Tag Archives: Calvin Davis

A Teachable Moment Sadly Lost by Calvin Davis

It happened so quickly I didn’t realize it was there before it vanished, never to return, at least not with the same person. Where did it happen? In our doctor’s office. I accompanied my spouse for her regular appointment. The physician suggested that Vonnie should take a test that would require her to stay in a hospital overnight. Hearing that, she frowned as if she had just downed a gallon of vinegar.

“Oh, no, I can’t do that. I would have to be separated from my husband for a night. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.” Judging from the stunned expression on the medical man’s face, he was befuddled by her response. Why, he no doubt wondered, can’t you spend one night away from your spouse? After all, I’m not suggesting you two get a divorce.

wedding bandsI sat there listening in silence. Later I hated myself for not explaining to the doctor what my wife meant when she said she didn’t want to spend a night away from her husband.

I should have said the following: “Doctor, my wife and I are inseparable. We do everything together. Each night we go to sleep in each other’s arms. We laugh at the same jokes. Cry when watching the same movies. And have learned to communicate with each other without saying a word. A glance is enough. A sigh. A movement of the shoulders. An eloquent touching of the chin with a finger. A smile. A wink. A laugh. And let’s not forget her coming to me, complaining that she hasn’t had a hug all day for the fifteenth time. It’s a guaranteed laugh maker.

But I said none of these things. Also I didn’t tell him that occasionally Vonnieholding hands and I read an article about some couple that has been married for forty or fifty years, and that they die on the same day, almost the same hour. If my wife and I departed this life at almost the same time, we would have no fear of dying. We’d exit with a smile, aware that neither would be left behind to pine the death of the other. If we died on the same day, we would have no fear of death. We would see death not as a terminator, but as a unifier, joining Vonnie and me for all eternity. We would never have to separated again…not even for a night.

Calvin Davis is also the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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CROSSING THE BRIDGE by Calvin Davis

bridgeImagine the year is 1965. The place is Selma. You are among those who have assembled at the now infamous bridge. You are there to protest being dehumanized all your life, being made to feel you are less than a dog. But how can you show your disdain for the indignities you have suffered? You are not a lawyer celebrated for your eloquence. You are not a statesman whose mere name can open the gates to the White House. No, you are none of these. Instead, you are a butler, or a maid, or a janitor, or a shoeshine boy – a nobody. In spite of your status, there is one thing you can do. You can walk, be a presence, be visible.

The dangers are many. You might be killed, bludgeoned to death, trampled by the hooves of horses, or sickened by clouds of gas. But you reason that subjected to the whiplash of discrimination, you are not really living anyway. In fact, barely existing. Better, you say to yourself, to live standing than to die on your knees, knowing that you are robbed of your dignity. So you are there on the bridge.

crowd

The clash begins. You hear the thud of nightsticks cracking skulls. You hear the shrill shriek of women. You hear them calling out. “Sweet Jesus, save me.” “Don’t let me die, Lord. Don’t let me die.” You see mounds of humans struggling to their feet, only to be hammered back to the pavement. Then you hear an inner voice whisper, “Today you will die.” You see flashes of Jim Crow signs: “Colored to the rear.” “White drinking fountain.” You see yourself denied a Coke at a café. And again you hear the voice sighing, “Today you will die.”

The irony is you are one who believes in the nation’s credo: all men are created equal. Those with the clubs, tear gas and dogs make a mockery of the belief. You have come to the bridge because of your faith in that belief, to even lay down your life if need be for that credo.

As you read this, you are probably saying, “But I was not on that bridge.” To you I say, “You are wrong. You were on that bridge on that historic day.” We all were on the bridge. On there with the patriots who were clubbed. None of us will ever leave that bridge in Selma. Ever.

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The Man Who Entered My Room by Calvin Davis

hoodie The stranger came into my room and stood at the foot of my bed. He wore dark clothes. His head was covered with a hood. I could not make out his facial features. However, I could see that they were as white as granite.

“Who…who are you? How did you get into the house? All the doors are locked.”

“Locks do not faze me. Deadbolts are a joke and chains make me laugh.”

“But why, why are you here? You must be in the wrong house. You got the numbers mixed up some way, I expect.”

