The passing of Arthur

It is evening and Arthur walks his rounds in his camp, speaking to each man with a friendly jest here, a smile there, comforting one, urging another he can bear up well. Then Arthur, king of the Britons, returns to his fire and warms his hands. His squire gives him a spit of meat. Arthur bites into the meat. It is tasty, roasted as he likes it. As he sits there, he realizes that he is a king without a country.

Soon, maybe tomorrow, he will join his friends and his family in the west where men sit by the hearth and tell their tales of great deeds. Tonight he thinks of what might have been. He thinks of how he failed all those who believed in him. He thinks of his two closest friends, Guinevere and Lancelot du Lake, and how they failed him. They didn’t fail him. Can those you love and those who love you ever fail? He failed them. Thinking upon these things, he drops off to sleep.

It is a night of fitful dreams, tossing and turning. He rises before dawn. He calls his squire, Richard, out of his sleep.

“Yes, sire?” the squire asks.

“It is time to ready for battle this one last time.”

The squire suits up his master and king. As he looks into Arthur’s eyes, he sees loss. When the king is completely suited in his armor and ready for the battle ahead, he turns to his squire.

“Boy,” the king says.

“Majesty?” the squire says.

“Kneel,” the king says.

The boy kneels. The king raises his sword and taps the squire on each of his shoulders.

“I dub thee knight,” King Arthur says, warmth in his voice. “Rise, Sir Richard Bonnesworth.”

The newly knighted rises.

“Today you will ride forth,” his king tells him, “from these battlements and tell the land of the great things you have seen. Never let the dream of Camelot, the dream of Justice and Compassion for all who are Weak, die. That is your charge. Now go.”

Then it is over. Arthur defeats Mordred. Arthur receives a mortal wound.

It was a marvelous dream, Camelot. And now we enter into the dark times. The long shadows at the end of the day are upon us. Who will hold back the night? Camelot and Joyous Gard are in flames. Arthur stands, watching the work of Mordred and his henchmen. Lancelot is dead and Guinevere has gone away to a convent. It is the time of the waning of the west. Arthur’s dream of being a just king has died.

The king is heavy with grief. How did it come to this? Where was Merlin when he needed the wizard most?

**********

We all know how Arthur passed into the West, how he was accompanied by three Queens, how Guinevere returned Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake. As Arthur sailed to the healing lands of the West, the evening set into the horizon. Soon there was the long darkness. But dawn would return.

As it has so many times before. With the defeat of Hitler and the Nazis, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, with the release of Nelson Mandela, with the shaking of the hands of Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin. The sun shall rise in the East and the day shall come again.

As Merlin once told Arthur, you can never determine the outcome of things. But, if you live with a pure heart, the dawn shall always bring in a new sun and the light shall return for a new day.  So do not despair.

Arthur sent forth his messenger to bring hope to all those who are dispossessed and might despair. That they know that hope is alive, that the King has not forgotten them. Arthur will return from the West and the days of Camelot shall be upon us again.

As it was written, so it shall be.

Ballerinas

This is Uncle Bardie’s Stories & Such 600th Post!
Hooray.
Only 999,999 Posts to go.

Ballerinas are always lovely. Guess that’s because they are ballerinas. In those dresses with those graceful moves. At what cost? I’m told they do things that the body was never supposed to do. That’s because they are ballerinas. Giving the music a physical substance. Making the music alive with their toes and their legs and their arms and their complete bodies. Sailing across the floor as if the floor was water. A calmness at first. Then their bodies turn the water into a sea and then a sea of storms. Faster and faster they move. Their whole bodies telling a story. These dancers creating magic with their bodies as if they were magicians. Their arms rising and falling. Then the sea calms. The dancers make for shore and become beach bathers as they fall on the floor, returning to what has changed from water to a wooden stage. Ballerinas are always lovely.

My Stuff Writing Challenge

I don’t usually do writing challenges. But, then again, who can resist a challenge from Greg at Almost Iowa. That’s the very Greg who keeps posting about the fiendish Stan. Yes, that Greg. Greg’s challenge: Look around me and see an object and write a flash piece about it. So here goes:

The lamp’s name is Irving. I am not sure how he came up with that name. He tells me his mother at the Ikea factory gave it to him. I don’t believe him. He has told more fibs than can be counted in a month of Sundays.

Ever since we moved into this house, Irving seems to have a hiccup problem. I keep asking what the problem is. He keeps replying that he’s hungry. It’s getting to the point that I am going broke supplying him light bulbs. I even gave him one of those new fangled LED lights. He keeps saying, “More, more, more.”

I do like Irving. He was given to me when I was in college. Getting rid of Irving would be like getting rid of a pet. I would never ever get rid of Rover or Kitty. My wife keeps saying that I should just get rid of him. I keep threatening him but he just won’t listen. What am I to do?

Then I hear a voice coming from Irving. It is not Irving. Irving has a high pitched voice. This one sounds very low pitched in the bass range. All of a sudden Irving’s lampshade is spinning. It’s getting out of control. The voice is laughing. It’s telling me that it wants my soul.

Can somebody help me? Can somebody suggest an exorcist for a lamp?

A Thursday Special: Short Stories

There are a lot of novel recommends out here in the blogosphere but very few short story recommends. So I thought I would remedy that.

I love short stories. I love to read them, and I love to write them. For me, there’s nothing like finding a good short story. So here’s sixteen absolutely perfect short stories. Some are well-known, a few not-as-well-known.

If I were building an anthology of short stories, these would be the ones I would choose. Each I have read at least ten times. Some more. So, if you are looking for a quick read, here are some suggestions. Enjoy.

1.       Silent Snow, Secret Snow by Conrad Aiken
2.       Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin
3.       An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce
4.       Killings by Andre Dubus
5.       Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway
6.       The Last Leaf by O. Henry
7.       The Dead by James Joyce
8.       A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri
9.       To Build a Fire by Jack London
10.   Walker Brothers Cowboy by Alice Munro
11.   The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
12.   I Stand Here Ironing by Tillie Olsen
13.   The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe
14.   A Perfect Day for Bananafish by J. D. Salinger
15.   After Rain by William Trevor
16.   A & P by John Updike

Police Brutality

It had been a long night for Jesus. First the Passover meal, then the praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, then a nice stroll around the Garden. Just as He was about to leave the Garden, this cop showed up.

“Gee, I was just out taking a walk,” Jesus said to the Roman cop.

“Don’t you know that this is a white rich guy neighborhood?” the cop said to Jesus.

“Isn’t it a free country?” Jesus said.

“Not for your kind,” the cop said to Jesus. “So are you going to go peacefully or are we going to call in the SWAT team for you and your boys over there?”

“You can’t do this,” Jesus said. “I know my rights.”

“Look, Buddy, the only right you got is to move along. If you don’t, we’re taking you to jail.”

“But—“ Jesus said

“Okay, Buddy,” the cop said and grabbed Jesus’ arm. “It’s jail for you.”

Jesus felt his sandal fall off. He went down to slip it back on. The cop pulled out his revolver and slammed Jesus over the head. “Hey, guys,” the cop shouted. “Resisting arrest.”