Tag Archives: The Phantom Lady of Paris

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 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.


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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A Christmas Card From Paris by Calvin Davis

Nothing can compare with being in Paris during Christmas season.  Usually it’s a relatively mild time of year.  The temperature, energizing. Briskness tingles the air, but there are no freezing artic blasts or gusts that chill to the marrow. Snow? Seldom. But you can expect a frostiness that paint shop windows with coats of gray. It’s an excellent time for strolling while holding hands and observing other lover-strollers doing the same.

Along boulevards you whiff the scent of roasting chestnuts and crepes as you pass venders’ stands. “Crepe, monsieur. Une crêpe pour la dame, monsieur?” From cafés, the pungent and clean aroma of espresso coffee, rich and robust, pours across sidewalks in swells. The delicious aroma is spiced with the sound of café laughter and chatter.

And during noel, if you can visit Galerie Lafayette, the famed department store that’s topped by a dome which makes the structure seem more like a holy temple for worship than a center of commerce and fashion. Inside, the eyes feast on a delightful spectacle, for through the stained glass dome pours shafts of sunlight, painting the vast floor of merchandize with an impressionist’s palette rich in amber, scarlet and gold. Galerie Layfayette is a beehive of clerks, a sea of counters and display cases, plus row upon row of mannequins decked in the latest trendy fashions. Bottles of perfume are everywhere, and nearly as many clerks to sell them. “Perfume for your lady, sir. Perfume. Chanel, Dior, Hermes.” Amid this symphony of color, bustle and fragrances you’ll hear the hum of Christmas carols whispering from overhead speakers.

Meanwhile on the Left Bank, French families pack cafes, and amid lively conversation and laughter, sip bottle after bottle of vin rouge. And as the night ends they join voices in singing Yuletide songs, then toss their goblets over their shoulders and smile joyously as the glasses shatter.

Christmas in Paris? A banquet for the eyes. Bon appetite and joyeux Noel to all.

Calvin Davis is author of The Phantom Lady of Paris.


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A Writer’s Profound Reflections on Having a Transgender Operation by Calvin Davis

Have you ever found yourself in a place surrounded by sixty-five people, all of the opposite sex? You feel as if you’re as obvious an NBA seven-foot center at an international midgets’ convention. Recently, I ended up in such a position.

Let me explain. My wife is a novelist and attended a retreat for the publishing company for which she writes—The Wild Rose Press, a publisher of romance. All of their writers and ninety-five percent of their staff attending were female. Don’t misunderstand, none of the attendees were rude or disrespectful to me because of my maleness. On the contrary, they were most gracious.

Still, there was a certain hard-to-describe glint in some of their eyes as I attended the workshops with my wife. A glint I took as saying, “True, the chromosome number determined our gender. But, that notwithstanding, some of the responsibility and guilt for being born male must fall on your shoulders. How do you plead?”

Surrounded by sixty-five females as I was—all seemingly in the “let’s rid the earth of male scum mode”—how do you think I plead?

I’m not a fool. I plead, “Guilty as charged.” And immediately I threw myself on the mercy of the court.

After a quick convening of the governing body, a ruling was handed down. Here it is, verbatim: “You are hereby sentenced to the most severe punishment this body can render. Namely, you shall remain a male until the day you die, and may God have mercy on your leaving-the-toilet-seat-up soul.

“Any attempt at a transgender operation nullifies this judgment and replaces it with the sentence of death by the most excruciatingly painful means possible. This shall include, but not limited to, watching the Jerry Springer Show, nonstop for a year and then writing an op-ed essay for The York Times entitled ‘The Jerry Springer Show is a true American Art Form and Its Host Should Replace Big Bird on Public Television, as well as as be appointed by the State Department as America’s Ambassador for World Peace, Good Will and Understanding.’”

True, the court’s judgment was tough, but I suppose it could have been worse.  I had envisioned being nailed to a cross. But on second thought, which is worse, the cross or 24/7 of Jerry Springer? Take your pick?

All and all, in spite of my misfortune of being born male, I enjoyed the retreat held at the Silver Spur Ranch in the hill country of Texas.

I also learned something. If I go next year, I’m going to be prepared: I’ll wear a dress. Maybe I can get away with it. Of course I’ll have to be certain to shave my mustache. And this beard has got to go. Oh, and I must practice how to walk in heels also. (Any man who says he’s superior to a woman has never wrestled on a pair of panty hose and then walked in a pair of high heels.) I need your prayers to pull this ruse off. So pray for me…please…please, even if it’s only a quickie prayer.

Meanwhile, don’t leak a word about what I plan to do. If they find out, I’m a goner.

This political message is approved by The Phantom Lady of Paris author Calvin Davis Committee, who solicits your vote of endorsement for accompanying his wife to the next all-female retreat. (In other words, don’t be a snitch about the dress I’ll be wearing. Remember, I know where you live.)

