Iron Behind the Velvet ~ Chapter 28

~ The Fire-Born Moods 1

He sped after the chasing rope lights – flickering strands he’d fastened to the tunnel walls – laughing. Through a labyrinth of corridors, he followed the stream of colors delighting at what was to come. Red was his. The yellow lights, her lights, would reverse, he knew. Any minute now! Programmed it! She’d turn – Have to! Rules! – and run back the way she’d come. She’d round the last corner ... and he’d be there, his arms already open. Heart too. He giggled in a half-sleep, his imagination carrying him far from his sentry post, toward her, toward Jamie. Good game. Better than good.

The frantic tapping pelted his dreams. Startled from his rocky nook, he pressed his ear to the pipe, his lips moving with the code. Wrinkles of concentration hatched his brow and he sat back on his heels, squeezing his temples between his palms. Think now! Think better! He leaned in again. Old code out, new code in. Vincent ... back! Vincent ... gone again!

Mouse skidded to a noisy stop at the top of the stairs to camp. Below him, a man stared into the embers of the fire, his hands shoved into his back pockets, his supper bowl on the ground by his feet. The sleepy crew rustled in their berths. Across the floor, the corridor to the stone circle – the corridor Out – brightened with an oncoming torchbearer. A orange orb jounced on the tunnel walls and Damien sprinted in, flushed and scowling. The man at the center, at the pit, looked up.

“Kanin!” The name echoed in a thundered duet.


“Little Mab, little queen.You hungry?” She was alone in the house but she whispered nevertheless, turning her back on a pulsing glow from the hallway where the answering machine throbbed with neglect. She sank to a low cabinet for a bag of food and the kitten squirmed from her arm, crawled out to her knee, balanced there ... and after eyeing the distance, leapt to the floor. Her tail an exclamation of demand, Mab circled Eimear’s feet, forcing a cautious pas-de-deux across the room. And though the spatter of kibble into her bowl lured the kitten up to the countertop, it seemed a concussion of stones to Eimear’s ears.

She leaned a hip against the counter. Outside, the garden shimmered in silvers, the spring leaves ruffled starward from stillness by a sudden breeze, but when she bent to the window, when she searched the night sky, no great wing stirred the air. The moon was laced with clouds and rayed to the earth. Martin’s shadow bobbed in the archway. “Stopping to talk to Mom,” she said to Mab, who turned and turned under her stroking hand.


Vincent, hooded, standing in total shadow
“Come no closer.”

Only moments ago, his fingers had teased open the folded, velvet petals of tulips, had traced a course over the rippled trunk of a musclewood, the hide-like bark of a beech. Now his hands tightened to fists. Now, preparatory, he shifted to the balls of his feet, tensed toward the doorway.

Necessity. His boots on the stone stairs, the bars clanging closed behind him, the door secreting shut. Safety. I must  ...

"Are you all right?” Martin’s query skimmed the stone wall.

“Yes. But no closer. Please, Martin.”

“Are you ill? I’m not afraid. Let me help you.”

“You have nothing to fear.” Don’t be afraid. Please. Please don’t be afraid. How timeworn, this ... preface. Already, he’d revealed too much and Martin stood before the confirming doorway. “It's late and I believed everyone to be asleep. I thought–”

“And I’d begun to believe you an invention of my fancy, perhaps one of the Tuatha Dé Danann, 3 a Man of Dea come up from the underground, from Cnoc Meadha no less ... or an angel, an angel sent to me.

“I am ... no angel.”

Ahh,” Martin breathed. “But you are real.”

The knots in his forearms burned in reminder and his nails pricked at his palms. “Yes.”

“There’s that, then. Good. Good. Not a moment ago, I was begging a girl to tell me if I’d gone round the bend, wondering after my own self, I was.” Martin swayed from the edge of the archway. His pale sweater and silvered hair gleamed in the long, white moonlight. “Your voice ... I couldn’t forget it, Vincent, couldn’t bear to think it a dream. I heard the rush of the rain-swelled stream in it and saw all the colors of home – the golden furze, the heather’s bronze flower, the brown peat trench. Since the night we spoke, I’ve tried to call it from the lowest, tenderest notes of my flute, but when I try to capture, to summon ... it disappears like Irish sunlight. Like the mist o’er the bog, I cannot grasp it. Perhaps I should not ... should not even try ... ” He chuckled, a chirrup as soft as a dove’s. “But now, I’ll stop with all that. You’ll not know what to be saying after me. And what man would?” He gathered another breath, but let it dissolve to a soft sigh.

A concert of night sounds rose to fill the rest between them – cautions of the world Above. A car slowing at the corner, a sash thrown open to the rain-washed air, a dog’s defending whoof. Flight’s urgency was fierce – to race past with a stunning bellow, to leave the man dumbstruck and befuddled on the ground. Through the dense, stacked granite, as if a message tapped at his ear ... Father’s voice. Did he see you? A glimpse? A glimpse! Do you know what they’d do? No distance could lessen the persistent echo, the plaguing encore, neither miles nor years …

The beginning of it, the way it surely leads. This convergence ... an exquisite mystery.

His own words pushed back at him.

No distance ... except the distance I choose to narrow.

He pulled his hood forward, tucked his chin. “Your garden is beautiful. I ... followed a scent.” He paused. “But you’re just home, and I am uninvited. I’ve startled you. I’m sorry.”

“No, no. Vincent. A thousand and one nights I’ve willed the doors to thin. That you’ve come through ... through this one ... however that’s happened, from ... well, wherever, I’m happy for it.”

Beneath Martin’s assurances Vincent heard the trill of curiosity and, from some near vantage, Father’s estimate of his efforts to temper – to evade – the inevitable questions. “I’m glad ... but it is too late.”

“Too late for what? The neighborhood’s all snugged by now, but I never sleep after an evening’s session. You’ll not be making noises to leave. Surely not. I’ll simply not have it. Bar the door, I will, and from this side with my own feeble body. You’ll be all after knocking down an old man. ‘Tisn’t in you, I’m thinking.”

