Crackle with Life

Short Stories

Brian Jones

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ISBN: 0-931892-95-3, 112 pp., 10 b/w illus., 5.5 x 8.5, paper, $7.95

"This collection of short stories contains the essence of life: people. Real people with real experiences, some tragic and some fortunate. The individuals whose lives make up these tales are the people we encounter at home and when we travel. When tragedy strikes, it is the goodness in the people that brings them together and enables them to survive. We find these travelers trapped in the Yukon, basking in the Guatemalan sun, and soul-seeking in the timeless town of Nevada City, California. Brian Jones' vivid descriptions of roadways and places you can visit today, allows the reader to vacation while never having to leave these pages. Crackle with Life gives you a reading pleasure that can be devoured in one sitting or savored throughout many fireside nights." Quentin Saludes

Table of Contents

To Blaze a Trail
A Drifter's Banquet
Cadillac Coincidence
Lago de Atitlan
Cone of Light
Crackle with Life
A Moonlight Ride
Don't Go Back
Stream Dream


To Blaze a Trail

One man rides alone on a mountain bike, making a solo track in the hard-packed sand at the water's edge. His lungs are working hard in the salty air as he rides. Glancing around at his surroundings he looks inland and sees an old barn painted farmhouse red with white trim. On the beach, the endless beach, the sand stretches on into the fog, with no end in sight.

The man is getting frustrated; he has to meet with someone in a short while, many miles down the beach. The ride is taking too long. With no watch and no people to ask the time of, he decides to try to find a short-cut back to the road.

Putting the bike on his shoulder he hikes over the sand dunes, stopping at the top of one to look hard for a trail. None in sight. Just rolling dunes with short stubby grass, then a marsh and then a field with a fence and in the far distance, the farmhouse and barn - the only sign of civilization. He must get there and find a road. Looking back at the beach he sees the wind on the waves, the fog, and the solo bike track along the water's edge partially erased by a high-reaching wave.

Hoisting the bike back on to his shoulder he starts off in the direction of the farmhouse. Crossing the dunes and arriving at the marsh, he looks for a passable route across, through or over. Finally he finds an animal trail with tall grass bent over the water to create a spongy walkway. With chest-high grass blowing like waves in the wind around him, the bike on his shoulder, and a red handkerchief wiping the sweat from his brow, the man crosses the marsh. A snow white Egret takes to the air, startled from the tall grass.

Hiking up a small hill at the far end of the marsh, he lifts the bike over a fence and begins the long walk across the dry grass field, making his way steadily toward the farmhouse. Rolling the bike alongside himself as he walks, he notices the sky turning blue overhead as the sun breaks through the fog. Back out on the beach the ocean is grey and threatening.

The farmhouse is deserted or abandoned, claimed by the State Parks Association. The windows are boarded over and the paint is peeling. Weeds have taken over the yard, but a certain amount of character still remains. Life was comfortable here at one time. The man with the bicycle rests in the shade, under a giant Cypress, enjoying the front yard of the long-gone inhabitants.

After a while he rides down the driveway toward the gate, and then on to Hwy. 1 where he turns south and rides through Manchester and on to his destination, the Garcia River, arriving just in time to be early.

Blue Dolphin Publishing, 1991

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