Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Evil from the Past

          The doctors were scrubbing for the operating room. The nurses moved quickly to make way for the stretcher which carried the French prime minister. The leader had been eating dinner when he gripped his chest and fell forward. Life Flight aired him to the London Cardiac Surgical Center, and the top medical teams were recruited from all parts of Europe.  Though his vital signs had been stabilized, the angiography revealed a blocked aorta. His central heart artery might rupture at any moment. The cardiac specialists were taking no chances. An arterial line was prepped, and the anesthesiologist held up the O2 mask as quick hands placed Jacques Cabot gingerly onto the surgery table.
          Prime Minister Jacques Cabot had been in the French military in Algeria before his election. His many bloody sieges and major mismanagement of the Algerian conquests were omitted in his military reports and dossiers sent back to France. The French people  thought him a hero. The rural town’s people of Nigei, Algeria knew he was a monster. After capturing a province, he encouraged his bored soldiers to torture children as he would stand by laughing cynically. Any man who would try to protect his children would be shot. However, Algeria is far from France, and nothing was recorded as out of ordinary in the French military dispatches.
          Jacques sat with his top officers. Bottles of Johnny Walker and special cigars were passed around the table. As the French commander turned to the side to fill his whisky glass, his profile stood out. A nose with a sharp eagle beak, his two black eyes curtained with a thick unborn, a huge scar from his ear to jaw area. The side “gills” of his jaw muscle flexed into tightly constriction. His eyes were always cold and ruthless.

          Marka had been six at the time of Algerian sieges. But he would never forget Jacques Cabot. The young child hid in fear and horror as he watched the soldiers murder his father who was protecting his sister. After this, his mother would sit for hours starring at the wall of her bedroom. Marka would make all the beans for his sister and their dinner.

          As he grew Marka showed that he had a quick mind. He loved science and math and studied diligently at the schoolhouse with the other children. One day the missionaries came to evaluate young men for the priesthood. Marka was very happy to be chosen to further his education. Though it saddened him to leave his dissolute mother and little sister, he seized the opportunity to go live in the monastery and to read more books. The senior monks observed Marko’s brilliance and manual dexterity. He could draw and sculpt a perfect copy of any Holy statue for the sacred days. He was kind and particularly enjoyed caring for the older, infirm brothers. He knew instinctually which herbs and poultices would ease their pain and increase their joint mobility.
The monks all said Marka had the face of a king. He had the one horizontal, straight line across his forehead, a line they say which marked the face of an emperor. His deep blue eyes had a radiant gaze which calmed others who were in turmoil. A round hairline, high placed large ears and long earlobes. His teeth were small, and his mouth was wide and easy to smile. His facial features were those of love and nobility.
          When the bishop came to evaluate the monastery, the older monks took him aside to point out Marka’s talents and how these might be wasted as a country priest. After many interviews, tests, and a personal meeting with the Pope, Marka was selected to train at the French Medical Academy in Paris. Though he was humble, his ability to sculpt in surgery became legendary in all of Europe. His hands were delicate with long fingers. Perfect for a surgeon. His mentors encouraged him to specialize in Cardiology, an internship that was just gaining recognition.
          And so it happened that when the call went through the medical community for Prime Minister Cabot’s heart surgery, Dr. Marka was called to consult on the case. The older French statesman would never remember the young boy who hid behind the tree away from the soldiers. The French leader, in pain and vulnerable, had no awareness that his murderous deeds were being called into account as he was transferred onto the surgical table.
          So, here they were in the same room - an unconscious heart patient, full of evil deeds and a young, vibrant cardiologist who was to save his life.
“And for what?” Marka reflected bitterly. “A man whose hidden deeds reached out far and wide.” It was only fair that Cabot should ‘accidentally’ die on the table. Just as his father had ‘accidentally’ died or so the Algerian dispatches reported.
Twenty news reporters leaned over the glass encased balcony which separated from them from the OR below. Three nurses prepped the patient, laid out delicate instruments, and counted the sponges. Marka knew exactly where to open Cabot’s chest. He had assessed the man’s height and weight to a millimeter. One cut a fourth of an inch off, and the aorta would rupture. The prime minister would then bleed out on the table – too quick for surgeons to cauterize the open artery. A life threatening surgery. Who could tell which way it would go?  An ‘accident’ could be very quick and look completely innocent to the whole surgical team. No one would doubt.
          Marksa’s hand was steady but his heart was conflicted. Rage poured over his emotions in vicious floods. It had been years since he had tasted the acid, bitter taste of watching his father murdered by Cabot’s men. The acid rose too quickly on his tongue. He felt his body throbbing with a deep desire for revenge.
He stood still and waited. Slowly and evenly, his breathing returned to his body. He remembered the Oath he took as a physician “to do no harm.” Through his mind washed the images of the hundreds of patients he had surgically changed – cleft palates  in children, pacemakers in fragile older men, physical hearts he had mended so that they might beat again – strong and true. His spiritual essence, despite all his childhood trauma, was rising now in his consciousness, calming his heart pounding.
          The surgical suite was completely quiet as all waited for Dr. Marka’ first incision. Both he and world renown Cardiologist, Dr. Philip Robbins, had worked on many cases together. They were surgical partners and beyond that, they were friends. Either could lead in an operation.
          “Phil,” Marka exhaled deeply, “I want you to open this surgery.
I will be your second, back-up surgeon this time.”
          And with a nod, Phil nodded moved into position to open and repair Cabot’s heart.
(c) Copyright, October, 2009. Barbara Roberts. All rights reserved.


