Archive for the ‘October 2009’ Category

In October 2009 on October 1, 2009 at 12:02 am

umbrellaPhoto by Lisa Guidarini

Letter From the Editor

The crisp air of fall has inspired many of the pieces in this second edition of the AAWG eZine. Perhaps it is because fall is a great time to go to the movie theater, that we bring you not one, but two screenplays. We introduce you to Gratitude month, happening in November, and give you the heads-up on Guillermo DelToro’s creepy new novel. An idyllic autumn afternoon sets the stage for a tense father-son relationship, and a woman leaves something behind, while chasing a dream. Last, but not least,  because the colder part of the fall will bring about the end of summer’s ubiquitous garage sales, we thought we’d pay tribute. Enjoy!


By Sandra Mytys



Under a light snow French Canadian Trapper ARNAUD LAURET and his son JACOB (15), trudge eagerly towards the trapper shanty ahead. They carry their haul of furs.


(pointing ahead)

There it is! A sight for sore eyes.


Hope there’s wood for a fire.


Left some last time I was here.


Maybe someone used it.


Trappers always leave enough wood for one

fire. Trapper etiquette you might call it.

Suddenly, a strange bright light sears the darkened sky. Startled, they look up to observe a cylindrical object with a bullet-like tip streaking across the sky.  Jacob, dropping his pelts, runs forward.


Dad! What is it!


Never saw anything like it.


Looks like it’s headed towards Lake Anjikuni.

Arnaud stares at the now, empty sky.  He starts forward leaning down to pick up his son’s discarded pelts.


(looking back at his dad)

What do you think it was?


Don’t know…don’t want to know. Let’s get to

the shanty, son. I’m wantin’ a fire real bad.

They continue to the shanty, with Jacob still staring at the dark, empty sky.


Humming a snappy tune, trapper JOE LA BELLE snowshoes steadily towards Lake Anjikuni Village.  He carries a good haul of pelts. Squinting into the darkness, he sees the outline of roughly made houses but sees no light, no smoke coming from the chimneys. It is eerily silent. His jaunty pace slows. As he reaches the edge of the village, he stops, uneasy. He looks desperately for signs of life…but there are none.


(cupping his hands)


His voice echoes hollowly as he waits for an answer in the stillness.


(under his breath)

What the hell…

Shifting the pelts on his shoulder, he arranges his gun in a defensive position as he walks into town.

Passing darkened windows and empty streets he notes snow drifted against doors and rifles crusted with ice leaning abandoned next to them. Joe runs to a shanty sporting a colorful tin beer sign. Dropping the furs, he beats desperately on the door.


Martin! Edna! Open up! It’s Joe.

No answer. He hesitantly opens the door, his rifle at the ready.


The main room is empty. He lights the kerosene lamp on the table. Pots of food hang over cold ashes. Layers of fuzzy mold coats the meat. A book lies open on a cot, while a cup of coffee and partially mended sock lay on the table. There are no signs of struggle. He checks the bedroom. Nothing.

Joe backs uneasily out of the house.


Seeing the dog sleds drifted over with snow he begins calling the huskies.


Swifty, here boy! Odie! Pepper!

Joe whistles urgently – then he sees the chains wrapped around the tree and runs like a madman towards it.



He starts digging in the high drifts with his hands, until he comes to a lump of fur; the first dog.  Digs again, and finds another and another; then stops. Sobs wrack his large frame – tears stain his face.

He heads down the street in a daze until there are no buildings.


The cross looms up in the lamp light. Making the sign of the cross, he tentatively takes a few steps forward holding the lamp in front of him. Light reflecting off the headstones blind him momentarily. But then he sees the unbelievable.  Despite the frozen, snow covered ground, the graves are all open and empty.

Joe drops to his knees in despair and shock. Looking upward, his arms extended heavenward, his scream echoing through the deserted town.


Dear God in heaven! What happened here?

Seasons of Change

By Jennifer Yeakey

Aaahh, the smell of fall as it quickly approaches.  Soon there will be beautiful shades of orange and reds along the roadside and the smell of burning leaves to fill the air.  Decorations will festoon homes to make them appear welcoming, safe, comfy and cozy.  The children will be getting ready for trick or treat soon and the excitement in their little faces as they say, “Mommy I want to be a ballerina for Halloween,” will fill the stores.  These are just a few of my favorite things about this time of year.  Sounds like a piece out of the Sound of Music, doesn’t it?

