Sunday, June 10, 2018

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Friday, June 8, 2018

"Unexpected"


Enjoy this new anthology from the Prosateurs! Inside its covers, you'll find short stories, recipes, humor, articles, memoirs, and more!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Monday, June 4, 2018

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Friday, June 1, 2018

New Anthology Released!

OKLAHOMA—The writing group Prosateurs announces the publication of the judged anthology Prosateurs: Tales & Truth. The anthology features short stories, recipes, humor, memoirs, poetry, devotionals, articles, and other works from the group’s members. It’s now available from Prosateurs members and online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BooksAMillion, and other retailers.

Author Kathy Akins won Best of the Book with a memoir of her mother’s battle with dementia. “It was honest, sincere, and well-written,” said Submissions Judge Gail Henderson. “A reader both sympathizes and learns from it.”

Henderson co-wrote the poetry collection Undying. She collaborated with noted Oklahoma photographer Michael Duncan to produce Bare, a book of poetry and photography that explores the enigma of womanhood in the world. She wrote Red Bird Woman, a collection of her poetry under the name Gail Wood. Her work has appeared in Blackbirds First Flight, Blackbirds Second Flight, Blackbirds Third Flight, Creations 2012-2014 and ByLine Magazine. She holds a Masters of Education in English and Social Studies from East Central University. Currently she serves on the Board of Directors for Lake Superior Writers, Duluth, Minnesota.


The anthology authors include:

Kathy Akins has won several awards with her poetry, devotionals, and short fiction. Her works were published in Blackbirds Third Flight and the Creations anthologies 2014-2015. A love for history, family, and animals inspires her stories. She lives in Oklahoma and shares her home with miniature long-haired dachshunds and a rescued Catahoula. Her dachshunds assist her when she presents educational programs for children in her capacity as an American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Ambassador. She is a member of Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and American Christian Fiction Writers. Visit kathyakins.blogspot.com.

Debbie Anderson wrote the novel Friend or Foe in 2018. A longtime storyteller, she has written stories since she was a child. The oldest of eight children she used these stories to entertain her siblings. She spent eighteen years in the travel industry. As a result she has been to nearly every state and six countries. She left the travel business after 9/11. Since then she has written business documents such as manuals and procedures for the electronic and oil industries. She writes short stories, memoirs, novels, children’s stories, and how-to books. She has been published in Creations 2017.

Stephen B. Bagley co-wrote the poetry collection Undying. He wrote Murder by Dewey Decimal, Murder by the Acre, Tales from Bethlehem, Floozy and Other Stories, and EndlesS. He wrote the plays Murder at the Witch’s Cottage and Two Writers in the Hands of an Angry God and co-wrote Turnabout, Hogwild, and There’s A Body in the Closet. His writings have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Blackbirds First Flight, Blackbirds Second Flight, Blackbirds Third Flight, ByLine Magazine, Nautilus Magazine, Tulsa World OKMagazine, and other publications. He graduated from Oklahoma State University. He is a member of Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. Visit StephenBBagley.blogspot.com.

Kelley Benson is a pastor who has a passion for using everyday opportunities to help people recognize how God works in their lives. He and his wife Jade are raising their  children to see how God should be part of everything people do. Since 1997, he has participated in a wide range of ministries and been involved with the investment industry, the insurance industry, teaching, and carpentry. He published On Target, a book of devotionals, and writes a weekly newsletter. His articles were published in Creations 2013-2015. He is a member of Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. Visit kelleybenson.blogspot.com.

Nita Beshear began writing as a young child. If her family wasn't moving from one state to another, they were moving across town. Stories gave her continuity. Her friends in her stories went with her to every new home. Beshear writes nonfiction, historical novels, and short stories. Her books include Devoted to Quilting and Beyond the Grief: A Widow's Survival Guide. Her fiction appeared in Romance-The Spice of Life. She is a member of the Material Girls (the Allen Oklahoma Quilters), McAlester McSherry Writers, Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc., and Duncan and Okmulgee Toastmasters. Visit nitabeshear.wordpress.com.

Wendy Blanton published the novels, The Dragon’s Lady, Rogue Pawn, and Sword and Scabbard, under the name Elizabeth Joy. Her short stories appeared in Blackbirds First Flight, Blackbirds Second Flight, and Blackbirds Third Flight. She writes novels and short stories in several genres. She graduated from the University of Mount Olive, North Carolina, and served in the United States Air Force. An apprentice bard, she tells Celtic folk tales at Scottish Highland Games and other venues. She and her husband are members of the Clan Campbell Society. She is a member of Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. Visit wendyblanton.wordpress.com.

