Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

"Knock, knock."
"Who's there?"
"Not your white blood cells, that's for damn sure."


Sunday, Feb. 1 – 3:25 p.m.

Okay, we’ve survived one of life’s little disappointments – the delay of my penultimate chemo session. A shortage of red blood cells and the ever important immunizers – the white blood cells - led them to put off the session for several days of transfusions. In short, we went from 18 days and a wakeup to 21 and a wakeup. Friday, the blood levels were declared normal and the previously cancelled sessions were back on again.

So, tomorrow, Monday, I’ll enter the IV clinic at 8:30 in the morning to be poisoned for the next to the last time. Then it’ll be two more weeks to the final treatment.

In other words, the name of the game now is 16 and a wakeup.

Monday, Feb. 2 – 4:30

Blood levels were still way off. Transfusions were ordered, once again delaying the start of the next chemo session. 

There is a school of thought that says that people who use expletives are either weak-minded individuals who don’t have the vocabulary or imagination to express themselves. My father, on the other hand, said you not only had to have the right tool for the right job, but the right curse word as well.

I’m going with my father here when I express my thoughts about this morning’s events:


Tuesday, Feb. 3, 5:05 p.m.

Horray and huzzah!


Spent from early morning to mid-afternoon getting a battery of blood tests. Time really dragged because (a) I was biting my nails worrying that my white blood cell count might still not be up to snuff. And (b) the damn lab was taking forever over each sample. But we were on Hospital Time, folks, which means you wait, and wait, and then wait some more. After six long and sickening months this is the next to the last chemo treatment.

Finally the good news. The poisoning of Allan Cole could once again commence.

Watched Breaking Bad episodes on my i-Pad while they juiced me up with Adriatic carpet cleaner, then I was given my good old Cadd pump full of more of the same. Twenty two hours worth.

A few minutes ago Part One of the ordeal was over and Kathryn rescued me from durance vile. Now, I’m home and absolutely whipped.

The next order of business: A bowl of Kathryn’s hot blueberry soup then I’m going to crash.

See you all tomorrow.

Wednesday, Feb. 4 – 5:33 p.m.

Another long session. Back home now with my little Cadd Pump making sure the poisoning is continuous.


Thursday, Feb. 5 – 10:36 a.m.

Feel like what’s left behind on a cow path. Going in at 3 p.m. to get unplugged from the pump. And then it’ll be:

Thirteen and a wakeup.


Had some hot blueberry soup when I got home, then crashed. Got up about 7 p.m. All I could handle for dinner was some mashed potatoes with plain yogurt mixed in for protein. Watched The second episode of The Americans, (recorded from the night before), a great series. Followed by Justified. Then crashed.

Friday, Feb. 6 – 5:37 p.m.

Bad night. Didn’t get to sleep until 4 a.m. Got up around ten and had a protein shake. Read the NY Times and Wall Street Journal. Just before lunch – I was going to have some more hot blueberry soup – I got very sick. Painfully so. Took a spoonful of Paragoric, but it didn’t touch the pain. Popped a pain pill, had some special cookies and laid there, trying to relax my muscles as much as possible, until finally the pain relented. Listened to an audiobook until things let up enough so I could sleep.

Got up a few minutes ago. Plan to repeat last night’s mashed potato/yogurt dinner. And then… we’ll see…

Wish me luck.

Saturday, Feb. 7 – 9:27

A bad day at Black Rock. In short, luck was not forthcoming.

On the other hand, we’re at 11 and a wakeup now.

See you at ten and a wakeup.

Sunday, Feb. 8 – 10:15 p.m.

A little better day, with one very painful episode in the middle. Watched Downton Abby with Kathryn and now I’m going to drag my chemo-soaked carcass back to bed.

I’ll check back with you at nine and a wakeup.

Monday, Feb. 9 – 6:08 p.m.

A slightly better day. It started off with an odd flashback just before I woke up.

It was a memory from half a century ago:  I was a kid, sitting on the floor of the living room of our rented villa in Cyprus. My brother, ‘Charlie, who was about three or so at the time sat besides me, eagerly watching as I tuned in the big console radio. Twisting the dial this way and that, getting snips of Greek music, soap operas, game shows and so on until I came to the station run by the British military government. It broadcast mostly BBC stuff, plus a handful of popular American programs.

And then, just as I hit the BBC sweet spot, a voice familiar to millions of kids everywhere chimed in:

Big Jon: Pluck your magic twanger, Froggy.

Sound: TWANG!!!

Froggy: Hi, ya, kids. Hi,ya, hi, ya, hi, ya.

