Author Archives: Paul J. Stam

Questions Wanting Answers

Well now this isn’t one of my questions, but instead a wonderful answer by Stacy Casteneda to the cover for A Shot and Futile Life coming soon from Second Wind publishing. – Thank you, Stacy!

S&FL Frnt-Thmb

O.K. 2W family, I really would like to know what you think.

Question 1 – Is there any empirical evidence that sequential excerpts from books engender sales, or are we just desperately hoping that some people will be so enamored with our writing that he or she will be unable not to buy?

Question 2 – If we conclude that excerpt do create awareness if not actually leading to sales (and no one will buy anything they haven’t heard about), then what is the optimum post length?

Question 3 – If showing them our wares themselves does not lead to sales, then what kind of blogging does get them interested in our books. The same identical hat in a dingy store will not get the same attention as it would if it were in an “upscale” store. So, what “storefront” if you will, induces the blog reader to walk in and look around?

Question 4 – How did I get “over the hill” without getting to the top? – No, no, that’s not my real question, I just had to throw that in there to lighten things up a bit. But seriously, now in my 80’s I know I am out of touch with modern reality. Hell, I don’t even have a cell phone, but why would I need one when I don’t get a dozen phone calls a month and half of those are some someone wanting to sell me something, or the drugstore reminding me that one the chemicals that keep me alive needs renewing.

My question has to do with modern communications technology. I gather from Google that MOBI is an eBook format that along with EPUB, AZW etc. are designed for small screen formats. Can DOC and / or PDF formats be converted to MOBI and if so what is a good converter.

Oh dear, I fear I have over loaded you with questions, so if you would answer any one of them I would be “over the hill” ecstatically happy. Hell, I’ll be happy if you just have a great day and don’t answer a single one of my questions.

Anyway; Good Luck, or May the Force Be With You, or Blessings, or Happiness and Light, or as my Irish mother used to say, “May your troubles be less, and your blessing be more, and nothing but happiness come through your door.”

Blessing and Aloha – pjs.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]Final MSS Cover frontPaul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99. – Soon to be available as an audiobook.

Murder Sets Sail  now available from Second Wind Publishing and on AmazonKindle and Nook versions just $4.99,


churchstepsS&FL Frnt-ThmbBody On the Church Steps now available from Second Wind Publishing and on AmazonKindle and Nook versions just $4.99,

A Short & Futile Life coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.



Filed under books, Paul J. Stam, writing

What Was 2014 All About?

Fireworks - pinkI always wonder if the fireworks at December 31/January 1 of any given years is to celebrate the end or the beginning.

We are not too far into 2015 that we should forget the previous year, or even make New Year’s Resolutions. It is my understanding the resolutions made during the month of January are valid for that year.

There are those of my betters who would have me look back on 2014 and reflect on my various blessings. As a rule I ignore suggestions from my betters. But I guess there is still a lingering of the good-will of the Christmas season that influences me to yield to their suggestions.

First of all I’m thankful that I didn’t lose my job. Oh, that’s right, I don’t have a job to lose. Nevertheless, even though I am unemployed I still get phone calls from people whom I have never met who wish to do business with me. They start out by saying something like, “May I speak with Paul Stam please.”

“I am Paul Stam.”

“Just to make sure I have the correct person, may I have your date of birth please.”

Now that immediately implies two things. The first is that I was lying when I said I was Paul Stam. At the same time, I have several cousins and second-cousins named Paul Stam, so I can begrudgingly forgive their questioning which Paul Stam I am.

But to ask me what my date of birth is, is just too much. I don’t remember being born, so how can I remember the date of an event I don’t remember? Now if they ask me what kind of car I own, that I can remember, but I honestly do not remember being born, which may be a deficiency on my part.

I am also grateful that some people love me, or at least like me. The only explanation I can give for that is that they do not know me as well as I know myself. And for my own selfish reason I am not going to do anything to enlighten them as to the real me and I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t either. Make that one of your resolutions for this year. It is not too late to make a resolution.

