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Old 01-15-2017, 03:36 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sarzana,Italy
Posts: 573
Default Re: New studio

Dave, the cars are located in a barn that is on ´private property. I have found that if I let my dog loose with his leash attached I can use him as an excuse for going places I shouldn’t. I went back to look at the cars a second time and studied them close-up. I think they are Fiats, I noticed they have suicide doors. I am not into mechanics, but to me they look like non repairable junk. I did find some old wine jugs that interest me to turn into terrariums.
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"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 04-18-2017, 12:32 PM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sarzana,Italy
Posts: 573
Default Four days with the public

“I think you need to get out of the house and do something different Joseph .You spent too much time at your computer writing, and when you are not doing that, you are painting.
There is an event in Sarzana over the Easter holidays .Why don’t you rent a table and display your art., maybe you will sell something.”
Selling something sounded like a fine idea as my studio walls have no more space to hang stuff. My wife is my life preserver, and, I think much smarter than me.
I agreed to spend four days in front of the public exhibiting, but only after we went to town and explored the situation. I was very pleased to see that my table would be under a plastic gazebo and it was to be located in front of the entrance to Fortress Firma Fede built in 1262 AD.
Later it was destroyed and rebuilt in fourteen eighty seven by Lorenzo De Medici. I could only think, how cool that was, so i agreed and paid the table rent of two hundred ten Euros. At the closing of the exhibition, my total sales were nine copies of “The Hermit and the Boy” book at seven Euros a copy. However I got nice a tan did an abstract thing that I found to be fun, met nice people, and, improved my Italian a bit. Also i got to finish the first draft of another short (3500) word story titled Princess Josephine.
I think I was the only artist with a table there, had lots of lookers wanting garage sale prices, and some nice comments.
My wife is looking into another exhibit called the “Genius of your Own Hands,” To be held along the beach in Lerici. Maybe I will attend? Here are a few pictures.
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"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 05-16-2017, 05:43 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Posts: 573
Default Josephine

It has been a month that I have been working on this story that is titled “Josephine.” It started out based on the old joke “The talking frog” a joke that can be told in five minutes .Somewhere along the way my imagination took over and I ended up with a fictional story of 22 pages and 6,000 words. I am quite proud of this story and hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Also here is a new painting. “The Basket Weaver”