“I never get the time, the date or the house numbers confused. At any rate, you must go with me.”

“Go with you, you say? Go with you? Me…go with you…a…a total stranger?”

“But I am not a stranger. I have been with you all your life. I was there when you were born. In moments of peril I have always been by your side…always.”

“And you say I’m to go with you? Where to?”

spaceHe paused, cleared his throat. When he spoke again his voice sounded like the sudden wintry gust of wind hissing through a long tunnel. “I think you know where I’ll take you. Our journey is long, far beyond where manmade telescopes can see, where time and space are one and the same, where not only do objects travel faster than the speed of light, but such speed is common and looked upon as being slow, a place where yesterday is tomorrow, where dreams are not insubstantial products of the mind as they are on earth, but where they are as solid as rocks and numerous as grains of sand.”

“This is so confusing to me, so…” There was a sudden flicker of light in the room, and outside the deafening clap of thunder, though there had been no rain. Then…the stranger was gone. Vanished. There was no one in the room now…except me…and silence. It was as if he dematerialized. Disappeared in the blink of an eye.

Who was he? I don’t know. But I do remember what he said: that he’s always with me. Always. Waiting. I wonder if he’s waiting on others also. Waiting for those who write…those who read…waiting for us all. Waiting to escort us to lands beyond the galaxies, to principalities where all dreams are real, where they are more real than earthly realities. To an enchanted place…where dreamers are applauded, not assassinated.

*** Calvin Davis is the author of THE PHANTOM LADY OF PARIS.

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What You Looking At? by Calvin Davis

What are the ingredients in a writer’s mind? What are the raw materials he uses to create an illusory but seemingly real world, one populated by characters that are as genuine and believable as the shopper you pass in Walmart or the one who waits in line at a Burger King? How does the writer make seem real what is unreal? Convince the reader through mere use of frail words that a fabricated character lives and breathes and that he in many ways is like the reader?

The answer to these and similar questions is simple and, at the same time, complex. What the writer uses as raw material comes from an endless pool of life experiences and observations. All of which are predicated on the fact that a good writer must find the human animal a fascinating creature, which, of course, he is. What makes the Homo sapiens tick? What motivates him? How it is a man can be as altruistic as a saint one moment and within a split second become as heartless and diabolical as a Nazi commandant in a Jewish concentration camp? Is it that man has a duality of personalities? And depending upon the situation, either his dark angels or its opposite will appear? A good writer wants to probe these queries and seek their answers.

TargetTo discover them, he must be a keen student of humans. When waiting in line at Target, for example, he observes the person in front of him. Why does she overdress, wear an outfit designed for someone thirty years her junior, pack on several layers of makeup to mask age lines, sport a “diamond” ring – faux diamond – that is so brilliant you need sunglasses to look at it. And the cashier? Why does her smile seem painfully given and a “commercial” one? As mercenary in appearance as the word “love” sounds when crossing the lips of a prostitute? Forced? Tired? A carbon copy of the smile that lights the cashiers face when it’s the end of her work day. And the youngster nearby who screams at the top of his voice until his mother, intimidated, buys him the toy he wants, no, demands. What goes on in the home of the mother and child? The candy incident tells you. It also may be a forecast of what might happen in the youngster’s marriage, or his ability to have a serious relationship with anyone he cannot control Doubtlessly he will try to control his mate using the same tactics that were so successful in controlling his mother.

train stationWhen I lived in Washington, DC, I frequently went to Union Train Station and sat. Not to wait for a train, but to observe the travelers. Hundreds of commuters would hurry past, representing a sampling of human kind. Some couples would bicker, others, smiling, held hands or embraced. Some commuters, wide eyed, stood and gawked at the vastness of the station and the multitude of people it contained. There were dapper men in colorful suits and wide brim hast who stood and scanned the station, predators on the prowl for innocent female prey who would be a source of income so the men could maintain their sartorial majesty. And always the station was home to several bums, men with battered hats, wrinkled clothes and bearded faces. What was the story of each man? How did he, born in Alaska, end up panhandling on the streets of the District of Columbia and sleeping in train stations? How? The answer is the stuff that novels are made of. For the bum’s story is probably little different from that of a king deposed: a story of hope, dreams, struggle, victories, failures, despair and the will to fight on. All the key ingredients of life.