Vincent's face, close-up, wearing his hood
Surprise nudged him. Cloaked as he was, in darkness, by mantle and hood, the clue might have come from his tensioned intonation and shallow breath or more likely from recognition of a merely base human response. But could Martin have known? Had he discerned that very image from only vibration and resonance? Surprise nudged him again, nudged away his chagrin at having had the thought. A welcome warmth seeped in. Affinity. “I’ll stay then ... for a short while.”

Martin rested against the archway’s wall. “What brings you? You’ve come with the story you owe me, have you?”

“A story?”

“Yes, yes. ‘Tis your turn. As I, ahem, mentioned the other night, I bought the first round with mine. To buy the second, sure, that’s why you’ve returned.”

“I returned ...” Without thinking. “Because ...” Because I am furious and envious and resentful. Lustful and hungry. Because I lost my temper and will make a dozen apologies before dawn. Because I wanted to be free, to breathe. “Because I need your advice.”

“Advice, is it? You can count on me for that. I’m full of it, I’ve been told. And I’ll get my story, won’t I, in the course of your asking?” Clouds swept the moon. Martin pushed off the stone, cajoling the darkness. “Let’s go inside, shall we? The rectory kitchen’s in the back. You’d take some tea perhaps? I give my best advice over tea. And I can make coffee, believe it or not. Or perhaps you’d prefer a wee dram. I give the honest advice over a dram.”

“No. I ... cannot."

“But why? You’re not hurt or ill. I’ll not believe you to be a fugitive, careful with your face.”

Frustration welled in his throat, cluttering his reply and the silent measure of distance between his corner and the passage entrance. “I cannot explain.”

Esther's illustration. Martin offering Vincent a chair, inside the ambulatory
“So we’ll sit right here together then, won’t we. Remember though, I am an old man. I shall need a chair. And I have chairs. Folding chairs right here inside this little room, right here across from–” There was a hurried patter, the scrape of wood over stone. An argument of tangled metal, Martin’s determination manifest. “We’ll be better off if I could sit inside the ambulatory with you, at the edge of it at least. Out of sight the both of us, in case ...” Martin hesitated, then disappeared through the opening, returning in seconds without explanation. He pushed down on the seat and grabbed the back with both hands. “I’ll scoot this chair toward you …”

“I don’t need a chair. Please. I must keep this distance.” He spoke softly but well above a whisper, his meaning surely clear. Didn’t I? Wasn’t it?

“... just a piece. And now I’ll ease off.” Martin took three exaggerated steps backward. “You say when you're ready.”

Ready. Ready or not. The moment of retreat was past ... had it ever been.

“But where’re my manners! I want your story, indeed, I do, but not dry or with an empty bowl. I’ve not had my dessert this evening, occupied I was, with the music in one hand and bending the elbow with the– Well, tsk tsk, never mind that. If I run in for a snack, will you leave? If you’re truthful and say yes, I’ll plant my starving self here, and if you say no and I come out to find you’ve gone, I’ll ... I’ll ... be very sad.”

Vincent chuckled his answer and dragged the chair to a chosen spot.

“I’ve Mrs. Finley’s apple tart,” Martin hurried on. “The best baker she is, yes, yes, the very best. Ask her! She steeps the raisins in good single malt, a very good malt, I must say. And saves a splash for the apples, she does. And the pastry, crisp and melting on the tongue. You really must have some, Vincent. Hungry or no.”

“It sounds delicious.”

“Oh,‘tis, ‘Tis that. And a pint with it.”

“A beer ... with pie?”

“No, son, no. Not pie. Tart. And not beer. Stout. But I see the thing. Hmmm. First, then, a sandwich with your pint. I’ve a pantry full of Sunday food gifts. Sure, and the parish ladies think I cannot cook. Or that I shouldn’t. Or won’t. Oh, I’m not entirely knowing what it is they think. But there’s brown bread and roast beef and mustard sauce I mixed up myself. Then the tart. Then the tart.” Martin stopped for breath. “I’m blathering. Prattling on. I know that. But you’ll have the weight off your legs, won’t you, when I return? You’ll not have disappeared leaving me to hold my head, knowing I’m shy of a full shilling.”

Vincent! Father’s voice again – a lapping wave gritted with sand. But Martin watched the darkness with lifted brows, a spritely smile.

A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for. 4 My decisions, Father. And I am sick of safety.


“I’ve talked through your entire meal, haven’t I? But you’d have enjoyed Behan’s evening, Vincent. The craic, it was. It was indeed. Perhaps ...” At Martin’s feet, the concertina case served as table to a deep-sided tin and over it he brandished a glinting sterling server. "How’s it? Good? Enough, have you? Another wedge?”

The bone china plate was delicate, translucent, he knew, should he hold it to the light. The silver was scrolled, ornate – a pleasing weight. Like Father’s favorites. Vincent pressed his fork into the last syrup-soaked crumbs. “No. Please, no more. But tell your Mrs. Finley she is a fine baker. I know someone who’d like the recipe.”

“Tis a guarded secret, she’d say, but she’d give it up to me if I asked nicely.” Martin reached into the box he’d carried from the rectory. “Now on to the point of it all. A nightcap we’ll be having, sure?”

“I shouldn’t.”

a Waterford crystal tumbler, sort of glowing in the dark
“Just a wee taste of the good stuff, Vincent, so I’ll not be drinking alone. You’ve had only the one jar of beer. ‘Tis nothing to add a finger to it.” Martin set two starry tumblers on the floor and reached into the box again. The scent of tanned leather, of butter and apples and acorns poured out into the night. “And it’s The Green Spot, the finest, brought over from home. Smuggled, I must confess. A perk of the trade. I’m never inspected at customs if I wear my collar and black shirt.” He touched the rim of one glass to the other and stood, stepping out into the garden before the clear ring of crystal could subside.

Why not? He imagined Father’s reproach. Could you be more reckless, hmmmm? The conjured censure triggered what Devin called The Third Law of the Tunnels – his equal and opposite reaction. As Martin studied the sky, behind him, Vincent claimed his portion, if a finger, he assessed, a finger laid upon itself three times over.

Ahh, yes. The amber taste of a autumn day, honey-sweet, caramel. What do you think, Vincent? I’ve shared it with no one else.”

The first sip filled his mouth with a glorious spice. “I think ... it is most excellent,” he said. “And strong. And that you are a bad influence.” The second swallow, he was sure, was late summer sun.

“Well, you’ve found me out. Still friends?”


