Save the Tigers (free fiction)

FeaturedSave the Tigers (free fiction)

Judging from my social-media feeds, some of my friends are either reaching the bottom of their entertainment barrel or have already poked right through the bottom and started digging. (I wouldn’t name any of the TV shows being mentioned, but let’s just say that even the tigers are reportedly embarrassed to be in one of them.)

Let me help. I’m going to start making some of my 5-star fiction free to download, for a limited time, to help get us through these surreal days with minds and souls intact. I’ve made “Mujahid” a complimentary download through midnight Pacific tomorrow, April 5, 2020. You can read it on any smartphone, iPad, laptop, or desktop using Amazon’s Kindle app.

A wonderful new review of “Mujahid”:

5.0 out of 5 stars. “Efficacy, brilliantly dramatized. I read this screenplay during a layover in the city it is set in, Chicago. Somehow that brings the story closer. It’s a tight, powerful, well done screenplay that dramatizes the fact that your choices and actions do indeed make a difference. As I finished reading, getting to cruising altitude out of Chicago in that collection of a million parts each individually decided upon and assembled into a jetliner taking me affordably across the entire continent in less than a day, I got to observe a toddler stand up on his mom’s lap in the row ahead of mine. He was reaching up and learning that the buttons and vents above him had predictable, repeatable reactions to his manipulations, and his joy at the discovery was brilliant to behold. This resonated so powerfully with what Quent dramatized in his screenplay. The scope of my abstract understanding of human efficacy was expanded, and my perception and appreciation for the joy of it in the concrete was also expanded. Thanks for that, Quent! And hey, without all that “waxing philosophical,” it’s a rocking good tale, too!” ~ Erik Wingren.

Thanks, Erik!

To enjoy “Mujahid” today, click here.

 

The Gravity Field

FeaturedThe Gravity Field

She lay naked, face up, head to the north, feet to the south, arms outstretched, hands east and west, eyes full of stars. Beneath her back the lumped clods of dirt and broken carcasses of last season’s grain, moist from the night’s dew, served well enough for pillow and mattress, meshed with her hair, pressed against her bare skin. The cloudless sky offered no protection. She needed none. She took in the universe until she found her place again in the solar system, in the galaxy, feeling the earth and all its round wholeness—the mountains, the oceans, the molten core—not beneath her but behind, between her body and the sun. She had worked to shift her perception until she experienced the earth’s sphere as it was, tilted, turning on its axis, her body held against its side by gravity alone, its surface curving down and away below her, leaving nothing beneath her feet but the great void. But she wouldn’t fall. She was as attracted to the earth as it was to her, and she was dazzled by the distances the stars had come that night, each and every one, to kiss her body with light.

She lay there until the earth began to chill. When she rose, she brushed the straw and dirt out of her hair, off her body. She dressed and walked back to the limousine, shoes in hand. Her driver would follow the car’s tracks back out to the road. She might not return for another year, or for three, but she would return, as she always did. Why else, but for this, would she have bought the field?

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Enjoy more Quent Cordair flash fiction, short stories, poems, and short plays for stage & screen, in paperback and ebook editions. ~

For the Woman Who Has Everything

FeaturedFor the Woman Who Has Everything

I wrote “For the Woman Who Has Everything” before I knew I’d have a stepdaughter named Sarah. Crisp early-winter mornings will often call the opening scenes to mind. The story was selected for publication in the ART Ideas magazine, once upon a time, and later included in my Lunch Break collection, which is still available in paperback and ebook.

*****

Sarah woke to silence. Thin lines of moonlight lay in diagonals across the floor and rose in needles up the walls. She listened for awhile. The only sound was the soft crush of her hair against the pillow.

She slid her legs from beneath the layers of blankets and let her feet touch the chill of the hardwood floor. As she walked, a line of moonlight slipped around one ankle, then the other, ascending deliberately, scanning and measuring her body in strict undulations. At the west window the moon caught her fully, a slender white animal beneath the new winter’s sky….