I am also very grateful that I did not fall down and break my back or spirit. Both backs and spirits are hard to replace. I know there is a blood-bank, but I don’t know of a single back-bank or spirit-bank.

Come to think of it, it has been a really good year. Absolutely nothing I can complain about, but that’s the story of my life – looking back there is absolutely nothing that wasn’t for the better, although I can’t understand why I can‘t remember being born, it was after all, a rather important event in my life. Maybe if I try real hard it will come back to me.

Seriously, I sincerely thank you for following, or at least occasionally, reading my posts here at Second Wind Publishing, and however you view the past year, whether wonderful or a real bummer, I hope that for you; 2015 will be better, happier, healthier and in every good way above and beyond 2014.

Wishing you a great 2015 and Aloha!


Filed under blogging, books, fiction, Humor, Paul J. Stam, writing

Happy Christmas to All

Xmas card

You heard Paul exclaim on his blog post that night
Merry Christmas to all and a year of Happy delight!

 Mele Kalikimaka
Merry Christmas

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou
Happy New Year

Leave a comment

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It Ain’t Necessarily So – 2

Aint 3 finalIt Ain’t Necessarily So

The Wages of Sin
In doing it My Way

I said before that I don’t remember the event of being born. It would seem to me that one should remember the most important event in his or hers life. Without that important event there can be no other important events. I guess that is a deficiency on my part. Nor do I remember sucking my mother’s breast, but again, I’m told I had a voracious appetite.

One other thing that I think should be made quite clear is that I also do not remember being consulted as to whether or not I wanted to be born. It seems to me that is something a person should at least be informed about if not consulted. After all, I’m going to be spend more time with me than with anyone else and I should be allowed to decide if I want to be me, and spend my entire life with someone like me. Continue reading

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Filed under books, Excerpts, Humor, life, memory, Paul J. Stam, writing

It Ain’t Necessarily So – 1

Internet problems delayed the publishing of this blog, but here it is somewhat late.

After long and intense reflection; some of a religious bent might say, “prayerful consideration,” 27 seconds, that’s long enough for any intense reflection; I have decided to tell the world a little about myself. However, before I do I want to give the reader a chance to understand where I’m coming from. The “Warning” to this so-called “book in progress” is something I will suggest every reader of any post in this category read. So, here it is! You are the first to read this Introduction to the very first chapter in my new book entitled – It Ain’t Necessarily So.

A Warning!
Required Reading

It has been said that, “History is written by the winners.” Hell, I said that in my book, A Short Futile Life, soon to be published by Second Wind Publishing. Since I said it, it has to have been said before.

I am one such winner in that I have outlived any who might be able to refute the things I say. I will, to the best of my ability, be honest except when it suits me to be otherwise. After all, I am a storyteller, and the important thing to a storyteller is to keep the reader interested, not be honest.

I will also warn you that the things I tell you about me, my family, my life, my loves, my hates, my accomplishments (there’s very damned few of those so I’ll have to make some up) and my failures (do you really think I would tell you about those) are things that interest me, or at last did at the time.

Now, having been warned, let us begin. Please feel free to make suggestions. They will be welcomed, ignored, but genuinely welcomed.

It Ain’t Necessarily So

A Biased Introduction

I don’t precisely remember being born, but I have it on good authority that I was. People I trust, who were there, namely my mother, said that it really did happen and I believe her. I also have an official document stating that I was born. It is not a birth certificate in the normal sense, but an American Consular Service form that is a “Report of Birth of Children Born to American Parents”. Since I have that piece of paper (or at least a copy of it) and I’m here, I guess that pretty much settles the mater that I really was born and that I am not just, as some young friends of mine claim, a bird dropping that was left on a fence post to hatch.