D. E. Chandler wrote the thriller Bone Sliver. In 2013, her poem, “Oppenheimer” and her short story “One Way Window” won honorable mention and publication in Outside the Lines. In 2015, her poem “Carroll After Dark” won first place and publication in the Tulsa Review’s 2015 Spring contest issue. Her works were also published in Blackbirds Third Flight, The Green Country Guardian, The Sapulpa Herald, and Sapulpa News and Views. She graduated from Rogers State University. She lives with her husband Tom in Oklahoma. She is a member of Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. and Oklahoma Women Bloggers. Visit dechandlerwrites.com.

Barbara Shepherd has received more than 300 writing awards. She is the Oklahoma 2017 Voice of the Fair Poet, a Lone Stars Poet, a Woody Guthrie Poet, and a former Nominee for Poet Laureate of the State of Oklahoma. Shepherd served as a field editor for Taste of Home and contributed to other magazines, including: Outlook, Oklahoma D.O., Oklahoma Woman, Edmond Life and Leisure, Bella, and ArtBeat. Her books include: The Potbelly Pig Promise, River Bend, Vittles and Vignettes, and Patchwork Skin. Her writing appeared in: Women’s War Memoirs, Heavenly Patchwork, Voices In Time, and numerous other publications. Visit barbarashepherd.com.

Joanne Verbridge was born in Oakland, California, spending her early life experiences in Northern California. Family brought her to Oklahoma where she enjoys writing memoirs and crafting. She works to inspire her young nieces to take an interest in story telling and writing. Her memoirs, short stories, and articles have been published in Oklahoma newspapers and in the Creations anthologies 2012-2015.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Pronunciation guide

A friend asked me how to pronounce "Prosateurs."
It's "Pros uh tours."
It simply means "a writer of prose."



Monday, April 30, 2018

Coming in May

I'm excited this book is going to be published in May! I have a couple of articles and a short story in it. These will be my first published pieces in nearly a year. My medical and life issues have kept me away from the keyboard too much. I'm hoping this book signals a productivity change. Anyway, here's the cover!


I'll let you know more about as the actual release date nears. We had a great submissions judge who picked out the best entries from the submissions. Great articles, memoirs, poems, short stories...even a few recipes! I think you will enjoy it. #PT&T #Prosateurs

Monday, February 19, 2018

Reciprocity

Was talking a friend yesterday who suffers from a common aliment in his marriage: He loves her more than she loves him. That mismatch in affection is painful, not that she doesn't love him, but she doesn't show it often.

I hear that a lot from my friends about their significant others. And I always tell them the same thing: Love doesn't carry with it any promise of equal reciprocity. Love just is, and it's a worthy thing to love even if they don't love you as much as you love them. It's a hard thing, but love also doesn't say it will be easy. Love is kind of a jerk at times.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Nectar

I can't be needing a Dr Pepper 10 this early in the morning. "There's something wrong about that," I say as I'm pouring the fizzing nectar over ice.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Day 2

How is your new year going? Broke your resolutions yet? I do like making resolutions and think it's good for me to think about how to be a better human, but I don't get too upset when I slip. Every day is new day and a new chance to do better. Almost a motivational poster, but not quite pithy enough.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
I hope the new year blesses you and yours
with joy, peace, health, and wealth!
Stephen B. Bagley

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Book Excerpt from "Floozy Comes Back"

Of Pilgrims & Pillorying
By Stephen B. Bagley

I hope if you have to travel during Thanksgiving that you drive carefully. If you take public transportation, ride the bus or train with great caution. Remember only you can prevent forest fires. So stay out of the forest! The chipmunks don’t want you there. They and the squirrels plot against you, and the less said about the devious chipmunks, the better.

I intended to write something about Thanksgiving, but most people know the story of the Pilgrims and their long perilous journey across the ocean. Or they pretend to know it because it’s history and they got plenty of that in high school, thank you very much. To tell something new and exciting about the Pilgrims, one would have to do months of hard research and consult learned scholars. Instead, I’m going to use an easier way that is prominent in today’s society, particularly in Congress: I’m going to make it up.

