An Invitation to Join the Club

As the dawn sheds light on a new day, I find myself reflecting on yesterday’s celebration of Canada’s birthday.

Canada is many things, including a beautiful land of diversity, both in landscape and people. We’re far from perfect and face our own struggles, but overall, we are blessed.

However, Canada is but one country, and sparsely populated in relation to land mass.  At just over 37 million, we’re a drop in the bucket.

What about this club thing in the title, Bierman? And what’s with the handshake photo? Don’t you know it’s dangerous nowadays? I’ll get to that, soon, I promise. First, I’m going to give you a quick bio about myself, so that you have a gist about who’s extending this invitation.

Here goes: I’m a white, middle class, Christian man, with a nuclear family. I have over twenty years’ experience as a Correctional Officer. I’m the son of immigrants who arrived as children, from Holland. I am proud of who I am, my heritage, my country, and my family.

I hope you are proud of who you are too. You have every right to be.

You see, this club is not exclusive, it’s open to everyone, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political leanings, and occupation.

There are some rules, however:

  1. You must have a pulse.
  2. You agree to behave in a respectful manner to all. Do not mock or belittle anyone because you think their ideas, religion, beliefs, interests, what have you, are foolish.
  3. You agree to disagree, refrain from assigning unfair labels to someone, simply because their opinions do not coincide with your own.
  4. You agree to inform yourself and question what you see and hear on the news. That goes for social media, too. You are intelligent and have free will. Please do your research before you make assumptions. I’m sorry, I know real issues exist, but this particular item is gasoline on an inferno. Blue Lives Murder T Shirt on Amazon . So every police officer is a murderer? I don’t think so. I’m using this one because it hits a bit close to home. I don’t know what you do for a living but think about possible stereotypes for your profession. Are they true for all who work in that field?
  5. Honest questions are encouraged and even polite debate, but do not expect a conversion to your way of thinking. Oh, by the way, might be wise to leave the thesaurus at home. Sophisticated or uncommon words that are meant to demonstrate superior “intelligence” often do the opposite. More importantly, they do not foster amicable relations.
  6. We all have trauma and scars from the past. Yes, even the rich and famous. So many things shape us into what we are today. I think it’s important to remember that we are all one footstep away from being someone else.

So, what is this club? Well, I guess I’ll call it, The Club of Humanity. The invitation has no expiry date. All that is required is to follow these simple rules and check any bitterness, anger, and prejudice at the door. If you’d like, I can leave a bin of glasses at the entrance to wear, so that members can see others through a new lens.

Thank you for reading this. I hope to see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thirst for Gold, Part One of Three

Dawson City, Yukon, during the Klondike

October 21,1897

The horse sped by and kicked up chunks of manure that struck the front of Albin’s Mackinaw jacket. He shook a fist at the rider and blued the air with curses. His foul mood further soured as he slogged along the muck-slimed boardwalk to Heaven’s Hearth Inn. He began to contemplate the madness that had driven him to come here. All the best claims had been staked.

Hen cackles pierced his thoughts, just seconds before he heard the rattle of glass panes. The front door of The Gilded Bruin Saloon had smacked against the outside wall after being given a hard shove.

A young bull, his massive head squished into a wide-brimmed hat stumbled outside. His twiggy sidekick was slung over a granite outcrop shoulder like the strap on a haversack.

A pair of scurvy-plagued down-and-outers, one draped in a threadbare horse blanket that fell across pyramid shoulders, the other, a gargoyle with moth eaten gloves that exposed frost bitten digits, pleaded with the corned louts for a handout.

The sidekick waved a boney arm dismissively, slurred them to eternal damnation and ordered them to pull foot.

The bovine, however, whispered in his ear and gave him a wink. His partner chuckled before his mouth curved into a crescent moon.

“Can you stand, Tom?” It was a rhetorical question because Tom was dumped onto the porch before he could answer. He wobbled on new-born fawn legs and had to grab the nearest awning post.