Friday, October 9, 2009


ASTOLOGY SIGNS by Barbara Roberts (This is so sick!!)

Aries (Fire sign) The first sign in the Zodiac, you are dynamic and fearless. Other than that you are aggressive with small animals and fussy about the knives in your kitchen. Your life goal is to be an arsonist.

Taurus You love food and are basically fat. Though you are always talking about art and music, your home is a pig pen of Chinese food cartons and old Beatles’ posters. An iron rod is more flexible than you. Most people think you are a stogy and old fashioned.

Gemini (The Twins). Flirty and light hearted, you will never be faithful longer than a month in marriage. Others see you as quick and witty with words, but you can’t remember your mother’s name and are obsessed with your eighth grade speller. You are so scattered, your doctor’s goal for you is to be schizophrenic.

Cancer (The Crab) water sign You cry at sad movies, and people see you as caring, but really you are manipulative and secretive. Though you are heart centered, you can lie easily at a drop of a hat. Your love of sea food causes you to overeat.

Virgo (the virgin) You are a perfectionist who loves rearranging your pots and pans in the kitchen. You remain a virgin because you are so critical of others, no one can stand to be around you. In grade school you could recite the Dewy Decimal system backwards.

Leo (leader) You are a natural leader and guide others so you can take their money. Showy and the ‘emperor with no clothes’ in front of any mirror, you are also an entrepreneur. You are at the same time arrogant and domineering. That’s why you must be self-employed. Otherwise you’d be on welfare.

Libra (the scales) You love balance and harmony, but spend 8 hours at Vons deciding what kind of green tea to buy. You work hard at intimate relationships more than any sign in the Zodiac, because you are basically afraid of the dark and the monster under your bed.

Sagittarius (the archer) You love being independent and alone in nature. Travel excites you because you are having love affairs on your wife. Athletic and sporty, you have a shoe fetish for Reboks.

Capricorn (earthy) You are good with money, and tax collecting becomes you. Though a gourmet cook, you tend to be an alcoholic. You have hidden wealth – others suspect because you never spend any money on their birthday gifts.

Pisces You can inspire deep feelings, emotions and usually guilt in those closest to you. A family person interested in the broader humanity, you gamble at the Indian reservations on a nightly basis to help the Native American “cultural revival.” Scorpio Known for your deep understanding of the Inner world, you know more about drugs than the vice squad. Sexual and commanding, you can either mesmerize the opposite sex or scare the hebegebies out of them. You have the ability to make love to anything that moves.

