Randall’s Ramblings, October 22, 2023

The first part of the past week was dry and sunny. Then came along Storm Babet–which brought heavy winds and plenty of rain. Parts of the east coast were flooded, with hundreds of home still suffering from flood waters while at least seven people were killed. Our area didn’t get hit too bad–winds gusting up to 53 miles an hour and rain from Thursday through Saturday morning. The sun finally came out Saturday afternoon and we have plenty of sunshine today, too.

The price of gasoline (petrol) remained the same since my last post, at £1.56 a liter. Based on the current exchange rate, this equates to $7.18 for an equivalent U.S. gallon. Meanwhile, diesel dropped a penny to £1.63 a liter, or $7.48 a gallon.

The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that the finished work might contain this life inside it and offer it to the reader. The essence will not be, of course, the same thing as the raw material; it is not even of the same family of things. The novel is something that never was before and will not be again.” — Eudora Welty. Compliments of https://selfpublishing.com/writing-quotes/.

So who was born on this date in history? Let’s find out who in the writing world was born on 22 October, the fourth Sunday of the month. (Compliments of https://www.onthisday.com/birthdays/):

William IX, the Troubadour, Frankish nobleman (Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Count of Poitou, 1086-1127), Crusader, and poet; Leconte de Lisle, French poet and writer; Alfred Douglas, English poet, journalist and partner of Oscar Wilde; Ivan Bunin, Russian poet and novelist (Gentleman from San Francisco-Nobel 1933); Karl Adam, German theologist (Christ our Brother); Adolph Joffe, Russian Communist revolutionary and writer (Brest-Litovsk); John Reed, American journalist and communist activist (reported on Mexican, Russian revolutions – “Ten Days that Shook the World”); Dámaso Alonso, Spanish linguist and poet (Hijos de la ira); Sidney Kingsley, American playwright (Men in White – Pulitzer Prize 1934); John Gould, American humorist, essayist, and columnist; Doris Lessing, Iranian novelist (Adore, Memoirs of a Survivor, Golden Notebook); Georges Brassens, French poet and singer-songwriter (Supplique pour être enterré à la plage de Sète); Jan A de Jonge, Dutch historian; Bobby Seale, American political and civil rights activist (Black Panther Party) and author; and Arto Salminen, Finnish writer.

Any names familiar to you? There weren’t any for me. Whether you recognize anyone on the list or not, if today’s your special day I hope you have a great one!

My Work In Progress

Mission- YemenThis morning I finished Mission: Yemen, Xavier Sear Thriller Book 2 chapter sixteen. Reviewers provided another twenty-five critiques this week, bringing the total to 313. As always, they’ve provided plenty of recommendations for me to consider, and I’m always appreciative of the time and effort people put into reviewing my work.

Here’s another snippet. Please keep in mind that since these are first-draft chapters, things will likely be changed once I get to the editing phase. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions to improve the story, please let me know.

“Can you think of anyone who has a grudge against you?” Sear rubbed his stubble. “It’s possible someone will try to use Shatara as a bargaining chip.”

“I—” Bashari stopped as the servant entered, pushing a trolley containing a tea service, a pot of coffee, a plate of dates, and several dishes holding various Yemeni delicacies.

“Shukran, Qadir. Please serve our guests.”

The old man nodded as he offered tea, coffee, fruit, and pastries to Sear, Wasim, and Malik.

The three men accepted the offerings.

Sear sipped on his strong coffee. “Excellent.” He set the cup and saucer on a table Qadir had moved forward. “You were going to say something?”

Bashari nodded. “Yes, I can’t think of anyone who would be holding something against me. However, I am outspoken about what the Houthis are doing to my country.” He snapped his fingers. “Could this be what it’s about?”

“It’s possible, but until someone contacts you with their demands, it’s difficult to know for sure.” He turned to Malik. “Do you think your friend, Tarik, might be able to help?”

Malik nodded. “If anyone can find out anything for us, it’ll be Tarik.” He stood, pulled his phone from a pocket, and went to the other end of the room.

“I’ve kept information about Shatara’s kidnapping from everyone I know.” Bashari glanced at the floor. “Do you think it’s time to spread the word?”

Sear nodded. “Yes. It’s been a long time since I served in Yemen, but I’ll see if anyone remembers me.” He turned to Wasim. “Can you do the same?”

“Of course. There might be a few people who remember when I was an investigator and be willing to help.”

“Where are you staying?” Bashari glanced at Sear.

“We’re at the Al Bilad Hotel, but I want to move elsewhere. I have a strange feeling about the clerk—almost as if he knows something but is keeping quiet.” Vincent warned me about Dabir—better to trust my instincts.

Bashari nodded. “Before my brother-in-law, Borak Rashid was killed, we had planned to suggest you stay in the Rashid ancestral home. You may still use it if you like—it’d be a way to honor his passing. It’s not far from here.”

“Yes, that’d be a great idea. Do you know where we can get another vehicle? We’re using a Toyota Hilux we borrowed from the clerk, but I’d rather use something not associated with the hotel.”

A smile spread across Bashari’s face for the first time since they arrived. “There are more Hiluxes in Yemen than any other vehicle. How about my Toyota Noah? You might have spotted it outside when you arrived.”

“Yes, that would work. Shukran. Bashari, when we drove here from the hotel, we noticed recent damage. Was it caused by last night’s aircraft attack?”

Bashari nodded. “Yes. It’s rare for the Haddah district to be attacked, but I heard several people were injured—four of them were children. Also, a number of buildings were damaged, including the Norwegian Refugee Council guesthouse.” He sighed. “Yemen used to be a quiet place to live—at least until the Houthi uprising.”

“How did it start?” Sear drained the last of his coffee and poured another cup.

“It began in 2004 and was a military rebellion, pitting Zaida Shia Houthis against the Yemeni army. As time passed, it spread throughout the country.”

Malik resumed his seat. “Tarik will do what he can to assist us. However, he’s not hopeful.” He glanced at Bashari. “Many people have disappeared since the uprising. Some have been sold into slavery.”

Bashari sucked in his breath.

Sear shook his head. “Let’s not panic at this stage. It could still be a simple kidnapping for ransom.” He turned to Bashari. “We will do our best to help you get your daughter back.”

A glimmer of a smile creased Bashari’s face. “Shukran, Sayyid—Sear. Jasmin and I would be in your debt forever if you could manage this. I shall inform the caretaker at the Rashid residence of your arrival.”

Sear finished his coffee and stood. “We’ll check out of the hotel now and go there.” Don’t know if we’ll find Shatara, but I’ll give it my best shot. Hope she hasn’t fallen afoul of human traffickers.

More next time.

This brings us to an end for another week. I hope you found something of interest. If you have any suggestions for a topic you’d like to read about, please let me know. Until the next time, thank you for reading and hope you drop in again.

© Copyright 2023 Randall Krzak. All rights reserved

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