Gina McKnight, Author, Freelance Writer, Equestrian, Blogger, and Poet! Welcome to my international blog about horses, writers, authors, books, cowboys, equestrians, photographers, artists, poets, poems, and more horses.
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GM: What items will be essential for me to pack
for the safari?
GC:See the list below
GM: Your videos of safaris are amazing! Your horses look happy and healthy. Tell us about your horses…
GC: We love
our horses; they are part of the family. We typically have between 25-30 horses
ranging from a 12-hand pony for Tyga (our daughter) to 16.3 Warmblood cross.
We have a variety of mixed breeds all purposely chosen by us to
become safari horses. Their breeding consists of South African Boerped,
Thoroughbred, Somali pony thoroughbred cross and warmbloods. They live with us
at our farm and graze freely on 4,500 acres with all the wildlife. They are
totally accustomed to game. We breed our own and have all our young stock
coming through. We break them in using natural horsemanship from Parelli to
horse whispering. It is always a happy moment watching a guest enjoying a
homebred horse whilst on safari. We are lucky enough to have a good reputation
in the local horse community for looking after our horses, which in turn means
we get offered lovely horses to buy.
GM: Will I choose my own horse, or will you choose
a horse for me?
you have completed a detailed riding form we will choose the best horse
GM: Seeing the African landscape and variety of wildlife from horseback must be incredible. What about encounters with lions
and other predators?
GC: With over 45 years of experience we are
probably the most experienced outfitter that has approached predators and other
big game of which we encounter almost daily. To see a lion from the back of a horse is a
very special and unforgettable moment.
GM: Describe a safari day from morning until
GC: After a ‘full-monty’ breakfast we ride in a
northerly direction, through a gorge looking for leopard, lions and hyenas and
out over the Ololituroto plain, scattered with the occasional balanities tree.
Exceptional views in every direction on excellent going for the horses. An excellent opportunity to run along side
the plains game. Picnic lunch in the Olomai forest, siesta and a glorious
afternoon ride down to the Mara river, with many large pods of hippo and the
odd monster crocodile. Dropping into camp for a well deserved cocktail and a
hot shower. Followed by canapés by the campfire and a candle lit supper. Off to
bed to await the excitement of the noises of the night. Hugging your hot water
bottle till morning to be awoken by ‘jambo, jambo’ and a steaming hot coffee or
tea to your bedside.
GM: As a seasoned rider and a terrific horseman,
what does horsemanship mean to you?
means to me trust, respect, courage and companionship between man and horse. A
complete understanding of one another’s ability’s, strengths and weaknesses.
McDermott, Ohio, USA, Betty Davison is the founder of Wild Horse Rescue, Inc.,
a non-profit equine rescue, re-homing trained horses.
are known for taking in horses that are running at large and Mustangs.
Just recently had three horses brought to us by an animal control officer five hours
from us because these horses had not had human touch, therefore the average
person would not be qualified to work with them. We then work with them
to gentle them so the average person can continue their training. We have
also had severely neglected and injured horses the we have nursed back to
health so could get into a forever home or sanctuary home.
am the founder and president of our organization and we have been a 501(c)(3)
non-profit since 2009. I began working with and studying horses since the
age of ten yrs old. I always had horses that people had problems with, so
I learned early on how to relate with the horse. I know the basics to working
with a horse that has an issue. One must understand what is important to
the horse. It is imperative the we understand that a horse is a born claustrophobic,
and if they feel trapped they will become very agitated and tense. They
instinctively want to get away or out of that restricted state. If they can't
get away, then they go into the fight mode. We, the human, are predators
in their eyes and they are the prey. All prey animals have their eyes on
the sides and all predator’s eyes face to the front. We, here at the
rescue, try to teach people to understand how the horse views and reacts to
human behavior. That is why natural horsemanship is so important to us. I
am soon to be 68 yrs young and have osteoarthritis which is making it more
difficult to keep doing what I do. I am searching for a dedicated young
person to share my experience and knowledge with so the rescue and our work
teaching others can continue. Keeping ones' self-safe while working with horses
is a top priority and we strive to impress that to everyone who spends any time
around a horse.
rely on donations, very far and few in-between, to keep our hay supply. We do
not have many people who are willing to volunteer, as most only want to ride
horses and have fun. Most of the horses that come here, the average
person cannot handle. This makes it extremely difficult to get help.
do not have an indoor arena/covered round-pen, so weather dictates our ability
to work with the horses. I have been told to apply for grants, but I must
have someone would could write and present the grant request as I know there
are certain criteria that must be followed.
