Make a Note of these Dates:

December 15, and 16, e-book versions of Beneath a Buried House will be absolutely free.
December 9 through December 16, e-book copies of Twisted Perception are only 99 cents.
December 15 through December 22, e-book copies of Footprints of a Dancer will also be on sale for 99 cents.

If you prefer paperback copies, buy one of my books from Amazon and I will send you an autographed copy of one of the other books in the Detective Elliot series absolutely free. Just send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I will be running some great Christmas deals this year, but first a word from our sponsor.

Drinks Anyone?

A few days ago, my wife, Kathi, and I decided to dine at a local barbeque restaurant. Upon being seated, we were asked for our drink order. We ordered colas.

“Would you like a short one or a tall one,” the waitress asked.

Being a bit intrigued by the question, I asked for the difference.

The waitress measured a distance from the table with her hand and said, “About that much.” 

Later that night at a different restaurant, a waitress took our drink order and brought the colas.

Seconds later, another waitress appeared with two more colas. “Oh, did someone bring your drinks?”

She then placed the drinks on the table. “Well,” she said, “I’m your server, so just in case.”

I didn’t ask in what case that might be. 

And now for something completely different:

Books make wonderful, thoughtful, educational Christmas gifts. Did you know that you can gift e-books? Amazon has made it easy with instructions on each author’s book page. Anyone with a computer, smart phone, or tablet can download a free Kindle App, and begin reading. Of course paperback copies are still available as well.

And now for the Christmas deals:

On December 15, and 16, e-book versions of Beneath a Buried House will be absolutely free. Here’s the link.

December 9 through December 16, e-book copies of Twisted Perception are only 99 cents. Where else can you get a thoughtful, educational gift for less than a dollar? The link.

December 15 through December 22, e-book copies of Footprints of a Dancer will also be on sale for 99 cents. The link.

If you would like to read a free sample before buying, excerpts are available on my website

I’d also like to recommend a great book, Crushing the Collective, from my good friend Charles W. Sasser.

I truly pray that everyone has a blessed and merry Christmas.

Thank You:

I want to drop a quick note to express gratitude to my readers. I truly hope you enjoy my newsletters and special mailings. I’ve posted links below to some free books you might enjoy.

I’ve also included a link to Crushing the Collective, a book written by my good friend, Charles W. Sasser. It is a book about freedom, liberty, and preserving the American dream. I think it should be required reading for every student in every school in America. Instead, it will probably be banned.

Here are the links:

Wanted, Nick Stephenson

https://www.amazon.com/Wanted-Private-Investigator-Suspense-Thrillers-ebook/dp/B00FYW9VHC/ref=sr_1_7_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509387487&sr=1-7&keywords=free+kindle+books+mystery+thriller+suspense

Free to Kill, Julie Mellon

https://www.amazon.com/Wanted-Private-Investigator-Suspense-Thrillers-ebook/dp/B00FYW9VHC/ref=sr_1_7_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509387487&sr=1-7&keywords=free+kindle+books+mystery+thriller+suspense\

Crushing the Collective, Charles W. Sasser

https://www.amazon.com/Crushing-Collective-Chance-America-Self-Governing-ebook/dp/B073XLBL7W/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1509387411&sr=1-1&keywords=crushing+the+collective

Bob Avey’s 4th Quarter 2017

Newsletter

Search for the positive.

It seems a lot of bad things are happening in the world. However, your outlook can easily be improved through shifting your focus.

My wife, Kathi, and I have been brown-bagging our lunch lately in a small park located near our work site. Being keen on observation, I noticed early on the abundance of imaginative fodder available there. We wisely choose to concentrate on simple things like grass, trees, birds, and animals. Occasionally we take the short hike to one of the ponds in the area where we see the handy work of beavers, though we’ve yet to actually see the critters. Every now and then, we glimpse a rabbit. However, we typically watch squirrels – the small, four legged kind. I specify because there are quite a few human species of squirrel out and about. To clarify any confusion that might erupt, I offer the following:

While eating at the park recently, Kathi and I watched as a large, white van pulled into the driveway of one of the houses directly across from us. Three men climbed out of the van, walked to the curbside near the mailbox, and turned in unison to face the house. Like some comedy trio, they studied the house and lawn, each taking a turn at removing their hat and scratching their head, as if whatever they were observing presented a near insurmountable problem. After a few minutes of this – it seemed a lot longer – one of the men went to the van and pulled out an extension cord. After – with some difficulty I might add – finding an outside electrical outlet, he plugged in the cord. Again the three aligned themselves and stared at the house. Finally one of them pulled a hedge trimmer from the van, plugged it to the cord, and began trimming a rather large bush near the garage. The other two did nothing but watch. It took the poor guy about ten minutes to make the bush look worse than it had before the trimming. After that, they all climbed back in the van and drove away, leaving several other bushes and the lawn, which needed attention as well, untouched. Hmm...

It has certainly been a long, circuitous route, but I am finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel with my 4th Elliot novel. I hope to have it completed soon. Now comes the fun part: Editing and rewriting. If anyone would be interested in being a beta reader, please let me know.

Please check out my writing at the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Avey/e/B002BM2VJ8

Twisted Perception is now out in audiobook. Please click the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Perception-Detective-Elliot-Mystery/dp/B00XZKFWDM/ref=la_B002BM2VJ8_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502197925&sr=1-3

I want to thank everyone who signed up for my Reader List. I hope you enjoy the newsletters and special mailings. If you know of someone who might be interested, please forward this newsletter to them. We give away prizes on occasion, so stay tuned. Signing up is easy – just email your request to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or click here: http://www.bobavey.com/

On the right side of any webpage, you will find a notation that reads: Sign Up For Bob’s Newsletter. Put your email address in the box and hit subscribe. You will automatically be entered into a monthly contest to win free books.

Gray from Puerto Rico won the autographed book this quarter. Congratulations Gray.

I also give programs for writing clubs, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club that needs a program speaker, keep me in mind.

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter, blog, or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer. http://www.bobavey.com

Bob Avey’s 3rd Quarter 2017

Newsletter

A large eagle glided silently over my path as I crossed the bridge, spanning the Arkansas River near Jenks, Oklahoma. It was going to be a good day.

On the third day of August 2017, I rolled out of bed with a different agenda in mind. I had unfinished business. The email I’d received the previous day was sent as a reminder, but I had not forgotten. I was, in fact, looking forward to it.

I backed the BMW from the garage and set a course for Woodward, Oklahoma, not the office as usual. The decision was neither spontaneous nor poorly thought out, though somewhere west of Enid I began to question the integrity of the satellite feeding information to my phone. I halfway expected the face of Rod Serling to appear in my rearview mirror. A signpost just ahead came into view.

Thankfully, the signpost made no mention of the Twilight Zone but indicated instead that Woodward was eighteen miles away. A few months earlier, the Woodward Library System had contacted me and asked me to be a part of their Summer Adult reading program. I am happy that I accepted the request, and thankful that I was able to make the trip. I truly hope all of the wonderful people, who attended the event, enjoyed the experience as much as I did.

Okay, let’s try this again:

About a month ago, I was sitting in a hospital lab, waiting to get… well, you know, stabbed or jabbed in one way or the other. I’ve been doing way too much of that lately. Thankfully it has been on an outpatient basis. Anyway, I’d showed up two days earlier, like the endocrinologist had instructed me to do, only to be sent home, after having fasted – that means skipping midnight snacks, breakfast, and coffee – to return a few days later. It seems the doctor had requested the test, but had not scheduled it.

Am I missing something here? If a doctor requests a test be done on a certain day, isn’t that technically the same as scheduling it? And I used to think the accounting profession was convoluted.