“And now, to what you came for. That advice you need.” Martin settled into his chair, stretching his legs before him.

“First a personal question. May I?” Vincent rested his elbows on his knees, the tumbler cradled in his hands. A fleeting glimmer of light reflected from the crystal facets, from his nails. “Do you always like your ... job?”

“My job. You mean my life. No, Vincent. I’ll admit I don’t. Some days, not a whit. The hospital visits remind me I’ve had all I want of sickness. I fear I’m no comfort, though I do try. I don’t care to be asked for blessings much past the christening. No matter what I’ve been taught, I wonder, who am I to offer such a thing? And I grow weary of the piddling problems, the pettinesses. Whose roses are artificially fed against the competition’s rules. Who snubbed who in line at the greengrocer's. Who used a cake mix, for heaven’s sake, and passed it off as homemade.” Martin fell silent and rolled his glass back and forth between his palms. “Of course, I know that’s a kind of pain speaking, that to help them, I must look beneath their complaints.” After a moment’s contemplation, he drained his glass. “Sometimes I’m so lonely. People believe me to be beyond the trappings of this world, Vincent. They’re careful with me, careful around me. They see the collar and expect that I'll laugh at this, frown at that, that I ... want less, when in truth, even at my age, I want everything. At heart, I’m a selfish man.”

Oy! We should all be so selfish. He almost laughed out loud, but how could he explain? He’d heard a voice from decades past, clearly, as if he sat beside him in this place. Noah’s grandfather. His odd accent, his peculiar cadence. He lifted his glass in a silent toast. Levya. “But do you regret your path?”

“No. Yes. No. Oh dear. Which is it? But the real question is yours, Vincent. Why do you ask?”

“I have a friend, a brother. He's suffering now, a great weight of conscience. And I find his behavior ... maddening.”

“Is it your ... job ... to counsel him?”

“Not my job, but my ...” My fate, my exaction. “My life. I have no choice.”

“Tell me.”


“I’ve worked long hours in prison ministry. I’ve found pure evil there, but good men too. Good men caught in a whirlwind of poor choices and then confounded by the consequences. Your friend ... where was he sent? Was he close to ... home?”

Over a relieving hour, most of the story had spilled out. Martin listened with a quiet compassion. Eased, encouraged, more than once, he’d raised a hand to push back his hood. “No,” Vincent said. “Upstate. Lyon Mountain.”

“That far?” Martin whistled. “Almost Canada. The weather there can be brutal, the snow and ice ... numbing to the spirit. But there are worse places to be. Much worse, as prisons go. His family, they’re here?"

“All here.”

“I’m surprised. Only thirteen months and probation. He might have been offered a closer facility.”

“We hoped for that, a ... friend lobbied for that, but he pressed his attorney for ... service ... far from the city.”

“Well, he could hardly be farther away and visits there are weekends only.” Martin straightened and studied the swath of pale, night-tucked tulips. “But you say he spent his entire year alone? With no visitors? Not his wife and son? Not you?”

“There were reasons for that, Martin. Reasons why she did not go, why I could not. But Ka– But he refused to see the friends who traveled there. After a time …

“And the surprise of the new baby? Did you agree with the withholding of that news?”

“It was not my decision.” Vincent shifted in his chair. “He declared, before he left us that his punishment would be forever. The day he turned himself in, he swore he would refuse even our letters. We begged him, argued with him ... promised him, but in the end, he would have his way.”

“He was determined to wring the most from it, was he not?” Martin queried softly. “And you were determined to give him this respect?”

“We felt we had no choice.” Vincent said, regret blunting his voice. In the dimness, he saw Martin fold his hands.

“A year is a long time and it can feel like forever,” Martin continued. “Eventually, your friend would have told new lies – to have some measure of company, someone to talk with. He’d have sworn to himself he’d never smile, that he’d wring even more from this punishment. But one day, he’d hear himself laugh at something someone said, or he’d take an interest in a project or a book and the guilt would rocket after. He should not be be knowing happiness, not even the pale ghost of it.”

“He won’t speak of this time."

“Now he hides another part of his life. A man like your friend, a man whose life was blown glass all along, whose life shattered just when he thought he’d ... atoned, just when the every-morning’s mask was nearly not necessary …"

Martin drew in a breath, one rattled with fine rales, released with a stuttery sigh. Dr. Wong’s formula might help, Vincent thought. Ping Chuan Wan – ficus simplissima, elaegnus glabra, swallowwort root. He would ask Lin for the tea pills, return one night to leave them just outside the door, with perhaps a brown bottle or two of William’s homemade brew.

He nodded, though the gesture went unseen. “I watched his wife move through denial. Through anger and despair to hopeful apprehension. She has forgiven him. She’s willing to start again. She ... loves him.”

“To be forgiven is humbling enough," Martin said, "because we’re reminded that it cannot change the past. Only the future. And it’s sometimes easier to feel guilt, Vincent. His guilt then becomes a reason for living.”

“But he has so much more to live for!” All I have ever wanted.

A memory surfaced, one so vivid that Vincent looked down into his arms, fully expecting to see a baby nestled there. At Olivia’s nod, he’d lifted the newborn from her blankets. Her tiny fist had fastened on his smallest finger, and Catherine had leaned against his arm. She’d looked up at him with a smile so pure ... He’d searched it, felt to its farthest reach ... and there was no sadness, no resignation in her – only ... only faith. Longing was a taste on his tongue.

“Shame is a terribly strong thing, Vincent,” Martin said. “That sense that we’re defective or wrongly put together at the very core of our being. He believes, perhaps knows, that he might never have come clean on his own. But remember this. Only the truly good feel remorse. He must be that – a good man – to suffer so.”

The tumbler’s ridged crystal cuts were rough in his palm, in his tightened grip. Vincent swallowed against a deep ache, breastbone to throat.

“Your friend is so exposed,” Martin continued. “You’ve said that your ... community ... is small. He has no privacy. His journey will have switchbacks, roadblocks. He will succeed one day, falter the next and the next, succeed again. Fail. His friends will know his every stumble.”

“I understand, but there’s so much love waiting.”

“You’d like to throttle him, wouldn’t you, until he begs for mercy and promises, until he realizes.”

“I would. I’ve come close.”