Miles Buckley has been a horseman for many years. Better known
as ‘Bucky’, he is the proprietor of Blue
Sky Ranches in Arizona. The first time I scheduled a meeting with Bucky, he
was in a pickle and had to round up some horses that roamed too far from the
ranch. We rescheduled the interview and talked about horses, riding, and the
beauty of America’s west. Bucky, a true horseman, is anxious to talk about horses
- “Someone asked me how many horses I’ve ridden and I’ve ridden a thousand or
Blue Sky Ranches offers hourly trail rides in Arizona
locations and ranch vacations throughout the historical west, including
Mount Rushmore National Park. They promote the promise to ‘cater to the young
and young at heart’ and want you to know they have the perfect horse waiting
GM: Nice to meet you, Bucky. Thanks for connecting. Tell us
about your horse history…
MB: My dad bought me a pony when I was three years old. His
name was Frisky. I probably wasn’t a very good rider when I was three or four
years old, but I put a lot of miles on that guy. I would ride him everywhere.
He was a great little pony. When I was 11 years old, I saw a horse, a full grown
horse, and I remember telling my dad that I wanted a horse. So, my dad bought
me a horse. I kept Frisky, too, he was close to 30 years old when he died. I am
64 years old now. I’ve been riding for 61 years.
GM: Of all the horses that you’ve owned and ridden, do you
have a favorite?
MB: Actually I have had two favorite horses. One was named
Lucky. I really liked that horse. He was a Quarter Horse. If he was a little
bit smaller, he could have driven my truck. Anything I wanted that horse to do,
he would do it. He was gentle as can be. All I had to do was whistle and he
would come running.
Quichie was my next favorite. He was almost as good as
Lucky. He was a Quarter Horse, too. But, you know, a friend of mine from St.
Louis sent me a Tennessee Walker. My body has become beaten up over the years;
Quarter Horses are a little rougher than a Tennessee Walker. When I got on the
Tennessee Walker, I really enjoyed the ride. I have eight of them now. They are
very easy on the body and a sharp mind, too. Once they learn something, they
remember. I wouldn’t trade the world for my Tennessee Walker. When you get
older and your body doesn’t heal up as quickly as it is supposed to, a Tennessee
Walker is the way to go.
GM: Do you have a favorite horse story to share?
MB: Well, I have many, but this story is one of my favorites. This
happened up in Colorado at a place called Stone Mountain. There was myself, my
wife, and an older gentlemen named Jerry. We were up there hunting cattle. We
were up on top of Stone Mountain, it was a little cool out, and we came to this
rocky ridge. The cattle were down at the bottom, in the canyon. It was about a
mile ride back to the canyon entrance from where we were on the ridge. I was on a mare named Chewa. She was a great
horse; she was the tops. I remember telling my wife and Jerry to go ahead of me
to the canyon and wait for me because I was going down over right here. My wife
said, ‘You can’t go down into the canyon here!’ I didn’t want to take the time
to ride around. Chewa and I started over the side of the cliff, almost straight
down. Chewa went down, I went down; I thought I broke a leg, but we were okay.
Chewa and I made it to the canyon, we actually beat my wife and Jerry. That’s
probably one of my favorite stories because of the horse. Chewa was a tough
horse. Anybody who rides horses and rides down a 16-foot solid rock cliff will
understand. I was younger then, too. I have a thousand horse stories.
GM: Tell me about Blue Sky Ranches…
MB: We have hourly and day rides. Our big thing is our
horseback riding vacations. We go all over; Colorado Rockies, mountains in
Wyoming, South Dakota, Valley of the Gods in Utah, and New Mexico. Our most
popular ride is in South Dakota. There just aren’t a lot of people who have
been in a herd of 2,500 buffalo. We take people right up to the buffalo herd.
We go up to Mt. Rushmore, too. All on horseback. It’s a five hour ride to Mt.
Rushmore. We end up on top of the President’s heads and you can get your
picture taken there. Then we come down to the lodge that was built back in the
1930’s. It’s a really neat place with a lot of history. There’s a lot of game
there; goats, sheep, and more.