To cut to the chase, while I was sitting in the waiting room, a young lady dressed in hospital attire came into the room, dragged up a chair, and sat beside the other young lady, who was already behind the desk and also dressed for the occasion. The young lady, who had already been behind the desk, acknowledged the presence of the later arrival with a curt nod, but for a few minutes, neither of them spoke, neither to me nor to each other. Yeah I’m liking neither, nor today. To compound the puzzle, the second young lady did absolutely nothing constructive or otherwise that I could ascertain, but simply sat there, perhaps conducting mind over matter exercises. The silence was finally broken when the later arrival began to complain about her hours.

From the conversation that I could not help but overhear, I determined that the second young lady was there as some sort of disciplinary action. I didn’t pick up on what she might have done to earn the detainment, but what cruel form of punishment would give you a twenty minute break from work while still being paid for it?

It gets worse. Her complaining amounted to protests for having had to take off an extra half hour for lunch due to her working a half hour overtime. I’m no Einstein but, relatively speaking, a negative half hour coupled with a positive one equals zero. And I’d be willing to bet she was paid for the overtime. No wonder the cost of medical care is soaring at a rate nearing the speed of light.

Please check out my writing at the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Avey/e/B002BM2VJ8

Twisted Perception is now out in audiobook. Please click the link below:

https://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Perception-Detective-Elliot-Mystery/dp/B00XZKFWDM/ref=la_B002BM2VJ8_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502197925&sr=1-3

I want to thank everyone who signed up for my Reader List. I hope you enjoy the newsletters and special mailings. If you know of someone who might be interested, please forward this newsletter to them. We give away prizes on occasion, so stay tuned. Signing up is easy – just email your request to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or click here: http://www.bobavey.com/

On the right side of any webpage, you will find a notation that reads: Sign Up For Bob’s Newsletter. Put your email address in the box and hit subscribe. You will automatically be entered into a monthly contest to win free books.

I also give programs for writing clubs, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club that needs a program speaker, keep me in mind.

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter, blog, or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer. http://www.bobavey.com

Bob’s 2nd Quarter Newsletter

2017

In the past – of which I must admit recalling the defining moments has become more difficult lately – I would always dread the thought of putting together a newsletter. However, without fail, once I started to write, the words would just happen, as if I had some sort of hidden well of thoughts that was only accessible when I wasn’t really aware that I was trying to. The well seems to be hidden. I guess I’m trying too hard.

Anyway, in searching for the light side of things, which used to come quite naturally to me, I now seem to struggle. It’s been a rough couple of years, but I won’t go into that. Instead, if I can’t find lighthearted, I’ll reach for something else.

A few years ago, quite a few actually, I was near a schoolyard during the summer when the school was closed, swinging a metal detector over the ground to see what I could find beneath the soil. I used to do that as much as time would permit. It’s a highly misunderstood hobby.

Curious passersby would often ask me, “Hey does that thing actually work?”

No, I would think but not say. I just enjoy waving a metal rod over the ground. You should try it sometime.

Or, “Hey, have you found enough to pay for that thing yet?”

Oh, I don’t know. Have you won enough tournaments to pay for your golf clubs? Perhaps you’ve caught enough fish to pay for your bass boat?

Just as it is with golf and fishing, the hobby of metal detecting isn’t about the money. It’s about relaxing and having a good time. But I stray from the point. While I was lost in thought, intently listening for the subtly different nuances of sound the detector was putting out, a boy of about twelve years of age walked over and got my attention. I nodded and removed my headphones.

He dug into his pocket, pulled out a handful of coins, and held them out for me.

The more I tried to explain that I didn’t really need the coins, the more insistent he became. I finally told him to scatter the coins across the schoolyard so I could find them with the detector. He was a good kid who thought he was helping me out. I often wonder what happened to the kindhearted lad. Good things I hope.

On another occasion, I was walking across the parking lot of a local convenience store when a teenager with dirty, scraggly hair approached a lady. “Could you loan me some money for cigarettes?” He asked.

The lady explained that she would not give him any money, but instead would go into the store and purchase the cigarettes for him. To my surprise, the dirty, young man was overcome with thankfulness. He asked her what he could do to repay her. She told him to do something nice for someone else, if he got the chance.

In a world permeated with negativity and violence, random, selfless acts of love and kindness are not overshadowed, but instead shine their light into the darkness. We should all strive not only to become aware of such behavior, but to also act as conduits through which the light of Jesus can shine.

Please check out my writing by clicking the link below:

www.bobavey.com

Twisted Perception is now out in audiobook. Please click the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Perception-Detective-Elliot-Mystery/dp/B00XZKFWDM/ref=la_B002BM2VJ8_1_1_title_2_audd?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445367460&sr=1-1

Please follow the link and check it out. Once you’re at the site, there’s a button you can click to hear a free sample. Charles Bice, the reader we chose, did an excellent job of portraying the characters as he tells the story. I believe you can even get the audiobook of Twisted Perception for free, if you join Audible.com. And who wouldn’t want to do that?

I want to thank everyone who has signed up for my newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you know of someone who might enjoy it, too, please email it to them.

I also give programs for writing groups, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club, which needs program speakers, keep me in mind.

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of, Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer. http://www.bobavey.com.

Bob’s 2nd Quarter Newsletter

2016

First a bit of business: Amazon, doing the promotional magic they’re famous for, has a bit of a deal for my books. With Twisted Perception, if you’ve purchased the e-book, you can also get the Audible version for just a $1.99. With Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer, if you’ve purchased the paperback, you can get the e-book for 99 cents.

Reflective moods have come upon me lately, overcoming my thoughts on an increasing basis.

Have you ever considered that we, or at least a majority of us, might be misusing our gifts?

The content of a recent radio program caused me to think about this. The host of the show proposed, and I paraphrase, that the very thing that sets us apart from the crowd, gives us our edge, is also quite often the source of many of our problems.

A few days ago, my wife, Kathi, and I were enjoying lunch in the park as we often do. We’re fortunate enough to work for the same company and the building is close to the park. It should have been a day much like the others, but it was not.

I pulled into a shady spot, shut off the car and rolled down the windows, but instead of fresh air we received a dose of surrealism. The first thing we noticed was the abundance of birds hopping about in the grassy areas, many more than usual, but no other people were around, no other cars took up parking spaces. A cool breeze blew through the park, causing an empty aluminum can to bump and bounce across the asphalt, the action causing the only discernable sound. For a few moments, the scenario reminded me of a Stephen King movie.

Suddenly the silence was blasted away when a pickup truck pulled into the parking lot, its radio playing some type of weird music, a type I’d never heard before.

I glanced at Kathi, communicating without words that perhaps we should go for a walk.

She nodded her approval and we locked up the car then crossed the lot and stepped onto the gravel path, which winds around the park. We followed the path to the large pond that dominates the west end of the park, and once there we slowed our pace to enjoy the scenery.

Canadian geese and a few ducks floated on the water, some of them paddling along, leaving small wakes behind. Turtles sunned themselves on logs that protruded from the pond. Occasionally a fish or two would swim to the surface then again disappear back into the depths. At the edge of the water, a mama and daddy duck swam with babies.

The geese, the ducks, the turtles, and the fish all seemed to be at peace within their environment. I imagined they had no worries, held no grudges, clung to no political affiliations, or harbored any ambitions. They simply went about the business of being what they were.

That evening, while on our way home from work we saw a dogsled, being mushed alongside the road with a team of Huskies. Instead of runners, the sled had wheels. How weird is that?

Not far from the dogsled incident, an elderly lady slowly made her way along the sidewalk with a cane. She carried a sack of groceries.

