–Variety of eBook formats
–6 x 9 in. paperback; 400 pages
An Honest Man begins the trilogy. From the humble roots of an 1864 immigrant from the Guang, his Shoshone wife and their little hardware store in Tahoe City, to a global humanitarian NGO empire in the present day; An Honest Man is the carefully woven tapestry of the struggles and loves, triumphs and trials of the Livingsons.
An Honest Man begins the thousand step journey in pursuit of a few simple questions:
What if there were ancient lineages of highly conscious individuals emergent into the present day? What would their world be like? And more importantly, What would our world be like?
Ultimately shedding light on that eternal question: What is reality?
Read an excerpt below or read it at the Voyager Press page:
Excerpt from An Honest Man © J.L.Lawson 2010
But all was not the fun and games, so far described. There were also serious occasions over that summer as well, and the local young hooligans, previously implicated, were the instigating players in those dramas. As it happens, wherever humans congregate for the purpose of harmonious communal existence, there are the bad apples. The August weather was not uncommonly intemperate in either warmth or chill, nor had there been any violent summer storms. Perhaps because of this, or any other contributions made from an unending range of factors, the incidence of petty crimes and destructive pranks rose to an all time high this season. The major institutions of the village’s commerce and livelihood were spared, but the younger local residents were not. Jameson, Titania and Hipolyta fell into that latter category.
Titania was returning from the livery stables after putting out fodder and watering the resident beasts, Hipolyta was sitting in front of the Mercantile, enjoying the evening breeze while finishing the weekly logs, and Jameson was soon to leave the kitchens for the day. It started innocently enough; most of the town’s guests were at supper, or were off on overnight excursions, so Main Street was nearly vacant. Titania stopped in front of a shop window to admire some newly displayed items. Two boys, a bit older than herself, were, leaning against the narrow walls of an alleyway across the street, sharing a cheroot, out of view from the disapproving eyes of their elders, and they mischievously took an uncharacteristic interest in her solitary idleness. They noiselessly approached, thinking to surprise her and ‘have some fun.’ Titania wasn’t so enamored of what she was perusing that she didn’t notice their approaching figures in the reflection of the shop window, but not giving them much thought at first, continued her inspection of the display. It wasn’t until it appeared they were coming directly toward her that she turned and faced them, thus spoiling their surprise and setting a whole series of events into motion.
The larger boy interposed himself between Titania and the shop window as she watched him carefully walk around her. She noticed, in the window’s reflection, the smaller kid was getting on his hands and knees behind her, and so set up that old classic schoolyard prank. “What could interest a mutt like you in a respectable shop like this?” said the boy in front of her, and pushed her. Titania wasn’t unbalanced. His fragile little ego couldn’t abide his ineffectiveness at this, and so raised both his arms to push harder, which he did. Titania instantly dropped to a crouch, and wasn’t there when the force of his lunge sprang at her. He went headlong over his accomplice, off the edge of the boardwalk, and into the street, carrying the smaller boy with him tangled in his feet. Hipolyta had just glanced up the street from her numbers, when she saw the tumble. She saw her sister, now standing, on the boardwalk; she closed the ledger, dropped it onto the bench, and sped toward her.
Other miscreants, hidden in alleyways and nooks along the street, each hiding their own unapproved activities, had watched the failed prank, and were now mindlessly streaming toward their ‘captain,’ preparing for the retribution of his mislaid ‘honor’. As Hipolyta passed a blind alley to her right, and was about to leap the last step to join her sister, two more of the young thugs emerged and cut off her path. Titania saw the commotion they made, as they intimidated Hipolyta into that alley, and she tried to reach her sister even as other boys arrived to add to their numbers. Both girls were now being backed down the narrow alley cul de sac, by Titania’s initial knuckleheads, and five other equally nefarious louts.