It is interesting how the seasons run so parallel with happenings in our life and with all the changes taking place.  When I think of spring, I think of new blooms; a growth in a person’s life.  For Summer, I think warmth; the softening of old hurts or loss.  The softening of the heart, if you will.  Into Fall, I think calm; a peace we hope to find.  And in Winter, I think icy; how slippery situations in life can be at times. For me and so many others like me, Fall is also the time of year where we look back over the past months and reflect on all that we have to be grateful for.  Did you know November is also known as gratitude month?  It is, though the practice of gratitude is truly timeless and without season.

It was once said by a very dear friend of mine, all negatives have a positive, we just have to put the pain and anger aside to look for them.  I have in the recent past been forced to make some very hard and painful decisions, which have led me to start my life over with my beautiful baby girl, who is now three hours away from her father and happy big brother.  My daughter and her brother have a relationship like no other I have seen in children that little.  From the time she was born, he would tell people “that’s my sister,” as to warn them they had better not harm her.  This has been a very trying time of growth and challenge for me, accompanied by both calm and slippery conditions, but it has been a journey well worth the changing seasons.  And I have been blessed enough to be allowed this wonderful experience.  (See, there is positive number one!)  The decision to move my daughter that far away from her other family was not an easy one, but I knew in my head, heart and stomach that it was a much needed move, as well as a healthy one for both of us.  I have this theory that before making a major decision in life, you must first check to see if, a) you’re running from something and if you are, please remember that you always take you along for the ride wherever you go, and b) make sure your decision is in line with the following: the head, the heart and the gut intuition.

Let me explain.  Where I moved from was a dying city and I had seen no room for growth there.  It was beginning to eat me up inside and allowing me to feel hopeless and increasingly negative.  I have always viewed myself as a positive person wanting to help other people become their very best, by guiding them to find the positive in whatever negative situation they were going through or have been through. Since I have moved to Illinois, there has been a sense of peace in my spirit in knowing that all is and will be taken care of.  It will be here that I’m given an opportunity to grow and help others to do the same.  (Positive number two!)  I am very blessed to have met some wonderful people here who are willing to help me get where I want and need to be in life to feel complete.  (Positive number three!) I was able to find three positives in that negative and painful experience.  And in doing so, it has helped to inspire me to keep on keeping on and not lose sight of my dreams becoming a reality.  It is when we give up that we then become defeated.

Maybe you were not thinking of reflecting over the past year or even considering taking the time to see all that we have to be grateful for today.  But I highly encourage everyone to do this.  Make it fun.  Get a friend to share a daily gratitude list with you.  Everyday, sit down and write at least five things you have to be grateful for, even if it’s just that bowl of ice cream you got to enjoy.  (And hey, what’s stopping you from sharing that bowl of ice cream with your friend?)  Whether it is the first thing in the morning or the last thing in the evening as a wrap up of your day, there is no right or wrong way to do a gratitude list.  Just remember that no matter how little or silly the thing is you’re putting on your list, it’s yours, you own it! I think each of us has a lot to be very grateful for, don’t you?  I promise no matter what you are going through good or bad, big or small, you will feel a sense of peace then situations will just be, in effect,  what they are.  They’ll just be.

firePhoto by Lisa Guidarini

In October 2009 on October 1, 2009 at 12:01 am

The Old Pigskin

By Liz Hum

Tom tossed the new football upwards and caught it, taking a gulp of crisp fall air. It was the kind of air that promises to purge every ill and uncertainty, the kind of air that promises a good day. He surveyed the neighborhood -how the blue sky draped over the houses and trees, keeping the lazy suburb in its safe sprawl and exhaled, feeling good about himself. The workweek was behind him . The house was clean. He and Sharon had even had sex that morning. Tom was finally in a good mood. And he was going to share it with his boy.

Tom tossed the football again. Before the ball completed its vertical arch, he had already envisioned the whole game. He would pass the football to Arnie and Arnie would run for the touchdown. Tom, of course, would let him have it and then he’d tackle the little guy, wrestling him into the fallen leaves neatly piled in the corner of the yard. The boy would squeal with delight while Tom mussed his hair. It was going to be a real father-son bonding moment. The day was ripe for such scenarios.

Within a few minutes, Arnie shuffled out the front door, piloting a toy rubber duck as if it was a crop duster, swooping it back and forth and making motor sounds. His eyes were fixed on the duck against the crystalline sky; his feet dragged along the concrete behind him like an afterthought. Tom approached him with the football.

“Are you ready, Arnie?” Tom jostled his son like a papa bear to his cub.


“That’s a duck, not a plane.”


“Don’t you have an airplane?”

Arnie shrugged.