The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, in 1620, crossed the ocean in the Mayflower, and landed at Plymouth, America, two months later. They left Plymouth and ended up at Plymouth. How disappointing that must have been and a lesson to us all to never venture out expecting the trip to take us to someplace better than we left.

The Pilgrims were fleeing religious persecution from the governments and churches in Europe. The European religious establishment was quite willing to make ashes out of dissenters by burning them at the stake at huge community gatherings. What a happy time was had by all, not including the spoil-sport heretics who complained loudly.

The Pilgrims were led by John Alden or maybe Miles Standish. I’m a little unclear on this. It could have been Flappy Slapdashy. Look it up. On the trip over, several sailors died. This could have been seen as a bad omen, but the Pilgrims didn’t believe in omens. They also didn’t believe in baths. No, this part is true. They thought baths were sinful and should be taken only once a year—say, for instance, when their undergarments were capable of walking to the water by themselves.

Some modern-day scholars have taken this to mean that the Pilgrims were “stinky and dour” people, like Republicans, but at least the latter isn’t true. In 1637, Warwick William “Willie” Wipingnose smiled in public at a Pilgrim gathering. Twice. He was immediately flogged and pilloried, but he did smile. Okay, I’m kidding; he only smiled once. (This leads people to assume the Baptists are directly descended from the Pilgrims due to the decorum of our services, but that isn’t true. We allow smiling AND clapping—as long as it is respectful and quiet and a special occasion. Otherwise, stop it! We don’t come to church to have a good time. Behave!)

Many people are horrified the Pilgrims practiced pillorying, the act of fastening someone in a wooden framework in a public area so the Pilgrims could insult and demean them. You should remember this was long before Facebook and Twitter. The Pilgrims had to make do with what they had. And it was better to be pilloried in the New World than in the Old World. In the latter, they would throw rotten vegetables at the pilloryee. The Pilgrims had no food to spare for such fine sport and had to make do with mud, rocks, and—wait for it—dung. On second thought, it wasn’t better at all.

Besides gathering for pillorying, the Pilgrims held well-attended meetings where they would discuss such matters as starving, religious disputes, starving, who kept writing scarlet letters on the foreheads of sleeping Pilgrims, starving, what exactly was the relationship of Miles Standish to Priscilla Mullens, starving, was John Alden really stalking Priscilla, and, of course, starving.

Why so much talk about starving? you may ask, and let’s assume you did so I can give you the answer. Soon after the Pilgrims arrived in the New World, they discovered, due to bad planning, all the supermarkets were in the Old World. Food got scarce. Several Pilgrims disappeared, but were found in various cooking pots in the Donner home. Everyone laughed in relief. The Donners belched contentedly.

The winter was cold, the wolves were gathering, and the pantry was bare. Disease struck the colony. The colony struck back, but Disease dodged and ran around town, giving the colonists wedgies. That scamp!

Hannibal Donner threw a party and invited all the colonists, but they had grown wise to the Donner family and rose up and cast them out. At least that was the story, and the Pilgrims stuck to it, even though no graves were ever found.

The winter continued, and the colonists continued to starve. But help was just beyond the horizon, or actually just inside the deep, dark woods. Chief…ah...let’s say...Acornugger of the Native American Whatchamacallit Tribe had met the Pilgrims some time ago. He hadn’t liked them, finding them “stinky and dour.” His medicine man Pokeineye had warned him of the white man, saying, “They come in long ships to take our forests and our lands and will drive us before them. Do not let them. Invest in casinos. Sell them plenty of smoking weed.”

For a while, Acornugger led his brave braves against the white men in daring raids, taking tools, clothing, and an entire case of fancy embossed dinner napkins.

Once he—or some other chief, just read on—captured several white men and were putting them to death by bashing in their heads with war clubs. Those wacky Native Americans knew how to party!  The last victim was a man named John Smith (possibly not his real name). They pushed Smith down on a tree stump and started to give him a terminal headache when the chief’s daughter Pocahontas threw herself on top of the captive. The chief was overcome by this display of pity and ordered Smith released, although Pocahontas kept insisting she had tripped. (Historians say this story might not be true and the lovely, noble Pocahontas and John Smith were never an item despite what gossipy Priscilla Mullens said.)