Jameson left the side door of the restaurant and had just made the street, when he saw the stragglers rushing to the alley. Realizing this could not bode any good for anyone, he stayed on this side of the street trying to avoid any dustup with the surly group. He was level with the alley when out of sheer curiosity he looked over. Titania and Hipolyta were hidden by the clot of bodies blocking their escape route, but a moment of jostling gave Jameson an instant’s glimpse of two small figures nearly with their backs to wall at the far end. He sprang across the road, and as he entered the threshold of the alley, shouted, “Hey, what’s going on here?”
The booming, adult-sounding voice behind them gave the little mob a moment of frozen guilt. “Jameson” the girls cried out together. As soon as those nearest him turned and saw their inquisitor, they laughed in relief. “Aw, it’s just the horse boy turned kitchen boy!” The others turned some of their attention to the interloper and jeered, “What do you want here ‘horse boy’?” “Better not trip over your apron an’ fall down…go boom, boom!” They laughed and howled at their own ideas of cleverness. Jameson held his ground and posture.
The bullies close to Titania and Hipolyta turned back to taunting there captives. “Aw, do the little mutts miss their playmate? Maybe they’d like a bone to make them all better?” “I’ve got a bone for ’em, right here,” one of them cried coarsely, and the rest giggled and laughed perversely, as only those with malice and lust in their hearts can.
Jameson got there attention again, “If you wish, you may deal with me, and have done with your sport. I promise I’ll be far gentler with you than they will,” he said pointing his chin to the girls. “What?!” came the disbelieving voice from the lead bully. “Buddy there’re seven of us, since you obviously can’t count,” more giggles and laughter, “besides you had better run on home and cozy up to a donkey or something, before we squash all three of you just for giving me your lip. After we play around with the little mutt bitches.” He finished, with the others trying to sound equally as fierce.
Poor choices lead to sad consequences. Jameson advanced one stride at a time and walked straight through their numbers. Without clear direction and no spine of their own as individuals, they parted and let him pass. The ‘captain’ laughed. “Are you an idiot? We’ve got you surrounded, now, and I don’t think I like interruptions.” Jameson cooly answered, “This is your last chance. You should leave now, before somebody really gets hurt.” The mob didn’t know if they should giggle or grunt, when the captain couldn’t stand the insults any more, he yelled, “Get ’em!”
The two on either side of Jameson reached to grab his arms, while the ‘captain,’ in front of him pulled back his fist for a mighty punch, aiming for his face. In the same instant, Titania and Hipolyta sprang apart from where they had been clutching each other close; each hit the wall nearest her in a forward leap, pushed off the walls and up over the remaining little crowd to land on the far side of them. Jameson pulled his arms to his side, pinning the hands of his ‘captors,’ and dropped into a low crouch with his back straight, so as not to dislodge them. The captain’s blow, therefore slammed into one of their faces, with a yelp from the victim. Jameson, then leapt backward with his ‘entourage’ slamming them into the wall behind them, as Titania and Hipolyta simply spun in low arcs and toppled the four goofs facing them with wide-eyed stares. Un-tethered by his bruised and battered ‘baggages,’ Jameson then faced down the captain, who alone was presently left standing among his minions. “There is no reason this should go any further…” he began to say, but the older boy was momentarily blind and deaf with fury. He hadn’t any instinct, but to keep punching, and Jameson dodged, grabbed his leading wrist, used the ruffian’s own momentum to whirl him around and land him on the four goofs who were just trying to stand, causing them all to tumble into another pile. The two boys who had first grabbed his arms, lost their appetite for the event, and dodged by the girls to the safety of the street and ran off in different directions.
Jameson walked around the wriggling pile of boys, who were actually unhurt, but very confused, and joined the twins to stroll out of the alleyway. The bully captain regained enough presence to call after them, inanely, “And don’t come back, or you’ll get more of the same.” Titania started to giggle, Hipolyta positively laughed out loud, and Jameson rolled his eyes and said, “Yes sir, we won’t.” After Hipolyta returned the store ledger to the office and locked up, they were home for dinner as usual. The entire diversion, save the brief conversations with the locals, took as little time as window shopping.