We get some incredible riders who take part in our riding
vacations. If you come, you will think you have died and gone to heaven. We
ride where history was made. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of a guy by the
name of Johnny Ringo, or not, but he was with Wyatt Earp and the rest at
Tombstone. I live about five miles away from Johnny Ringo’s grave, about 40 minutes
from Tombstone. I live about 10 minutes from where all the Indian wars were
started; Geronimo, Cochise. We take people on tours through the old stage coach
lines. It should be illegal having as much fun as I have.
We are different than most riding vacations. We let people
ride the way they want. It’s not just a line of horses going down the trail.
You can ride behind another horse, if you want to, but, there’s no fun in that.
That is what distinguishes me between other riding vacations.
GM: What do you do when a horse bucks
MB: Plant your butt to the back of the saddle, try to stay
upright in the center of the saddle and keep yourself centered with the horse.
Then you follow the horse. When he’s coming down, lean back a little bit; when
he’s coming up, lean forward a little bit. This all happens in a matter of
seconds. If you take the time to think about it, you’re already on the ground.
Instinct kicks in and it’s an automatic response by the rider to stay seated.
Bronc riders will tell you, it’s an automatic response. A lot of people make
the mistake of going to the saddle horn. When you go to the saddle horn and
grab it, you’re pulling yourself forward. When you’re pulling yourself forward,
your legs go behind you and you’ve lost your balance, coming off the horse. If
you go for the saddle horn, push against it to steady yourself back into the
GM: What should I pack for a riding vacation?
MB: We usually tell people to bring a slicker, because if you
bring a slicker it won’t rain. That’s just the way it is. We don’t go during
the rainy season. It’s never cold during the seasons that we ride, but I always
tell people to dress in layers, just in case. You can always take a layer off
if you’re too hot. That’s about it.
GM: Will I get to choose my own horse, or will you choose a
horse for me?
MB: It depends upon what kind of rider you are. If you ride
all the time, I’ll let you pick your horse. A lot of people who don’t ride
much, I will pick the horse that I think fits them the best.
GM: How many people do you take on one trail ride?
MB: I like to keep my groups small – 6 to 8 people. That’s
plenty. That way we all get to have a good time. We don’t think we’ve ever ate
in the ranch house, even though we have a large dining room. Our place looks
over 10 acres of green grass with a creek running through it, and that’s where
my horses are. Everybody goes outside to eat to watch the horses. We never eat
inside the ranch house.
GM: Do you have advice for novice riders and those looking to
purchase their first horse?
MB: I get a lot of phone calls from people wanting me to teach
them how to ride. I am not a good instructor. I am a rider. It’s hard for me to
explain to people how to ride. My wife is very good at it. It’s best to go to a
riding instructor who you connect with. If people think they are uncomfortable
riding, they think everyone is uncomfortable riding, and you don’t have to
be. I ride so much; I don’t think about
it. I just ride.
GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
MB: There are horsemen who are riders, then there are people
who sit on a horse. I am a horseman. I ride. You have to understand the horse;
helping the horse when you’re riding. Most novice riders set on their horse.
There’s a big difference between sitting on a horse and riding a horse. I take
pride in the fact that I ride my horse.
Most people agree that the avoidance of horse-related accidents and injuries is prime importance. As a Safety Clinician and Animal Behavior Consultant, Patty L. McNutt presents her wisdom and knowledge of horse and handler safety. Patty writes, "I encourage logic and reasonableness in horse handling. These are major factors in preventing accidents and the handling of an injury once it has occurred."
From Blue Rock, Ohio, Patty L. McNutt is passionate about horses and riders. Find more about Patty and the McNutt Farm II School at www.mcnuttfarm.com.
"Equestrian and author Patty McNutt writes an important manual for every horseback rider/owner. McNutt expertly describes in detail the proper way to create a safe riding experience through common sense, handler safety, and proactive thinking. She writes, "Safety is paramount in equestrian activities, whether participating in a local horse show, jumping in the hunt, driving a team, packing into the back country, riding the trails, or just hanging out at the barn." And so true. A must reader for every horse enthusiast and rider; recommended reading." Gina, Riding & Writing
EV3 Robotics: A Guide for Educators provides a structured approach to teaching
robotics to K-12 students. Robotics is a multi-disciplinary subject and
teaching robotics can be challenging. Most robotics teachers come from very
diverse educational backgrounds: Mathematics, Physics, English, History, and
even Physical Education. They need an easy to use, comprehensive guide to give
them a solid foundation. This book provides a structured curriculum, from
learning to use correct engineering terms to mastering advanced programming
techniques. It provides clear explanations, fun examples, challenging missions
and sample codes. This curriculum guide covers everything needed to inspire and
engage students. It also contains tips for classroom management and interaction
with students. The best way to begin robotics is to build and program robots.