“I know that feeling, Vincent. I do.” The moon had traveled, and at the edge of the ambulatory, Martin sat in its slant of pewter-colored light. He retrieved his empty glass, then reached again for the bottle at his feet. The splash was loud and long. “Epictetus tells us to not make others’ troubles our own.”

Could they see each other, he was sure they shared a rueful smile. “Is that a guideline you’ve found ... adoptable?”

“No,” Martin admitted. “No, I have not.” He lifted the glass just to his lips and shook his head before taking a long draught. “So,” he said, dabbing a knuckle to his mouth, “you’ve asked for words powerful enough, magical enough to change a man’s path. Hmmmm. All right. You must listen closely to these, my words of wisdom. You grip his shoulders, Vincent. You lean in close. Tell him, tell him this. Fake it, my friend. Fake it until you make it.

He burst out with a chuff of surprise. “Is it that simple?”

“Simple it is not.”

“Did that precept work for you, Martin? Living so close to Lily, loving her, but living as her friend?”

"Her friend.” Martin rose from his chair. A few steps into the shadows, he set the bottle down and started for the garden. At the edge of the walkway, he held out his arms, a supplicant. “I could hear her laugh from here. Hear her sing, call to her children. If she were outdoors, I’d hear Francis’s first words to her just home from work, know when he kissed her, how sweetly she kissed him back. See these tulips, Vincent? This lavender, these roses? I planted each and every one. These stones? I laid them all. I found manual labor ... necessary. Over time, I became her friend. Her true friend.” One hand to a pillar, Martin bent his head to his raised arm. “Fake it ‘til you make it. ‘Tis a kind of affirmation, a statement that something is already true. You have only to believe a thing can be so.”

Ready. Ready for you, Catherine. “What if he doesn’t doesn’t accept the possibility?”

“Is it what he wants – to be returned to his family, to his ... homeland? To be the lovelight of his wife, the protector of his children?”

“I believe it is. It must be. It is ... everything.”

"Pretend to what is not and you’ll become, in truth, what you are studying to be. 5 The positive thought is a powerful tool. Like any craftsman, he needs to take it up.”

“His– Olivia has named her baby without him. And he – Kanin – is so changed, so angry. I worry that it’s too late. ” After a moment's hesitation, he retrieved the whiskey, streamed a taste in his tumbler. Martin reclaimed his seat.

"Dum spiro, spero. While I breathe, I hope. Almost a commandment, it is, an apothegm. We Irish have a saying – of course we do – the darkest hour of night is just before the day. Often, hope begins in the dark."

What triumphs from the dark night of the soul,” he said.

“Yes, even the Celts knew the Phoenix, knew you could fly whole and new from the heap of your own tear-sodden ashes. The marvel of second chances.”

Tear-sodden ashes. Shards of black memories – his darkest darkest night, the hard-folded square lodged in a pocket-corner over his heart its proof. The deep ache fluttered. Still there. “Pretend to what is not. That is …"

“Ovid," Martin said. "I can take no credit for it.”

“Ovid. Epictetus. Latin and Greek philosophers.” Vincent smiled into the night. “Your penchant for the late visit. You remind me of someone.”

“Do I? I heard that very thing, just yesterday, in fact, but from a lovely, lovely young woman. I was telling her all about the waltz, that it was once considered quite risque.”

"Yes. Imagine that.”

“Her words precisely! Were you here, Vincent?"

“I was. For a while.”

“You'll pardon me, won't you? I was so occupied, I didn't ... hear you. You should have– Well, I need to stop saying things like that, don’t I? She, by the way, recognized my quotation from Virgil. Quite the mind, she has. Quite the mind indeed.”

Indeed. “Was it a– What did you call it?”

"A craic. Ceoil agus craic. Music and fun comes a close definition, it does. And it was, but for one thing,” Martin said. He reached for the returned bottle, caressed the neck of it, twisted on the cap. “Vincent …"

The inevitable. The reasonable. He pulled his legs in close, set his feet flat, readying to leave. He watched Martin with narrowed eyes, watched as he lodged long fingers in his white hair as if to contain his thoughts. Unease knuckled his ribs. But a breeze danced shadows along the moon-bleached grass; branches rustled against the silvered wall. Willing a deep and steady breath against the undertow of instinct, he settled again and knew a ripple of anticipation, as if on a stage, still-closed velvet curtains billowed with hidden life.

Click HERE for Chapter 29.


Illustration by Esther Wjinbeek!

1. William Butler Yeats. The Fire-Born Moods
3. The Tuatha dé Dannan: A race of heroic Irish deities, skilled in art, science, poetry and magic, who lived in underground palaces called the Sidhe. In a just battle beside mortals, they fight with lances of blue flame and shields of pure white.
4. Attributed to William Greenough Thayer Shedd. 1820 - 1894. 
5. Ovid. Cures for Love. 5 BC


Krista said...

Oh, Carole. This is lovely. Truly lovely. I'm deeply touched by this one, by Vincent and Martin each reaching out across their own particular divides. I'm glad he went to Martin; Father means well but the answers Vincent needs he can't find there.

Beautiful. And I can't wait to


Vicky said...

Oh, Carole... for some reason that second meeting just made me cry. I couldn't help it!

A question... a question... AAAHHH! You can't leave me like this!

I won't even bother with useless praises; I agree with whoever said that was becoming increasingly harder! Thank you, Carole.

Kemara said...


Seriously Carole, I was just thinking the other day about Vincent and religion...wondering if he would find it a comfort. Of course, that wouldn't be shown on television, but I wondered that fanfic had not touched, at least a little, on the possibility.

One of my favorite actresses is Roma Downey (of "Touched by an Angel") who grew up in Derry, Northern Ireland during the worst of the Troubles. A televised biography about her quoted a priest friend. He said that she was a very spiritual person and added, "Religion is for those who believe in Hell. Spirituality is for those who've been there."

It strikes me that Vincent is also a spiritual person in his own way. I look forward to the deepening of his friendship with Martin. Nice job.

New York City Utopia said...

Aaaah... I'm dying for part II.
Thank you nonetheless!

Urban Literati said...

“A man like your friend, a man who’s life was blown glass all along . . ."

