Healing Herbs & Oils

By Heidi Barlow

Essential Oils: The 3 Thieves

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, my husband and I owned a mid-sized window and door company selling and installing commercial and residential products. We had over 40 employees who interacted with the public. During those early, uncertain days, our installers, service techs, and sales associates worried about how they could safely continue performing their jobs. The biggest problem was fear since no one really knew how serious the virus was, and there were conflicting reports coming out daily.

Recognizing knowledge is power, we convened a company-wide meeting with our staff. We talked about viruses and bacteria, how they work, good-vs-bad varieties, and what our immune systems do to naturally defend and protect our bodies. We talked about the false sense of security some proposed solutions would provide—the mask—and how they conflicted with long-standing OSHA recommendations. Then a proactive and preventative approach was presented to help our team. I handed each employee a 15 ml bottle of a special blend of essential oils and a 4oz spray bottle for the office staff and anyone who wanted one for their vehicle or workspace.

I explained the origin story of the oil blend called “The 3 Thieves.” During the dark ages of 14th and 15th century Europe, little was known about how diseases spread, and the countryside was continually wracked by death as one plague after another came through. The devastation was tremendous, causing the deaths of an estimated 45-60% of the population. During this time, 3 men purportedly doused their clothing with oils to protect them as they robbed the dead and dying of valuables during the Bubonic plague. These thieves were finally caught, and authorities demanded to know how they hadn’t contracted the plague themselves. They gave up their secret in return for their freedom. Another version of the story describes how those who were tasked with burying the dead during the Bubonic plague would drench their clothing and headgear with oils and herbs to ward off the plague that infected the bodies they were handling. I don’t know if either story is true, maybe both have some truth in them, or maybe they are legends, but what I do know is these oils are an amazing germ and viral killer.

We supplied the oil blend freely to all our employees and taught them how to use them. Surface application on their hands and on their desks, phones, steering wheels, and other shared items would last for up to 3 hours. The spray provides aerosol protection. We stayed open and fully functioning throughout the pandemic. Although there were a couple of incidences of Covid during the long 2 ½ year ordeal, recovery was quick and there were no harmful or lasting issues. We did more than just provide essential oils—we encouraged healthy eating, drinking plenty of water, and getting the sleep our bodies need. We only need to provide simple essentials for our body, and it will do the rest. We also encouraged the cessation of other bad habits such as smoking. Most of our employees chose to take measures to improve their overall health during this time.

The 3 Thieves oil blend should be in everyone’s apothecary, but some of the oils used in the blend are quite strong, so be sure to test each oil for allergic reaction on yourself and those you are helping, by placing a drop of each oil on the inner part of the arm. *Note: for some oils, it is NOT recommended to test for an allergic reaction using the undiluted oil, (defined as “neat”). 

There are many versions of the 3 Thieves Oils, but the following is the one I use for my family, and it has proven extraordinarily effective over the years. The first three oils form the core. They are powerful oils, and care should be taken when using them alone. They are all “hot” oils, which means they should not be used neat, (undiluted).

The 3 Thieves blend may be too “hot” for those who are sensitive to essential oils. You can test this on your skin, as suggested above. If you a reaction occurs causing discomfort, you can add more carrier oil until you reach a mix that is comfortable. If an individual oil causes a reaction, you can eliminate it from the blend altogether or substitute it for something else. Increasing the amount of Rosemary oil for example or adding some Lavender oil, may be helpful to those who are sensitive.

Use the 3 Thieves blend by rubbing it on the bottom of your feet at night to build your immune system. Use it on your hands instead of hand sanitizer. Use a drop or two to wipe doorknobs, shopping cart handles, your cell phone case, desk surfaces, or any other place you or others touch regularly. It does not take much to create an effective anti-bacterial, anti-viral barrier.

After using the blend for about a month, it is good to change it up because viruses and bacteria can build up resistance. Change up the mix and adding another oil such as Tea Tree/Melaleuca, which also has powerful anti-fungal properties. Add some Lavender which has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Peppermint can be added for an antiviral response, (use just a few drops as it can overpower your blend). Substitute orange oil for lemon oil as it has almost the same qualities.

Make an aerosol by adding 20 to 30 drops of the blend into a 4 oz glass spray bottle with water or vodka. Vodka works best because the oil will bond with the vodka and will aerosol easier. Vodka has the added property of being an antiseptic. The 3 Thieves oil aerosol can be used in the air around you and on surfaces. Shake well and frequently to keep the oil/liquid mixed up.

Using essential oil blends like this on a daily basis is a great way to stay healthy and give your body that extra boost it may need!


Also known as Grindelia, is an amazing plant for congestion, both in the lungs and for upper respiratory congestion. The flowering head, leaves, and upper stems can be harvested and dried for tea. Fresh Gumweed is even better if you can find it. Gumweed is found in 30 states and is usually harvested from July to September in the cooler mountainous climates common in Utah and Colorado but can last a little longer in warmer climes.

To help with cold & flu symptoms, drink 3 to 4 cups of Gumweed tea a day—sweetened with local, raw honey. Adding peppermint or chamomile, which also have immune-building benefits, can also help this tea taste a little better. Pairing the Gumweed with other herbs, like Mullein or Yarrow—herbs that also benefit the lungs—makes an effective tea for colds and flu. Gumweed has been used for bronchitis and asthma as an anti-asthmatic, expectorant, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and sedative. It also helps with colic. This wonderful plant can also effectively treat whooping cough. Although Gumweed might not make the best-tasting tea, it is a powerful herb for opening the airways and working through the nastiness of flu symptoms and other upper respiratory issues.

