at what he had<br />

attempted to do, but failed. He<br />

began to cry uncontrollably.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re was Laura staring at him<br />

in shock.<br />

“What in the world was<br />

that?” she shouted, and saw the<br />

smoking gun in his hand. He had<br />

missed. But how could that be?<br />

How could it be?<br />

She looked up at him and saw<br />

the gun in his shaking hand and<br />

she understood.<br />

“You crazy man! You tried to<br />

kill me!” She took the gun from<br />

him and threw it down on the<br />

pillow.<br />

“You tried to kill me and you<br />

missed! You always were a<br />

bad shot. Couldn’t kill a coyote<br />

twenty feet away! I remember<br />

that! And you still are a bad shot!<br />

What were you thinking, you old<br />

fool?”<br />

He burst into tears and held<br />

his head down.. She grabbed his<br />

hand and pulled him down.<br />

“Here, come sit down by me.”<br />

He sat down on the bed, still<br />

sobbing uncontrollably.<br />

“Enough of this, you crazy<br />

man. Don’t you love me?” He<br />

nodded.<br />

“I could not stand you<br />

screaming from your pain. I<br />

could not take it any longer.”<br />

“So, you thought you would<br />

shoot me and end my pain and<br />

your pain! Fat chance! What did<br />

you want to do? Go to Hell! You<br />

would have gone deep into the<br />

fires of Hell had you killed me!<br />

Don’t you know that? It would<br />

be Hell for you for all eternity.<br />

Better to let me suffer and die<br />

than to lose your soul to the<br />

devil! Isn’t that so? Now, come<br />

over here and lie down with me!<br />

C’mon, lie down!<br />

“Oh, my God. I am such a fool.<br />

What a mistake that would have<br />

been! I love you! What was I<br />

thinking?” More tears fell down<br />

his cheeks. He dropped his cane<br />

and did as she had asked, and<br />

rested there. She took his head<br />

into the crux of her arm and<br />

rubbed his head.<br />

“Now, you listen to me!” She<br />

wagged her bony finger. “Don’t<br />

you ever, ever do anything like<br />

that that again. Dumb! And you<br />

are not dumb! Now, get a hold<br />

of yourself!’ She paused as he<br />

wiped tears away.<br />

“Okay, hush,” she said. “Stop<br />

your tears and relax! It’s over. I’m<br />

okay and you’re okay. Close your<br />

eyes and go to sleep. It is late. I’m<br />

all right now. I feel little pain, and<br />

I will lie here to sleep with you. I<br />

feel better now that you are here<br />

with me.”<br />

She closed her eyes and he did<br />

what she had asked. He rested<br />

his head on the torn pillow, still<br />

warm from the shot he had fired.<br />

Laura suddenly opened her<br />

eyes.<br />

“Luke, you ever try to kill me<br />

again I swear I will get up from<br />

my bed, take your gun and beg<br />

God for forgiveness after I shoot<br />

you! I will call it self defense.<br />

You got that, you old fool!” She<br />

paused and smiled.<br />

“I love you though. I knew you<br />

were just trying to end my pain<br />

and no more. I get that. Now<br />

rest, darling. I love you!”<br />

Luke stopped his tears and<br />

smiled. He let out a gravely<br />

chuckle and coughed. It was no<br />

more than a minute when Laura<br />

had fallen asleep. He waited<br />

until then before he looked<br />

around the darkened room, and<br />

then stared briefly through the<br />

window at clouds passing by a<br />

full moon before he himself had<br />

begun to fall asleep.<br />



<strong>The</strong>re was silence now in the<br />

darkness of the room except for<br />

the now dim moonlight working<br />

its way past clouds which grew<br />

thicker and caused the moonlight<br />

to fade so that Luke could barely<br />

see Laura sleeping next to him<br />

so quietly and still. He closed<br />

his eyes once more and fell fast<br />

asleep.<br />

It was dawn when he blinked his<br />

eyes and leaned over to Laura, her<br />

eyes closed, and she not moving<br />

but still quite still. Outside, he<br />

could see the bright glow of the<br />

morning sun rising so brilliantly<br />

above the horizon and the valley<br />

below. He smiled. It will be a<br />

beautiful winter day, he thought.<br />

He got up quietly so as not to<br />

wake her, reached for his cane<br />

and thought, I will make her good<br />

strong coffee, eggs scrambled,<br />

and dark white toast, all just the<br />

way she liked her breakfast, and<br />

together we will enjoy the cold,<br />

bright winter day.<br />

He took one quiet step and<br />

turned once more to see his lovely<br />

Laura lying still on the bed, but<br />

her face was pale. He let out a cry.<br />

Laura was now gone, dead, and<br />

her soul, had gone to Heaven.<br />

Through wet eyes, he saw her<br />

there and shivered. No more to be<br />

with her. No more to see the light<br />

of day, her arms around him and<br />

he kissing her ever so gently, just<br />

the way she liked his kiss, soft and<br />

full of love.<br />

He knew she was in heaven<br />

now, and with her last breath had<br />

saved a place for him there with<br />

her.<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



the ticketbooth magazine<br />

PAPERBACK | $11.99<br />

HARDBACK | $16.99<br />

EBOOK | $ 1.99<br />

God’s ways are higher than our<br />

ways. His thoughts are higher than<br />

our thoughts. We are called to follow,<br />

to take the next step, to keep coming.<br />

We don’t know what God is doing and<br />

He has a reason for that. I know I have<br />

tried to “help” many times, and God has<br />

graciously cleaned up my messes, set<br />

me back on my feet, and kept my feet on<br />

the path as I followed Him.<br />

I know these poems will bless you.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y have blessed me. Sometimes I just<br />

“stood on the side” and wrote what God<br />

was saying. I wasn’t even part of it, but I<br />

wrote the words and was amazed. I am<br />

still amazed today, and God is getting<br />

great glory for Himself.<br />

TOUGH<br />

AS<br />

NAILS<br />


KAREN J<br />

CHISHOLM is<br />

a worshiper,<br />

using her gifts<br />

as pianist,<br />

singer, and<br />

songwriter to<br />

bring praise<br />

and worship to her church and to the<br />

body of Christ. She has published, then<br />

republished three books in which she<br />

shares the encouragement God has<br />

spoken to her for all to share. Her songs<br />

can be heard on YouTube by typing in<br />

Karen J Chisholm.<br />

Karen’s family includes three sons and<br />

ten grandchildren, but many others call<br />

her “Grandma Karen.”<br />



“<br />

<strong>The</strong> compilation injects a strong<br />

dose of humility, helping people<br />

come to the realization that<br />

they are but part and parcel<br />

of the supreme and that, in the<br />

grand cosmic sense, humans are<br />

miniscule.<br />

With short lines filled with<br />

frenetic action, the style is both<br />

poetic and musical, an ode to<br />

Christ as indicated in several<br />

poems by phrases like “He paid<br />

sin’s price.”<br />

“<br />

Lines that would reverberate<br />

with vigor through any church on<br />

a Sunday morning.<br />

-Mihir Shah, <strong>The</strong> US Review of Books<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />


A U C T I O N<br />


the ticketbooth magazine<br />

42<br />

We didn’t have to travel to London to attend the auction. We could take part in the auction<br />

from the comfort of your own home, sitting on the sofa and being present as a ubiquitous<br />

hologram, as many of those who wished to participate in the auction did. See how many of<br />

shimmering, bluish shadows glow in the holographic area of the auction.<br />

We could have hired a broker. Yes, we could have, but for some reason we believed that<br />

only a personal presence at Christie’s would bring us the long-awaited victory for which we<br />

had put our entire fortune on the line. Everything we had: the house in the Crimea, where<br />

they had lived for more than two hundred years, her husband’s favorite paintings, which he<br />

had collected for four hundred years, and all the jewellery she had inherited over the past<br />

five hundred years. If we win, we will become paupers and we would have to live in a cheap<br />

and cramped flat somewhere in the midlands.<br />

Well, that’s fine. May money go to hell, along with the trappings of a well-fed life, if it

doesn’t bring happiness? As my husband says,<br />

“Money is just paper and it can’t replace a<br />

dream.”<br />

“He’s right,” thought Maria, watching from<br />

afar as Alex filled out the auction papers and<br />

paid the deposit, “only when your dream comes<br />

true does one feel happy.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> husband got the number and moved<br />

towards her.<br />

What number had he been given? Of course,<br />

it didn’t matter at all, but in a case like this,<br />

whether you like it or not, you will become<br />

superstitious.<br />

Alex sat down beside her and, as if sensing<br />

her impatience, showed her the sheet issued to<br />

him with the number 249 written on it. Mmm...<br />

that’s not a bad number. Maybe they’ll get<br />

lucky. If you add 2, 4 and 9, you get fifteen, not<br />

thirteen. That’s right — they’ll get lucky.<br />

“Alex is very worried,” Maria remarked and<br />

smiled at her husband to cheer him up. How<br />

could he not be worried when they had put so<br />

much effort into their dream? Blessed Virgin<br />

Mary help us!<br />

She ran her eyes inquisitively around the hall<br />

and shuddered. <strong>The</strong>y are here! It’s them again!<br />

“Those Englishmen are here,” she said to her<br />

husband with hatred in her voice, pointing<br />

with her eyes in the direction where the pair<br />

of Englishmen who had played against them in<br />

the last auction was seated. Damn them to hell!<br />

“Nothing, sweetheart, we’ll see who’s who,”<br />

Alex replied and, to kill the remaining few<br />

minutes before the start, began to read the list<br />

of lots up for sale.<br />

Bloody Englishmen! What’s that to them?<br />

What are they missing in this life? On the other<br />

hand, — pity them, they couldn’t win last time<br />

either, and some Chinese bought the license. Or<br />

a Japanese? Or a Filipino? Who can tell, they all<br />

look alike. No, I remember, the world news was<br />

talking about a Malaysian. That’s right! His wife<br />

was glowing with happiness. I’d k-i-l-l her!<br />

“Gentlemen!” <strong>The</strong> auctioneer, rising behind<br />

the podium, proclaimed, “Christie’s monthly<br />

auction begins its work. <strong>The</strong>re are two<br />

hundred lots for sale today. So, gentlemen,<br />

lot number one: a painting by the Hungarian 43<br />


the ticketbooth magazine<br />

44<br />


artist Vasari ‘Nun with a Bible’. Early twentieth<br />

century. Oil on canvas. It measures 78 by 38<br />

centimeters. <strong>The</strong> starting price is 50 million<br />

units...”<br />

What if they lose their license again? And<br />

while she pities the English, Germans, Chinese<br />

and everyone else on the planet, who will<br />

pity her? As her great-great-grandmother<br />

Elizabeth likes to say, “Own shirt is closer to<br />

your body.”<br />

After losing the last auction, she and Alex had<br />

almost lost their minds. Or maybe they really<br />

are as crazy as all their friends say.<br />

“I don’t understand, why would you want to<br />

do that?” Maria’s best friend Natalie repeatedly<br />

said, or rather lectured, “you are saving<br />

money for twenty years! Twenty years you are<br />

denying yourself all the pleasures of life! Why<br />

on earth would you do that? To work and not<br />

allow yourself a couple of times a year to go<br />

on holiday to unwind and relax! For example,<br />

why don’t you fly to Andromeda? <strong>The</strong> sunsets<br />

there are to die for. Maria, you haven’t been<br />

anywhere in twenty years!”<br />

Well, what do you say to that? And if her<br />

friends don’t understand her aspirations, what<br />

about the rest of the world? <strong>The</strong>y’re fools, you<br />

see, with her husband only because they want<br />

to live like everyone else and they don’t dream<br />

of Andromeda. But no Andromeda, if you put<br />

it on the scales and add Jupiter in addition, will<br />

outweigh their bright dream. Why live without<br />

a dream?<br />

“Sold!” <strong>The</strong> auctioneer’s voice reached Maria,<br />

“75 million units, number 58 in the seventh<br />

row... Lot number two...”<br />

<strong>The</strong> auctioneer’s voice was no longer audible<br />

again; she only noted with a glance his moving<br />

lips and the movements of his hand towards<br />

the people raising the numbers...<br />

I can’t wait for our lot. It’s a long way to<br />

number 12! And Alex is so tense, his jaw<br />

clenched like a wolfhound on the enemy’s<br />

neck. But that’s all right, he’s always like that<br />

at a crucial moment: focused and determined.<br />

Well done! Just don’t get nervous! <strong>The</strong> main<br />

thing now is not to pester him with talks and<br />

questions — he will send her to hell in a fever,<br />

and then he will be tormented with conscience<br />

and look guilty in her eyes.<br />

“Lot number 7,” she heard the auctioneer’s<br />

voice say, “a long-range space yacht. Made in<br />

Ukraine. <strong>The</strong> starting price is 350 million units,<br />

gentlemen.”<br />

“Look, the Ukrainians scored the famous<br />

Boeing. Well done! And even though it is a small<br />

thing, it is nice and kind of a good sign that they<br />

will be lucky today.”<br />

Alex is a good husband after all. How much<br />

he’s done for their dreams! Bloody money!<br />

<strong>The</strong>y saved up for two years for the deposit<br />

only. And the other twenty years? Day by day,<br />

dollar for dollar, like a hen by the little grain<br />

for the little grain. Isn’t that what the old greatgreat-great-grandmother<br />

proverb says? <strong>The</strong><br />

only thing I wonder: who is the hen? Probably<br />

is a good hostess?<br />

Will the license be out of their hands again?<br />

Would I have the strength not to burst into<br />

tears? I did last time. But when we got home,<br />

the tears flowed from their eyes like little<br />

waterfalls. Alex didn’t even try to comfort her.<br />

Either he knew it was useless, or he deliberately<br />

gave her a chance to cry and thus defuse<br />

herself, or he was afraid to approach her,<br />

feeling guilty.<br />

Was it his fault that the stakes had gone too<br />

far? Alex simply couldn’t go any higher; he<br />

knew they didn’t have that amount at the time.<br />

So, she didn’t blame her husband for anything.<br />

Fate, apparently.<br />

“Lot number 11 is a hotel complex on<br />

Saturn. <strong>The</strong> starting price is only 700 million<br />

gentlemen. Who will give more?”<br />

<strong>The</strong> next one is ours! God help us! How much<br />

is it going to cost today? A lot! Every year,<br />

the Earth government sells fewer and fewer<br />

licenses and the prices get higher and higher.<br />

Last year, for the entire population of Earth,<br />

including the Mars colony, only nine were sold.<br />

What were they thinking before? A hundred<br />

years ago, they were giving away licenses for<br />

nothing compared to today’s prices. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

were stupid. But many, many years ago, they<br />

say, there were no licenses at all. It is simply<br />

impossible to imagine such a thing! You decide<br />

for yourself whether you want it or not. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

were no bans!

