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The Lost War

Karl K. Gallagher

© 2019 Karl K. Gallagher.

All Rights Reserved.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Published by Kelt Haven Press, Saginaw, TX.

Cover art by

Editing by Laura Gallagher.

Audio Recording by Laura Gallagher.

Scripture quotations taken from the 21st Century King James Version®, copyright © 1994. Used by permission of Deuel Enterprises, Inc., Gary, SD 57237. All rights reserved.


 “If you don’t pick a name, you’ll wind up as Newman Greenhorn,” said his girlfriend.

“I like that,” said Newman.

“Fine,” she said. “From now on you’re Newman and I’m Goldenrod.”

If going by a funny name was the price of seeing his girlfriend in that outfit he’d pay it. The rigid front of her blue dress pressed her breasts up into a mesmerizing display of cleavage. Her pale gold hair was coiled in a green net behind her head. The forest green cords were just a shade darker than her eyes.

He glanced around the dirt parking lot to make sure no car was coming down their lane then looked back at Goldenrod’s beautiful face. When Newman first met her he’d teasingly compared her to a Barbie doll. Now it was his turn to be a Ken doll. Her eyes surveyed him top to bottom.

He didn’t know what she could find wrong with his outfit. It was a green shirt stretching down to his knees and loose tan pants. The shoes were a finer version of the leather moccasins he’d made as a boy scout.

Goldenrod reached up to tug Newman’s black cloth cap to one side. “There. It should cover your left ear.”

Next she fiddled with his brown leather belt, tightening the knot that replaced a buckle. He fought down the temptation to suggest more fiddling. A busy parking lot in daylight was no place for that. He was 29 now, a few years older than her, and couldn’t act like a teenager.

“You’re all set now, my lord Newman. Let’s go to the war!” She grabbed the handle of her three foot long cart, loaded with enough clothes and food for the weekend. Newman lifted his dufflebag out of the trunk of her car and slammed the lid. He hefted his wooden bow and arrows in his other hand as he followed her across the parking lot.

Newman studied the cars for clues about what these people would be like. Most had some wear. None were shiny and new. They wouldn’t throw away something that worked. Half the cars bore a sticker with the stylized castle of “The Kingdom”, the medieval historical reenactors Goldenrod spent a third of her weekends with.

Calling the event a “war” hadn’t encouraged him to come. To Goldenrod the word meant playing dress-up with friends. To him “war” was being a long way from home, eating terrible food, and strangers trying to kill him. They were going to spend the weekend playing at swordfighting and crafting and hopefully doing some partying. Not his idea of a “war.”

Two women sat behind a picnic table at the edge of the parking lot beside a path going into a narrow line of trees. One wore a plain dress of brown wool. Her hair hung down to her waist in a tight braid. Two enameled medallions hung around her neck.

The other woman had to be portraying nobility. A black velvet jacket adorned with pearls partially covered a shimmering silk dress. A complicated hat with multiple feathers sat on her head.

“Lady Foxglove, Lady Verbena, this is Newman. It’s his first event,” explained Goldenrod. He had to sign a couple of forms before following Goldenrod down the path.

Ten yards later the trees stopped, and The Kingdom began. When Goldenrod said “tents,” he’d imagined the olive drab Army tents he was deployed in, or the flimsy pop-ups he’d slept in as a Boy Scout.

Here white canvas was formed into shelters of all shapes and sizes. Rectangles, ovals, cones, pyramids. Decorations ranged from strips of color along a roofline to roofs painted with coats of arms. A wedge that would be cramped for two people sat next to a massive structure the Army would use for a mess hall.

Newman realized the tents all faced in, toward a small opening between the mess hall and an ornate tent Goldenrod called “the royal pavilion.” Lanes between tents went out from there, and the tents were in circles around it. A few nylon pop-up tents designed for whole families sat to the outside as if ashamed of their modernity.

The people were even more varied than the tents. Ages ranged from an old woman with a bamboo walker to a toddler in a red shirt and no pants trying to escape his big sister. Like the ladies at the entrance, clothes could be as simple as a plain tunic to layered and embroidered suits out of a royal portrait. Skin color mostly matched the tent canvas, with a handful of darker people. Many wore decorated metal crowns on their heads, receiving deferential nods from passers-by.

Goldenrod said, “House Applesmile won’t be here until sunset. We’ll have to find a place to leave the cart until then.”

“Lady Goldenrod!” The speaker was tall and muscular, about Newman’s own age. His wide smile split a tan face. He wore a thick cloth shirt with leather ties dangling from the shoulders and elbows.

“Hi, Strongarm. Good to see you. This is my boyfriend, Newman Greenhorn.”

“Pleased to meet you, Newman,” he said with extroverted friendliness and possibly a trace of disappointment. The stranger made his handshake a test of strength. Newman had played that game before. They ended equally sore.

“Are you camping alone?” asked Goldenrod.

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