“Let’s put it down. We’re going to play football!” Tom confiscated the duck, tossed it into the grass next to the driveway and dragged his son out into the front lawn, placing the boy in the center. He jogged about twenty feet away from him and turned around.

“Are you ready?”

Arnie was looked up at the clouds.

“Are you ready, Arnie?” Tom called louder.

Arnie did not acknowledge Tom at all.

“Earth to Arnie! I’m going to throw the ball!”

Tom threw the ball and added, “Here it comes!”

The ball sailed across the lawn and nailed Arnie in the chest.

Tom ran to him and grieved, “You were supposed to catch it!” Arnie coughed meekly and started walking back toward his grounded rubber duck. Thwarting the budding pilot, Tom scooped Arnie back up, placed him into his original position and jogged about fifteen feet away.

“Okay, buddy, let’s try this again.”

Tom tossed the football to Arnie, but the boy just stood there, letting the ball deflect off of his torso.

“Come on Arnie, You could at least try.”

Tom arranged them once more.

“Now catch it this time!” He tossed the ball underhand to Arnie, who made a feeble attempt to catch it this time, but the ball didn’t stick. It bounced from his grip and onto the lawn.

“You almost had it!”

Tom was growing impatient. He had already begun to suspect that Arnie wasn’t going to be a jock earlier that summer when the boy refused t-ball so spectacularly that they had to pull him out. Sharon had taken him week after week and he wouldn’t even get out on the diamond. He stayed underneath the bleachers, pulling weeds. Tom wasn’t going to let him get away with that, so one Saturday morning, he took the boy to practice. What began as a battle of wills, became a physical battle as Tom pushed and Arnie dug his heels into the dirt and screamed. Tom knew his son was only four and a half, but that scream; It was the kind of screeching you would hear from a two year old. Then the boy flailed and crumpled into a ball, crying hysterically.

Within a week of that incident, Arnie and his six-year-old sister had watched a movie about dinosaurs. While Tom’s daughter was enthralled, Arnie was scared silly and it wasn’t because of any meteorite or T-Rex attack. He was afraid of the movie’s hero, a purple stegosaurus named “Chip” and the way he growled at a group of raptors who tried to steal his mom’s eggs.  Tom reassured Arnie that Chip was protecting his brothers and sisters and this was good, but Arnie didn’t care. He cried and cried until Sharon came in and turned it off.

“Are you trying to torture him?” She asked.

“It’s a purple cartoon dinosaur!” Tom cried out.

There was also the time he took the boy to the train museum. Boring, sure, but the boy didn’t even want to sit in one. He was too scared to get on a miniature train that chugged along a quarter-mile track and went choo-choo. The other fathers had no trouble getting their kids on, with exclamations like “Let’s go really fast!” and “I want to sit in front!”  But not Arnie. All he did was spin himself in little circles in the parking lot and throw a tantrum in the name of cotton candy.

Tom didn’t want to say it – the P-word. He would rather think that maybe the boy is mildly Autistic than that.  But the issue crept up again when Tom caught Arnie wearing his sister’s dress up clothes. The kids were laughing and posing together in front of the mirror and neither Sarah nor Sharon ever understood what Tom was so angry about. But they didn’t understand how close the boy was to ruin. If he liked sports or trucks, or at least tried to wield a light saber, Tom would have dismissed the whole incident, provided it was in fact ‘one’ incident. But he had to face the fact his son was growing into a pussy. He hoped that if he caught it early, found something tough that Arnie might like, perhaps he could spare his son, and himself, the inevitable humiliation.

Out on the lawn, Arnie began to sing. Tom had resumed his position, arm overhead and now his son was singing.

“Arnie!” He shouted.

Arnie stopped mid-song and stood as still and vacant as a zombie. Tom hoped for the best as he went through the motions. Arnie caught the ball for a split second before it dumped out of his arms and onto the grass.

“Dammit Arnie!” Tom hissed under his breath, “How could you let it go? You had it!” He bounded back towards Arnie and picked up the tired football. He massaged the skin between his eyes and bent down to his son, putting a hand on his shoulder. The boy is young, he thought. He just needs a pep talk.

“You just have to keep your eye on the ball. Clutch it like this and hold it tight. Don’t let it bounce out of your hands, okay buddy?” Tom smiled, pleased with himself.

“I don’t wanna do this!” Arnie protested.

“What do you mean you don’t wanna do this? It’s a beautiful day! Would you rather be cooped up inside, playing with your little rubber duckie?” The last words were spat with contempt.