Kids in the show’s audience all cheered and little Charlie laughed and clapped and gurgled: “Hi, kids, hi ya, hi ya, hi ya!”

It was the old Big Jon And Sparky show that I used to listen to with my baby brother every weekend.

I woke up laughing.

Later, when the chemo symptoms returned and I retreated back to bed, I laid there searching for something to focus on to relax enough to let the medicine take effect.

And Charlie’s baby voice came back to me, clapping and laughing and chanting, “Hi, kids, hi ya, hi ya, hi ya!”

And the symptoms went:


Tuesday, Feb. 10 – 10:30 a.m.

We’re at eight and a wakeup now, folks. Single Digitland. The poisoning of Allan Cole is nearing an end. What happens after that depends on the follow up cancer tests, but I’ve grown sanguine about such things. What will be, will be.

I’m now approaching the point of being so short that I’m becoming what Chris and his Army buddies used to call the State of “FIGMO.” This was used when a troopie was officially notified that his time in country was over. And if some asshole noncom told him to do some onerous chore, he’d say, “Sorry, Sarge. I’m FIGMO.”

Translation: Fuck It I Got My Orders.

Wednesday, Feb. 11 – 9:20 a.m.

Seven and a wakeup and I’m FIGMO all the way.

This morning, as I rose up feeling reasonably better to greet a bright and sunny South ‘Florida day, two memories popped into being.


We were moving down a mountain trail – me and Mike Hammer, a Cajun guy hailing from the bayous of Louisiana. The path was not much more than a deer trail, winding through a thick forest. It was a hot California summer afternoon, but it was cool and dark among the trees and we were at the beginning of our trek, easily lugging two packs filled with camping gear, rifles over our shoulders and holstered pistols at our waists. There was a third bundle, three pine planks jutting out from either side, which we took turns carrying. Remember that damned bundle.

A few hours down the trail was our destination: a spot along the banks of the American River where the California Gold Rush was born. This was Mother Lode Country. A place of countless legends of fortunes made in the blink of an eye and just as quickly lost.

Our purpose was the same as those prospectors of old. Witness the big gold pans that hung from each of our packs and that third bundle, which carried the making of a sluice box, complete with Chinese riffles to capture all that gold that we were going to shovel out of our own Glory Hole. I was in my youthful prime then – quick, strong, and supremely confident that there was nothing and no one I could not overcome. And when I found a fortune of my own, I by God, would not lose it.

Mike knew about prospecting. I’d befriended him while camping in the Los Padres Mountains outside of LA, where he was the caretaker of a gold mining claim. My current American River adventure was born out of late nights of tall tale telling by Mike and his Bakersfield cousins. We even worked out an ambitious plan to find the Lost Dutchman mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains – a plan that served me well when years later, Chris Bunch and I sold a movie based on that legend, which got us enough money and professional credits to qualify for membership in the Screenwriters Guild and become big time Hollywood writers.

Meanwhile, back on that forest trail the slope had become so steep you had to lean back to keep gravity from toppling you over to smash your face into rocks, pine needles and rabbit droppings. That third bundle became a obscenity-worthy burden by this time. The trail was too steep to carry both a pack and the bundle, so we started taking turns carrying our packs so far, then dropping them on the path. One would stay and rest, while the other went back for the damned sluice box parts.

We leaped frogged like that until we came to a stretch where the rabbit droppings grew in abundance. My first warning that this was not a good sign came when I dropped my pack and turned to fetch the third bundle.

A loud, dry buzzing sound erupted from the brush just a few feet from where I stood. A rattlesnake! My heart did a pitter pat and I took a step back and slid the rifle off my shoulder, pointing it at the place where I thought the snake was hiding.

Mike wheezed up and the buzzing erupted anew. He just grinned and shook his head.  “Don’t mind him,” he said. “He’s just pissed ‘cause we chased away all his rabbits and we’re too big to eat.”

I got my 19-year-old bravado back and laughed. Feigning indifference, I went back for the bundle and soon we were off again. But within a few yards there came another buzzing. Then another. And another. The whole path became a cacophony of poisonous serpents buzzing their warning: Go away. Go away. Or, I’ll bite you and kill you. The dishonest Brian Williams part of my memory says there must have been a hundred. The number was most likely seven. Or maybe only six.

Even so, the situation became scarier still. Because we were becoming quickly exhausted in the thin mountain air and could only go so far before we were forced to stop and rest. And then, moan, whimper, one of us had to go back for that third fucking pack. Back through the buzzing, carrying the load as far as we could. Then dropping it and continuing on. I noted with only a little satisfaction that Mike was as spooked as I was.