“Ya gotta ‘nuff dust Gabe?”

Gabe nodded. “Plenty.”  He squeezed a meaty hand into his pocket and pulled out a caribou-hide poke, after opening the draw strings, his sausage fingers removed a pinch of gold flakes. “You ready for some fun!” He winked and tossed them into the filthy spittoon beside the door.

The beggars raced for the spittoon, shoving, and punching each other, they knocked it over, spilling the vile liquid over the porch. The pair landed in a heap and continued to battle with the ferocity of feral cats, alternatively clawing at the opponent’s eyes and the liquid. The philistines howled with delight.

Disgusted, Albin averted his gaze. The fires of Hell were being stoked for these two. God’s wrath would fall upon those who made a mockery of starvation. His eye caught something that confirmed the Creator’s justice and His benevolence towards Albin. Something glittered in the muck, just an inch from the porch. The fool had unwittingly dropped a significant amount of gold. The combatants were entangled, and the devils were too drunk. Temptation called for immediate action, but Job came to mind . . . patience was always rewarded.

The wait had the lifespan of a sneeze. The gasping corpses tired quickly and agreed to an even split. Both ruffians gave a final whoop and stumbled off, no doubt on the prowl for harlots.

Albin moved swiftly, scooping the gold, he placed it in his red handkerchief. The Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways. As in everything, this had happened for a reason. The gift wouldn’t be squandered, he knew what to do.

He entered the den of iniquity. At first, the patrons took little notice of the large man in the filthy coat, but as Albin wandered past the bar, even the most inebriated threw him looks of revulsion. He side-stepped a painted lady who straddled her client’s lap. She wrinkled her nose and demanded the head of whomever had let this pig inside.

Albin paid no heed to any of them. His focus remained fixed on the vault style door at the far end of the room. A solid slab of oak, it was leagues out of character with the typical match-stick construction that littered this shanty town. The most impenetrable portal in Dawson, complete with a heavy deadbolt, its only weakness was a small peephole. Behind it was the fortified lair of Dawson’s Klondike King, Karl Jackson.

The door wasn’t the only thing barring unsolicited entry. Two behemoths stood guard, both armed with Smith and Wesson revolvers. The one on the left appeared to be around thirty. He fell three inches short of Albin’s six-foot-two stature, but every square inch rippled with muscle. His hair was black as Satan’s heart, heavily coated with Macassar Oil and parted just above the left eye, one of a pair that were darker than a mine shaft. His face would have caused a swoon among the fairer sex, had those peepers been less soulless.

His back up had an extra inch of height and an equal portion of muscle. Close-cropped brown hair spiked above hazel eyes that signaled a generally docile disposition that would turn murderous if provoked or commanded to do so by Jackson. Probably mid to late thirties, but the weathered face, and the sizeable scar under the left eye suggested the accelerated aging of a hard life.

A phantom hand gripped Albin’s stomach and he questioned if this truly was God’s plan. He slowed his gait to a shuffle and prayed silently and swiftly for guidance and deliverance. The effect was immediate; a surge of confidence that removed doubt and relieved pain.

There were two powerful motives to see this ordeal through. One practical, the other was the need to lay eyes on a beast who profited from misery and death.

The guards had noticed him, and Albin sensed the entire patronage holding its collective breath. All were hungry for blood. The door men sized him up. How must he appear? A big man covered in horse crap with a wild look in his eyes, headed straight for them.

In unison, their hands moved to rest on their pistols. Neither displayed emotion beyond amused curiosity. The reach for the guns was purely instinctual. No morale code would prevent them from killing him, as one might a pesky rat, but shooting would be bad for business, so unless he made a grievous error, he should remain on this side of eternity.

Albin raised his hands to show that he was unarmed. The larger man nodded and relaxed his grip, but Macassar Oil repeatedly clenched and unclenched the pistol butt. His ambivalence stretched Albin’s nerves.