Yes, everything has changed on earth<br />

since people conquered old age and gained<br />

immortality.<br />

“Lot number 12, gentlemen,” the auctioneer<br />

announced, “a license from the Earth<br />

Government, which has been traditionally sold<br />

only from our auction for over four hundred<br />

years. <strong>The</strong> starting price is one billion units,<br />

gentlemen.”<br />

No, she is absolutely not allowed to play at<br />

auctions! Everything swam before her eyes.<br />

She glanced at her husband and was amazed at<br />

his change.<br />

His cheekbones were drawn up, his eyes<br />

aloof, his face rigid, even angry. She hadn’t<br />

known him like this at all. Frightened by his<br />

emotions, she stopped thinking altogether.<br />

As if in a dream she saw Alex’s hand coming<br />

up time after time, the Englishman’s hand, the<br />

other hands (oooh, bastards).<br />

“Three billion six hundred million units<br />

are, gentlemen. Who can go higher?” <strong>The</strong><br />

auctioneer cheerfully announced, seeing that<br />

the bidding had stalled at that figure, “Courage,<br />

gentlemen, courage, for this may be the last<br />

Earth Government license in the history of<br />

mankind.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> last one?! In history? Jesus, we have to<br />

take it for whatever it’s worth. Why doesn’t<br />

Alex raise the number...? Whose bet is it?<br />

Alex’s...? God, who made that last bet? Who?<br />

Alex...? It wasn’t him? <strong>The</strong>y’re going to start<br />

counting. My God, they’re going to start<br />

counting, and this is the last license! <strong>The</strong>re’s no<br />

more hope. A-l-e-x! Do something!<br />

“Three billion six hundred million units—<br />

one,” the auctioneer shouted warningly to<br />

Maria’s horror.<br />

She wrapped her arms around her head,<br />

squeezed her eyes shut, and with a low howl,<br />

“My mommy,” she slid off the chair onto the<br />

fl o o r.<br />

“Three billion six hundred million units—<br />

two,” the auctioneer announced loudly and,<br />

as it seemed to Maria, ominously. He looked<br />

around the room carefully, hesitated for a few<br />

seconds in the hope that someone would raise<br />

the price, and, gaining some air, finished the<br />

lot, “three billion six hundred million units—<br />


sold! So, gentlemen, the Earth Government’s<br />

birth baby license has been sold! I congratulate<br />

number two hundred and forty-nine in the<br />

fourth row!”<br />

Just minutes later, all the world’s news<br />

channels were showing Maria burying her<br />

nose in Alex’s lap, profusely watering his<br />

trousers with tears.<br />

<strong>The</strong> future<br />

is coming,<br />

and it looks<br />

bleaker than<br />

ever. SERGUEI<br />


was talking<br />

to a friend while waiting for their food in a<br />

restaurant when he decided to pen this science<br />

fiction. Auction is a slow burn, details unfold<br />

slowly but surely, and little by little you realize<br />

you’re hooked into an inescapable reality<br />

that awaits human civilization. <strong>The</strong> end result<br />

is an indelible story that is seared into your<br />

consciousness.<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



At the Feet of<br />

Angels<br />

Vernon Bargainer<br />

PAPERBACK | $14.99<br />

EBOOK | $ 3.99<br />

This is the tale of Jenny Burnett, a young child, kidnapped by her<br />

uncle and sold on the black market to a childless couple. It is the<br />

compelling drama of Jenny’s endless pining for her real mother, of<br />

her instinctive, yet daring, attempts to escape, of growing abuse<br />

at the hands of her adoptive mother, and of the hapless efforts<br />

of a sympathetic but inept adoptive father. It is a story of the<br />

child’s quest for salvation in her play, in the enduring friendship<br />

she strikes with a little neighbor boy she never gets to see, and in<br />

daydreams of angels and fairies she wills into the sky above<br />

her prison playground.<br />

<strong>The</strong> story takes place inside the heart and mind of the<br />

little prisoner and reveals her every impulse: her dreams,<br />

her hopes, her fears, her anger, her confusion, her prayers<br />

and her attempts to reason. It is a tale of struggle and play,<br />

of compelling innocence, of times of soaring joy, of special<br />

friendship, and of poignant memories and determined<br />

effort.<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />

Vernon Bargainer lives with his wife<br />

in Mesquite, Texas. He is the father<br />

od six children and the grandfather<br />

of five. He holds a Baccalaureate<br />

degree in psychology from the<br />

University of Texas and a record of<br />

35 years in human relations with the<br />

public service.<br />



“... Bargainer effectively depicts the atrocities<br />

that kidnapped children have to suffer daily, and,<br />

unfortunately, the outcome is not always a happy<br />

reunion. Probing deeper, the story reflects on<br />

how broken the human mind and spirit must be<br />

to transpose one’s addictions onto a completely<br />

innocent child. ...”<br />

— Mihir Shah, US Review of Books<br />

“ ... the narrative was well written perfectly<br />

plotted, ultimately presenting a shocking view<br />

of the good, bad and ugly of human nature as<br />

well as brought about a distinct awareness to<br />

the seamy world of child abduction and blackmarket<br />

adoption. Author Vernon Bargainer has<br />

given readers much food for thought with this<br />

literate journey through child abduction.”<br />

— Lisa Brown-Gilbert, Pacific Book Review<br />

“ ... Bargainer’s writing is very impactful<br />

and emotional, especially about angels and<br />

spirituality. He writes eloquently about the<br />

bond between a child and her mother, no<br />

matter how long they’re separated. <strong>The</strong><br />

twist ending in At the Feet of Angels will<br />

also greatly surprise readers. ...”<br />

— Ella Vincent, Hollywood Book Reviews<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />


From my<br />

memory<br />

Mziwonke Qwesha<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />

48<br />

If the Western world thinks that they were the first<br />

ones to notice the phenomenon of the flying object,<br />

they are mistaken. In Africa we had our juju-club<br />

long before the white man set foot on our shores;<br />

midnight invisible flyers, skydivers, broomstickriding<br />

units and the cage pilots. But they were all a<br />

secret society.<br />

“White people do not understand our ways. <strong>The</strong>y<br />

always tend to underestimate them. Even when<br />

the cage landed on East London’s Oxford Road,<br />

they took it as a joke.” Gabha started the fire after<br />

scolding me for being lazy.<br />

As darkness was upon us, the bleating goats inside<br />

the kraal gave meaning to the half-mooned dark<br />

sky outside. Watching the fire glow, he gulped his<br />

calabash of millet beer, placed it down and wiped<br />

his white millet smeared beard and pulled his<br />

moustache in a playful manner. He then belched:<br />

“Son of Ntsikana!” After playing with his stomach,<br />

he continued to narrate how a strange object<br />

had surprised motorists and pedestrians alike, by<br />

landing on East London’s main road; blocking all<br />

traffic.<br />

<strong>The</strong> morning was fine and joggers were already<br />

on the street, workers were on their way to work.<br />

School children were on their way to school.<br />

So many strange things, that have no explanation<br />

in the European school of thought, have happened<br />

or reported to have happened in this part of the<br />

world. <strong>The</strong> most recent had been the hares that<br />

cut the fence in the Peddie area. As the apartheid<br />

government was tightening its screws on the black<br />

communities, the rural people were not spared.<br />

Government re-arranged the pastures in the rural

areas by dividing them with<br />

a fence. Each time this was<br />

done, the following morning the<br />

fence would be on the ground again. In a desperate<br />

attempt to see who was cutting the fence, in the<br />

face of opposition from rural dwellers, government<br />

decided to have police to keep watch over the fence<br />

during the night. After one such night the police<br />

reported to their commanders that hares were<br />

responsible for cutting the fence, they had seen it<br />

with their eyes. Legend has it that the policemen<br />

were sent for mental observation at a psychiatric<br />

hospital, because their report was out of this world.<br />

What hare can have the capability to cut a wire<br />

fence with its teeth?<br />

To the African habitants of the area there was<br />

nothing strange in that, for their medicine men had<br />

many tricks up their sleeve to confuse the white<br />

mind.<br />

“I was on my way to work too, and found people<br />

gathered near this strange object. <strong>The</strong>y were staring<br />

at three naked women and an old man who were<br />

glued onto their seats. <strong>The</strong> old man hugged what<br />

appeared to be a steering wheel.”<br />

Gabha described the driver as having the<br />

appearance of a deputy devil, his Hitler-like<br />

moustache shining as if it had been freshly painted.<br />

<strong>The</strong> women were bowed down on their seats as if in<br />

prayer. <strong>The</strong>y were all bare-breasted with identical<br />

necklaces around their necks. <strong>The</strong>ir hair was<br />

unkempt as if for ages. But their faces were never<br />

visible.<br />

I tried to figure out how the object could have<br />

looked like. And the first impression that came to my<br />

mind was the cable-car found on Table Mountain in<br />

Cape Town.<br />

While processing this thought, grandma<br />

interrupted us when she came to ask for a key to<br />

the kist. Whenever grandpa had hidden something<br />

in the kist, he kept the keys to himself. Even in this<br />

instance, he had his bottle of brandy in the kist for<br />

the past five months, for he took six months to finish<br />

a bottle of brandy. He used it only on cold days, by<br />

pouring two lids-full of brandy into his coffee, just to<br />

keep his blood warm.<br />

“Please, don’t touch what does not belong to you in<br />

that kist,” he warned her as he was taking the key out<br />

of his shoulder-bag.<br />

I waited for him to finish handing the keys to<br />

grandma before I prodded him. “And then?” I asked.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> seats were made up of human ribs...”<br />

