Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fictional Historical Short Story - Abraham Lincoln - Face Reading!

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. 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 of that 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 on. And no grieving, they say, can compare to a parent who has lost a son. He had Todd, and he knew what the all encompassing love of a father could be. 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 personality. 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 – beyond artifices, fancy verbiage and 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 clothes 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 to 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 temperament of that animal.)
          What was curious about Mr. McNeed, Lincoln thought, was that as he answered each direct 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,” and 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 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, August, 2013. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Psychological Short Story - Face Reading


                The ER nurse hung the normal saline drip and cleared the IV line. Overhead a Life Flight announced “Industrial Accident: 58 year old Caucasian, 3 crushed ribs, right femur fracture, severe head concussion with increased intracranial pressure.” Lori looked up to see an immobile body of a man on a stretcher being wheeled into her stall. An O2 mask was in place over his mouth and nose. Thick red blood saturated a carpenter’s shirt, and his right leg was covered with a blue air cast. Three paramedics rushed to surround the bed for the gurney transfer of “Jimmy,” a man who had been found without an ID working alone on the scaffolding of the Holden’s construction site. The police were looking into his identity.
                “He hit the ground hard from 15 feet when the wires must have broken. He’s been unconscious the whole time. I don’t know if he’ll make it,” the medic next to her gave report.
                “We need a type and cross match on him,” the doctor turned to her. “He’s lost too much blood already.” She glanced at the man and saw that his eyelids were shut, swollen and dark blue. His cheeks were scraped skin and muddy blood. He was hardly recognizable.
                Lori had been in the ER for over twenty years, and she had a calm daily rhythm even with severe trauma cases. As her hands worked quickly, she drew blood gases and placed the EKG leads on his chest so his heart rhythm would show on the monitor.
It was a rural hospital in a forested area of the state - a poor population with people out of work. They needed her here. The first day she came, the hospital administrator added her immediately to the 11-7 Shift. The doctors were appreciative of her gift in establishing immediate rapport with patients. She had a calm confidence and quick medical responses. Last year Lori had even been selected for “Nurse of the Year” for Lakeview Memorial Hospital. Pictures, flowers, and her Bio appeared in the local paper. For two weeks she received free breakfast coffee and donuts in the cafeteria.
                Her life had not always gone so well. When she was in her twenties, she married Randy Tragg, a construction foreman for Fairfield Industries. He had moved up the latter in the company to where he was supervising thirty workers. Randy could walk any scaffolding with the grace of a gymnast while belted down with five hammers at his waist. Even though they hadn’t known each other very long before they married, they were happy. He would get home from work early so they could spend some time before her Shift.  Randy wasn’t much of a people person, and Lori was his only social contact. He would spend most of his off hours watching sports and downing a six pack. When Lori would come home from the hospital in the morning, Randy would have already left for his job site.
As time went on she noticed empty scotch and vodka bottles next to the beer cans as she cleaned up in the morning. She began to worry about him and his health as only a nurse would do. “Perhaps he’s dehydrated on his job,” she thought, but even to her that sounded lame.
Then the beatings started. For no particular reason he’d yell at her and slam her into the kitchen cabinets if she didn’t get his dinner on time. She called in “sick” many times. The ER staff would see her lacerations and bruises and know immediately what was happening. And she was ashamed.
One day she woke up and decided it was time to leave him. She had started reading books on domestic violence and realized she was a victim. She needed to make some major changes and fast. So her best friend helped her get a new job in a new state. A new start. She dyed and cut her hair, lost fifteen pounds, and changed her eye color with contact lenses. When she applied for a nursing job in the ER, she asked the staff to call her by her full name, “Laurel Ann.”
Her divorce papers were filed from a P.O. Box in a town two hours from her home. And when Randy signed them, she promptly forgot about him. It had been a bad deal between them.
In her new life she started observing her responses to various types of people. At the end of her marriage she had become passive and subservient to Randy. Although sometimes she soothed herself by making him ‘wrong’ and hating him, a healthier part of her wanted to understand why she drew him and why she stayed with him. She never wanted a violent relationship again. Lori took assertive classes at the local college, and the new Lori felt strong and powerful as she verbally stood up for herself. She began praying in the mornings and turning her life over to a Higher power. Her next-door neighbor started her on running, and they would compete to see who would reach the Henderson’s fence first. Inside and out, she was becoming a different person. The bitter memory of the ‘marshmallow’ who was abused by Randy Tragg was fading.
One night when she was searching the Book section of, she came across a book called FACE READING – How to Know Anyone at a Glance. On the back cover a San Diego Morning News anchor had said, “If only I had known about Barbara (and Face Reading) when it came to men, I could have saved myself a lot of grief!”
Grief. She certainly understood “grief” when it came to men! So she got the book and studied the pages on “Romance.” She identified what facial features to look for in a loving man. She even drew a picture of an ‘ideal match’ as outlined in the book. She took the book to work and read the faces of all her co-workers. They thought it was great fun and lined up to see her on their breaks.
One night as she was reading it, she came upon the chapter on “Dangerous Facial Features.” She stopped breathing. Lori rushed to the closet to get out an old photo of Randy. For the first time, she really looked at his face closely using the facial features from the book: His small mouth, angled uni-brow eyebrows, his short forehead, the horizontal line across the bridge of his nose, and his left eye with the white sclera under the pupil. All his facial features where listed in the “Dangerous Facial Features” section.
                Patterns. Facial Feature Patterns she could learn from so she didn't make the same mistake twice.