Any individual who is interested in teaching robotics can go through this guide
and follow the instructions to build and program robots. Instructions for an
easy-to-build robot, MyBot, are included. For educators, parents, mentors and
coaches interested in teaching EV3 robotics, this is the only book that you
will ever need.
Paperback: 194 pages
Publisher: Red Gerbera; 2 edition (November 9, 2016)
About the Author
Mariappan Jawaharlal is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at California State
Polytechnic University, Pomona. Affectionately known as Dr. Jawa, he has been
recognized as an outstanding educator for his innovative and engaging teaching
pedagogy. His innovative teaching approach makes learning complex concepts
simple and fun as he relates them to everyday life. He has received the
Provosts’ Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest honor given to an
outstanding educator at Cal Poly Pomona. Dr. Jawa is founder and director of
Robotics Education through Active Learning (REAL), a unique K-12 outreach
robotics program that reaches thousands of students each year. REAL has
inspired thousands of young students to pursue STEM education. Dr. Jawa is also
a co-founder of the Femineer outreach program, which the White House recognized
for increasing educational outcomes and opportunities for female Hispanic K-12
students. A Fellow of the Biomimicry Institute, Dr. Jawa has more than 20 years
of industrial, academic, entrepreneurial, product design and leadership
experience. He is passionate about education and writes blogs on the subject
for The Huffington Post. He is also a scuba diver and an avid runner who has
completed 25 marathons and recently ran across the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to
Sammy Johnson stood alone
outside of his old high school, fond memories of his younger years flooding
into his mind. It had been twenty years since he had been back for a visit. He
wouldn’t have been standing here now had it not been for overhearing a couple
of people talking in line at a Shell station while he was waiting to pay for
gas. Sammy had never even given a second thought about returning to Richlands
High School until then.
Was it ironic that there
were a couple of folks far from home talking about the upcoming high school
reunion? Was it fate that he was there to hear it? He had not received an
invitation to the reunion. That wasn’t a surprise, though. He hadn’t been back
to his hometown or spoken to anyone from high school since graduation day.
Sammy stood at the end of
the parking lot and took a long drag from his cigarette, dropping it and
grinding it out under his shoe. He wasn’t sure if he was glad to have come
back. He felt nervous about seeing old friends after all these years. He
dreaded being asked why he never bothered to keep in touch. He knew that
question would come up a dozen times. In his own defense, however, he never
recalled anyone stopping by to visit him. After twenty years, no one came
around with a friendly word or to talk about the good ole’ days. And they were
just that, the best years of his life. Although Sammy never bothered to look
anyone up and stay in touch, he certainly was not hard to find.
He made his way inside and
stood nervously in front of the gymnasium doors. Spread out in front of him
were old high school yearbooks, as well as photos from football and baseball
games, including one of him standing on third base after he hit a triple in the
state championship game his junior year. He loved playing baseball, and he was
rather popular in high school. He found it sad that the popularity you have as
a kid ends the moment you leave school and enter into the real world.
Sammy looked down at the
name tags on the table waiting to be claimed, but he couldn’t find his. He
grabbed a Sharpie and scribbled his name on one of the blank name tags. He said
hello to the woman working the table greeting people as they arrived for their
twenty year reunion. Leslie Murray, at least that was her name back then,
looked in his direction but said nothing. Instead, she turned back to talk to
the two other women from their graduating class, two women that he thought he
recognized, but they had put on a few pounds since then and he couldn’t be
“Wow,” Sammy mumbled. “She
was a stuck up bitch in high school. She’s a stuck up bitch twenty years later.
Some people never grow up,” he said to himself as he strolled into the
Sammy chose to show up
fashionably late, partially because he was never on time for anything in his
life, but mostly because he was nervous to see how everyone else turned out
after so many years. He was especially anxious about how he would be judged in
the eyes of his peers. When they remembered him last, he was known to be a bit
wild. He was popular, the star of the baseball team, and seemed to have a great
future ahead of him. He gave up his baseball dream after graduation and drifted
around ever since.
