A story inspired by Castello di Brolio – Episode 4

Another story inspired from a visit to an old castle in Italy.  It was, of course, written while traveling on a plane, though I’m not sure if it was from Calgary to Toronto, or New York to Vancouver.

But, there’s more to come.  Those were long flights…


Another fifty or so feet along, I stopped at an overhead grill.  The metal was showing on the tunnel side, but on the other, I could see bushes.

I think I knew where we were.  This was where the road crossed a small bridge and headed towards the castle entrance.  It was on the northeastern side of the old battlements, and going straight under the road would take us to the eastern wall.

Whether we could get out of the castle there remained to be seen.

I took a step and saw Jack stop and turn around to look back the way we had come.  A moment later a beam of light came from the break in the roof of the tunnel.  Perhaps the man had decided there might not be ghosts in the hole.

I heard the man’s voice travel up the tunnel.  “Looks like a cavern of something.”

That something he might guess to be a tunnel.

We had to go.

I moved quickly in the opposite direction, into the dark, the sound of more rocks falling from the roof following us.

Another hundred feet or so we reached a wall, a dead end to the tunnel.  It looked to me that it had been bricked in the recent past because it consisted of house bricks, not cobblestones.

The surface was wet, and there was the sound of dripping nearby.

Jack sat on the floor.  Nowhere to go, for him it was time to rest.

We couldn’t go back.

I pulled out a knife and poked it into the mortar, and the blade disappeared when I pushed it.  The mortar was soft.

I pushed hard on the wall midway up, and it moved.  I decided it might be easier to kick at the wall, making it easier if it collapsed.

It created a hole about a foot round.  Further kicking made it bigger so that I could stoop down and climb through.  Jack went first, and I followed.

It came out into a clearing surrounded by trees.  Through the branches, I could see the forest on the other side of a paddock.

Jack once again stopped.


Jackerby and one of his men.

“I’m sure there used to be a drainage tunnel somewhere here.  Those men got into the tunnel yet?”

“Working on making a hole so they can jump down.  No long now.”

“Go back and help them.  I’ll keep an eye out here in case they find the exit.”

I heard the other man leave.

A minute passed, then two.  Then Jackerby said, “I know you’re there Sam.  I’m alone out here, and I’m on your side.”


© Charles Heath 2019

Conversations with my cat – 14


This is Chester, the literary critic


It’s important to get that first sentence right

So, I’m rattling off a few lines to get his reaction

‘It was a day like no other’

‘Yes, I know’, says the all knowledgeable Chester looking down his nose at me, ‘it’s been used before’.

We are sitting in the writing room and as usual, Chester is trying to ignore me.

I’m trying to start a new novel, looking for that first line that’s going to hook the reader.

I read him a few lines.

He gives me a disdainful look, ‘Heard it all before old boy, try again’.

Once Upon a time?

‘You’ve been watching too much TV’.

It was a dark and stormy night.

He yawns widely, ‘As if you haven’t used that before’.

He’s right, damn him.

Why am I talking to this cat anyway?

He jumps up onto the desk and sits on the keyboard.

Ok, writing is over for the day.

“Sunday in New York”, it’s a bumpy road to love

“Sunday in New York” is ultimately a story about trust, and what happens when a marriage is stretched to its limits.

When Harry Steele attends a lunch with his manager, Barclay, to discuss a promotion that any junior executive would accept in a heartbeat, it is the fact his wife, Alison, who previously professed her reservations about Barclay, also agreed to attend, that casts a small element of doubt in his mind.

From that moment, his life, in the company, in deciding what to do, his marriage, his very life, spirals out of control.

There is no one big factor that can prove Harry’s worst fears, that his marriage is over, just a number of small, interconnecting events, when piled on top of each other, points to a cataclysmic end to everything he had believed in.

Trust is lost firstly in his best friend and mentor, Andy, who only hints of impending disaster, Sasha, a woman whom he saved, and who appears to have motives of her own, and then in his wife, Alison, as he discovered piece by piece damning evidence she is about to leave him for another man.

Can we trust what we see with our eyes or trust what we hear?

Haven’t we all jumped to conclusions at least once in our lives?

Can Alison, a woman whose self-belief and confidence is about to be put to the ultimate test, find a way of proving their relationship is as strong as it has ever been?

As they say in the classics, read on!



Sunday In New York

Are you keeping any secrets?

It’s a theme I have used in a number of stories because it fascinates me the propensity some people have for explaining the unexplainable, and actually, believe they have convinced the other person.

It works sometimes, but not everybody is prepared to accept their lies.  Especially when their alibi crumbles before their eyes.

Better not to have said anything in the first place.

Or, better still, don’t do anything that you have to cover up later on.

Or perhaps I’m turning a molehill into a mountain.

I’m suffering from indecision, one of those moments in a writer’s life where either you get on with it, take a holiday, start a new story, or finish another one.

I want to get on with it, finish it, sent it to the editor, and then move on, but I can’t.

I’ve written three different endings to this story and I’m not happy with any of them.

Over the last few days, I have taken a break away from it.  Every time I load it up and sit on the page where I want the end to start (a rather curious mix of opposites) it draws a blank.

Will I take it out with a ‘bang’?

Will I let a few of the secrets out of the bag?

Will I try to set it up for a sequel?

Wow!  So many possibilities.