“His vitals are stable, and we've got a bed for him on 4 North,” the physician pushed past her as they heard an approaching siren announcing another trauma patient. As Lori moved to put a clean hospital gown over “Jimmy’s” bare chest, she noticed a dark, triangular mole on his left shoulder. It seemed very familiar, but she couldn't place it. Then, she looked up into his face. She was looking into the face of Randy Tragg, her former husband.
Her chest stopped moving. The fingers holding his IV froze. Lori’s first instinct was to run before he opened his eyes and recognized her. But her legs were stiff toothpicks and wouldn't move. Panic poured over her in gushing torrents. And then came the rage. For the times he had hurt her – damaged her body, damaged her mind. For years she gave her power over to him. She hated him for taking it. She hated herself for giving it.
Then, she became aware of how isolated they were in the curtained off cubicle in the ER. The rest of the staff was at the far end of the ward working on some in-coming fire fighters. In her lab coat she had a half syringe of Mr. Weldon’s heart medication which he hadn't needed. She had forgotten to “waste” it - shot the liquid into the trash can and discard the used syringe. She knew that Randy was highly allergic to this same medication, and that it would be untraceable in his blood stream. A quick injection into the IV port, and it would go straight to his heart. She could be ten feet away when his monitors went off announcing his cardiac arrest. No one would ever know. So tempting. So tempting. Everyone knew that things happened fast in the ER. An “accident” could be covered over so easily when they were short staffed.
                Her head went back, and she shook it violently as though to wake up from what felt like a bad dream. “No, no, no. I have come too far,” she told herself. She was healing from him. She wanted her whole life in front of her. God could help her to have power over the evil that was pouring through her mind. She could change. She could choose to let go of his negative hold over her heart by letting go of her hatred for him. Her hatred would live or she would live. She needed to live. She needed to move on.
                She turned to him and put up the guard rails on his gurney. Then she called for the orderly to take Randy Tragg to 4 North.

(c) Copyright, Barbara Roberts,  August, 2013.  All rights reserved. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Spiritual Face Reading Story - Ancient India

“Choosing a Man of Destiny”

          In a distant territory the elders of a court were gathered around the bed covers of their dying king. His elderly wife bathed his hands and gently massaged his feet to comfort the aged ruler in his last moments. The monks sat near-by praying with deep devotion that God guide their beloved king to the highest realms of the Heavens. Outside there marble towers, the king’s army had heard the rumor of his immanent passing, and the young, buck warriors were already fighting for supremacy and boasting of their personal prowess and lioness strength.
          “I’m the best.” “I am the strongest.” “I deserve to be king.” “I will be the next ruler.” “Fight me for the throne.” Restless echoes of jostling male egos and a surfacing panic created a deep turmoil in the peaceful realm.
          “A new beginning must come now. Against our will, our noble king lies dieing, and we don’t know how to replace him. Finding a monarch so loving and devoted to his people will not be an easy task,” said one minister.
As the royal one took one last surrendered breath, the assembled ministers and holy monks knelt in prayer. “Lord, who has given our nation this very righteous leader, do not forsake us for our worldliness or ignorance. We ask that in your Divine mercy you help us to choose our next ruler so that our people might continue in peace and prosperity.”
One of the wisest and most trusted of the king’s ministers was a mystic named Acara. Clear of avarice and sympathetic to all people, he was the mentor and guide for the younger ones. The king had loved him the most, because he could lean on him heavily for advice. Even the monarch, who had possessed clarity beyond most mortals, knew that one still needs true friends and advisors who speak frankly and could not be bought.
Acara spent subsequent days and weeks walking the rural market places and busy streets of his country so that he might assess the changing emotions and energy of his people. He prayed continually that he might be guided to a predecessor for the king, who would be fearless, brave, and kind. One morning after prayers, an unusual intuition came to him. All of nature marks creatures by patterns. The black widow spider’s red back is different from the house spider’s brown. One is dangerous, the other helpful.  One snake is poisonous, the other helps the gardens. One knows this by the markings on their skin. If nature makes this so apparent, what of the faces of men? Could there be facial markings that appear consistently in great souls? Facial features that marked a man for a powerful Destiny?

