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.

The Blue-Haired Boys

I sat in the apartment of Mr. Shyrlick Humes, watching the Great Detective admire himself. How did I know he was the Great Detective? He had business cards printed to prove it. As a reminder to me, he showed me his card every time I came to visit him in his boudoir.

I know the word “boudoir” applies to a woman’s private quarters. Unfortunately Humes insisted on calling his apartment his boudoir. When I objected, he said, “Tut, tut, tut. Now, D. R., one mustn’t abuse the language, you know. The word for my quarters is boudoir.”

Why did he call me D. R.? you ask. That too was a misunderstanding I had given up correcting. I have on my card “Dr. Henry Wotsun”. He mistook the Dr. for D. R.

“My dear fellow,” I would retort, “I think not. I think the OED is quite clear on the definition of the word ‘boudoir’.”

“I have taken up the matter with the Word Committee at OED. They assured me they will make the correction with the next edition. Until then, old chap, you will have to take my word for it, will you not?”

“Of course,” I answered, resigned to the absurdity.

Why did I choose to join Mr. Humes in his “boudoir”? It was a good way to while away the afternoon. I needed entertainment after a long morning of patient after patient wanting their buns tucked, their breasts syliconized, their lips botoxed. One more pouty mouth and I swear. Well, you get the photograph.

So there I was, observing Humes admire himself in the mirror for a good fifteen minutes. It was such amusement to watch him stroke his chin and make faces, then turn to his left side and give his face the eye. Then it was to the right and more eye. Finally it was a full face. He turned to me and asked, “I need your professional opinion on my appearance.” I am a plastic surgeon so I do have a certain expertise in these matters.

“Yes.” I knew that I should tred lightly in supplying an opinion on such a delicate matter as Mr. Humes’ face.

“I am thinking of having my hair dyed. What say you, old fellow?”

I was flabbergasted. “You have such a marvelous head of black hair. Why would you want to do such a villainous act?”

“I want to die my hair blue. What say you, old chap?”

“This is madness.”

“Will you do it?” he pressed.

There was no convincing my friend once he set his mind on a thing. What choice did I have? “Yes, I will.”

Humes grabbed me and hugged me and raised me in the air, then spinning the two us around and around. Finally his enthusiasm exhausted itself and he dropped me of us to the floor.

“I will,” I said, “if you will share with me the reason.”

He looked at me with a deadly seriousness. “I am joining The Blue-Haired Boys.”

“The Blue-Haired Boys? No, Humes, you can’t. I won’t have it.”

“You have no choice.”

He was right. I had no choice.

“Why?” I asked. The Blue-Haired Boys were the most dangerous gang of thugs in London.

“I have been invited to join. I will have you know. And join I shall.”

“But why would you want to join that gang of thugs?” Every crime in the city of London since The Great War could one way or another be traced to the Blue-Haired Boys. That was what the newspapers said. That was what the police said.

“Now, now, now,” Homes said. “Their reputation is simply a matter of bad public relations. Which I shall rectify once I am a member in good standing.”

Finally I agreed to the dying of Humes’ beautiful hair. I gave him the full body treatment. Not one hair on his chinny-chin-chin would be another color. All the while thinking that once you’re true blue, you cannot return to your former tincture.

Several days later I visited Humes in his “boudoir”. Once again, he stood before the mirror. Once again he admired himself quite extensively.

Finally, he said to me in his cheerful way, “Well, D. R., I am off to the races. The game is indeed afoot.”

“What are you up to, Humes?” I was becoming concerned that my friend might be getting into deep water. I am speaking metaphorically here, of course. What I meant was that he might be getting in over his head.

“The Blue-Haired Boys have accepted me as one of them. I am indeed True Blue, as we say in the trade.”

“So what dastardly path are you about to set out upon?”

“I am bound and determined to show the world what nice fellows my new comrades-in-arms are.”

In the past, I had accompanied Mr. Shyrlick Humes on each and every investigation. I was actually the detective, solving the crimes he received credit for. I liked it that way. It kept me in the shadows in the public’s mind and gave me a certain ability to move about unchallenged. But now Humes had decided to do this one alone. His very life could be in danger. With this in mind, I followed my friend.