The dance floor was nearly
full with old friends and old flames gathered together, attempting to dance
like they were still seventeen. Sammy laughed at the sight. He looked around
wondering if he was the only person in the gym who hadn’t gained seventy
pounds. Women were dancing in groups, giggling uncontrollably to Baby’s Got Back by Sir Mix-A-Lot and
tossing some of their sizable asses around when the song suddenly change to I’m Too Sexy. Another roar of cackling
and laughter rose from the crowd that rivaled the volume of the music.
“What the hell did I get
myself into?” Sammy asked aloud. He looked around to see if anyone heard him
but he realized that no one was paying attention to him anyway.
“Baby’s Got Back, alright.
A whole hell of a lot of it!” Chris Redman said laughing out loud as he walked
up behind Sammy and slapped him jovially on the shoulder.
“Quick! Man, I haven’t
seen you in years! You haven’t changed a bit,” Sammy admired.
“Neither have you, buddy, but
from the looks of things I think we’re in the minority,” he said as he nodded
to Christie Blevins, the homecoming queen their senior year.
“Remember how smoking hot
that girl used to be?” Sammy asked. “Now just look at her. You can’t blame
those hips just on kids. I find that hard to believe.”
“No, but I bet you can
blame it on donuts, and cake, and every other snack she probably claims she
doesn’t touch. Seriously, I’d bet my bile duct that her ass looks like fifty
pounds of chewed bubble gum,” Quick said laughing.
Chris Redman, also known
as “Quick”, earned his nickname at a young age. Chris was called “Quick” in the
same vein of irony that one would call a fat guy “Slim.” Chris was well known
for always being late for class…every class. If dragging your ass was a
lifestyle, then Chris had mastered it by the ripe old age of five. Whenever
someone would tell him to do something, be it his father, his mother, a
teacher, or occasionally a local police officer, they would follow their plea
with the word “quick!” The nickname stuck.
“Whew, they looked better
when they danced back in high school!” Timmy DeLong said as he and Rick Malone
slid up beside Sammy and Quick to survey the ladies on the dance floor.
“Some of them still look
good, aged gracefully, but some…well, I’ll just keep my thoughts to myself in
an attempt not to be rude,” Rick said as he handed a couple of beers to his friends.
“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell
you that I ran into these two salty bastards out in the parking lot,” Quick
said. Sammy took a drink from the bottle and shook hands with his two old
“So what’s the deal with
everyone here?” Timmy asked. “I said hello to a dozen people on the way in here
and all I get are blank stares. Did twenty years turn everyone into an
“I got the same attitude
at the check in table, and was outside for at least ten minutes before I came
in. Of all the people that walked by, only one of them looked my way and
nodded. I thought we were friends with most of these guys,” Sammy added.
“Well, I thought this was
supposed to be a party,” Quick said as he chugged his beer. “Where did you get
this?” he asked.
Timmy pointed to the open
bar on the other side of the dance floor. There were four giant plastic tubs
filled with ice and beer in both cans and bottles.
“Hold this,” he said as he
handed the empty bottle to Sammy. “I’m going to work my way through this crowd
and get us another round.”
Quick began to snap his
fingers and prance onto the dance floor in the most foolish sight that Sammy
and the boys had seen since high school. He stopped by a crowd of giggling
women and mimicked their “rump shake” as best he could without hurting himself while
trying not to look too feminine. Sammy laughed so hard that he thought his
sides were going to split.
Quick then moved over
toward Trent Belcher, a guy they used to all goof off with in Biology. The guy
did not have a squeamish bone in his body. He was the first one to volunteer to
dissect anything. In fact, Sammy had predicted at the end of their sophomore
year that Trent would either be a surgeon or a serial killer. That comment on
the last day of class got a laugh from everyone except Trent.
Trent was a chubby guy in
high school, but since working behind a desk pushing insurance since dropping
out of college, he had really let himself go. He was dancing with a woman that
none of them could remember and the three of them began to wonder out loud
which button was going to pop first. Would it be one from his tight shirt or
the one on his slacks?
It only took a couple of
seconds for them to realize that the buttons were not what Trent needed to
worry about. He danced like someone out of a bad comedy movie, squatting lower
every few moves. Quick grabbed his shoulders from behind and pushed Trent down
into a full squat before he spun off him and disappeared through the crowd of
dancing women. Trent had split his pants down the crease in the back all the
way underneath to the inseam. His pink boxers were enough to turn the giggling
crowd of their female classmates into a cackling group of women tripping all
Trent stood up as straight
as an arrow and quickly left the dance floor. Sammy and the boys couldn’t stop
laughing and wondered if Trent would actually come back.