I wish I had written that line. Carole, this was terrific, expertly executed, engrossing and efficient (alliteration was unintended).

Carole W said...

Krista, your words mean so much. Thank you. I struggled with saying too much, not saying enough. I so hoped it was right. You know I'm still looking at it hard. :-)

I hope you won't have to wait too long for part 2!

Carole W said...

Vicky - Thanks for your comments here and on #28. I left you a response there too.

Tears? I'm thinking that's a good thing. And you know, I'll bet, what Martin's question will be - they have to talk about Flynn. If the moon stays up long enough, maybe they can talk about Catherine too, but if not, there's always the next night.

As always, your encouragement makes me feel better about everything. Love you back.

Carole W said...

Hey Kemara! I'm glad to see your comments. I love that quote. I may have to work that in to the dialogue, seriously. It really fits.

My priest friend Charlie, who's Martin's inspiration, is a fascinating and complex man and an unexpected kind of guy. This sounds very much like something he would say.

Thanks for the encouragement. I'll try to have you something more soon.

Carole W said...

NYCU - happy birthday tomorrow!

Thanks for reading and thanks for wanting more. It helps - always - to know that.

Carole W said...

Oh, UL. You know exactly how to make me tear up. I don't think anyone's ever said that to me before. Thank you so much.

PS - spontaneous alliteration is just so cool when it happens, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I love how you use the Gaelic language in your story. Nothing could be more romantic - or more fitting.

Carole W said...

I'm glad you think so, Anon - thank you for telling me that.

It is a romantic-looking language, even if one has no idea how the words might sound aloud. All those consonants carry such mystery. I learned a few words and phrases over there - somehow it felt like they were keys to another world. I'd love to hear a few paragraphs in Vincent's voice. Can you imagine?

I've found some very generous, helpful folks at a language and translation site - they'll even record words and sentences for you if you need the audio. I can't imagine the spelling tests, though.

June 14, 2009 5:27 AM

Vicky said...

I second and agree with... all the comments! (Those were tears the kind you want to run give them both a hug, you know). That powerful...

I've gotta meet Charlie next time I'm there, Carole! It will happen.

PS: And happy birthday to my Claire! :)

Carole W said...

Vicky - it's a date - I'd love to take you to meet Charlie - he lives in NYC or just a bit to the north of it now, actually. His parish was on Staten Island when I visited last. (His brother and sister and assorted family members live in Woodlawn, in Eimear's neighborhood.) He's a fine musician and a talker, quite a talker. And he still has his accent and can charm charm charm.

Such nice things you say to me - kind words, a show of interest - all this makes me work even harder, you know. Thanks Vicky -

thanks - all of you.


Anonymous said...

Gaelic - spoken in Vincent's voice? Now you're talking romantic! There's not a female in the world that could resist that! I'd love to learn more of the language. Would you care to share the site with me?

Carole W said...

Sure, Anon.

Here's a the friendliest forum I found:

Irish Gaelic Translator

In the Listen and Learn section of the translation forum, you can ask for certain phrases to be recorded. I had help through a PM but folks do post requested mp3s in this part.

Brandy said...

Carole. You are, of course, wise, witty, wonderful, but you have a TERRIBLE penchant for these MADDENING cliff-hangers! YeeeARGH!

Oh, and the thought of Gaelic on Vincent's tongue? *faint*

Of course, the thought of Vincent's tongue in GENERAL...*evil grin*

I have one criticism, and it's nit-picky, so ignore it if you love it. "Only moments ago, his fingers had teased open the folded, velvet petals of tulips, had traced a course over fluted tree bark as ridged as his own muscled belly."

That is really a very hot sentence. The tulip bit is very sensual, but the tree bark to belly made me pause and think, "really?" It paints a very graphic picture, but it was a bit jarring after the gentleness of the "teasing tulip."

And I LOVE " And I am ... sick of safety." Made me punch the air in victory. Right on!

Oh, and who thinks up these word verifications? What the heck is "blereled?"

Carole W said...

Brandy, I'm with you, what the heck is "blereled?" I'll have to look, but I am positive that it is simply an example of my poor typing - right off the bat, I can't imagine what I could have meant - it doesn't make any sense!

I posted this as chapter 29 - part one really - I have a much longer conversation going and the chapter was aiming at double the average length, but the second part of it was taking me so long to get right that I decided to break it into two chapters - thus ... cliff hanger. I guess I've watched too much tv in my life - the effect of the commercial break.

The ridged belly sentence ...hmmmm I'll think about that. I'm really glad you told me your reaction to it. Here's where I found the inspiration for it:

There's a tree in Central Park, found near the Reservoir - a locale that will figure later in the story:

Carpinus betulus

To the left of the trail stands a European hombeam. This is a small tree that is distinguished by its uniqtie fluted bark resembling flexed muscles. This has given it, as well as its close American relative, the common name of "ironwood" or "musclewood." The wood of these trees is exceptionally hard and able to absorb tremendous shocks ...

Carole W said...

Brandy - anybody - HELP ME!

I searched the post for the typo "blereled" and didn't see it. My brain has glazed over, I guess. Can you show me the sentence it's it? I have no idea what or where 'blereled' is.

Vicky said...

No, no, Carole! I think Brandy meant the word verifications you're asked for posting a comment, (those capcha thingies), not a typo from you! :-D hehe

I loved the "I'm... sick of safety" too! Had me thinking "Hey now, that's great! He wasted a precious night just with Brigite and didn't even consider spending it with Catherine until she almost begged him... so it better be useful to him!"

Big hugs.

Vicky said...

Oh and by the way, those verifications aren't actually words, just random letters put together... but that you already knew! Right? (I have to use the audio version, which gives me numbers instead).

Carole W said...

Vicky - Brandy - I'm telling you - I'm fried.

of course - word verifications for comments.


Thank you, Vicky. You've crossed a worry off my list first thing this morning.

I'm glad you all liked the 'sick of safety'. Let's see what he does with himself now - out there in the garden!

Brandy said...

Oh no! I've further distracted an already fried author! *shame* So sorry, it's just the word verifications frequently leave me scratching my head.

