The Lost Tale of a Vasilija Vukotic
In 1998, I was attending the first Women’s International Networking Conference in Milan. A wet-behind-the-ears journalism graduate from Columbia University and male, I suspected my Pittsburgh-based editors were having a bit of fun at my expense. On my way home, a little vacation time banked, I stopped at Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho, a resort on the Estoril Coast in Portugal. Sipping my vodka gimlet on the terrace, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, my only companion that late fall afternoon was a woman of that certain age where propriety and nobility is her all-encompassing demeanor. She seemed to me a very well-kept late eighties or early nineties. She was sipping an alvarinho. I asked the waiter if he knew her and his response, “She is here every day. She is a crazy old lady who thinks she is the Queen of Bulgaria or something.” My knowledge of history is not everything it should be, but, what the hell, I am American. Generally, I remember that after World War II, the Soviet Union put a nail in the coffin of the remaining monarchies in Eastern Europe. Forgetting that I was on vacation, I dug into my online data services (pre-Google) and tracked down the facts of Bulgarian royalty. The last Tsaritsa of Bulgaria was born in 1907 and would be 90-something. In exile, she had fled to Alexandria, Egypt to be near her father, who, similarly, was in exile from his kingship of Italy. Later, Franco had given her sanctuary in Spain. Eventually, she had settled on, of all places, Estoril, Portugal. I am no statistician but if a 90-year-old woman in Estoril purports to be the exiled Tsaritsa of Bulgaria and she is spending every day at its most expensive resort, I am willing to place a bet. The next afternoon, I am there, she is there. “Princess Giovanna, what an unexpected surprise!” Her response to her Italian title would be telling. “Young man, no one has called me that in almost 70 years. I would have liked to know you when I was that young girl.” Even now, she was able to affect a coquettish expression. Feeling more convinced, “My apologies, Tsaritsa Ioanna. It is not every day a boy from Pittsburgh, America meets anyone so interesting.” “Interesting?”, was her sole response. Her English was impeccable, which for a woman who spoke, by necessity, Italian, French, Montenegrin, Bulgarian, Spanish, and Portuguese is extraordinary. My response, “Yes, intriguing”. She talking with me intently listening, we spend the next two hours reliving her last fifty years. A lull, I shared my assignment in Milan. Her response was unexpected. “You young people think that you invented everything. Let me share a story my mother told me, frequently, of a woman, my cousin, stepping up in a way that few men can imagine.”
The Paper War - Part 2
Comedically thick billows of cigar smoke clouded the room but I didn’t feel like laughing. Instead, my stomach twisted with anxiety. His house was like a speakeasy for rich villains in a black and white movie; all dark wood and leather. Several men congregated around a massive medieval style fireplace. Then I saw him. His immense shoulders were turned away from me as he mixed drinks but even from behind, there was no mistaking his identity. The shine of his dark slicked back hair and flawlessly cut suit were a dead give-away. Poor choice of words. I swallowed hard. There was always a chance I could still make this mission a success. My presence still seemed unnoticed. Bertorello was perched on the arm of a leather easy chair, legs crossed, waiting for a bourbon or whiskey or whatever brown liquid he was pouring. I padded noiselessly across the carpet; deeper into the smoke. I liked the smell of cigar smoke. It recalled memories of childhood; of safety, and oddly, of love. The aroma eased my tightly wound nerves but only a little. There was no way to predict what might unfold in the coming minutes and that was enough to make me snap like a stale breadstick. You couldn’t be sure of any outcome in our business. Our business? I snorted inwardly. This wasn’t my business. This was an explosive hostage situation. I was way out of my depth and to make matters worse, I could have walked away. I wasn’t a hero or a spy, not even a vigilante. I was an English teacher.
STRANGE, STRANGE UNIVERSE
STRANGE, STRANGE UNIVERSE by Paul L. Mills Yes, OK, I told the son of a bitch. But it turned out that no one was listening. No one is ever listening. It’s just me, sitting alone in the dark.