The oddness of the day reached its apex when I pulled into a convenience store to get some gasoline for the car. At the pump in front of me, putting gas into a black convertible with loud music spewing from the speakers, a man, who looked as if he’d stepped off a movie set, dominated my attention. He wore black slacks and a starched, white shirt with a black tie. Cocked upon his head was a black, Indiana Jones hat, but the crowning touch was a black, leather shoulder holster complete with sidearm. He looked like a mixture of Dan Aykroyd in The Blues Brothers, Stacy Keach in Mike Hammer, and Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black.

I’m continually reminded that this is not the world I grew up in.

God created us in his image and gave us dominion over the earth and the non-human life upon it. I don’t think we’re doing a very good job of managing either the earth or ourselves.

Perhaps we should give more thought to the animals, not so much in taking better care of them – which we should do when necessary – but in living more peaceful lives by striving to be more like them, letting go of the unnecessary, non-productive thoughts we carry around with us.

At this point, you might be wondering: What’s happened to Bob and his whimsical newsletters?

We will both be back.

Please check out my writing by clicking the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Bob-Avey/e/B002BM2VJ8

I want to thank everyone who signed up for my Reader List. We’ve already given away a nice prize. I have a lot more good stuff planned. If you haven’t signed up, I’ve placed the link below.

http://awoc.com/BobAvey-TwistedPerception/

Twisted Perception is now out in audiobook. Please click the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Perception-Detective-Elliot-Mystery/dp/B00XZKFWDM/ref=la_B002BM2VJ8_1_1_title_2_audd?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445367460&sr=1-1

Please follow the link and check it out. Once you’re at the site, there’s a button you can click to hear a free sample. Charles Bice, the reader we chose, did an excellent job of portraying the characters as he tells the story. I believe you can even get the audiobook of Twisted Perception for free, if you join Audible.com. And who wouldn’t want to do that?

I want to thank everyone who has signed up for my newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you know of someone who might enjoy it, too, please email it to them.

I also give programs for writing groups, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club, which needs program speakers, keep me in mind.

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of, Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer. http://www.bobavey.com.

Two Tickets to Heidelberg

Part V

The Conclusion

In the last episode (Part IV), I’d suggested we leave the safety of the tent and do a little exploring.

“What could possibly go wrong?” I asked.

“You’re kidding, right?”

I buttoned my field jacket and positioned the matching, army-green, ball cap on my head. “Suit yourself then. Anyway, I’ll be back before you realize I’ve gone.”

I stepped outside, walked around the tent, and began walking in a southerly direction. About five minutes into the hike, I paused at the precipice to the valley, the same one where we’d encountered the boars, but about 500 yards south of that location. The rolling landscape, beautiful even in the winter months, captured my thoughts and I wondered what might be beyond the valley.

I heard footsteps and turned to see Billy approaching. “I thought I’d better come along and keep an eye on you,” he said. “Who knows what you might do without someone to hold you back.”

Billy was joking but he was more right than he knew. My curiosity had gotten me into plenty of trouble through the years, including my current situation of being in the Army, but that same insatiable desire to understand things on a personal level had also enriched my life with luxurious experiences I would have missed out on otherwise.

“It’s beautiful out here,” I said.

“Yeah, I’d think we might be somewhere in the States if I didn’t know better.”

“That’s what makes it interesting,” I said, “something different than what we’re used to, not knowing exactly what to expect.”

“Why am I getting a bad feeling about this?”

“You’re way too nervous, that’s your problem. Come on, let’s walk a little farther.”

“It’s getting dark.”

“I know, but there’s something up the trail that I want to check out. It’s where I was headed when you caught up with me.”

We walked another fifty yards in a southeasterly direction, stopping when we reached a trail, which meandered down the slope, disappearing into the darkness of the valley.

“Yeah,” I said, “this is it.”

I’d just gotten the words out when the form of a person emerged from the depths. Seeing us as well, he waved and came toward us.

“I wonder who that could be?” Billy asked.

Billy’s words indicated he’d found the experience every bit as surrealistic as I did. Who, indeed, would be out here? Guessing that our visitor was most likely a local, I called out, “Guten abend (Good evening).”

The man cheerfully returned my greeting, adding a long discourse, some of which I understood and some of which I did not. During the conversation, I learned the mysterious traveler, a hearty looking forty year old, was from the village at the bottom of the hill. Just a short walk, he’d said.

A few minutes later, my new friend shook my hand then turned away and started back down the hill. It almost seemed as if he’d made the hike for the sole purpose of talking with me. “Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas),” I called out.

“Und einen gutes neue jahr (and a happy New Year),” he replied.

A rustling in the brush drew my attention and when I glanced toward the sound two soldiers came out of hiding. It was Allen G and Charles A.

“Bob Avey,” Charles said.

He made the declaration as if he’d just stumbled upon the answer to an elusive problem.

“What on earth are you doing out here, and who was that guy you were talking to?”

Charles and Allen were a couple of passive rebel rousers – if indeed there can be such a thing – that I’d had no quandaries with but had avoided just the same.

Looking back now, I’m reminded of a scene in The Fellowship of The Ring, where Merry and Pippin come upon Frodo Baggins in the woods outside the Shire.

“Just taking a walk,” I said. “What about you?”

Charles and Allen glanced at each other but said nothing.

I stepped onto the pathway and started down the hill. I didn’t know, but I suspected Charles and Allen had been up to something and were now on their way back to the camp. They stood at the top of the hill, the expressions on their faces seeming to be a complicated mixture of fear and excitement.

“Say,” Charles asked, where you going?”

“Hopefully somewhere away from you guys.”

I heard footsteps and soon discovered that the source was whom I’d expected. Billy had scrambled down the hill. He caught up and stepped in front of me. “Yoncas, what are you doing?”

“I need to see what’s at the bottom of the hill.”

“Are you nuts? By the time you get there, it’ll be too dark to see anything.”

“It’s the twentieth century, Billy. They’ll have lights.”

Billy’s expression said it all.

“Didn’t it occur to you that the stranger I just talked with had to have come from somewhere?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess so.”

“He said he was out for a walk, and that he’d come from the village just down the hill. The guy had looked pretty fresh, hadn’t he? It can’t be that far.”

“Then why can’t we see those lights you were talking about?”

“Hey, wait up, guys. We’re coming with you.”

“I sure wish the Bobbsey Twins hadn’t of showed up.”

“Yeah,” Billy said, “and all the more reason we should call this off. And let’s not forget about the razorbacks. If we run into them again in a place where they can see and we can’t, it’s not going to be pretty.”

“You’re probably right, but how do we shake the Bobbsey Twins? I don’t know about you but I don’t want those two knowing about our tent.”

Billy rolled his eyes. “Okay, good point. Now what’ll we do?”

“Neither of them has ever struck me as having an abundance of courage. My guess is, once they realize how dark it is in the valley, they’ll turn back.”

“That would make them smarter than us. I don’t like the sound of that.”

“You worry too much, Billy. The two of them together couldn’t reason half as good as you.”

“Based on the decisions I’ve made lately, I’m not so sure.”

Then, as feared, Charles and Allen started to follow us.

Billy and I turned to face them.

“We’re coming with you,” Allen said.

“If not,” Charles piped in, “we’ll tell Lieutenant S. about the whole thing, finding you out here and all.”

I had to think fast. Both Charles and Allen reeked of hashish, not uncommon among the soldiers, sadly enough, but it was all I had. “You might want to reconsider that,” I said. “You weren’t hiding in the shrubs earlier, hoping to gain information about my travel plans. If I had to guess, I’d say you just smoked a bowl.”