Aquaries You love the concepts and philosophy of the universal structure, but your friends think you are stupid. Libraries intoxicate you because you enjoy the smell of mold. A natural historian, you dress in Civil War period costumes for dinner. You put books in the freezer instead of vegetables, and your family is starving.

(c)  Copyright, Barbara Roberts, Sept. 18, 2008.  All rights reserved.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Abraham Lincoln Chooses His Cabinet

Abraham Lincoln emerged from the War Room tired and sick at heart. He had just come from the battlefield where he visited the tents of the surgeons. Young men were being held down as whiskey clothes were placed between their teeth to stop them screaming from pain as bullet filled legs were cut away. In his throat Lincoln could still taste the smell of cauterized flesh. His mind held the continuous image of timelessly sobbing widows in black long dresses. Hopeless, orphaned sons and daughters cried at the doors of the homes waiting for their fathers, who would never return.

Although he had surrounded himself politically with those who had opposed him and wished for his nation to be open to all men and all views, the president was acutely aware that any political incompetence meant wounded soldiers and dead men. His heart was filled with quiet grieving, and the Great War never left his heart for a moment.

“To even have a healthy son reach adulthood was a miracle of God,” he reflected. “So many epidemics of flu or cases of consumption. Even a body soaked with rain on a wintry day might be lost by nightfall.”

So that some of the city’s young bucks dreamed of the ‘battle cry’ and fighting to prove their manhood angered him deep in his soul. That the young people romanticized war gave him lingering sadness. If only they saw what he had seen. Brothers in battle together – one kneeling over his dying loved one. And no grieving, they say, can compare to a parent who has lost a son. He had Todd, and he knew of the all encompassing love a father could have. Protective and tender at the same time.

And how cruel men and nature could be to the human flesh. Some was Fate. War was choice. He was determined to end the War as quickly as he could. Send just one son home to his Mama - one son who might never have had a chance on the battlefield. It would be worth one son - whole and well.

So much rested on the integrity and capabilities of the men he chose for his Cabinet. His leaders must be of the highest caliber. Strong, fearless and true. They must be understanding of his people, their children, and the future of a great nation. Everything was at stake now. Of the Cabinet he had chosen, some were from different states and had different backgrounds. He liked that about them. He chose them by looking closely at their military records, their letters of accommodation, and by reading their characters. He tried not to miss anything. As president he could not control much, but he could hand-select his men who would make national decisions. That was his job. The destiny of a nation at War depended on it. He must not fail his people.

When he was younger, the Illinois lawyer had met with one obstacle after another. Some eight at least, he reflected. Many elections lost. To others he seemed like a complete failure. But in each political skirmish he had learned to look at people closely and assess their nuances of character So their behavior or decisions would never surprise him. He knew more about some people than they knew about themselves, but he kept his own council. He studied the ancient system of physiognomy (Face Reading). Ten feet from a prospective juror or witness in a trial, he could turn the fate of a legal outcome. Lincoln could laugh and weave a good story with the best of them, but inside he had the instincts of a cougher. He looked at people and saw them unmasked – beyond artifices, fancy verbiage or fine clothes. He would laugh at a child’s story and shun an arrogant general.

One afternoon as his Cabinet assembled in the White House, the sun’s hot fierceness poured through the room. Men were loosening their neck cloths and removing their bulky jackets, wiping their forehead with large white hankies. All stood as Lincoln entered the room. His hands rose palms down to motion them to be seated.

“I understand that today we are reviewing the application for Lt. James Need, who wishes to be Secretary of the Treasury. Will those of you who have letters of accommodation, military files and written testimonials abut him, please step forward.” Lincoln seated himself behind the mahogany desk and opened his right hand to receive the papers.

Letters from Generals, teachers, red wax sealed missives about Lt. McNeed were handed over. The pile was so high that by the time Lincoln had read them all, the sun was setting. The men were eager to get into their carriages and return home to their wives and dinners.

“Well,” Lincoln began, “he seems an ideal candidate form these dossiers. His war record is impeccable, and I can find no fault with anything I have read about this man. Let us meet him now, so we might return to a quiet evening with our families. Bring Lt. James McNeed to me please.”