If tea is not your thing, make a Gumweed tincture—my favorite way to use this herb because of how quickly it can be introduced into the body. To create your own tincture, chop the leaves, flowers, and upper stems into tiny pieces, and pack them into a mason jar about three-quarters of the way full. Add pure alcohol, such as vodka or Everclear—at least 80 proof (my preference is vodka). Store the sealed bottle in a dark area for about a month, shaking it every few days. When ready, strain and save the liquid tincture in a small glass bottle. It will last for a long time if you store it in a cool, dark place. If you have an aversion to using alcohol, you can use glycerin instead, but it will need to stand much longer, about three months, however, glycerin doesn’t preserve the herb as long as the alcohol-based tincture.

To use the tincture, place about seven drops under the tongue instead of the tea. To replace three cups of tea each day, take seven drops under the tongue three times a day. If you used glycerin, you’ll need to take 2 full teaspoons instead of the seven drops at each administration.

Heidi Barlow


*These suggestions are meant for informational and educational purposes only and do not substitute for professional medical advice, nor is it intended to treat any disease. Consult with your own healthcare provider. Do what is best for your family!

Posted in October 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | Leave a comment

4 Things You Might Be Doing to Fuel the Power Struggle with Your Teen & What to do instead!

By Ashley Rogers

And what to do Instead!

1. Not addressing the actual issue: The real issue is not the tone of voice, the words chosen, or the body language used by your teen. Whatever it is you needed to talk to your teenager about, or they needed to talk to you about, is the real issue. The way it is conveyed is often less-than-stellar with our teenagers, but if you are able to look past the delivery and focus on the message, not only will you help squash the power struggle, but you will also be able to really hear what they are trying to say.

2. Reactive responses: When our first response to our teen or their behavior is led by an automatic, negative, emotional response, a power struggle follows. It is in our biology to have big emotional reactions, so nothing has gone wrong when you feel one, but it is more than okay to say to your teen, “I need a minute to think about this.” Or “I don’t think I’m in the right headspace to discuss this right now. Give me five minutes?” This shows your teen not only do you have emotionally reactive responses too, but it models for them the correct way to deal with them. Giving yourself 3-5 minutes after an emotional response allows your prefrontal cortex (higher-level thinking skills) to reboot and come back online. Otherwise, you will most likely respond in a way you will regret later.

3. Taking it personally: Personalization is defined as, “Interpreting a remark or action as directed against oneself and being upset or offended by it.” If you are susceptible to being hurt by your teenager, then you are much more likely to personalize their words and actions and get caught in the control struggle. When you personalize a situation, you only hear your own thoughts and feelings about what the person is saying instead of actually listening to the meaning and context of the words being spoken. The other danger of personalizing is that you can put the negative emphasis on the teen themselves and not on the behavior. (They are bad vs. they did something bad.) This can lead to feeling justified in making personalized comments back to your teen and being purposefully hurtful.

4. Negative tone: When your teen feels negative emotion from you or hears your negative tone of voice, the automatic response is to view you and the situation as a threat. This triggers the fight-or-flight response, and neither option is the response you are looking for. When you need to be stern or serious, your tone can still be one of love or concern, so you don’t trigger a defensive response. If your tone is negative, your teen will interpret it as, “My mom is against me.” This makes them feel like they have to defend themselves instead of hearing what you have to say and learning from it.

Things You Can Do Right Now Squash the Power Struggle and Fuel a Positive Relationship

1. A positive perception of your teen: Your teen needs to know you think they are incredibly capable now and you have full faith they will grow into incredible adults. You can’t assume they know this, especially when you are also frequently offering course corrections or pointing out mistakes. Your teen should hear a 6 to 1 ratio of positive comments to negative ones. Keeping in mind your teen will hear any of your suggestions as negative gives you an idea of how many positive comments need to be made. Tune into their strengths and communicate both verbally and nonverbally that you enjoy and appreciate them. When struggles arise, talk to the person you know they are capable of being. Assume they are an amazing kid, who, like you, are just caught momentarily in a power struggle. Coming at any interaction, even possibly difficult ones with a positive perception of your teen, communicates the message, “We are on the same team!”

2. Visible belief in a positive outcome: When you go into any interaction with your teen assuming it will end well for both parties and there is an easy solution to be found, they can feel your positivity and will assume the same. Letting the power struggle cause you to lose faith in your teen and their ability can destroy hope on both sides. Self-fulfilling prophesy says what we look for, we will find. So, look forward with the full belief you and your teen will both come out on the other end of this situation better, happier, and closer from working together to find a solution.

3. Make deposits in the “relationship bank”: In your relationship with your teen, you need to look for opportunities to make deposits in the relationship bank intentionally and frequently. Sometimes when your teen is volatile, you just leave them alone as if you don’t want to risk incurring their wrath, and you stay out of each other’s way until there is a problem. If you do this, there are no positive experiences to draw from when things get hard. When things are good or even neutral with your teen, this is the time to find ways to fill the relationship bank! This means doing something they like and doing it without any strings attached. This often revolves around food, not making them spend their own money, or giving extra privileges. It will not look like having a deep heart-to-heart, pointing out how much you do for them, or inviting your teen to go run your errands with you. You’ve got to appeal to what they would actually enjoy!

If you are not fueling the power struggle, and you are modeling the behavior you would like to see, you can do wonders for your relationship with your teenager. Even if you feel the negative change in relationship dynamics is your teenager’s “fault,” you will find it is well within your power to increase positivity. You will also find a power struggle is like a tug-o-war; it can’t be one-sided. If you don’t participate, there is no battle!

Posted in October 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | Leave a comment

A Case for Capital Punishment

By Joseph M Nunes

In late August 1987, I was sitting in my Utah home watching the late news. The execution of Pierre Dale Selby was the lead story. More than 13 years earlier, Selby committed a heinous crime that resulted in the torture and death of three innocent people in the infamous Hi-Fi murder case. The news that night also included a sidebar report on the vigils and celebrations being held outside the state prison just a few miles from my home.