Anyway, Chief Acornugger saw that the white people were starving and felt his heart swell with pity, but it turned out to be gas. Instead, Chief Massasoit and the Pokanoket tribe actually brought food to the famished settlers, including corn, fish, lobster, clams, berries, squash, venison, and Pumpkin Spice Twinkies®.

The Pilgrims and Native Americans gathered for a goodwill feast and open slam dance, giving thanks for the food and friendship shared by all. The Pilgrims were so grateful they didn’t steal the land of the Pokanokets until forty-five years later.

And that's the story of the First Thanksgiving. Sort of.

--------------------
From the forthcoming book Floozy Comes Back by Stephen B. Bagley. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 13, 2017

FCB Excerpt

If a woman asks you if you think another woman is pretty, the answer is simply “no.” I don’t care if a multitude of angels are singing the other woman’s name because of her glorious beauty, you say, “No.” If you can convincingly add, “She’s an ugly hag,” things will go even better.

But don’t get cute on this. A friend of mine and his wife went to a cocktail party, and afterwards, as they drove home, his wife casually asked if he thought a woman at the party that they knew from college was pretty.

He immediately said, “No. She has aged so badly.”

“Now, don’t be rude,” his wife said, slightly smiling and resting her hand on his knee.

Warmed by her approval, he stupidly continued, "It’s obvious she’s had her boobs done. They’re so perky and round.”

Poor guy.

-- From the forthcoming book Floozy Comes Back, copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

FCB Excerpt

"Pumpkin spice is a powerful movement these days. You can find that spice in lipstick, candles, lotions, body sprays, perfumes, bath salts, shampoos, potpourri, air fresheners, facial tissue, toilet bowl cleaners, deodorant, sachets, dog biscuits, toothpaste, lip balms, and much more. And that doesn’t count all the pies, cakes, coffees, tarts, fried pies, muffins, and other desserts. There’s really something quite uncanny about it. It’s entirely possible that zombies want pumpkin spice brains, and vampires want pumpkin spice blood."
-- From the forthcoming Floozy Comes Back by Stephen B. Bagley. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

FCB Excerpt


"Many people are horrified the Pilgrims practiced pillorying, the act of fastening someone in a wooden framework in a public area so the Pilgrims could insult and demean them. You should remember this was long before Facebook and Twitter. The Pilgrims had to make do with what they had. And it was better to be pilloried in the New World than in the Old World. In the latter, they would throw rotten vegetables at the pilloryee. The Pilgrims had no food to spare for such fine sport and had to make do with mud, rocks, and—wait for it—dung. On second thought, it wasn’t better at all."
-- From the forthcoming Floozy Comes Back by Stephen B. Bagley. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Perfect for Halloween!


Blackbirds Second Flight 
Perfect for Halloween! 
Featuring thrilling stories and poetry from Stephen Bagley, Wendy Blanton,
Gail Henderson, Ken Lewis, 
Jean Schara, and Heath Stallcup!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

A bit about the Blackbirds

The anthology Blackbirds First Flight featured stories from me and my friends and fellow authors Kent Bass, Wendy Blanton, Gail Henderson, Jean Schara, and Tamara Siler Jones.

To quote Pru Simmons: “Blackbirds First Flight is an anthology of stories and poetry with a dark, sensual twist. The stories run the gambit from thrilling Gothic adventure to modern urban fantasy to fantastic encounters with the macabre. The poetry is uniformly excellent and tells dark stories of its own, many related to mythology.”

Here's some info about the authors, including me:

Stephen B. Bagley wrote Tales from Bethlehem, Murder by Dewey DecimalMurder by the Acre, Floozy & Other Stories, and EndlesS and co-authored Undying with Gail Henderson. His works have appeared in Writer's Digest, Creations 2014, Creations 2013, Creations 2012, ByLine Magazine, Free Star, Nautilus Magazine, OKMagazine, and other publications. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism. He is a member of Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. Visit https://stephenbbagley.blogspot.com for more info.

Kent Bass enjoys writing Gothic action/adventure stories. He graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business and from the University of Oklahoma, with a Master of Science in Accountancy. He and his family live in Dallas, Texas, where he works for the nation’s leading tax software company. Blackbirds First Flight was his first publication.