Finally, who knows? Maybe one day you and I will be in the same place observing people for future use in a novel. I will see you and you will see me. If I do, you have my word that if I include you in a novel, it will a novel of epic proportions and you will be a colossal hero or heroine, one that will make Superman look like a sissy or Wonder Woman look like a wimp.

Honest. Trust me.

~~*~~*~~

Calvin Davis is author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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My New Profession by Calvin Davis

When a man reaches the age of eighty-two, as I have, he has a lot of memories. Some cherished. Some he’d sooner forget. Like the time I got sent to the principal’s office for…well, like I said… some memories a person would sooner forget.

schoolLet’s talk about jobs for a few minutes, shall we? I held a lot in my early years—paper boy, shoe-shine boy, golf caddy, department store stock boy. After a stint in the Army and earning my Masters, I entered the teaching world where I stayed for nearly forty years. Teaching English to high school students was a great joy in my life. Attending teachers’ meetings, not so much.

Through all those years, I wrote. Retirement meant I could spend nearly every hour of my day writing. Sheer heaven.

Then something unexpected happened. My wife mentioned she’d like to write, too, yet she lacked the courage, the resolution to do so.

Suddenly I took on a new job.

Cheerleader.

WhittierRedskins_sNow I’ve always taken pride in a job well-done. As a young boy, my newspapers were always delivered on time. When I shined shoes, my customers always sauntered away happy, able to see their reflection in the tops of their shoes. My students loved the unit on Shakespeare. Perhaps it was my jumping onto the top of the desk to deliver soliloquies that kept their attention. So was I a good cheerleader for my wife? She had eight titles published and two contracts for two series from two different Big Six publishers.