“Well, you can’t!” Tom ran across the lawn, football in hand. “You’re going to stay out here and get some fresh air!” He shouted and threw the football. It bounced off Arnie’s hands and landed two feet away.

“You have to throw it back to me! I’m not coming over there this time.”

Arnie grudgingly got the ball and weakly flung it towards Tom. It landed right in between them. They stared at each other, then the ball, then each other again. The ball didn’t move.

“Get the ball, Arnie!”

“I don’t want to!”

Tom squinted at Arnie. He wanted to take the football and hit him over the head with it.

“Just get it, already!”


“Jesus fucking Christ, Arnie!”

The second it flew from his lips, Tom was sorry. That was a horrible thing to say in front of your kid. For the first time that afternoon, Arnie’s eyes opened wide and fixed upon Tom’s next move. But that’s not how Tom wanted to get his attention. He marched over, scooped up the ball and knelt by his son.

“Hey, listen, I’m sorry about that.” Tom took in another gulp of the crisp air, inhaling its empty promises. “How about this? If you catch five passes, you can go inside and do whatever you want. It’ll be a game. How’s that?”

Arnie nodded stiffly.

“Okay then, five passes!”

Tom ran back to his throwing spot.

Arnie actually caught the first pass. Tom became prematurely ecstatic and began firing the ball at the boy as if he already had a year or two of pee-wee football behind him. Consequently Arnie missed the next six passes. Tom himself was ready to give up, but he had to follow through, otherwise, what would the boy learn?

“Eye on the ball, Arnie!”

The ball ricocheted off the little boys sunken chest.

Arnie caught two more passes. That was three altogether. He was almost there, when he simply stopped trying. Tom threw pass after pass and Arnie missed them all. He just stood there and let the ball pelt him over and over again.

“Why are you giving up now? You only have to catch two more!”

“I wanna go inside!” Arnie kicked the ball, launching it into the street, and Tom charged at him.

“Fine! I try to play ball with you and all you want to do is act like an ungrateful brat! Go inside!”

Arnie puffed up defensively.

“This game is stupid anyway!”

Arnie stomped up the lawn towards the house. Tom stomped down the lawn towards his football. He picked it up from the street, cradling his wounded pride and thumbing the balls thick white stitches. He looked at Arnie, who had resumed his flight. He was buzzing around with a rubber duck like some kind of goofball. Tom was afraid he’d be buzzing around like a goofball forever.

“I thought you were going inside!” Tom jeered.

Arnie responded with a furrowed brow.

“Go inside! A minute ago that’s all you wanted to do!” He goaded.

Arnie scrunched up his little face, mustering all the anger he could.

“I hate you!”

“You hate me?” Tom shrieked. “You hate me?”

“Yeah, I hate you!” Arnie challenged and immediately started for the protective cover of the house.

Tom snapped. Without realizing it, he had cocked his arm back and fired, hurtling the ball towards the boy. It hit Arnie in the back of the head, sending him face down and sprawled on the cement walkway. Like the profanity uttered earlier, Tom was sorry the moment the ball escaped his hand. But this was so much worse. His son lie there on the concrete in tears of shock and he was to blame. He had deliberately hurt his son. The sick wave of guilt and the realization of all of his despicable imperfections knocked the wind out of him and he scrambled breathlessly to Arnie, trying to help him up.

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to do that!”

Arnie brushed Tom off and stood up. His face was wet and scraped.

“I’m telling mom! I hate you!”

He ran into the house.

Tom watched impotently on his knees in the driveway. He wanted to hurl the football at himself. He wanted to smash his own face into the sidewalk for Arnie. As if the pain wasn’t bad enough, he knew his good day with Sharon was over. He had ruined his weekend. His only two days to be happy laid to waste because of this. He looked up at the perfect blue sky, and took in another full breath of the fall air, now suffocating him with all of its expectations. He knew what awaited him. Tom left the football on the lawn and went inside.

In October 2009 on October 1, 2009 at 12:00 am

dewPhoto by Lisa Guidarini

For Sale

By Carolyn Batzlaff

Layoffs and downsizing, the economy sucks.

Not so surprising, I’m down on my bucks.

It touches us all, this misery –

Less trips to the mall; we stay home, watch T.V.


I might have to move, the bubble has burst.

Still, things might improve. Have we seen the worst?

A glance at the clock and there’s little doubt

Tick-tock, tick-tock.  How fast time runs out.


Hurry! Gather past treasures, set them out on display.

Such desperate measures – a garage sale today.

Hope people will come as if on a quest.

A mission for some who love bargains best.