“Hhhh?” I gasped in<br />

shock.<br />

“<strong>The</strong> gear of the cage was made up of a human<br />

spinal cord, a small skeleton of a head worked<br />

as the gear-knob.” My body shrilled as I listened<br />

to this account from an eye-witness. “And I later<br />

understood that the spinal cord belonged to a long<br />

dead headman... That wasn’t all. Two spot lamp-like<br />

things were carved out of human skulls, with its<br />

globes modified from dried testicles.”<br />

Gabha paused, looked at the bright African skies<br />

that lit upon us. He shook his head as if feeling pity<br />

for heaven and then picked up his calabash, shook<br />

it, and had a look at the animals that were restless<br />

inside the kraal. Calves were fighting for a warm<br />

spot under their mothers. And a lone jackal was<br />

audible from a distance. I sipped my hot coffee and<br />

then asked: “What type of a cage that had a steering<br />

wheel, Tat’ omkhulu? What was it steering with the<br />

steering wheel?”<br />

“Listen to me, child of my child. Don’t talk when<br />

I talk or we shall not understand each other,” his<br />

bright eyes lit up like the stars in the sky as he added<br />

with a smile: “This was no ordinary cage. Not the one<br />

on Table Mountain, but the one used by witches at<br />

night.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> mind-reader threw out of the window my<br />

Table Mountain version.<br />

Growing up in the African community, I have<br />

heard a number of witches’ tales. Although I could<br />

not really conjure up an image of a witch, I had my<br />

rudimentary thoughts. I got the message that this<br />

was out of the ordinary, just by having human parts<br />

in the construction of the vehicle, if I can call it that.<br />

But why did it land on Oxford Road? Did it run out<br />

of fuel or was there a mechanical problem? It is said<br />

that witches operate at night, what witches are these<br />

that operate during day light?<br />

Imitating the head of the police, who had come<br />

to investigate the sight, he spoke in a deep voice,<br />

describing how he had interrogated the witches<br />

and why they decided to land on Oxford. “<strong>The</strong><br />

passengers had smeared themselves with black<br />

paste, which I later learnt to be a portion. We<br />

could not see their eyes; only the driver’s face was<br />

visible to us. His eyes were a colour of the rainbow.”<br />

My body went numb as he added: “<strong>The</strong>y looked<br />

frightened but also dangerous.”<br />

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the ticketbooth magazine<br />

50<br />

<strong>The</strong> darkness surrounding<br />

our environment made me<br />

uncomfortable, as if the witches<br />

would just emerge out of<br />

nowhere. I held tight to my cup of<br />

coffee for reassurance and some<br />

warmth as granddad stoked the<br />

fi r e .<br />

“Photographers, who were<br />

rumoured to be from the Daily<br />

Dispatch, flashed their cameras<br />

as scribes were busy taking<br />

down notes and others trying<br />

to interview the witches. It<br />

was for the first time that such<br />

spectacle had ever been seen<br />

in the city. According to some<br />

of the spectators, it was the<br />

most abominable spectacle.<br />

Traffic officers, assisted by the<br />

police, were diverting traffic<br />

to alternative routes. <strong>The</strong> fire<br />

brigade stood at a distance<br />

unable to figure out why they<br />

were called out to the scene; there<br />

was no fire and no jaws of life<br />

were needed,” as expected, he<br />

paused by going for his calabash,<br />

looked at the content, stirred it<br />

and took another gulp.<br />

“I bet my father’s last cow, the<br />

pickpockets had a good day that<br />

morning as they repossessed the<br />

wallets from the back pockets<br />

of white spectators. <strong>The</strong> whole<br />

town woke up as if it never slept.<br />

All coming to see this spectacle,”<br />

now granddad picked up his<br />

walking stick and proceeded<br />

to lean near the kraal where he<br />

emptied his bladder. In a hurry to<br />

nowhere, he stood there and filled<br />

his pipe from the tobacco inside<br />

his shoulder-bag.<br />

Upon his return, as he was<br />

about to sit down again, he shook<br />

his head and commented: “White<br />

people do not understand our<br />

ways, they keep undermining our<br />

science.”<br />

I waited patiently for him to sit<br />

down and I moved out of the way<br />

the beer calabash so that he does<br />

not knock it over. For him, sitting<br />

down was a struggle as it was<br />

for him getting up. Whatever the<br />

situation, he rejected help and<br />

preferred to endure his old age<br />

struggles alone.<br />

“You said that the white people<br />

underestimate our science…” I<br />

jogged his memory.<br />

“Even on that day they laughed<br />

when the witches described their<br />

emergency landing as being due<br />

to the lack of blood in the bloodtank.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y could not understand<br />