Wendy Blanton published three fantasy novels, The Dragon’s Lady, Rogue Pawn, and Sword and Scabbard under the pen name Elizabeth Joy with co-author Scott Carman. She has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Management from the University of Mount Olive and served in active duty for the United States Air Force for eight years. She is an apprentice bard and tells Celtic folk tales at Scottish Highland Games and other venues. Visit https://wendyblanton.wordpress.com for more info.

Gail Henderson co-authored Undying with Stephen B. Bagley. She collaborated with noted Oklahoma photographer Michael Duncan to produce Bare, a book of poetry and photography. Red Bird Woman, a collection of her poetry, was published in 2013. Her work has appeared in Creations 2014, Creations 2013, Creations 2012, and ByLine Magazine. She holds a Masters of Education in English and Social Studies from East Central University. Visit https://redbirdwoman.blogspot.com for more info.

Tamara Siler Jones is a wife, mom, writer, quilter, and cat-wrangler from rural Iowa. She has numerous novels in print/eBook, including Ghosts in the Snow, winner of the Compton Crook Award for best first novel of the year in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror genre; Threads of Malice; Valley of the Soul; SPORE; and the newly released Morgan's Run. Visit http://www.tamara-jones.net for more info.

Jean Schara retired from a 28-year career in the United States Air Force in 2008 and took up residence in Texas. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland University College with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and of the Troy State University with a Master of Science in Adult Education. She has had several book reviews published in the Air Power Journal and several articles published in Vision: A Resource for Writers. Visit http://pmtoo.jeanschara.com journal for more info.

Blackbirds First Flight is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lulu, and other online retailers. Visit https://blackbirdsflights.blogspot.com for more info.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Perfect for Halloween!

Enjoy stories and poems from authors 
Stephen B. Bagley, Kent Bass, Wendy Blanton, 
Gail Henderson, Jean Schara, and Tamara Siler Jones
in this dark, thrilling anthology!


Friday, July 14, 2017

Awkward

So I went to dinner with a couple who had just returned from their honeymoon (his second marriage and her third) and they went to an island, which sounded wonderful...white beaches, palm trees, great service, the emerald ocean.

And I said, "Show me your pictures."

The wife glanced at her husband and said, "You wouldn't be interested."

"No, I love vacation photos," I said, which is true. I am a great armchair traveler.

The husband shrugged, messed with his phone, and then handed it to me.

I put on my glasses and looked at the first photo. Then I took my glasses off and handed the phone back as my face and ears began to glow Rudolph red while they laughed.

It turns out that my friends are closet nudists.

I've had some awkward moments in my life, but I do think that is a particularly notable one.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy July 4th!

Yes, we have problems as a nation -- and what nation since the dawn of time has not? -- but I'm proud to be an American, blessed to live in this diverse and amazing nation, humbled by the sacrifices of those who have given their lives to keep us free, and excited when looking forward to our future. The naysayers and political pundits like to highlight our shortcomings, conveniently ignoring our past and continuing accomplishments. We truly have changed the face of the world, and although we have made grievous mistakes, we have also been an unrelenting force for freedom and liberty. God has blessed us immensely, and may He continue to do so! Happy Fourth of July!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Scene from the End of One Story

"Scene from the End of One Story"
By Stephen B. Bagley

...This is how one story ended...

Eve walked into Milligan's with her friend Bette, and as always, her eyes searched the restaurant for his shoulders and that ratty leather jacket and his soft worn hat that felt like velvet when she touched it. For seven weeks, she had searched all their places. The coffee shop, the bookstore, the library, the pier, the Seafood Shack. But Jeremy had disappeared from her life.

She didn't know how to live without him, but she was trying to learn how. She took a gym class, went out to movies with Bette and her other friends, and focused on work, turning out reports with an efficiency that even her boss noticed. A couple of guys--Kevin from Sales and Joel from Receivables--asked her out, and she said yes. Nice enough dates, and she had enjoyed them. Kevin even made her laugh, and Joel was sweet. But she kissed them good night at the door.

Bette threaded her way through the crowd, looking for a table. Eve followed, wondering when she would stop feeling that pit in her stomach when she didn't see him. She stumbled and caught herself on the edge of a table. The men seated at it smiled at her. She apologized, backed away, turned toward Bette, and saw Jeremy.

He didn't see her. He stood by a table talking to two other men. The crowd closed between them, and she lost sight of him. For a moment, she paused, feeling her heart beating hard. Then she pushed forward, leaving Bette behind, weaving her way forcefully toward her last chance.

