A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Shortly, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death, and she made a threatening gesture. Borrowing the merchant's horse, he flees at top speed to Samarra, a distance of about 75 miles (125 km), where he believes Death will not find him. The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death, and asks why she made the threatening gesture. She replies, "That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra." (From W. Somerset Maugham’s Appointment in Samarra.)
Friday, Nov. 28 – 1:07 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 28 – 1:07 p.m.
I'm feeling pretty good today. Yesterday – Thanksgiving Day - it was mostly back and forth. I’d feel fine for an hour or so, then back into the dumps – only to rise again.
Kathryn ended up reducing the Thanksgiving meal to its most basic essentials. In short, I had a piece of Trader Joe's pumpkin pie with a little frozen yogurt on top. Went down fine, stayed just fine and I had a rare night of sleeping almost all the way through.
Sunday, Nov. 30 – 9:48 a.m.
Saturday was a lost day. It behaved like a gaggle of Tea Party poltroons, marching up and down my stomach shouting nonsense and shitting all over the place. I was not sorry to see the back of it.
By contrast, today I’m having an excellent morning. Sunny, a brisk (for South Florida) 74 degrees and a fresh breeze off the Atlantic. I slept late, so I haven’t attempted breakfast yet.
Wish me luck.
Tuesday, Dec. 2, 12:46
Heading out in half an hour to get the IV port set up for Wednesday’s, Thursday’s and Friday’s poisoning sessions. I’ve been off for two weeks – although somebody forgot to tell my body, because I’ve been on and off again sick the whole time. Even so, I’m feeling stronger today and ready to face the Borgia music.
As the next chemo poisoning session rears up to sink its fangs into me, I push to keep my focus. After this, I’ll be over half way done. It’ll be seven down, five more to go. Or, in Short Timer Calendar’s speak: “Four and a wake up.” Which means I should be reprieved in mid-February.
Then I’ll have to really buckle down and get strong again so Kathryn and I can ride the Sunset Limited to LA.
That’s my dream – my ultimate goal. A vision of us on a silver train just out of our reach at present, but getting closer, closer… until we can finally grab the conductor’s hand and pull ourselves aboard.
So, I tell myself: Keep thinking that Cole: Four and a wake up. I fell asleep last night with that admonishment running through my brain – all to the imagined rhythmic rocking of the train and the wheels chattering against the rails singing:
“Four and a wake up. Four and a wake up. Four and a wake up…”
*****This afternoon the battery of my mouse turned whiskers up and I went into the other room to grab a new one. When I got, there, however, I suddenly found myself staring around blankly, wondering what the f**k I was doing there? It wasn’t until I returned to my computer and was presented with a dead mouse that I recalled what my errand had been.
I asked Kathryn is she thought this was the sign of chemo brain creeping in. I envisioned my little gray brain cells shrinking and dying inside my skull.
Kathryn assured me that I was way off base. She said that I’d been wandering around bemused by the world as long as she’s known me.
“It’s not the chemo, honey,” she said. “It’s you.”
“You are pixilated,” she added. “Definitely pixilated.”
Wednesday, Dec. 3 – 9:50 a.m.
Scoffing a couple of special cookies in preparation for the 10:30 a.m. meeting with my torturer.
Thursday, Dec. 4 – 11 a.m.
Things went relatively well, yesterday. Sick, but not chewing grass sick. Had a good night as well. Hope this keeps up. My next session is set for 1:30 and will last most of the afternoon.
And, no, I won’t forget the cookies. Thanks for reminding me.
Despite the cookies, got sick before I even left for the IV Center. It started just after my Cadd Pump ran out of poison. Oddly, as they started feeding new poisons into my veins at the IV Clinic, I began to feel better. Think the chemo chemicals might be addictive? And I was Jonesing on being denied my usual dose of Adriatic Carpet Cleaner?
Saturday, Dec. 6 – 4:12 p.m.
Been too sick to write since Thursday. After they “de-ported” me and unplugged the Cadd Pump I came home and collapsed on the bed. The only saving grace in the two days is the discovery that they’ve republished Donald Hamilton great (Not-The-James-Bond) Matt Helm series. Been listening to the audiobook in-between bouts with the Chemo Devils. Sons of bitches one and all.
Sunday, - Dec. 7 – 7:23 p.m.
Bad, bad day. So bad I didn’t even read the Sunday paper.
Monday, Dec. 8 – 10:42 a.m.
Woke up this morning feeling a bit better. Eating some nice comforting cream of wheat just now – with soy milk, since dairy products are murderous to colon cancer surgery patients.
It was pretty bad last night until about 1 a.m. I had to really dig in and hold on.