As August wound into its last week, the Village Council met to discuss a very pressing issue, indeed. Unlike their usual topics for debate, the emergence of the random acts of pranks and such had forced the need for action. “I won’t have it. It is simply unacceptable,” the chairman said, “I can not bear to walk our fair streets on a given afternoon and overhear, even long-time visitors, say that his was ‘once such a pleasant little town.’” He stared at his fellow council members, “’Once!’ Ladies and Gentlemen, ‘once?’ It’s outrageous. Before you can blink, word will spread, and we all will be saying it, because our inns and hotels will go unoccupied, our stores will have to close their doors, and if this goes unchecked…we shall each have to start locking our own doors at night!”
As with everything else which they had ever considered for action, they were only able to determine a financial impact to their businesses, and so had to act. The relatively early evacuation of the this year’s seasonal guests, perhaps had some influence upon their urgency. And there is something to be said for their point of view. However, it was of course the children of these same ‘high-minded’ folks who were the instigators of the acts which were smudging the village’s reputation. Had their focus, at some earlier times been upon the proper raising of those ‘symbols of their future,’ this current discussion would be moot. A situation had to affect their pocketbooks and bank accounts to impinge upon their own attentions. Quite anti-social, objectively speaking.
At any rate, they ranted on about ‘the youth,’ as if the youth in question, were some foreign agency infiltrating their kingdom, and not actually their own sons and daughters. They debated courses of action, and adjourned after assigning committees to pursue investigation of the three solutions they had, from the outset, two hours earlier, qualified as possible solutions. Then they ordered lunch.
Meanwhile, the final carriages filled and headed for Truckee, carrying the last of the summer’s tourists home to hearth and kin in the distant cities and towns of their ordinary lives. Hipolyta and Belle opened all the bungalow windows, stripped the beds, and scrubbed the bathrooms for the last time this season. Titania and Jameson herded the horses, not required for off-season commerce, up into the pastures owned by the livery for this very purpose. George stored the remaining unsold inventory, which had been ordered for the last season’s latest rages. He made emendations to his logbooks which tracked the annual fads and rages, as a reference for the future recurrence of any one of them. The store shelves were rearranged and the stock room shelves were put into order and he closed the front door for the day.
“Please let’s read Harry’s letters again,” pleaded Titania and Hipolyta after dinner that evening. Jameson nodded vigorously at the request and the others smiled in assent. The girls ran to their room and returned promptly with their two letters apiece, Belle took down the two letters they kept on the mantle, and they all opened the first set received together. White Feathers, and Jameson, with George, sat in the rockers, drinks in hand, and listened as Belle and the girls compiled the events variously presented through the three initial documents. The train trip of course and its accommodations, Omaha and Chicago stations, the business meetings and the food, the people, the buildings, the shops, stores and sights, all these they read in turn as they leafed through the first series. It was near the ends of that set, which evoked so much interest by the three younger listeners. Belle read aloud, “We most thoroughly enjoyed the theater again our last evening in the city that doesn’t sleep, when upon our return journey, of a mere few blocks, to our rooms at the elegant Chelsea House, we were momentarily detained by four disconsolate fellows whose evening’s entertainment, I’m afraid was not furthered by our own contributions. They had, it seemed, set their hopes upon persuading Mrs. Spelman and young Miss Kaitlyn into joining them for certain undisclosed sport, and with some regret I must admit, I was forced to dissuade them from their request. There was but one who insisted to press their intentions, even to the extreme of knife-point, but he instantly surrendered his cause and forfeited their case at my gentle but firm insistent refusal. I am unused to resorting to such arguments as I was perforce required to employ, yet all was well and from our initial introduction to our parting of ways was but the duration of a good stretch and yawn first exercised upon a chilly winter’s morning…When upon departing for a last angling adventure the next morning, I was interviewed by Mr. Spelman regarding the previous evening’s encounter. I was at a loss to see the import of his apparent concerns. I confessed my regrets and made known I had only used what persuasions any one in my own place might have used, and as consolation, left him with the trophy of that unfortunate encounter, a rather well designed and cared for, tradesman’s folding knife of about half a foot in length.”