 Long and many years had Acara studied the face of his beloved king as he listened to him, advised him, and was his friend. He had lovingly memorized the monarch’s every line, crease and feature. The thought came to him that nature herself might show him how to find a man of Destiny if he could remember all the facial features of the monarch and those he had seen in foreign kings and noble statesmen.
And here was the list he wrote:

          Long earlobes, thick and large
          Noble brow – eyebrows round and full
          Large, wide forehead that was clear of blemishes
          Eyes which radiate kindness and nobility
          Full cheeks of rounded softness
          Strong teeth which were evenly spaced
          Large, wide jaw, which was both powerful and fearless
          Balanced lips that naturally upturned at the edges
          Large ears like an elephant
          Mouth that smiled and love to laugh
          Clear eyes that saw all, yet were not petty
          Thick, full hair that shown with radiant health
          Open, upper ear rim that was perfectly shaped
          Large, inner ear hole that allowed sound to enter easily
          Forward chin for bravery

          “And so here is what I must look for.” Acara put down his pen, “It matters not if this man be a merchant, forest dweller or wealthy prince. These facial features reveal greatness of character. So his background, color, or position in life will not matter. I will keep an open mind that God and nature herself might guide me.” And so he stood up, put his water and scanty food into his pack and started his long journey.
          Acara walked for days and months meeting and looking at hundreds of men –farmers, merchants, monks, great archers, and cunning warriors. Yet none possessed the facial features from his list. When he had almost given up his quest, a traveler told him of a hut in the woods where there lived a saintly man named Narada. Without stopping to rest or even taken his evening meal, Acara directed his footsteps into the forest.
          The minister reached the hut quickly and was greeting warmly by the young Narada. Tired, but excited from his travels, Acara looked deeply into the face of the young man as he searched for the facial features of Destiny. Mentally he checked them off one by one. Narada had them all. Acara sighed and gave inner thanks that his journey for a new ruler might at last be at an end.