Read more…

My favorite “illegal-immigrant” story is FREE today ~

My favorite “illegal-immigrant” story is FREE today ~

A fan favorite, and certainly one of mine, “The Seduction of Santi Banesh”  is free to download today through Monday midnight Pacific (10/21/2019).

Santi’s story: “While traveling to America with her family for the first time, the daughter of a third-world diplomat makes a life-altering decision during a layover in San Francisco.” From the reviews: “… a delicious pleasure to read … a joyous journey of discovery … The ending is one of the most perfect I’ve ever encountered, summing up the benevolence of the whole experience with its simplicity and inevitability.”

“The Seduction of Santi Banesh” was first published in the 1994 summer issue of the Atlantean Press Review. The Kindle edition of the story is FREE TODAY through Monday midnight for U.S. readers. To download your complimentary copy, visit https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006596U8G . Thanks for everyone’s generous reviews — they’re greatly appreciated.

Enjoy!

~ Quent Cordair

p.s. Say ‘hi’ to Santi’s little brother for me. Love that kid.

My Kingdom ~ free Kindle copies for review

FeaturedMy Kingdom ~ free Kindle copies for review

My Kingdom for a review — literally! Today I’m giving away three Kindle-edition copies of My Kingdom in exchange for short reviews. Even just a sentence or two will do. Average reading time: four hours. Your mileage may vary.

Sample snippets of reader-reviews of My Kingdom posted so far, to whet your appetite:

“…a highly recommended soul-quencher.”

“…an homage to the mind of man.”

“…a mind-engaging symphony of deliverance … Quent Cordair presents a benevolent universe and a gallery of heroic individuals fighting for an ideal life. Ultimately, it is a love story. It is real and, if you reach for it, it can be yours.”

“There is a refreshing benevolence in all of Cordair’s work, not sugar-coated, that is captivating, profound…”

Be one of the first three to volunteer in the comments, with the understood commitment that you’ll do your best to post a review on Amazon within the next 14 days, and a copy is yours!

Thank you!

Preview all the posted reviews of My Kingdom, now in paperback and Kindle editions, on Amazon.

Quent Cordair’s My Kingdom is a select collection of poems, short stories, flash-fiction works, studies and musings from the author’s notebooks, short plays for stage and screen, special scenes from the Idolatry, and for the first time in print, the acclaimed short story “The Match,” together with the short screenplays “Mujahid” and “At Home with Heather James.”

“For me, an artist’s studio can be as fascinating a place to visit as the gallery or museum in which his finished work is displayed. Practice sketches, studies, exercises, works in progress, casual pieces created solely for the artist’s own pleasure—while perhaps never intended for sale or public exposure—can be as wondrous and interesting as finished works that have earned the artist’s signature. Over the years, I’ve been encouraged by fans to publish the writer’s equivalent of such studio work—written sketches, descriptions, dialogues, style and period exercises, scene and character studies, musings, selections from works in progress. This collection includes, in addition to an assortment of such, a variety of shorter, finished works, from poems to plays, dating to before publication of the Lunch Break collection. To one and all, welcome again to my world, my way. Welcome to My Kingdom.” ~ Quent Cordair

Thank you!

FeaturedThank you!

Thanks so much for each and every review! “A screenplay jihadists will hate and civilized people will love…. Set in Chicago during the holiday season, the story involves a conflict between Husam, a young Muslim man who takes Islam seriously, and his younger brother Jasim. The conflict escalates after Husam is handed a heavy bag by a bearded man and gets on a bus heading downtown…. How is the conflict resolved? In an immensely satisfying way—as fans of Cordair’s work would expect.” — Daniel Wahl, The Objective Standard.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R8QP8NI

For Memorial Day, a short story

For Memorial Day, a short story

The Sculpture That Won the War

by Quent Cordair

From a letter to a sculptor
Sept 27, 2001

From the Lunch Break collection

ONCE UPON A TIME, there was a sculptor who had only the face to finish of a magnificent statue, his masterpiece to date. Frustrated by his limitations and increasingly dissatisfied with his efforts to bring into existence the perfection in his mind’s eye, his progress on the artwork had foundered and stalled. His workshop had fallen silent. Indeed, as the days and weeks and months drifted on, the statue was in danger of never being finished at all.