Smoking a bowl was a slang term used to refer to stuffing a common tobacco pipe with hashish.

Charles and Allen exchanged nervous glances. “Yeah, well everybody does it. And it ain’t like they don’t know.”

The Bobbsey Twins had pointed out another sad truth. There were times, most evenings in fact, when the atmosphere inside the barracks would have given a thick, London fog a run for its money. The use of the drug was so rampant and widespread that there was no way the officers didn’t know about it.

“Not everybody,” I said. “Anyway I’ve talked with Lieutenant S. a few times and I happen to know he’s not happy about the situation. He’s looking for ways to slow it down, namely identifying and stopping the dealers.”

“Hey, don’t jump to conclusions, buddy. We scored a few grams that’s all. We ain’t dealing.”

I turned and started back down the trail. “All I’m saying is that if we decide to trade stories with the lieutenant, you and your buddy, Allen might not fare so well.”

“All right I catch your drift. We won’t say anything if you don’t.”

“Fair enough,” I said. “See you guys later.”

“What do you mean later? I thought you said we could come along.”

I paused and turned back. “That’s not a good idea, guys. I’m trying to be straight with you. We’re not sure of what we’re getting ourselves into. Maybe next time, okay?”

Charles and Allen nodded and they didn’t follow us, but they didn’t leave either.

I turned and resumed my trek down the hill.

“I don’t know about you, Yoncas. I’m starting to think you could talk your way out of anything. What do you think the twins will do?”

“I’m hoping they go back to the camp.”

“That’s precisely what we should do. We could walk a few more yards until we’re out of sight then turn west, follow the valley, and come up near the outhouse. Nobody would see us.”

“That’s an excellent plan,” I said.

A short time later, Billy said, “Don’t you think I know you’re still leading us down the hill? When were you planning on turning back?”

I slowed my pace then stopped. “I thought about it, Billy. But take a look around.

Darkness surrounded us, and on both sides of the trail a thick growth of trees rose from the forest floor.

“I don’t know about you, but I’m not crazy about the idea of trying to navigate through that mess.”

“Are you telling me we’re lost?”

“Not in the least. All we have to do is follow the trail.”

“I can’t even see my feet, much less the trail.”

“Yeah, I know. The trick is to look up instead of down.”

It was an overcast and moonless night, and yet, since no trees grew on the trail, the sky was visible where the vegetation parted, marking the path.

“You’re right,” Billy said. “And now that we know this, why don’t we go up the hill instead of continuing down it?”

“We should be getting close,” I said.

“Close to what, the Black Forest, Frankenstein’s castle?”

“Perish the thought. Anyway, you saw the guy. He wasn’t tired, not even winded. He couldn’t have walked very far.”

“Yeah, well maybe he’s just an old hermit who lives out here in the woods somewhere.”

“Come to think about it, he did mention something about turning into a werewolf at night.”

“That’s not funny, Yoncas.”

“Just kidding. Come here, I want to show you something. Get your bearings on the trail then look straight down the hill. It’s faint, but it’s there.”

Moments later Billy said, “It’s probably a hallucination. I’ve heard that being immersed in total darkness for an extended period of time can do that to you.”

“That’s not the result of abnormal activity in your brain, Billy. It’s the glow from the lights of the village. Come on, let’s go.”

About an hour later, we emerged from the woods and stood on the outskirts of the traveler’s village, a town about twice the size of Cowtown, which wasn’t saying much. The total distance of the village from the camp turned out to be about five miles, a long way when you’re stumbling around in the darkness.

I motioned toward the town then took a bow. “Your wish is my command.”

“My wish is to be back at the camp, relaxing in the tent.”

At the edge of the forest, a narrow road wound into the village, leading to several shops, one of which was a gasthaus, its sign like a beacon to weary travelers. It seemed the proprietors of the establishment had known visitors would be coming down the hill.

“All in good time my friend. Since we’ve come this far, let’s allow ourselves the small advantage of a good, German brew before embarking on the return journey.”

“I knew you were going to say that. It does sound good, though.”

We walked into town then strolled up to the gasthaus, a popular place from the sound of it. A soft but discernable buzz of voices filtered into the area near the establishment.

All of that stopped when I opened the door, the action initiating the ringing of a bell, the old kind that business owners would install to alert them to the presence of customers, if they happened to be in another part of the shop. The music stopped, the conversation ended, the clinking of dishes ceased, and every head of each customer pivoted around to stare at Billy and me. It was as if a switch had been thrown, the tiny bell being much more than it seemed had stopped everything, even the spinning of the Earth on its axis.

And there we stood in a doorway perhaps created by Doctor Who, weary soldiers from another dimension, dressed in olive drab clothing complete with field jackets and fury parkas.

Billy grabbed my arm and shook his head, but the bizarre invitation was more than I could resist. I stepped inside, walked a few feet then paused and announced, “Guten abend.”

As expected, the mere utterance of the magic phrase brought everything back to where it had been before our arrival: The Earth once again orbited the Sun. I found an empty table and sat down.

Seconds later, Billy found his way through the crowd and pulled out a chair opposite mine. “That was totally weird.”

A waitress appeared and I ordered a bratwurst and a bier. Billy took it a step further and ordered a dinner of jagerschnitzel (a veal cutlet) with mushroom gravy.

“Having to walk twenty miles in total darkness tends to make me hungry,” he said. “But I have to hand it to you, Yoncas. This just might be the best schnitzel I’ve ever had. I’m dreading that hike back up the hill, though.”

“It’s only about five miles,” I said. “It seemed further because of the circumstances.”

“Yeah, but it’ll all be uphill. There’s no getting around that.”

“Never say never, Billy.”

Billy took a moment to consider my words. “Don’t you go getting any crazy ideas. As soon as we finish our dinner, we’re heading back to the camp, on foot the same we got here.”

Once again, the door creaked open, the bell rang, and this time Billy and I became a part of the silent, staring continuum.

“Don’t look now,” Billy said, “but Abbot and Costello just showed up.

It was Charles and Allen. It didn’t take them long to spot us. We were the only ones who looked like Grizzly Adams.

Billy shook his head. “I can’t believe they had the courage much less the brainpower to make it here.”

“You’re giving them too much credit. My guess is they started following us from the start. Once they realized what they’d gotten themselves into, they didn’t know what else to do but try and stick with us.”

The misfits made their way to the table and sat down. “Hey, this is pretty cool.”

“Well, it was until you guys showed up. I thought we had an understanding?”

“Hey we got just as much right to be here as you do.”

As if on cue, Billy and I simultaneously pushed away from the table and stood. The waitress had already left our tickets and we started toward the register to pay.

“Say, where are you guys going now?”

“It’s been a long and interesting journey,” I said, “but alas time has come to set out for the base camp.”

“Say what?”

Billy rolled his eyes. “Their behavior doesn’t say much for the Army’s screening process, does it?”

Billy and I paid our bills then left the restaurant, followed the narrow road to the trail, and began our journey back to the camp.

Billy kept glancing over his shoulder. “I hate to admit it but I’m kind of worried about Charles and Allen. Maybe we should go back and get them.”

“I suspect they’ll be coming up behind us any time now,” I said.

“I don’t know how you do it, Yoncas. The twins just stepped onto the trail at the bottom.”

I paused and looked back. The Bobbsey Twins had brought along provisions for the trip. Each of them carried a liter (quart) of wine, and they were already turning the jugs up at intermittent intervals.

“At the rate their going,” I said, “they’ll have those bottles finished off by the time we reach the camp. It should make for an interesting trip.”

“Aw, don’t be too hard on them. We were in the same shape a few days ago.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Some people learn from their mistakes and some don’t. Time will tell, my friend.”