So excited was he, that the minister immediately blurted out his request, asking Narada to come rule the country. Unlike others Acara had met who were only too eager to take the throne, (but for the wrong reasons), Narada was taken aback by the request. He raised both his hands in the air to push away the offer.
          “Honored minister,” Narada began, “I know nothing of ruling a kingdom. I am not trained in the art of politics or dealings with nations. I am a simple man - at one with nature. You need a great warrior or a man who has mastery over delicate words to lead your people. I do not possess the skill or power to maneuver those who wish for power, prestige or wealth. I would lose my way and be of little use to your citizens. Ask the Divine One to guide you to one more suited to your needs.”
          The white cloaked elder bowed his head before the clear humility of the younger soul, “Narada, we have seen warriors and men of verbal adeptness. Through centuries we have seen them rise and fall, unable to sustain our people’s love. Our court looks now for a ruler with a pure heart. For we have learned that a king rules as he lives.
We need a man of holiness even if he is untrained in the webs of politics and contract negotiations. For despite the restlessness or worldliness of our people, they know when a monarch loves them. They know when a man is centered in God. For he is just, kind and fair. His calmness in decisions of court goes beyond his emotions or personal opinions. He rules with a generous hand. He holds nothing back from his heart.
          “The young ones among us must see this altruism lived out or they will completely forsake the ways of their elders. And the elders, whose bodies have become frail, must see the embodiment of their struggles and dreams carried out by a worthy successor. Our kingdom must be ruled by a man of inner greatness. Again, my lord, we offer you our kingdom to rule. Please do not refuse us. I beg of you.” With that Acara put his staff down and sat on the near-by rock.
          Narada became quiet and thoughtful as he paced in front of his thatched cottage door. He turned his mind to God and quiet, deep introspection. “Acura, my respected counselor, let me offer your food and drink before we talk of this. Come. Lie down on the cot within my house that you might rest after your long pilgrimage. You must be very weary.”
          Acura followed Narada into the simple one room dwelling to sleep and rest. Narada put cool cloths on the elder’s forehead and gave him the choicest delicacies from the fruit trees. The family of deer outside drew closer to the hut where their friend Narada resided. The forest peacefully rested on into the night, the big and important question of ruling a country absorbed into the sound of crickets and cool stillness of a full moon. Narada lay down on a mat near the bed where his new friend, Acara, lay sleeping. He felt for this old man whose only goal was the safety and protection of his people - a minister whose whole body and life span had been given up in service to guide and inspire the young, the old, the sick, the weak, and even the powerful.
And the young man asked for inner guidance about this issue of ruling a kingdom. In his secret heart he brought to flower the real reason that kept him back from the great honor, which at any juncture might become a great burden. Narada reflected, “What if I lose my way in the myriads of court intrigues, jealousies or maneuverings? I have no footing to keep me resolute in seeking goodness. What if I lose myself in the outer desires for wealth, power or restless longings? There could be no greater pain to my heart than to lose the inner communion I now feel.” With that thought he put his head to his mat and fell asleep.
He rose in the morning to make food for his friend and draw cool water from the well for their baths and refreshments. As he took down the metal pot for brewing the leaves from the trees, a new insight came strongly through his consciousness.
“What have I done to serve my land?” he asked himself, “I am young and strong. Though I am not perfect or trained, I am willing. I am willing to serve and give to the very limits of my physical strength and stamina. At least I can go and make my supreme effort to bring forth good. I will let go of my personal worries about my unworthiness and lack of skill. I will go with an attitude of conquest, service, and willingness to learn.”
 He prayed out loud in the still air, “Lord, purify my heart that I might serve them in strength.”
          With his new resolution and heart wide open to his new life, he stepped outside into the forest stillness. As if nature’s response was spontaneous and caressing, the talkative birds came to land on his shoulders. They began singing their joyous melodies. The mother and baby deer emerged from behind the bushes to gently lick his hands and to let him stroke the ears of the baby. Even the leopard, which always remained hidden by night and by day, came unabashed before Narada to say good-bye. The brown garden snakes lifted their heads as they approached the quiet hut of their friend. All nature came to love him and wish him well. He knew in his heart that this was God’s way of guiding him.
          When Acara opened his eyes, Narada was sitting next to him with a banquet of forest delights for the guest’s morning nourishment. Fresh coconut juice from the trees, the softest and sweetest of mangoes, calming teas and honey, and perfectly cooked rice and lentils. Acara’s worn cloak had been washed and dried by the sunlight. And near Narada’s leg was a wooden bowl of special oil so that he might wash and rub the elder’s feet before the long trek back to the capitol.
The older minister, who had rarely received such personal service during the course of his travels, was touched and humbled. He said within his heart, “By your actions, Narada, you have shown me that I have chosen the right one to lead our people. Even in the midst of a personal challenge, you have sought only for my comfort, not your own. This will surely forebode well for our nation.” And he reached out his sun baked hand to bless Narada’s head.
After the morning prayers and food, Narada addressed the older man, “Great sir, I am moved by the offer you made me yesterday to rule your kingdom. I know that my background is unworthy of this honor. However, I am willing. I ask that God give me the Grace to move forward and be a strong, compassionate leader for your people. I ask that you and the other elders guide me through the intricacies of court life as I strive to do my best for you. I will go back with you. If I can be of genuine service to you and your nation, I will stay as long as you need me. If at any time you feel that I have lost my usefulness, please bring me back to this simple hut in the forest. And I will be content.”
And with that he packed his sparse belongs into his sack. The birds spread the good news through the trees. Hundreds of curious citizens gathered along the paths to greet the new king. Men held their children above their shoulders so that the little ones might see. Women dropped flowers in front of their feet on the dusty roads to the capitol. The young Narada ruled wisely for many years. He was just and fair in his court rulings over disputes. He cared nothing for jewels, so he put all the wealth he received back into the farmers’ lands and the children’s education. The people loved him, and he became a legend as he led them into a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity.
          He ruled as he lived.