The celebrations were unsettling. I was disappointed anybody would celebrate the death of another person. The vigils protesting the execution were not comforting either. They were populated by opportunists whose only objective was to make political statements.

An execution is not an event to be celebrated or exploited. Capital punishment is not about vengeance, nor does it provide recompense for the crimes that were committed. It is a horrendous event for everyone involved. But it is a necessary task for good government to perform to preserve justice and the sanctity of life, just as disciplining a child is a necessary task for good parenting. As a parent, I was expected to teach and train my children.


Teaching occurred as I introduced my children to principles governing physical safety, social interactions, moral decision-making, or other tools and skills that would help them learn to navigate their ever-growing sphere of activity in the world. As they tried out these principles in the laboratory of life, they would often make mistakes.

Training happened when they needed to be corrected. To train my children effectively, I had to carefully choose an appropriate level of discipline that was commensurate with the severity of the mistake. Arguing with a sibling might only earn a parent-child discussion or a timeout. Stealing might include an apology and working off the debt to compensate the victim for his loss. Drug or alcohol abuse might merit the loss of freedom and privileges. The discipline I chose reflected how important the principle was to me and how serious was the offense.

Societies work in a similar manner. A punitive action should be commensurate with the crime that was committed. This is key to demonstrating our values. The more important a thing is to us, the harsher the penalty we will demand if it is violated.

Among other things, the Constitution is a contract between the people and the government. In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln said the people who died on that battleground gave their last full measure of devotion for a specific cause; namely, “that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” In short, we (the people) are the government, and our governmental documents communicate our values to each other and to the world.


The Constitution of the United States identifies a few common values held by our society. The 5th amendment states: “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The 14th amendment limits states with almost the exact same language: “… nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” (Note that these statements in our Constitution echo the more well-known words from the Declaration of Independence: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.) The Constitution is the highest law of the land so the values it contains should be the most important to us.

Is the sanctity of life, particularly human life, one of our highest values? If so, do we not want the make absolutely sure that everyone, domestic and abroad, is aware of how much we value it? What can we do to show that?

We demonstrate how much we value life when we demand the ultimate penalty for anyone who wrongfully deprives another of this inalienable right. A virtual slap on the wrist indicates our society does not value life and holds it cheap.

A weak message filters down to many aspects of our lives. It is not just murder that is involved here. Declaring, through our impotent response to violations, that we think life is cheap opens the door to other heinous crimes such as abuse, trafficking, rape, abortion, mass shootings, suicides, and a host of other ways to mistreat the divine gift of life. The “life is cheap” mindset dampens the more virtuous aspects of our societal character, such as love, dignity, respect, courtesy, service, and charity.


There is another essential phrase in the 5th and 14th amendments that often is ignored or overlooked—due process of law. The door is open for a person to be deprived of life, liberty, or property if they are in violation of the law and determined to be guilty through the legal processes that form the backbone of our justice system. A person may be legally deprived of life if they are determined to be guilty of a capital crime.

Capital crimes should be few in number, but they should represent the highest values of our society. Our legislatures are tasked with making laws and, in so doing, determining what are capital crimes and what are not. Property crimes have generally not been considered capital crimes but have been punished by depriving a person of liberty or their own property. On the other hand, treason has the potential to take away our liberty, so it has been treated as a capital crime for most of our nation’s history.

Murder, the act of willfully depriving an innocent person of life, is a clear violation of one of our most sacred values. As such, our society should demand that we make an unambiguous statement about how much we value the sanctity of life. The right to life is a promise to each of us individually from all of us collectively. We should expect the government to work in our behalf to promote safety and security for all of us. We must demand that those who willfully transgress that basic human right without just cause must pay the ultimate price. Not for revenge or recompense. But because we want to say, “It is not insignificant to take a person’s life. It is not an open season on humanity. We solemnly proclaim our intent to defend the right to live for all innocent people who dwell under our protection.”

Posted in October 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | Leave a comment

Lincoln’s Warning to Modern America

By Jeff Utsch

One of Abraham Lincoln’s first major speeches, the Lyceum Address, was a warning to America that rings truer yet today.

Americans are blessed to have inherited so much from the Founders including guarantees of liberty more “than any of which the history of former times tells us,” Lincoln said in 1838.

Americans’ obligation, he said, was to show:

(1) “Gratitude to our fathers,

(2) Justice to ourselves,

(3) Duty to posterity, and

(4) Love for our species in general.”

That would be the formula for a young nation to thrive.

Today, we find ourselves asking: What are the greatest dangers we face? How do we recognize them? How do we overcome them?

Our 16th president, a visionary, saw the threat not from external forces but from within.

“If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher,” he said.

The greatest threat to the United States is lawlessness, and mob rule, he said. “I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice.”

Lincoln cited examples of lawlessness permeating the country and cautioned of dire consequences to “perpetuation of our political institutions.”

Danger to the country increased, he warned, as, “the innocent, those who have set their faces against the violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law, and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defense of the persons and property of individuals are trodden down, and disregarded.”

If government did not step in to regain order, he further warned, “(B)y such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained. Having ever regarded government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operation; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation.”

And what of good people trying to do the right thing?

“While, on the other hand, good men, men who love tranquility, who desire to abide by the laws, and enjoy their benefits, who would gladly spill their blood in the defense of their country; seeing their property destroyed; their families insulted, and their lives endangered; their persons injured; and seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the better; become tired of, and disgusted with, a Government that offers them no protection; and are not much averse to a change in which they imagine they have nothing to lose.

“Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocractic spirit, which all must admit, is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed–I mean the attachment of the People.”

