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Excerpt- Aug 25, ’20 Where No Light Escapes (©J.D. Brayton)

On January 12th, at precisely 12:01 a.m. – the phone rang.

He didn’t stir from his typewriter. The Zunis dare not be derailed by wrong numbers on cold islands. He ignored it. It stopped.

It rang again, at 12:02. And once more, he ignored it. The third time he jerked away from his work. Levi Cant answered typically. Yeah, so?

Silence.

Either you’re a confused mute, or an annoying asshole, he groused, jammed the receiver down on the cradle, went back to work on the unresolved chapter.

On January 13th, he’d just finished wolfing down a coldcut sandwich when it rang again.

In his mildly inebriated state, it spooked him a little. His secret phone was defying his wishes. He hesitated. Answered.

Yeah, so?

He heard breathing.

So?

So, said the woman’s voice, what did you find?

Who are you, please?

Mehitabel.

The line went dead, as did the power. For a solid five minutes Levi stood still in the pitch black, feeling each… and… every small hair on his body raise toward the ceiling. Fear antennae. He could scarcely breathe. Alone. An eternity. The whiskey whirl and adrenalin rush stunning him toward a fearsome, solitary, sobriety.

In a rude flash, the power was restored. The digital clock cheeped in protest. The refrigerator dropped the ice cubes in the tray. The furnace blower kicked on. He could smell the dry heat from the floor vents.

Yet, with all these emergent existential parodies designed to soothe consciousness and normality,  Levi could only stare at Jared Chase’s chipped, dented, pus green wall phone. There. In the corner. Silently mocking his grasp on sanity.

Outside, in the pitch-black night, on Pewter Sinks Road, it was snowing again.

Where No Light Escapes- Excerpt (8-11-20)

There is a poetry to the smells of Spring and the mixed bundles that are Man. Father smells of pemmican, tobacco and pewter. Mother of lavender, sheep tallow and pewter. Sisters and brothers of soil, tallow rendered of lamb-fat and pewter. It is two hundred steps up the hill, and another two hundred past the walkway stones, up the road until the Bay wind blows free of Man. It is only the sea and beyond the sound of the sea in a rush of constant song. Better than any song that comes from the Congregational Meeting on our day of worship. Better than the songs father sings after drinking his rum. Better than Mother’s song when we lay in fever or sorrow or the pain of day. My young hand in hers.

Her hands calloused from the loom and the hot tallow.

My walking rod leads me away and all up to the rise by the stones of the bluff where I can hear the soundings of small fog cannon and sea birds circling over my head. The gulls are sent by our God to bring messages, says Mother, one must try to hear without expectation.

To breathe. To express in solitude.

Excerpt: Where No Light Escapes by J.D. Brayton

New Historical novel set in 1775

PRUDENCE

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the forces which, collectively or individually, draw a person to a place.  Not at first. Time and logic conjoined through clarity have precocious beginnings. Sometimes it is a dream, or a series of them. Sometimes it is that wondrous fraction of thought that nearly wakes you, tugs at you, prods you like a past and ever-present lover that has always remained with you in your precious and solitary sleep. Maybe it’s the warmth. Or the touch that needs no mention. Or the clarity of consciousness that comes immediately out of that moment before you wake and consider if the muse and magic you have been handed is worth writing down or recounting in confused mumbling monotone to your bedmate – whom- no matter how dear, can rarely be entrusted with so deep an inner poem.

No. Dreams are your own responsibility.