Quick gently worked his
way between two women dancing on the other side of the floor with his best
cabbage patch move. He recognized one woman as the quiet girl in homeroom
during their senior year. Her name was Rachel, but he couldn’t remember her
last name. She wore a giant rock next to her wedding band, which did not
surprise him. She was nice the few times they spoke, and after twenty years was
easily the best looking woman in the room. They locked eyes for a brief second,
each with a big smile on their face and having fun, before he gave her a wink
and high stepped on over to the tubs of beer.
When he got back to the
other side of the gym he found his friends nearly doubled over and laughing
hysterically. They grabbed a table and sat down with a fresh round of beers as
Rick wiped the tears from his eyes, a big goofy grin plastered on his face.
“You guys think that was
funny?” Quick asked. “You haven’t seen anything yet. If these stuck up bastards
keep ignoring me then I’m going to have to get really nasty and see how many
other people can literally split their pants before I leave this party.”
The four of them sat there
for nearly an hour paying no attention to the crowd at hand except to point out
random moments of ridiculous dancing or assorted silliness. They took turns
going on beer runs between telling stories of old times.
Sammy thought back to
graduation day. It was a sore subject with the group so he didn’t bring it up,
but it was one of the happiest days of his life. He was turning eighteen the
day after and was anxious to get away from home. His pals knew that he didn’t
have the best home life and needed out. Living there was a drain on his confidence
and he had been battling depression because of the situation.
He had left home early
that morning to go hang out with his best friends. By late afternoon they had
already managed to use some of their graduation money to have a huge meal,
watch the afternoon showing of Wayne’s World, and then jumped into Sammy’s
Grand Am and hurried on toward graduation and the various parties that were
going on all night.
For some reason that day,
Quick had a real need to be on time for once. His mother said she would kill
him if he was late for his own graduation. As they sped across curvy Kents
Ridge Road, Quick continued to bitch because they were already late for lining
up for the march into the gymnasium for graduation. Sammy tried to push it, but
he realized he’d taken the curve by the old cemetery a bit too fast and lost
control of the car.
When the car finally
stopped rolling, the only sound in the ravine was the sound of air coming out
of his tires, a constant clicking sound of metal on metal, and the sound of
Quick blurting out a string of curse words and insults that were so impressive
that it remained legendary to this day.
The four of them gathered
their graduation gowns from the trunk of the car and walked to their graduation
about a mile and a half away. They managed to sneak into the back of the gym
and take the final empty seats unnoticed.
Tim noticed that the
atmosphere of the reunion had changed as the music became a bit less fun and
took on a more serious tone when it slowed down to Arrested Development and
Marky Mark’s Take a Walk on the Wild Side.
A couple of their classmates had made their way to the microphone to make
random statements of congratulations for someone that just had their third kid,
another guy grabbed the microphone, half-bombed, and slurred out how nice it
was to see everyone since their ten year reunion.
That’s when they noticed
Brad Franklin strolling past them, the cocky bastard. He was the football
coach’s son and was treated like royalty by some of the folks in this room
despite being the biggest horse’s ass in school history! If there was such a
thing as a part-time bully, Brad was that guy. For no reason at all he would
flip out and torture some poor kid that he knew wouldn’t fight back, or someone
that he knew he could beat up. If you were a kid that could kick Brad’s ass,
and you actually did, you had several other members of the football team that
suddenly decided to make your life hell when they passed you in the hall or had
a class with you.
“That pile of monkey crap
walked right by me and didn’t even acknowledge that I exist,” Tim said,
obviously offended. “After twenty years!”
Tim and Brad had a
‘history.’ Brad didn’t like Tim the least bit. He decided back in the fifth
grade, when Tim got him out in a game of dodge ball during gym class, that he
didn’t like the way he looked. So he picked on Tim nearly every chance he got,
especially when he had his friends around to back him up. Tim played little
league with all of us, but quit because Brad’s dad was coaching the team back
then. The coach took his son’s grudge as his own and seldom played Tim, except
during mop up duty at the end of a game. Tim decided that baseball wasn’t for
him after sixth grade.
Tim got up from the table when
Brad disappeared around the corner.
“Where are you going?”