Who could do a better job of describing the United States in the Fall of 2020?

Good people today doubt government’s resolve in protecting life and property, maintaining law and order, and performing proper duties. It is easy to see how the bonds between citizens and government are frayed.

Our 16th president explained:

“Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision-stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this Government cannot last.

By such things, the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it; and thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few too weak, to make their friendship effectual.”

One hundred and eighty-two years haven’t changed a thing. There you have it.

Lincoln warned us of the consequences of not enforcing the law; we are seeing it play out in our time.

Unless we see a quick reversal and swift prosecution of those who destroy and intimidate, we are in for a quick decline.

Let’s heed Lincoln’s warning before it’s too late, demanding law and order, prosecuting lawbreakers, and holding accountable those who promote false, divisive, and destructive narratives.

Law and order is the only way to bring stability, prosperity, and peace.

Lincoln reminds us we find our liberty, and our preservation, in the rule of law.

Posted in October 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | Leave a comment

The Role of Religion in the Public Forum by Michael James

Over the last 60 years or more, we have been engaged ever more deeply in a national debate about the role of religion in our society, in our private businesses, and especially in our public institutions. To frame this discussion properly, we need to provide some brief historical context and remind ourselves of some key phrases, their sources, and their meanings.


In the summer of 1787, delegates from each of the loosely federated states (except Rhode Island) gathered in Philadelphia to create a new form of government. Their objective was to strengthen the central government. However, the delegates also wanted the states to retain power to govern themselves. Most importantly, this uniquely qualified group of delegates wanted to safeguard the liberties of the people.

In the process of creating a new form of government, never before seen in the history of man, they lost focus. A new federal government was founded, but the liberties of the people were not adequately protected. This became a stumbling block for some of the delegates. George Mason of Virginia was active in the convention and many of the clauses bear his stamp. However, by the end of the summer, he refused to sign the document because it did not include a bill of rights for the people.


George Mason had long been an influential figure in Virginia politics. He wrote the Virginia Constitution (over proposals from others, including Thomas Jefferson) and he prepared the first draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. His prominent fight for a bill of rights led James Madison to introduce twelve amendments to the Constitution in the first Congress in 1789. These amendments were based on Mason’s Declaration of Rights. In 1791, ten of the amendments were ratified by the states and they became known as the Bill of Rights. While the Constitution limited the federal government, the Bill of Rights added further restrictions to protect State sovereignty and individual liberty.


Thomas Jefferson had many notable contributions to the founding of our nation, but he did not attend or participate in the Constitutional Convention. James Madison is known as the Father of the Constitution; he created the Virginia Plan, the foundation of the document. George Washington presided over the convention and was indispensable to the procedures. But Jefferson wasn’t there. That is important to note since he is the author of one of the terms we will consider.


The Establishment Clause is found in the first amendment to the Constitution (part of the Bill of Rights). It says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Note the limitation is on Congress and the passage of legislation. It is not a restriction on individuals or other government entities, such as schools or agencies. This clause does not restrict reference to God in our pledge of allegiance, on our money, or in our schools. None of those meet the standard of a Congressional legislative act.

The Free Exercise Clause is also found in the first amendment. It completes the Establishment Clause with these additional words: “… or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Each person may exercise his/her own freedom of conscience. They may believe what they want, they may worship whom or what they want, and they may act in accordance with those convictions. It even seems to allow for the violation of some laws if those violations are for religious reasons. For example, “conscientious objectors” chose to exercise their personal convictions and were justifiably excused from military service during the Vietnam War.

Separation of Church and State is traced back to Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States at the time, in a letter addressed to the Danbury Baptist Association. The Danbury Baptists had sent a letter to Jefferson expressing concern over the lack of explicit protection of religious liberty in their state constitution. They wrote: “Our sentiments are uniformly on the side of religious liberty: that Religion is at all times and places a matter between God and individuals, that no man ought to suffer in name, person, or effects on account of his religious opinions, [and] that the legitimate power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor.”

In response, Jefferson cited the first amendment of the US Constitution, and added: “thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” Context is vital to understanding. In this case, the concern was religious freedom, and the response guaranteed protection of these rights from the potential abuses of government.


Jefferson’s metaphor was unfortunate. Though he clearly intended to convey that government should have no influence over religious beliefs or practices, the “wall” of separation has been deliberately misinterpreted to claim that religious convictions cannot influence public policy or government. Jefferson said no such thing.


The purpose of the Constitution was to define and limit the role of government so people would be free to pursue happiness as agents unto themselves.

It was not written to limit the             rights of the people.

Instead of a “wall”, perhaps a better metaphor might be a one-way valve which allows influence from religion to government to travel freely while shutting off influence from government to religion.


Those who oppose religious influence in the public square often claim we cannot legislate morality. But in truth all laws are rooted in moral judgments. Listen to all sides of a debate and the message is what each of them thinks is right or wrong. Insider trading laws exist because we collectively believe it is wrong for one investor to have an unfair advantage over other investors. Immigration laws reflect what we think is right or wrong in how we deal with those who want to enter our country. Even traffic laws are designed to allow us to safely use the infrastructure with courtesy and fairness to all drivers.

Every one of us has an idea in our minds of what is right and what is wrong. And each of us should have a seat at the negotiation table so we can have our say. There are those who want to exclude those with religious convictions from the public forum so they can propose their own form of morality without opposition. However, religious entities have just as much right to advocate for their values as those who have no allegiance to any religion.

Advocacy is different that compulsion. I do not know of any legislation in our nation’s history which was passed by a church. Churches have successfully advocated for their moral opinions, but so have those who belong to no church. Churches should not be forced to yield the debate to others without having their say. The Constitution guarantees that right and Jefferson never said anything to dispute it.