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon said, “Age appears to be best in four things: old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” I’ve had a couple of books published, but does that make me an old author? When Bacon talked about “old authors” was he talking about dead and gone writers from a century before him, or old codgers who can’t stand up by themselves?

Now that I am older than most people on this earth, I was hoping that people would listen to what I say just because I’m old. However, they don’t and why should they?

H. L. Menkin said, “The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.” I have to agree with that thought. I don’t know that I’m wiser. I’m more experienced, maybe, but wiser? One of the problems with what my experience has taught me is that much of what I know is no longer needed. It is from a time before computers, space travel, cameras that don’t need film, cell phones with the camera in it yet, satellite global positioning, or even automatic transmissions.

Some say that I should associate with more people my own age. Why? All they talk about is the past. “I remember back in…” I knew one old guy that always used to say, “I remember back in aught three…” He was talking about 1903, then he’d tell the story he’d told you a hundred times. He’s long gone, but now I too can say, “I remember back in aught three…” But who wants to be reminded of what became the quagmire of the war in Iraq?


If you look at the history books, 1931 (the year in which I was born) was not a particularly auspicious year. Not a whole lot happened that year. I think the Empire State Building was completed that year and work started on Boulder Dam, later named Hoover dam.

Considering that it was an era known as the Great Depression, it is understandable that not much happened of significance. I, of course, being raised in the middle of Africa didn’t know anything about any depression until I came to the United States at age fifteen and had to study History. When I came to the US the Depression was over and all the talk was of “The War.”

I don’t remember much of my early years, by that I mean before I was five or so, and so some of what I tell you about those years is hear-say, or my imagination, both of which are inadmissible in a court of law.

I was told that I was so startled by coming into the world that I didn’t talk for almost two years. I don’t think it was that I didn’t have anything to say; it was just that with everyone else was talking so much I couldn’t get anyone to listen to me. I have learned in the years since then that people are much more interested in what they want to tell you than in what you have to say. That is OK since you don’t learn nearly as much by talking as by listening.

If you find someone that is genuinely interested in what you have to say, then listen to what they have to say. If they talk mostly about the things they want or have, move quietly away and find someone else to talk to. Things aren’t worth thinking about. If they talk about people, listen to what they have to say, but don’t take their advice. People are just slightly more valuable than things. If they talk about ideas, and their ideas stimulate you to thinking, then keep them as a friend. Friends with fresh ideas are worth spending time with. If their ideas startle you sometimes, but are stimulating rather than frightening, and if the person is attractive, of the right age, sex, and of the same disposition, marry them.

I married well both times. My first marriage was strictly a business deal. I’ll tell you more about it later. For right now I’ll just say it was the only business venture I ever entered into that I considered a total success. I think she felt the same way, at least we parted company very good friends and grateful to the other for what each brought to the table, or to the bed, so to speak.

With some of her friends and some of my friends present, the terms of the contract were thoroughly discussed before we got married. There was no written contract, no prenuptial agreements, or any of that BS, but we both considered a verbal agreement as binding as anything on paper.  Now I am not digressing so much as getting ahead of my story. I think, if possible, stories should be told in a chronological order, don’t you?

I’ll try to keep things in better order in the following chapters. As I said right at the beginning, this chapter is sort of an introduction, a biased one at that.


Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99. – Soon to be available as an audiobook.

Murder Sets Sail  now available from Second Wind Publishing and on AmazonKindle and Nook versions just $4.99,

Body On the Church Steps coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under blogging, books, fiction, fun, Paul J. Stam, writing

No Neutral Words

Word PowerWord Power

The first summer after I came to the United States my parents sent me to spend the summer on the same farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where my father had spent his summers while growing up.

English: The midway at the Orange County Fair,...

At the end of haying season the farmer took us all for a day away from haying to the county fair. Like most everything those first few months away from my home in the Congo, everything was new, startling and amazing. I had never seen anything like the midway at a county fair.