Sammy asked, almost worried.
“I’m going to wait until
the big oaf is taking a piss and then I’m going to turn the lights out on him
and run,” he said laughing. “You didn’t think I was going to pick a fight, did
you? I’m not in the mood to have my butt kicked anymore tonight than I did in
high school. But nonetheless, I will be right back,” he said as he jogged
happily out of the gymnasium.
Tim crept down the hall of
his old high school until he stood outside the door with the sign “BOYS” above
it. Two guys walked out and he placed his finger over his lips to let them know
to be quiet. He didn’t want Brad to know he was there.
Before he walked in the
bathroom he noticed another one of his classmates, Brenda Tanner, standing at
the end of the hall, looking out the window. She noticed him and turned and
gave him a quick wave and a smile, probably realizing that he was up to no
good. He hadn’t talked to Brenda since they were juniors. He kissed her once at
a party after they had both had a couple drinks too many. He thought about
walking down the hall to talk to her but she quickly turned her back to him and
continued to stare out the window, as if she were lost in deep thought and
didn’t want to be bothered. He noticed that her reflection in the glass showed
a very different picture than the pretty girl that just waved at him. He paused
looking at her for a moment but then pushed it from his mind to focus on the
task at hand.
Tim slowly opened the door
to avoid making any noise and walked into the bathroom. He must have made a
noise because Brad took a look over his shoulder and looked directly at him and
then went back to zipping up. Puzzled, Tim walked into the bathroom as if to
take a leak while Brad was at the sink washing his hands. It was only then that
Brad acknowledged him. Tim turned and met his stare as he stood behind him,
Brad locked onto him as he looked in the mirror to see Tim standing there.
His expression went from one
of calm to a sudden unexplained look of panic. Brad bolted from the bathroom,
not even bothering to turn the water off.
“Hell, so much for playing
a joke on the guy,” Tim quipped before rejoining his friends back at their
“What the hell did you to
do that guy?” Rick asked when Tim sat down with a fresh round of beers for his
“Nothing, I swear! He
spotted me and then freaked out and ran out there like I was going to get
medieval on his ass or something. I have no idea what freaked him out.”
“Well, whatever it was he
was spooked about, he tore out of here like the seat of his pants was on fire,”
Just then, their senior
class president, Allan Dalton, took the podium and got everyone’s attention
with a spoon to the side of his wine glass. “May I have everyone’s attention,
The crowd grew quiet
although there was the constant chatter of the non-sober from the back of the
gym and the gaggle of ladies huddled up on the dance floor. Allan gave a
heartfelt speech about their high school years, but made mention that he was
glad to see that so many had realized and lived their lives like the best was
still yet to come. Allan, although a bit of an arrogant guy growing up, seemed
more down to earth and a bit like a motivational speaker.
“And now for a toast,” he
said. Everyone raised their glasses and bottles in unison.
“To health and happiness,
To days gone by;
To fond memories of friends,
And to a tear in our eye.
To good fortune and cheer,
And to our class song;
To that place in our hearts,
For our friends who have long gone.”
Allan reminded the group
of the photos of their high school years posted up along the wall, along with a
section dedicated to their classmates who had passed away too early in life. He
then called the entire group over to a set of bleachers pulled out from the wall
for a group photo. Lynna, the local newspaper operator, had made herself
available to photograph the group and make the pictures available for everyone
online. As the crowd squeezed together, Sammy and his friends each took a knee
on the floor in front of the group.
After the group photo,
Sammy, Rick, Tim and Quick took a stroll down memory lane, laughing as they
pointed out where they were in photos and reminisced of those fun days. Then
they made their way to the wall where photos hung of their friends that had
died too early in life.
A gorgeous photo of Brenda
Tanner hung on the wall. It was a picture of her in a evening gown competing
for Miss RHS. She was stunning. Tim touched her photo, remembering seeing her
with a sad look and a forced smile earlier in the hallway. She had developed
bone cancer shortly after her college graduation. She died before she could
even experience the excitement of her first job.
Next was a photo of Glen
Stuart and Ashley Reynolds. They dated off and on in high school but got
engaged a few years later. They died in a water skiing accident at South
Holston Lake a month before they were to be married. They found Glen floating
on top of the water, but her body was never recovered. She was wearing a life
jacket, but it must have come off at some point during the accident.