Chapter one
There is a slow moving meandering river in Louisiana.
Amongst the stately old cypress trees sits a trailer house surrounded by empty beer cans ,two rusted pickup trucks, one old motorcycle,, and makeshift kennels with two coon hounds tied there .
Tom was sitting on its front porch working his way through his last six pack of Lone Star beer when he noticed several ripples in the muddy water. This movement excited him into action, for he knew the activity meant the annual migration of smelt was underway. Downing dregs from his can, he jumped up, grabbed his fishing pole and staggered down to the edge of the Atchafaleya River.
By the time dusk settled in .He had five bright silver smelt flopping in the bushes behind him. He put the last fish on a forked stick and was wondering if there was enough bacon fat to fry them in, when he heard faint crying coming from the willows that grew along the river bank. “What in the hell is that’” he said out loud.
Taking the fish and his pole; he went searching for the source of the pitiful wailing. He stopped... trying to get a sense of the direction the sound came from. He could clearly hear a female voice calling “Help, Help, someone please help me.” It was coming from behind a moss covered log nearby.
Being a cautious fellow, Tom took his time and carefully approached the log. He parted the branches, and then peered over the log. And saw, not a thing, no woman as he had suspected, just a small green frog. “Maybe I should not have drunk that last beer he said to the frog” and turned to go. “Oh no, please don’t go, I am a Princess, a real Princess, you must help Me.” said the frog with tears in its eyes. “Well I´ll be damned, it´s a talking frog. If that don´t beat all” Tom said in amazement.
He picked up the frog to look at it. In the evenings light he could see that the frog had long eyelashes, its lips were lovely and painted with a ruby colored gloss...Tom studied the frog intently then said “I can tell by your lips and eyelashes you may have been a Princess, and you’re certainly the damndest looking frog I ever laid eyes on”.
“That is because I am truly a very beautiful Princess, who has had a hex cast upon her. And you kind sir, can break this horrible spell by believing me. I will be forever grateful to the first handsome man to kiss me. “
Now Tom was a handsome man, and had had many experiences with women, all of them beautiful. Including the one, who had filed for divorce, then stripped him of everything.
The one who had emptied his bank account then run away with the banker, leaving him dead broke, , and living in a rundown trailer. As a result of this life changing catastrophe, Tom had made a solemn vow to never, ever, become emotionally involved with another woman.
He thought for a long while, and then answered the frog. “I have learned that women who think they are beautiful Princesses are a royal pain and are easy to find, but a talking frog could be a valuable asset in my lonely life.”
So Tom put the frog in his pocket, picked up his pole and fish, then made his way home to the trailer in time to feed his hounds the fish heads and cook his supper.
It was while he was drinking the last beer in the trailer that the frog in his pocket spoke again.”Sir, can you please tell me your name. “
Surprised by this, He wiped the beer from his chin, coughed to clear his throat and muttered,”It´s Thomas Polanski, but everyone around here calls me Tom. What was yours before you were turned into a frog?”
“Oh! Thomas, that was such a long time ago I have almost forgotten”. Pausing for a moment the frog sighed, then said, “I was Princess Josephine, Daughter of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.”
“Interesting, very, interesting, Tom said, All the way from Luxembourg to the banks of the Atchafaleya River in Louisiana. Now that must have been a very long and exciting trip.”
“Long and terrible Thomas, so painful that I cannot discuss it,” Josephine sobbed.
In silence Tom cooked then ate his fish.
“Thomas, I am so hungry, would you please take me out of your pocket and place me on the table.
If you do I can catch all the flies that are buzzing around your leftover fish.
As a Princess I loved quail with yams and truffles and French Champagne, but as a frog I have developed an addiction to the taste of common houseflies.”
As Tom took the frog out of his pocket, he could not keep himself from laughing at the thought of quail, yams and truffles and Champagne served on a silver platter with crystal glasses.
Then he said to the frog, “I am going to take the skillet and plate out to the coon hounds to have them washed. Now you won´t run away while I’m gone will you?” The frog shivered at the thought of being out in the cold darkness. “No Thomas, there is no way I wish to be outside. Do you realize how many reptiles, birds and wild creatures want to make a meal out of a small green frog?”
Satisfied that his new discovery was going nowhere, he went out the door and gave the dishes to the dogs to lap clean, while he relieved his bursting bladder against the motorcycle.
When Tom returned, he found that the frog was sound asleep.
Without taking his muddy cowboy boots off, Tom flopped onto his unmade cot and fell instantly into a deep dreamless sleep.
Into his sub-consciousness came a beautiful sound of a woman singing. Her voice was pure and sweet; she sang to him of loneliness and lost love. So marvelous were the sounds that Tom awoke with tears on his face. In an instant he realized that it was the frog.
He lay there, enthralled by the sound of the voice.
Then he had an idea, perhaps the most brilliant idea to ever cross his mind. He was going to enter the Texas Has Talent contest in San Antonio.
He was not a bad guitar picker, and with a voice as great as this frog possessed, he was positive he could easily win the prize money.
All he needed was a guitar, and bus fare to San Antonio.
Tom could no longer sleep; his mind became a tornado of ideas. Finally, he came up with a plan.
He would sell his hounds, Jack and Jim, to the River Bottom Coon Hound Hunt Club, he was sure that they would bring at least seven hundred dollars, he would do it today.
At first light, Tom was up, fixed a cup of chicory coffee, opened a can of fried beans with pork, and then ignoring the mosquitoes walked out onto the porch, where he ate the beans straight out of the can.
He entered the trailer house, cursed the air conditioner for breaking down again. Stripped, turned on the shower and stepped into a stream of tepid water. As he was toweling off the frog hopped over to him.
“Thomas, please could I take a bath. This place is so hot, and my skin is so dry I am afraid it will soon begin to crack and shed.” Tom looked down at the small creature; and he felt a twinge of sympathy for it.
Immediately he took the frog and put it in the still draining water .He watched as it hopped around, obviously enjoying the bath water.
“Josephine, I have to go out, and won’t be back till nightfall, now you stay here, and when I return I shall bring you a box of crickets.”
“Oh Thomas, you are so very kind, I think I could easily fall in love with you. Would you kiss me before you go?” For a brief moment Tom considered.
The idea instantly faded as he thought of his ex wife.
“Not today Josephine, I am not ready for that, especially with a frog, I will be back.”
Having learned that a woman rarely listens to instructions, Tom shut the door and locked it.
He went to the hounds and turned them loose, squinted into the hot morning sun, and then he set off at a trot down the gravel road.
It was a two hour brisk walk to the Club house. He was optimistic, for he knew that his hounds were the best trackers in the county. Once the money started rolling in he could buy them back.
He smiled at the thought that he was going to pawn his dogs and bet on a sure thing.
It did not take the Claudel brothers long to find seven hundred dollars and take possession of Tom´s black and tan hounds.
Stuffing the roll of bills in his jeans pocket, Tom bent over to his faithful dogs, affectionately pulled their long ears, saying “I will be back boys.”
His first stop in town was Wild Bills Pawn & Guns. Wiping the sweat off his face, he opened the iron barred entrance door.
He found Bill parked in a wooden rocking chair, watching the Mobile, Alabama Monster Truck Rally on a wide screen TV. With a nod to Bill, he went over to several used guitars that hung from spikes driven into the back wall.
Tom looked them over, one in particular appealed to him. It was a Hondo five string acoustic, the same type that Les Paul and Mary Ford had used for years.
He took it down, tuned it, and then played a bit of “The House of the Rising Sun”. By now Bill sensing a possible sale, turned his attention to Tom and the guitar. “Give you real good deal on that one Tom, if you got enough cash?”
“Oh I got the cash Bill, depending on what you call a good deal.”
Bill found the energy to lift his two hundred and forty pounds out of his rocking chair and waddled over to Tom and look at the guitar.
It had been hanging on has wall for over six months and Bill was ready to deal.
“Didn’t know you could play one Tom, what do you want with a guitar?” Tom was not about to tell anyone his plans, much less about the frog. “Just for a bit of music to pass the lonely nights away down by the river.
Now...If you want to sell this cheap out of tune instrument, tell me you want fifty dollars for it and consider it sold.”
Bill scoffed at the offer. “Boy, that’s insulting; you can hang it back up and leave. I won’t take less than four hundred,”
Tom put the guitar back on the spike, turned to walk out the door muttering out loud. “I would have gone as much as one fifty.” He had his hand on the doorknob when Bill capitulated.
Tom walked down the street, the guitar slung over his shoulder. He made his way across the street and went into the Meow Bow Wow pet store, there he purchased a box of dried cricket and a plastic carry on traveling cage for the frog, then headed home.
As he was walking he thought of Les Paul and Mary Ford, He came to the conclusion that he and the frog needed a stage name. Something catchy, but what? Josephine was a great name but Josephine who…then he came up with Croaker, Tom Polanski did not sound like a good ending.
Then in another flash of genius it came to him, Tom Moans and Josephine Croaker was perfect.
The walk home was hot; the Louisiana sun beat down on him relentlessly, God …how he wanted a cold beer.
He stopped at a roadside store, bought a six-pack of cold Lone Star, two cans spam, and a loaf of Wonder bread...He sat in the shade of a moss covered oak tree, drank a beer, then made his way home to the trailer and Josephine.