“Whoa there, partner. Where do you think you’re going?” Mister “docile” stepped forward and raised a hand the size of a Clydesdale hoof, the other had returned to roost on the pistol. His voice had the quality of one who gargled with stones on a daily basis.

Albin came to an abrupt halt, arms still vertical. “I’m requesting an audience with your boss.”

To be continued . . .

 

 

 

Vanished, A novel by Mark Bierman

 

Today I wish to take some time to promote my novel, Vanished. Now, I must be honest with you, I never thought I’d write a story about human trafficking

How it all began and why:

My father was a building contractor and had been to the impoverished nation of Haiti a number of times. He would assist with the construction of homes, churches, and a few other projects. His return meant amazing stories and disturbing photos of tiny shanties where families lived, in cramped quarters, without running water or electricity.  In fact, often, there were open streams of raw sewage that ran close to these squalid huts.

In October of 2010, my brother-in-law accompanied my father to decimated post-earthquake Haiti. Yes, you guessed it, another construction project.

“Oh, take a journal with you and write in it every day,” I instructed them. “I want to write an article for a magazine about your experiences.”

The pair dutifully completed their “assignments” and I was blessed with a plethora of information and colorful stories. That’s when the idea came for a book. Yes, but why Human Trafficking? Well, I have spent years working as a Correctional Officer and my mind instinctively wandered to the criminal element, I also enjoy reading action novels. I really believe, too, that this book was a therapy for me, to cleanse my mind of the negative experiences of working in a prison.

Please be aware that the book contains NO graphic violence or sexual deviance. I DO NOT create rape scenes, nor describe grotesque injuries or deaths.

A quick summary of Vanished:

Tyler Montgomery loses his wife to cancer and is grieved beyond consoling. His father-in-law, John Webster, cannot bear the loss of his daughter, both men are headed for self-destruction. When the opportunity for the mission trip arises, Trudy, John’s wife, convinces the pair to go. Though she grieves herself, she puts their needs first and believes this Good Samaritan experience will be a distraction.

They arrive in Port-de-Paix, Haiti, which is relatively untouched by the earthquake and find their host, a missionary named Steve Tracey. He drives them to Rescue Haiti Mission, their home for the next month. At dinner that night, they meet a lovely young woman named Mahalia, who takes in the Mission’s laundry, and her sweet seven-year-old daughter, Chantale.

All goes well for the first while, until Mahalia bursts into the cafeteria during dinner, proclaiming that Chantale has been taken, her cherished doll found abandoned on the road. A local search leads nowhere, and the police are unwilling to help. Even Steve tells them to accept that little Chantale is lost forever. The earthquake has created too many problems and these children are never found.

Unaccustomed to such atrocities, and reeling with the pain of their own loss, the two Americans develop a strong desire to do the right thing. Steve resists, at first, citing the dangers and fallibility of the undertaking.

One day, in a fit of frustration, Steve declares that Chantale is as good as dead. Mahalia overhears this and reacts strongly. She ignores Steve and approaches Tyler, the look of sorrow in her eyes is what he sees in the mirror daily.

Mahalia shoves a photo of her daughter, and the doll into Tyler’s hands. She locks eyes with him and utters the words that begin a terrifying journey into the underbelly of Haitian society.

“Don’t listen to him. He has given up hope for many things. You are a good man. I know you can do this. Please find her! Please find my baby!”

Yes, John and Tyler are loosely based on my kin, and yes, there are some facts and experiences they had that are incorporated into the story. However, the majority of it is fiction.

This book was written mainly for the purpose of drawing attention to the world-wide issue of Human Trafficking that is prevalent in EVERY country.

Fifty percent of the profits made from Vanished, are donated to a charity that helps victims of human trafficking.

I’ve composed a poem that speaks about Mahalia’s thoughts as she deals with her grief:

Chantale, little angel, my barren arms embrace the ghost of you; they’ve squeezed the shards of my shattered heart, since the day you were snatched away.