Our nation was founded by a people who were fleeing religious persecution. In a few generations, we have taken religious liberty for granted and are letting it slip from our grasp by those who would once again persecute us for our allegiance to God, the very being to whom the Founders gave credit for the creation of such a nation. Regardless of your personal beliefs, stay active in the public forum and let your voice be heard.

Posted in October 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | Leave a comment

Reclaiming America by Shane Krauser

America has a great task at hand. We want and need to return this country to its proper foundation, but we must first recognize what took it off track. The answer to a large degree is that we, the people, have allowed the train to derail. We have voted politicians into office to represent us, but then have been unwilling or unable to hold these individuals accountable to the rule of law. We have allowed them to neglect their oath, disregard their granted authority, and abuse the power they were given.

Individuals who have been elected or are running for office must recognize they are accountable to the Constitution of the United States and the principles of liberty. When they do not abide by this greatest of all legal trusts, namely our Constitution, we will hold them accountable—they will lose our votes and lose their jobs.

When we, as voters, begin to follow through and the candidates begin to recognize this, we will see striking changes. We will see a return to the rule of Constitutional law and to the principles of liberty. For now, however, there is no reason or desire for most candidates or incumbents to toe the line. They like the status quo: no accountability and extended job security, so long as they tell the people what they think we want to hear.

Fortunately, we can begin to reclaim America by:

1) Learning about the U.S. Constitution for ourselves &

2) Engaging the candidates and our elected officials with questions about how they regard the Constitution and how they plan to abide by it and uphold it—regardless of their party affiliation. Liberty is for all, not just for one or the other party. 

While we tend to focus on policy questions, there are other types of questions that are even more important to ask candidates. In fact, these questions should be the first ones in the weeding-out process. These questions should be used as qualifiers. Once you limit the candidate pool to those who are qualified to represent you, then you can make your final decision based on the specific issues that are most important to you.

What is the purpose of government?

The Declaration of Independence identifies certain inalienable rights and then adds that “to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.” Anyone running for office should understand the job description is to secure the rights of the people—not the so-called privileges of government, states, elected representatives, the wealthy, or any other special class of people.

What form of government does the United States have?

Candidates must understand what form of government the U.S. Constitution created so they can participate in preserving it. Socialism, communism, fascism, and other authoritarian forms of government deprive people of their fundamental liberties. Even a pure democracy has a tendency to suppress the rights of the minority factions within a population. Our Founders understood this and so established a republic rather than a democracy, and although not perfect in execution, it is the only model of government designed to adequately protect individual liberties. Any candidate seeking your vote should have a firm understanding of the form of government that the Constitution established. 

What is the purpose of the U.S. Constitution?

A candidate worthy of your vote should prove knowledge of and allegiance to foundational principles of government established in the Constitution—those principles being popular sovereignty, limited government, separation of power, checks and balances, enumeration of rights, and representation in a republican form of government. The primary purpose of the Constitution is to ensure that government acts in a limited and defined capacity in order to maximize freedom.

Every winning candidate for federal office takes an oath in which they promise to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to bear allegiance to the same. How can they keep that promise if they do not know or agree with what is in that document? The people, by their vote, are given the duty and privilege of ensuring that our representatives will fulfill the obligations that accompany the office to which they are elected. We let them off the hook when we do not hold them accountable to their oath. And that means we pay the price with a loss of personal liberty and the erosion of our rights.

There are hosts of other questions that ought to be asked and examined, but we must educate ourselves about what the law of the land—the Constitution of the United States—allows and what it limits and even prohibits. And we must ensure that those who are seeking office and those who are already in office are knowledgeable of and prepared to uphold this most important of all documents—the one that preserves liberty for all!

We can change the dynamic of the political discussion happening in America and mount a never-before-seen effort to reclaim America by restoring, preserving, and upholding the U.S. Constitution! We become one nation as we become one in focusing on Constitutional values and the principles of liberty. This begins with “We the People.” Together, we can save this country, but each individual effort is indispensable!  

This begins with “We the People.” Together, we can save this country, but each individual effort is indispensable!  

Posted in October 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | Leave a comment

October 2022 Issue of The Compass

Posted in October 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | Leave a comment

Northland Cottage

Chapter 2 A Garden Party

By A.P. Maddox

“I’ll be hosting a party in the garden this Friday evening,” Dottie announced, stepping into the kitchen for breakfast one morning.

Ashelynn glanced at Caroline, her eyes wide with anticipation.

After weeks of adjusting to renovations and life with Dottie, a party would be nice, Caroline thought.

“What’s the occasion?” Mrs. Hathcock asked, pouring orange juice into glasses.

“Her brother, Conner, is coming to stay,” Frank added, trailing behind his wife, and scrolling the financial news on his tablet.  

“Yes,” Dottie went on. “He’s graduating from Duke, and the party will be in his honor. A crew will arrive Friday morning to set up. They’ll be here all day, so do try to stay out of their way.”

Caroline poked at her scrambled eggs with her fork. Conner Burroughs, she thought, her mouth turning up. The last time they saw each other, they were awkward teenagers; she wondered if he’d even remember her.

“May we invite some friends?” Ashelynn asked excitedly.

“What sort of people are these friends?” Dottie challenged.

“They’re nice,” Ashelynn responded.

“You may give me a short list with their parents’ names and phone numbers,” Dottie replied, putting great emphasis on the word short. “I will call them, and if I feel they are right for my party, I will offer an invitation.”

Ashelynn’s shoulders fell, and she sunk into her seat. “Alright,” she muttered.  

Friday evening came quickly, and only a few of Ashelynn’s friends from the most influential families were invited.

“I should’ve known Dottie would only allow my rich friends to come tonight,” Ashelynn lamented as she and Caroline primped for the party at their large, double-seated vanity.