Thank you for the photo reference of the hornbeam! It does totally look like muscles. I'm still not sure if "ridged" is the right word. The wood texture looked much softer, like waves, rather than deep ridges. I don't know. I write on occasion and have been known to spend ridiculous amounts of time on word choices. I know you do as well, with your Oscar Wilde comma. ;)

Here is a quote for you, and the writing process: "To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone - just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over...."
- John Hersey

Carole W said...


Vicky said...

Hahahaha! You're briliant, dear!

Never had that Oscar Wilde quote suited someone more...

Carole W said...

Hope I made it better - I'm still thinking - I wanted a counterpart 'male' sensory image there. My brain, my brain - it hurts!

Anonymous said...

Happy anniversary Carole!

Brandy, loved your comment about Vincent's tongue. *matching evil grin* Even so, I'd still love to hear him speaking Gaelic. Oh well, we can dream can't we?

Brandy said...

Carole, first off, thanks for taking my comment seriously. Second, replacing imagery of rippled wood and the hide-like birch keep Vincent in a sort of trance that gets broken by Martin's arrival.

I sympathize about the wanting some male imagery in there, but I think this really flows better.

Don't worry, we're all still assuming Vincent is built like some sort of sex-god, rippled washboard abs and all!

Brandy said...

Dear Carole, I found a poem that needed sharing.

With affection, Brandy


In what other lives or lands
Have I known your lips
Your Hands
Your Laughter brave
Those sweet excesses that
I do adore.
What surety is there
That we will meet again,
On other worlds some
Future time undated.
I defy my body's haste.
Without the promise
Of one more sweet encounter
I will not deign to die.

Maya Angelou

Carole W said...

Brandy - this is beautiful. Thank you for sending it - I've never read it, but will keep is in my folder of lovely things. I'm putting a note about it in my sidebar this morning for others to find.

~ Carole

Brandy said...

Oh Carole, you're in trouble now. I *ahem* found some more "pretty things" for you to look over.

Check your inbox.


Anonymous said...

Carole, you have attracted truly remarkable, thoughful, fascinating friends with this tale and with your warm and delightful personality. It's a joy to read the comments and replies. It's heaven to read your story. You are a treasure in every respect, dear Friend. Nancy

Anonymous said...

Brandy, thanks for sharing the poem with those of us who also read the comments. It was tuly beautiful.

New York City Utopia said...

I adore "Brandy's" (Maya's) poem,
and I also appreciated the explanations about the hornbeam (that is called "charme" in French, go figure...)

Carole W said...

Nancy - you're the treasure, but, as always, thank you. I have thoroughly enjoyed this layered exchange.

Anon and NYCU - It is a beautiful poem, isn't it, and Brandy has found several others for me to study and enjoy - I was fascinated, not only with the poems themselves and their relation to this particular set of characters, but by the thoughtfulness into their choosing.

Anyone with favorites, please share.

And NYCU, charme is so much prettier than hornbeam!

I'm begging at the translation site for some low-voiced fellow to make an mp3 of a Yeats poem and a Neruda in Gaelic for the story. I'll post a note if that happens.

Anonymous said...

Your characterization of Mouse is perfect. His dream is equally playful and innocently romantic. His dialogue "Vincent back, Vincent gone again" is exactly right.

This story is lyrical prose. I'm reminded of Regina McBride. Jon McGregor.

There are at least a dozen sentences in this chapter that stopped me in my tracks.

I agree with the commenter who mentioned "a man whose life was blown glass all along". Lovely.

A few others: "a waterfall, lace and thunder into the basin." "her tail an exclamation of demand" "His nails pricked at his palms, at the tinder of doubt balled there." "a chirrup as soft as a dove's" "an argument of tangled metal" "the second swallow was late summer sun" "a fist of unease knuckled under his ribs." Stunners all.

I agree you made the garden scene better with the change to musclewood and beech. You took that suggestion rather well and in the public eye. Many writers would not have been so gracious or self-examining.

And I agree . . . Vincent speaking Gaelic would be utterly delicious.

Eagerly awaiting Chapter 30 . . .

Anonymous said...

Neruda in Gaelic, now there's diversity for you! Seriously, though, I cannot think of a more romantic poet than Neruda. Also, as requested, completion vibes are being sent your way.

Carole W said...

Anon - I've received the translations but as yet no recorded versions. I might have scared off the potential readers by requesting a low-pitched, throaty male voice. LOL.

Thanks for the vibes! I need 'em. This next part is challenging.

~ Carole

Carole W said...

India - I'm the stunned one. Thank you.

About the change suggestions ... I didn't mind at all, coming as they did and from whom. This is still, in many ways, a rough draft and will undergo an intense edit when I'm done. I need to know these things. Luckily, the flamers have all been otherwise occupied!

I have to admit, sheepishly, I don't know these authors. But I'm going to hunt them up Right NOW. LOL. I have a feeling you're being kind, but again, thank you.

~ Carole

Brandy said...

Vibe vibe vibe vibe vibe vibe; complete.
Vibe vibe vibe vibe vibe vibe; complete.
(repeat until chapter 30 is posted)

Anxiously awaiting!

And here is a poem to that effect:

Lover's Gifts LII: Tired of Waiting by Rabindranath Tagore

Tired of waiting, you burst your bonds, impatient flowers, before
the winter had gone. Glimpses of the unseen comer reached your
wayside watch, and you rushed out running and panting, impulsive
jasmines, troops of riotous roses.
You were the first to march to the breach of death, your
clamour of colour and perfume troubled the air. You laughed and
pressed and pushed each other, bared your breast and dropped in
The Summer will come in its time, sailing in the flood-tide
of the south wind. But you never counted slow moments to be sure
of him. You recklessly spent your all in the road, in the terrible
joy of faith.
You heard his footsteps from afar, and flung your mantle of
death for him to tread upon. Your bonds break even before the
rescuer is seen, you make him your own ere he can come and claim

Carole W said...

Brandy - this is a great poem. I grew flowers for market for years and would be so ready each spring for the first blooms to break through. I love that phrase "you recklessly spent your all in the road."

There's a great chapter title in this poem too - The Terrible Joy of Faith.

And your find of "The Worldless Rose" in the Richard Wilbur poem, will be the title of either Chapter 31 or 32, depending on how the story evolves in 30. Keep sending those perfect poems!

~ Carole

Vicky said...