Sammy reached out and
touched the last photo hanging. It was a picture he remembered posing for. That
image burned in his memory for the past twenty years. Quick’s mother took that
photo the day of their graduation. The day of the accident. It was of the four
of them laughing on the back deck at Quick’s house at Hidden Valley. One of the
best days of his life.
Sammy turned and looked at
his friends, his eyes glazed over. “It was good seeing you fella’s again,” he
said softly before turning around and disappearing through the gymnasium door.
Quick, Timmy and Rick all looked at each other, gave an understanding nod, and
vanished just as he did.
“Hey Allan,” Lynna called
across the gym as the crowd was beginning to thin out. He came over and thanked
her for helping out and taking photos.
“I just have a quick
question,” she said. She pulled up the digital group photo and enlarged it on
the screen of her camera. “Would you take a look at this? Who are these four
guys taking a knee on the floor? I don’t remember seeing them at all when I
took the picture.”
Allan stared at the photo,
his face turning abruptly pale.
“What’s wrong, Allan? You
look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Twins live relatively normal lives at home on Earth, but they
are drawn to voices in their heads asking them to “come to the party.” At the
party, they find that the partygoers are really some kind of spirits, and
before long they’re taken away to another world beneath Earth known as the Kingdom of Scaba. The twins live in the palace of the
evil king, who has recently taken the throne after the untimely demise of the
good king who preceded him. The new king uses children as slaves for his
people, and the twins are the latest to become enslaved. Some teenagers who live in the city outside the palace
are captured, and shortly afterward they band together to escape. The teens
battle with the law, are thrown in and out of jail, and tortured. However,
after some conflict, the palace children and the city children join forces.
They are instilled with mystical powers they obtained from their friends in the
fantasy world, and they triumph over the evil king. Happier and wiser for the
trip, the children are able to return to the human world.
JAMAL and his twin sister LILLIAN have
disturbing dreams and hear voices. They are ten years old and live normal lives
on Earth, but this changes when they choose to follow these voices and do as
they command. The voices say “come to the party,” which leads the kids to a
party their new next door neighbor is having. However, this neighbor turns out
to be a spirit of some sort, and so do the rest of the partygoers. Jamal and his twin are captured and unceremoniously taken through
a portal, fit onto a magic carpet, and taken down into a wondrous, fantastical
The city is in the kingdom of Scaba, and in the city there is
a great palace. The city flashes different colors, and
huge winged tigers breathe fire to keep the city warm. There are small, fluffy,
colorful dwarf ponies no bigger than cats, cobra-headed people and lion-headed
people. The snake-headed people are known as the Makash, and they dominate the
kingdom, while the lion-headed people are known as the Shakam, and they are a
lazy race that for the most part is served by the children. Elephants and
zebras are common means of transportation. The ponies are known as the Moback,
and they are fun-loving and gentle.
At the palace, Jamal and Lillian meet the king of the
Scaba, BERMUDA, a somewhat odd Shakam with a stiff tail who is very cruel and
clever. The last king, a good king, died after a trip he undertook in the human
world. He leaves behind his daughter, the PRINCESS FILDA, a Shakam, who does
not see eye to eye with Bermuda. Under Bermuda, human children have been turned
into slaves. Filda and others in Scaba adamantly oppose Bermuda, but his power
Jamal and Lillian live as palace children tending to Filda and
her kind-hearted, naïve son PRINCE DUSHAN, who is only a few years old. There
are many other palace children who have very prestigious jobs relative to their
enslavement, such as dancing, playing in the court band, and even painting.
These children eat in the food court where human food is served (the children
cannot eat the food of Scaba), and from the other kids Jamal and Lillian learn
about Scaba and its past. More importantly, they learn that they cannot escape,
although this does not deter Jamal or Lillian, who immediately begin planning how
to get away.
Soon, the twins’ escape plans are realized. They get out of
the palace without much trouble and cling to the bottom of a cart leaving town.
There are multiple gates, and they get through almost all of them but then are
discovered at the last second. However, it seems there was never any real
possibility to escape because the king has a crystal ball through which he can
see the movements of everyone outside, meaning there is no place for anyone to
hide. Moreover, Jamal and Lillian learn that even had they gotten out of town,
the only way to get back to their own world is to take a magic carpet to the
top of a hill upon which sits the portal to the human realm. The portal is
heavily guarded, and a flying carpet hard to obtain; in addition, humans cannot
pilot flying carpets, which makes it impossible for humans to hijack a