The crux of the matter is relationships where people keep secrets from each other rarely survive, though sometimes it depends on how big the secret is.  In my mind, if I was the one who was thinking about keeping a secret (most likely impossible because I can’t keep a straight face) I would share it.

If it was my partner keeping the secret, I wonder how I would react.

It’s an interesting question and begs the question of how much of ourselves is woven into the fabric of our characters.

We can if we haven’t the experience of keeping secrets only guess at the outcome.  Or if we do, how much easier might it be?

Perhaps I’ll sleep on it one more night.

Monday came and went, and now it’s Thursday

I had so many things planned, those little bits and pieces that seem to get away from you.

It’s now Wednesday night and I have only just come back to this post to write some more or maybe finish it, but that should you some idea of how easy the simple things can get away from me.

To fill in the gaps in the story, I started to make a list of those bits and pieces, and that was the first mistake.

I frightened myself.

Tuesday disappeared in writing down what was on my writing slate. For instance,

Episode 10 of the helicopter story

Episode 3 of the treasure hunt

Episode 5 of the Castello di Brolio story

Episode 1 of the WW2 story – this has a start but is it Episode 1.  What bothers me is that I wrote some of this on the plane, but it disappeared somewhere, so I’m not sure when this may get done.

Episode 6 of Writing instead of insomnia

Episodes 36 through 40 of Being Inspired, Maybe. This is a series of photographs, and the story inspired by them

Episode 46 through 50 of PI Walthenson’s first case rewrite, still without a title. But, before Episode 46 there needs to be an introduction because for a few episodes we are off on a slight tangent that will feed into the story later on.

So, in addition, it will need an Intro Episode and a rerun of Episodes 1 and 2 which set up the next part of the story.

And, don’t get me started on where I am with Strangers We’ve Become, because the rewrite seems to have stalled at page 360ish. The book is done but rereading told me, or the cat did far more emphatically, there a few gaps.  This needs to get done, and I need to stick the courage to the sticking point.

Wednesday arrived and I was looking at the list wondering what I was going to do next and realized that I’d been putting off writing the next few posts on the traveling blog which desperately need to be done.


Traveling blog times two, and now it’s Thursday.

Damn, where did the week go?

Back on the treasure hunt

Here’s the thing.

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.


I never realized Boggs had this thing for treasure.  Seems a long time ago one of his relatives was a diver, found a wreck, and with it gold bullion.  He became rich, and the wealth in the family lasted till Boggs’ grandfather, who frittered away the last of the fortune on dodgy land schemes and supposed match tree forests in Ecuador.

It was up to him, Boggs told me, to restore the family fortune.

I couldn’t see how this was going to happen sitting in a bar that openly advertised treasure maps and an owner who was only too happy to tell the story of the Spaniard to anyone who’d listen.

The problem was, no two versions of the story were the same.

Whilst Boggs was taking in the fourth or fifth rendition of the story, I looked around at the clientele.  They were certainly more interesting than the treasure.

Mostly here for the sun and surf, there were two notable exceptions, and if I was to guess, they looked Spanish.

Or was it my imagination working overtime.

They seemed very interested in Boggs, from time to time looking over at him, and then muttering to each other.  Conveniently, they were along the path to the restroom, so I took a stroll, and lingering a moment near their table, I listened to the conversation.

In Spanish.

My Spanish was a little rusty but what I thought I heard, “Boy, map, find out what he knows, gold, and it’s in the hills somewhere.

The phrase, there’s gold in them thar hills came to mind.

But for the moment I think we had a problem.

When I came out of the restroom, the first thing I noticed was the two Spaniards had left.  When I looked over towards the bar, where I left Boggs, I noticed he too, was missing.

All of a sudden I had a very bad feeling.

I ran outside, just in time to see the two men bundling Boggs into the back of a car, and drive off.


That’s where I fell asleep

© Charles Heath 2019

Having something to say is one thing, saying it is something else

As accomplished as we can be at putting words on paper, what is it that makes it so difficult to sit in a chair with a camera on you, and saying words rather than writing them?

Er and um seem to crop up a lot in verbal speech.

OK, it was a simple question; “What motivates you to write?”


My brain just turned to mush, and the words come out sounding like a drunken sailor after a night out on the town.

The written answer to the question is simple; “The idea that someone will read what I have written, and quite possible enjoy it; that is motivation enough.”

It highlights the difficulties of the novice author.

Not only are there the constant demands of creating a ‘brand’ and building a ‘following’, there is also the need to market oneself, and the interview is one of the more effective ways of doing this.

If only I can settle the nerves.

I mean, really, it is only my granddaughter who is conducting the interview, and the questions are relatively simple.

The trouble is, I’ve never had to do it before, well, perhaps in an interview for a job, but that is less daunting.  That usually sticks to a predefined format.

Here the narrative can go in any direction.  There are set questions, but the interviewer, in her inimitable manner, can sometimes slide a question in out of left field.

For instance, “Your character Zoe the assassin, is she based on someone you know, or an amalgam of other characters you’ve read about or seen in movies?”

That was an interesting question, and one that has several answers, but the one most relevant was; “It was the secret alter ego of one of the women I used to work with.  I asked her one day if she wasn’t doing what she was, what she would like to do.  It fascinated me that other people had a desire to be something more exotic in an alter ego.”

Of course the next question was about what I wanted to be in an alter ego.

Maybe I’ll tell you next time.