I have to agree with Nancy: You have atracted beautiful people with your words and your-self, Carole, and the best part is that some of us are "connecting" with each other, thanks to that. *grin*

And you know I agree with India as well: I've told you before, so many of your moments sound like poetry to me.

I think I'm enjoying this little section of ours almost as much as awaiting for next chapter... Thank you all!

Love. Vicky

Carole W said...

Vicky - the connections are astounding - and meaningful and inspiring. This is such a comfortable place to offer up a story that's still somewhat in rough draft. People are kind, supportive, interested and helpful and every day, I'm just encouraged.

Those I've met through this fandom have had such an impact on my life and outlook. However it's come about, I'm grateful.

And Brandy - I forgot to say vibes received, but don't stop sending. I'm still not done.

Anonymous said...

Sending completion vibes your way. remember little engine that could? after he said i think i can, i think i can;he said i know i can i know i can. You can do it Carole. anxiously awaiting chapter 30 of your beautiful work. i check everyday :).

Carole W said...

Brittany - Thanks for your kind and encouraging words! And thanks for reading along and waiting on me. I'm so pleased to read that you like the story.

I keep saying this - when I get through this one-on-one conversation and back to the general action, I'll write faster. I've been saying that for several chapters though.

This time I (hope I) mean it!!!

No later than Saturday, no later, no later, no later ...


Brandy said...

Dear Carole,

An additional vibe of inspiration for you. Enjoy!
~Brandy (of course!)

A yawning gulf between
My vision-tree and my reality-plant.

A yawning gulf between
The place I love to live and the place I live.
I love to live under the vault of heaven.
Alas, my existence lives
In the valley of the shadow of death.
Peace has escaped my remembrance;
Delight, too.

But I know a swing of the pendulum
Will change my face and fate.
My surrender supreme
Shall marry my dream-boat
With my reality-shore.

- Sri Chinmoy

Anonymous said...

It's nice to know I may have TWO things to celebrate on Saturday - Independence Day and Chapter 30! More vibes coming your way.

Carole W said...

Brandy, you're a gem. Marry my dream-boat with my reality-shore ... How perfect!

Anon: I've committed, haven't I, to a deadline. But from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, I'm learning ... coming to believe ... that once we commit, providence moves.

I hope I am not the anti-proof to that! (ooops, there goes my internal censor. Make her be quiet!!). Thanks, both of you, for the extended Vibes.

Vicky said...

And I, too, have my "good vibs" button on! But don't let us put any pressure on that dear muse, ok? Just enjoy every minute of it!

And thank you as well, Brandy,, for these lovely things you share.

Carole W said...

My muse is arguing with my censor right now.

The muse will win! No! The muse HAS won!!


I'm getting there - which means I've dumped 3000 words to approve a 1000, but today feels pretty good. Like the gravel has been raked and the ruts filled in, like the cart doesn't bump so hard, like I'm ... almost ... at the top ... of the hill ...

Sonia Who? said...

Great chapter Carole. I'm glad Vincent didn't let his fear stop him from staying to talk with Martin. He needs more friends he can confide in and ask for counsel. I hope he does talk to him about Catherine. Can't wait for when Martin finally finds out the truth about Vincent.

The back info on Kanin is good and helped to explain his untoward behavior.

My favorite part of chapter 29:
[...] he’d lifted the newborn from her blankets. Her tiny fist had fastened on his smallest finger, and Catherine had leaned against his arm. She’d looked up at him with a smile so pure ... He’d searched it, felt to its farthest reach ... and there was no sadness, no resignation in her – only ... only faith.

Like Brandy, I also liked:
"And I am ... sick of safety." It's okay for Vincent to be cautious, and with his gift of empathy I think he's able to sense who could present a danger to him and who he can trust, so he doesn't have to be so overly cautious with someone like Martin.

"Fake it 'til you make it." That made me smile. I strongly believe in the power of positive thinking. I made up my own quote - "Smile and your mind may follow."

If your priest friend Charlie is like Martin he does sound like a fascinating man and a good friend to have.

About the word - blereled - maybe it was supposed to be bleared? It means to make (the eyes) dim, as with tears.

I agree with India's and the other readers' comments, and I too will be eagerly waiting for the next chapter. (And no Carole, I don't believe India was being kind, but really meant her compliments, which I believe you richly deserve.) I agree with Nancy that you have a warm and delightful personality, so I'm not surprised that you attract wonderful thoughtful friends. You are so talented, but modest. And I'm surprised at how much you care and appreciate your readers' comments.

I'm almost certain that this novel when completed will be good enough to get published and I can't wait to see it happen.


Carole W said...

Sonia, how kind of you - to offer such warm encouragement, to say such nice things! I'm touched by your words, that you liked the chapter as a whole and in particular those scenes you highlighted, that you took the time to tell me. Thank you.

I am amazed at the comments - truly, I am. I live a modified hermit's life in so many ways - out here in the country, a loner by nature. I have only myself to talk to much of the day.

It really feels good to to share this story, even my halting process of it, with such supportive people. I've learned so much. And I am grateful for the interaction. I know the story is better for the questions and suggestions and, beyond that, I feel like we're making friends, getting to know each other.

Sonia, I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the story. I know it's taking me a long time to turn out a chapter. Thanks for sticking with me.

~ Carole

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about missing your deadline. We know it will be worth the wait.

Carole W said...

Anon - I so appreciate your confidence and I'm trying not to panic! I need to lay in a supply of good chocolate to soothe the frazzles.

When we met in NYC, Mich brought gifts of Callebaut and the memory of the cinnamon-ginger ... That might possibly fix me right up. Where's my Visa card?

Anonymous said...

There are very few problems that chocolate won't fix! :-)

Brandy said...

*A large, battered soup pot sits atop a stove, clouds of steam rolling from it.
A hand enters the frame from the right holding...pasta?*

Carole, the wet noodles are boiling. Don't make me have to use them.

by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

How can I wait until you come to me?
The once fleet mornings linger by the way;
Their sunny smiles touched with malicious glee
At my unrest, they seem to pause, and play
Like truant children, while I sigh and say,
How can I wait?

How can I wait? Of old, the rapid hours
Refused to pause or loiter with me long;
But now they idly fill their hands with flowers,
And make no haste, but slowly stroll among
The summer blooms, not heeding my one song,
How can I wait?