that,” he glanced at his calabash<br />

before continuing: “That cage<br />

didn’t have an engine but only<br />

pedals made of human palms.”<br />

Spinal cords, human ribs and<br />

now human palms as pedals..? Is<br />

this a true reflection of events?<br />

At this stage I was busy<br />

modifying another version in my<br />

head when he said: “<strong>The</strong>n the big<br />

moment arrived when boys were<br />

to be sieved from men.” Again,<br />

with a cunning smile that was<br />

made brighter by the flames of<br />

the fire in the centre, he shook his<br />

head slowly as he bowed to pick<br />

up the calabash. He sipped and<br />

after wiping his forehead with<br />

the hem of his shirt, he continued:<br />

“That cage could fly like an<br />

aeroplane and roll like a car.<br />

And this was what the chief of<br />

the police refused to believe. His<br />

greatest mistake was asking for a<br />

ride to prove their claims.” Come<br />

on, grandpa! I heard my inner<br />

voice yelling. “Some people tried<br />

to warn the chief of the police<br />

from embarking on the ride,<br />

arguing that he might fall under<br />

the spell of the witches, but, he<br />

refused to heed their advice.”<br />

In a bout of frustration, the<br />

junior officers decided to hatch<br />

a plan of keeping talking to the<br />

police chief while they had sent<br />

another vehicle to bring the<br />

police chief’s wife to talk sense<br />

to him. Another opportunity<br />

presented itself when the witches<br />

indicated that they had to refuel<br />

first. To the chief of the police<br />

this seemed to be an excuse to<br />

escape. But, after reassurances<br />

from the driver he decided to<br />

wait and see. But, whatever they<br />

refuelled didn’t take time. A<br />

huge black cloud just enveloped<br />

the cage, the next minute it was<br />

over, the cage was visible again.<br />

Even its occupants seemed to<br />

have been reinvigorated by this<br />

strange refuelling of their object.<br />

<strong>The</strong> driver indicated to the police<br />

chief that he was ready to go.<br />

“No, Piet, you cannot trust<br />

these people. <strong>The</strong>se are devil<br />

worshippers, they will kill you.<br />

Let us arrest these people for<br />

obstructing traffic and their<br />

improper dress-code,” the chief’s<br />

assistant pleaded with his boss.<br />

“I am not a coward. I want to<br />

prove or disprove their<br />

claims,” responded the police<br />

chief as he indicated to two<br />

police sergeants to get extra<br />

ammunition and parachutes, just<br />

in case of emergency.<br />

To the noisy reaction of the<br />

crowd, the two policemen walked<br />

their chief to the stairs of the<br />

cage, where he stood to wave at<br />

the crowd, before taking seats<br />

inside with the two policemen in<br />

tow.<br />

Spectators pushed for a spot at<br />

the front as cameras continued to<br />

flash as the three arms of the law<br />

climbed on the strange object.<br />

A few moments after entering<br />

the object, the chief of the police<br />

ordered the driver/pilot to move.<br />

At the distance, the vehicle<br />

that had gone to fetch the chief’s<br />

wife was arriving. She flew out<br />

of it before it could come to a<br />

complete stop and ran towards<br />

the strange object, yelling: “Piet,<br />

no, no!”<br />

Her words were inaudible to<br />

its recipient due to the drone of<br />

the crowd. And while the wife<br />

was going through the throngs,<br />

suddenly, all the women in the


cage threw their hands up,<br />

sticking out their tongues, and<br />

slowly and slowly the cage went<br />

up. Some people held their<br />

breath as others were nervously<br />

waving skywards. In other<br />

smaller groups the discussion<br />

was continuing about the wisdom<br />

in that the police chief decided to<br />

take the ride.<br />

Hannetjie, the police chief’s<br />

wife stood helplessly in the<br />

crowd, watching as the object<br />

disappeared in the skies. She<br />

stood there and cried and cried,<br />

wishing that she could have<br />

spoken to her husband before<br />

embarking on that unknown trip.<br />

“Up to this day, nothing has ever<br />

been heard again about the three<br />

police men. It became a one-way<br />

trip to wherever they had gone,<br />

gone forever!” He lit his pipe<br />

and drew a heavy puff, nodding:<br />

“White people shall never<br />

understand our science.”<br />

Ends.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re would<br />

have been no<br />

other way to tell<br />

this fantastically<br />

horrifying story<br />

by QWESHA<br />


than this. A retired archivist<br />

and award-winning poet and<br />

anthologist, Qwesha shows his<br />

love for his native South Africa<br />

and all its mysteries in his written<br />

work. “From My Memory” is one<br />

such instance, where he combines<br />

elements of horror and magic<br />

realism as he regales his readers of<br />

a time the police bit off more than<br />

they can chew.<br />

Introduce<br />

yourself!<br />

I am a South African writer<br />

and award winning poet who<br />

has published widely in local<br />

publications and anthologies. In<br />

2011 I published a collection of<br />

poetry titled Africa, Through <strong>The</strong><br />

Window.<br />

Where did<br />

you study?<br />

I am a Master of Arts (Creative<br />

writing) graduate from Rhodes<br />

University, South Africa.<br />

What is your<br />

profession?<br />

I am a retired archivist.<br />

What’s your<br />

favorite<br />

things to<br />

do?<br />

Photography has been my<br />

inherited passion. And I am a<br />

sucker for outdoors.<br />

Tell us more<br />

about the<br />

story that was<br />

selected as a<br />

finalist.<br />

“From my memory” is self<br />

-explanatory in that I tapped<br />

from my memory to remember<br />

something similar to what I<br />

have written, having had it told<br />

to me by one of our village’s<br />

comedians, while I was still<br />

young. <strong>The</strong> manner in which<br />

the story was told became<br />

etched in my mind for many<br />

years. Africa is Africa, there are<br />

many myths and truths told<br />

about it, and I wanted to tell<br />

this little known about world of<br />

black magic. Whether its myth<br />

or truth, it is for the reader to<br />

make the judgment.<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



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Of <strong>The</strong><br />

SOUL<br />

“How we know our inner world defines how we experience external<br />

reality.” From that initial sentence in Matters of the Soul, a format<br />

for growth is presented with sections for Exercises and Reflections.<br />

Questions to spur journal writing encourage readers to make the material<br />

their own. Imagery exercises guide readers deeper within themselves to<br />

explore as yet unknown realms.<br />

<strong>The</strong> result of doing these inner world explorations is the development of<br />

a mature spirituality anchored in the seamless unconscious continuum,<br />

psychological and spiritual. Co-creating, passion, presence, and power<br />

become personally meaningful concepts.<br />

We all have these resources inside us but no book has clarified these<br />

concepts or taught the reader how to work with them. Matters of the<br />

Soul empowers the reader to take the next step in her unique journey<br />

by expanding the notion of the unconscious from a storehouse of<br />

psychological injuries to a vast horizon of spiritual possibility. Offering<br />

an experience of change in a workbook, Matters of the Soul opens<br />

the door to a new way of thinking and being which the reader may<br />

use over a lifetime.<br />

What Ruth Cherry Thinks<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />

52<br />

RUTH CHERRY, Ph.D. is<br />

a clinical psychologist<br />

in private practice. She<br />

specializes in the integration<br />

of psychological and<br />

spiritual dynamics to<br />

promote healing.<br />

1. Tell us more about yourself.<br />

While my growing up time<br />

was stable and middle-class,<br />

I always felt a tug from some<br />

place inside me, pulling my<br />

attention inward. I learned<br />

to trust my intuition. I’ve<br />

meditated daily for decades.<br />

I’ve learned that the outer<br />

world reflects the inner world.<br />

When I pay attention to my<br />

inner world, I’m guided.<br />

2. What inspired you to<br />

become a writer?<br />

I didn’t consider becoming<br />

a writer. I studied psychology<br />

and practiced individual<br />

psychotherapy. I meditated<br />

regularly. I learned to “allow”<br />

and to trust my inner world<br />

guidance and to pay attention.<br />

Without understanding<br />

what was happening, I<br />

received words. In the evening<br />

after my work day concluded,<br />

I wrote the words that ran<br />

through my head. I was<br />

surprised to read the books<br />

that appeared. I was simply<br />

the first reader; I don’t take<br />

responsibility for the writing.<br />

Writing chose me, I didn’t<br />

choose writing.<br />

3. What is your favorite book<br />

and who is your favorite<br />

author?<br />

My first book, Winnie the<br />

Pooh, taught me to read, to<br />

appreciate the depth of feeling<br />

in each of us and the power<br />

of relationships to heal us. I<br />

found wisdom, empathy, and<br />

compassion in those pages<br />

which later I experienced in<br />

the world.<br />

4. Tell us more about your<br />

book.<br />

Matters of the Soul<br />

<strong>The</strong> intellect can carry us<br />

only so far in knowing reality.<br />

Acknowledging our personal<br />

experience pulls our attention<br />

inward. By moving deeply<br />

inside ourselves, beyond<br />

thought and feeling and<br />

experience, we enter the<br />

realm of consciousness, that<br />

ocean of Being in which we all<br />

participate.<br />

Over the course of a<br />

lifetime, perhaps we have<br />

compromised our integrity<br />

without recognizing that we<br />

did so. Maybe we released a<br />

dream and settled for being<br />

“realistic.” Maybe we lost hope.<br />

Our soul is the part of us that<br />

wants the very best for us. <strong>The</strong><br />

goals and ideals of the soul<br />

don’t shift with experience<br />

even though our behavior<br />

does. In our soul we still hope<br />

for what our intellect tells us<br />

we can’t have.<br />

Matters of the Soul leads<br />

readers on an exploration<br />

of the levels of their own<br />

consciousness. Healing<br />

follows from integrating<br />

aspects of ourselves which<br />

we have previously disowned<br />

without recognizing the<br />

damaging results of a lifetime<br />

of “reasonable” choices.<br />

Operating at this basic level of<br />

being offers the most powerful<br />

healing we can experience. It<br />

carries us to the cracks in our

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We all yearn to anchor in our own truth. We want to live authentically and<br />

meaningfully. We seek passion, joy, and self-expression.<br />


We want more. Doing everything right isn’t enough.<br />

And, so, we surrender.<br />

But sometimes we lose our way. We’re distracted by influences from outside<br />

ourselves. Or we trust our intellects to do work they were not designed to do.<br />