Jameson, and the two men at ease beside him, listened, smiled broadly and closed their eyes in appreciation for their friend-son-nephew and his honorable dispatch of the incident. The second series of correspondence was then opened and a new round of readings ensued. Descriptions of the sea most captivated all the listeners, and gave rise, for White Feathers, to quite a recurrence of nostalgia. The beautiful voice and delivery of song by Miss Kaitlyn, the tempest, and the Port of Liverpool and its environs were always favorite passages. George enjoyed the descriptions of the Allcock factories, its craftsmen and equipments. They were each entertained by Harry’s description of his taking of the Entrance examinations and their aftermath, every time it was read. Harry’s subsequent interview with the headmaster and the accommodation which Malvern College made on Harry’s behalf was cause for celebration when first received and read aloud, even now it rekindled a warmth of pride in them at the recollection of Harry’s triumph. Belle had not read aloud, nor would she consent to do so, the record of Mr. Spelman’s conversation with Harry on the outbound journey to France conveyed in her own letter. She and George and White Feathers, indeed all their ancestors, too, waited in expectation of some further developments in that line, before making anything known to the girls and Jameson. Their ancestors watched the developments of Harry’s endeavors carefully, but would not comment or apprize George and Belle until, “the bold experiment had reached the end of its first fragile stage…” they said. The exotic and medieval blended and woven through Harry’s long passages describing the monastery castle of Mont Saint-Michel were treasured indeed. The passages depicting the sights and background of the city of Paris were also spell-binding.
Satisfied, and rejuvenated, the girls returned their letters to the special places reserved for them in their room, bid all goodnight and retired. Jameson excused himself and readied for bed, leaving George and Belle and White Feathers to sit quietly around the big table and reflect upon their own thoughts, and reveries. What might the near future hold for their family, their brave new traditions and their children.
The host asked, at last, “You have referred to it twice earlier, and again in this adventure, each time the children are first told about their external training, which sounds like…just a second, I can find it…” And the host leafed back through pages of his notes: “’the explanation of the state of man’s being, and of the structure of man’s machine, that it was a microcosm of the great world, and how it was supposed to function. Then…detailed the necessary steps which enabled it to perform as intended…’ What about that?” asked the host, then he added, “You have already told me about how our ‘machine’ doesn’t work right. And I have a little difficulty thinking of my body as a machine…it sounds so Cartesian. But what about that, ‘microcosm of the great world’…and the ‘necessary steps to make it perform as intended’? You haven’t told me about that, yet.” He finished and sat patiently for an answer.
“Please realize, before we go down this road, that I can not give you my understanding, even though I would dearly love to do just that. I can, however, provide you with knowledge. Knowledge you can yourself verify and thus perhaps begin to make your own; and in that way, approach understanding on your own.” explained the elder man.
“I think I see that. Go on,” answered the younger man.
“Well, the ‘pretty much’ of it is this, the great knowledge I have referred to, is nothing less than a view of the world which accounts for everything from how atoms fill their orbitals and the periodic table of elements, the construction of the building blocks of life, to the inner world construction of man and his relationship and responsibilities to and with the Universe at large. It is a mathematical construct, which can be verified with simple skills, and it is ancient beyond fathoming.” He paused, as if still unsure whether the younger man was ready to begin this journey at all. “It is not a magic wand, and will not, just by knowing it, make any difference at all to your life. There is no missing link, nor mystical rite to perform. It is knowledge only. Yet the structure implicitly indicated by it, may be acted upon with confidence and thus yield understanding. That will, in turn lead to a reorganization of a person’s inner world. It is as it always has been, up to you to do something about it, and as with all things real: it begins with UN-doing more than any doing, per se. The undoing of what you think you know, or think you have been doing.