(c) Copyright, Barbara Roberts, August,  2013. All rights reserved.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Historical Comedy - Face Reading Story

How to Handle a Ruler

                Alexander the Great was pacing before his teacher, Aristotle.
                “Sit down, Alex, you’re making me nervous.” The huge elephant of a conqueror plopped down on his thrown.
 “I just don’t know what to do, Aris. It’s all making me crazy. We’re losing men in the Western province, and my feet are hurting. Just can’t find the right sandal maker.”
                “OK. OK. Well, let’s look at one problem at a time, like I taught you when you were a boy. You’ve conquered Mesopotamia by land and brought 8,000 men over the mountain ridge into Constantinople last week. How did the elephants fare? I heard there were rainstorms, and some of them lost their footing in the mud.”
                “Only lost three elephants out of 80, but, dang, those things are heavy when they go down! Have a good elephant man though, and he pulled them through. Seems like a trainer had cut back on their rations. That’s all. Just needed to feed them on the spot, and they were right as rain. Excuse the pun.” Alexander fidgeted with his crown.
                “So let’s go to our maps, and see where we need reinforcements this week.” Aristotle’s noble face turned to his friend and student. “You know. I can’t always be doing this for you. I’m needed at the Pantheon to do my gig at the Acropolis. Don’t want to spread myself too thin, if you know what I mean. But for you, Alex, anything.”
                “Thanks, my friend. I feel better knowing I can talk this over. Even conquerors need down time. Can your page here bring me some wine and bread? Haven’t eaten since breakfast, and I am used to my three squares. After all, I’m a growing boy.” Aristotle let his eyes roll, and both men laughed. Alexander’s massive body rivaled some of the elephants.
                “OK. So the provinces are done. Now, how are the captured peoples?” Aristotle went through their usual list of items conquerors need to attend to.
                “Just checking that all are being treated well. You know, it’s important for our image to be kind to the conquered people. Don’t let your men get sloppy and take food out of their homes. Doesn’t look good, and after all – your army is the highest paid in centuries.  They can certainly learn to act like gentlemen after a battle.” Aristotle reached for an herbal beverage. He wasn’t a liquor sort of guy. Tarnished his reputation as a thinker.
                “Aris,” the younger one looked up. “I need some new generals for the overland conquests. Some of our older men want to go home and be with their families. Say they’ve been gone too long and miss their kids. What should I be looking for in the incoming batch? Any new ideas for leadership?”
                Aristotle nodded. “The new scholars in Greece have been talking about something called “physiognomy” or “Face Reading.” It’s all the rave in the sun cities. And easy to understand. I’ve started incorporating it into my own work. Last week I met with Socrates who was really with it for once. He had heard of it, too. Sometimes he’s a bit too cerebral, but no one is perfect.
                “So how does it work, Aris? I want to choose the top of the crop of the men coming into the field, if you know what I mean.” Alexander liked to make farming references as he knew nothing about land but wanted to appear intellectually superior (as he wasn’t always the sharpest sword in the sheath.)
                Aristotle got out the writing board which he issued for visuals.  “For your uses, let’s see. You’d need a solder that has these qualities:

