About Don Royster

Don Royster has spent many lifetimes accumulating adventures from a multitude of galaxies. Some of his magic carpet rides have taken him to Japan, the Phillippines, and Texas. Gifted with an insatiable curiosity, a love for creativity and a strange sense of humor, he has been a student, and still is, of everything from A to Zen and back again. Along the way he has written poems, stories and novels about his many adventures and travels. His latest adventure is the blog, Uncle Bardie's Stories & Such.

Paris

I’ve had my mind on Paris lately. And not just any Paris but The Paris in France. You see, I am writing a novel. My protagonist is an artist who travels to Paris to study art. This lyric came out of that.

Let’s go, let’s go to Paris
Adam said to Eve
One bite of the apple
Now we have to leave

We’ll see the hanging gardens
In old Babylon
We’ll pray, facing Mecca
And Jerusalem

We’ll climb to the mountain peak
Mount Fujiyama
We’ll sit at the feet of
The great stone Buddah

The pyramids and the sphinx
And we’ll ride the Nile
‘Round the stones of Stonehenge
Dance for earth and isles.

We will wash our bodies clean
In River Ganges
Over Machu Picchu
For us a sun rise

And we’ll sample the pastry
That is the City
Of light, style and perfume
And l’amour Paree

On a Sunday afternoon
Bread and cheese and wine
On the banks of the Seine
And chocolat sublime

We’ll tour the Eiffel Tower
And Mona Lisa smiles
As we eat ratatouille
And stroll Parisian style

Visit the Sorbonne and Versailles
The Left Bank and the Right
The culture and the fashion
And lovely Paris at night.

Lost and Found

Supper was over and the dishes done. More out of boredom than anything else, I decided our black and brown German Shepherd needed a walk. I kissed my wife and said, “I’m taking Ranger for a walk.”

She looked up at me from her comfortable chair. “Ranger will like that.” She returned to her television program. Then she joked, “If you see Jesus, tell him I said hi.”

I laughed. Beth wasn’t religious. She found humor in the religiosity of people she knew.

I grabbed a sweater, then said, “Ranger, c’mon.” He jumped from the couch and followed me outside into the nippy night air. I pulled on the sweater and attached a leash to the dog’s collar. Ranger and I headed for the street.

Several blocks later the dog indicated he wanted to go into the empty field. If Ranger indicated he wanted to do something, I’d best do it. Or have a darn good reason not to. So I allowed myself to be pulled along after him.

Our German shepherd strained forward across the field. With the lease, I commanded the dog to stop. He stopped and I undid the lease. Then he was off into the woods nearby. I followed him into the trees. He disappeared and went off to do his business. I sat down on a log and waited for him to return. The tree canvas blocked the stars. Only a slight bit of moonlight made it through the leaves and branches.

Ranger reappeared in the clearing and came over to me, barking. I stood up, not knowing what to make of the dog. His mouth grabbed my hand, not biting, but secure around it. He pulled, then dropped my hand and turned and went back deeper into the woods. I made my way after him, then he stopped, sat on his hind legs and barked twice.

I saw what the dog saw. A baby in a basket and bundled to keep warm. It appeared to be asleep. But it wasn’t. It was unconscious. All pale. I checked its little pulse and felt barely a beat. But there was still a beat.

I grabbed the basket and ran, Ranger ahead of me. Almost stumbling several times, I reached the house. The dog had aroused my wife, and she was standing on the porch.

I handed the basket to Beth. “It’s still alive,” I went inside and got the keys to the car, then I told Ranger to stay indoors and watch over things the way he always did. He took his place on the couch. I came back out and she handed me the basket. “I have to get my jacket.” She threw the jacket over her nightgown and joined me as I was warming up the car.

On the way to the hospital, she kept saying, “Hurry. Hurry.” I was driving as fast as I could on the dark streets and then out onto the main thoroughfare. A cop pulled up behind me, lights flashing. I did not stop. I did not dare stop. “Is the baby still breathing?” I asked. “Yes,” she said, “but hurry.” A second police car pulled up behind the first as I turned into the hospital and pulled up to the emergency room and came to a halt. She jumped out of the car with the basket. The baby started screaming. Then Beth was inside.

A cop ran after her. Two other cops pulled me out of the car and threw me on the ground, face down. I heard a muffled “You’re under arrest” as they cuffed my hands behind me. Then “Stay there and don’t move.” The other cop, the one who had followed Beth into the emergency room, pushed her outside. Her hands were cuffed behind her.

A cop lifted me off the ground and threw me into the back seat of the police car beside my wife. A nurse and a doctor came out of the emergency room door and walked up to one of the men in blue.

“Who’s in charge here?” the doctor in his white coat demanded.

One of the three cops stepped up to the doctor. “Sgt Henry, sir.”

“Let them go,” the doctor almost shouted.

“What?” Henry said, looking like he was about to arrest the doctor.

“I have some questions for them. I’m Doctor Joe Samuels and I am the super for the E. R. Uncuff them and bring them inside.”