The frog was sitting in a corner when Tom walked in; he put the beer in the fridge opened another one, and a tin of spam. “Oh Thomas, I am so happy that you have returned, it is terrible to be alone and thinking that you are forgotten.”
"Forgotten??? I could never forget you Josephine. You are always on my mind, and here are the grasshoppers I promised, also I have bought you a nice travelling cage.”
Josephine hopped into the cage looked around and croaked in ecstasy. "Oh Thomas, this is the safest place I have slept in over a month. You are adorable, and so thoughtful. Please kiss me. Then I can really show you, how very much I appreciate you.”
To tell you the truth… although Tom was tempted, He knew deep in is soul that it would be the greatest mistake to do so.
He said to her. "Not tonight Josephine, we have to get up early and be in town in time to catch the Greyhound bus. Tonight, I want to play the guitar and listen to you sing. Will you sing for me as you as you sang last night?"
“Will you kiss me after I have sung?” Josephine asked?
Tom did not answer her, but quickly changed the subject.
For he knew that even though Josephine was a frog, under that green skin she was still a woman, and he felt that he was skating on very thin ice.
His plan was to keep her a frog for as long as he could. After all, a frog is cheap to keep, but a woman, especially one that likes quail, yams and truffles would be very expensive.
As thing stood for the time being, he could use her talent to achieve his goal. And when they became as famous as he fantasized, never have to pay her one red cent.
There would be no manager taking a cut, no expensive hotels, or designer clothes and shoes to buy.
A singing frog suited him just fine.
He promised Josephine “After we have made a trip to San Antonio and you sing for me, I promise i will kiss you smack on those ruby red lips.”
Then the frog began to sing in French. Although he did not understand the words he knew instantly the song she was singing... Love Me Tender.
She sang it as it had never been sung before. He strummed along following her lead, but he honestly knew that he was not needed. He stopped playing and listened to her magnificent voice.
Chapter 2
San Antonio
Night was upon them when Tom stepped off the bus in down town San Antonio, travelling bag in one hand, Josephine in the other and the guitar over his shoulder. He started down the brightly lit avenue looking for a cheap accommodation for the night. After a ten minute walk he found The Half Moon Motel and rented a room for twenty eight dollars a night.
The hot room smelled of cheap perfume, stale cigarette smoke and Lysol disinfectant. The bed sagged, and the carpet had odd stains-He threw his bag on the bed, carefully placed Josephine on the dresser, then he turned on the AC.
It came to life with an annoying squeal. Tom kicked it hard and the noise went away.
He let Josephine out of her cage. Took her into the small bath room, sat her in the sink, and turned on the cold water. The frog croaked in relief as she splashed under the stream of water, while Tom stripped and took a shower.
He looked in the mirror deciding that he looked the part of a vagabond guitar picker. Talking to his reflection he said “Hang in there Tom Moans, your luck is about to change.”
Then he asked Josephine if she was hungry, “I am famished Tomas. But I do not want to eat crickets again; they are dry and have no flavor at all. There are a lot of flies in this room, if you could find some sugar to attract them; I will cheerfully snap them all up.” At this point Tom knew that a possible revolt was coming. He understood that once a woman wants something, she won’t stop until she has whatever it is she desires.
He dressed, telling Josephine to be patient while he went out to find some sugar. Outside the Golden Arches of McDonalds lit up the San Antonio night sky like a beacon for Tom.
Twenty minutes later, carrying a Big Mack, coffee, sugar, and French fries, he unlocked the door of his motel room. He took Josephine out of the sink, then tore open the packet of sugar and poured the contents into an ashtray .Placing it on the floor he said “Bon Appétit, Princess”, as the flies swarmed around it.
After eating her fill, Josephine hopped into her cage contentedly humming, then closed her green eyes and fell asleep...
Early next morning, Tom was standing in a queue of hopeful talent tryouts that extended at least three blocks from the entrance to the Aztec Theater. His carryon bag was on the sidewalk, the guitar on his shoulder, and Josephine snug in her cage.
After waiting impatiently for hours, he realized that the chance of getting and audition was slipping away minute by minute.
In desperation he said to the frog. “Will you please sing for me now Josephine?” She did not answer.
”Please, it is important that you sing now,” Tom pleaded.
“When are you going to kiss me Thomas? I do not like being a frog; I want to be Princess Josephine once more.”
“I understand dear Josephine, but you must remain a frog for only two more days. Then, I swear to you on my dear departed mother´s grave, I will give you the biggest kiss you have ever had.
Please! Josephine this is very important for both of us.”
“Well¨... Thomas, I don’t think it is proper for a Princess to be singing on the street.”
She hesitated a long while, finally she said. “I will sing Edith Piaf´s La Vie in Rose for you, but only If I can sit on your shoulder while you play the guitar.”
Tom realized his plan to keep the frog a secret was over. Not wanting to lose the only opportunity he had, he took her out of the cage, placed her on his shoulder and began tuning the guitar.
Then Josephine sang. She sang in a voice that stopped pedestrians, the traffic, and turned the crowd of aspiring artist into silent statues.
It was at this moment that the talent shows producer arrived in his chauffer driven limousine. Seeing the throng of people he told his chauffeur to stop.
He stepped out of the limousine and was overwhelmed by the voice coming from a small green frog sitting on the shoulder of a red neck country bumpkin.
Pushing his way through the throng and completely ignoring Tom, he said to the frog. “I am Arthur Ritties, producer of this talent show, and owner of the Aztec Theater. I would like to hear you sing another song for me.”
Josephine batted her long eyelashes and said. “No sir I will not. I am Princess Josephine, daughter of the Duke of Luxembourg. Singing on the street corner is not proper or becoming for a Princess.”
Arthur bowed deeply, saying as he did “Princess, if i take you to my penthouse suite will you sing for me there?”
Tom knowing that his dream was evaporating before his eyes took the frog from his shoulder in put her into the cage. “This is my frog and it goes nowhere without me.”
Now Arthur was no fool, and quickly apologized. “Of course, I want you to come also, after all the Princess is in your care. Please come to my limousine both of you.”
Putting friendly hand on Tom´s shoulder he led them to the waiting limo, and then said. “Please take us directly to the Four Seasons, Elmo.”Once comfortably seated, He turned to Tom, and with a charming smile said.
“Now tell me all about the Princess and how you met.” While Tom related his story, carefully avoiding any mention of a kiss, the Princess was completely occupied looking at the interior of the limo...
It had silent air conditioning , tan calf skin leather seats, a full bar with crystal wine glasses .The chauffer was dressed in a striking dark blue silk uniform and the air had a faint scent of Magnolia blossoms.
All this reminded her of the palace in Luxembourg.
Then, she compared the two men. One was in worn blue jeans, wearing battered Stetson and dusty cowboy boots.
The other dressed in a grey pinstriped Armani suit, pale grey silk shirt with a silver mounted turquoise bolo tie, black leather Italian loafers, and he smelled of expensive cologne.
Tomas was slim and tan, having seen him naked and she knew he was indeed well endowed and he smelled... well, he smelled like a man.
Arthur was pale, partially bald and had a paunch that over hung his belt, and he was obviously rich.
She was sure that if she insisted he joined a fitness program the paunch would rapidly shrink away.
“Tom, please take me out of this cage so it may better enjoy this ride.” Not having a choice, Tom reluctantly removed the frog from her cage. “Arthur? Do you by any chance like quail with yams and truffle?”
“Why Princess Josephine, it is one of my favorite dishes, but it must be served with cold fine French champagne.”
Josephine immediately hopped onto Arthur´s lap and began to sing. She sang of love found and happiness returned.
She sang all the way to the hotel, while Tom sat in numbed silence... Josephine was still singing when they entered Arthur´s penthouse suite.
Then suddenly she stopped. “I am so tired and dirty from this exhausting trip .Arthur, do you think I could take a nice bath while I am here in this lovely home of yours?”
“Why of course you may Princess; I will have my maid prepare one for you immediately.”
He pressed a button and from out of nowhere a Latino housekeeper appeared. “Rosa, please take the frog Princess Josephine to the master bath, and prepare for her a nice bath.”
“Si Señior” the maid answered, flashing a brilliant, but surprised smile at the small green frog.
While Rosa prepared her bath, Josephine sat in front of the dressing mirror, trying to remember what she once looked like...She directed the maid on exactly how she liked her bath...
Not too hot, with perfumed oil, and of course lavender bath salts. Just as she once had in the Luxemburg Palace.
Josephine chatted while she was soaking in the tub, coyly prying information from the maid.
“Your employer seems to be a very kind and polite man. Tell me Rosa have known Arthur a long time?”
That was all the inducement Rosa needed .By the time the bath was over Josephine knew Arthur´s age, marital status, family back ground, real estate holdings, and his net worth.
After the bath Rosa carefully lifted her out of the Italian tub, dried her off, and then rubbed her skin with a lanolin cream. Then took her back into the sitting room where the men sat in silence, smoking Cuban cigars and sipping on Vechio Romano brandy.
She felt positively euphoric, saying as the maid placed her on a pale green silk pillow. “Dear Thomas, you asked me how I was put into such a deplorable condition as you found me on the bank of the Atchafaleya River
I feel a bit tired, but well enough to tell you how that happened.”
Chapter 3
Josephine´s story
“I have always been the rebelious one of my family, even while I was studying English at The kings Collage in Cambridge I was reprimanded for swimming nude in the King George fountain.
