Author Archives: caldavis

A NEW FORM; A NEW FACE

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I like it. What, you ask? The new audio cover for my Second Wind print novel. Let me explain. Recently a company that produces audio books agreed to turn my novel The Phantom Lady of Paris into an audio book. It will shortly be available. The novel’s narrator has completed his work, and I have been sent an image of what the work’s cover will look like. Someone with a lot of imagination and a great deal of artistic knowledge has created a cover with a Parisian motif that is done in an impressionistic style. The style is similar to that of Edgar Degas.

The same story. A new face. A new media form.

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When We Demand Better by Calvin Davis

Want to hear some pessimistic news? The latest buzz about the bad guys, folks who blackmail, assassinate, murder, con old people, blow themselves up – along with scores of other people – liars, cheats, hedge fund swindlers, Ponzi scheme manipulators, the whole gory gamut? When and where do you hear such stories? The answer is simple: on any network evening news report.

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Anyone who relies solely on the evening news roundup for a picture of the world, and humanity, is someone who will end up with a distorted view of the world and a twisted understanding of people. Then, why so much bad news? Is it true that most of humanity is corrupt? Money hungry liars and cheats? You’ll end up thinking they are if you get a steady diet of network news. So why so much bad news? To answer that question, you have to look at the economics of news gathering and distribution.

Doing both is not a public service, but a business. And in that business, it has long been known that bad news sells.

With this simple fact in mind, one must view evening news with a critical eye, realizing that all of humanity is not the way it is portrayed by the news reports.

My formula for looking at network news is this: remember that for every report about a beheading, a robbery, rape, etc., there are hundreds of altruistic people who perform charitable and benevolent deeds every day, but who will NEVER make the evening newscast – that is, unless they rob a bank or stab a nun in the eye with an icepick. familyExamples: there is a mother in Kansas or Virginia who goes without the fancy coat and food so her son or daughter can remain in college. There is a father in Indiana who postpones the operation his doctor insists he needs so his little girl can have the operation she needs. Neither parent will become “breaking news” reports on CNN or Fox.

In summary, the next time you view the evening news report, don’t say to yourself, “So, this is the way the world is today.” Why not? Because what you have seen is not the way the world is today. However, you can safely say, “This is the way the bad side of the world is today.” In the future perhaps we will, one day, have the evening news cover the good side of the news. When will that be possible? When we, as viewers DEMAND that the good side of the world and mankind be given equal coverage?

When will that day come? It’s up to us, when we demand better.

Calvin Davis is the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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TJ’s Freshman Orientation

cell“Has he called?” Hawk Man sounded more nervous than usual.

TJ sat on the edge of his worn sofa, his fingers wrapped around a cold one. “Not yet, man.” He took a long sip, the icy brew soothing his own nervous throat. It had been a stressful if not a profitable night.

“But…but he’ll call, right?”

He set the bottle on the scarred coffee table and rolled his eyes. “Of course he’ll call, Hawk Man. The three of us is runnin’ buddies. He said he’d get in touch as soon as he ditched the cops that was followin’ him. We just gotta give him a chance, is all.” He upended the pack of Camels and tipped one into his hand. A flick of the lighter, a deep drag and he felt his knot of nerves unwind. “Now would ya relax? He’ll call.” He blew smoke toward the ceiling.

“How much loot do ya think we got?”

TJ drained the rest of the bottle and stretched out on the sofa. “We got three bags filled with dough. My guess is each one had close to a quarter mil in it.”

Hawk Man whistled low. “Three-quarter million. That’s a big haul.”

A slow smile spread. “Yup, we’ll be livin’ high.”

cigarettesFour hours later, Hawk Man lay face down on his bed, deep in slumber. And TJ sat staring at a crumpled pack of cigarettes and a phone that would not ring. His first serious lesson in life well and truly earned.

