Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Short Timer's Calendar And Kathryn's Surprise

“Most people think life sucks, and then you die. Not me. I beg to differ. I think life sucks, then you get cancer, then your dog dies, your wife leaves you, the cancer goes into remission, you get a new dog, you get remarried, you owe ten million dollars in medical bills but you work hard for thirty-five years and you pay it back and then -- one day -- you have a massive stroke, your whole right side is paralyzed, you have to limp along the streets and speak out of the left side of your mouth and drool but you go into rehabilitation and regain the power to walk and the power to talk and then -- one day -- you step off a curb at Sixty-seventh Street, and BANG you get hit by a city bus and then you die. Maybe.”
~ Dennis Leary


Tuesday, Sept. 2 - 10:20

The third chemo treatment is looming and I’m starting to wonder if I ought to start a “Short Timer’s Calendar.”

My old writing partner, Chris Bunch, said the Short Timer’s Calendar was a morale-boosting invention of GIs who were nearing the end of their tour of duty during the Vietnam War.

It worked like this: Say you have sixty days to go before you can fly the Freedom Bird home. You make a calendar that goes from one to sixty. Then each morning you cross off the previous day so you can see the time diminish before your eyes: 59, days, 58, days, 57, days and so on.

Adds a little shine to the day, right?

Now, Chris said the best calendar trick of all was to turn everything on its head. Instead of going: 56, 55, 54… You say, fifty two and a wake up (instead of 53) and fifty one and a wake up, instead of 52)

Bam! Thinking that way, the whole day cheers the hell up.

My basic Colon Cancer Chemo tour of duty is six months. The chemo treatments  are every two weeks, which would make it a total of twelve sessions. (The treatments run for 48 hours each time)

I’m a day away from the third treatment, which means after this I’ll have nine more to go. But in my chemo short timer it would be  eight and a wake up, (for nine). The next time it would be Seven and a wake up, (instead of eight) and so on.

So, stay tuned Gentle Readers and we shall see what we shall see.


Wednesday, Sept. 8, 8:33 a.m.

Getting ready for the 9:30 a.m. chemo session. Got my Kindle loaded. Ditto my  audiobook device. Got the anti-nausea ginger pops tucked in my bag. And just before I go I’ll scoff a couple of special cookies sent to me from friends who live in a more enlightened state.

I call it, Party Time In Chemo Land.

Faint hope, huh? 


Wednesday, Sept. 3, 1:25 p.m.

Knocking on all the wood in the house – The cookies worked!

I’ll test them again tomorrow for the second session.


Thursday, Sept. 4, 9:03 a.m.

The cookie effect was short-lived. Right now I’m feeling – to use precise medical terminology – effing lousy.

Getting set for my second chemo go-around. Will try the cookies strategy again.


Thursday, Sept. 4 – 3:05

Yech! You hear me? Yech!


Friday, Sept. 5 – 10:41

Things calmed down as the day progressed. By 7 p.m. I could keep down a cup of chicken broth and toast with a little melted soy cheese. Had a decent night’s sleep, a marked contrast to last time.

Meanwhile, there’s 8.1 mls of roach poison left in the CADD pump. Due at the outpatient clinic at 1 p.m. to have myself de-ported. They’ll bandage over the port so the skin heals. Then I have fourteen days until the next go around.


Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 6 & 7) All Day

Had a miserable Saturday and particularly difficult Saturday night. Spent Sunday on the couch with the New York Times trying to recuperate. Had a relapse midday. Recovered in time for 60 Minutes. Then spent another bad night.


Monday, Sept. 8 – 9:43 a.m.

Feeling better. It’s a beautiful South Florida day and from my office window I can see the fish leaping in the canal and the iguanas in their Jurassic poses on the lawn. I’m hoping this will be like the other two sessions and each day I’ll feel better until the fourth round of poisoning commences.

In the middle of all this there was one amazingly cheery moment early on that has percolated throughout the ordeal.