When I was at the Luxembourg Palace, against my father and my mother´s wishes I spent my time playing in the garden with the son of the Royal Palace gardener. It was innocent play, but my family, especially my father, was sure that once I reached womanhood things would change.
On my seventeenth birthday he issued His ultimatum. I was forbidden from seeing the gardener´s son.
Naturally, I disobeyed his orders and soon became the family scandal. My father was absolutely furious with me. And my older sister, who was deeply in love and passionately involved with the gardener´s young son became outraged at the thought that I might steal away her secret lover.
She went to my father and convinced him that the best recourse to end my infatuation was for the two of us was to take a lengthy vacation to America. My father and my mother instantly approved of the trip. A week later we arrived in Miami Florida.
There my sister engaged a private companion to give us a tour of Disney World. Then later see the interesting cities of Sarasota, Tallahassee, Mobile, and New Orleans and then finally return home.
While we were visiting Disney World, my sister Dahlia took a great interest in the Beastly Kingdom and said that was where I belonged.
When we went to Sarasota, she became fascinated with the Ringling Circus Museum and told me that she considered me gross frog. .
In Tallahassee, she spent the whole day in the House of Witchcraft. While I visited The Church of the Little Flower and lit candles in hopes that it would help Dahlia to return to her senses.
I did not pay any attention to her comments, or her taste in entertainment, for I knew she had never really liked me.
And, Dahlia always had been fascinated by the books on sorcery and black magic in my Fathers library. When we arrived in Mobile, she insisted we visit The House of Horrors...
It was when we arrived in New Orleans I started to worry about Dahlia´s morbid fascination with voodoo and witchcraft, especially, when she invited a very dark skinned, strange French speaking Cajun man to accompany us to the Marti Gras Festivals.
As soon as we were settled into our suite at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, Dahlia and the man went to visit the grave of the witch Marie Laveau, then do some shopping. I had a light lunch and took a short beauty rest .When I was rested, I went out to explore the French Quarter and the many curiosity shops nearby.
Now I have come to the painful part of my story.
I am hungry and need to compose myself, would you gentile men please excuse me if postpone this narrative till later?
I am so hungry that my head aches.”
Thomas immediately jumped to his feet and took out the box of dried crickets from his carryon bag. Josephine rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue. “Please Thomas no more crickets, I need a change of diet”
Arthur asked Josephine what she desired.
“I think that a meal of fresh earth worms would be wonderful Arthur, but... I suppose that would be impossible, and too much to ask of you.
Tom looked at Arthur, and Arthur stared at Tom, who shrugged his shoulders. Then he picked up his telephone, punched the speed dial.
Elmo was instantly on the line. “Elmo, I want a dozen fresh earth worms brought to my suite now.
How in the hell do I know where to find them? Just find them now.”
Tom interrupted Arthur. “He can find them in any bait shop, tell to get Red Wigglers, or night crawlers, they should satisfy her hunger.”
“Elmo the worm expert here says. “Go to a bait shop; get Red Wigglers or night crawlers”. “Hell, I don’t know where. Elmo, you’re the chauffer, just get them now.”
He hung up, smiled at Josephine and said," Your wish is my command Princess Josephine.”
It was not long before Elmo entered the suite, carrying a white takeout box “I swear Arthur, sometimes you amaze me.”
He started to hand the box to him, but Arthur pointed to the kitchen, telling him to take the box to Rosa and have her prepare the worms for “The Princess of Luxembourg.”
Shaking his large head and rolling his eyes, Elmo laughed and wanted to know how the Princess wanted them prepared. Then Josephine spoke up.
“Tell Rosa to cut them in small pieces then dress them with a teaspoon of olive oil”. At that point all three men roared with laughter.
The worms were served on a small porcelain dish precisely as she wanted .Josephine ate them with gusto when the plate was emptied she sighed, excused herself when she burped, then continued he story
“As I was browsing the shops along Bourbon Street I came to a fortune tellers hut. Out of curiosity and concern for my sister I went in to have my fortune told. The hut was lit by many colored candles and the smell of Sandal wood incense hung heavy in the air.
The fortune teller was a large black woman wearing a chartreuse headscarf of bright silk, and a large flowing robe of a dark violet color.
As soon as she saw me she said, “I have been expecting you Princess Josephine, come here and sit down, I shall read the Tarot cards for you.” Shocked that this voodoo woman knew my name I turned to leave.
I stopped dead in my tracks when she said “You are here about your older sister Dahlia are you not? Come sit down, for you are in grave danger and I want to help you.” As she read the cards she explained how each one told her that my sister had cast a spell cast on me and I was to turn into a frog tonight at midnight, that she wanted me to disappear into the swamps never to be seen again. “There is nothing I can do to prevent this from happening, for the witch doctor´s curse is too potent. But, there are also Gods powers that can, and will save you. Now you must go to the river and wait for His sign, when it come you will know what to do. Take this good luck token, keep it with you and remember; only love will cause you to survive.”
”Then she disappeared in a cloud of violet smoke.
It was at that moment that the night skies began to light up with enormous flashes of lightning.
I ran as fast as I could, fear and cannon peals of thunder motivating me to go to the river, the fortune teller’s words echoing in my mind as the rain driven by screaming hurricane winds came down in torrents. I had reached the river bank when the rushing waters became a river of mud, broken trees, and rocks.
It swept me off my feet, plunging me into the maelstrom. I was sucked under; I was drowning when the curse took effect.
One moment I was a Princess Josephine daughter of the Duke of Luxemburg struggling to stay alive, an instant later I was as you see me now, a small green frog,
Suddenly, I could swim, my webbed feet gave me power to fight the currents, I could hold my breath and stay submerged when large trees tried to crush the life out of me.
How, or when, I crawled out onto the bank of the Atchafaleya River I do not recall. Then she turned grey and fainted.
Rosa had been eaves dropping, as all good and dutiful maids and servants learn to do.
She rushed into the room, picked up the exhausted Josephine and carried her to her quarters, then bathed her with a cold compress.
“Over, and over she whispered, “Poor little Princess”, until Josephine had recovered. “Now you rest until you are better. Rosa will see that you are not disturbed.”
The two men stopped talking when Rosa came back into the room. Before they could ask, she told them that Josephine was resting and would be fine after a nice nap.
True to her word, Josephine was awake and the color green had returned to her skin when Rosa peered into the room to check on her. “My poor little Princess, are you feeling better?”
Chapter 4
Josephine Sings
“Yes Rosa, thank you for your concern, I am much better and telling what happened to me has lifted my spirits. Please take into the living room I am now ready to sing for your kind employer Arthur.”
They found the two men having a serious, hushed conversation when they entered. Both of them stood when Rosa placed Josephine on her silk cushion. She explained she was feeling much better and she was now going to sing. “I shall sing to you another song by my most favorite Artist, Edith Piaf. I can sing it to you in English, but I prefer the romantic language of the French...I shall imagine that I am at The Grand Theatre in Luxembourg City.
In the audience sits my father, The Royal Duke, my Mother, Duchess Anna , and sister Princess Dahlia and of course, you, Thomas, who took me from the swamp and I am eternally grateful to, and of course you Rosa, who cared for me, and most importantly you dear Arthur, with your kindness and hospitality.
The song is “Hymn to Love”
The little green frog began to sing. Her beautiful voice filled the penthouse. It penetrated the walls and escaped out the stained glass window onto the wind, which carried it over the city of San Antonio. It stopped its citizens in their tracks, children from crying, strangers in the midst of arguments, and drew lovers closer together. When she finished all the people in San Antonio were weeping.
Tom sat dumbfounded; Rosa clasped her hand to her breasts and prayed. Arthur applauded, rose from his chair saying “That was Magnificent” then he bent down and gently kissed the frog.
Instantly the Princess appeared, she took Arthurs hand kissed it and said,
“Dearest Arthur, I am now forever in your debt.”
Tom picked up his guitar, and his carryon bag, saying in a humbled voice. “I need to get home and see to my dogs” then started for the door.
Arthur stopped him. “Thomas, you are not going until you receive the prize money of fifty thousand dollars that you would have unquestionably won at “The Texas Has Talent contest.”
“You wait there until I can find my checkbook.”
He said to Elmo, “Pick up Tom´s belongings , stop by my bank, and then take him to New Orleans and his home on the Atchafaleya River ".
Tom looked at Princess Josephine then said. “As the song by Ronnie Millsap goes, “I WOULDN´T HAVE MISSED THIS FOR THE WORLD,”
She kissed him, and then she opened a small purse, took out a rose gold coin. Giving it to him she said.
“Before I was turned into a frog the Fortune teller gave me this coin as a good luck token. She told me that it would help protect me from evil and danger. Please take it with my gratitude and deepest affection.”
Then turned her back to him, went to the large stained glass window, put her hands on it and began to cry.
On the bank of the Atchafaleya river sits a man in a brand new air conditioned mobile home. Two coon hounds keeping him company. He looks at the coin in his hand and begins to write.
His story is of hope, love, disappointment and lost opportunity...He knows that it will one day become a best seller. The End.
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Old 07-19-2017, 08:02 AM
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Default New Studio Art Gallery