We use our best judgment. And days pass and years pass and we realize that<br />

good judgment doesn’t lead us to fulfillment.<br />

“When we reach that point we throw up our hands and we say, “I must live deeply and passionately. Acting<br />

respectably isn’t enough. I want to honor my heart’s longing,” then you open to transformation.<br />

Transformation is the process by which we recognize that we are both human and divine and that our divinity heals<br />

and guides us.<br />

soul and then shows us how<br />

to heal them.<br />

When we remember<br />

ourselves, we allow passion,<br />

creativity, and joy to move<br />

through us and carry us.<br />

We experience a sense of<br />

oneness with Life. We realize<br />

a freedom we have not<br />

known previously.<br />

Transformation Workbook<br />

Transformation Workbook<br />

offers readers dozens of<br />

prompts to spur and direct<br />

journal writing, a powerful<br />

means to move through<br />

unconscious material. By<br />

sitting with each prompt<br />

and observing, the reader<br />

is guided to write from the<br />

depths of her soul. Layers<br />

in each of us exist which<br />

our intellects can’t touch.<br />

Journal writing bypasses<br />

the conscious mind with its<br />

resistance. Transformation<br />

Workbook provides structure<br />

for the reader’s inner world<br />

inquiries. By writing in<br />

response to the prompts,<br />

the reader learns to let her<br />

unconscious guide her.<br />

Readers will be surprised and<br />

delighted as they discover<br />

new facets of themselves<br />

through journal writing.<br />

5. Can you share a snippet/<br />

excerpt from your book that<br />

you think your readers will<br />

find very interesting?<br />

Matters of the Soul<br />

Excerpt:<br />

Matters of the Soul is to be<br />

experienced. As you read the<br />

text, do the Exercises, and<br />

write in your journal, you will<br />

be inviting your passion to<br />

guide your life. Experience is<br />

the key: whatever comes up,<br />

experience it. When you do<br />

that, this process continues<br />

to move. When you think, it<br />

stops. When your conscious<br />

mind is out of the way, your<br />

unconscious is available. It<br />

invites you to a marvelous<br />

affair getting to know the<br />

creativity and wisdom that<br />

live inside you.<br />

This book is for you to know<br />

on a very personal level. Let<br />

it guide you into yourself.<br />

Knowing your own reality<br />

deeply is the most significant<br />

consciousness work you will<br />

do this life time. This text and<br />

these Exercises can guide,<br />

support, and encourage you<br />

in that work. When you have<br />

done all the Exercises and<br />

written in your journal, you will<br />

have a valuable diary of your<br />

own spiritual growth.<br />

Transformation Workbook<br />

Excerpt:<br />

Noticing your feelings from<br />

your Detached Observer<br />

perspective allows you to<br />

acknowledge your feelings<br />

without identifying with them.<br />

What do you notice?<br />

What’s behind your<br />

feelings?<br />

Write as long as you can.<br />

What challenges you<br />

about practicing stillness<br />

and looking at your thoughts<br />

without thinking your<br />

thoughts?<br />

And noticing your feelings<br />

without identifying with your<br />

feelings?<br />

Write all your association.<br />

6. What advice can you give to<br />

aspiring writers?<br />

Practice journal writing and<br />

meditating every day. Learn<br />

a skill, earn one or more<br />

degrees and a license. Work<br />

hard, and save every penny.<br />

After mid-life your writing will<br />

become inspired. Until then<br />

pay your dues and maintain a<br />

humble attitude.<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />


HELLO<br />

Jessica Webster had walked down the same hallway every morning for seven years. And every<br />

morning of those seven years, when she’d walked past the painting of the sandy beach, she had heard<br />

nothing. Not a peep. Not a sigh. Not even the creak of a floorboard under her feet.<br />

But on the morning of January 6th, <strong>2022</strong>, she did hear something.<br />