Caroline fluffed the golden blonde ringlets in her shoulder length hair. As her green eyes gazed back at her in the mirror, she tried to convince herself she looked well enough to see Conner again.

“I had to apologize to my other friends and explain that if it were up to me, they would’ve been here too,” Ashelynn said. She polished her lips with a dusty rose gloss and gathered her long, hazelnut-colored hair to one side. Running her fingers through the loose curls, she secured them with a ribbon in an elegant side ponytail just above her left shoulder.

She turned to Caroline with a mischievous grin. “So, do you know what I did?”

Caroline looked puzzled. “I can’t imagine.”

Ashelynn bit her bottom lip mischievously. “I invited them over tomorrow night for a party of my own, and I’m not going to tell Dottie! I told them to show at up around 8 o’clock to watch movies.”

They giggled at the roguish plan before Caroline let out a sigh and wondered aloud, “What do you think Conner looks like now?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Ashelynn answered with a shrug. “The last time we saw him, he was pimply faced and scrawny.”

“But he was always so nice,” Caroline said.

“Come on!” Ashelynn jumped up from the vanity, excitedly. “Let’s not let this party get started without us!”  

Out in the garden, circular tables were dressed in white linens and centerpieces of red and blue flowers. Clear lights were strung around the trees, gateways, and walkways. Lighted candles floated in the reflection pool, and the smell of jasmine graced the air. A small orchestra in the gazebo played cheerful melodies.

They strolled through the garden, and Caroline thought every detail looked so perfect. She’d want to recreate this scene later, on her sketch pad.

Ashelynn tapped her shoulder. “Is that Conner?” She pointed to a trellised archway where a tall young man stood next to Dottie and Frank. “It’s been a while; do you think that’s him?”

Caroline looked in the direction Ashelynn motioned. Her eyes caught sight of him. “Yes!” She smiled. “That’s him.”

Ashelynn looped her arm through Caroline’s. “Since you’re so eager to know what he looks like now, we must get a closer look,” Ashelynn teased as the two made their way toward Dottie, Frank, and Conner. 

They stood patiently in queue as Dottie introduced Conner to guests lined up to meet him and express their congratulations on his graduation.

They got closer to the front, and Maggie darted toward them with a friend chasing her. Maggie ducked behind Ashelynn, giggling, and hiding from her friend. Her friend reached around Ashelynn, trying to grab Maggie. She jumped behind Caroline to get away. Her friend jumped too, and Caroline found herself at the center of their game of tag.

“Okay, you two, go play over there.” She pointed to an open grassy area at the end of the garden where they could run around without disturbing anyone.

Maggie looped around Ashelynn again before starting to bolt toward the grassy area. In one last effort to grab her before she got away, her friend lunged, knocking Caroline off her feet. She tumbled backward and suddenly a pair of strong arms caught her and bore her back to her feet.

She spun around. “Conner!”

“Hello, Miss Caroline.” His voice, deeper than before, stirred her.   

“I knew I shouldn’t have allowed children to attend,” Dottie complained, then continued. “Girls, you remember my brother Conner?”

“Of course,” Ashelynn said, shaking his hand.

He offered his hand to Caroline next. She shook it. “It’s a pleasure to see you both again,” he said.

“You two will have to show Conner around during his stay,” Frank said. “Make sure he doesn’t get bored around here.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Dottie countered. “He has a full schedule!”

Dinner was announced, and everyone moved to their assigned seats. Dottie, Frank, and Conner sat at the head table with the governor and two state congressional leaders. Caroline discreetly watched Conner throughout dinner and thought his manners seemed polite, but also thought that he didn’t seem as interested in promoting himself to the powerful political leaders as his sister did.

Dinner ended and the orchestra played music appropriate for dancing.  

Mrs. Hathcock and Caroline sat together and watched Maggie and her friends playing at the reflection pool, swirling their fingers in the water, making the floating candles spin.

Mrs. Hathcock motioned toward Ashelynn and her friends gathered at the west end of the garden. “It’s good to see her enjoying herself. It sure hasn’t been easy dealing with all these changes lately and I know she misses your father.”

“We all do, Mom,” Caroline said, giving her mom’s hand a squeeze.

Caroline glanced toward the crowd, involuntarily looking for Conner. Her breath caught in her throat as she saw him walking straight toward them.

“Miss Caroline. Mrs. Hathcock,” he greeted politely, taking a chair at their table. “I’m sorry it’s been so long since I’ve seen your family.”

“Oh, that’s all right,” Mrs. Hathcock said, smiling. “We should have made more of an effort to visit your family in Charlotte.”

“However,” Conner said, “I do seem to remember how Mr. Hathcock felt about my mother…” 

“They got along like oil and water, didn’t they?” Caroline responded.

They all laughed.

Conner’s smile faded. “I was sorry to hear about him.”

“We appreciate that, dear,” Mrs. Hathcock said.  

“Thank you,” Caroline added.  

After a heartbeat of silence, Caroline asked timidly, “Conner, would you care to dance?”

Conner looked surprised, then agreed. “Yes, that would be nice.”   

He stood and offered his arm like a gentleman. She took it, and Mrs. Hathcock looked pleased as she watched the two of them walk to the dance floor.

“I feel I need to apologize for earlier,” she said, as they began to dance.  

“It’s not every day I get to rescue a damsel in distress.”

Caroline looked away shyly—the corners of her mouth turning up before looking back at him. The look on his face, so kind, she thought.     

“It seems your sister is interested in shaping a future political career for you,” she said as they swayed.

“Yes,” he acknowledged. “Everyone seems interested in that.”

“But perhaps that’s not what you want?” she questioned.

Conner looked at her, surprised. “What makes you think so?”