Blurred by the rain of constant grief, my soul’s eyes search this decimated land; baby girl, where’d you go to?

Pointed fingers accused me, for surely, I fed you to the mongrels; pay no heed, my precious child, to the evil lies they say.

Come back Chantale, the flowers you picked crumble in the vase; my will to live falls with each petal, fresh ones will die quickly, unless touched by you.

In feverish madness, I’ve commissioned strangers to the rescue, placed faith in two men, pure of heart but naïve to the ways of monsters; forgive me Chantale, for my options were few.

If to the cruelty you succumb, please climb on the Father’s lap, whisper your plea; a hug from Heaven in a rainbow’s hue.

Please check out the book trailer:

I wish to thank the professionals at 4WillsPublishing for creating such a wonderful trailer!

Vanished made the top ten list! Jan Sikes is a very talented author. Please visit her website.

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about Vanished.

If you wish to purchase a copy, available in ebook and print format:

Amazon.com       Amazon.ca      iBooks

Connect with Mark:

Website      Facebook    Twitter    Instagram

I am also a member of  Rave Reviews Book Club a wonderful community of authors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Lessons I Took from Books, by Patricia Furstenberg

Hello, welcome to my blog, or, if you are a regular, welcome back. My friends to the south are observing Memorial Day, a time to remember and honor those who gave their lives defending the United States.

My guest, Patricia Furstenberg,  is the author of Silent Heroes , an action-packed adventure about the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. Please click on the link above to see my review.  Today, she discusses how books can teach us valuable life-lessons. I’ll let her take it from here.  

A good book can take us through a multitude of experiences and can bring us that little ray of light during troubled times, when we are dealing with a moral dilemma. A great book can also rekindle a blissful moment of pure happiness we once experienced, only to discard into a dusty corner of our minds. No book is useless from this point of view, any volume can become a true manna if read at the right time. We learn quicker from books, but books also help us clarify an experience we are currently dealing with. It can happen that a paragraph in a book is so enlightening that we see it as a life experience, allowing us to finally put into words a past even we went through, yet not fully dealt with.

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Like any life lesson from sources other than personal, those took from books cannot really be assimilated unless they overlap, at least partially, over our individual experiences. For example, it can be difficult to understand that you deserve love and that you are able to receive it if life has taught you differently. However, you do feel when you come across a wise word in a book that love might indeed suit you, so your soul becomes more prepared to accept the truth of those words.

Probably one of the most valuable lessons we learn very quickly from books is that things are rarely just white or black. Life comes in all shades and colours, no matter wat chromatic preferences we have; we cannot really categorize people, relationships, feelings, or visions.

When you feel lost, it’s almost a consolation to read Agatha Christie’s  An Autobiography and find out the trouble she faced and how she figuring out how to deal with them, so life can go on. Moreover, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice whispers that we shouldn’t be afraid if we don’t have all the answers when we need them, because it is the experience that shows us the path towards happiness. In addition, it is important not to wait for the definition of happiness to be given to us by other people because only we are the masters of our hearts.

Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo is a motivational classic read, showing us that it is never too late to make a radical change and even one single day can be extremely important in one’s life. Time is precious. From Oscar Wild’s Picture of Dorian Gray we learn that the present is probably the most important step along the winding road that life is, and that it is best to give up the past, yet never pretend that it did not happen. One way or another, each experience we go through has a meaning and a role in shaping us and thus our subsequent choices and future existence. Along the same lines J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit teaches us not to deny ourselves any experience just because it might become uncomfortable; for it each one has the capacity to become a defining moment of our existence.

Larsson’s Girl with a Dragon Tattoo delivers a message similar to the one found in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Larsson’s book shows us that anyone can become a hero, and that heroes can even be those who do not consider themselves as such; Tolkien’s trilogy tells us that sometimes even the most insignificant being can change the destiny of humanity. Any individual can play an equally important role.

Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl is a powerful life lesson through the words of a 15-year-old child. If you show imagination even in the darkest moments, this will shine a light on many qualities you never knew you possessed.

It may be that the people who have the greatest impact on our lives are not around us for a very long time. That is why is important to learn from them, about them, before they pass on. Those people, writes Mitch Albom in Tuesdays with Morrie, are the ones who help us become what we are meant to be.

For those with a love for words, Zusak’s Book Thief comes with a warning: words are valuable, don’t waste them; words are extraordinarily powerful tools. They can be used towards good or evil, so measure them carefully.

I love books for the lessons I actively learn from them and for the lessons I picked up without realizing. How not to try to do everything at once; how not to you try to change others, but to accept them as they are; how not to believe everything I’m told; how to go on an adventure, but also remember where I came from and that returning home can be even more pleasant; or how to give life purpose by helping others and how not to let those around me set their limits on what I am capable of achieving.

About Patricia:

Patsmall

Patricia Furstenberg writes with passion about history that blends with fiction, about war heroes, human or canine, and she also pens humorous poetry & haiku about nature and dogs. With a medical degree behind her, Patricia is passionate about mind, brain and education and the psychology behind it. She also loves coffee and she loves to travel.

Her latest book, Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for, is a highly emotional read, action-packed, a vivid story of enormous sacrifice and bravery. Silent Heroes is a narrative about the value of life. Whose are the spoils-of-war? A new look at the War in Afghanistan, at the MWD, Military Working Dogs and the brave Marines fighting it, but also at the Afghans caught in it.

One of her first books, Joyful Trouble, was an Amazon Bestseller in Historical Fiction, Africa.
Her book of poems “As Good As Gold” became a #1 New Release the day it was published.

Patricia’s writing is filled with “creativity and vivid imagery” and she knows how to “capture the reader’s imagination.”
Her words penned in her children’s books “truly make the world a happier and more beautiful place!”

Patricia Furstenberg came to writing though reading, her passion for books being something she inherited from her parents. As a winner of the Write Your Own Christie Competition, the Judges “were impressed by her thorough investigation and admired the strength of her narrative; they were impressed by her style”. The judges thought Patricia’s writing style is “well structured, with a great sense of tension and suspense”, “confident and intriguing”. The Judges were Mathew Prichard, David Brawn from Harper Collins UK and Daniel Mallory from Harper Collins US.

An avid reader, Patricia Furstenberg enjoys historical fiction, especially the Late Middle Ages, and war stories that are a blend of facts, folklore, mystery and include a dog or two. She also loves contemporary fiction, especially mystery and crime, classical poetry and haiku. Some of her favorite authors include, without being limited to, Agatha Christie, Kathy Reichs, Elizabeth Kostova, Dan Brown, Ionel Teodoreanu, Camil Petrescu.

‘I love to explore the human imagination. I am a tourist of history, a permanent guest in the labyrinth of books, a student in the world of art.’

Patricia blogs extensively and has articles & interviews published by Huffington Post UK, Biz Community, Books by Women.

Connect with Patricia and purchase a book: 

Website / Twitter / Facebook / Pintrest / Follow Blog on Email / Linked in / LovelyBooksDE / Goodreads / BookBub  / Amazon.com / Amazon.UK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you recall, Ancient One?

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Eyes fogged by cataracts of dust and grime

Rusted tears of neglected shame.

Those you’ve sheltered stolen by time

No one left to recall your master’s name.

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Those skillful hands that built your shell, now rest beneath the soil.

Yet cursed with an extended life, you’re forced to endure each era alone.

Generations came and went, until the day that final breath came in toil.

The final master was carried away, and hence forth, you’ve been silent as a stone.

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They gathered round your flaming hearth, to sing, laugh, and love

Stockings hung on Christmas past, enticing children to behave.

Can you still hear them, ancient one? Into your structure are those memories wove?

What of the one who wore this brace? To its support, was he a slave?

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