Sure enough, by the time we got back to the camp, Charles and Allen were pretty wasted. It was dark and late. We took them to their sleeping bags then told them to go to bed.

Billy and I would go on to have many more adventures. When our wives arrived, they too became friends.

I got out of the service about a year before Billy and we lost contact.

Here’s to you Billy and Lisa, wherever you are.

The blog entries might be slow to nonexistent for a while. I’m going to concentrate on finishing the fourth novel in the Detective Elliot series.

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Two Tickets to Heidelberg

Part IV

The encompassing sleep I’d found in the back of a two and a half ton military vehicle came to an abrupt end.

“Wake up Yoncas.”

I glanced around the cargo area then sat forward.

Near the back of the truck, a soldier studied me, his hands on his hips. “Well what do we have here, a couple of stowaways?”

I’d developed a habit of matching nametags with faces. I ran through the list and pulled one out. “Morning Corporal H.”

Corporal Jim H. had been in the military for a while. He had about ten years on me, and I guessed most of it had been spent doing the same thing, working in mess halls. There were more people like him at the time than you might have thought, quiet, unambitious sorts who’d found, for lack of a better term, a safe-haven in the military. He wasn’t the head cook, but chances were pretty good he’d been put in charge of this detail.

“We missed the convoy,” I said. “Sergeant M. was pretty upset about it. He told us to hitch a ride with you guys. I hope you don’t mind?”

“Better come out with the rest of it,” Billy added.

“Oh, yeah, I guess we’re supposed to help you guys out a little.”

Corporal H. grinned. “Guess you’re sort of at my mercy, huh?”

“Guess so.”

He moved his hands away from his hips and crossed his arms across his chest. “Say while we’re on the subject, what’s this I hear about you being from Oklahoma?”

I hadn’t realized we had been on that subject and I hoped the Corporal didn’t have it out for Okies. “That’s right. Wish I was there now.”

“What part of Oklahoma?”

“Sand Springs, a small town near Tulsa.”

“Yeah, I know where it is. Grew up in Sapulpa myself.”

I grabbed my duffel bag and climbed out of the truck. “We’re practically neighbors.”

The corporal smiled but his expression overrode the gesture. “I get to thinking about it now and then. I can’t say I miss it for the most part, but there were some times. Life wasn’t all that good for me there, came from a poor family, wasn’t all that popular at school. You know the routine?”

I wasn’t sure why the corporal had chosen that time to open up to me, but I wasn’t surprised that he had. Such occurrences had become common, a trend that would later encourage me to enroll in college classes. I would go on to earn nine hours of psychology credits at the University of Maryland. I had intended to obtain a degree in the subject, once I got out of the military. Yet another one of those things I didn’t follow up on.

Let me get back to the story.

“Anytime you want to talk, about anything,” I said, “let me know. I’m a pretty good listener.”

Billy had gotten out of the truck as well and he was standing next to me. “Where do we put our stuff?” He asked.

The corporal glanced at our deflated duffel bags. “Is that all you got?”

“Pretty much.”

“No sleeping bags?”

“Didn’t have time to grab any.”

“This army is going to hell in a handbasket,” the corporal said. “Help me unload the truck and I’ll show you where to go.”

About an hour later, Corporal H. led Billy and me to a large, military tent that’d been set up approximately fifty yards northwest of the bivouac area.

As I write this it occurs to me that the story gets a little weird at this point, not by intent, but by epiphany as I rediscover the old memories along with you. Except for a kerosene-fed stove and a couple of cots, we found the ten by twenty foot space empty. To this day, I don’t know why that tent was there, or what its real purpose was. Billy and I used it without disturbance the entire time we were there. At the time, I considered our circumstance a bit of luck. However, looking back I experience a tinge of guilt as a trail of deduction leads to no other end than the majority of the other soldiers having shivered on the ground in sleeping bags.

“You can put your stuff here,” the corporal said.

Our trip to Baumholder turned out to be a bit of a vacation in comparison to typical military life. We worked about three hours a day, washing a few metal trays after each meal, and outside of that we were on our own. As quasi chow boys, Billy and I dined separately from the masses, taking our meals in the tent where we spent the bulk of the daylight hours for fear of being discovered and shanghaied into duty of a more strenuous nature. I imagined the veins in Sergeant M’s forehead swelling to capacity, had he known the outcome of our punishment.

Later that day, in the early evening hours, I was stretched out on the cot, fading off to dreamland. Keep in mind this was the same day that Billy and I had walked across half of Germany, looking for Coleman Barracks. Sleep would come easy, but not just yet. One of the few inconveniences of our private tent was the lack of a latrine.

“I’ll be right back,” Billy said.

About thirty yards north of the tent, an outhouse occupied a rather scenic spot overlooking a valley. I figured that was Billy’s destination, though his words had barely registered.

What seemed like seconds later, Billy rushed back into the tent. “You got to see this,” he said.

I sat up and dropped my feet over the side of the cot. “It’d better be good.”

“It is. Come on.”

Once outside, neither of us having a flashlight, we stumbled along in the darkness until we reached the area where the outhouse sat.

“Look,” Billy said. He pointed into the valley. “There they are.”

Struggling to adjust to the available light, I looked down the slope and into the darkness. The valley floor seemed to be moving. As if a large body of water had flooded its boundaries, the area bobbed and weaved with dark, undulating shapes. A mixture of grunts and snorts accompanied the chaos.

“What is that?”

“Razorbacks,” Billy said.

“We’re a long way from Arkansas.”

“Maybe so, but I’d know that sound anywhere.”

“Wild boars,” I said. “Germany is famous for them.”

“I don’t recon there’s much difference.”

“They’re getting louder,” I said.

“They’ve caught our scent.”

“What?”

“Run.”

I turned away from the approaching snorts and scrambled out of there. Billy had a thirty yard jump on me but I was gaining on him. Propelled by the stench of hot, pig breath, I streaked past the tent and ran for the deuce and a half that had brought us to this demented game reserve. Not knowing the jumping and climbing capabilities of wild boars, I avoided the cargo area and climbed into the passenger side of the cab.

Expecting the angry beasts to body-slam themselves into the truck, pummeling it to the point of metal fatigue, I scrunched down in the seat, hoping to avoid detection.

Moments later, a scream that would melt the peels from onions cut through the night.

I sat forward, chanced a peek through the window.

Nothing. No pigs. No Billy. I was all alone.

I gathered my courage and climbed out of the truck. I couldn’t let my friend get trampled and gored by a bunch of overgrown, German pigs. I retraced my steps until I reached the hill overlooking the valley where the commotion had begun.

This area, too, seemed deserted. Until something or someone that resembled an African chieftain, brandishing a spear, came out of the darkness.

“Billy?”

“Silly things cornered me in the crapper.”

“I’m guessing that was you I heard screaming?”

“That was no scream. It was a war cry. I found this old mop handle in the outhouse and chased the crazed razorbacks away with it.”

“It must have worked,” I said. “I don’t see any more boars around. I guess that makes you a hero of sorts.”

“Why do you say that?”

“If you hadn’t turned them away, the boars probably would have run through the camp. There would have been a lot of surprised soldiers, jumping from their sleeping bags.”

A couple days later, having finished the evening dishes, Billy and I were kicked back in the tent.

Even as one who lived this era, it’s been difficult for me to conceive of having no personal computer, no smart phone, no cell phone, or any type of device that would connect to the internet. And even if by some strange circumstance I would have had any of those things, there was no internet to connect to. Television and radio broadcasts were available, but neither Billy nor I had a radio or a television with us. All we had was conversation. I truly miss those times.