Household items, hunting decoys and some flicks,

Books, clothing, kids toys – it’s quite a mix.

The buyers peruse, inspect, and decide

Which they will choose, or simply let ride.


Yes!  Buy that locket! Looks stunning on you!

Money in my pocket … looks great on me, too.

Sold my stamp collection, Grandma’s pretty dishes,

A hose connection and a bowl of goldfishes.


These were my treasures, but now they are yours.

May they bring you pleasures.  My spirit soars

As I bid each adieu.  When shoppers depart

A “thank you” so true, I speak from my heart.


What I so feared would bring me great stress

Has now appeared to become a success!

The economy still sucks, but isn’t it funny

When I make a few bucks; tomorrow looks sunny.

Book Review: The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

By Lisa Damian Kidder

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck HoganOscar-winning director of Pan’s Labrinth and the Hellboy movies, Guillermo del Toro, has entered the paranormal fiction scene alongside award-winning crime fiction writer Chuck Hogan with a captivating debut novel, The Strain. The first in a trilogy, The Strain, has readers biting nails and reluctant to put the book down straight from the first page. The book opens with a short fairy tale, the first line reading:

“Once upon a time,” said Abraham Setrakian’s grandmother, “there was a giant.”

The story then immediately proceeds to modern-day JFK airport in New York, where an airplane has landed with everyone on board dead from an unknown cause that swept swiftly through the cabin just after the plane landed, before making it to the gate.

While Center for Disease Control doctors and Homeland Security attempt to determine whether there is a viral outbreak or a national security threat, it quickly becomes evident that something even more sinister is happening. Playing off the original myths of ancient vampires in their all their gory glory, The Strain produces a vivid interpretation of the traditional horror archetype that is perhaps more threatening than the original and certainly a distinct diversion from the romanticized version of vampires that have been prominent in recent years.

The heroes include Ephraim Goodweather and Nora Martinez, who are CDC doctors tasked with solving and containing the threat, and Abraham Setrakian, who has been chasing the fabled monster since he was a young man in Eastern Europe. Eldritch Palmer is a wealthy and powerful elderly eccentric who plays a somewhat peripheral role in this first novel but still pivotal to the plot and likely to become a more central character in the two future installments of the trilogy. Others enter the scene as interesting diversions, sometimes enhancing the immediate story unfolding and sometimes serving as a potential portent of what’s to come.

The writing is fast-paced and provides good imagery and detail while not drowning the reader in unnecessary description. Though it is sometimes reminiscent of the viral-based zombie theme, every chapter drips with suspense, and thus results in 400 pages that turn easily through to the end. The book does not have a decisive wrap-up, therefore making it necessary to read the next in the sequel in order to discover what is to come of our main characters and the rest of the human population.


By Shakuntala Rajagopal

Long nights and days in her wooden vessel

oars dipped and raised

dipped and raised

a million times in waters shallow and deep


Seeking, searching

for her long lost love

she came upon a lily pond and paused her oaring

was it the one they floated upon in those blissful days?


A familiar song wafted in the wind

she stopped

standing up, she peered deep into the early morning mist

both oars swiftly reached the bottom mud


Stepping out onto wet marshland

dashing through the lily ponds

Slipping falling, not even caring

lily shoots broken, lost in her path


Frantic with fear of losing the song

soiled skirt dragging, slowing her down

yet, her feet kept on running

chasing fish from the shallows and egrets from their nests


all the while pursuing a song, she was

chasing a dream

no regrets or sad memories to hold her back

no thoughts of return in her mind


her boat stands alone, abandoned

abandonedPainting by Shakuntala Rajagopal

Black Cat

By Richard A. White


Curtains drawn.  A lone figure lies in the center of a mustyking-sized bed.  MARSHALL, 82, struggles to breathe.  A final gasp and all the muscles in his face gradually surrender.


A huge family is gathered for the Christmas feast.  Marshall, now 67, stands at the end of the table with carving knife in hand.  He throws the turkey to the floor.


After still another year you’re all

a disappointment to me.  You are

all cut from my will.


Marshall, now 45, addresses his 200 employees.  He tries to hold back a smile.


I’ve just sold my business for a

lot of money.  The new owners are

moving the operation to Mexico.

You all need to start looking for

other jobs.


A black cat walks across Marshall’s, now 29, path.  He kicks it.


Friends and family are gathered to celebrate Marshall’s 21st birthday.  It is his turn to read his fortune.  He cracks the cookie, smoothes the tiny strip of paper.


“You will make many people very



… in bed.

stalksPhoto by Liz Hum