"Jeremy," she said.

He turned and saw her. He started to smile, but it faded away.

"Eve," he said. "How are you?"

"Fine," she said. But that wasn't what she meant to say. She meant to say she was falling to pieces, her heart broke, her life in shambles, but the words wouldn't come.

"Where's Ben?" he asked.

"I don't know," she said. "Back with his wife, I guess. We're not together."

Jeremy nodded. "Sorry to hear that."

"I broke up with him," Eve said, wanting him to understand. "I sent him away. I remembered what you said. 'If he cheats on his wife, why wouldn't he cheat on you?' I should have listened."

"He cheated on you," Jeremy asked with a flash of anger in his voice.

Surely that meant something, she thought. "No, but I realized he would. I realized the love of his life was him." She laughed.

Jeremy took a deep breath. "Well, I'm sorry to hear things didn't work out. It's good to see you. I've got to go. I'm leaving New York in a couple of days. I have a lot of packing still to do. Got a job in Boston."

"Oh," she said. "Boston. Good. Good. Is it one you wanted?"

"It's a job," he said. "I've always liked Boston." He grinned. "Great clam chowder."

She laughed to keep from crying out. He's moved on, she thought. He's moving away.

"It's good to see you," he said. "You look...beautiful." He smiled. "Well, take care. Tell your parents I said hi."

"I will," she said. "You take care. Enjoy that chowder."

And he walked away while she stood in a crowd of strangers and she realized that would be her life--to always be alone in a crowd.

"No!" she said. She took three quick steps and grabbed his arm. "Jeremy, wait."

He turned back, his face surprised. "What?"

She couldn't find the words.

"What, Eve?" he asked again. "I need to go."

"Okay," she said. "Can we talk outside? Just for a minute."

He looked down at the floor. "I don't think that would be a good idea. Don't you think we've hurt each other enough? I can't take any more."

She swallowed. "Just for a minute. I need to tell you a few things. It won't take long."

He took a deep breath. "For a minute."

They found a bench in the tiny park across the street.

"Well," Jeremy said. "What do you want from me, Eve?"

"Nothing," she said, but her heart called her a liar. "I needed to apologize."

"No," he said. "No. I don't want to do this."

"Please," she said. "I just wanted to know how sorry I was. How I would give anything to go back and fix things."

"Eve, we're--"

"I know you're not in love with me anymore," she said. "I know we can't go back. And that you don't want to. You've moved on. Good. I'm glad. I want you to be happy." She could feel the tears behind her eyes threatening to overflow. "I wanted you to know I will always want the best for you."

He looked away.

She wiped her eyes. Time to go. Time to walk away. Time to let him walk away. Time to face the bleakness ahead. She needed a few moments to gather her strength.

He stood and took a couple steps away. She wanted to weep, but she didn't. This was the result of her decisions. She had made them, and she would live with them. She had enough courage to do that.

She rose. "I'd better let you go. I'm sorry if I hurt you."

He turned, his face shadowed. "I'm at a place in my life--"

"You don't have to explain," she said. "I understand." She shook her head and wiped her eyes. "We had something lovely, and I broke it. I didn't mean to. But I guess that doesn't mean a thing. I wanted you to know I miss you. Oh how I do."

"Let me finish," he said. "I'm at a place in my life where there are more good-byes than hellos. More people lost than found."

She watched him, almost afraid to breathe.

"Comes with getting older," he said with a short laugh. "You can't imagine how...lost I've felt without you. How empty. But then I saw you with him, and I was angry. It was better to be angry than empty. But now...."

He was silent for longer than she could bear, but she bore it anyway. Please God please, she prayed. Another chance and I won't blow it. Please oh please.


"Too many goodbyes," he said finally. "Not enough hellos. I don't want that for my life. I don't want to tell you goodbye." He looked at her. "Hello. How are you? I missed you. I missed you."

She sobbed and launched herself into his eager arms.

...This is how one story ended and a new one began...