One of the attractions was called, Power of Sound. I don’t remember what the banners in front of the tent said, but I remember the brilliant colors of: red, silver, gold, yellow, orange and the black of words and objects exploding.

I remember the barker saying something like, “Come in and see what your words look like. – Not the printed letters, but an actual picture of the sound of your words.”

I am sure that he said it in a more irresistible way than that because I paid some of my hard-earned summers pay to go in and see what sounds looked like.

There weren’t many in that tent. None of Clarence’s three sons were interested in that show so I bravely went in alone. Now you have to remember that I was just recently out of the jungle, so to speak, and most things in the civilized world were, if not a little frightening, somewhat intimidating.

Heathkit Oscilloscope OM-2

The showman had some kinds of electronic gadgets and one with a glowing porthole like thing with cross-lines in it. I later learned it was an oscilloscope of some kind.

He started out by telling his audience that all sounds had electronic energy called frequency that could be seen visually on the screen. Even as he talked into the mike the white line moved across the screen.

He played a few notes on a trumpet, fired a cap pistol and each time the line moved differently. He invited people up from the audience and showed how each person’s voice was different.

His final act was to put a wine glass on a stand next to the oscilloscope. A large but attractive woman came out and started to sing. I didn’t much care for what she was singing. It was the opera kind of stuff that my mother liked to listen to on the radio on Saturday afternoons after we got to the States. But on the radio there was usually instrument playing along with the singing.

The woman kept singing, the line on the oscilloscope changed along with her singing. She hit a real high note. The line on the oscilloscope jumped and the glass on the stand shattered.

I walked out of that tent wondering if it was a trick or not, but at the same time aware that the words I speak had a force to them. I have since learned that the shattered glass was not a trick, but was done by the high frequency of the note that woman sang.

I have also learned that there are no neutral words; you are either speaking encouragement or fear. I am a writer, among other things, and like most writers I am pleased when someone likes what I’ve written. Whether or not someone reads what I have written is entirely up to them, but what I say is entirely up to me. The words I speak have an energy to both build up or shatter others and myself and I should be very careful what I say and how I say it.


Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99. – Soon to be available as an audiobook.

Murder Sets Sail  now available from Second Wind Publishing and on AmazonKindle and Nook versions just $4.99,

Body On the Church Steps coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under books, fiction, Paul J. Stam, writing

Some People Are Just Lucky

Like I said, some people are just lucky. There is no other way to explain it and I’m one of them. You’ve all heard the cliché, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts.” Another one is, ”It’s better to be lucky than smart.” Well, I am very lucky in that I know (via the Internet) Mike Simpson and the fine folks at Second Wind Publishing who are the “who you know that counts” part of the clichés.

churchstepsIn the 3 years since submitted my first novel to Second Wind Publishing, I have signed contracts with them for five books. The latest to be released in a month or so, is Body On the Church Steps. Now really, one just does not expect to find a naked body in front of the church. One might find a nude body in front of a bar, or club maybe, but certainly not in front of the church and certainly not dead. And why was it put there and who put it there? Well that is what the story is all about, and it’s going to  more than the police to solve this mystery.

Final MSS Cover frontThe book before that was Murder Sets Sail, released just last month. There is no mystery here. The reader knows right from the first chapter who the killers are and whom they are planning to kill. The question is can the intended target escape? Of course they can. That’s what an adventure/action novel is all about, isn’t it? This is a fun read. A friend of mine told me he got up to give their infant son his midnight bottle and instead of checking his cell phone he started to read the book. His son finished his bottle and went back to sleep and my friend couldn’t stop reading. Next thing he knew it was time for the 4 AM feeding.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]The Telephone Killer was published December of 2012. In this one the serial killer calls a television station ahead of time with clues as to who he will kill next. Although those clues are correct, they are often misleading.