                Brave and fearless in battle.
                Quick and mentally agile. Able to grasp complicated battle strategies.
Sort of rugged looking. Outdoorsy sort of guy. Able to enjoy living in
                put up tents all year round.
                Powerful looking. Looks like he would command leadership over the
                Able to inspire the men, so they follow and don’t take the camels           
                                out on picnics..
                Approachable. Can throw a mean dice and joke it up with the troops.
                “So what does a man like this look like?”
                Aristotle walked back and forth in front of the throne popping grapes in his mouth. “OK. Here’s what the Face Reading stuff says you’ll need. They are called “Facial Features.” Physical Patterns. And the best military man’s face should include these facial features.” He raised his chalk to write. Alexander sat up to pay attention. He had to memorize the information and burn it into his huge head. There won’t much papyrus to go around these days. Plus, his robe didn’t have any pockets. Direct recall was the best even if it hurt all his brain cells to think so much. Those metal helmets in battle had been too small, he told himself.
                Aristotle continued, “You’ll want a ‘big, broad wide forehead’ for the strategy part, so he will be clever and smarter than his commander.” He winked good naturedly at his friend. ‘High cheek bones’ means loves to travel. You’ll need that. A man on the go doesn’t take a lot of toiletries. ‘Full, thick beard’ shows an outdoors person. Those ‘sparse beards’ mean a man is immature. Might just stop into his middle of a battle and have an outdoor cook-out. Can’t have that. The key is the jaw structure. All great warriors and leaders, men of state who move the world have ‘huge jaws’ and ‘forward thrusting chins.’ That’s really the key, Alex. Look for the ‘huge jaw and forward chin,’ means dynamic leader with forceful presence. And I bet the other facial features will follow.”
                Alexander nodded. So much less to remember. He liked this Face Reading stuff better all the time. No need to cloud the mind with too many facts.
                “For the being a ‘guy’s guy,’ I’d go with the ‘big front teeth’ and a ‘wide mouth.’ Makes a man look strong and forceful with a tinge of rollicking laughter. Kind of adds a nice touch, don’t you think?  Also, ‘very small eyes’ and elephant ‘big ears’ help.  Creates a blend of someone who is watchful and listens well. That way you don’t have to pay the spies as much. They usually want too many coins for travel time. And they’ve been known to work on both sides if they feel they’re  not appreciated.”
                “Isn’t that the truth!” Alexander nodded.  “So we’ve got ourselves a visual picture of a great general. Thanks so much for the tips.”
                “And just remember that it doesn’t make any different what province or tribe the soldier comes from. These are universal facial features that apply to all men.” Aristotle put down his chalk and came to sit on his simple chair near the throne.

                “Righted, tighy then,” nodded Alexander. “So how are the boys at the Pantheon, Aris? What else is new?” And so they went on to talk of other topics.              

(c) Copyright, Barbara Roberts, August 2013. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

ROMANCE Face Reading Short Story

MatchU4Love Dating Service

Jason sighed. If this date was any more of a gold digger, she’d be sitting on his lap taking out his dental fillings. He really needed to change 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 it for 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, with children, rich, poor, he’d reached his limit for even a “man on the go.” Perhaps an image change? Perhaps a lobotomy.
                He barely 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 him as a turtle.
“Well, there’s this woman who went on Tyra Banks 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 liked 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

                “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.”
Jason 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 in a long time.
                Patterns. Facial Patterns.
                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 his Massie, his German Shepard, who as currently take up half of his bed. “They’ll soon be someone to replace you, my girl.” And 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 paper 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 cup’s tea bag, she turned 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 amazingly familiar for someone he had never met. Then his mind clicked into the facial feature composite of his “ideal” woman. One after one, he counted off their compatible facial features. He became so excited he was trying not to grovel as he prayed to God that she was single. Her name was Cassie, and he was practically salivating as he listened to this woman describe her normal life style. By the time Phil walked out of Gate 24, Jason had already planned their 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 that 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 for you to start sleeping on the floor. Cassie and Arnold are coming to live here.” He thought he saw Massie smile before she rolled over and started snoring.

(c) Copyright, Barbara Roberts, August 2013. All rights reserved.



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Face Reading Story - Thriller....

Evil from the Past

          The doctors were scrubbing before entering the operating room. The nurses moved quickly to make room for the guerry on which lay the body of 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 top medical teams were called in from all parts of Europe. Though his vital signs were stable, the angiography revealed a partially blocked aorta. The central heart artery might rupture at any moment. And 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 mismanagements of the Algerian conquests were omitted in the military reports and dossiers sent to the people of France. The populace thought him a hero, but the rural town’s people of Nigei, Algeria knew he was a monster. After capturing a province, he would torture children and stand by laughing cynically. Any father who tried  to protect his children would be shot on site. However, Algeria was far from France, and nothing was recorded as out of ordinary in the French military dispatches.
          In battle, Jacques would sit 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. And his mother’s mind would never be the same after the soldiers left their home. She would sit for hours starring at the wall of her bedroom. Marka would make all the beans for 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 evils 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 none of  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.
          Marka’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 breathe 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’s first incision. Both he and world reknown 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, Barbara Roberts, August 2013. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I am honored that two of my articles on Face Reading will be appearing in the FIRST FOR WOMEN magazine and WOMEN'S WORLD - the dates of the publications are mid-SEPT. Let me know what you think!