Cowans Public

Cowans Public

Anna and Katie met every Friday after work at a place called Cowans Public in Nutley, New Jersey. And tonight was no exception. Chit-chat from patrons increased in volume commensurate with the delivery of alcoholic bevies. Anna ignored conversation at the table beside theirs. A staffer motioned two customers to a table, “We’re always like this on Friday nights gentlemen, can I get you something to drink?”

Several moments passed and Katie finished the last of her portion of Cowan’s Imperial Flight, “You ready for another flight Anna?”

A voice from their neighboring table got Katie’s attention. “Hello ladies. I’m Richard and my friend’s name is Doug. Can we order your drinks? It’d be our pleasure.”

Both girls did an instant study of their two smiling neighbors and Anna called out, “thank you yes. I’m Anna and this is Katie.”

Forty-five minutes and more than a few swallows of beer later, Anna looked at a partition that separated her ladies room stall from Katie’s and called to her friend, “Here that whistle Katie? It’s me peeing.”

“Enough beer Anna. We need pub wings and humus when we go back.”

Back in the crowded bar, Richard knocked twice on his table and turned to his friend, “I still can’t believe we did it Doug. Today we became stock market millionaires with our last trade, and tonight we meet a couple of extraordinarily beautiful women. What do you have to say about that?”

Doug removed his eyeglasses and wiped his brow with a napkin, “I guess this is as good a time as any to mention something I should have told you a very long time ago….”

(A wip)



A dreamy tale


I had a dream last night. I dreamed I had a camel, a two humper. Don’t recall the name, but this animal really liked me and followed me around like a puppy. However, I was very concerned about the camel’s health and searched everywhere for place that sold camel vitamins. Finally, I found purveyor that specialized in health care for camels. The store clerk told me all I needed was one pack of six gel capsules guaranteed to give a giant boost to my camel’s level of testosterone. I thought hard about that and asked how I’d get the camel to swallow them. The clerk responded, “Open the package, drop the capsules in a small pile on the ground, and the camel will sit on them; each one will be absorbed into the animal’s rear end.” I took the remedy home and followed the seller’s instructions. Sure enough, the camel sat on them, and within five minutes a very wide grin broke out on the animal’s face.

You want a camel? He’s very loving.

Karma, on stage


William “Billy” Kidd was a keynote speaker at the real estate convention. His reputation as a bully preceded him, and several past associates planned to give him a little pay back for his prior actions. Just as the lights dimmed, and Billy walked to the lectern, five of his old associates took seats in the auditorium’s front row.

Billy began his address, all happy and animated. What he never suspected was that the five people in the front row knew about his phobia about pickles. Billy hated sour pickles. On one occasion, during a company outing, he got violently ill just watching somebody suck the juice from a mini-green-sour cucumber-torpedo.

Hal-way through his talk, Billy figured he had his audience in the palm o his hand. And that’s when the furious five withdrew a sour pickle from a large-sized baggie they’d each carried in, and held it to their lips. 

All color drained rom Billy’s face and his body sagged a little at the knees. His vision hopped from left to right, pickle to pickle, and wetness in the corners o his eyes reelected the bright lights overhead. A gentleman in the front row, with a sour pickle of enormous proportions, held it up, slowly licked his lips, and with a crackling crunch, bit off one end and began to chew.

Drool dripped from a corner of Billy’s mouth, and he gripped an edge of his lectern with his left hand while removing a handkerchief from a pocket with his right. His voice dropped in volume and he slurred his words. “We can’t here you back here.” Someone shouted from the rear of the audience.

The fellow with the big pickle held it up well over his head, gave it a firm squeeze, and a stream of sour pickle juice drained into his mouth. Billy’s right knee sagged to the stage and the lectern followed the rest of his descent to the floor. A lady in the fourth row cut loose a scream loud enough to make a pigeon pee, and somebody turned the house lights full up.

(From a work in progress)

Ted Atoka’s Christmas Story, 2017

A friend of mine has a child who is hospitalized with a terminal illness. I accompanied him on a recent visit—the most gut-wrenching experience I’ve ever encountered. I embrace life as I live it, and do not infringe on anybody’s religious belief or non-belief. It isn’t my business. However, I’m a writer, and it has become a tradition for me to share a Christmas story around this time of year. I’ve written a very special one for 2017. It’s called “A Tree-Top Angel.”

Place take a moment while reading, and review the green-colored graphic.

–A Tree-Top Angel

I remember the day my best friend David and I visited his terminally ill daughter in hospital. She was expected to make it to the New Year but perhaps not much longer. I went, and was moved to tears.

How come? Thousands of creaky-jointed people like me have bumped around the world for nearly eight decades. And this poor kid can’t make it to her twelfth birthday?

We were munching on popcorn when a pair of nurses cut short our visit. They needed to move their giggling patient to a treatment area. She’d be ready for visitors again in about three hours.

My friend clung to his daughter’s hand. “No sweat, Dave. Let’s go to the mall. We’ll get a bite to eat and check out a few shops. It’s a half mile from here and not out of our way.”

He agreed, and his daughter gave us a wave on her way down the hall, and off we went. We had hot dogs, fries, and iced tea. David looked up at me with a red smear of catsup on his nose. “I wish her room was brighter and had a better view.”