So there you have 3 novels that have seen “the light of day” so to speak.

prison-bars-2The 4th novel, A Short Futile Life has a tentative release date of December 1 of this year. It is unlike anything I have done before in that it is a near-future political drama. A war hero works to help a man be elected President only to discover that the candidate planned all along to make the Presidency of the United States into a dictatorship. When our hero tries to expose the dictator, he is of course, arrested, brought to trial (a rigged trial), found guilty and executed. No picture of the cover for this one, but maybe something like this.

Finally the 5th novel, Endangered Species, with a tentative release date of March 2015, is a terrorist/adventure novel in which a group of terrorist devises a way to kill all the residence of a major US City. I have no idea what the cover of this book might be, but the team at 2nd Wind will come up with something fabulous.

Did I say I was lucky? Now wait a minute. Lucky has the idea of no reason for one’s good fortune; you know, like “dumb luck.” I think “blessed” is a better word. It implies that there is some force working on your behalf. Maybe that is what George Lucas meant when he had the characters in the Star Wars movies say, “May the Force be with you.” Well, there is certainly a Force with me and it is Mike Simpson and all the team at Second Wind Publishing.

Thank you, Gang, and May the Force be with you!


Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99. – Soon to be available as an audiobook.

Murder Sets Sail  now available from Second Wind Publishing and on AmazonKindle and Nook versions just $4.99,

Body On the Church Steps coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under fiction, Mike Simpson, Paul J. Stam, writing

Words that Invade My Mind

And fold their tent like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

algerian nomads

Now where the hell does that come from? I know it’s from some famous poem and I could probably Google that line and find out all about it: the poem, the author, and all that kind of stuff, but in my life it came from my father. He is responsible for all the silly lines that come in to my somewhat aged mind.

When I was a kid my Dad read to us three boys every night before he “tucked us in.” It usually started with a poem. Then he would read us a story. He loved Rudyard Kipling and he read us Captains Courageous, Kim, The Jungle Book and all kinds of adventure stories, a few pages an evening. Continue reading


Filed under Paul J. Stam, writing

Ah, Spring! When…

View across Kailua Beach to the offshore islet...

View across Kailua Beach to the offshore islet known as Moku nui. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A spring, when an old man’s fancy turns to doing nothing and napping at the beach.

Well, here it is the 4th day of summer and I haven’t been napping at the beach or doing nothing although I have somewhat neglected blogging.

Life is just too outrageously wonderful for anything? I have been wonderfully busy living outside myself while in myself.

In the ceramics department with the end of the school semester hours have been cut back at the studio and so I have been doing a bunch of stuff at home. I don’t do wheel work in my little apartment but I have been busy sculpting figurines. Somehow I think sculpting sounds more artistic than hand building, but it’s the same thing. They range in size from about 7 to 15 inches in height.

Hifh fireHere are seven figurines glazed and on the shelves ready to be high fired.

Wait 4 glazeThis next bunch has been bisque fired and waiting for my chance to use the spray booth for applying the glaze. I’m spraying these rather than dipping them. The blue around the bottoms of some is masking tape to keep the glaze off that area.

Ready 4 BisqueThese are waiting their turn to be bisque fired. The one on the top left sagged a little while drying in the damp room so I have that support under the man in the hope to keep it from sagging more in the bisque firing, but then it may sag more when it is high fired. Ah, the joys of uncertainty in ceramics.

DryingThese two have come out of the damp room to dry a little more before they are put on the bisque shelves. All together here we have 21 pieces plus another dozen slowly drying in the damp room. I guess that isn’t a bad months output for someone who was planning to nap at the beach.

MSS CoverOh, yeah, and I have another book coming out the end or this month or the beginning of July. The title of it is, Murder Sets Sail. Here is the cover.

inside, right at the beginning I state, “This is an absolutely true story except for the parts that aren’t.” I think one should be honest about these things don’t you? I’ll tell you more about it next time.


Murder Sets Sail is published by 2nd Wind Publishers. This novel is not a mystery. You know from the beginning who the murderers are and who they intend to murder. Adventure aboard a sailboat from Honolulu to Hong Kong.

Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99.

To watch The Telephone Killer video click here.

The Telephone Killer is now available as an audiobook.


Since everything is copyrighted please feel free to re blog any of my posts but please repost in its entirety and giving appropriate credit.


Filed under Art, books, fiction, fun, Paul J. Stam, writing

Rushing River – Krazy Kid


I never really thought of my father as a particularly brave man, not until I was about twelve. I mean, while trying to kill any rat that came into our room, he mostly managed to chase it onto the porch where it scurried into the ditch and got away.

He never apologized for his failure to kill the rat. We kids never actually saw the rat, but we heard it and would shout for my dad who would come in with the kerosene lantern. By the flickering light of the lantern he would occasionally see it.

When he did see it, he would yell, “Hey!” as though having made a great discovery and then continue with, “Get out of here you scurvy little monster.” But mostly he just stomped his booted feet which seemed to drive the rat out. At least we didn’t hear it again that night.

He was much better with snakes. Whenever anyone yelled, “Nioka, (snake)” he was right there with anything he could grab to kill it: a hoe, a machete, a club and if none of those were available he would stomp it to death with his knee-high booted feet.

Once after killing a snake one of the natives reverently put a hand on my father’s shoulder and shaking his head a little said, “Bwana, that is a good kind of snake. It will never bite you until it is your time to die.”

I accepted his dealing with snakes as something any father would do for his children. But killing snakes was not at all like Uncle Eddie who went hunting all the time and had a reputation with the natives as a great hunter by killing leopards, buffalo, Kudu, Wildebeest and even elephants.

My father never really said anything, but I knew that he didn’t think much of Uncle Eddie’s hunting exploits, which I thought were just the greatest. My father only killed things when he had to.

English: Ruwenzori mountains Autor:Nick06

Ruwenzori mountains (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Age twelve. There is something significant about a boy turning twelve. That was the year I began to understand, what kind a man my father really was.

We were on a vacation at a mission station located at the base of the Ruwenzori Mountains. In the early morning and late afternoon, before the mist rose to shroud them, you could see the snow-covered peaks of the Mountains of the Moon.

These snow-capped mountains near the Equator in Africa were first reported to the civilized world in the second century AD by the Greek geographer, Ptolomy, who named them Lunae Montes, or Mountains of the Moon.

The whole range is some eighty miles long and about thirty miles wide. They are not of volcanic origin, but are huge sections of the earth’s crust that were thrust upward millennia ago by enormous geologic upheavals. From the savannah those peaks rise more than 16,000 feet. The rivers formed by the melting ice surge down clear, pure and icy-cold. The water rushes foaming through narrow, boulder-strewn gorges, roaring over falls, always rushing, never quiet, never still until they get to the savannah.

We were warned by the local missionaries about the furious nature of the river and forbidden by our parents from leaving certain defined area, which were frequented by the natives and missionaries.

My sister, five years older than me, had the responsibility of making sure we adhered to our parents’ rules when they weren’t around. It was an impossible assignment. No seventeen-year-old sister will be able to control three younger brothers ages 12, 11 and 9, who are by age and inclination defiant of all authority.

Being the oldest, I was the leader of most rebellions, although my two brothers could always come up with something if I ran out of ideas. I never did these with the intention of being defiant. They just turned out to be contrary in nature to the standing rules of the day.

True to form I led the way into the forbidden area along the cliff face above the foaming river, my feet moving tentatively along the four-inch rock ledge, my fingertips clinging to imperceptible handholds above my head or taking hold of an occasional vine that hung down from the giant trees of the rain forest high above. My brothers, in true rebellious loyalty, followed close behind sliding their feet cautiously along the ledge, putting their hands up to take hold where my fingers had been.

My sister followed along last saying, “Paul, stop it. Come back right now. This is dangerous. You know you’re not supposed to do this. Come back right now.” But she followed along, even though she didn’t want to, because we were her responsibility.