So, what do I get for all my efforts? Lots more hugs and kisses. And the best part? I don’t have to wear one of those silly cheerleader uniforms. At eighty-two, my arthritic knees are not a pretty sight, but my wife’s happy face is.

~~~~ Calvin Davis is author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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My Christmases Past–On My Desk–Lives On by Calvin Davis

To recall my Christmases past, I have only to glance to my right as I sit at my desk, for there rests an eight inch tall decorative container. When I see it, memories of the Yuletides I have known flood my thoughts, filling them with delightful recollections.

What is so magical about the container that it can call forth such profound memories? Let me explain. My mother died several years ago. I did not bury her body. I abhorred the thought of such a loving person lying in the detached and cold earth, alone, forsaken, except for worms that would feast upon her and convert the one who gave birth to me into fertilizer. So did she. So, no burial for my mother. According to her wishes, I had her cremated. Her aches rest in what the undertaker called an “urn.” A plastic container is more expensive if you label it something fancier: ah, the power of words.

At Yuletide I never have any trouble recalling the good times of my Christmases past. I merely have to glance at the enchanted urn. Seeing it, I envision my mother and the love she lent to all my Christmases. I see myself, a youngster, eyes wide, trembling with anticipation as she smiles. ”This is for you,” and hands me a neatly wrapped present, sprinkled with sparkles that twinkled almost as brightly as those in my eyes. I remember, I remember.

fruit

I remember the Christmas tree she decorated each year, the abundance of fruit, candy canes, chestnuts and tangerines she worked hard to provide. I remember the Christmas meals she prepared as if for a royal family. And always her feasts were crammed with calories, but with more love and warmth than carbs or calories. I recall Daddy saying grace over the Christmas repast with everyone holding hands.

candleAnd I remember the Christmas light in the living room window that burned brightly, announcing to all who passed that the glow of Christmas love could be found inside, a love produced by the nuclear generator of love, the woman now in a decorative urn on my desk – my mother.

Merry Christmas, Mother. And Merry Christmas to you all. May your season be filled with love, joy, hope and peace.

Calvin Davis is author of The Phantom Lady of Paris. http://tinyurl.com/mdku2ja

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Who is Davis Hall by Calvin Davis

Who is David Hall? I didn’t have the faintest notion. I had never heard the name before. The actor Ed Asner, famed for his work on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, I was familiar with. And I was casually knowledgeable about Troy Duran, who has done voice overs for Anheuser Busch and Jeep Grand Cherokee commercials. But David Hall? Don’t ask me.

But wait, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a little and explain. As I mentioned last month, an audio publisher wants to make an audio book of my novel The Phantom Lady of Paris. They gave me a list of possible narrators for the work, among them was — can you believe it — Ed Asner of television fame. Imagine the celebrated Ed Asner reading my…my words? Hard to believe, isn’t it? Well, I could have chosen him if I had wanted to.

The publisher asked me to describe the kind of voice I wished to narrate my novel. I wanted the voice of someone in his early twenties. The central character in The Phantom Lady is young. I did not desire someone who sounded like a college professor or a recent graduate of an announcer school, someone who boomed his words. I wanted a narrator whose voice was “everyday,” down to earth because that’s the kind of person the central character The Phantom is.

CSI DavidThe publisher said I have just the voice you’re looking for, the voice of David Hall. A little research revealed that David was a regular character in CSI, Crime Scene Investigation. He also appeared in The West Wing and L.A. Wing. I heard a sample of his voice. And I agree with the publisher. David’s voice is just the voice for The Phantom Lady of Paris. Can you imagine? I passed on Ed Asner? Me? A nobody. Saying no to Ed, a somebody. Huh, some nerve!

Before I forget, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to each of you. We have much to be thankful for at our house this year. Both my wife’s and my heath are good. Our glucose levels remain in tolerance–we’re both diabetics. Every morning when we wake up, we thankful we have another day together, something I become more conscious of since I turned 82. Vonnie has a book releasing on Thanksgiving; her publisher is in the UK and they don’t observe turkey day. I’m thankful for Second Wind’s continued growth as a publisher and their taking a chance on me a few years ago. I’ve been blessed in many ways. ~ Calvin Davis

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For the Price of a Cup of Coffee by Calvin Davis

thumbnailCAZ5PHH5This time next month, I’ll be sitting in a café on the Left Bank of Paris, sipping an espresso or munching a croissant while perusing endless streams of humanity streaming up and down Boulevard Saint Michel. September is the ideal month to be in Paris. Most tourists have gone by then. And Frenchmen have returned from their month-long August vacation. Many cafes, shuttered in August, reopen for business.

In September, The City of Light stretches, yawns and awakens from its summer nap, reassuming its more natural routines, free of some of the foreign visitors. The metropolis on the Seine once again becomes the property of the natives.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Paris. From time to time I have to return, to recharge. I was born in America, but I discovered years ago that my spiritual birthplace was not Virginia, but Paris.

Paris, where sitting in a café, sipping coffee and discussing art, literature…or even cooking, is not considered a waste of time, but a fruitful use of the same.

Paris, where it’s OK to be eccentric, even weird (being both are encouraged, if not celebrated). Where you can paint your hair green or blue, and either color is considered an artistic statement, not a sign of stupidity.

