Spent all day working on a story. The high point was a fierce 20-minute tussle that netted me this:

“…came up from the south, boiling the dawn away and filling the sea with stars. Stephen ran up the street, fighting the urge to look over his shoulder. The weather minders had slipped up again, or this was a sending from…”

Fiction, a good start, but aside from that I got prepositions and pronouns, and “brinklayermanship.” WTF? Pardon my telegraphese. Maybe I am using the wrong bait.

No closer to springing Eloise, but I’ll eat well tonight. A balanced haul containing most of the word groups.

I’ve started dreaming about fishing. Last night I dreamed I was here, right here, but I lived in a white gazebo. A climbing rose covered one side, a Lady Banks, I think. Thornless, anyway. The gazebo stood by the pond, and I had the following hanging from a stout chain:

“The title’s a bit misleading, but the fragment is not without interest. On it, hand-written in 21st century English, is the following.”

I was casting my hook again and again, trying to catch the next part of the story, though Eloise was there, tugging on my arm, and begging me to come away with her.

Then I woke up. Today I caught nothing above one syllable. I could not wait to get to sleep, so of course I laid awake counting the croaks of the frogs, the calls of the whippoorwills, the gleams shining through the clouds, for what seemed like many hours.

When I finally slept I was again in the gazebo. This time, I’d caught a bunch of single words, in different fonts, even, but they pieced together into a narrative:

“Angela hated southern summers. She also hated living [missing] onion. Wished she could afford [missing] nice, even a radish. A few [missing] later, as she put away the last of the folded towels, she heard a loud [missing].”

OK, that looked better in my dream. These dream words don’t count anyway. Maybe I should use a net.

I’m going to miss my deadline. I have nothing like a fresh-caught story. No telling what the literaturists are doing to Eloise, or what she will do to me, when I finally get her out.

I’m going to try night fishing, even though I won’t be able to read my catch till morning.

The End

Our food arrived quickly. My wife, still not quite well, had only ordered bread and water. For me, the waiter presented a plate of spaghetti with fish in a creamy sauce.

I twisted a mouthful onto my fork and, on eating it–saw a woman, pale hair falling waist-long down a tall figure, standing atop a cliff with a fair-haired man. They argued. The river rushed past below them, frothed white by rocks. The woman shouted of secret wives and lies, and threatened exposure.

The man pushed– tasted something good, I think, but barely remembered it after the strength of the hallucination. Trying to ignore the residual unsettled feeling, I ate a chunk of carp.

–and she fell, screaming. Cold struck her hard, so hard, or was that the rock? Flailing in the water, light and dark playing havoc in her eyes, her mind, and pain spreading from her chest. Water against her.
Water wrote eddies of curiosity across her skin as the pain slipped away. A whisper in her ear. A greeting.
The water is home now and the rock your seat, said the river. Sing for me, maiden, sing sweet songs, sing to fill me–

“Rob, are you all right?”

I realised it was Susan talking. “I… don’t know. I think I might have your flu.”

Concern coloured her voice. “You should try to eat a bit more. Then we’ll go back to the hotel.”

Nodding, I ate more of the pasta.

–A song on a stormy evening. A small fishing boat tossed by waves, fighting the white.
The teenaged boy paused in his terror-screams. The song laced his ears, stirred thoughts of home, bed, love.

He felt nothing as the rocks sliced his boat to pieces, as the river tongued him downwards. As the maiden wept.–

“We should go,” Susan said, and called for the bill.

Several minutes later we left. I stumbled into the street, as if feverous. The husband’s face lodged in my mind. And I thought of the woman, trapped in the river.

“Tomorrow,” I said, “we need to visit the Rhine.”

For part one of this story please visit my author archives or click here:




 We materialized inside a cave bustling with activity. Men and women in trench coats worked at desks and pointed at dots on giant glass screens at various points within the spacious cavern. A few ghosts, like me were at the sides of some of the operatives.

 “Belinda Shepard,” the woman in the trench coat said. “This is our center of operations.”

 “Operations?” I asked.

 “Anchoring. Anchoring the lost. Like you were.”

 I wanted to ask how but looking at the crystal rod in her hand, I remembered. I remembered the car crash in front of the old house, the medics taking my body away, the mourners placing flowers at the telephone pole. I hadn’t believed I had died. Or maybe it was the mourner’s grief that bound me, but I stayed and I wandered. Shopping. The bank. The salon. The supermarket. Up and down the street in a pantomime of my old life.  Until Belinda woke me.

 “I hope you’ll consider working with us. As my partner,” Belinda said. “You have one foot in our world and one in the hereafter. This can be very useful in our line of work.”

 The glass screens were full of images. Cemeteries. Suburban streets. Ordinary people in the motions of their lives. Ambulances and car accidents. Were these all unanchored?

 “Why me,” I asked. “I just want to…”

 I realized didn’t know what I wanted. And I didn’t know what to say.

 “You weren’t the only one who died in that car crash,” Belinda said. “Help me. Help me save them.”

 For a moment I feared it might have been my children who had perished, but I remembered I had never married and never had any. How much more of me had I forgotten? How much more of me had already washed away? Then I heard the rich Cajun chuckle of the man in the old building. I had been on my way to his shop to pick up a pair of shoes when… when I crashed. Right into his shop.

 “He’s still out there,” Belinda said. “Join me. Together we can anchor him and bring him where he needs to be.”

I wanted to help. I really did. It felt like the right thing to do. But this place. This cave. All these operatives. There was a lot more going on than Belinda was telling me. Helping her seemed the quickest way to find out.


-End of Part Two-

This story is part of the Daily Cabal’s third anniversary celebration, a collection of kabbalah-themed stories. (Thanks to Mechaieh for the theme!) The other anniversary stories are Angela’s “Ephraim’s Daughter”, David’s Has he thoughts within his head? and Luc’s Before Exile.

Little is known of the activities of the celebrated writer Jorge Luis Borges after he faked his own death in 1986.

According to some reports, he lived in a secret bunker under the Argentine National Library where, with several assistants to help read and research, the blind author devoted himself to the study of the kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition that had figured in many of his stories and poems. He focused on the golem-making rituals that turn created into creator in worshipful mimicry of the divine. Using techniques that disassembled and recombined the most basic linguistic elements of the bible, Borges invested every waking hour in study and practice. No stranger to creation through language, he’d become an adept sometime in the early 1990’s.

With his assistants, he fashioned three humanoid shapes out of clay. Alone, he inscribed them all over with mystic syllables. When the golems woke to consciousness, they were alone.

One of the three crumbled to dust before they discovered they could sustain themselves by continuously reading and rereading Borges’ work. They haunted the library’s stacks each night, searching out their maker’s stories, poems, essays, letters, speeches–anything that, like them, bore the mark of his mind.

They discovered that, by copying out his work in their own hand, they could renew and refine their rough forms into something more human. Soon they had no need of reference copies; every word of their maker having been pressed into their neuronal clay by their neverending rereading. Eventually one began to write not only finished pieces, but their drafts, starting with a copy of “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,” that contained Borges’ every strikeout and marginal jotting. Even the handwriting was similar. After years of diligent scribing, the golem re-composed the totality of its maker’s career and began to venture new compositions–a line of poetry here, a phrase two of prose there. Another decade, and he was composing new stories, tales Borges would have written.

The moment the golem completed the last word of his first slim volume, The Voice of the Mirror and Other Stories, Borges, living in a distant part of the city under an assumed name, found that he could see again.

“Light,” he said to his companions at a café table under evening trees. “Everywhere there is light.”

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