Completion

IMG_0599.JPGI began this book when eight years ago when Barrack Obama won the election and my son was twelve.  We would walk together in the Sleepy Hollow woods making up tales.

After many revisions the book morphed into a new book.  IT took on a new life.  Now, at long last, I am finished writing it.

I dedicate We Killed Ichabod to “Washington Irving who put our town on the map and to my son Malcolm who walked these woods with me.”

Prologue for We Killed Ichabod

Prologue

  1.           Call me Richard.  Please.  I could say don’t call me Rich because I’m not.  Or, I don’t like being called Dick because I don’t act like that.  I have this thing about being called Richard, a kind of neurosis or mental disorder or something like that.  Then there’s the dread “Poor Richard,” which some people say if only behind my back.  I may have fooled myself that profound loss can be conveniently then forgotten, but other people are not so easily duped.  Still, I didn’t want to be pitied. Didn’t Michael J. Fox say that pity is a form of benign abuse?  Something like that.
  •                           What I wanted was business as usual.  I went up to  Sleepy Hollow to collect a debt.  Or should I say I went to see about my cough?  Isn’t that what you say when you expect something ordinary like a prescription for cough syrup and the Kraken gets released?  For that one brief, shining moment as I strode across Tarrytown before the ambience of the streets changed in Sleepy Hollow, I felt as if I held a slice of Americana in my hands, and, that America had come back again.  Time didn’t shift but something did.  and I felt myself compelled to go back again.  Was I bewitched, bothered and bewildered by the legendary region?  No, but I did get my money’s worth.  I was bothered by Halloween events, bewildered by local, quirky people and possibly bewitched by a post-Revolutionary journal which purported to contain “rare doings,” and “odd usage of local vegetation,” which I bought at a secondhand store as a souvenir.  A schoolteacher I met up there likes to say that I am the guy who went up to Sleepy Hollow as one man, but came back another.
  •          So maybe this journal didn’t so much unravel an age-old, storied mystery as unlock a rocky heart.  It was enough at the beginning that my Hudson Valley excursions got me out of the house on the weekends.  But then I started going again and again.  What did I find?  There was a man without a head who was dead but didn’t quite get it.  I suppose that even before the Headless Horseman appeared that the chase was on.  Already adept at chasing myself up hill and down, all around the town, I would soon stand outside myself watching myself watching myself.  That was all rational enough.
  •          But where did this strange urge to dig, to literally dig up the ground beneath my feet come from?  You could say Sleepy Hollow unearthed that compulsion.   I’m no Washington Irving.  Who is?  I wish I was a better man with a story to tell.  Or, a worse man with a better story.   Truth is if I hadn’t gone to Sleepy Hollow I wouldn’t have a story to tell.  If you don’t believe the half of what follows, it will still be true.  image

 

 

Excerpt from Iona, Isle of My Heart

To be published in December on Amazon

Dedication:  To Malcolm Michael who walked these sands and braved these waves with me

On the evening service held at Iona Abbey

One service honored the children of the world.  Each worshipper was given a cut out of a child to hold during the service and to keep as a reminder that the world we are presenting to our children is in our hands.

At one point we are asked to join hands.  The paper figures we are holding in our hands were part of a string of paper dolls.    We all form one circle now.  My son must have been about seven then.  The woman on the left is holding his hand.  “A child.  A real child,” she gasped with touching emotion.  The wind howled outside.  There would be no moon that night.  The island would be pitch black making the Street of the Dead one scary walk.  But there we were holding hands filled with the ardor to make this world a better place. fullsizerender-5

Back at the hotel my son gave me his figure to hold.  I placed it in the book I was reading.  Later, it went into the Bible at home along with mine.  They are still there.

 

Excerpt from Iona, Isle of my Heart

This is something you do not forget.  This is something you seek out again and again.  There are grander places where God may be sought, soaring steeples, cathedral space filled with divine music and unearthly light, canyons that split the earth down to its core, painted ceilings where God creates all.  It is easy at times to find him in the presence of the faithful, especially in the unheated, holy structures where they worship in threadbare clothes.   Iona, too has its faithful though they often come from all over the world.

On Iona, God walks the waves.  He leaves footprints in the sand.  He cries out from screaming gulls circling above.  His breath is carried on the wind.   He is that close.   When God is absent, I know that like, “the bay that turns its back on Ireland, that I am the one whose back is turned.  There is no place where he is not.  There is only our lack of sight.

For, all my faltering in darkness, I never really lose the light.  A friend told me to carry these days of summer on Iona inIMG_6085to the long winter nights.  I think of Iona, but not often enough.  Sometimes, just when I am about to fall asleep, I think of the holy island, and wonder what time it is on Iona.  It is always four a.m.

Excerpt from We Killed Ichabod

Richard is about to settle in for the night in his apartment near the Flat Iron district in New York City.

The Headless Horseman truly was pursuing me because there on the screen was that dense, blond girl from the Most Haunted show, the one with the sloping, blobby eyes.  She was planted in front of a large, dark orange statue of the Horseman up near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  I had missed that one.  What was it made pf?  It looked like pumpkin rind or guts.

It was amazing.  Here were the British up in enemy territory .  Obviously they were there to investigate a haunting.    Maybe the ghost of that traitor, Major Andre, who along with his cohort, Benedict Arnold was  plotting to steal the plans of West Point, would rise up from his grave and scare them back over the ocean.  This was rich.  This was worth a laugh.  Grab a beer and some chips, Chester.  We’re in for a hoot.

Then I felt a pang of jealousy.  If anyone was going to sniff out something supernatural up there in the hollow, I wanted it to be me.  Ok, cat.  I’m losing it.   I had to laugh at myself.IMG_4830