Now, you said, ‘you have a little difficulty thinking of your body as a machine…’ You should make certain of this before we go further. It does no one any good to hear about something new to them, if they do not fully acknowledge any need for that information. I suggest, if you are really interested, that you perform some simple experiments. We can take up the rest of our story, and the explanations you have asked for, after you’ve decided for yourself whether it would be of any worth to you. Does that sound like a proper course of action?” The guest sat quietly and waited patiently. It was a big question and the young man should make up his own mind, after all this was his journey to make, or not.
The younger man thought for a while, what amounted to a bit of soul-searching. ‘Was this really something he wanted to pursue? Do I actually have so little contact with what he describes as ‘conscience’? Am I just a mass of ‘I’s, each pulling this way and that? Don’t I have my own independent will? Do I actually have possibilities I should have, but don’t see right now? Do I even trust this strange old man anyway? I wonder who he is, and where did he come from? He reminds me of an old guy I worked with at that Government contracting job…same odd way of answering a question, same wrinkled face. That was a tough job and without him, I probably wouldn’t have lasted a week there. I wonder where he is now…Geez, he was already almost retired when I knew him. I suppose I could dig up his phone number and see. I haven’t had to remember a phone number in forever…just look on the contacts list of the phone and ‘viola’. Oh, that reminds me I need to have my phone plan changed, save a bit of money, wherever I can, and all. My bills really need a good going over, I’m bound to be able to cut some waste somewhere. Probably need to start with…’
“Ahem…” The older man cleared his throat and brought the host abruptly out of his revery.
“Sorry, I was just thinking…” he blushed at that, as he suddenly realized his thoughts had wandered so far afield. “Uh, you may have ‘something’ about parts of what you’ve told me. I’ll give an experiment or two, a go.”
“You get out of anything, only the effort you put in,” cautioned the old man.
“I understand. I will try to do them,” answered the host with more resolve. “What do you want me to do?”
“Three things, over the next couple days. Each experiment should only be attempted for brief periods at a time, don’t try and do them all, all day.” The guest lowered his face and raised both eyebrows, to stress the condition. “First: when you are in conversation with someone, anyone really, try not using the word: “I.” Try to notice, it will be difficult but you may catch yourself, if you have someone to help that’s even better.”
“That sounds easy enough,” said the host.
“Second: I notice that, generally, your shoulders droop forward. Give yourself the command to “keep your shoulders back,” and every few minutes or so, check to see if they are still back, posture straight.”
“Okay, that doesn’t sound like a deal breaker, either,” said the host confidently.
“And third: try to control the movements of your hands with your mind in realtime. Just roll your hands over and over, slowly like this,” And the old man slowly revolved his hands around an imaginary point in front of him, the younger man imitated. “You’ll have to start really slowly, directing their motion intentionally with your thought; then try to speed up, and see how rapidly you can roll them and really keep up mentally.”
“And these experiments are it?” asked the host, a little surprised at the simplicity requested.
“Yep. You could try a bunch of others, but these should be enough,” answered the elder guest sincerely. “I promise I will return in three days time, just in case you decide to continue after all, if you do not, no harm done. Okay?”
“Three days. Okay,” agreed the young host. His guest smiled and extended his hand, when the younger man clasped it, the old gent said, “I’m pulling for ya,” and he turned and stepped off the porch and headed up the road toward town.
The young man sat back down and looked at his notes for his ‘experiments,’ out of curiosity, he straightened his shoulders and told himself to hold them there. ‘That actually feels pretty good. I should have been keeping my posture better all along. I certainly did when I was younger.’ When he looked again, he noticed his shoulders had already drooped back in the short time it took to think of his youth. ‘Okay, but I wasn’t really trying that time. Again.’ He gave himself the directive a second time….