It wasn’t a peep.<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />


y<br />

DC<br />

Mountain<br />

It wasn’t a sigh.<br />

It wasn’t the wind in the eaves or the sizzle of bacon<br />

downstairs.<br />

It was a voice.<br />

It said, “Hello.”<br />

Jessica froze mid-yawn, her hands halting the task<br />

of tying her fuzzy pink bathrobe. She turned her head<br />

slowly. Did the painting just…<br />

“Jess! You up? School bus in fifteen minutes!”<br />

Jessica cinched the bathrobe around her waist. “Yeah,<br />

mom! Coming!” She scurried down the hall to the<br />

bathroom. As she was closing the door, something caught<br />

her eye. Something was wrong with the painting. A<br />

shadow. A smudge.<br />

She hesitated. At this rate she would already be late for<br />

school.<br />

She leaned out from the door and peered at the painting.<br />

A…footprint? She was sure there had never been a<br />

footprint in that painting before, but there it lay, a dark<br />

mark with five toes and a deep heel on the far side of the<br />

beach.<br />

“Jess-i-ca! Now!”<br />

“Coming!” Jessica pulled back into the bathroom and<br />

slammed the door.<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



the ticketbooth magazine<br />

56<br />

She pondered the footprint as<br />

she brushed her teeth.<br />

She pondered the voice as she<br />

pulled on her jeans. She pondered<br />

whether or not to risk ridicule as<br />

she hopped down the stairs on<br />

her left foot, pulling her sock on<br />

the right one.<br />

“Hey mom?”<br />

“What, honey? Here, eat this,<br />

quick.” Her mom threw bacon<br />

and eggs on Jessica’s plate.<br />

Jessica stuffed a bite in, breathing<br />

through her mouth to cool it.<br />

“You know that painting in the<br />

hallway?”<br />

“Yes, what about it?”<br />

“Where did it come from?”<br />

Her mom brushed a stray hair<br />

from her brow, planting one<br />

spatula-holding fist on her hip.<br />

“Oh, that old thing? It was here<br />

when we moved in. Don’t know<br />

why I kept it. Just sort of felt like<br />

a part of the house.” She turned<br />

back to her cooking. “Hurry,<br />

now!”<br />

Jessica’s mouth was already as<br />

full of eggs at it could get. She<br />

grabbed the bacon and jogged to<br />

the door. “Bye, Mom” she grunted<br />

through her mouthful.<br />

“Don’t talk with your mouth<br />

full, honey. Have a good day at<br />

school!”<br />

* * *<br />

“Jeeeessicaaa! Have you<br />

heard a single word I’ve been<br />

saying?” Carmelita’s hand<br />

flashed through Jessica’s vision,<br />

waving sarcastically. “Honestly.<br />

Being your best friend is, like,<br />

the greatest trial of my life.”<br />

Carmelita rolled her eyes and<br />

sucked a long slurp of chocolate<br />

milk up her straw. “Where’s your<br />

head?”<br />

Jessica didn’t feel like admitting<br />

she’d been thinking about the<br />

painting again. “Oh, you know…<br />

boys.”<br />

That did the trick. Carmelita’s<br />

eyes glazed over. “Did you see Ben<br />

Halvatski’s hair this morning?<br />

Dreeeeeeamy!”<br />

* * *<br />

Jessica didn’t bother<br />

announcing her presence when<br />

she unlocked the door at home<br />

and threw her back pack on the<br />

floor. Her dad was still at work,<br />

and she knew her mom would be<br />

at Freddy’s softball practice.<br />

First stop, the fridge. Holding<br />

the bread bag with her teeth,<br />

peanut butter in one hand, jelly in<br />

the crook of her arm, and pickles<br />

in the other hand, she swung the<br />

fridge closed with her foot. This<br />

was her favorite time of day. <strong>The</strong><br />

house to herself, peace and<br />

quiet, and a snack. Nothing<br />

could be better.<br />

But once the sandwich was<br />

made and half consumed, her<br />

mind drifted to the events of<br />

that morning. “I wonder…” she<br />

whispered to herself, her voice<br />

filling the empty space. She<br />

realized she was staring blankly<br />

at the stairs.<br />

“<br />

Jessica?<br />

Jessica!<br />

Oh, where<br />

is that<br />

girl?<br />

“Jess-“<br />

“<br />

No one was home. No one would<br />

be around to make fun of her.<br />

Resolutely, she hopped off the<br />

barstool and climbed the stairs,<br />

half a peanut butter and jelly<br />

sandwich dangling limply in one<br />

hand.<br />

<strong>The</strong>re it was. A peaceful blue<br />

ocean, crystal waves lapping a<br />

golden shoreline…<br />

And one single footprint. She<br />

hadn’t imagined it, then.<br />

She moved closer. She felt silly,<br />

considering, but…<br />

She stepped up till her nose<br />

brushed the cool glass protecting<br />

the painting. She pressed a finger<br />

to the footprint. It was as much<br />

a part of the painting as if it had<br />

been there forever.<br />

She took a breath and prepared<br />

to speak.<br />

“Jess! Ya home? Wait’ll you hear<br />

about practice today, Harvey<br />

biffed it for real!”<br />

Jessica jerked back from the<br />

painting guiltily, cheeks burning.<br />

* * *<br />

She didn’t have a chance to<br />

think about the painting the rest<br />

of that day, and certainly not the<br />

privacy she would want to explore<br />

it. She almost jumped out of bed<br />

at least ten times that night to<br />

investigate it by moonlight, but<br />

that was stupid. Paintings can’t<br />

talk. Only a lunatic would believe<br />

something that crazy.<br />

* * *<br />

“Jessica! Jess-i-ca! Up and at<br />

em’s, it’s seven thirty!”<br />

Jessica moaned and rolled over,<br />

snuggling deeper into the covers.<br />

It can’t be morning already…<br />

“Jessica! Now!”<br />

Jessica shoved back the covers<br />

and sluggishly groped for her<br />

bathrobe. She stumbled to the<br />

door and hunted for the knob.


“I’m coming!” Jessica shouted<br />

grumpily, at last finding the door<br />

knob and setting off down the<br />

hallway. She had her bathrobe<br />

half tied when-<br />

“Hello.”<br />

Suddenly, Jessica was wide<br />

awake. Her mouth hung open.<br />

It was all real. She had heard a<br />

voice yesterday.<br />

And…<br />

She gasped.<br />

A new footprint, the next step of<br />

the former, firmly planted in the<br />

sand beside the old one.<br />

“What…on…earth?” Jessica<br />

breathed, leaning closer.<br />

“Have you brushed your teeth<br />

yet, Jessica?”<br />

“No, mom, but-“<br />

“Well, hurry up! Bus in fifteen<br />

minutes!”<br />

Jessica gave the painting one<br />

last longing glance, then turned<br />

and made for the bathroom.<br />

* * *<br />

Jessica yawned and rolled<br />

over. Sunshine streamed in the<br />

window. <strong>The</strong> weekend was here.<br />

She had slept in.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n she remembered the<br />

painting. Maybe no one else was<br />

awake yet…she scrambled out of<br />

bed, leaving her bathrobe behind<br />

in her haste.<br />

Down the hallway, she stopped<br />

just before the painting and<br />

peered at it.<br />

Only two footprints.<br />

A sense of deep disappointment<br />

swept over her. What?<br />

Did it only work on weekdays?<br />

Or…<br />

Or had she imagined the whole<br />

thing?<br />

With a sigh, she continued on to<br />

the bathroom. She had just passed<br />

the painting when…<br />

“Hello?”<br />

Small, quiet, hopeful, the voice<br />

brushed past her ear, like a<br />

favorite song, too short and then<br />

gone.<br />

Jessica looked behind her.<br />

A third footprint had joined the<br />

other two.<br />

Excitement thrilled through her.<br />

Her very own miracle; a talking<br />

painting in her hallway. And no<br />

one knew about it but her.<br />

* * *<br />

Each day of the following week,<br />

Jessica received her morning<br />

greeting from the painting. Eat<br />

day, a new footprint joined the<br />

previous ones. Left, right, left,<br />

right…whenever she got a chance,<br />

and no one was near, she peered<br />

at the painting, re-counting the<br />

footprints. On Friday, there were<br />

eight. On Saturday, there were<br />

nine. But she only heard the voice<br />

on her way down the hallway each<br />

morning, as though the footprints<br />

were trying to follow her.<br />

Saturday morning, again awake<br />

before anyone else, she stopped<br />

short of the painting. Her heart<br />

raced. Today was the day.<br />

Today was the day she would<br />

risk looking as foolish as any<br />

human ever did. Today was<br />

the day she would answer the<br />

painting.<br />

Curiosity was driving her mad.<br />

Curiosity, and…something else.<br />

Something about the voice each<br />

morning. She knew the sound so<br />

well now, she could replay it again<br />

and again in her mind. It had<br />

kept her up late the night before,<br />

ringing in her ears.<br />

It sounded so…lonely. Hopeful,<br />

but also sad. As though…it already<br />

knew she would never answer.<br />

Well, it was wrong. Today, she<br />

would.<br />

She took a deep breath. <strong>The</strong>re<br />

was only room on the painting<br />

for one more footstep. She didn’t<br />

know what would happen when<br />

the footsteps passed out of the<br />

frame. Would her invisible friend<br />

be gone forever?<br />

“What is your fascination with<br />

that painting? Wierdo.”<br />

Jessica jumped, whirling to find<br />

Freddy grinning cheekily up at<br />

her from his seat on the bannister.<br />

“What do you want, little freak?”<br />

Jessica snarled, face hot.<br />

“I’m not the freak around here,<br />

Jess.” <strong>The</strong> first-grader shook<br />

his head mournfully, a sly grin<br />

yanking up the corner of his<br />

mouth. “I can see the headlines<br />

now. Jessica Webster, perfectly<br />

normal fourteen year old<br />

from Bismarck, North Dakota,<br />

committed to the funny farm after<br />

her younger brother caught her<br />

making out with a painting in the<br />

hallway of their suburban home<br />

Saturday…”<br />

“I’ll kill you, Freddy!” Jessica<br />

shrieked, lunging for him, but<br />

Freddy swung expertly out of her<br />

reach and dashed into his room.<br />

His door slammed the second<br />

before she could ram her shoulder<br />

into it. “I’ll get you eventually! You<br />

can’t hide in there all day!”<br />

“Jessica, could you quiet it down<br />

a little bit? We are trying to<br />

sleep. I swear, these kids will be<br />

the death of me…” Jessica’s mom<br />

glared at her through the crack of<br />

her door before closing it.<br />

Fuming, Jessica went<br />

downstairs to pour some cereal.<br />

* * *<br />

She didn’t think about the<br />

painting till that evening when she<br />

was putting on her pajamas. Her<br />

heart sank. <strong>The</strong>re was no more<br />

room for new footprints in the<br />

sand. Had she missed her chance?<br />

* * *<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



She stood before the painting. It was barely light out, the dim gray morning<br />

filtering in through the windows.<br />

She waited. But no voice came.<br />

Sudden tears burned in her eyes. <strong>The</strong> miracle was over. She’d missed it.<br />