My wife, Kathryn, conspired with Pam Elson, sister of the late Peter Elson – an extraordinary British artist who limned two of the three covers of the European editions of the Timura Trilogy. The first was When The Gods Slept, the second, Wolves Of The Gods. Tragically, Peter died at the height of his powers at age forty seven and the third cover (The Gods Awaken) was painted – in the same style – by another artist.

One of the remarkable things about the cover paintings is how insightful Peter was.  I wrote the books when we were living in New Mexico. We lived outside the little town of Truth Or Consequences. My office window overlooked the Gila National Forest. It was a beautiful desert scene with cacti and other hardy growth, and it teemed with animal life. (Remind me to tell you about my pet road runner sometime. Beep. Beep.) The whole scene was framed by a fabulous mountain range that continually changed colors from deep blue to a hazy gold.

The sunsets were astounding. Matched, in my experience, only by the Mediterranean sunsets viewed from the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus. We were about a mile high so sometimes looking out the windows the clouds were so low that it was like peering through the porthole of an airplane.

I used that view as the inspiration for The Valley Of The Clouds where the hero of the trilogy – Safar Timura – lives with his family. And, from another viewpoint, the plains where Safar and his friend, King Iraj Protarus, fought the demon invaders of Esmir.

Peter had never seen a picture of the views from my window. In fact, until I wrote to him later to thank him for his marvelous work and enclosing several pictures of the view, he had no idea that I even lived in New Mexico. And yet he seized on the descriptions in the books to perfectly illustrate the covers.

When the hardcover versions of the books arrived in the mail from Great Britain and I saw the covers, it was exactly like looking out my office window.

Now that was truly remarkable. In most cases a cover artist reads the book and is pretty much free to choose what he/she thinks best describes the contents. But this… this was so close it was mind-boggling. 

Dissolve to Wednesday, Sept. 8. I return home from chemo therapy, sick and tired and dragging my feet. There are two large brown shopping bags on the floor with lashings of tissue paper  peeking out.

“What’s this?” I asked Kathryn, who has that sly smile on her face that I know so well. “Did you make a trip to Whole Foods, or something?”

“Or something,” Kathryn said. She handed me one of the bags. “Or maybe it’s something else,” she added.

I pulled the object out, dropping the tissue paper on the floor. When I saw what it was my heart jumped so hard I was in danger of setting off my defibrillator implant.  It was the original painting of When The Gods Slept. Executed on a thin wooden board, it was as fresh and new as the day Peter painted it.

Hands a little shaky, I went to the second paper bag. And out came the original painting for Wolves of The Gods, where Safar leads his family and the villagers of The Valley Of The Clouds on a long and grueling exodus from their ancient homeland to escape annihilation.

As I stared at the two paintings,  I was transported back to our house on the edge of the Gila National Forest again. Dreaming the dreams that would become the fully realized Timura Triology.

So, thank you Pam, you are a marvel.

And Kathryn:  you are and will always be my once and future love.

Click the links to see what the paintings look like: 

Wolves Of The Gods

Click here to visit Peter's homepage.

And here is where to get the books:  When The Gods Slept:   Wolves Of TheGods. Click here for the third, and final volume of The Timura Trilogy - The Gods Awaken.  


Here's where to get the paperback & Kindle editions worldwide: 

Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
  • "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
  • "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus. 
  • "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke, Bookloons.com


THE HATE PARALLAX: What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)


A new novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan

After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm ravaged night.

BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization. 

Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France
United Kingdom ...........................Spain
Canada ........................................ Italy
Germany ..................................... Japan
Brazil .......................................... India


Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with  a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is  "The Blue Meanie,"  a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself. 

1 comment:

  1. Allan, as an amateur artist myself, I damned near teared up picturing you opening those paintings. Kathryn is a keeper!
    I'm with you in thoughts and wish you a solid recovery. My mother in law went through similar prescribed poison intake, but her lung cancer was too far along. Still, she was a fighter.
    It seems you are on a good path, so stay strong and keep up that sharp sense of humor, sir. We're all right here, reading along, right beside ya! Eat more cookies! :o)