The translation of Josephine into Italian is complete and will be in print soon, thanks to my loving wife.
The New Studio Art Gallery
Plans are under way to open an art gallery here in Italy, at this moment they are only plans.
There are permits, and approvals needed to be taken care of before it can become a reality. This project should be done about the time I have my 79th birthday, it is very exciting for me. Once again we will be moving to a newly constructed home with gallery space on the ground floor and living space on the second floor. I have more than enough art and engraving work as inventory to make a beautiful opening display.
The home is located on the main through fare in Fiumaretta and walking distance to the popular tourist beaches of the Liguria sea coast, and a marina full of expensive yachts. I am thinking it may be possible for me to act as a middle man and find commissions or take consignments for other engravers, as I said for the moment this only a plan. I am very optimistic and I rarely fail once it is an idea to make it into a reality.
A couple of new painting
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Old 07-31-2017, 01:58 AM
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Default Art Gallery progress

Permits are complete, now it is waiting to see if my offer on the property go through. Meanwhile here is the preliminary drawing for the gallery sign.
Its size will be approximately 4x5 feet.
I have to thank Mr. Ken Hunt for the inspiration
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Old 08-15-2017, 04:07 AM
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Default Re: New studio & art gallery

Contracts have now been signed, deposits made, now I have only the advertising billboard to make while I wait for the builder to complete his work. My contract here on this place will be finished in Dec. Then I will be able to move and start working on the gallery. Plan to open in May. Until then I will enjoy the beach and explore the restaurants .All of this new activity has been very motivational. Here is a print plate that I finished using a screwdriver made into a bulino tool to finish.
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Old 08-18-2017, 10:11 PM
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Default Re: New studio & art gallery

Looks like you found a little piece of heaven there.
All the best of luck to you and thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-31-2017, 06:04 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Thank you Jim for the nice comments, they made ne smile.
The force that motivates me
At dinner the other night my wife said, “Joseph, my friends on Face book want to know what is wrong, you look unhappy in the photos I post of you, and the frown on your face seems to be permanently etched there. Our banker and the neighbor have even asked me if you were angry.
All of this came as a surprise to me, as I consider i am fortunate to have been born in America, to be self employed for the last fifty years, and to be able to be a creative, free, and happy man. France´s question made me get up from the table, go to a mirror and look at my reflection. There staring back at me I saw a face with a frown and a mouth that never smiled.
I practiced smiling at the reflection and it looked silly. I tried a big grin, that looked idiotic, but a small lifting of my upper lip looked ok .Finally I gave up and returned to my dinner. ” How does this look? I asked as I lifted my lip a bit. “You look like you are in pain, try relaxing that frown." So I tried her advice the only way I could think of. I stopped thinking of my many new and (to me) exciting projects, relaxed my frown and lifted my upper lip. Franca laughed and said “That’s perfect, now you look happy.” Then I explained that the number of people I count as true friends is small, that I don´t like gossip and have spent my lifetime thinking and working in solitude, and I am happiest while discovering what I am capable of. Not reflecting on what I have already accomplished. Her answer “I know you are not going to change, but when my family comes to visit, or you have your picture taken, practice your new smile, you look much better.”
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Old 10-24-2017, 02:44 AM
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Default Re: New studio

The Idea of having an art studio open to the public has brought new excitement into my life- I have some coins that I engraved displayed in framed cases, recently I came in contact with a print maker here in Italy and made an appointment to visit his studio. It is in the wine country near the town of Certaldo, located in the province of Tuscany, near Florence, about one hundred fifty kilometers from my home. Franca who is not only my interpreter, chauffer and trip advisor, found a castle to spend our first night in.
Castles are like Seven Eleven stores here in Italy, Every major town has at least one. The following day we set off in search of his studio to show him my engravings. The trip to his place took us through very scenic hills, vineyards dotted with wealthy villas, and old churches...Finding Walter´s home took several cell phone calls asking for directions as we wandered over very winding narrow un- named roads. Finally we arrived at our destination, were greeted by half a dozen cats, Walter and his wife Marlise. They invited us in for coffee while I showed him the plates and coins I hoped he could turn into prints for my gallery .I asked if he thought they could be printed. “Leave them with me and I will see what can be done”, he said.
That was two weeks ago, today he made the two hour drive to my home and delivered these. His studio is listed as Walter Sarfatti artist printmaker in Tuscany .Here is the results of the excellent work he did. The dimension of the coins and plates I had printed are small, ranging from 5 to 2.5 cm. They are going to be very limited signed editions and will be for sale at my gallery next summer. If they interest you, contact me at joseph4art@gmail.com leave a message. I will get back to you. Meanwhile, after seeing the prints I decided that I should return to engraving, I have made arrangements to visit my old school, “The Bottega Incisione Giovanelli” and see if I can buy the basic equipment needed to engrave, not that I expect to do any serious work but I think I can engrave plates and minor objects for printing at my new studio
Here are the images from Walter and a couple of recent paintings
Thank you,
Joseph engraver
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Old 12-20-2017, 04:57 AM
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Default The move is over