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What’s on Your Top Ten List? by Calvin Davis

  There are some novels you read and their words go in one eye and out the other, never traveling to the cortex of the brain, or coming anywhere near it. Conversely, there are other works of fiction that take residence in the mind and habitat there until the day you die. What explains this oddity?  A couple of days ago I considered the question and made a list of novels that have been my mental companions from the day I read them. I think some are unforgettable because they deal with the stuff of life: love, death, ambition, hate, envy, the quest for fulfillment, in a word, ingredients found in the human recipe.

A memorable novel lets us know that while all humans are different, we, at the same time, are alike. Someone once asked a guest on a talk show what a black mother wants for her child. The answer given was, the same thing a Chinese mother wants for her. The same thing a Jewish mother or a Japanese mom wants for hers. That is, briefly stated, that the child stays out of trouble, gets the best education possible, and that he leads a happy and prosperous life. Universally, mothers are pretty much alike. Do something bad to any mother’s child and you’ll discover what I mean.

Shakespeare wrote plays about four hundred years ago. His works are still current because in those four centuries, the nature of men has not changed. The world still has ambitious people, envious people, evil people and altruistic ones. Like Shakespeare’s play, an unforgettable novel holds a mirror up to mankind , allowing we humans to look at ourselves and see ourselves as we are: warts and all, and some portraits of us are not pretty. Some are, thank God.

Anyway, here’s my list of The Top Ten:

l. Look Homeward, Angel, Thomas Wolfe

2. Native Son, Richard Wright

3. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner

4. The Way of All Flesh, Samuel Butler

5. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison

6. All the King’s Men, Robert Warren

7. Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin

8. Madam Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

9. Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

10. The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Oops. I must amend the title of my post to read “My Top Ten Plus One.” I nearly forgot the best of them all–my novel, The Phantom Lady Of Paris (the Devil made me say that). How could I forget the phantom lady? I hope my readers don’t.

Your top ten list will no doubt be different from mine, but chances are both lists will have one thing in common: all the chosen novels will deal with the human condition and the stuff we humans are made of. I’d love hearing what your top five or ten consist of. Will you share?

Calvin Davis


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Paul and Karen, the protagonists in my current work in progress, Love in Opposing Colors, are trapped. Both are buffeted by cyclones of social events they had no part in creating. Events for which they must be punished. Their transgression? The couple falls in love. A common, everyday occurrence, right?

Not for them.

Their romance is comparable to a Hatfield announcing he wishes to wed a McCoy.  Or Romeo proclaiming his love for Juliet. Both declarations certain to trigger nuclear explosions followed by endless chain reactions.

Problem? Paul is black; Karen, white. A scenario in the sixties certain to end in a doomed romance.

Ingredients for this LOVE GUMBO:

Generous measurements of class and ethnic antagonism.

Heaping sprinklings of racial bigotry and ignorance, on both sides.

Two brutal murders.

A father who swore to stop the relationship at any cost.

A black militant with a gun and a cause.

Plus, endless portions of the indiscernible love of Paul and Karen.

Slowly stir above ingredients.

Bring to a boil. Then let cool.

The results. Voila. Love in Opposing Colors


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


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HOW much do you love me? by Calvin Davis

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways,” says Elizabeth Barrett Browning in her poem of the same name. She goes on to add:“I love thee to the depth and breadth and heightMy soul can reach, when, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.”

Beautiful lines. They raise a good question: how do you measure love? Quantify it? Translate something as elusive as a feeling of elation into more scientific terms, into, perhaps, numbers or other measurable units. Maybe create a new unit called “The Love Richter Scale.” Why not? Today, scientists are able to peer into an atom and make fantastic measurements. If they can to do that with something as miniscule as an atom, why not amour?

In my half-completed novel Love in Opposing Colors, the heroine, Karen, tells the protagonist, Paul, that she wants him to tell her how much he loves her. Then she adds this caveat: she wants to hear numbers.

Paul certainly has his work cut out for him. But he gives it a try. The following is how their dialogue proceeds.

“Paul,” she once said, “tell me how much you love me? And I want a number.”

“A number?  Simple. Take the sum you get when you tally a thousand light years and add that figure to infinity.”

“Paul, no human brain can possibly conceive of such a number.”

“I know, Karen, but that’s how much I love you.”

Sadly, Paul didn’t quantify love. But he came close. Don’t think so? You got a better one? I’d enjoy hearing it.

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



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Looking for an idea for a short story? Or, better still, a short story already written, not only written but edited and told in the most efficient way? Try scanning the classified section of a newspaper.

 Below is an example of a “short story” – a really short story – discovered in a classified ad in a local press. I gave it a title and added a few words. Otherwise, it’s exactly as written. Read it and smile – or weep.



You Are Cordially Invited…

(the world’s shortest short story)

Classified ad (with one or two modifications) recently appearing in a metropolitan weekly newspaper

4 Sale

Wedding Dress – Size 6, pink, flowered slip; garment never worn, still in box ($500 when new; sell for $10). If customer buys gown, a man’s 14 karat gold wedding band is included at a give-away price; it, too, never worn. If interested, call 406-789 and leave a message. Will return call upon regaining balance or when able to smile again. Be patient.




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