To our immense relief we finally passed out of the rattlesnake zone, but then the slender path became so steep we were sometimes forced to turn to the side and lumber along crablike, our legs burning with the effort, muscles turning into jelly. I started to wonder – and I’m sure Mike felt the same – what the hell I had gotten myself into. This wasn’t an adventure, it was sheer torture. I might have suggested calling the whole thing off, but at this point there was no way I could climb back up that damned mountain.

And then we emerged from the trees to reach level ground. Framed by the mountains, the river was just ahead, past a jumble of boulders and a wide expanse of soft white sand. We headed for a spot where the river bent sharply inward. A large boulder emerged from the water at that point, forming a deep pool.

“Perfect hidey hole for gold,” Mike said, and we tromped up to the river bank and shed our burdens.

Night comes early in the mountains and sun was just a slender shimmer of light above the western peaks. Mike fished a flashlight from his pack and I followed him down to the water’s edge, which was thick with moss. He knelt down, pulling up moss, turning it over, giving a quick look at the roots, then tossing the stuff aside.

Then he said, “Here we damned well go, Al. Clap your baby blues on this.”

I bent over and looked at the thick hunk of moss. I’m sure I gasped aloud as I saw - glimmering up at me - hundreds of needlepoints of golden nuggets, shimmering and glittering in the last light of the dying sun.

“Is that real gold?” I asked.

“Damn straight it’s real,” Mike said.

It was the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the ever-loving rainbow.

My breathing quickened. My heart did a pitter pat. I’m sure I became feverish. And I suddenly knew what Bogart’s character felt like in Treasure Of The Sierra Madre when he and his partners gazed upon their fortune for the first time.

As Bogie said in another picture – The Maltese Falcon – “it’s the stuff dreams are made of.”


Years later…

I was astride my motorcycle, struggling through one of those rare California storms, where the rain comes down so fast and heavy it’s like the vengeful ghosts of all those dispossessed land owners in Owens Valley had picked up the Aqueduct and dumped it on Los Angeles.

It was night, making things ever more difficult and the glare of the street lights made it almost impossible to see. I had to keep reaching up with a leather-gloved hand to squeegee the water off my helmet’s visor.

The car ahead of me was driven by Kathryn and I was following her home from her brother’s place where – dead broke from my recent divorce - I usually crashed. Chris and I wrote together every day after work, trying to break into writing books and screenplays.

Kathryn, who was Chris’ little sister, was about twenty six then. I was about thirty two. An age difference that meant nothing at all now, unlike when I had first met her when I was a high school senior. Even so, I always had a soft spot for her and she for me.

We had recently discovered each other anew and this was in the early days of what was to become a decades -long romance. But right then I doubt if either of us knew what exactly would become of the budding relationship. I was emotionally battered from the divorce and she had demons of her own.

At the moment, we were headed for her little apartment in Hawthorne in an area infamous for its vehicle thefts so when we got there, she’d hold the apartment door open I while drove the big Suzuki up the steps to park in the safety of her living room. It made for quite a conversation piece.

The rain came down harder, drumming against my helmet so loud all other sound was drowned out. The road was slick from all the oil and grease that floated up and I had to concentrate hard on not making any sudden movements, or over I would go – in the path of the cars behind me.

With the street lights glaring overhead, turning the road into watery mirror that dazzled the eye and fuddled the brain, it was becoming increasingly difficult to think. And so I focused on Kathryn’s form through the back window as she maneuvered her car through the storm. Her hair was long, flowing over her shoulders, rippling with highlights as she slowly turned her head this way and that, alert for competing traffic.

A traffic signal bloomed red just ahead and we both slowed, then came to cautious stops. I stared at the back of her head, wondering what she was thinking. I caught a narrow glimpse of her face in the rearview mirror and the pace of my heart quickened.

I gave the bike’s horn a little toot and she turned to look back. As she turned, her face was quite serious at first, then when our eyes finally met she smiled.It was a wondrous smile. A magic smile. Full lips. Large dark eyes Pearly teeth gleaming in the dark.

At that very moment I felt as if I had been hit by lightning and all confusion was swept aside.

Then the light changed and we drove on and I knew nothing would ever be the same.


And so it comes down to this: At any moment life can rise up and bite you, or kiss you.

One day you might be stricken with cancer.

The next, fall in love with a beautiful woman.

And like that gold all a glitter on the banks of the American River, it’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Happy Valentine's Day, sweetheart.

Love ,



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,


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. Cole, you rat bastard, you brought a tear to my eye. I wish you many more of those glorious moments with Kathryn. You dsmned sure deserve them.