Anyway, by this time I had begun to experience cabin, or tent fever.

“We have close to an hour of daylight,” I said. “What do you say we go on a little exploratory mission?”

Billy looked comfortable and content in his cot. “Why would we want to do that?”

“So far all we’ve seen is the mess tent, this tent, and the outhouse.”

“This is the best duty I’ve ever had. Let’s not push our luck.”

“We could skirt around behind the tent and check out the area outside the camp. No one will notice.”

“What little sense of judgement I have left is telling me to stay here and enjoy my freedom.”

“We’ll be back to the tent within thirty minutes. What could possibly go wrong?”

I truly promise to wrap it up next post.

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Two Tickets to Heidelberg

Part III

At the end of part II, Billy and I had gotten ourselves into a bit of a predicament, and we’d narrowed down our options on making the best of it to either waiting on the train or walking from Heidelberg to Coleman Barracks.

Under ordinary circumstances, we should have been able to get back to the base and grab a couple hours sleep before roll call at 6:00 AM.

These were not ordinary circumstances. We’d only been in Germany for a few weeks, neither of us had been past Mannheim, and a commuter train had brought us to our current outpost. We knew where we were, but not exactly how to get back to where we’d been.

Did I mention that German bier is typically stronger than its American counterpart?

Our infamous trek encompassed a deserted menagerie of highways and byways where no cars or vehicles of any kind traveled, and we were certainly the only pedestrians. It was dark, quiet, and precisely eerie. Like a couple of POW's, scrambling behind enemy lines, we stumbled along the countryside in the general direction of the base.

The exact details of the marathon hike are a bit fuzzy, perhaps mentally blocked might be closer to the truth, but somehow, only by the grace of our Lord and Savior I surmise, we found the gate to Coleman Barracks. It was now somewhere around 5:00 AM, Monday morning. Like a long-distance runner, who’d come within inches of the finish line, I stood outside the gate, the frigid December air of the early hours doing little to inhibit the sweat that oozed from every pore in my body.

I couldn’t determine whether anger or surprise dominated the emotions of the guard who came out of the shack to confront us.

“Avey, I might have known it’d be somebody like you.”

I couldn’t say we were friends or even casual acquaintances, but it might be suggested that somewhere between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico we’d crossed paths. “Hey Sanchez. Fancy meeting you here.”

Sanchez glanced at his watch, over to the guard shack, and then back to us. “Does anybody but me know you’re out here?”

“That would be seriously doubtful.”

“Are you drunk?”

“Not anymore.”

“I don’t believe this. I’m going to the guard shack. When I turn back around, I best not see anybody standing here.”

“You can count on that. You’re all right, Sanchez. I owe you one.”

“No you don’t.”

Billy and I gathered what little strength we had left and scurried through the gate. All we had to do was go about a half mile, enter the barracks, change clothes, and fall into formation with everyone else. After what we’d been through, this should be, to indulge a cliché, a piece of cake.

We arrived at our location with a few minutes to spare, though it soon became obvious that something wasn’t quite right. There was no formation, not even the beginnings of one. We were the only soldiers in the area. Even if we’d been a few minutes late, somebody should have been hanging around.

Billy and I exchanged glances then ducked into the particular barracks where we were temporarily being housed with hopes of finding everyone still in their bunks. We’d just cleared the stairs to the second floor and turned the corner, when we were met my Sergeant M. He was one of those soldiers who wore starched fatigues, shiny boots, and a smoky-bear hat. He was a drill sergeant. More than that, he was our drill sergeant, and, as everyone who’s been in the service knows, the goal is to remain anonymous to drill sergeants, not to draw their attention.

“Where the hell have you two been?”

Fearing we’d been busted, though never giving up hope, I found a response. “We had a late night and fell asleep in our civvies (civilian clothes). When we heard the commotion, we ran outside to join the others. We realized we were out of uniform so we came back in to get dressed.”

Sergeant M. was a tall, lanky guy, with a powerful, but high-toned voice. He’d always reminded me of a blue heron. He stalked over to a row of windows that looked out over the base then motioned for us to follow. “You’re supposed to be on the convoy to Baumholder.”

We watched through the windows as the last of the small, armored, personnel carriers clanked out of the area.

Sergeant M’s eyes widened as he leaned forward. “And there they go.”

I tried to hold it together but the image of the giant, squawking blue heron was just too much. I began to laugh.

Billy threw an elbow into my side then shot me a what-the-hell-are-you-doing glance.

Had I kept quiet, we might have gotten by with taking a jeep to catch up with the convoy. As it turned out, the sergeant bellowed for us to grab a duffel bag and cram some clothes and whatever else we could muster in about three seconds into it. After that, he marched us outside and over to the mess hall where a couple of deuce and a half trucks were being loaded.

“You’ll ride with the cooks,” the sergeant said, “and since you’re already with the chow boys, you’re on KP duty.”

The dreaded words no soldier wants to hear. KP duty or kitchen patrol equated to long hours of pure hell, a nightmarish combination of dish washing, food preparation, and floor mopping.

Billy and I tossed our duffel bags into the closest truck and climbed in. The ride to Baumholder was probably long and bumpy. I slept most of the way. I seem to remember Billy saying that it could have been worse, and that at least no one had noticed we’d been temporarily AWOL.

And then, “Wake up, Yoncas.”

I’m sorry I’ve dragged this story out, but it’s turned out to be much longer than I’d thought. Stay tuned for part IV, where I promise to wrap it up.

Thanks for reading.

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Two Tickets to Heidelberg Part II

In the last episode, Billy had reluctantly decided to go to Heidelberg with me:

Billy glanced at his watch. “The more I think about it, I would like to see the castle. Do you think we have time, though?”

“I don’t see why we wouldn’t. It’s only about 15 miles from here.”

Minutes later, I strolled up to the ticket counter and said, “Ich mochte zwei fahrkarte nach Heidelberg, bitte.”

The guy behind the counter didn’t laugh, grin, or even flinch. He pushed a button and two tickets came out.

“Wie viel kostet das?” I asked.

“Vierzig mark.”

That equated to 40 mark, about 10 dollars. I pushed a 50 mark bill under the glass and got change.

As we neared the train, a fast commuter that ran on electricity, Billy’s face lost a little more color. “What exactly did you say to that man?”

“I just asked for the tickets.”

“Sounded like more than that to me.”

“Well I had to know how much they cost.”

We boarded the train and found a seat, Billy next to the window and me the aisle seat.

“You rattled that stuff off like you knew what you were talking about. How did you do that?”

“I paid attention in class.”

“Yeah, well I was there too, and what we got was a German version of Dick and Jane, real simple, nothing like what you just did.”

I looked past Billy and observed the scenery through the window. “You’re making too much out of this. I simply studied the short phrases until I understood not only the meaning but the construction of the sentences then expanded on them.”

A short time later -- a few years have passed since then and the details are a little fuzzy, but I believe it was around 3:00 PM – the beautiful scenery and friendly conversation having eased Billy’s apprehension, we disembarked at the train station in Heidelberg where we eased into the second leg of our shoestring-budget tour.

The schloss, or castle sits on a hill 300 feet above the city and walking the steep, winding road proved challenging even for a couple of young soldiers. It was well worth the effort. The castle on the hill above Heidelberg was mentioned as early as the 13th Century, though it wasn’t until 1400 AD that the building activities were documented.

In my youthful years, breaking through my constantly moving, perhaps even chaotic mind was no easy task – my wife, Kathi might tell you that I haven’t changed – but I slowed down to a near trance-like state as I walked along the halls and rooms of the castle, experiencing the statues, decorations, and architectural details. Seeing, touching, and feeling a man-made structure that was 800 years old, if not older fascinated me beyond description. No need for drugs to treat attention deficit disorder, just a castle.