But on a crystal-clear morning, a morning seemingly as peaceful as any other in living memory, a shocking event occurred: the sculptor’s country came under attack. It was a morning of sudden and unexpected terror, of cold-blooded murder that left thousands dead and the populace reeling.

Over the next days and weeks, a miasma of insecurity and anxiety settled over the land, ubiquitous and inescapable, visible on the faces of the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the strong and the weak, the eminent and the obscure. Their sense of wellbeing had vanished overnight; their paradigm had shifted, ostensibly forever. In response to the attack, some wanted to stand and fight; others wanted to kneel and plead; most wandered through their hours fearful and confused, unsure of what to do. While the government drafted plans for war, the citizenry went about their daily routines as well as they were able, anxious for what the fractured future might bring for themselves and for their loved ones, wanting to do something, anything, to combat the pervasive sense of helplessness, yet uncertain of what, if anything, could be done.

The sculptor knew that his country was in greater need than ever of emotional fuel, and he knew what could help provide it. His country was fighting for her life—she needed vision and inspiration to survive, to defend herself, to remember what she had once been, to conquer, to rebuild, to thrive once again. With renewed vigor and determination, he threw his efforts into doing what he could do, contributing with what he did best. Days and nights, coffee and curses, dejection and perseverance, but finally—satisfaction, satisfaction that he had done what he could do, as well as he could do it.

Within a few weeks of the enemy’s strike, the sculptor sent his finished clay to the foundry; within a dozen weeks thereafter, the foundry delivered the finished bronze to the gallery; the gallery, in turn, delivered the artwork to the client who had commissioned it.

The delivery brought in the balance of payment to the gallery which, due to the widespread economic uncertainties subsequent to the attack, was on the brink of closing for lack of sales. The buyer, upon receiving the sculpture, was so delighted with the finished work that he was motivated to place yet another significant commission with the gallery, and the deposit toward the new commission kept the gallery open for a few precious months more. Over that period, the economy stabilized sufficiently that regular purchases began to trickle in again, just enough that the gallery would never again be quite so close to failing.

In the spring after the sculpture was completed and delivered, an eight-year old girl was passing by the gallery with two of her friends. Upon catching a glimpse of the art on display in the window she drew her friends inside, and as they browsed the cornucopia of treasures within, the girl stopped before a lovely figure, a bronze sculpture patined in white. It was a smaller casting of the sculptor’s larger masterpiece. She fell in love with it, and she was all the more enchanted and delighted when she discovered, upon reading the tag at the artwork’s base, that she shared the sculpture’s name. She could hardly afford the sculpture itself, of course, but she spotted a photographed image of the piece framed and hanging on the wall nearby. It too was available for purchase. She checked the price—she couldn’t afford the photograph either. But she did have five dollars. She approached the gallery manager to offer what she had, wondering, hoping. The manager dug through her filing cabinet and found, from a recent mailing campaign, a postcard that featured an image of the sculpture. She gave it to the girl, smilingly, without charge. The girl went home and slipped the postcard into the edge of the mirror on her bedroom wall.

*    *    *

A young pilot cruised silently through the cold night sky, the diamond dust of stars twinkling above. The blanket of clouds below stretched ahead toward a rumpling rise in the distance, marking the boundary of mountainous terrain beneath. His sortie consisted only of himself and his wingman, in two stealth fighters. According to the screen in front of him, they had just crossed the border into enemy territory. It wouldn’t be long now.

The mountains ahead bristled with anti-aircraft batteries.