He walked to the waterfront and to a certain ship whose name shall be nameless. No use accusing a ship when it may very well be innocent. It was the Blue-Haired Boys headquarters. For many months, I suspected it. Now I had proof. Mr. Shyrlick Humes was taking his blue hair there.

I left the shadows and rushed to the nearest telephone. It was in a pub called the Rotten Smelling Egg. It was a smelly place if ever there was one.

Sergeant Roughed answered the line, “Scotland Yard at your service.”

“This is Wotsun,” I said to the Cop Shop. ” Dr. Henry Wotsun. Give me the Top Cop.”

“Wotsun, sir?”

“It is indeed.”

“And you say you want the Top Cop in the Cop Shop?” As you can see the sergeant was not the brightest bulb in the room. No wonder the Blue-Haired Boys had escaped so many times before. But not this time. I had them and I was not about to let them escape. Besides Humes might be in a bit of the way. His very life could be in danger.

“I do indeed want the Top Cop in the Cop Shop. And get on it chop-chop,” I said, amazed at the slowness of the man’s brain.

“Did I hear you correctly, sir? Did you say that you were about to chop the Top Cop in the Cop Shop? That’s illegal, you know, sir. I will have to report you to my superiors.”

“Look, Pop, hop to it. Chop chop. Get the Top Cop in Cop Shop. And don’t slop, please.” My nerves were beginning to fray. What could I do to convince this dodo bird that my call was serious?

“Well, sir, if you insist,” the other end of the line said.

I looked at my watch. It said fifteen minutes till seven. Soon it would be six forty-five and the Blue-Haired Boys would be getting away.

The other end of the phone finally said, “Detective Scheister. May I help you.”

I related my story. Before you know, a battalion of London bobbies had arrived and arrested the world famous criminal, Blue Berry Pi, and his gang of Blue-Haired Boys.

And, of course, Mr. Shyrlick Humes got all the credit. But that is the way I want it. It is the way of we incognitos.

Uncle Bardie’s World Famous School of Celebritology

BE FAMOUS FOR BEING FAMOUS

Have you wanted the red carpet thrown out for you? Do you have an inner urge to make heads spin wherever you go? Do you think that your inner Kim Kardashian hasn’t had a chance to shine? Well, guess what?

Uncle Bardie has News for you. He has decided to bring back his School of Celebritology. Over the years, there have been so many graduates, who became world class celebrities, Uncle Bardie can’t name them. If he left one out, that person might feel slighted. Besides they have confidentiality agreements. Just take Uncle Bardie’s word for it. There have been many.

QUALIFICATIONS

Do you need to be talented? Absolutely not. In fact, talent could very well be your worst enemy to becoming a successful celebrity. Do you need to be rich? No, you do not. You could very well have learned all the wrong things if you grew up rich.

So what qualifications do you need to attend Uncle Bardie’s World Famous School of Celebritology. None really. In fact, any qualification you might have could very well be a detriment.

WHAT YOU GET

All you need is fifty grand to attend. Then a degree from Uncle Bardie’s World Famous School of Celebritology will open doors. You’ll be on the late shows. You’ll be on the tabloid news. You might even make it to Saturday Night Live.

With that degree comes a Money Back Guarantee. You will get your Fifteen Minutes of Fame or you will get your money back. What you do with that fame is up to you. We can’t promise you more than your nine hundred seconds. But most of our alumni have taken their Fifteen Minutes and run with it. Only you can make it happen. But You Can Make It Happen.

COURSES

Here are some of the Courses you will take.

Paparazzi 101. Taught by Mr. Paparazzi himself.

How Not To Be Invisible 101. Taught by Mrs. Show Offy. It’s how she got her husband.

How to Make the Right Connections. Taught by Shirley Congeniality.

What To Wear And When To Wear It–And When Not Wear Anything. Taught by Lady Godiva.

How To Be The Center of Attention. (How Not To Be Invisible 201). Taught by Mister Ostentatious.

How To Appear Rich, No Matter How Poor You Are. Taught by W. More-Money-Than-God

Interview 101: How to be interviewed and say absolutely nothing. Taught by the Interview Meister.

How To Comb Your Hair In Public. Taught by Mister Comb.

How To Get “It”. Taught by It.

As you progress through these courses, you will get opportunities to meet the Famous, the Not-so Famous and the Used-to-be Famous.