The depths of the schloss host what’s claimed to be the world’s largest wine barrel: Holding 58,000 gallons of the fruit’s nectar and sporting a dance floor atop, the old wooden cask just might be. I guess one never knows when they might get thirsty during a siege.

And, speaking of drugs, if your attention still waivers the lower floor hides an apothecary museum where you’ll find pharmacopoeias, manuscripts, an array of glass vessels, mortars, and flasks, all encompassed in a laboratory where good old Merlin would have felt right at home.

Along one of the walls, a rope and a sign blocked a doorway, which led to the castle dungeon, and beyond that a set of stairs disappeared into a black hole. The vision I conjured of what might be at the bottom of those steps resembled something dredged from the nightmares of Edgar Allen Poe.

Billy and I roamed around the castle and the adjoining grounds until 6:00 PM when the proprietors closed the attraction. After that we carefully descended the steep, cobblestone path and entered the city of Heidelberg. Billy mentioned he was hungry so we walked the streets until we found a gasthaus (guest house), a German-styled, family owned tavern with a bar and a restaurant.

Once we were inside the establishment, something interesting began to happen. The gasthaus turned out to be popular with the locals, and my using their language attracted their attention. Many of them, especially the younger ones, knew English well enough. However, an American soldier that tried to reciprocate was a bit of a rarity. My efforts intrigued and delighted them.

A good meal and several free rounds of bier (beer) later, Billy tugged at my shirt sleeve and tapped his wrist. His watch showed that it was around midnight.

“Hey,” he said, “we need to get going.”

The trip back to the base wouldn’t prove to be so easy.

We said goodbye to our new-found friends, left the gasthaus, and headed for the train station. It had not occurred to us that certain trains wouldn’t run all night. The last train to Mannheim had left thirty minutes ago and there wouldn’t be another one until 5:30 AM.

Even in his slightly inebriated state, Billy’s face grew serious. “What’ll we do now, Yoncas?”

“Well we could wait the five hours, but with a twenty minute ride and still having to get from Mannheim to the barracks, we’d be cutting it pretty close to make the 6:00 AM roll call.”

“You haven’t let me down yet. Don’t start now.”

Billy was right. Missing roll call could result in anything from a severe tongue lashing to a full-blown court martial. We couldn’t risk it. “I’d say it’s a good night for a walk. We should be able to make it in about three hours.”

Stay tuned for Part III.

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It’s a cold, Monday afternoon and I sit in the breakroom at work, staring through the window, admiring the blue sky. Hey, I’m allowed a 15 minute break. Blocking a portion of the horizon, an old-styled, brick building, which rises from the floor of the valley below my position, reminds me of something from the past and I’m transported back to Germany in the winter of 1971.

During my tour, I’d met many people in the states and made some acquaintances overseas within the processing phase, but when I stepped off the bus at Coleman Barracks in Mannheim Germany it was into a world of strangers. I know it’s a cliché, but it was true that I’d never felt so alone.

I buttoned my field jacket and fell in with the other soldiers, who’d been ordered to start a formation in front of the barracks.

The First Sergeant barked out an order and we all came to attention.

However, it didn’t take long for my mind to drift past the sergeant’s vengeful words of orientation and into my new surroundings. A ten foot, barbed-wire capped, chain-link fence encompassed the base where everything – the streets, the barracks, and the overcast sky – incorporated the same, monotone shade of grey: A prison-like quality for a prison-like place.

It sent a chill through my 21 year old heart that I’ve yet to forget. Not that the place was actually that bad. Life outside the base would prove quite interesting. At the time, Germany was a clean, beautiful country, and while the people weren’t exactly friendly, they weren’t exactly non-friendly either. It was just the times.

A few weeks later, with the pangs of curiosity having overcome my reluctance, I rolled out of bed on a Sunday morning with the intention of taking a site-seeing excursion. I’d made a few friends by then and I’d asked one of them, an Arkansas native named Billy, if he’d like to tag along. He and I had recently participated in a two-day, crash course in the German language, and I guess I’d thought he would be as eager as I was to try it out.

“So, you’re talking about leaving the base?” He asked.

“We pretty much have to, to get where we’re going.”

Billy took a moment to consider the offer. “And where exactly are we going?”

It appeared Billy’s heart wasn’t completely in with the idea.

“I don’t know. Mannheim I guess. We’ve seen all there is in Cowtown.”

The small village of Sandhofen, which, at the time, consisted of about ten buildings, occupied a space near the base. Everyone called it Cowtown.

Billy shrugged. “Whatever you think, Yoncas.”

That’s what he always called me. I never asked why.

I’d learned that some of the soldiers at the base had cars, so I asked around until I found someone, who was going into Mannheim that day and bummed a ride.

The trip proved interesting. We visited der Wasserturm, a Romanesque water tower completed in 1886, went to der Post (the post office) and mailed postcards to our wives back in the states, and later dined on sandwich mit schinken (ham sandwiches).

As luck, or fate would have it, a fellow American, a soldier who’d been in country for a while, stopped by our table for a short chat. He suggested we might further enhance our site-seeing adventure by visiting the Schloss (castle) in nearby Heidelberg.

Outside the restaurant, the expression on Billy’s face grew serious. “Are we sure we want to do this?”

After finishing our lunch, I’d asked the friendly American how we might go about getting to Heidelberg. He’d suggested the train. “I can’t pass this up,” I said, “so I’m going, but if you don’t want to, I’ll understand.”

“Okay, but how do I get back to the barracks?”

“Whenever you see an American, ask them if they’ll be going to Coleman. Most of them are from there anyway. They won’t mind giving you a ride.”

“What if that doesn’t work?”

“It’ll work. Anyway, even if you strike out you could always walk along the roadway with your thumb out. They say the locals are pretty good about that. I don’t know why they would be, but that’s what I’ve heard.”

Billy glanced at his watch. “The more I think about it, I would like to see the castle. Do you think we have time, though?”

Tune in next week to see what happened to Billy and me in Heidelberg.

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Memories in the Making

The concept of children being self-centered has become generally accepted knowledge. Have you ever considered the possibility of our trust in that idea being misplaced?

Don’t let the lead-in mislead you. This isn’t an article about children. Or is it? I’m not really sure myself. As children, we soak in all the love we can get and we happily and readily depend upon our families for our every need. It’s when we mature into adults and leave the comfort of our childhood to become dependent upon ourselves that the real “me” culture begins. Think about it. Who is more selfish? The child who somewhat begrudgingly shares her toys or the adult who does whatever it takes to get ahead, gain a foothold over his coworkers and seize that promotion?

All right, I’ll now climb down from the soapbox.

My mom wanted to visit, so I drove to Kansas over the weekend and brought her to our home in Oklahoma for a week or so. Okay you guessed it. The older I get the more nostalgic and child-like I become.

Mom’s antics, annoying at first, have become quite entertaining. She’s always losing things. Usually it’s her cellphone or her garage door opener. Even though she no longer drives an automobile, the assisted-living duplex where she lives has a small garage. She has taken to leaving the front door to the apartment locked and using the garage to enter and exit the dwelling. I know. Anyway, during her last visit, she had lost her cell phone. She had looked everywhere. I offered to help, but she was ready to go, so I promised we would search for it upon our return and we headed for Oklahoma.