War had been declared on those who had supported the terrorists and their atrocious acts. The ground war was proving more difficult than anticipated, with the enemy forces scurrying back into the crevices and caves of the mountains at the slightest provocation. The enemy’s military leader, the very swine who had devised and overseen the terrorist attack, was proving elusive, but a disillusioned member of his inner circle had been susceptible to bribing, and the leader’s location had been leaked. The caves in which he was thought to be hiding and their surroundings had been bombed incessantly over the past days, and on this evening, an intelligence satellite had picked up a small convoy attempting to leave the area under the cover of darkness. A forward spotter on the ground confirmed that it was indeed the enemy leader, who could disappear into another system of caves within minutes or hours.

The jets had been scrambled immediately, and now the pair were within a short thirty miles of their target. They rolled onto their sides and slipped like diving nighthawks through the clouds and to the height of the peaks before turning into a craggy-walled valley. By design, the cutting-edge craft were nearly undetectable by radar, but a watchful enemy soldier, at first spooked by the two shadows streaking silently above, frantically radioed ahead a warning. Anti-aircraft fire began tracing upwards, trying to catch the fleeting apparitions. The pilots dropped lower so as not to offer a silhouette against the night sky. Without warning, a missile from below caught the wingman’s craft, and it erupted into a comet of flame, dropping away without so much as a sound from the pilot’s radio.

The young pilot who remained fought to stay focused. All of his reflexes wanted to pull the stick back and shoot straight up to the sky, to rise above the fiery tracings that would surely find him too at any moment, to live to fight another day.

Deep in the canyon, radio reception was intermittent and broken. He might have heard his commander’s order to pull up and out, but he might not have heard it either. If he climbed, he might be able get a fair shot at the convoy from altitude—if he survived the incoming fire to which the altitude would expose him—but it was the enemy leader himself, the black heart and soul of the enemy forces, who was traveling in that convoy. When would there be another chance if the pilot missed or if he were shot down before being able to make another attempt? How long might the war drag on if the leader escaped? The images that had been seared into his memory on that accursed morning came again—the hijacked airliners crashing into the skyscrapers, the innocents plunging from the heights to their deaths, the buildings collapsing, the vacant despair on the faces of the survivors.

He thought of the postcard in the breast pocket of his flight suit, of the delicately looped handwriting in violet pen on the postcard’s reverse, of the girl who had sent the accompanying letter. He switched off his radio. Steeling himself, he kicked the plane over on its side, banking hard around a canyon corner, flying lower yet, the bullets from small arms pinging into his craft’s underbelly.

The infrared radar confirmed the vehicles of the convoy on the road ahead, speeding toward a pass so narrow that even if he were on his side he wouldn’t be able to follow them in. He dropped lower, the dust from the road boiling in his wake. Either of the laser-guided bombs on board would get the job done, but he wouldn’t be able to gain enough elevation in time to guide one in on the first pass, and he wouldn’t be able to complete a second pass before the convoy scattered.

He hadn’t even met the girl. She was a student in a class of fourth graders that had adopted his unit. They had sent a package of homemade baked goods and letters. Her envelope had found its way onto his bunk just the evening before. The letter opened with the generically respectful “Dear Sir—” He recalled the words written on the back of the enclosed postcard and the tiny violet heart after the girl’s name. On the front of the postcard was the image of a sculpture, the embodiment of innocence and delight. It was the only mail he had received in weeks. It was enough.

“Okay, baby, this one’s for you. . . .”

He armed both of the bombs and aimed the nose of his black angel at the rear vehicle in the convoy ahead. In his final seconds, he thought of the target, of the enemy leader, and realizing something, he chuckled. With the fire of hell in his eyes, he said, “Live by the plane, die by the plane, mother f—”

*   *   *

On a cloudless morning in the thin mountain air, an American soldier walked through the scattered wreckage at the site of the strike. Pieces of wood, metal and clothing were scattered about the perimeter of the blackened gouge in the road, three hundred yards long. It would go down in history as the place where the head of the hydra was killed and the tide of war had been turned. The platoon was combing through the wreckage for any of what might remain of the leader’s papers and effects. Of the pilot’s body, they hadn’t been able to find anything, though small pieces of the plane were identifiable here and there. But the oddest scraps can survive such conflagrations: after the attack that had brought down the buildings and started the war, one of the terrorists’ passports had been found in the rubble below.