Henry signaled for one of his officers to pull us out of the car. He pushed us both into the hospital and sat us down. My wife and I were keeping quiet. Neither of us wanted to make matters worse and get anyone hurt. I could feel one of the cops behind me. The sergeant and the other cop took their places by the emergency room door and watched us.

Then Beth asked, tears in her voice, “How’s the baby?”

“We don’t know,” Dr. Samuels said. “Tell me what happened.”

“I found the baby in the woods close to our house. It didn’t appear to be conscious but it was still breathing. That’s why we rushed here.”

We explained the whole incident to the sergeant and the doctor, Beth interrupting me, me interrupting her. The sergeant uncuffed us.

“We’ll need your information,” Henry said. “But, due to the circumstances, I think any charges will be dropped. No one was hurt. Just a little of everybody’s pride.” Then he said to one of the other two cops, “I want you to take Mr. Wayne here back to where he found the baby.”

“Yessir.”

I showed the two cops the spot where the child had been left. They called for a detective. Once the detective arrived and took my story, the cops dropped me off at the hospital. Beth was being interviewed by the local news.

Several hours later, Doctor Samuels came out to let us know the baby was sleeping, recuperating. “It’s going to take a lot of care but I think the baby will survive. At least, we can hope.”

“Can you show us the baby?” Beth asked.

We stood and looked through the glass, our arms around each other. The child had needles in its arms attached to feeding tubes. It seemed to be resting. My wife asked the doctor, “Who would leave a baby to starve like that?”

“I don’t know. I can’t imagine.”

“So what happens next?” I asked.

“Social services.”

My wife looked up at me and her arm squeezed me. Since we had no children of our own, she was thinking adoption.”Perhaps…we can call her Nicole.”

I said, “I think Ranger will like that name.”

Did Alfred Hitchcock have erotic dreams about Grace Kelly?

The Director’s wife of twenty years and more was not happy. She had gone onto the set of “Rear Window” for several times and each time, she caught Hitch eyeing his female star more than he normally eyed his female stars. It looked to her like there was love in his eyes. Then again, perhaps it was lust. But lust was not threatening. Alma could deal with lust.

As long as she’d known her husband, Alma knew that Hitch had a thing for blondes. But this was different. This Grace Kelly was becoming a fetish and Alma was concerned. She thought about this concern quite a lot for the next several weeks, several weeks when her beloved Hitch didn’t speak to her. He came home from viewing the rushes and grunted his way through supper, then showered and went off to bed.

What was she to do? she wondered. She had never been challenged for Hitch’s affections this way before. She began to lose sleep. She lost her appetite. Her hair started falling out. If this continued, she would end up as bald as Hitch.

The next time she went to the set, several of the cast approached her and complained about how long the movie was taking. Even James Stewart, always a gentleman and an actor Alma considered extremely nice, even James Stewart yelled at her. But Hitch kept delaying, demanding more and more shots, especially of the blonde actress.

Pretty soon Alma was spending more time alone. She had always enjoyed visiting Hitch’s sets. But now it was either stay away or bite her fingers off out of nervous frustration.

Then she saw it. It was just a little item in the newspaper. Not much of a thing at all. Some little showboat of a prince was coming to town. He had promised one of the local charities that he’d make an appearance for them.

Maybe. Yes, maybe. He was single after all. It was just then that she remembered Grace humming “Some day my prince will come” several times on the set.

Alma called up the actress’ press agent and told him how well she thought Grace was doing with the movie. “She might even get an Oscar for this one,” Alma said. “It’s her best work so far.” Then, just before she hung up, she let it drop. Perhaps it would be good p.r. for Grace and the film if she was seen with this prince. Hollywood royalty and real royalty, that would be the headline. And it would raise money for charity, which was something Hollywood always saw as a good thing.

Well, as you know, the rest is history. Grace and that prince were married and lived magically happily ever after.

But poor Hitch. He never quite recuperated. Sure, there was Eva Marie Saint and Doris Day and Kim Novak and Tippi Hedrun and Janet Leigh. But none were Grace Kelly.

For years, Alma wondered what it was about Grace that hit Hitch so hard. Why had Hitch broken her heart over a Hollywood starlet who would break his heart?

Then, in his eighties, Hitch became ill and passed into a coma. Only once did he wake up. As he lay there, staring at the ceiling, Alma begged, “Why Hitch? Why Grace Kelly?” Hitch did not answer.

Then, days later, as he was getting ready to pass on to that movie studio in the sky, he whispered one final word and died. The word he spoke softly into Alma’s ear was “MacGuffin.”

Fish-ing

Two men on a boat, fishing. The two have been friends for twenty years. It’s early morning of an autumn day, a breeze in the air. Perfect for being on the river.

“Have you thought much about dying?” the priest asks. He has a white head of hair and a little paunch around the belly.

“Of course. It’s on my bucket list,” Tom says from his side of the boat. Tom’s in his mid-forties but looks younger. Life has treated him well.

“Sounds like you think death will be a vacation,” Father John says.

“Pretty much. It gives me something to look forward to.”

