River Congo – Excerpt 39

The last several post have been about the missionaries getting from the Nile River to the area that King Leopold II gave to the Mission. In the last post they finally have a hut to live in and are beginning to learn the language and to do the work they feel they were called to do.

In the meantime Pierre is having problems of his own. This excerpt is from Of Rulers and Ruled published by All Things That Matter Press.

R&R cover thumb

by  Paul J. Stam



The sun kept climbing, getting hotter. The time came when most people stopped during the heat of the day, but Claude Armonde was greater than other people and superior to those who would slow down just because it was hot. His glowing blond-white hair went before them like a ball of fire leading the way.

Sweat ran down the backs of the natives, and from under Pierre’s helmet, saturating the back of his neck and running down his face. His shirt and trousers became soaked with sweat, his feet slipped in the moisture inside his boots, and still Armonde pressed on as he always did, his hair perfectly in place, hardly a drop of sweat on his upper lip, no dark stain under his arms. Pierre felt a kinship with the natives who perspired like he did, and thought of how furious Armonde would be if he ever suspected Pierre preferred the company of the natives to his.

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Telephone Killer – Excerpt 26

by Paul J. StamPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]


‟KWBD. This is Julie.” The network morning news show had just concluded and there was a lot of traffic in the front reception area when Julie answered the phone.

‟Let me speak to Ralph Moore.”

Her face went white as she recognized the killer’s voice. ‟Yes, Sir. One moment please and I’ll connect you.”

‟It’s him. The killer,” she whispered to the cameraman standing next to her desk as she pressed Ralph’s intercom button. Continue reading

River Congo – Excerpt 38

Well, the missionaries are having a hard go of it. They have been there several months and nothing has been accomplished. In the last post Harry is impressed by a native that arrives at his prayer rock. When he comes down and wants to tell the others about the man he saw he learns that Alma is pregnant. Here is the last paragraph from that post.

Before he could say anything about the morning, she told him she thought she was pregnant again. Now, sitting in the dampness of the tent with the rain falling outside, his impression of that morning didn’t seem significant or even real. What was real was the fact they were still living in tents and his wife was going to have a baby.

This excerpt is from Of Chiefs and Giants published by All Things That Matter Press.

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by Paul J. Stam



Harry went to his prayer rock the next morning hoping to see the man again. From time to time he would lift his head from his reading and look around expecting to see the man behind him. He played the trumpet again, waiting for the native to arrive as though something, he didn’t know exactly what, depended on the man being there.

He came down from his prayer rock with a feeling of disappointment. Then, as he entered the camp, he became apprehensive because the natives who always gathered, laughing and giggling to watch them eat breakfast, were silent. Harry came around one of the tents and saw the man. He stood unmoving, his arms folded across his chest, his spear stuck in the ground next to him. Harry smiled, feeling much better. He walked over to the man, his hand up, palm open, to show there was no hidden weapon, in the accepted method of first meeting, but the native just stared at him. Continue reading

Mountains, Oceans and Gods

Neptune Mount small

Chunky 3

You’ve met these old men of the sea before, about 2 months ago. Of course that was before they had been through the fire. There they are in their raw, naked clay form.

At the time one of you out there commented that Neptune’s legs were too skinny. Yeah, “skinny” was the word you used. Well let me assure you, he hasn’t gained any weight.

Just so we (read I) can keep these two straight let’s name the one on the left Neptune. That’s the Roman name for the guy, or God, which ever you prefer, and the one on the right is Poseidon; that’s the Greek name for him. They are after all the same person. But I digress… Continue reading

River Congo – Excerpt 37

This excerpt is from Of Chiefs and Giants published by All Things That Matter Press.

C and G cov 1a small

by Paul J. Stam



They sIt to one side in the eating tent in case a sudden gust of wind blow the rain in on them. In the plain below the herds stand with heads down while some of the antelope crowd under the larger trees in an attempt to keep dry.