Calvin Davis is also author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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LIfe, Love and Loss in a Tattoo by Calvin Davis

receptionistI sat at the desk fronting the doctor’s receptionist. She passed me several papers she requested I sign. After signing them I gave the stack of forms to her. Glancing down, I noticed a tattoo on the arch of her right foot. It read “Papa.” The letters, in a fancy scroll, were about two inches tall.

Pointing to her body art, I said, “I hope Papa is not a boyfriend.”

She smiled. “Why do you hope that?”

“Because boyfriends come, and boyfriends go. Some enter and exist with the season. Many don’t even last a season.”

“You don’t have to remind me of that,” she sighed, a hint of sadness in her voice. “I’ve experienced the kind you speak of. In fact a couple, truth be told.”

Sensing her many regrets, I shared too. “If it makes you feel any better, most people have had such experiences, including me.”

papa“Thanks for the boost, but no, my tattoo refers to my father. He,” she said and hesitated, “…he died last spring.” Her eyes turned glassy and she blinked several times, as if to force away the tears. She slipped off her shoe to gaze at the entire tattoo.

“I see. And judging from the distress in your voice, I’d say you don’t need that tattoo to remind you of him. My guess is that he’s tattooed in your mind and heart.”

She beamed a smile. “Yes, he is. But there are days when the sky is overcast and it rains, I need to glance at my tattoo, and when I do, I see Papa’s face, and in spite of the clouds overhead, the sun comes out again, bright and clear.”

“Miss Tobias,” said the voice over the intercom, “send in the next patient.”

“That’s you,” she said.

“Thanks.” I rose. “Miss Tobias, do me a favor.”

“What?”

“Never remove your tattoo.”

“There aren’t enough barrels of ink remover on this planet to erase the art I have on my foot.”

“Nor, I hope, the one in your heart.”

Following my visit with the doctor, I entered the waiting room. I smiled at the receptionist. She smiled at me. Neither said anything more. We didn’t have to. We had said all that needed shared…about life, death…and love.

– Calvin Davis is also the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.

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WHY?

Why do people get tattooed? Wait. Before you answer, let me caution you that whatever reply you give, is certain to tell a lot about your age. If you’re over, say forty or fifty, you will probably reply those who get tattooed are of the underclass, individuals on the fringes of society. Further, you’ll probably mention that tattooing is a common practice among sailors, etc.

Now, if you’re much younger than the age group mentioned above, you’ll probably reply “Why do people get tattooed? is a loaded question. And if you are young and smart you will add that the word “tattooed” should not be part of the question. Why? Because it carries with it all kinds of negative connotations. Today there is a new expression for “tattoo.” The modern expression is “body art.”

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Now, let’s rephrase the original question to read, “Why do people adorn their bodies with art?” See? That’s a different question, isn’t it? Those who are less set in their beliefs will probably be happy to answer that query by saying “Perhaps such people are artistic by nature, and they love art, and they wish to share their love of art with the world. Or perhaps they feel good art, like good music, changes people for the better.”

For some, especially men, there is the allure of tribal tats. Ink applied in various tribal designs over the shoulder, across the pectoral muscles or a half or full-sleeve down the arm.

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The point is, we look at human existence through either old lens or new ones. Sadly, some are duped into never changing their lens, never realizing that yesterday was yesterday and today is today.

Which lens do you use? Which ones do I use? Sometime I have to check myself because, though I don’t mean to, I use the wrong lens. I met a middle-aged mother last week who had butterflies inked on her shoulder with the name of each of her three daughters in each butterfly. It was beautiful.  I’m on alert most of the time to body art and I change.

Do you?

Trust me, with the right glasses, the world comes into sharper focus. Using the correct lens you’ll see the difference between what was and what…is.

~Calvin Davis is also the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.

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Trying to Do the Impossible by Calvin Davis

How does one capture, in a couple of short paragraphs, the essence and life of a woman who lived to be a hundred years old? To encapsulate her core in five volumes, each as long as War and Peace, would be simple, but to do this task in a few short paragraphs was all but impossible.

Really, I tried this difficult task of writing a two-paragraph tribute for my mother for the local newspaper recently. If she had been a queen or a superstar, she would have made my job easier, but she wasn’t. She was a maid.