“Me too, Bub, but we can change that. Finish up and we’ll do a little shopping.” I had a plan. Her room would soon be the envy of everyone in the hospital.

She was waiting for us when we got back to the hospital. Dave had bought her two pairs of bright colored pajamas and two fluffy robes, and probably too many of her favorite candies.

I was about to show her what was in one of my sacks when an old grammar school friend walked into the room. I didn’t see him at first because my back was turned, but I recognized his resonant voice.

I straightened, swung around, and we embraced with joy. “Nathan, it’s good to see you. Gosh, it’s been years since you moved to the city.”

“Yes, Ted and David. I am like you know who. I have returned.”

David’s face brightened. He winked at me and shook the hand of our dark-suited, long-lost friend.

“You know how word travels, David. My wife Ruth, over lox and bagels this morning, told me I was visiting your lovely daughter today.” Nathan cupped a hand over each of the girl’s ears. “And so, it has happened.”

I held up a shiny shopping bag. “And so it has. You’re taller than us. You can help bring light into this place.”

I had bought strings of holiday lights, and we hung them from corner to corner.
When we plugged them in, the little girl remarked, “Wow, Daddy, those are pretty. Cool!”

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, kiddo. Check this out.” I opened a very tall sack and lifted out a four-foot table-top Christmas tree, complete with miniature twinkle lights and colorful decorations.

The excited girl turned to me and then to David who was looking at our suited visitor. Nathan stroked his beard, appraised the holiday tree, glanced at the strings of LED lights, and proclaimed, “Of course, a tree. How lovely. Come, I’ll help. We’ll put it over here.”

As soon as the tree was positioned, drawing several ooh’s and ah’s from the patient, Nathan helped me arrange a few tiny and gaily decorated packages under it.

David’s daughter clapped her hands. “Oh gosh, that’s beautiful.”

“Wait. We’re not finished yet!” And I lifted out a delicately painted figurine of a beautiful young girl in flowing silver robes. She wore a warm smile and both her arms were extended.

I was confused once again when I caught the glances from the little girl to her dad, and from her dad to Nathan, and from Nathan back to the little girl. The non-vocalized activity quit when Nathan cut loose a joyous guffaw and bobbled his head. “Of course, how fitting, a tree-top angel. Yes. By all means. How appropriate.”

I was relieved and glad they liked it. I brought it closer to the girl and explained, “It is a tradition in my family, that the idea of a tree-top angel represents children who have left us. And so, each year at Christmas, we celebrate their short lives by placing an angel on our Christmas tree to remind us, and everybody else, of the love we share for each other with the hope that it will radiate out into the world and bring peace to all.”

Animated now, the hospital patient sat upright in her bed. “So, Rabbi Nathan, how about that, huh?”

My tall friend in his dark suit turned a serious face to his questioner. “A wonderment, my dear. Such things we must contemplate.” He clapped his hands. “Marvelous.”

And that is all I shall tell about this incident. Oh, except to mention a word about the patient. The little girl’s name?


–You are cordially invited to view Ted Atoka’s web site. Click here or transport.

Tree top angel.


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Sharing the light

The last CCC

Don Bolen * Jim Matthews * Earl Chessher

If you recognize any of the above names you may enjoy learning about Don’s special interest, and pearls of wisdom from Jim and Earl. It’s all here in the second edition of this book. Now available in digital format; and in paperback at CreateSpace.

For more information, click here.



eBooks II

Ever come across that question before? Probably so. It’s a logical question generally asked by writers who have parted with hard earned cash for the services of a professional editor, cover designer, and formatter. And when the excitement begins to wane after their second, third, or fourth self-publishing experience, they tally up how much they’ve spent and compare it with the amount of income their books have generated. The great realization strikes and they ask that infamous question. Can I make money writing and self-publishing my books?

An author named Larry (fictitious name) is a friend of mine. I’ve read more than nine of his books. He was a traditional author for years, and used to kid me about self-publishing. His book royalties began to shrink about five years ago. He was told this was a result of increasing publishing costs. That was okay until he received a contract to sign, for his latest book. When he learned what he could expect to net, after sales, he sent the contract back and opted to self-publish. He’s been self-publishing ever since.

Lucy (another fictitious name) and I have been friends for thirteen years. She worked two jobs, her husband worked two jobs, and she stayed up late every night, writing. She sent out hundreds of queries to agents, no, perhaps thousands, until she quit sending them and opted to self-publish. Three years ago, an agent spotted one of her books on Amazon, bought it, and loved it. He contacted her and she soon found herself with a contract for her next two books. Since then she has had a string of very successful books. She and her husband no longer work two jobs. They bought a spacious new home in the Sw, and a fabulous condominium on the ocean. She writes full time and her husband (he waved good-bye to his brick and mortar jobs) assists with the non-writing part of the business.  Her income now is on the high side of five figures.

These two people aren’t “special.” They get dressed every morning just like I do. Many other people derive a living from writing and self-publishing their books. We have members in FWG that average a handsome profit, annually. Two other FB groups I’m associated with also have members who continue to self-publish, and make money, year after year.

Do you share the driving force that propels those who “make it” to follow them?

Writing and self-publishing our manuscripts presents no insurmountable issues. And the answer to your question is a resounding YES. It takes drive, determination, hard work, and intensity of will. Look around. Thousands of people do it, and you can make money too, if you want to hard enough.

~Bon chance, and happy writing.