The sound of steady raindrops hitting the canvas should have been soothing, but it wasn’t. It only reminded them of how little they’ve gotten done that day. They are no further along than they were the day before. The natives come for treatment, but they can’t get them to do anything, nor have they learned any of the language.

They’ve gone to the various villages they can see from the top of the hill to try and get some kind of agreement, some kind of permission to build their station, but the chief and his elders sit around nodding and smiling. There was no way to know what they were saying, and so the palaver was meaningless. Because they don’t have permission to build, the poles have not been set in the ground, but lay in piles behind the tents starting to be eaten by termites. Continue reading

A Hand Is a Hand Is a Hand

A Couple of weeks ago I had a post entitled “Behold – The Hand.” I received more comments on that post than any other post except “The Mouse and the Elephant.”

Since I had so many comments on “Hands” I thought I would explain a little of how it came about.

As some of you know I dabble in ceramics. On the wheel I do bowls, mugs and plates, but my real love is sculptures. On the wheel I have a pretty good idea of what I’m doing, but I have not idea what to do with sculptures. Each sculpture has is own challenges and that’s what so exciting about it.

Dancer 1Dancer 3I had started on a series of dancers and I got the first one done and someone said, “I really like the flow of it, but what is she holding, a piece of cardboard?”

I hoped it looked like a scarf. But as I’ve already told you, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Some one else observed, “Her boobs are too low.” Since I didn’t have a live model to work from I excused that observations.

Dancer 4

I didn’t throw that one out, but went to work doing it again. This is the result of the second attempt.

So you say, “What does this have to do with you post about hands?” I’m getting to that.

While I was doing it I was looking at my hands as they worked with the clay and I was very grateful that they worked so well. Even if their manipulation of the clay isn’t everything I would like it to be, that’s not my hands’ fault. I have known people with their hands so gnarled with arthritis they can’t hold a pencil.

Dancer 5aDancer 5bI started working on something a little different. Still with idea of a dancer, but different and this is what I came up with.

Then It seemed to me that in gratitude for all my hands have done for me, the least I could do is somehow pay tribute to my hands.

Hand 1Hand 3That is when I made this sculpture. I didn’t really try to reproduce a copy of one of my old, wrinkled hands. Wrinkles are awfully hard to reproduce in clay as I learned in trying to do the dancers scarfs and skirts.

There are some who are so good they can produce every wrinkle.

In a class where I was the model one student reproduced every wrinkle in my old face so accurately I wanted to hit him over the head with the head he had made of me. Not until it was high fired of course and hard as a stone.

Then he had the unmitigated kindness to give it to me. I immediately put it for sale in the annual Christmas pot sale at Windward Community College. I like to think that the reason it sold so quickly the first day was because I’m so good-looking, but I know it is really because of his talent to show my every wrinkle.

Damn, I wish I could do that. Well, given another 5 or 10 years I may get to be that good with the clay.

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Telephone Killer – Excerpt 25

by Paul J. StamPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000035_00023]


Ralph Moore pulled up to pump under the bright lights of the self-service gas station at Fairfax and Forty-Second. After the second call at the convenience store, Ferus had changed the time and place of his call. Ralph wondered if he had made a mistake stopping to get gas. He didn’t need it. The gauge indicated he had more than half a tank. He’d stopped for the gas in case the police were following him. He’d never seen anyone, but Ferus had told him he was being followed. He thought it might look suspicious if he left his house and went directly to a phone at the gas station. He’d left his house about eight and gone to a computer store in the Gateway Mall. He spent almost forty-five minutes letting the salesman talk to him and asking questions to keep the salesman talking. He was one of the last ones out after the Mall closed at nine-thirty.

He finished pumping gas and recapped the tank. He looked at his watch. Perfect. Two minutes before he was to get the call. He drove over to the phone and lifting the receiver pretended to be depositing the coin and pressing the numbers. He stood close to the phone, the receiver to his ear while the other hand held down the lever so the phone could ring. He let it ring once and said ‟Hello,” and then looked around to see if there was anyone about who could have heard the phone ring. Continue reading