Here is what I wrote…

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A MEMORIAL FOR A MAID
As if emerging from the shadows of a dream,
She descended into The City of Hills, Lynchburg.
Her employers called her “the maid.”
Her sons called her “Mother.”
God called her “Angelic,”
And on November 16, 2004,
He called His angel home.
———-
Residing in His Divine Palace,
Mrs. Oleatha White Davis, “the maid,” scrubs no more,
Cooks no more, vacuums no more.
Now enshrined in the Heavenly Hall of Holies,
She is never again labeled “the maid,”
But is now known by her rightful title: “Saint.”
——————————-
A tribute from the sons of The Angelic Maid, Willis and Calvin Davis.
Though she had no college degree, “the maid” taught them that the greatest of earthly
Powers is neither a bomb nor an army, but love…simple, unadorned, and true.
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One of the World’s Shortest Short Stories

classifiedLiza’s Classified Ad

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For Sale —  One white wedding dress, size 8, never used. One engagement ring, beautiful, worn two months. Two hundred wedding invitations: backs are blank; make excellent scratch pads. Interested party call 555-6759 and leave a message. Will return call tomorrow…if I make it through the night. Liza

 

Calvin Davis is also the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris, a love story set in the City of Light during the turbulent late 1960’s.

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The Man Who Entered My Room by Calvin Davis

hoodie The stranger came into my room and stood at the foot of my bed. He wore dark clothes. His head was covered with a hood. I could not make out his facial features. However, I could see that they were as white as granite.

“Who…who are you? How did you get into the house? All the doors are locked.”

“Locks do not faze me. Deadbolts are a joke and chains make me laugh.”

“But why, why are you here? You must be in the wrong house. You got the numbers mixed up some way, I expect.”

“I never get the time, the date or the house numbers confused. At any rate, you must go with me.”

“Go with you, you say? Go with you? Me…go with you…a…a total stranger?”

“But I am not a stranger. I have been with you all your life. I was there when you were born. In moments of peril I have always been by your side…always.”

“And you say I’m to go with you? Where to?”

spaceHe paused, cleared his throat. When he spoke again his voice sounded like the sudden wintry gust of wind hissing through a long tunnel. “I think you know where I’ll take you. Our journey is long, far beyond where manmade telescopes can see, where time and space are one and the same, where not only do objects travel faster than the speed of light, but such speed is common and looked upon as being slow, a place where yesterday is tomorrow, where dreams are not insubstantial products of the mind as they are on earth, but where they are as solid as rocks and numerous as grains of sand.”

“This is so confusing to me, so…” There was a sudden flicker of light in the room, and outside the deafening clap of thunder, though there had been no rain. Then…the stranger was gone. Vanished. There was no one in the room now…except me…and silence. It was as if he dematerialized. Disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Who was he? I don’t know. But I do remember what he said: that he’s always with me. Always. Waiting. I wonder if he’s waiting on others also. Waiting for those who write…those who read…waiting for us all. Waiting to escort us to lands beyond the galaxies, to principalities where all dreams are real, where they are more real than earthly realities. To an enchanted place…where dreamers are applauded, not assassinated.

*** Calvin Davis is the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.

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What You Looking At? by Calvin Davis

What are the ingredients in a writer’s mind? What are the raw materials he uses to create an illusory but seemingly real world, one populated by characters that are as genuine and believable as the shopper you pass in Walmart or the one who waits in line at a Burger King? How does the writer make seem real what is unreal? Convince the reader through mere use of frail words that a fabricated character lives and breathes and that he in many ways is like the reader?

The answer to these and similar questions is simple and, at the same time, complex. What the writer uses as raw material comes from an endless pool of life experiences and observations. All of which are predicated on the fact that a good writer must find the human animal a fascinating creature, which, of course, he is. What makes the Homo sapiens tick? What motivates him? How it is a man can be as altruistic as a saint one moment and within a split second become as heartless and diabolical as a Nazi commandant in a Jewish concentration camp? Is it that man has a duality of personalities? And depending upon the situation, either his dark angels or its opposite will appear? A good writer wants to probe these queries and seek their answers.