After I’d vaped myself into a haze – with the sickness and pain pushed away to about half-a-finger length – I floated back in time to when I was a first grader living in Langley Park while my Dad was undergoing training for the CIA. (It was in the early days of the Korean War and my father – a WWII submarine veteran – had been recalled to service. He was recruited by The Company out of the sub pens of Connecticut.)
Anyway, I was in the first grade and had run afoul of a big third-grader and his gang of pink-cheeked thugs who tormented me daily.
Even though I was a little kid, I had pretty sharp tongue and I put it to foolish use during one encounter and after hurling my insult I ran like hell for the safety of home.
It was winter and there was snow on the ground and we were all dressed in heavy winter clothing and so the chase probably looked hilarious to outsiders. Angry, cursing kids struggling through the snow, breath steaming, while a little guy in a winter coat so heavy he looked like a bear cub running for his life from a pack of hounds.
I pounded up the stairs of the apartment building, the big third-grader and his chums dropping off after the second floor. I burst into our apartment, panting like crazy, only to find my father sitting by the window poring over material from CIA School.
He looked me over and in his uncanny way knew immediately what was going on. He said: “Who are you running from?”
Reluctantly I confessed, and he looked out the window and saw the big kid and half-a-dozen others standing downstairs, shouting threats and waving their fists.
He turned to me and said, “Didn’t I tell you to never run from a fight? To stand your ground?”
I just hung my head.
He pointed at the big kid and his gang on the front lawn, then at me and said, “Go down there and face him.”
I stared at him, incredulous. “He’s bigger than me,” I protested. “He’s… he’s… in the third grade!”
My dad’s glare grew hotter and he said, “Either you face him … or you face me.”
This scared the holy hell out of me. My dad was not a man to be defied.
Even so, I hesitated. Again, he pointed at me and said: “Go!”
When the big kid saw me he howled in delight. I approached him cautiously. Put up my little fists.
I said, “My dad says I have to fight you.”
Without a word, the big kid charged and hit me as hard as he could in the stomach. I fell back into a bank of snow, shoveled up from the sidewalk. I lay there for a minute, wondering if maybe I could give up now.
I looked up at the window and saw my father glaring down at me. I remembered his other rule: “If you get knocked down, get up and fight.”
I got up. Raised my fists. And bam! The kid hit me in the stomach again, knocking me down.
Another look up at the window. My father’s face staring out. I struggled to my feet, tried to take a swing at the guy but his arms were much longer so he just laughed and pushed me away and punch me in the belly.
Down I went. I stayed just a little bit longer this time. The funny thing was, my winter coat with the silver buckle in the front was so thick that his punches hadn’t hurt. Even so, this was ridiculous. I was clearly out of my depth. I wanted to stay there and say, “Give” – the universal kid signal at the time for surrender. But I knew my father was looking down at me so I climbed to my feet.
And down I went. And I up climbed.
I don’t know how long it went on. It seemed like an eternity. I started noticing that a crowd had gathered – both adults and kids. I don’t know how many, but everywhere I looked when I got up I saw a sea of faces watching my humiliation.
They were shouting things. I couldn’t make out what they were, but assumed they were mocking me.
The one-sided fight continued. Me getting up. Me getting punched in the belly. Me flopping back into the snowbank. Only to get up again.
Finally, when I once again climbed to my feet, I heard the big kid wail. I looked at him full in the face – probably for the first time since the fight began.
To my amazement, he was crying. Tears streaming down his face. And he wailed, “It’s not fair! He keeps getting up! Why doesn’t he stay down? I beat him, didn’t I?”
He held up a fist. I could see his knuckles were bleeding. “And that coat, with the buckle. It hurts my hand. It’s not fair. Make him take it off.”
And now I started hearing what the crowd was shouting – they were all cheering for me. Crazy, huh?
Then I saw a man come up to the boy – I guessed it was his own father. The man took him by the shoulder, turned him around and marched him away.
I was stunned. I don’t think I threw one punch that connected. Even so, I had won the encounter. Stand your ground, my father had said. And I had. If you get knocked down, get up. And I had.
Hmm. Maybe there was really something to that.
And then, in my present day befuddled vaporized state, I looked up at the window.
My father’s face wasn’t there.
Instead there was a sign – a banner, really, with all kinds of decorations.
And it read: “Four And A Wake Up!”
With that image in mind I fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.
With that image in mind I fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.
LUCKY IN CYPRUS: IT'S A BOOK!
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
NEW: THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION OF
THE HATE PARALLAX
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.)
THE SPYMASTER'S DAUGHTER:
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:
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.