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thanks for reading.)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Excerpt: "Thoughts at a Picnic"

(Excerpt from the forthcoming Floozy Comes Back)

By Stephen B. Bagley

Bittersweet is that moment when you slap down on an annoying fly on the picnic table and gleefully crush it on your palm and then you realize its guts are on your hand and it probably just finished chowing down on a poop platter thoughtfully provided by the 127 feral cats who haunt the park. So you wipe your hand on your napkin, wishing you had hand sanitizer even though you watched an exposé on Channel 4 showing how sanitizer could easily ignite and you shouldn’t use it near a fireplace or an open flame so it might not be safe since you’re sitting four feet away from the barbeque where they are sacrificing wieners to the flames.

You look back at the table and realize there’s that green-reddish smear from when you crushed Mr. Fly and you don’t want to see that so you move your plate to cover the remains, but the thought of it being there bothers you, and for a moment you think about that Poe story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” where the murderer has hidden his victim under the floorboards of his house, but then he thinks he hears “the beating of his hideous heart!”

Hardly a nice thing to remember on a nice day like this with the sun shining and your friends laughing beside you, and you blame Mr. Simmons who told that story to your seventh grade English class and gave you nightmares because he did it so convincingly and kept looking at the students with such a mad look that it’s no surprise that he was arrested for public nudity at a zoo and went to prison for five years and the poor flamingoes never recovered and went around looking shell-shocked and losing pink feathers everywhere.

You look back at your plate, which now you can’t do without thinking of the corpse it’s concealing, and pick up your fork to have some of that potato salad that Kathy brought and your mind flashes back to that report Channel 4 did about food-born pathogens and how they lurk in every picnic food which should never sit out for more than a few minutes, otherwise they become something so lethal that they could wipe out entire civilizations, which might be what happened to the people who built Stonehenge. You can imagine them gathering for a rock-raising picnic, and a few hours later, they’re all gasping their last breath like that fly you crushed. But the fly’s death was so fast it probably didn’t have time for a last breath; one moment it’s on the table looking at the feast spread before it, thinking happy thoughts, and then it’s not thinking anything. This makes you feel better because, after all, you gave it a quick, happy death, which is not such a terrible thing, and many people might want such a parting from this life, although how they’d find a giant picnic table is anyone’s guess.

Still, you put the fork back down and pick up your ham sandwich—WITH THE FLY CRUSHING HAND! A hand that’s probably contaminated with the bacteria and viruses that the fly picked up when it dined on the poop of a cat which had escaped from a secret lab conducting research into bio-weapons and this...this innocent picnic is how the zombie apocalypse starts!

With mounting panic, you realize you’re sure thinking about poop at lot at this picnic and now you’re afraid you will always associate picnic with poop and you frantically start thinking of better things that happen at picnics: laughing, games of Frisbee® and softball, splashing in pools, playing games of tag with the grand-children, and once at a college picnic years ago a curvy blonde fellow journalist let you find her in the woods for a bit of friendly necking—wait, that’s not an appropriate thought for now.

You carefully take a bite of the sandwich avoiding the side that touched your palm, and it’s good. Ham, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese, mustard, thick wheat bread.... Of course, if you were serious about your low carb diet, you wouldn’t be eating the bread at all. According to the carb commandos, grains are poison, POISON, and maybe that’s what actually wiped out the Stonehenge builders. Between raising multi-ton rocks, they were happily eating bread, French fries, ice cream, white rice, tacos, peach cobbler, potato salad.... Happy, heavy people who one day were felled by heart attacks, diabetes, and dreaded lard-bottom disease. All in all, there are worse ways to go if one has to go.

Which makes you think of an article you read recently in a science magazine about those people who think they don’t have to go and plan to upload their brains into a supercomputer so they can live forever, ignoring the fact that the original person would go ahead and age and die, leaving behind some monstrous thing that only faintly resembled a human, like a Congressman.

By now, everyone else is finished or finishing their plate of food and either getting seconds or thirds or deciding they’d better stop, and you have barely touched your food, which might make them think you’re on your second or third place when you’ve barely eaten enough to keep a fly alive...that fly again. Sigh. Now you’re regretting you killed the thing. Maybe you should have shooed it away, thus not incurring a Karmic debt. But you don’t believe in reincarnation anyway since you’re Baptist, and if it were true, then you’d only be releasing the soul trapped in the fly to move up into a better body, like maybe a boil weevil or a rodent. Unless it had been a bad fly, and then it would drop down in worth and become a telemarketer.