Uncle Bardie’s School of Celebritology School Song

Plus you could be one of those chosen to join Uncle Bardie’s School of Celebritology Chorale. Then you will get to sing our School Song at all kinds of events and award ceremonies.

Chorus:

Join us at Uncle Bardie’s
School of Celebritology
Soon you will have a Master
Degree in Super Star-ology

1.You won’t have to be talented
You don’t have to be good
You can be trailer trash
Or an old chunk of wood

2.Anything is possible
If you think you can
Just look at Forrest Gump
And the walk that he ran

3.You don’t have to have brains
The less you have the better
Just look at the Scarecrow
He’s wearing the O-Z letters

4.You will go anywhere
And stand out in that crowd
Your fans will ooh and ahh
You will be the Big Wow.

So give us a call at Uncle Bardie’s School of Celebritology. The first one hundred to call will get a tote bag, proclaiming you as THE WORLD’S GREATEST CELEBRITY. Before you know it, there’ll be no holding you back. You’ll be celebritocious.

A Perfect Life of Sevens

Another pickin’ and grinnin’ lyric.

Seven bridges under a blue sky
Seven days till tomorrow
Seven angels to watch over us
Seven roses ’bout to grow

Seven wishes hidden in a well
Seven faeries left last May
Seven dancers and their seven songs
Seven guitarristas play.

Every day, every night
As we rise for flight
Our dreams lift us on our way

Above the blues and greens
And the colors in between
We fly along our way

Seven stones ripple ‘cross the water
Seven stars kiss the moon
Seven stories needing to be told
Some come later, some come soon

Seven winters and their snowy fields
Seven summers almost heaven
Seven autumns and seven springs
Just a perfect life of sevens.

Every day, every night
As we rise for flight
Our dreams lift us on our way

Above the blues and greens
And the colors in between
We fly along our way.

A Case of the Pauls

They were like bookends, the two Pauls. One on each end of my block.

Paul A. was a sixteen-year-old kid who lived with his single mother, Phyllis, in the red brick, two-bedroom house. This Paul never smiled. He wore a sullen look on his face like it was a suit of armor, his clothes rumpled as if no one in the house knew how to care for clothes. Not him. Not his mother. Most of the time he seemed angry. I called him Dark Paul.

Paul S. was at the other end of the block. He lived with both his parents and his three sisters in a two-story white house with a well trimmed lawn and a white picket fence. A curly blonde-haired kid, always smiling, eyes bluer than the sky on a clear blue sky day. A yes-sir or no-sir when I threw a question at him. Like playing catch with the kid, only with questions. Real polite, and likeable as the day is long. I referred to him as Light Paul.

Needless to say, the two Pauls did not run with each other. Paul A. was as much of a loner as anybody I have known in my seventy years. Only a couple of times did I see him with some boys. They had thug written all over them. Paul S. lived in a world where everybody was his friend.

Now the Good Book says, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” I try to follow that old saw best I can. It was hard though. If Paul A. passed my house, I would give the boy a smile and a good day. All he did was grunt and move on in a hurry like he had someplace to go. When Paul S. went by, he had a howdy for me and a song on his lips about how wonderful the world was.

It was a hot summer day. An August day I believe. My air conditioner had gone out early that morning. It would be the next afternoon before a technician came over to check it out. It was ninety degrees outside, eighty-five inside and getting hotter. I had the windows open for what there was of a breeze and sat in my living room with the overhead fan on.

I went out to the kitchen and stuck my head in the freezer to cool off. How refreshing that was. I was giving a good amount of thought to running myself a cold bath and soaking. Then I thought that maybe I should drive down to the senior citizens’ center. Thing was that they closed at six and I would have to come back to the house and sweat.

Oh, what the hey. I’d gotten way to use to living with all these modern conveniences. Why when I was a kid, we had no air conditioner. And there’d been times when the weather was hotter than this. So what was it with this doing without. “C’mon, man up,” I said to myself. “You’ve gotten too too soft.”

I walked out on the back porch and grabbed the cat’s water bowl. Friskers was thirsty so I took it inside and filled it, then back to the porch. I looked out in the back yard. Not a bird in sight. Even the birds were not happy about the heat.