Considering that I arrived in Italy with my wife, a dog and two suitcases, it is absolutely amazing how much stuff a person can accumulate in a short time. The move to our new residence is over, and it was almost more than I could handle. It took three trucks and four men nine hours to load and transport pots, pans , plants, all the furniture, boxes full of things I never knew we had, also a garden house with all its tools, my complete studio and of course the dogs bed. I am dropping my anchor here between the sea and the mountains, almost positive that I will never move again, until someone carries my corpse away for disposal-
It will take me a couple of months to organize it all, but come spring (The Studio of Joseph) will be open to the public. This past week I celebrated my seventy-ninth birth day and I can feel my age. I can say I never thought I would live this long, If I had known I would have taken better care of my body. Here are some pictures, and the start of a new painting that I am struggling with-
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Old 12-30-2017, 05:19 AM
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Default The death of the Christmas bunny rabbit

My family came to visit this weekend. When they exited their auto, the first one out was my nephew .He is a young man who is still a child at heart and has not yet learned that the pathway of life has many unexpected experiences .As I greeted him I saw that he was wearing a pair of Christmas present bunny slippers. My first warning to him was “Do not let the dog get them.
We had a wonderful dinner, took pictures shared hugs and kisses then all had a good night’s sleep
It was early the next morning when I saw Jack the dog racing around the yard with that rabbit he has been trying to catch for several years.
I could imagine what was going on in his dog mind. “I finally got you, you little furry creature and this time you will not escape me.”
I watched as he tore off one ear, and then the other. I tried to catch him as he raced around the yard, but to no avail: He was not going to give up this prize that had eluded him so many times on our walk in the country side. I called my nephew outside to help, but it was too late to rescue his slipper as jack began shaking the stuffing out of it. Out of sympathy I jokingly offered to take his slipper to a vet. By now I could not contain my laughter when I saw the pleased look on the dogs face and the sight of my nephew holding the remains of his bunny slipper. He did not appreciate my humor one bit as he was picking up the remains of his Christmas present. Still laughing so hard that tears were running down my cheeks I told him that I was sorry and he should take solace in the fact that the bunny was now in Gods caring hands. Somehow I could not grasp the fact that this twenty one year old was so distraught, it was then I realized that he had never once in his care free merry go round life felt the loss of loved ones or anything important. This incident was the biggest tragedy to ever happen to him
Then came the resurrection of the Christmas bunny rabbit .Little did I know that a Christmas miracle was to happen later that night? That evening Franca took matters into her caring hands, she took out her sewing basket. Using her wonderful skill she patiently worked late into the night, as my nephew watched in wonder. After two hours of skillful needle work, the Bunny rabbit slippers, sporting a few scars was brought back to life.
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Old 02-12-2018, 05:04 AM
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Default A new story about bad and good luck,murder and love

