“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”
By Dave Dentel
Ernest Hemingway had his six-toed cats. Robert Heinlein famously wrote about a cat who tried all the doors in the house until he found the one that led to summer.
T.S. Eliot left off lamenting the decline of modern society long enough to pen ditties about fantastic felines—which later inspired a Broadway hit.
The many cats in my life help animate my literary efforts, too, though not necessarily by modeling whimsical characters or enacting zany plot points.
This is the first part of a story about how big-time sports at faith-based colleges can sometimes lead to a conflict of interests. It's part of my anthology now available on Kickstarter.
It was as much a shrine as an office. The team trophies, of course, were encased in towers of glass and varnished cherry out in the foyer where they could impress visitors to Madison Baptist Univesity’s new athletics administration building. But otherwise Eugene “Jimmy” Miller’s personal space bristled with mementos meant to illustrate a champion’s career. Action shots from his stint in the majors; team portraits from his managing days; grip-and-grins with big names: ball players, senators, a pair of presidents, television evangelists—these shared the walls with plaques, certificates and other mass-produced expressions of institutional gratitude.
Paul Kronmeier, mere assistant football coach (linebackers and secondary) had time to examine these items because he’d been put on hold by the man they extolled—Miller himself—while the athletics director wrapped up a phone call at his desk. At least staring at the walls gave Kronmeier something to do besides wonder why he’d been summoned there to discuss, as Miller had put it, “football business.” Kronmeier knew next to nothing about business; if he had he’d have followed his father’s advice and gone into investment banking. Sports decisions involving money were why colleges hired athletics directors. Kronmeier’s problems were more on the level of getting linebackers who weren’t actually tackling the ball carrier to at least try.
This is the third part of a story I wrote to commemorate—and help make sense of—the crisis that has gripped our planet going on fourteen months now. Subsequent parts will follow. And if you like what you see, please consider backing my volume of short stories now on Kickstarter.
He had drained his second cup of coffee. Sarah sent one of her younger daughters bounding over to collect the soiled dishes for scrubbing. Dale watched the girl with admiration; it astonished him how most of the church kids had embraced their impromptu campout as an unexpected adventure.
It certainly was rustic. They drew water from a mountain spring and performed ablutions in a latrine dug on the opposite slope. Most of the men had abandoned shaving; the whiskers thickening on their padded cheeks reminded Dale of gorged alley cats.
Few works illustrate the power of fantastic stories for exploring deep, meaningful, yet hard-to-pin-down ideas better than the space trilogy by C.S. Lewis.
Not that the novels are easy to define. They’re usually described as science fiction, a label that works if you consider that the first two involve a human traveling to Earth’s nearest planetary neighbors and interacting with the creatures he encounters there.
In a cave on a small island a man sat stirring a pot of dark, oily brew. For lack of any better name he would call it tea, though God knew the nasty substance probably tasted little better than aviation fuel.
Now there was a sad joke. They’d run out of fuel before they had run out of tea—and before that they’d run out of meat, out of rice, out of bean paste, and finally out of biscuits. They still had tons of bullets and shells. It was a busted grenade case the man squatted on and wood from a splintered cartridge box he used to fire the metal stove.
Tommie studied the mirror with dissatisfaction. The changes in the face and figure reflected there were too marked to ignore. Most traces of the skinny, giddy kid who enjoyed lingering in front of the glass were gone, as was the pleasant trait of being able to blend in with nearly any pack of peers. For someone heading into the final year of school it posed a genuine problem. The last thing you wanted was to get pegged as belonging to a particular group. It wasn’t just a fashion blunder; it could mean social and career disaster. What you were supposed to want was to play the chameleon, to paint and coif, dress up or down, and generally make yourself over into whatever struck your fancy—that was benefit of the New Freedom.
This is the second part of a story I wrote to commemorate—and help make sense of—the crisis that has gripped our planet going on fourteen months now. Subsequent parts will follow. And if you like what you see, please consider backing my volume of short stories now on Kickstarter.
Morning broke the same way it had the previous nine days. A golden sun bubbled up from the flat horizon while a hint of breeze distributed the aroma of breakfast from where it cooked over the remains of last night’s watch fire.
Still stretched out on his stack of blankets, Dale stirred but allowed himself a moment of repose. Another vigil had ended. Who knew what the coming hours might bring? For now, he could savor the anticipation of fresh-baked biscuits washed down with coffee brewed on a bed of coals. Finally, his appetite demanding satisfaction, he threw off his top cover, rubbed his eyes, and shuffled toward the fire.
This is the first part of a story I wrote to commemorate—and help make sense of—the crisis that has gripped our planet going on fourteen months now. Subsequent parts will follow. And if you like what you see, please consider backing my volume of short stories now on Kickstarter.
Their first full week together, from Sunday to the sabbath, had been steeped in undeniable joy—at times approaching giddiness. Mostly they sang, often for hours at a stretch, their collective exuberance resonating off the sheltering rocks and cascading toward the prairie floor fifteen hundred feet below. In moments of intense bliss, the older congregants hoisted their hands skyward; younger ones hopped, skipped, and bent their limber frames in a way that might have been described as dancing except for the fact that the man who held final authority on these things—Pastor Dale Starkweather—would have insisted that by all he’d witnessed in thirty-five years of ministry it was a fundamental principle that Baptists don’t dance.
“The thing that makes me happy is that I know that on Mars, two hundred years from now, my books are going to be read. They’ll be up on dead Mars with no atmosphere. And late at night, with a flashlight, some little boy is going to peek under the covers and read The Martian Chronicles on Mars.”
By Dave Dentel
It’s quite possible science fiction icon Ray Bradbury never got over being a kid.
Even as an adult, he stuffed his Beverly Hills office with toy spaceships, ray guns and dinosaurs. He entertained his grandchildren with magic tricks.