Caroline wondered if her assumption had been wrong and hesitantly continued, “Well, it seemed your sister was more excited about dining with the governor than you were.”

Conner’s eyes widened in wonder. “You’re rather perceptive, Miss Caroline.” 

The song concluded, and before Conner could thank her for the dance and return to his sister, Caroline found herself asking, “Would you like to go for a walk?”

They looked at each other in surprise—Caroline at herself for being so bold, and Conner to hear she wanted to walk with him.

“There’s a pond down beyond the stables. It’s gorgeous when there’s a full moon, like tonight.” 

Conner glanced over at Dottie. She was busy chatting with the governor. “That would be nice,” he said. “But let’s hurry, so my sister doesn’t catch me leaving the party.” Discretely, they hurried out of the garden.

They walked along the path to the stables. “So, if not politics,” Caroline said. “What then?”

“Honestly?” Conner asked.

“Of course,” she replied.

“I really enjoyed the business classes I took in college and I haven’t said this to my family, but I’d rather go straight to work at my family’s company instead of going into politics.”

“But your family wishes you to be a powerful politician,” she replied.

“Yes, they want me to follow in my mother’s footsteps,” he acknowledged.

“Another great Senator Burroughs in the family?” she asked.

“That’s exactly what their wishes are.”

Caroline shrugged. “It’s too bad you can’t follow in your father’s footsteps and lead your company to new heights.”

Conner nodded. “They feel that’s Randall’s job.”

“Will he be any good at it?” she asked.  

“Hard to say yet. My brother is still at school with 2 years to go, but he does seem to be working hard and is serious about his education. He might do a great job.”

They reached the edge of the pond and stopped. An early summer breeze caught the branches of a nearby weeping willow, causing it to bend and dip its branches in the water. They watched as the moonbeams shimmered in the ripples.

“You’re right,” he said softly. “It’s beautiful.”

She looked up at him and gazed as the soft moonlight shone on his dark hair. She studied the details of his face, the strong brow line over his steel-grey eyes, which glistened with a hint of slate-blue when the light hit them. There was a warmth in his eyes that made her feel safe. She watched as his lips turned up in a serene smile—sure that serenity wasn’t something he often felt.  

He turned to look at her. “Thank you for bringing me here, Caroline.”

They looked in each other’s eyes for a moment before she said, “We should get you back to your party before your sister sends out bloodhounds.”

“I prefer the current company to all those at the party,” he said before turning his gaze back to the moonlit pond. “But I suppose you’re right.”  

On their stroll back to the garden, they talked about their likes and dislikes. By the end of their walk, Caroline knew his favorite flavor of ice cream was pralines and cream, and Conner knew what her favorite gemstone was.

“Emeralds,” he said softly. “Like the color of your eyes.”

Caroline smiled.

“They haven’t changed,” he added.

Caroline caught her breath. “He didn’t forget,” she said to herself.

The next evening, Ashelynn’s friends descended upon the manor precisely on time. Dottie happened to be in the office while Ashelynn ushered them into the family game room. Caroline joined them and brought Maggie along.

Soon Conner found the party and asked if he could sit in, to which everyone agreed. By the time they were discovered by Dottie, there were bags of microwave popcorn being passed around and soda cans scattered across the room. Star Wars was just getting to the part where Ben Kenobi was saving Luke Skywalker from the sand people.

“What’s going on in here?” Dottie furiously demanded, storming into the room. “This is my home! Nobody asked my permission for these people to be here! I want an explanation now!” Dottie looked like a snarling beast that had just emerged from a creepy dungeon in the darkest part of the old house.

Before she could begin devouring the guests, Conner stood up like a knight to the rescue, his shield a bag of popcorn and his sword a soda can. “I’m sorry, dear sister,” he said. “I authorized it! I thought it was a good way for me to get reacquainted with your husband’s sisters and to get to know their friends.”

Dottie’s mouth fell open in bewilderment, realizing her own brother played a part in such a disrespectful display in her home. She huffed and left the room, but not before noticing Conner sitting back down rather close to Caroline. She took a deep breath. With her blood boiling, she turned and stomped away.

“Sir Conner!” Ashelynn declared, standing up to bow toward Conner. “Our brave knight in shining armor!”

Everyone clapped and cheered.

“I’ll be back in a second.” Caroline rose from the sofa and was gone from the room before Conner had time to ask where she was going.

She went to the kitchen searching the freezer for pralines and cream ice cream to reward Conner’s act of heroism. Her mother had also come into the kitchen looking for a snack.

“Mom, what do you think of Conner?” Caroline asked.

“He’s always been a dear boy,” her mother answered.

“You should have seen him just now! He saved us from a snarling Dottie.” Caroline extolled. “I was sure she was going to demand that Ashelynn’s friends leave, but Conner talked her out of it!”

“I see.” She noticed the spark in Caroline’s eyes. “I see,” she repeated, smiling.   

Posted in August 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | 3 Comments


Bar 2 & Bar 3

By Toni Kore

Bar 2

“Areum-ah!” an aged voice hollered up the stairs, “Come for breakfast!”

“Coming, Halmeoni!” Areum answered as she finished brushing out her long hair. She placed the brush carefully on her vanity and took one last look in the mirror. Satisfied, she grabbed her schoolbag and violin case and went down to the dining room.

“Areum-ah,” her grandmother said as she placed a bowl of rice on the table, “sit down and have breakfast before school.”

“Yes, Halmeoni,” Areum smiled, taking a seat at the table.

Her grandmother sat across from her. “Please eat a lot,” she told her kindly as a big smile adorned her gently wrinkled face.

“Thank you, I’ll eat well!” Areum smiled brightly before digging in.

The weather was nice as she peddled her bike down the road. There was a light breeze that ruffled her hair. The school wasn’t too far from her home, which was convenient. She enjoyed biking the short distance to get there. It was somehow refreshing.

