This is the third story i’ve written this year and every one of them has a title that starts with C. Two of them did not until the stories had been written, edited, and were close to floating free. Chalk, i believe, was well in thought prior to that point, but it had some sort of working title until the cover was being designed. This one was – Ben – until the end of July, and it changed because it seemed unfair not to include his conspirator. So there it is.

This story barely got off the ground: It began as three paragraphs that expanded into a few more that supported them. It was just an idea played with, and then, at the fourth – as it turned out – chapter, the story started to flow a bit, and ideas began settling into place.

It’s definitely a turn back towards typical inclinations and style, and though Comatose might also be, that one was an attempt to re-learn how to write again. Conspirators is just throwing in the towel,

The story’s based upon a few, real-life events that shaped my life – sardonically-hyperbolically speaking. They occurred in the mid-seventies while we were living on Long Island, at the Brookhaven National Labs where my father took us on his sabbatical. It was a year that had a profound affect on me, for a multitude of reasons. It was not unnoticed: I recall the girls of my elementary school, gathered – after our return – discussing how i’d changed from who i was. I think it was mostly good change.

What didn’t change was my – let’s say – enthusiasm with regards for telling – again, let’s say – stories.

One beautiful, sunny afternoon as i was riding my bike around the grounds of the Labs, i rode up on a cluster of large, black birds. I knew crows, but those birds seemed much bigger, and they also had no interest in moving out of my way. As i was, and as i still am, i consequently decided to have a conversation with them. I was very excited that they made noises back. I returned home and shared the experience with my mother, who suggested that the huge, gigantic birds that were really smart and sounded like they were – actually – talking, she offered they might have been ravens. I spent months telling everyone about the super-massive, powerful, talking ravens of Brookhaven. I suspected they had special powers and unique purpose in the universe.

That was one of the inspirations for the story – for no particular reason other than it is remembered in concert with another: The moment recounted of the uprooted bush, come across as i walked those same grounds with a friend.

I have no idea why i was so upset about the bush, but the person i was with was very patient and kind, and did suggest we could probably re-plant it. We decided we would do that right in front of our homes – converted barracks that had been split into multiple units. It was planted directly between our units and it thrived, there, for several decades.

When aerial maps first arrived, it was one of the first things i searched for. When my father would return for conferences I always inquired about it, and he assured me the shrubbery was doing just fine. It grew large, and now it is gone. As we were planting it, i thought we might get in trouble, as one of the security vehicles paused to look at what we were doing. I looked over, expecting we would go to jail, but he just gave us a thumbs up and smile, then drove on.

I don’t remember what triggered the memories, but that place, and experiences, there, are the underpinnings for the story – shared through the usual, questionable filters.

Available on Kindle Vella, or, Kindle proper and paperback