They’re cutting the watermelon now. You like watermelon and can easily make yourself sick eating too much given half a chance, but watermelon is basically sugar water held together by a fibrous matrix and loaded with carbs. You mentally add watermelon to the diet of the Stonehenge builders while taking a plate—a small plate—of the melon, vowing to yourself that you will walk several miles and burn off that sugar before it has time to damage your body even though you insisted the picnic was close to a parking lot because you didn’t want to walk.

The watermelon has seeds—the best ones do, in your opinion—and one of the black seeds moves! It’s another FLY! But you wave it off and examine the melon flesh closely, like you could see germs, and take your life into your teeth and hungrily devour the fruit.

It’s the end of the picnic, and it would hardly look right for you keep eating, so you regretfully drop your plate and cup in the trash, and stop at Delicias Mexican Restaurant on the way home for chips, dip, and a platter of enchiladas.

(Excerpt from the forthcoming Floozy Comes Back. Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Please do not copy without explicit permission from the author and publisher. Thank you for reading.)

Friday, June 16, 2017

If Only

Over the years, I've written a lot of poetry, so much so that sometimes I forget a poem and rediscover it after several years in my journal. I found this one the other day. I changed a few words, but overall, I left it as it was. Funny thing is that I don't even remember who--if anyone--I was writing about.

If Only
By Stephen B. Bagley

If only I could stop loving you
my life would be better now
in more ways than I can imagine.

If only I could forget
the taste of your lips,
your face as you slept,
those blue, happy eyes,
the silly way you smiled,
I wouldn't feel so empty now.

If only I could stop hurting
when I recall those days
of loving and laughing
and yes even fighting,
crying, and arguing--
I wouldn't run from love now.

If only I knew you, too,
had regrets when you
think of me--if ever
you do--and missed
me and our flawed love,
I could finally begin to heal.

If only you read these words
I'd know you'd finally know
I still carry the memory of us
and it's breaking my back
because you lack the courage
to share this heavy burden.

In more ways than I can imagine
my life would better now
if only I could stop loving you.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thank you for reading.)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

An Orwellian Scene

"An Orwellian Scene"
By Stephen B. Bagley

I once had a friend who was a survivalist. Let's call him Jacob, because that was his name. He had five years of food, a couple of months of water, guns and ammo, medical supplies, etc. Built a nice cabin in the woods with solar power and a windmill, although he still needed an electric line for all his power needs.

All through the Bush years, Jacob complained about how the government was trying to become a dictatorship. He foamed at the mouth when the Patriot Act was passed. He could actually recite the Act and give you point by point how it was taking away our civil liberties.

I thought perhaps he would calm down when Obama was elected, but no, he was even more up in arms. The National Health Plan, you see, would allow the government to embed nanobots into our brains and control us.

Then Trump got elected, and while I hoped Jacob would finally be reasonable, he was not. In fact, he claimed Trump was a tool of the Illuminati and would betray all those who elected him to further their goals of world domination.

Well, after that, I had no choice. I reported him to the Thought Police, and they picked him up yesterday. I will get a share of his goods after the officials take their percentage. It should be enough to bribe the Controllers so they will upgrade my nanobots to less painful ones.

I am proud and happy just as you are. We're not allowed to be anything else.

(Copyright 2017 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved.)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Living life well

Chilly, rainy day currently. We were forecast clear, sunny skies. No such luck. We needed the rain, of course, and it's not freezing, so the blooming and budding plants and trees are okay. Still, it's depressing. I enjoy such days in the fall, but in the spring, they feel sad.

Rainy days are generally depressing. Humans are--for the most part--creatures of sunlight. We're made to walk in the day and sleep in the night. We lived that way for thousands of years; only now are we up all hours. We may be losing undefined things by choosing our 24 hour day. Despite our desire to do more, live more, enjoy more, make more...we are doing less and feeling more frantic about it as the years--and our lives--speed by.

Sometimes, I think the greatest gift would be to slow down time, to live each hour as a day, to have enough time for walks in the park, enjoying the sun and wind while sitting on a stone bench, to feel the light on our faces like a benediction.

Time doesn't do that, though. Life goes on despite our attempts to hold on to each precious moment. Eventually, we live our lives in our memories. And then we don't. Other people take up the memories that become family stories and tales of times past until they are gone, too.

My point? Be happy now. Live in the present. Let all those "mores" care for themselves. Don't let your life not be lived. Walk in the sunshine now with me, even on rainy, cloudy days, and we will live life well.