On Monday, after the weekend, my wife, Kathi, and I left mom and our son, David, at home and went off to work. Around 10:00 AM, I heard a mild commotion and glanced outside my cubicle to see that several of my coworkers had gathered and they were pointing and looking out the window. I joined the group and saw what had drawn their attention. People were streaming from the building and gathering in the parking lot. We all exchanged curious glances and wondered what in the world was going on. When a firetruck, with sirens blaring, squealed to a stop near the building, it unanimously dawned on us that perhaps we should exit the building as well.

It turned out there had indeed been a fire in the building. An electrical malfunction had occurred in one of the outdated, ancient elevators – we only have two and neither of them is dependable. To complicate matters, the fire alarms had gone off on the 5th floor, which accounted for the people we had seen running for safety, but had failed to work on the remaining floors.

Later in the evening when we returned home, mom informed us that she’d been hearing a strange, beeping sound. It had been bothering her all day. Sure enough, when we remained silent and listened, we, too, heard the sound. However, like the chirping of a cricket, it was difficult to determine exactly where it was coming from. With the scare from work still fresh in my mind, I immediately thought of the smoke detectors. We have two downstairs and one upstairs. I recruited the help of our son, David, who I sent upstairs, while Kathi and I positioned ourselves directly beneath the bottom two. When the beeping sounded again, we all called out, “It’s not this one.”

With the detectors eliminated as the source of the pesky tone, we turned our attention to the two thermostats, one upstairs and one down. They, too, emit a sort of chirp when the batteries become weak. No, it wasn’t the thermostats either.

“It seems to be coming from the kitchen,” mom insisted.

Kathi, David, and I all descend on the kitchen, where mom is standing, and while we have her surrounded, we once again hear, “beep.”

“Have you checked your pockets?” I ask.

“There’s nothing in my pockets,” she insisted. “I pulled these sweatpants from my suitcase this morning, and I haven’t put anything in the pockets.”

“Well, just to be safe,” I said, “please check your pockets.”

Mom rolls her eyes then shoves her hands into the pockets of her sweatpants. Her expression softens as she pulls out her lost cellphone, which had been beeping because it needed a charge.

Please check out my writing by clicking the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Bob-Avey/e/B002BM2VJ8

I want to thank everyone who signed up for my Reader List. We’ve already given away a nice prize. I have a lot more good stuff planned. If you haven’t signed up, I’ve placed the link below.

http://awoc.com/BobAvey-TwistedPerception/

Twisted Perception is now out in audiobook. Please click the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Perception-Detective-Elliot-Mystery/dp/B00XZKFWDM/ref=la_B002BM2VJ8_1_1_title_2_audd?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445367460&sr=1-1

Please follow the link and check it out. Once you’re at the site, there’s a button you can click to hear a free sample. Charles Bice, the reader we chose, did an excellent job of portraying the characters as he tells the story. I believe you can even get the audiobook of Twisted Perception for free, if you join Audible.com. And who wouldn’t want to do that?

I want to thank everyone who has signed up for my newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it. If you know of someone who might enjoy it, too, please email it to them.

I also give programs for writing groups, reading groups, or any group that’s interested. If you belong to a club, which needs program speakers, keep me in mind.

You have permission to reprint, forward, or use the contents of this newsletter in your newsletter or e-zine. The only requirement is the inclusion of the following footer:

This article was written by Bob Avey, author of, Twisted Perception, Beneath a Buried House, and Footprints of a Dancer. http://www.bobavey.com.

September 29, 2015 – Blog Post

The Joker – Part III

Picking up where we left off with the last post:

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the bruised feelings I’d erroneously nurtured due to my misunderstanding of constructive criticism resurfaced and planted the seeds of mild revenge. Riding the rebellious wave, I conceived a plan, which I thought might gain the attention of my fellow critique partners while simultaneously allowing me to poke a little fun at them.

Eager to crawl forward with the dastardly deed, I began to put together a story. However, as the characters and plot unfolded, whenever I perceived an opportunity I began to exaggerate, writing in a style I considered over-the-top with the characters behaving in a manner I thought almost comical.

The plan was to demonstrate to the group that I had understood what they’d been saying, and to show them that, yes, I could write that way, while at the same time throwing a redeeming comical light on the whole matter.

A few days later at the meeting, I almost lost my nerve, and entertained thoughts of telling the members that I hadn’t written anything, but had come only to listen and learn. Instead, when it came my turn to read, I went through with it.

Upon completion of my reading, the room hung suspended in silence. A sick feeling began to form in my stomach. I fully expected to be excoriated for my insolence, but that didn’t happen. To my surprise, each member orderly took their turn and showered me with praise and compliments.

As shame and guilt crept over me, I felt so low that I almost wished that they had assaulted me with insults. At that point, I could not bring myself to tell them the truth, so I went with it, each week bringing a new installment. About a year later, I had a rough draft of a novel, which would eventually become my first book, Twisted Perception.

To be continued.

Please check out the results of my writing with the links below:

http://www.amazon.com/Bob-Avey/e/B002BM2VJ8

For an audio version of Twisted Perception:

http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Perception-Detective-Elliot-Mystery/dp/B00XZKFWDM/ref=la_B002BM2VJ8_1_2_title_2_audd?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441901683&sr=1-2

Extra Bargain: Mark your calendars for October 16, 17, and 18. Check the link below on those dates for a great deal. We’re talking free.

http://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Buried-Detective-Elliot-Mystery-ebook/dp/B003SE7J6I/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

With the help of my publisher, I’m putting together a program we are calling: Bob’s Reader List. With the list, I hope to offer true value to those who subscribe with give-a-ways, freebies, and bargains. Check it out by clicking the link below:

http://awoc.com/BobAvey-TwistedPerception/

September 10, 2015 – Blog Post

The Joker – Part II

I left you hanging last time in the midst of my ramblings about criticism. Let me pick up where we left off.

A few days after having perceived my writing as being trashed – actually, while containing hints of inspiration, those early short stories were pretty bad – I was sitting home one night, watching television and feeling sorry for myself when something rather strange happened. An internal voice, which I realized as being a fictional character, actually told me how to pick up the pieces and proceed with my writing. You probably paused after reading that, and perhaps entertained certain doubts. I won’t go so far as to say there’s nothing to worry about, but having characters, which are actually part of the subconscious, pop into my thoughts with tidbits of story is now a common occurrence. However, with this being the first time I’d become aware of it, it was mildly unnerving.

This is how it happened: Halfway through some now forgotten television program, the internal voice, a character, said: You can’t fill out a homicide report, indicating the suspect to be a ghost.

The enigmatic phrase might seem like gibberish, but I immediately recognized it as a possible answer to my current dilemma. The character’s reference to a homicide report indicated he was involved with law enforcement, which meant, if he hung around, he would lead me toward some type of crime story that would be conservative enough to satisfy the critique group. At the same time, there was this ghost thing thrown in, which could offer substance, if you will, to satisfy my leanings toward the not-so-conventional. In short, it was perfect.

I immediately went to my office, which consisted of a cheap desk crowed into a corner of the master bedroom of our rented house, and began banging out what would eventually become a mystery novel. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the bruised feelings I’d erroneously nurtured due to my misunderstanding of constructive criticism resurfaced and planted the seeds of mild revenge.

To be continued.

Please check out the results of my quasi insane writing with the links below:

http://www.amazon.com/Bob-Avey/e/B002BM2VJ8

For an audio version of Twisted Perception:

http://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Perception-Detective-Elliot-Mystery/dp/B00XZKFWDM/ref=la_B002BM2VJ8_1_2_title_2_audd?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441901683&sr=1-2

With the help of my publisher, I’m putting together a program we are calling: Bob’s Reader List. With the list, I hope to offer true value to those who subscribe. Check it out by clicking the link below:

http://awoc.com/BobAvey-TwistedPerception/