She sighed. Leaned her head against the cool glass.<br />

“Hello?”<br />

A grin exploded across Jessica’s face. She laughed. Opened her mouth. One last<br />

footstep.<br />

“Hello.”<br />

* * *<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />

“Jessica? Jessica! Oh, where is that girl?” Jessica’s mom<br />

stomped down the hallway and threw open Jessica’s bedroom<br />

door. Imagine, sleeping in till noon…<br />

Jessica was not there. Her pink bathrobe lay undisturbed<br />

where it had been flung the night before.<br />

Jessica’s mom turned slowly from the room. <strong>The</strong> bathroom<br />

door was open. No Jessica there. It was Sunday, so no school.<br />

Where was Jessica?<br />

A strange sense of dread was lapping at her soul as she<br />

walked slowly back down the hallway. It was suddenly hard to<br />

breath for some reason.<br />

She paused. That painting Jessica had been so interested in<br />

this past week. Something was different about it…<br />

She could have sworn there had been only one set of<br />

footprints yesterday. But two sets of footprints, side by side,<br />

meandered together down the sandy beach, vanishing where<br />

the frame ended.<br />

“Huh.” Jessica’s mom shrugged and continued down the<br />

hallway.<br />

<strong>The</strong> End<br />



www.inksandbindings.com<br />


the ticketbooth magazine<br />

<strong>The</strong> daughter of a<br />

teacher and an aircraft<br />

mechanic, Dorothy<br />

Carlson inherited<br />

her parents’<br />

passion for<br />

stories and<br />

aviation. She’s<br />

been crafting<br />

stories since<br />

her youth,<br />

most of which<br />

began as a way<br />

to pass time<br />

for her and her<br />

sister. In her<br />

winning story,<br />

“Hello,” she also<br />

takes inspiration<br />

from her family,<br />

in this case her<br />

grandfather—<br />

or more<br />

specifically, her<br />

grandfather’s<br />

painting. <strong>The</strong><br />

story makes<br />

powerful use<br />

of the medium,<br />

creating tension<br />

despite the limited<br />

scope, telling just<br />

enough to reveal the<br />

story and the untold<br />

to frame it.<br />

For <strong>Ticketbooth</strong><br />

Magazine’s cover<br />

story, we put the<br />

spotlight on the<br />

very talented<br />

award-winning<br />

author Dorothy<br />

Carlson as she<br />

talks about<br />

her personal<br />

and literary<br />

background.<br />


small talk<br />

with<br />

dorothy<br />

What things do you do in your leisure time?<br />

I am a wife and mother of two girls. I am<br />

28 years old and I live in Lemmon, SD. My<br />

husband and I live off the land sustainably. I was<br />

homeschooled by my mom, a school teacher and<br />

English Major, and my dad, an aircraft mechanic.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y both passed on to me a love for the arts;<br />

reading, drawing, and yes, writing! I also took part<br />

in Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer auxiliary of the Air<br />

Force, as a young person. CAP definitely taught<br />

me a great deal about seizing the moment and<br />

digging deep to find an inner strength-and to lean<br />

on God when my strength runs out.<br />

When did your writing occur to you?<br />

Any literary background you want to share?<br />

I come from a literary background, in the sense<br />

that I have been writing since I learned to hold a<br />

pencil. I have always kept journals, and I loved to<br />

come up with stories. I remember being young<br />

and laying in bed beside my little sister Sarah.<br />

She was bored and couldn’t sleep, so I would<br />

make up a story. I found that the best story had<br />

a riveting beginning, a problem, a climax in which<br />

the problem is solved, and a satisfying conclusion.<br />

<strong>The</strong>se concepts have served me (and my little<br />

sister) very well! I remember one night, my sweet<br />

little sister, who couldn’t have been more than<br />

five, whispered at the end of a particularly exciting<br />

adventure, “You’re really good at making up<br />

stories.” And I believed her. Believing you can is a<br />

super power.<br />

I love the works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, and<br />

Madeleine L’Engle. More modern works I admire<br />

include <strong>The</strong> Squire’s Tales by Gerald Morris and<br />

<strong>The</strong> Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan.<br />

Much of my work is also inspired by my faith<br />

in God. Currently, my focus is on Young Adult<br />

Fantasy. <strong>The</strong> night before I received the email<br />

saying I’d won this contest, I completed the rough<br />

draft of the first installment in my five-part Fantasy<br />

series, titled To Bind Fire. I intend to edit, polish,<br />

send out to Alpha and Beta readers, and then<br />

publish this work.<br />

Have you joined other literary competitions<br />

before and have you won in any of them?<br />

Tell us more about your winning story. What<br />

inspired you to write it?<br />

I have never entered a writing contest before,<br />

much less won! I am thrilled to have won this one!<br />

My confidence in myself as a writer has surged as<br />

a result and I am so grateful!<br />

My short story was inspired by my Grandfather,<br />

Steve Vivian, who passed away three years ago.<br />

He loved all things beautiful, and filled his home<br />

with objects that delighted the eye and engaged<br />

the mind. <strong>The</strong> largest painting he owned was a<br />

huge, beautiful, dusky image of the stormy sea,<br />

perhaps a reminder of his California home which<br />

he missed so much. This image was in my mind<br />

as I wrote Hello. Every painting has a story to tell.<br />

Next time you pass one, pause and ask it what it<br />

has seen. It will answer you in every brush stroke.<br />

What is your advice to aspiring writers out there?<br />

Does your heart have a story to tell? Put it<br />

on the page. That cursor can look intimidating,<br />

blinking expectantly. It issues a challenge. Will<br />

you answer? I did, and here I am!<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />



OBJECT<br />

OF<br />



OF<br />


Saving Father Element - Book 2<br />

the ticketbooth magazine<br />

62<br />

PAPERBACK | $19.99<br />

Hardback | $34.99<br />

EBOOK | $ 2.99<br />

Object of Balance is about nine little fairies who find themselves<br />

embarking on a great quest through hostile lands to save their<br />

world, Andel.<br />

It is a race against time. <strong>The</strong>y must find one of the objects the<br />

great wizards were using to keep everyone in their world safe.<br />

It has been stolen from the wizards and it must be found and<br />

brought back before it is too late. What the creature that stole the<br />

object didn’t know was that the object was keeping something<br />

even more evil back. Without the object, their world will become<br />

riddled with all the storms the elements can throw at them.<br />

It is not all bad. <strong>The</strong> fairies do find that through their travels, they<br />

meet many new creatures who become their friends and allies.<br />

Well, with the fate of the world in the balance, wouldn’t you be<br />

willing to help?<br />

When the wizards told the fairies they had to go and get the<br />

object back, they were shocked. How could nine little fairies<br />

possibly do this? <strong>The</strong> object itself was bigger than all of them put<br />

together! <strong>The</strong> wizards told them they had to; there was no choice.<br />

<strong>The</strong> wizards could not go as they had to stay and hold the other<br />

evil at bay until the object was put back in its place. Still, the fairies<br />

worried but did as they were told. <strong>The</strong>y would find a way!<br />

Object of Balance is a warm and wonderful tale full to the brim<br />

with many different characters that I hope everyone of all ages will<br />

love. <strong>The</strong>re are ferocious dragons, a giant as tall as a mountain,<br />

ogres, witches, trolls and so many others. It is family oriented and it<br />

has many lessons to be learned. Enjoy!<br />

PAPERBACK | $18.99<br />

Hardback | $29.99<br />

EBOOK | $2.99<br />

It has been five years since the creatures have banished Father<br />

Element, but now there is no sun, no wind, and no rain or snow.<br />

<strong>The</strong>ir lands have become barren of all living vegetation, and they<br />

are always in the dark.<br />

Again, the creatures find they must go on a quest to find three<br />

objects that will help save them and Father Element from the evil<br />

that is plaguing their world.<br />

Object of Destruction is jam-packed with adventures and new<br />

creatures of all kinds. Come help the creatures of Andel save their<br />

world. You wont regret it!<br />

LESLEY FISHER lives in<br />

a small town where she<br />

has lived for many years.<br />

She has brought up her<br />

two boys there. <strong>The</strong>y are<br />

now all grown up and don’t<br />

need her as much. Finding<br />

she had more time on her<br />

hands, she needed to fill<br />

it with something. She has chosen to write fantasy<br />

books. Lesley finds she enjoys it so much that after<br />

her first book Object of Balance she is constantly<br />

finding new ideas for more books. Her hope is that<br />

she can bring a little imagination to all.

i<br />

b<br />

‘s<br />

illustration levels<br />

west<br />

toast<br />

cinnamon<br />

valley<br />

golden<br />

cake<br />

check www.inksandbindings.com for more details on our illustration levels and packages<br />

Inks and Bindings<br />

888-290-5218<br />

www.inksandbindings.com<br />


Join<br />

US in the<br />

next issue<br />

Inks and Bindings<br />

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