Perhaps, only when a need or an ill -defined want has been buried so long ago, the only hope you have of recovering and naming that imp is to trust in the fates. I have this place I go to, but rarely by forcing my will to bring me there. It is a familiar place. A place I have never spoken of. A place I have never renamed. As a small child of …well, honestly? for as long as I can remember remembering; for as long as I have been a child – (which is forever)- I named this place Dream Towne. We all have one. You know the place, don’t you? The place where everyone you ever knew, will know or hope to know, exist in lucid color and speak in wise phrases using abstruse language known only to you since the very moment of inception. The Forever Place. The place where the forgotten are intimate, the unattainable or majestic are made as small and tacit as a handshake, where the dead are familiar, warm and quick-slow; where your long buried pets sit up to lick your face and your joy is unencumbered by the facts of waking life. There are no nightmares here. Nightmares are baseless concepts, originating from a horror – specifically -the fear of loss. The Forever Place –Dream Towne is past loss or fear. It is the astral heart. The place that makes your body sigh, or cry, or call out the names of your beloved within a deep corporeal sleep. Dream Towne makes you speak in tongues, just like your very favorite prophet. Dream Towne makes you a child, but wiser than any adult you have ever been or will ever know – in a language only known to you and they who speak with you. It is a language only made real by an individual’s need to translate. To carry quietly. To equalize. To unrealized fear. This is the place we will all go when, finally, our bodies die, and we no longer need air, or breath to breathe. This is the great astral collective. There is no fear in Dream Towne because it is on the Island. The only way off the Island is to be reminded that it’s your turn and your choice to ride the ferryboat to rebirth. In the Island sand footprints never disappear in the tide. The gulls sing.  There resides only the calmness and the surety that nothing, nothing,

nothing

can destroy the immutable and personal soul.

Dream Towne is where I hope to meet my maker and not tremble in fear and awe. Dream Towne is where my maker will prepare me an astral peanut butter sandwich and point to the horizon. Peace and morning sailboats. My maker is an old woman who bakes blueberry pies by lunchtime. My maker trusts me to take no more than my share of that beautiful warm pie, and that I know just which piece of pie is mine.

It is through the great instigator – remembrance; and the great equalizer, death, that I was brought back to Prudence Island.

~ Levi C. Cant-  Upon the 3 p.m. Ferry Crossing From Bristol to Prudence- Monday Nov. 6, 2013

The Light Horse- the new novel by J.D. Brayton- short synopsis

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The Light Horse – Historical Fiction

The Light Horse is the story of two men who join forces to capture one of the most dreaded murderers in history; one man driven by sworn duty, and the other man by vengeance; a psychological thriller based on documented fact, written after years of research into this compelling and nearly unbelievable chapter in the true history of 19th century British occupied India.

While no one knows for certain, it is estimated that in the 18th and 19th centuries there were no less than 50,000 unsolved murders in north-central India. By other estimates, more than one million died at the hands of a secret cult of murderers known as the Thugee. The indisputable fact is that for centuries entire caravans of innocent travelers in India would simply disappear without a trace. There were the usual reasons offered, any or all of these may have been a factor – but the truth was far more macabre, gruesome and horrifying. It was cold, calculated mass murder – carried out with methodical precision by a cult devoted to the goddess Kali.

In the year 1829, Captain William Henry Sleeman, an officer in service to the British East India Company, began to suspect a pattern to these disappearances. After capturing and deposing suspected cult members, he convinced the Governor, General Lord William Bentinct, to appoint him head of the newly formed Department of Dacoity and Thugee. Sleeman quickly discovered that all the rumors were true: The Thugee, a secret cult of clever and stealthy murderers, were responsible for stalking and slaughtering hundreds of travelers each year on the lawless frontier roads of India. The Thugee were masters of deception. The cult was so secretive and brutal that the modern term ‘Thug’ survives to this day.

When a Thug named Fandoor Das Gupta allows himself to be captured by Sleeman’s Hunters, a new twist to the drama unfolds. The Thug, an admitted murderer, is also a remarkable artist who, by perfect recall, draws portraits of wanted criminals with a degree of accuracy that astounds Sleeman and his officers. Fandoor, in return for a temporary commutation of his death sentence, promises to become an informer and help Sleeman find the dreaded and wily Feringeea, ‘Prince of Thugs’. His intimate knowledge of Feringeea’s hiding places, the fact that he is an adoptive brother to the murderous criminal, and his superior talent as an artist makes Fandoor Das Gupta extremely useful to Sleeman. The Colonel conditionally agrees to Das Gupta’s offer to lead him to capture Feringeea, the most vicious Thug in all of India. Colonel Sleeman has no idea that the Thug artist, Fandoor Das Gupta, has a secret agenda –he wants to  kill The Prince Of Thugs with his own hands once he is secure in Sleeman’s prison. Because of the murder of Feringeea’s scorned wife, Kali Bibi a high priestess of Kali, who was also the artist’s secret lover, Fandoor Das Gupta is willing to give up everything, including his freedom and his life, to avenge her death.