The side door opened, and the attending army aide ushered a man in uniform into the room. He came to stand directly in front of Abraham Lincoln. The president’s gaze was powerful and searching as he regarded the officer. Lincoln was reviewing McNeed’s facial features, as system called Face Reading, which he had learned when he was a young lawyer. It helped him to accurately read a person’s character. In his mind, Lincoln made note of Lt. McNeed's features: a dimpled chin that was short, a chin which receded back to tuck behind forward thrusting front teeth, an uneven forehead hairline, a tiny, tight mouth (that looked like a man set on a vinegar drink), strange ears which protruded out from his head at odd angles, a mouth that upturned like a joker (but McNeed wasn’t smiling), and a thick unibrow eyebrow. The president reflected that he looked like a rat. And then Lincoln remembered the words of Aristotle, the first great scholar in science of physiognomy: “If you look like an animal, you are it!” (You will have the similar temperament to that animal.)

What was curious about Mr. McNeed, Lincoln thought, was that as he answered each question, his eyes would shift, almost retract visibly. Then, they would become clear and present. It seemed to happen when the questions involved his military record. Lincoln had learned to recognize this eye change as “cloaking,” as he had seen it often in spies of all sorts. The president paced up and down, his head down and reflective before his men.

He made his decision and turned to the group, “Please leave us, Mr. McNeed.”

And after the man disappeared down the corridor, Lincoln turned to the curious Cabinet members and said, “I don’t want this man anywhere close to me.” Lincoln pounded his open flat hand onto his desk as the astonished group gasped and was riveted to attention. “Show me a man who is forty who is not responsible for his face.” With that he pulled in his vest jacket and with long strides left the room.

Weeks later a news bulletin emerged from a Border state with an artist’s rendering of an escaped convict, Walter McNeed, who had been incarcerated for killing his brother, Lt. James McNeed, and stealing his military papers. The murdered brother, Lt. James McNeed had been a valiant soldier, decorated in battle. And for those who studied the facial drawing closely, the man who had stood before Lincoln had been none other than Walter McNeed.

(c) Copyright, Barbara Roberts. September, 2009. All rights reserved.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Princess and The Gardener

Alabaster straightened his legs and shook the dust from his hands. He was hidden behind the ferns in the fountain he was planting for the emperor. At one time he had been a brave knight leading troops into battle, but his face had been burned and scarred in one siege. So, he wore a mask to cover his scars so that he would not frighten the children and the women would not pity him. The court artist had woven the mask to resemble the face Alabaster had had before the burns. The king had given him the role of Royal Gardener for the palace. At least he was still useful to his to his liege, so he was happy.

His fingers went to rest on the hoe as he watched the scene at the far end of the courtyard. Princess Lisette was being led by her maid to a stone bench surrounded by his Glory roses. Her woven long hair was filled with sunshine. The pink silk and damask laced gown was the color of her blushing cheeks as each suitor approached her. The runners had spread the word thoughout the provinces that the Princess was seeking a husband, so men – brave and tall, short and pudgy, merchants and princes came forward. Some of the knights boasted of their conquests, others flaunted velvet jackets and laced shirts. And some became mute when they saw her beauty. She regarded all with quiet humility. Princess Lisette listened, nodded and smiled. But she refused them all.

Her father, the king, paced before her seat, “Darling, you have to accept one of them! I need an heir. Please!” Lisette replied, “Papa, I need to find someone I love. I refuse to marry someone I don’t love.” A similar discussion between them ensued week after week. The king would shake his head and pace with exasperated sighs.

The Princess looked forlorn. She was firm, but being loving and kind by nature, she really wanted to please her father. Alabaster noted with admiration her skin, her hands and her modest smile. He had memorized each of her gowns and silently and secretly adored her.
This afternoon as he was planting the Glory red roses, he heard a quiet weeping coming from her direction. Immediately, he stopped and turned to see the Princess sighing and softly dabbing her eyes with a lace cloth. He wanted to comfort her with all his heart but was hesitant as he was only the gardener. Then, he realized the real reason was that he was ashamed of his facial burns and the mask he wore to cover them.