How can I wait? The nights alone are kind;
They reach forth to a future day, and bring
Sweet dreams of you to people all my mind;
And time speeds by on light and airy wing.
I feast upon your face, I no more sing,
How can I wait?

How can I wait? The morning breaks the spell
A pitying night has flung upon my soul.
You are not near me, and I know full well
My heart has need of patience and control;
Before we meet, hours, days, and weeks must roll,
How can I wait?

How can I wait? Oh, Love, how can I wait
Until the sunlight f your eyes shall shine
Upon my world that seems so desolate?
Until your hand-clasp warms my blood like wine;
Until you come again, oh, Love of mine,
How can I wait?

Vicky said...

Dear Carole, you say you're angsting? Don't! If you don't enjoy it, the fun of it all is gone! hehe

Brandy, what a beautiful, inspired poem. Another jem you share with us. Thank you! *takes pasta from Brandy* But you're not throwing anything!

Carole W said...

Vicky, I angst but it's a good angst! A certain amount of pressure, from without AND within, is good for me.

But I am enjoying writing this chapter very much and I'm appreciating your defense. :-)

It's just this: Vincent has a chance to talk and there's just so much he could say! And he can't say it all this first visit (or else this chapter will be 100 pages long). And the sun is coming up! He's gonna have to go!

But I am really close. Truly I am.

~ C

Carole W said...

Brandy, this is a great poem. Just perfect. I can see a whole story taking shape based on it.

But I'm NOT thinking of a new story NOW. I'm going to the barn to write the OLD one. RIGHT NOW! ;-)

~ C

Anonymous said...

Brandy, you make the wait for Carole worth it! Hope you continue sharing your discoveries of beautiful poetry even after we see the next chapter.

Carole W said...

Me too! I've been inspired a dozen times over with Brandy's gifts!

I'm praying that, when the chapter appears, everyone won't be looking around the room, all perplexed, saying ... "what, this is ... it?"

Anonymous said...

Hi Carole,
Since I sent so many PM's earlier, I've wanted to leave you alone to write! But I've been thinking of you and the story every day - sending good vibes - I can't wait to read more of your beautiful words. You are a great treasure. I've been so touched by all the stories and this one has brought many (good) tears to my eyes - I wish I was good with words so I could express how deeply moved I am. I can't wait to read more. As I've said before, I hope that this can be published in some way so that I/we can have a copy - it would be such a lifeline. And it DESERVES to be published. You are so incredibly talented.

I have enjoyed reading every post at every chapter and appreciate all the wonderful things friends have shared and written.


Carole W said...

Jitterbug, Thank you. I'm absolutely thrilled but humbled by your comments. Such kind words of encouragement change my days. My life, really.

You - all of you - have given me such a gift.

I am nudging a couple talented friends for drawings and illustrations. I am bad even at stick figures and once I tried to draw out the wall and the door and the garden and the churchyard/Eimear's yard for a friend, and it was just funny. If I can nudge hard enough - and you know who you are - then I'd love to try publishing a fanzine. My favorite ones have great art.

I'll most certainly let you know if that comes to pass. :-)

As of 4:32 pm Thursday, chapter 30 is being proofed. I think it's nearly postable.

As Krista put it - "It's never done, just due." I'm overdue, I know.

Krista said...

Okay, this is getting truly eerie, in the very best of ways. In almost all of your revised chapters, I've been the first one to post a comment or nearly the first, and here I am again. That's a tribute to you, and how utterly wonderful your writing is.

This chapter is one of my favorites in I/V: the second meeting of Vincent and Martin, the "wee dram"; Vincent leaving his safe places and finally, finally reaching out to a kindred spirit in his frustrations. I loved the added bits too---Devin's third law of the tunnels *snort* and Vincent being able to hear the rales in Martin's lungs and knowing the exact formula Dr. Wong would use to help.

Fantastic job, again and still. There is something truly magical about what you do here. :)


PS: the captcha for today is dimplers. LOL

OKGoode said...

Carole, you only get better and better. The connection between Martin and Vincent is so real, so true, so lovely. And I seem to have totally forgotten the part there with Mouse - delightful!

Carole W said...

Oh, thank you, Laura! You know I angst big-time over the believability of the original characters. This is such a nice thing for you to say and I'm so pleased and grateful.

I love that Mouse! He teeters between boyishness and maturity. I doubt he'll ever lose that playfulness, which isn't a bad thing, is it?!? :-D


RomanticOne said...

Mouse always serves as a reminder to enjoy life to its fullest - nobody does that better than Mouse! It has been interesting to see Vincent seeking advice from someone who is more familiar with life Above. Father is wise, but has been out of the loop for years. Martin seems like a good choice to help Vincent spread his wings a little. Even though Vincent has Catherine, Martin is a more objective voice. Sometimes we need that. Thanks for a great chapter.

Carole W said...

Thanks, R1! I think so too - Vincent could sure use an objective friend. Some of the stuff he might need to talk about might hurt Father's feelings or make Father feel guilty, none of which Vincent could bear. Martin and Father have a lot in common and yet approach life almost opposites. I do wonder what their first meeting will be like! :-)

Thank you again for reading and leaving comments. You really help my spirits.


Anonymous said...

Hi Carole, I'm still pacing myself with your story. A little indulgence before lights out - sends me to my happy place. Love this chapter and love Martin's advice to Vincent for Kanin. Not what I was expecting but excellent advice nonetheless. We've all had to 'fake it till we make it' at some point. Shall I peak at the next chapter. NOOOOO, denial is good for the soul!

Cathy S

Carole W said...

Hey Cathy! LOL - Martin surprised you? I'm dying to know what you expected and how this was different than that.

Sometimes we have to decide to act a way we don't entirely feel but eventually, if we do the loving act, we begin to actually feel love. We act as if and then find we do! In Kanin's situation, he needs to act as though he is worthy - not arrogantly or insistently - but not so contritely. He needs to act strong enough to bear the time it will take for Olivia to trust him again even if inside, he's quaking with fear and frustration. He needs to stop acting embarrassed, start acting normal and part of the community. Man-up, in a word. I think he'll make it. :-)

Thanks so much for reading. Your thoughts and comments encourage me to keep after it.