Paris, where you can sit all day over one cup of coffee and write your novel, and no waiter will dare tell you to move on, that you cannot not lease a table with the price of one cup of Java.thumbnailCA8PHDKJ

Paris, where if you don’t kiss the woman whose hand you’re holding, the French consider that an affront and insult to their culture and conclude that you lack good taste…if not good sense (regardless of how ugly the woman is). Paris, the one place in the world where you can be yourself and not worry about what others thinks.

Paris, where you can be eccentric and not worry about it, because in the City of Light there is always someone who is weirder than you. So you’ll be among friends.

Instead of yakking about the city I love, I’d better start packing for my trip. I’ll be sitting in a café in Paris soon. I hope I see you there. I’ll be looking for you. You’ll be able to identify me. I’ll be the guy with the electric blue hair.

**Calvin Davis is the author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.

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Do You Speak French: Parlez-vous francais? By Calvin Davis

After studying French in high school, in college, and Graduate school before taking French lessons at private workshops, I landed in Paris prepared to speak French. Yet upon hearing Parisian natives converse for several days, I was convinced my plane had somehow landed in the wrong country.

I couldn’t understand a word they were saying. I was prepared to call the airline and complain about their pilot’s directional error. In fact, I wanted to demand the refund of my money, explaining that the pilot had taken the passengers to some God forsaken land whose inhabitants spoke only gibberish. While contemplating this move, I was reminded of what Mark Twain once said, declaring he had gone to France and spoken to the natives in French, and was greatly surprised the Frenchmen didn’t know how to speak their own language.

Reason prevailed and I decided not to complain to the airline after all. Instead, I concluded it would be wiser to allow the French to teach me to speak their language. My classrooms?  Cafes on Boulevard Saint Germaine and Saint Micheal. Seats in Left Bank parks. Department stores as I eavesdropped on conversations of shoppers.

In spite of the fact I’d taken all these courses in French, I couldn’t, in an “embarrassing emergency,” ask a Parisian where the lavatory was. By the way, in Paris, it’s not “the lavatory.” It’s “the lavatories.” Saying “the lavatory,” the natives feel, is too crude and shows a lack of refinement and taste. One has to wonder if in an emergency one wishes to be refined or to be relieved. That, as the Bard would say, is the question. I vote for the latter.

I quickly learned certain things about French that I hadn’t learned during my “French education” in the States. One: in a restaurant, never call the waiter “garcon,” meaning “boy.” Doing so is an insult. Address him as “monsieur.” If a waitress serves you, call her “Madame” or “Mademoiselle.” As for giving the waiter a big tip, as many Yankees are prone to do, remember, usually the tip is included in the bill. If you wish to give an extra tip, do what the natives do: they sometimes leave a nominal one. A few centimes (cents) will do.

Internet Explorer Wallpaper (160x120)Also, don’t feel at a restaurant or café, you have to drink or eat and run. I’ve sat at a café or a restaurant for hours and nobody has asked me to move. To do so would be considered poor taste in France. In contrast, I’ve been asked to move on in a restaurant here in the States. The owner wanted to give my table to another paying customer. Such a request would never have happened in the City of Light. So much for “French crudeness and impoliteness.”

My free French lessons made me aware that what I’d learned about the language Stateside, I had to unlearn in Paris. I was taught “Comment allez vous,” is the way you ask how a person is feeling. Most Frenchmen don’t say that. Instead they say, “Ca va?” Pronounced “Sah, vah?” This means, “How are things going?”

I’m delighted to report that the tale of my French language adventures had a happy ending. After being in Paris about a year, I made an amazing discovery. French are smart people. During that time they’d learned to speak their own language properly. Amazing, isn’t it?.

Footnote: Don’t feel guilty if you slept half the time in your high school French class. That may be a blessing. If you slept half the time you’ll only have half as much to relearn if you go to Paris. I didn’t sleep in my French classes…sadly.

Anyway, Parlez vous Franciseplopfront-148x223

Fin. The End.

Au revoir.

 

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The Latest Educational Strategy – A Must-read for Today’s Parents

When I look at photos of the innocent faces of youngsters slaughtered in Newtown, my tclasshoughts take me back to the first day my son went to school. Both of his parents were teachers, so he was well prepared for that golden milestone in his life: his first day of school. We had convinced him that education is a marvelous thing, school an exciting place and studying the mysteries of life, the earth and universe a fulfilling and incomparable delight.

About to leave the house that morning for his maiden day of education, my son said,” Daddy do you want to hear me say my ABCs?”

“Of course.”

He recited them.

“And will you listen me say my numbers?”

“Certainly.” He counted as far as he could. “Son, I’m proud of you. Goodbye and have a good day. See you tonight.”

“Bye, Daddy.”

After what happened in Newtown, I’ve mentally rerun the above scene a thousand times, and I know if it took place today, it would play somewhat differently. My son, no doubt, would still recite his ABCs for me and still “say his numbers.” And then I would add, “But you didn’t mention the most important thing I taught you about school.”

AK-47“Oh, you mean that. Yeah, now I remember: you said when I hear the first gunshot, I should hit the floor fast, not move a muscle and pretend I’m dead. That way, maybe the gunman won’t shoot me.”

“Well learned. I’ll see you tonight, son.” As soon as he had closed the door I’d add, “I hope.”

And then…I’d cry.

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