So, he placed himself near her chair, but remained hidden. “My lady, I am only the gardener, but I wish to know why you weep. Please tell me the reason for your sadness.”
Princes Lisette turned to the area of the ferns to see a tall and muscular man in simple garb. His hands were large and strong, but his face was obscured by the foliage.

“Sir, for weeks my father, the King, has been trying to find a suitor for my hand in marriage. Though many men have come to me, none of them move my heart.” She inhaled a sob. Alabaster’s facial burns had deepened his sensitivity to other’s sorrows and unfulfilled longings. In his heart he had lived a million lives in his one body, and his heart had seen and touched it all.

”My lady,” he began, “I understand the heart’s longing for pure love. “Pure love alone can satisfy. Divine Love alone can heal. It is worth waiting for such a love.”

Comforted that someone understood her inner feelings, the princess turned to him and asked, “And how is it a gardener speaks with such wisdom? Will you tell me your story and how you have come to know of such things?” And so began many conversations and a friendship between the two. Every week Alabaster would put a perfect Glory on her chair. His heart would quicken when he saw her satin gowns entering his floral cave. Sometimes they would talk between suitors. She understood his thoughts and shared his observations. And they laughed. Week after week his secret love for her grew.

“Love can heal. Love can change you. It is worth waiting for such a love.”

By fall the leaves were red and yellow canopies above the alcove. All week he would go over the words he would say to her. He reviewed her mannerisms, her smiles. And even though he told her “Love can heal,” in his own heart, he believed she could never love him. His face was burned beyond recognition, and he was afraid to be seen without his mask. The princes from the outlining provinces had come and gone on horseback. The king was going bald from tearing out his hair, and the Queen had stopped eating for her worry over Lisette. The Princess was given an ultimatum that she must choose a husband or be banished to that outer forest with her maid.

When Alabaster brought her morning beverage, Lisette spoke up, “My friend, we have spent months talking and coming to understand each other’s inner hearts. I know you are noble and true. You voice is the one I hear in my mind when I go to sleep and when I awaken at dawn. But, Alabaster, I so long to see your face as it really is. Please show me.”

The gardener was shocked by her request and felt deep sorrow. “Princess, what we have now must be enough. I cannot show you my face as in battle it was scarred and changed. I fear that if you saw me as I really am, you would be horrified and banish me from your sight. My heart would break if I could not be your friend.”

Lisette looked at him with a firm gaze, “I know who you are inside, Alabaster. That is enough for me. Please take off your mask so that my fingers might stroke your wounds and give you comfort. Your burns must make you feel lonely, and I seek to give back to you a portion of the love you have given me.” And she became quiet and waited.

“Love can heal. Love can change you. It is worth waiting for such a love.”

So for the first time since the battle, he reached for the artificial covering over his face and carefully removed the mask. He waited for her shock and horror. He waited for a gasp or scream. And nothing came. He looked up into her deep eyes to a smiling face.

“My beloved,” she said lovingly, “Your face has become the same as the mask. Love can heal. Love can change you. It is worth waiting for such a love.”

To the joy of the king and all the land, the royal gardener was wedded to the princess. The king got a wig. The country gave a huge banquet for the wedding, and the queen started eating again.

© Copyright, July, 2009. Barbara Roberts. All rights reserved.
Barbara Roberts at: www

MatchU4Love Dating Service

Jason sighed. If this date were any more of a gold digger, she’d be on his lap taking out his fillings. He really needed to changed his “MatchU4Love” Profile on the “Income” line. Take off the “millionaire” entry. Yes, he owned his own company and was darn proud of it, but perhaps he shouldn’t advertise that on first dates.

Back at his desk, he told Keri, his budget manager, that he’d be in “conference” and went in to reread his “Man on the Go Looking for Independent Woman” Profile title bar. “OK. Got to rework this one,” he mumbled. “I’ll leave the photo - after all, I’m tall, dark, and handsome – and humble.”