´Lucky Bob

Chapter 1

I had been playing Texas hold-em poker for three hours and was up about $ 6.000.00
the right time to cash out, take a walk, and then have a good meal.
The cashiers a very good looking gal with a charming smile and is friendly to me as always. The name tag Gina, pinned to her white blouse is all I know about her. The smile and bright brown eyes has me thinking I would like to know more.
There is something special about a person who smiles at you that instinctively makes you smile back.
“Do you want all this in cash or would you prefer to have the house hold it for you?”
She asked as she continued counting.
Not being short of money I told her to put it into my casino account, and then gave her a hundred for her smile as a tip. I went down to the lobby and walked the six blocks to my favorite Italian restaurant.
At the La Strega, I found a table in a corner where I had my back to the wall and a good view of the kitchen and the front door.
The life of any gambler has its dangers and I learned long ago that there are many shady people who have no qualms about sticking a gun or a knife in your face for quick easy bucks.
The waiter arrived with the menu; I ordered Osso buchi with sautéed onions, a side dish of whole wheat pasta with a light pesto sauce... While I waited for the wine steward, I got to thinking of Lucky Bob and the great meals we once had here. The gambling gossip was that he was broke, and I had not seen him in at least two years. I wondered where he was, and how he was doing.
I first met Bob as an adversary while playing at The Pepper Mill Casino in Reno and I liked him at first sight. He was a wild and very over weighted player, ruthless with his opponents, and the luckiest poker player I had ever run into.
It did not take me long to learn to stay out of any pot that he was involved in, in return he did the same with me.
I took the wine list and was looking for an 82 Barolo when I notice that there was a 76 Brunello Di Montalciino that seemed to be the perfect choice for my meal. It was pricey, but gambling money is so easily spent.
I called the waiter over and asked him to bring it to my table and decant it. When he brought it, I felt the bottle and found that it was at perfect temperature. He uncorked it, then poured me a taste. It was outstanding, and left to breathe a bit it would be most excellent with the veal shanks. The waiter suggested a salad of beet greens with olives. Once the order was final, I returned to my thoughts of Bob.
It had been at least five years since Bob and I last played poker together, he had stopped playing because he found it boring and had turned to horse racing to satisfy his gambling passions and had made a fortune.
Me, I was never one to trust a Jockey, trainer, or a stable hand, or even the horse, so I stuck to Texas Hold Em and relied on my own judgments...
The meal was everything I had anticipated and the wine was more than I could drink, so I left half the bottle for the waiter, ordered espresso with a shot of Cognac for dessert.
As I waited for the check I went to the restroom, washed up and pulled two hundred dollars out of the pocket sewn into my boot top.
Years ago when I was not wise to the ways of Vegas I had been mugged, since that time never carry much cash in my wallet, and I keep a very low profile.
Life in Vegas is a gamble, and I try to keep the odds in my favor. I never wear a watch or a ring, the only bit of flash I wear is a gold and silver belt buckle that was made for me by a master engraver who is a close personal friend .
After settling my bill, I went for a stroll down the main drag, past the glitter and gleam that beckons the fish into the pool where the hungry sharks patiently wait.
I am a solitary soul .When I am at the poker table I sit in silence and watch my opponents carefully, always looking for information that can give me that slight advantage.
The tremble of their hands, a change in the pitch of the voice, the constant looking at their hold cards as if looking can change the spots. There are many nuances that allow me to determine a players hand and skill; I take advantage of all of them.
Although I am a nice guy, I prefer to be underestimated at and away from the table. When I play poker,
I play for blood.
Outside, I turn onto a side street away from the traffic and gawking tourists and make my way to Al´s Bar.
Alfonso and I have known each other since the days he ran a game in the back room and I was his shill to keep the action at table working and the rake percentage high. Al introduced me to Bob before he became famous and known as Lucky Bob.
There, we had worked the table taking away money from the tourists or in the vernacular of gamblers “Strawberries” that flocked there looking for loose ex- virgins.
As the easy money came rolling in Bob spent it, I saved it.
He was not shy when it came to flash or spending cash. He wore tailored silk shirts, Christian Dior ties, Gucci shoes and Armani suits.
He had a gold engraved Rolex Oyster watch on one wrist, a matching yellow gold bracelet with Lucky Bob set in diamonds on the other, complimented with large opal pinky ring.
Compared to Bob I looked like the poor church mouse.
Al´s place is low key and quiet, sparingly lit with Tiffany style lamps .The bar has a nicely polished mesquite top with chrome and leather stools comfortably spaced .The only sound to interrupt the atmosphere was the musical ping of slot machines lined up along the back walls where the Holdem card table used to be.
It took a second to allow my eyes to adjust to the cool darkness inside of the bar. As I stood in the entrance Al spotted me and came out from behind the bar to give me a crooked smile, and a bear hug of affection. ”Joda Fish how are you my friend? It has been months since I last saw you; I see you are living the good life, put on a bit of weight haven’t you?”
Joda Fish is my sign in name at a poker rooms ,I think it has a nice ring to it, and sounds much better when announced over the speaker than “Joseph Wilson, Your seat at table six is now open”
“Come and sit down and tell me what you have been up to. What can I get you to drink?” Al asked.
I felt the slight bulge around my waist and decided that Al was right, I had put on a bit of extra weight. “Espresso, no sugar or cream seems like a good idea Al”.
While he was fixing coffee I asked about Lucky Bob.
“Lucky Bob! You don’t know what has happened to him? He is a broken man, lost everything at the race tracks, and owes Louie the bookie a fortune. You would not recognize him; he is living on the streets, panhandling for food money. Once in a while he comes in and I feed him and give him a drink or two.”
This news about my friend stunned me, Bob the luckiest man in Nevada, a legend, now living on the streets, a bum!
“My God, Al what has happened? He had a penthouse, cars and Midas’s fortune in cash and jewelry stashed away. How is it possible?”
Al shook his head, a sad look came over him and he shrugged his shoulders. “His luck stopped, one day his luck just disappeared and never returned.” All I could say was “Damn that is a truly disastrous turn of events Al”
Al nodded and continued. “The trouble was Bob wouldn’t accept it. He continued going to the track, bet huge on horses that were sure to win, but didn’t. It was the same thing at the card tables. Whatever cards he held would come out second best, even the tourists were slaughtering him.
Eventually he sold his penthouse, cars and pawned the jewelry to gamble with. He still believed his luck would return, but it never came back.”
To think that my friend, the luckiest gambler I ever met was now a derelict living and sleeping in some God forsaken place was more than I wanted to hear. I finished my coffee and told Al that it was time for me to try and get some sleep, and headed out the door.
At the door I turned to Al and said, “If you see or hear from Bob leave a message at the Horseshoe.”
After a restless night, I decided to take a trip to L.A. and play cards at the Hollywood Park Casino, just to get away from Las Vegas and the thought of Bob sleeping under a bridge somewhere.
But it did little good; I was not able to concentrate on the game. As a result I had four loosing sessions in a row and dropped a bundle of cash.
What I needed to do was get far away from this whole Vegas gaming scene and disappear for a while, see something new.
I had always wanted to try the casino´s in Europe. Why not go to Amsterdam and play at the New Holland for a while? Maybe get stoned at the Bulldog Tavern and check out the willing ladies in the red light district along the canal. Once I got the Idea in my mind and being free of any responsibilities it sounded reasonable.
L AX was a twenty minute cab ride away and flights to Amsterdam were often, I had my pass port, and clothes in my carryon bag, 10 grand in my boot and an American Express card in my wallet.
Not having a clue when I would be back in the States, I booked a first class ticket with an open date of return.

Twenty four hours later I checked in to the FIJF VLIEGT HOTEL which translates to The Five Flies in down town Amsterdam.
I admired the l Rembrandt etchings and wondered if they were originals on the way to my room, where I got the first restful night’s sleep in a week. This change of place was exactly what I needed.
The New Holland Casino is upscale, elegant but not garish and is located next to the popular Singlegracht Canal.
Unlike Vegas, the gamblers were loose, well dressed, and for the most part polite; it was a cosmopolitan strawberry patch ripe for picking. The card room was upstairs, small, the tables were set up with automatic card shufflers and the stakes at the no limit tables that open at nine P.M. were one and two euro blinds This suited me fine as I wanted to relax and get away from the stress of Vegas where the stakes were much higher. Even at this low limit game the players bet freely and the pot size was profitable. Three nights of poker and a day at the Van Gough museum and an extra 2,500 Euros in my boot, I checked out of the hotel, and then took the 6.25 A.M. High speed Thalys train to Paris, and The Aviation Club de France, located on the Avenue Champs Elyseés.
To be continued
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 02-16-2018, 05:01 AM
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Default Lucky Bob