The sheer rock wall suddenly came to an end with the continuation of it back about three feet. I don’t know how many centuries ago the earth had trembled causing the break in that cliff, but it had once been part of that same rock face above the river.

How disappointing. I could go no further. I could no longer defy my older sister’s orders to stop. EXCEPT! There it was. A vine hanging down from a rain forest trees a hundred feet above. By stretching forward as far as I could I was just able to grab it.

I had never seen a Tarzan movie or heard of Tarzan, but any kid that has seen a rope hanging from a tree limb exactly what it is for and how to use it. I tested the vine, yanking on and finally put all my weight on it. It held. It would work. With all the courage of any twelve-year-old, I launched out, swinging wide over the roaring, churning river, bumping against the sheer cliff, my feet finding the little ledge. One hand found a handhold and I let go of the vine.

“Come on,” I shouted to my brothers.

John shook his head.

“Come on. It’s easy, Catch the vine when I throw it back to you,” I shouted above the roar of the river and tried to flick the vine back toward him, but it would not go.

“Paul, you get back here, right now, or I’ll tell Dad.” I heard my sister yelling.

I pretended not to hear. I edged along the face of the cliff, scornful of the brother who would not follow. “Come on, Sissy.”

No response.

“I dare you. I double dare you!”

I moved carefully, mindful of my foot placement and finger holds. Twenty feet later that face just came to an end. There was nothing beyond it. The sheer rock angled backwards with no ledge and no vines I could swing on. I could go no further. Still I felt superior. I had done something my brothers had not done, probably something no other white person had done, maybe even in that vast continent I had gone where no other human had gone before.

I started back. I knew how to do it. I had been that way before. Step by step, handhold-by-handhold, I made my way back to the vine. I tested it again to make sure it would still hold me, and then swinging out over the river I tried to get back to the ledge on the first face. But instead of going back to the first face I was further down on the second.

A vine growing from trees over the second face did not like to be forced to go to a cliff that is farther out and not in its line. No matter how I tried I could not get back. Hanging onto the vine I curled up with my knees tucked under my chin and thrust hard with my leg. I swung out over the water. I stretched out my arm trying to grab the wall, but all I did was scratch my hand. I tried getting right against the break in the wall and with one hand hanging on to the vine while reaching back with the other, but the moment my feet left the ledge I swung further away. I tried hanging on to the vine and reaching to the first face with my foot, but even when my brother bravely caught my foot, I couldn’t pull myself around.

Little by little the truth came to me. I would never get back. I would die on that ledge or fall into the roaring river below to have my body beat against the boulders until what was left of me would be carried to where the river finally flowed gently emptying into a placid lake where the crocodiles would eat what was left of me. There was only one thing left to do and that was to start to cry with fear and frustration.

My brothers and sisters left me then, my sister in the lead. They were leaving me to die all alone. I clung to the cliff face, forgetting about the vine. There was no one there to catch me even if I was able to swing around to the other face. And then above the roar of the river I heard my sister say, “The others went to get Dad.”

With my face against the cliff I couldn’t see her, but she kept talking to me. No, not talking, shouting to be heard above the thunder of the river. “Dad will be here soon.”

I expected her to say, “I told you not to go there,” but she didn’t, just kept shouting encouragement to me until I finally heard the words, “Daddy’s here.”

There was a quiet for a while as she went back to make way for him to get to me, quiet except for the thundering of the water. I was still crying with fear and I can’t say I was overwhelmed with expectation. I was glad that he would soon be there, but what could he do? He was my father, not Uncle Eddie. Yet when I heard the voice say, “How are you doing, Son?” the tears just seemed to stop. I didn’t really answer him, just nodded my head a little.

“I’ll be right there,” he said and what little I had seen of his face disappeared behind the rock edge. I can’t say I was filled with joyous confidence that I would be rescued. In fact there was even a slight fear that we might both be on that ledge for the rest of our lives. What could he do?