“Don’t you have any fear of what comes after?” Father John casts his line. The line splashes into the water.

“Not really.” Tom reaches for the can of worms. “I’ve never gone in much for all the hand-wringing about the afterlife. Seems to me that is what you’re for. Me, I like the anticipation.”

“What I’m for?” The priest studies the water.

“Yes.” Tom finishes baiting his hook.

“I am no expert.” The ripples have stopped and the water is calm.

“I sure am not. Why did you ask anyway?” Tom casts his line into the water.

“Lately I’ve been thinking about it more. I’ve had an awful lot of funerals to conduct this year.”

“Oh, yeah.” Tom thinks he has a bite on his hook. He slowly reels the line in.

“It’s become hard to comfort people when they’ve lost someone. I am supposed to have answers and I don’t. All I have is some mumbo jumbo that don’t even make sense to me.”

Tom pulls his hook out of the water. It is empty and the bait is gone. “It may not be mumbo jumbo to them.”

The priest is quiet, then he hums some of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”. After a bit, he speaks, his voice almost a whisper and filled with tears. “When I was seventeen, I lost my sister.”

“I didn’t know. You never told me.” Tom selects another worm for his hook.

“She was only seven. Such a fragile little thing.” Father John remembers. “My mother almost lost it. She’s never been the same since.” He reels in his line, grabs it out of the water. No worm. “You know, I like that Dylan Thomas poem, ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’. I have wondered for years why my sister did not rage against the dying of the light. But she didn’t. That’s when I decided to become a priest.”

Tom casts his line back into the water. “So you could find out why?”

“Not really.” The priest tosses his line into the air. It lands in the water with a splash. “So I could fight the darkness with some light.”

“Have you succeeded?”

“No. The darkness seems to be winning.”

A fish pulls on Tom’s line. He slowly reels him in, handling the line gentle so the fish won’t know he is being hauled in. He pulls the fish out of water and drops it into the boat and next to him.

“Now that is what I call a fish,” Father John says, glad to have his mind off the darkness.

Tom unhooks the fish. He looks over at the priest. “Without a little darkness, there can be no light. That’s what the Tao te ching says. And that is what I try to live by.”

“What?”

“There is some dark and some light in the world. Just like there is some dark and some light in each of us.” Tom takes the fish and tosses it back into the water. “That’s what the fish know.”

The priest looks puzzled.

“The fish know that the worm they see might be on some hook. But they bite anyway. That’s his acceptance of the dark. But he also knows that is the cost of all that time he got to swim in this river. The river is the light. Without the hook, there can be no appreciation for the river he now gets to swim in. So you see. It’s all good. Isn’t that what God said?”

The priest still puzzled. “God said?”

“It was good.”

“You have got to be kidding,” a voice comes from the water.

“What was that?” Tom says.

“What?” Father John asks.

“It was me,” the voice again. Then the fish Tom threw overboard jumps out of the water. “Terence Patrick Michael O’Bass.” He falls back into the river.

Father John can’t not believe his ears. And neither can Tom. “Are you hearing what I’m hearing?” the priest asks. Tom responds, “Yes.”

The two look into the water. There is the fish and he is…how shall we say? Speaking in tongues. And the tongues he’s speaking in are the foulest kind of words.

At that point, Tom protests. “Now hold on, fish.”

“Terence, if you don’t mind,” the fish says.

“Now hold on, Terence,” Tom says. “What in the world are you talking about?”

“Your palaver,” Terence says, jumping out of the water. “It’s the biggest line of baloney I have heard in many a year. First off. We fish do not bite into a worm thinking it might have a hook in it. That’s downright stupid.”

“Oh yeah?” Tom says. Father John nods his head. He can’t believe what he is seeing, hearing. Tom is actually talking to a fish, and the fish is talking back. Unbelievable.

“Get this straight,” Terence says, diving back into the water. He pops up his head. “All we fish want is to be left alone. It’s no darn fun, having a hook in your mouth. You should try it sometime.”

“I didn’t say it was fun,” Tom again.

“It’s bad enough that we fish have to struggle day in and day out to survive. But, on top of that, we have you to contend with. Life is hard enough. Just leave us alone. And you, priest, why are you blubbering over your sister?”

“What?” There is anger in the priest’s voice.

“Do you not believe your sister is in a better place?” Terence asks.

“Yes,”

“Then why are you so sad?”

Father John does not have an answer. Instead the weight of his doubt falls from him. He feels like he can float away into the sky like some cloud,

“And here’s one more thing for you to think about,” Terence says, then jumps out of the water and faces the two men, fish to man. He shoots water into both of their faces, laughs and falls back into the water.

When the two have gotten the water out of their eyes and can see, Terence is nowhere in sight.

Paradox

Everyday’s a little bit shadow
Everyday’s a little dark
And when the night comes
She will break your heart

The river’s always rising
The sun sinks into the sea
On the horizon
Distance is close to me

Forever is a long time
When only a day will do
The road you carry
Is the you that is you

It’s a long winter’s night now
And the snow is on the ground
Soon the world will melt
When spring comes around