I had read about this famous club that was established in 1907 in The Card Player Magazine and knew that they had a strict dress code. As I was a jean´s, old boots and sweater type of guy. I decided that once got to Paris it was time to do a bit of shopping for a more appropriate wardrobe.
Finding a shop that sold western wear was not easy, but with the help of a cabbie I found what I was looking for in a shop named the Cowboy Dream located on Rue de Turbigo.
I am a quick shopper, if I like it I buy it. Two hours and fifteen hundred Euro later I had a 10x grey Stetson hat, a new pair of Caiman belly Tony Lama boots in a nice dark chocolate color, a grey calfskin, waist length jacket, a couple of white western cut shirts and a very nice silver bolo tie that complimented my belt buckle .As the clerk was organizing my new wardrobe into boxes and bags I handed him my old boots to pack and slipped on the new Tony Lama´s.
I do love gambling money; it is so easy to spend.
I asked the sales clerk who spoke perfect English to recommend me a good hotel near The Aviation Club. He said that the Amarante hotel was on the corner of George 5 Avenue and the Champs Elyseés. “It is only rated with four stars Monsieur, but I think you will find it quite suitable” As my French is limited to a few phrases, I asked him to call for a reservation for three nights in a single room and then call a cab to take me there.
When I entered the hotel Amarante I compared it to The Five Flies, The practical penny pinching Dutch without a doubt needed to take lessons in elegance from the French.
I signed in at the reception desk, left my passport as required, and then mailed Al a post card telling him where I was.
I was tired from travel and shopping. Even though it was mid afternoon and Paris was there for me to explore, I am a poker player and not a tourist, I went to bed.
The September sun had set when I opened my eyes and made my way to the toilet, turned on the bath water; heeded natures call, and then sank into the hot bath water to soak before shaving.
As I stood naked before a full length mirror I was pleased to see my waist had tightened up and the jelly roll was disappearing.
Although I was wide awake, I went back to bed and lay there thinking about the game of poker. I am not a believer in luck, although luck certainly does play a part in any gamble. I believe that the cards run in cycles.
When they are in your favor one should optimize .When they are not, you must realize it and play with caution. There are many times that you will throw away hand after hand to the point of boredom, good poker players call this “knitting a sweater.” If I enter and play twenty out of one hundred hands and win twelve and I have made no mistakes in judging my opponents, I will cash out winning a substantial amount.
My stomach began complaining, I do not like to eat before a game as I think more clearly on an empty stomach. Tonight however I intended to eat well before the game.
I stood in front of the mirror, dressed in my new duds, set the Stetson at a bit of a tilt, and admired the results.
Lucky Bob would have been impressed. Bob may have flash, but tonight I had style.
I stopped at the reception desk and handed the clerk my room key, then stepped out onto the Champs Elysees, paused, to study the street a moment, then started the twenty minute walk to the Aviation Club. My bank roll in my left boot, my wallet wedged tightly sideways in my back pocket.
The air was sharp with the city smell of diesel fumes as perfume. Settling my new Stetson tight on my head, I dodged the merry go round traffic of taxies, cars, trucks and motorbikes to cross over to the Arc De Triumph.
I walked down the Champs Elysees, past the bars, restaurants, coffee shops, strollers with their dogs, and the tourists.
Bob and once said. ”Never assume that you will not be a victim of the rats that prowl the streets of any city.” I thought of those words of wisdom as I enjoyed the sights, while keeping my eyes open, looking back once in a while. There were two teenagers following me, and I smelled rats as they came closer. “Wise guys” is what Bob called them.
The crowd on the side walk was thick, I slowed down, and suddenly one of them bumped me hard knocking my new Stetson to the sidewalk. I felt the other one digging my wallet out of my back pocket.
I turned, grabbed his wrist and brought the heel of my new boot down hard on his tennis shoe, He cried in pain, dropped my wallet on the walkway and went limping off with his pal to the gutters where t hey came from. I don’t think anyone noticed the whole two second incident
Once I had recovered the wallet and my Stetson, I made my way to the entrance of the Aviation Club where I was welcomed by the tuxedoed doorman. His first words were, “Monsieur are you J.R. from Dallas?” Lucky Bob would have laughed, I answered in all seriousness “No, I am Monsieur Wilson, from Las Vegas”.
Mr. Ronnie Moss enters my life.
I was about to enter and check my Stetson and jacket when another American man walked up to the doorman and asked if this was the Aviation Club. The doorman looked at him, sniffed as if the guy smelled bad and said. “Oui Monsieur, but you may not enter here dressed as you are, you must wear a tie, jacket and shoes. The doorman was spot on .This guy looked as if he worked on a farm .He was wearing a dirty white baseball hat, baggy tan pants, a loud plaid shirt and white tennis shoes and a canvass coat. I had seen many others dressed as he was in the Vegas casinos.
Knowing you cannot judge a book by its cover, I asked him where he was from.
I am from Wyoming, Cody Wyoming; I am here to play in the tournament, made reservations and flew over here to play. I have a suit, tie and dress shoes at my hotel, never expected the French to be so snobbish. Name is Moss, Ronnie Moss”. He extended his hand and I shook it, feeling the strength and calluses as I did so.
You can learn a lot about a person when you shake their hand. “I am Joe Wilson here on vacation, but I enjoy playing poker now and then.”
I like to know as much about another player as possible without seeming nosey.
”Ronnie, Are you by chance related to Jonny Moss?” he shook his head then said “You mean the man who won the first world series of poker and had that famous million dollar game against Nick the Greek? No I am not.”
That little voice in my head told me that Ronnie Moss knew more about poker than his appearance suggested. He then hailed a cab and said “I´ll be back, you have a good night.”
I turned and showed the doorman my passport entered the club, checked my Stetson and jacket with a very sexy girl also dressed in a tuxedo.
She held the hat in her hands, looked at in admiration then asked. “Are you from Dallas, Monsieur?” I was tempted to say yes, but my stomach was now ready to revolt from hunger. “No I am not. My name is Joe Wilson, and could you please direct me to the restaurant.”
She looked at the hat once more, took my jacket then said. “Please go to the top of the stairway and register with the guard.”
At that moment I realized the Stetson was creating a lot of interest with these French and might be an asset at the poker table. I nodded and said. “Thank you Miss. and I think I shall keep my hat on.”
Retrieving my new Stetson from her loving hands, I made my way up past the paintings and photographs of the daring men posed with their magnificent flying machines.
On the second floor there behind a desk sat another lovely young thing, also dressed in a tuxedo.
She welcomed me with another brilliant smile and asked for my passport.
I have played in many a casino, but never with so many check points manned by such lovely women. The thought occurred to me that it would be nice if security it LAX did the same.
After registering and paying a hundred Euro membership fee, she pointed to the tuxedoed gorilla standing at attention by an electronically operated glass door.
”He will let you in Monsieur, Good luck to you tonight.”
The gorilla said not a word, but he did glance at the Stetson as the door opened and I walked into the main room of the casino.
Then I saw it. It was over in one corner and as soon as I did, my stomach gave a gurgle of anticipation as I read the word, Restaurant, followed by four gold stars.
While waiting for the Maître di to come and welcome me, I took in the pleasant seating, all very spacious.
When he arrived I asked for a booth, which offered me a view of the entrance and my back to the wall, my preferred spot when dining out and sitting at a poker table.
He hesitated not for a second, nodded head, and led me to the booth I indicated. I thanked him as he handed me a leather bound menu and the large wine list.
I hate dining alone; I think it is one of the loneliest moments in my lifestyle. That is when I thought of Gina
I have enjoyed many brief romances, but never pursued a more permanent relationship. It seemed to me that each time I considered one, the refrains of an old country song “She got the goldmine and I got the shaft” would float into my mind.
I searched the menu for sea food, as I never like to eat a heavy meal immediately before sitting down to a game of poker. Finally I found a dish the appealed to me.
Seared Monkfish filets, with chestnuts:
Fennel, sautéed in fresh butter, served with blanched fig leaves, and a white Bordelaise sauce.
The meal now settled. I concentrated on the wine list. I prefer reds to whites, but for this meal I wanted something white, dry, and vibrant.
I selected a three year old Pouilly Fum´e, signaled the tuxedoed waiter that I was ready to order.
When the Sommelier arrived with the wine and it was opened and the first glass had been tasted. He bent down and whispered in my ear.”Monsieur, vous et J.R. from Dallas?”I smiled at the thought and having been asked the same question twice since my arrival. I could not help myself; I answered him in the same confidential whisper. “No, but J.R. Ewing is a very close personal friend of mine.”
To be Continued

Here is a new painting, for lack of a better name I call it "My Landscape".
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"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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