His booted foot was the first thing I saw easing around the edge of the first face. And then half his body and head was visible and he said, “Move along a little, Son, and make room for me next to you.”

I slid one foot along the ledge, fingertips holding on, getting out of his way, and he just sort of slid around the edge of the first face, no flamboyant swinging out over the turbulent river. He was hanging on to a vine that naturally hung along the first face. There he was, hanging onto his vine, his legs straight in front of him pushing his body away from the rock.

He smiled at me and said, “I tested this with both John and me hanging from it so it should be able to hold us both.”

I smiled back, but I didn’t particularly like the “it should” part. Nevertheless, I really was beginning to feel that everything would be all right, especially since natives were beginning to gather on the rocks on the other side of the river to watch the rescue.

“Now, you’re going to have to hang on to me, Son. I can’t hold you. I have to hang on to the vine. So I want you to do exactly as I tell you, when I tell you.”

Maybe for the first time in my life there was no resentment or defiance at the thought of doing exactly what I was told.

“I’m going to swing my right leg around you now.”

With my face to the wall I felt the leg slide past me and then my father’s ankle pressed against my waist. He lowered his legs then until his weight pressed me against the wall.

“OK. Now let go with your left hand and put your arm around my neck.”

I had to twist and lean to one side in order to do it. My left foot left the ledge and I was held in place with just my right foot and right hand hanging onto the wall and the pressure of my dad’s body pinning me to the wall.

“Good. Good. Now put the other arm around my neck and hold on.”

I did as I was told. Doing that my right foot left the ledge and I hung onto him desperately, my arms clutching his neck. Clinging to him I saw the rope that was tied around his waist that ran back the way he had come and I suddenly knew I was safe.

“I’m going to bring my legs up between yours,” he said.

One leg at a time he moved them inside mine.

“Now put your legs around my waist.”

Hanging onto the vine he slowly started walking up the wall until his legs were straight out so that I was sitting in his lap, my ankles clinging to each other behind his back.

There we were hanging out over the water, my body clinging to his, my head pressed against his. I could feel the stubble of his two-day, vacation, growth of beard.

I felt his knees bend up behind me. He shouted something. I don’t know what it was he said and then he pushed powerfully away. We swung out over the river, the natural pull of the vine tending to drift us toward safety while the natives, back at a place of safety, pulled on the rope attached to my father.

We landed safely on the first face. I clung to my dad as he stepping side to side, carried met to the top of flat boulder where all the missionaries were waiting. Old Dad Stauffacher gave me a look the clearly said, “How could you be so dumb?”

My mother put her arms around me, hugged me tight, and said, “You could have been killed. If you ever try anything like that again, I’ll kill you.”

We walked back single file along the path that led from the river, between the boulders and ferns that grew higher than my head. I expected that when we go back to the house my father would have his discussion with me and then administer the razor strop, which I considered my just deserts for my action.

The discussion never came. Others talked about that incident, but my father never did.

Some years later my father had what the doctor called, “a complete nervous breakdown.” I didn’t know what it was then, and I don’t know what it is now. I’m sure medical science has some more up-to-date explanation. I just knew my father was very sick. I could see it in him and my mother had told us he was very sick. But, once while talking to the doctor I heard my mother say, “He’s just afraid of everything. He’s even afraid of the children.”

I wanted to shout, “No, he’s not afraid of anything.” But I had been raised not to interrupt the adults when they were talking.

As time went on I came to know that Uncle Eddie might have been a renowned hunter, was probably an adequate man and maybe even a good missionary, but he could never compare to my dad.

In this life, it is not the Uncle Eddies that are going to get us out of the messes we get ourselves into, but those that love us as only a Father does.


Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99. The Telephone Killer is also available as an audiobook.

Another new novel of mine, Murder Sets Sail, will be coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.
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Filed under fiction, Paul J. Stam, writing