The Titanic Adventure
I’ll be going to school in America. Mommy says they have better education there but I think it’s mostly because Daddy wants a new job. I have loved Ireland my entire life, for all of my six years, every bit of it. The gentle rolling hills are a soft blanket of deep green, solid and dependable, and my teachers and friends are such treasures. We said our goodbyes and tried to hold in the crying.
Terror in the Quiet
The ocean spray beat methodically against the small window in my cabin as the night drove on. I took a small sip of the drink that I clutched in my hand and sat restlessly there in the dim light of my small table-side lamp. I had never been one for being on the water. No sir. I was as city born as they come. No one had ever called me a coward before, at least not to my face. No I was a distinguished businessman. My peers all had a great deal of respect for me. I was never not working, expanding and creating. This boat was proof of what mankind could do and I was no exception to this ingenuity. Nothing could stand in my way. Maybe that's why my family had gone on vacation to America without me. I was too wrapped up in all my work to understand that that time was getting away from me. I was hardly at home anymore, so consumed in my desire to be successful that I had forgotten my original love.
Donnie finished the race in first place, he knew that he would. All of his fans knew that he would too. They were the reason he got into this in the first place. His son was going to be in the middle of the race. Donnie decided to teach him the ropes and the next move was his own. He knew that he would learn on his own and move past his fathers' reputation. That was just the thick of it.
Heist on the Ice
The three watch from a makeshift raft as their two companions wave at them from the doomed vessel. They mourn for their comrades as they drift away from the wreckage.
In the city where I live, such a case happened. At noon one day, a woman who was picking up junk sent the junk items she picked up to a waste collection station to sell them. She rode a tricycle back and passed an empty alley. She suddenly jumped out from the corner of the alley. A gangster is coming. The gangster held a knife in his hand. He pressed the knife against the woman's chest, and fiercely ordered the woman to hand over all the money on her body. The woman was dumbfounded and stood motionless.
Traveling to Versailles part II
The Cardinal barges in when Maggie is about to speak and insists on speaking with the King. The king is annoyed, but he hears the Cardinal’s comments. The Cardinal says “this woman is not to be believed and she is a witch with instruments of evil”. Maggie yells out “that’s a lie”. The King faces Maggie and asks her to approach him. King Louis XIV asks Maggie if she is really from the future. Maggie says “yes”, and “ I am from the future”. Maggie tells the King that the Cardinal took away her camera an instrument that takes instant portraits of people. King Louis orders the Cardinal to return the camera. The Paige is ordered by the Cardinal to fetch it from his room. Maggie pulls out her phone and shows the King that it takes photos and has a flashlight, as Maggie turns on the light. Maggie explains that the phone is a talking device where people can speak to each other around the world. Maggie explains that the phone will work temporarily because it needs an energy source to charge it such as electricity. Maggie explains electricity and how it powers many items in the future such as indoor air conditioning, refrigerators, TVs, cameras, and phones. Maggie shows the KIng photos of her car and a photo of the airplane she boarded to take her trip to France. Maggie shows the King images from the future. The King is shocked and amazed at the images he has seen. The King believes Maggie and is charmed by her. The paige returns with the camera and Maggie shows the photos she took. The Cardinal starts to say that it is an evil instrument to steal souls. Maggie says “No”, it's only an instrument that creates instant portraits and does not harm anyone.
Genevive remembers a song that she once heard, it went something along the lines, "The heart could burn off the whole world in a second."
The Golden Pear
The Golden Pear The path to the cave started at the edge of a field. She had been journeying along it for several weeks now, sticking to the softly tilled furrows, doing her best to avoid the tender plants. At first, there was a black expanse of damp earth stretching out before her. The farmer having refreshed the soil in early spring with a slice and roll of the blades he drew behind his tractor; Laurel’s booted feet sunk nicely into the soil.
The dog's hind leg twitched as she ran in her sleep. A light growl escaped the land of dreams to make the sweet dog sound far more menacing than she was in the light of day.