After fifty eight dates – women who were tall, short, blonde, brunette, red head, corporate investors, homemakers, childless and with children, rich and poor, he’d reached his limit for even a “man on the go.” Perhaps an image change? Perhaps a lobotomy.

He cleared Keri’s desk as he walked out of the office on his way to lunch. She looked up. Sensitive to every nuance of his walk, she inquired, “Bad day, eh, Jason?” They were attuned to each other not because they were steamy closet lovers at work, but because she was his sister. They’d been competing siblings over cookies and Mom, but now they had settled into harmonious bantering.

“Keri, I’m lost in this dating world. Help me! Help me! You are my only hope,” he did his best impersonation of Princess Leah talking to Obi-Wan. His sister put down her Excel printout and looked into his very blue but sad eyes. “You know I read all the current women’s self-help books,” Keri began in the way only an older sister can totally bore a brother to tears.

He controlled his gag reflex. “SO?” He rolled his eyes indicating if he heard any more feminine psychobabble, he would ask God to reincarnate as a turtle.

“Well, there’s this woman who went on The Tyra Banks Show last month. Her name is Barbara Roberts, and she wrote a book called FACE READING – How to Know Anyone at a Glance. It’s the new way to find romance. Tyra really like her. Look here,” she motioned to an open page from the book. “See, you have these facial features:

Blue eyes

Square forehead line

Vertical line above your nose

Strong jaw

Good naso-labial lines

Wide mouth

Large ears

Full cheeks

So the ones that would be an ideal match for you could be:

Blue-gray eyes

Rounded forehead line

Strong jaw and chin

Naso-labial lines that circle around the mouth

Full, balanced lips

Rounded cheeks

“You’ve been ‘looking for love in all the wrong places,’ my little brother. Get off “MatchU4Love,” and stop paying that gypsy at “Cupid will Deliver.”

He immediately confiscated the FACE READING book from her desk, tucked it under his arm and left the office in a far better mood that he’d been in a long time.


It was midnight. He had read the whole book. My face has Patterns. All I need to do is just match the Patterns in my face to the Patterns in her face!

“There might be hope,” and he turned over to face his German Shepard, Massie, who as currently take up half of his bed. “They’ll soon be someone to replace you, my girl.” He gave her an affectionate ear scratching.

Not long after, he was at the airport meeting his client, Phil. The plane was delayed, so he got his Starbuck’s caramel latte and blueberry scone and popped open his newspaper to wait. A woman carrying a laptop approached the seat next to him. Blue silk suit holding a cell phone. He looked over just in time to catch a “HI-nod” and went on reading the local news.

When she finished talking and started adjusting her tea bag in her cup, she tuned to ask, “Waiting for the Phoenix incoming flight?”

“Yep. My client Phil is on it. How abut you?” As they spoke he regarded her closely. She seemed awfully familiar for someone he had never met. Then his mind clicked into the facial feature composite of his “ideal” woman. Cassie. One after one, he counted off their compatible facial features from his list. In his mind he mentally he was begging God for this, but he was trying not to grovel. He was chaffing at the bit to ask if she was single and was practically salivating as he listened to her describe her normal life. When she wanted to know about his life and interests, he was incredulous. By the time Phil walked out of Gate 24, Jason had already planned the wedding and bought his tuxedo.

After he introduced Phil to Cassie, he turned to her. “Here, let me give you my card.” They both said the same thing at the same time. Cassie blushed. He smiled.

As he guided Phil into his office and passed Keri’s desk, Jason gave her the thumbs up-signal and mouthed, “I’ll tell you later.”

Well, Massie and Arnold, Cassie’s German Shepard, became a regular on walks in the park, Friday night movies at home, Saturday picnics and morning coffees. Together they watched the seasons change and laughed and talked through Christmas, Easter and July 4th.

In the Fall Jason turned to Massie before he set his alarm for work, “Massie, it’s time you start sleeping on the floor. Cassie and Arnold are coming to live here.” And he thought he saw Massie smile before she rolled over and started snoring.

© Copyright, July, 2009. Barbara Roberts. All rights reserved. This story cannot be duplicated in any form without my permission. To contact Barbara go to: