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WELCOME to Summitlake.com’s Writing department. New writing since 2006 is generally posted in WordPress format here in Writing. As listed in the sidebar index, we feature original works by Alex Forbes and our Guest writers. This page was formerly called Writing Notes. It is also home to all our benchmark and legacy writing archives, written mostly since 1990.

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C.Bear’s World – PUBLISHED!

Alex has written a bunch of stories about us, mostly without askin’ us. After years and years on the web, they’re published on the Apple iBooks Store. He promises he will finish “C.Bear’s New Story” and upload Edition 2 as a free update to your book (epub) soon!

You can click this link to my book on Apple’s iBooks Store, where you can download a free (abridged) Sample of my book, or buy the whole thing for a whopping $1.99!

You can still find all my stories listed and linked on the web on our Writing Page sidebar. But we find they are easier to read in bed, all in one place and one book, on our tablet!

C.Bear’s World

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Thank God for Garbage Trucks

short story by Alex Forbes

I was a federal agent. No, no, not a regular agent. We were deputized. We were the good guys, you know. The bad guys were rogue federal agents. They went around shooting people without probable cause, you know. They liked to snoop without a warrant just in case someone said something they didn’t like. We were outnumbered. They were looking for us.

And they were better armed, too. They carried Glock 9mm automatics, and Army assault rifles. I think I carried a Colt revolver; I forget. I never use the damn things any more; they make too much noise. We were supposed to take them down, those rogue agents, but they always had us on the run. I remember one incident where I was trying to escape, climbing a crumbling mud embankment that came apart in my  hands as I clawed at it. But they were after someone else that day.

I knew all my team buddies from the old days. They shot Larry, my old college room-mate. There was good old Leonard, a black co-worker back in simpler times. He used to play the sweetest swing-time blues you ever heard, on his alto sax. He was too gentle a guy for a job like this. I think he got away though.

They finally caught me. I think it was on that embankment. You didn’t have to surrender. When they got you, you knew it. They had a Glock planted on the back of my head. They were yelling at me. I didn’t say anything to them, because after a while I couldn’t hear them any more. I was just kneeling there. In the mud.

I heard this loud CRASH! BANG! and I said to myself, “Hell, this is no good.” I couldn’t hear, but I heard a voice. It sounded like Larry.

The voice told me, “You are the new Savior. He wants you to go forth into the world and make it right again.” That is when I knew I was dead.

Next I heard that sound again, that loud CRASH! BANG! and everything became clear to me.

“Damn, that’s the garbage truck, down on the boulevard. It must be about five o’clock. I gotta get up and pee.”

So I got up to face the new day. I made the coffee. It is good to be alive. Thank God for garbage trucks.

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Zen NO DUCKS Story, submitted by Fred Leeds

A story is told of Ma Tsu and Pai Chang. The two are walking along together when some wild ducks fly by. Ma Tsu asks what they are, and Pai Chang says “Wild ducks.” The master then asks “Where have they gone?” Pai Chang replies “They have already flown away.” Ma Tsu proceeds to twist Pai Chang’s nose and says: “When have they ever flown away, they have been here since the beginning.”

ALEX: All of us might not quite “get” deeper implications of this tale without some help. We see questions of permanence, ephemera, identity and appearance, to name but a few. Fred and I wanted to provide a link, first one I found, with supplementary explanation:

LINK: The Koans of Pai-chang Huai-hai

DISCUSSION:

FRED: The stories of Chinese Zen masters such as Ma-tsu and Pai-chang are revealing and very telling, though directly realizing their intent usually requires meditation. It is like understanding a poem without further explanation, seeing its beauty as already one with its truth. The Zen masters place a high value on immediacy of expression because it reveals the level of one’s realization. One of the main goals of that realization, as I understand it, is to become supremely comfortable in your own skin, to see your place in the universe as at once beautiful and inevitable, as that of the stars and the sea. A Zen master I once met with told me to experience myself, that I might forget myself, to view myself, just I am, as one with all things.

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Doghouse and Writer’s Block

Humor, by Fred Leeds

I am holed up in an attic trying to write something. They may have to keep me here if I don’t come up with something soon. Let’s see… It is a dark and stormy night… I got rid of Lucy but am stuck with Schroeder. Charlie Brown lost at baseball and is sprawled asleep in the doghouse below me. Schroeder keeps playing Beethoven’s Fifth and I’m about to go mad. I must take off in my airplane and seek the wide-open spaces. Red Baron, my old friend, even you are better company than this. Linus, prepare my scarf! I will ride my rickety typewriter into yon evil sky.

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The Kindly Justifying Buddha Mind

a vignette by Fred Leeds

The lotus is an Asian symbol for finding order in chaos, as it grows up pure and strong from the mud below. Making sense of the seeming nonsensical, seeing the beauty in each homely reality, is the key. Can you discern the familiar meaning in the wail of an infant, or the intent behind the awkwardness in the beggar’s muted cry? According to Buddhism, all living beings participate in the Buddha nature just as they are. Our sometimes dreary, everyday world, they say, is the same as nirvana when glimpsed through the kindly justifying mind of purity. It arises above the world while still containing it, like a lotus sprung whole right from the earth below.

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Reflection On Seeing the Evening Star

High over the southwest horizon a bright white light hovers, no doubt to follow the flight path approach to the airport to our north. And this head-on aircraft approach often gives the illusion of motionlessness. But no, tonight it is locked unblinking on its track through the darkening sky, the evening star Venus being the brightest object to command our eye.

And later on the Moon will rise. It should be full in a couple more days. Last night, when it had risen above the towering palm trees, the shiny young palm fronds scattered a hundred pinpoint reflections against a black night sky. It looked like an aerial Christmas tree.

Any day, any evening, any season is a great time and a perfect reason to be alive. Nature is the greatest show on Earth, the only one that gives free bonus prizes to all of us who remember to take the time to watch the pageant unfold.


Alex Forbes
December 15, 2013

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Requiem for an Aircraft, Farewell to a Pilot – by Dave Norton

Requiem for an Aircraft, Farewell to a Pilot, by Dave Norton. Updated and reprinted from the original 2001 HTML article.

B29 front view panel

The day was stiflingly warm, the sky that crystalline umbrella overhead that pilots call “Severe Clear”.

The sun of a summer solstice reflected off the concrete ramp of Chino Airport. It blasted first degree burns on the normally shaded tender skin just above my eyelids, and that of the thousands of others there for the Chino Warbirds Airshow. Brother Dan and I could feel that this was a special day, somehow, and that we were in the presence of History. We didn’t realize that this would be the greatest gathering of flying WWII combat aircraft we would ever see.

Continue reading

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Forgot My Parka and Fell in a Poodle – by Fred Leeds

Snoopy of Peanuts fame used to sit in front of a rickety old typewriter and begin his stories with the hackneyed words “It was a dark and stormy night.” I think I know how he must have felt; I have trouble coming up with new ideas myself these days. Nursing a fetish for originality is of course no wiser. As every punster knows, words are at bottom just a batch of funny noises. Nevertheless, i must make a pretense of stately oration in the public’s sacred name. I just can’t deliver a pronouncement right now because it’s been raining outside and my coat’s sopping mud-wet and dripping on the rug. I’m afraid the weather is in hands other than mine, and while I’m an author, I’m no author or master of the universe. Let me clean up the mud spot on the carpet and I’ll get back to you. (Curse you, Red Baron!)

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Counting on the Off Beat – by Fred Leeds

Counting on the off beat means trusting in our peculiarities, not being preoccupied with surface impressions. Something inside us knows what to do even when we seem baffled. I seek that certain something because I feel baffled more often than most. When I make a mistake I make it completely and try to tap its whole meaning.

For example, a lady seemed to be winking at me the other day. Before she rubbed her eye and revealed she had something in it, I winked back. Undaunted by my mistake, I said I wished I could keep the cinder company. She laughed where she had seemed sour before, so for a guy as timid as me, this was a triumph.

Chalk up another victory to Idiosyncrasy Incorporated.

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When Words Collide

a vignette by Fred Leeds

It’s the eternal question of putting pen to paper. What should I write about, and why? Shall I address something earth-shattering or just ordinary events? To paraphrase James Thurber, it’s better to write largely about small events and but a little about great events. Then there’s the question of what a reader might prefer to read, as opposed to one’s lofty authorial inclinations. It can all get pretty complicated, but the one thing I know for sure is that I love writing, writing about anything. Pushing a subject against a verb is all I need to be content. No earth-shattering collision need be imminent.

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