TargetTo discover them, he must be a keen student of humans. When waiting in line at Target, for example, he observes the person in front of him. Why does she overdress, wear an outfit designed for someone thirty years her junior, pack on several layers of makeup to mask age lines, sport a “diamond” ring – faux diamond – that is so brilliant you need sunglasses to look at it. And the cashier? Why does her smile seem painfully given and a “commercial” one? As mercenary in appearance as the word “love” sounds when crossing the lips of a prostitute? Forced? Tired? A carbon copy of the smile that lights the cashiers face when it’s the end of her work day. And the youngster nearby who screams at the top of his voice until his mother, intimidated, buys him the toy he wants, no, demands. What goes on in the home of the mother and child? The candy incident tells you. It also may be a forecast of what might happen in the youngster’s marriage, or his ability to have a serious relationship with anyone he cannot control Doubtlessly he will try to control his mate using the same tactics that were so successful in controlling his mother.

train stationWhen I lived in Washington, DC, I frequently went to Union Train Station and sat. Not to wait for a train, but to observe the travelers. Hundreds of commuters would hurry past, representing a sampling of human kind. Some couples would bicker, others, smiling, held hands or embraced. Some commuters, wide eyed, stood and gawked at the vastness of the station and the multitude of people it contained. There were dapper men in colorful suits and wide brim hast who stood and scanned the station, predators on the prowl for innocent female prey who would be a source of income so the men could maintain their sartorial majesty. And always the station was home to several bums, men with battered hats, wrinkled clothes and bearded faces. What was the story of each man? How did he, born in Alaska, end up panhandling on the streets of the District of Columbia and sleeping in train stations? How? The answer is the stuff that novels are made of. For the bum’s story is probably little different from that of a king deposed: a story of hope, dreams, struggle, victories, failures, despair and the will to fight on. All the key ingredients of life.

Finally, who knows? Maybe one day you and I will be in the same place observing people for future use in a novel. I will see you and you will see me. If I do, you have my word that if I include you in a novel, it will a novel of epic proportions and you will be a colossal hero or heroine, one that will make Superman look like a sissy or Wonder Woman look like a wimp.

Honest. Trust me.

~~*~~*~~

Calvin Davis is author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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My New Profession by Calvin Davis

When a man reaches the age of eighty-two, as I have, he has a lot of memories. Some cherished. Some he’d sooner forget. Like the time I got sent to the principal’s office for…well, like I said… some memories a person would sooner forget.

schoolLet’s talk about jobs for a few minutes, shall we? I held a lot in my early years—paper boy, shoe-shine boy, golf caddy, department store stock boy. After a stint in the Army and earning my Masters, I entered the teaching world where I stayed for nearly forty years. Teaching English to high school students was a great joy in my life. Attending teachers’ meetings, not so much.

Through all those years, I wrote. Retirement meant I could spend nearly every hour of my day writing. Sheer heaven.

Then something unexpected happened. My wife mentioned she’d like to write, too, yet she lacked the courage, the resolution to do so.

Suddenly I took on a new job.

Cheerleader.

WhittierRedskins_sNow I’ve always taken pride in a job well-done. As a young boy, my newspapers were always delivered on time. When I shined shoes, my customers always sauntered away happy, able to see their reflection in the tops of their shoes. My students loved the unit on Shakespeare. Perhaps it was my jumping onto the top of the desk to deliver soliloquies that kept their attention. So was I a good cheerleader for my wife? She had eight titles published and two contracts for two series from two different Big Six publishers.

So, what do I get for all my efforts? Lots more hugs and kisses. And the best part? I don’t have to wear one of those silly cheerleader uniforms. At eighty-two, my arthritic knees are not a pretty sight, but my wife’s happy face is.

~~~~ Calvin Davis is author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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