There was a breeze on the back porch. Looked like we had some rain on its way. Then we’d get more humidity and that would make the heat sticky. For the moment I settled into my lawn chair with a glass of ice tea. Before I knew it, I was dozing off.

I woke to a crash. Coming from inside the house. Had I let Friskers inside? Sneaky cat. He always got past me. I headed inside.

“Friskers, what are you in to now?”

I walked into the living room. Before me stood one of Paul A’s thuggish friends.

“Now hold on here,” I challenged him. “What are you doing in my house?” He was bringing out the former cop in me. How dare this punk come into my house uninvited.

I turned and made for the kitchen. Before I could get to the drawer and my .38, this punk had his arms wrapped around me in a bear hug. He threw me to the ground and said, “Oh, no you don’t.”

Another beefier thug came out from my bedroom, rifling through my wallet. “Just a few bucks in here,” he said to his partner.

“You bastards,” I yelled, crumpled up on the floor. “Get the hell out of my house.”

The bear hugger kicked me in the gut. I went fetal, grasping my stomach.

“Find anything else?” hugger asked.

“Just a couple of rings and some credit cards.”

“Take them and let’s get out of here before this old codger recuperates.” Hugger kicked me again. It felt like he had broken my arm.

Beefy headed for the door. But he didn’t go no further. Before him stood Light Paul. “What the hell are you guys doing?” he demanded. Then he came through the door like he was a bull running down its prey. He hit the hugger in the gut with his fist and went to do it again. Beefy’s fist came down hard on his head.

Both Beefy and Hugger went through the front door, then I heard a noise like a two-by-four splitting. “I told you no. Leave Mr. Williams alone. But you didn’t listen.” It was the dark Paul’s voice.

Light Paul picked himself up. Dark Paul yelled, “Call the cops.”

When the police arrived, Dark Paul had scooted away, melting into the night as if he had never been there. Light Paul told them what had happened, took credit for my rescue. As the paramedics loaded me into the ambulance, he said to me, “Paul told me not to tell about him and so I’m not.”

Several days later, the nurse brought me home. As she walked me out of the car and into the house, I saw the two Pauls. watching from across the street, smiling. It seemed that the light Paul was now a little darker and the dark Paul a little lighter.

A Book for Writers

CaptureOnly occasionally do I post a piece on writing. And writers. When I do, it is something I feel can be useful to my fellow writers. I try to avoid repeating insights you can find on other blogs. With this in mind, today I’d like to recommend What We See When We Read by Peter Mdndelsund, art director and book designer at Alfred A. Knopf.

It answers so many questions I have had about description over the years. What to leave out and what to put in. Insights into how a writer should describe a character. How much of that description a reader will remember.

He interviewed readers of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, asking them to describe Anna. You will find the responses very interesting. Throughout the book, he refers to a number of great writers besides Tolstoy and how they have used description. Writers such as Charles Dickens, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Kafka, Herman Melville and Gustave Flaubert.

Here are some of the writerly insights I found in the book:

1.Build the opening sentence solely from verbs. Make the verbs matter in the opening paragraph.

2.Focus on what the character does and how they do it, not how they look.

3.Different actors can inhibit a role in a play. and we accept those performances as true to the role. See how many actors have performed Hamlet. That’s because Shakespeare didn’t spend a lot of time describing Hamlet.

4.We hear more than we see when we are reading. So use appropriate sounding words to create a rhythm to a paragraph.

5.If the reader has to keep going back and re-reading a section because they are confused, the writer has lost the reader.

6.Describe a character or setting the way a character experiences them through their senses.

7.Show the world through the character’s eyes, not through the author’s.

8.When using a detail to describe a setting or a character, make it memorable and important. Then repeat it. Tolstoy mentions Anna Karenina’s “slender hands.” We remember Cyrano as big nosed. “Which aspect of a character is chosen to represent the character is crucial.” (p.394)

9.Don’t tell the reader everything. Give the reader a chance to use their imagination.

10.When using detailed description, make sure this matters. Such as showing what’s in a character’s closet or in their refrigeration. This probably isn’t needed unless the writer wants to reveal the character’s obsession with clothes or food. For instance, a writer might want to describe a character’s bathtub because the character obsesses over cleanliness.

11.When the writer creates a character, they are creating a world.

Note: I am in no way associated with this writer or his publisher. I have not received a book to review.