Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bathsheba Beckons

By Fred Owens

I wrote a short story called "Bathsheba Beckons." I will send it to you in the next newsletter. It's not very long, only 2,300 words. I expect most of you will find it tedious and laced with obscure literary references, but a few of you might enjoy it. I know I enjoyed writing the story. It is my first attempt at fiction.

I am drawing on persons from real life of course --- there is a character named Charlie Bones, an artist in Seattle, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Charlie Krafft.

The lead character is named Tom Blethen. Tom is the name of my older brother. Blethen is a Welsh name. The Blethen family are the owners of the Seattle Times, and I once dated a woman of that name who was a part of that family........Bessie Blume is the female character.... The name Blume comes from my friend Harvey Blume, the Tanned Lion of East Cambridge..... and so the story construction process goes.

I put Tom Blethen on a small farm in Ventura County. He is digging potatoes on a winter's day, working in the rain, working on Bessie Blume's farm. He is muttering and cursing his fate, when Bessie comes out of the house to give him some direction -- but I am giving away the story now.

The great joy of writing fiction is that, once you have set up the characters and the scene, you don't really know what is going to happen, even though you are writing the story. You see, a character, once created, has a mind of his own, he does what he will, not what you tell him to do. It all comes down to the truth. Even in fiction, you have to tell the truth -- because all good stories are true stories.

The title, "Bathsheba Beckons," comes from the Thomas Hardy novel, Far from the Madding Crowd, which is set on a farm in rural England. The main character in the novel is Bathseba Everdene, and she owns a farm, and so Bessie Blume is actually very different in character from Bathsheba but she does own a farm.

With Affection for Christopher Hitchens. Of course he did not say Merry Christmas, but can you imagine Hitchens greeting someone with Happy Holidays? He would have choked on his Scotch before uttering such a nonsense. He was way better than that and I miss him already. I heard him speak in Seattle several years ago, on tour to promote his book on atheism. He was a wonderful, witty speaker who converted no one to his belief. Half his audience in Seattle were Methodist ministers of a liberal stripe, attending as a display of tolerance. Hitchens couldn't win for losing in this debate. God loves a scoundrel.

He was a confirmed smoker and drinker. Had he reformed he would not have lived one minuter longer. Had he reformed he would have died of boredom. If one lives for the sake of "health" then one is rewarded with a long and stupid life -- I'm sure he would have agreed with that sentiment.

Hitchens was a fully enlightened being and he made the decision to dissolve upon death. He will not visit heaven nor hell and he will not be reincarnated.

Impossible to find a gift for my brother. I finished my Christmas shopping, having bought seven gifts for under $100 total. Except I don't have anything for my older brother Tom. Every year it is impossible to find him a gift. He has nothing and he doesn't want anything.

Not me, there are many things I want, and I'm working on a wish list for 2012, a list of things I wish to acquire, places I wish to visit, and experiences I would like to have. This is a secret list, of course.

Learning Chinese. I go to for a study of Chinese characters. It is easy to learn Chinese. Just say that to yourself every day. It's easy. Chinese isn't difficult. You learn one character, then you learn another character and you just keep going. If anyone says learning Chinese is hard, then throw water at them or call them a bad name.

No Farm News. The sun comes up, the sun goes down and each days passes in its time and toil.

No Politics. I'm biting my tongue, but I'm sticking to my pledge -- no politics here.

Merry Christmas. Cheers, happiness and prosperity to all. May the joy of the season spread across the globe even to North Korea.

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My blog is Fred Owens

send mail to:

Fred Owens
7922 Santa Ana Rd
Ventura CA 93001

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