The Light Horse is a meticulously researched novel set in 19th century British India. This bold adventure novel will appeal to readers interested in British Military History, life as an Anglo/Indian trooper in an Irregular Light Cavalry unit, true crime mysteries, and military tactics and armament. It is written in the style of   roman à clef; using factual persons and events, and warmly rendered in the style of a classic historical fiction.

It will be published by Booklocker Press, and available in Early April as an Ebook.

Please visit jdbrayton.com for excerpts and other short writings.

Thank-you for supporting Independent Writers and Artists

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTHING- excerpt from The Light Horse

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Nothing- Excerpt from The Light Horse © J.D. Brayton 2020

Gwailor Province, India – 1839

At first light, Anil tethered the male goats together, laying a satchel of feed and goatskin full of water across the back of the nervous colt for the journey to the temple. Few words passed between the priest of Kali and I. The sun was just above the horizon.

Before he and one sadhu departed, he gave us all a blessing, bowed slightly, and bid us farewell. “I’ll see you in two days’ time at the house of Purusram.” Then he looked over at one of the sadhu, an emaciated creature, naked and burned black from the sun, standing beneath the tree, arms outstretched, in ecstatic prayer.

“This man is Nothing. Nothing is blessed by our Mother and covered by the ash of cremated pilgrims. Nothing will remain with you. Nothing will protect you, Fandoor.”

“I do not want him here.”

“Nothing is not a choice. Nothing is guided by dharma. He is a blessed soul. Bindachul Ke Jae, Fandoor Das Gupta. May Bhowanee guide you.”

“Bhowanee Ke Jae. A safe journey, honored Kala Ram.”

I stood watching the dust of Kala Ram and his remaining sadhu, who walked behind him leading the goats. Kala Ram himself led away the prize colt by a simple rope halter. They sang invocations as they disappeared beneath a rise in the trail. I was happy he was gone, but certain he was an augury not to be ignored. Taking my prize colt and breeding males was a small price to pay to be rid of his prying eyes and chastising tongue.

I looked at Nothing under the tree. Anil stood chewing betel nut with Lakmel, who was wordlessly brushing the dust from the coat of my stallion, Kala, with a comb.

“Lakmel, feed the sadhu some chapatti and dal. Leave him fresh water.Otherwise, ignore him.” Lakmel laughed a little and spit red juice into the dust. “We must ignore Nothing now.”

“Careful, Lakmel,” I said, my irritation giving way to mocking, “Nothing will hear you, and Nothing may place a curse on your head.”

“We should all be so lucky.”

“He is mad and blessed of the Mother.”

“His stink alone could fertilize the tree.”

“He is Nothing. Remember, Lakmel. Nothing is our guest and Nothing our gift.”

“The new priest is generous in leaving us Nothing.”

 

The Light Horse – a new novel by J.D. Brayton

Coming in April 2020

 

From ‘The Light Horse’ by J.D.Brayton

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And in the trees of Bengal, the shokun sat perched – as they had from the beginning of time – and waited for sustenance and sanction, hunched forward on bare branches, holding their wings aloft in the dry heat, always in preparation for another sacred cleansing feast of flesh.

The cries of the shokun call out, bathed under endless sun:

What fool invents history?

Death is yet another beginning. Life is naught but illusion

carried on the wings of carrion birds.

©2020 J.D. Brayton

Release in March- e-book and print

 

THRIP- dedication page, (pre-release)

 

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For Patrice and Ruby

This novel began as a series of joke haiku between Patrice and I as a result of our shared and somewhat bizarre experiences living in Ty-Ty, Georgia in 1970. I consider her my sister in humor, creativity and soul. She shared her stories of being a Homebound instructor for sick children and I was moved by the dedication and fortitude it takes to educate and to bear the burden of knowing many students in such programs will not survive. Hope is life. By extension, I dedicate this novel to all educators and all who illuminate what might otherwise be a dark world.

Also: to my daughter Ruby who used her skills as a researcher to help me with many of the facts involving gun violence in the United States. We must do better. Our children are not sacrificial lambs, they are our only hope for a verdant future.

JDB

January 2020