The soldier lifted a piece of twisted metal and noticed in the ashes beneath it a postcard, its edges curled and seared brown but otherwise unburned. On the front was the photo of a sculpture, an elegant figure in white, beckoning to be followed into a world of wonder and happiness. The soldier smiled. He turned the photo over and read: “Dear Sir, this is how I used to feel before the war. I hope I can feel this way again someday. Thank you for fighting for me. — Joy”

The soldier tucked the photo into his breast pocket and slung his rifle over his shoulder. Kicking aside a half-burned turban, he walked down the road and took in a chestful of clean air. For the first time in months, he allowed himself to think of home.

* * *
*

Copyright 2001, 2012, Quent Cordair. All rights reserved.

The Sculpture That Won the War is included in the Lunch BreakLB cover mockup 060212a 72 dpi collection of short stories and poems by Quent Cordair ~

In Lunch Break, adventure, suspense and romance rule the day as the protagonists pursue their ends with passion and perseverance. The collection includes stories originally published in *The Atlantean Press Review* and *ART Ideas.*

A billionaire struggling for hope searches the world for love…. A country girl with a rifle stands ready to deliver justice…. A former banker washes windows on the side of a skyscraper…. The daughter of a foreign official is lured into the heart of San Francisco…. The son of a wealthy divorcee helps recover her lost soul…. In the aftermath of a terrorist attack, a sculptor’s work inspires and uplifts…. A teacher pursues an elusive assassin…. A family man follows his own course in preparation for apocalypse….

“…well worth the price. If you haven’t read any of Quent’s stories yet, I almost envy you. I’m waiting eagerly for more.” – Dianne Durante, author of the *Forgotten Delights* series

“Could you read these during your lunch break? Yes. Will you want to? No. You won’t want to rush yourself. You’ll want to pour yourself a glass of wine, snuggle into your favorite chair, turn off your phone, and spend every luxurious minute that you can immersing yourself in these stories.” – Elizabeth O’Brien, author of *English Grammar Revolution*

“…it is fuel for the spirit; it is an affirmation of life and what is good. That he writes beautifully and imaginatively adds to the reading pleasure.” – Michael Wilkinson, Sculptor

Enjoy your own Lunch Break today!

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Don’t miss GENESIS, Part I of IDOLATRY “Beautifully written, on the order of Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth, with the historical insight of James Michener, it brings to life a time of great thought, great art, and its clash with religious fanaticism. Cordair writes with a poet’s sense of scene and nuance and gives us a great deal of insight into the mind of a sculptor.”   5-STARS — Alan Nitikman

Genesis cover art 051115c

In the twilight of the Roman Empire, a sculptor struggles to keep an 800-year dream alive while honoring the love of his life and raising his adoptive son. Part I of the *Idolatry* series, an epic story in five parts. Now available for Kindle, in paperback and on audiobook…

“It is extremely difficult to believe that this is a novella when you finish it. You feel like you’ve followed the entire burning course of an epic romance, the life of a young bright mind carelessly following a difficult road, and a dramatic plot against anything glorious. Cordair had a way of bringing tears to my eyes in his previously published short stories. He has a way of creating scenes of emotional wonder and then forcing you to linger on the emotion in sorrow or defiance or happiness. … Cordair leaves us with the feeling that any obstacle, any voice that says with any amount of force that we can’t be exactly what we want and know we ought to be, is too small to care about – and the consequences of ignoring such a voice can never be so bad.… Cordair’s craft is a triumphant inspiration, the kind a soul can yearn for more of in whatever part of the tale comes next.” 5 STARS — Joseph Hampel

Genesis is now available for Kindle, in paperback, and on audiobook on Amazon here…