As she pulled up to the bike rack, she caught sight of some familiar faces headed to class. Usually she would try to catch up with them, but today she wanted to take her time and enjoy the nice weather a little more before staying in a stuffy room for hours.

When she finally entered the classroom, most of the students were already there and tuning their instruments. She, too, pulled out her violin to tune it.

“You’ll win for sure, Chan Jae!”

“No one plays like you do, Chan Jae!”

Areum looked up to see who had been talking. She noticed Lee Chan Jae surrounded by his usual fan girls, who were all as usual, praising his musical skills. They must have been talking about the upcoming music festival. It was true. Chan Jae was indeed very skilled, but Areum never thought he was that astounding. In her eyes, he couldn’t even compare to the other piano player in their class. He played with so much feeling and emotion; he put his soul into playing almost as if his heart was singing through the piano. That was what she had thought at the first recital earlier that semester; it had been touching to listen to. Chan Jae, however, while he played the music correctly, that’s all that could be said. He played as written, correctly and well, but no artistic liberties were ever taken when it came to him. He did the bare minimum to be the best. Turning back to her violin, Areum rolled her eyes. He was too arrogant to waste any time with.

The bell rang, signaling the start of class. All the students filed to their seats, allowing Gwan sun-saeng-nim to begin the roll call. He went down the list of names, everyone announcing their attendance as it came their turn until a short silence fell after one particular name was called.

“Kim Yeong Gi,” Gwan called. There was no answer. “Kim Yeong Gi Shi?” Still no response.

Areum glanced around. He truly wasn’t there. “What a shame,” she thought, “I was looking forward to hearing him play today.”

After clicking his tongue in disappointment, Gwan made a note on his sheet and quickly finished with the rest of the names.

“Well, jae-hak-saeng, today we will be playing through the Symphony piece we’ve been studying and since Kim Shi is not here today, Lee Chan Jae will stand in for him,” Gwan sun-saeng-nim announced. He turned to Chan Jae. “You can play that line, right?”

Chan Jae almost scoffed. “Of course, Sir! It’s no problem, Gwan sun-saeng-nim!”

Areum rolled her eyes once again before they prepared to start a quick warm up. After the short warm up exercise, they jumped right into the Symphony. It was a lovely piece and Areum immensely enjoyed playing it, however; it was infinitely less lovely with Chan Jae at the keys. She was just busy thinking how unfortunate it was that the other player was absent when the classroom door opened.

To her surprise, Yeong Gi stepped into the room. A wave of relief washed over her as he quietly took his seat. However, there was definitely something different about him today. He was usually quiet and kept to himself, but he didn’t usually pull a hoodie over his head to hide his face. Was he okay? Areum truly wondered if he was.

Noticing Yeong Gi’s late entrance, Gwan sun-saeng-nim stopped the students and turned to Yeong Gi. He approached him openly in front of the class. Quite humiliating, honestly.

“Kim Yeong Gi,” he spoke with harshness in his voice, “you’re late. What’s the meaning of this, coming in at this time and hiding under a hood?”

Yeong Gi didn’t respond. He just continued to look down, as if in shame. This greatly irritated Gwan sun-saeng-nim, who truly despised being ignored.

“Hak-saeng!” Gwan sun-saeng-nim shouted in irritation, which surprised Areum and made her jump, “Take off that hood! Explain to me why you’re doing this!”

There was still no response from Yeong Gi. His head remained hidden under his hood, as if shielding him from the blows of the teacher. If it continued this way, he was sure to wind up with detention.

“Yah! Is your voice broken or something?” Gwan continued, almost taunting him, “Guess that’s lucky you’re not a vocalist. Even so, you are supposed to be a pianist, and yet you’re not in class when you’re supposed to be. You think this is a game? You think you can just come when it’s convenient for you?”

Areum watched as Gwan sun-saeng-nim ripped into the poor kid. He couldn’t even stand up for himself against his teacher. She wondered why he didn’t just apologize and be done with it. Why wasn’t he saying anything?

“Such a waste of talent for some kid who is too lazy to work hard,” almost sneering he continued, “if you’re not going to come on time, I’m surprised you bother to show up at all and waste my time!”

Areum couldn’t believe how cruel her teacher was being. How could he say such things when Yeong Gi didn’t even have a chance to defend himself? She couldn’t stand to witness such a scene.

Gwan shook his head. “Tsk, such a pity. Why does such talent have to be wasted on a loser like you?”

“What?!” Areum couldn’t believe he actually said that. She was at her limit and was about to stand up to Yeong Gi’s defense when Yeong Gi himself stood up from his seat. For a small moment she thought he was going to defend himself, but instead he turned and dashed out of the classroom.

Her first thought as she watched him run was, “Is he okay?” He had always been by himself. Even though he made it seem like he didn’t mind, surely he must have been lonely. No one to share his dreams with, no one to share his fears with, and no one to confide in when things got hard. She had never spoken a single word to him before, but now she thought that was going to have to change.

Bar 3

Yeong Gi sat quietly as the bell rang and students flooded the hallways. He didn’t move, even though he had another class to get to. He stared at the floor, his hood blocking out the rest of the world from his view, that is, until he saw a pair of shoes standing right in front of him. He glanced up just enough to see who it was. A girl. Who was she? She seemed familiar to him, but he didn’t really pay attention to other students.

“Kim Yeong Gi?” she asked in a sweet voice.

Ignoring her, Yeong Gi leaned back and turned away from her. He wasn’t interested in talking to her, so why bother?

“My name is Jung Areum,” she persisted, “we are in first period together.”

When she said that, he immediately recognized her, but continued to act like he had no ears. Areum could tell he clearly wanted to be left alone, but she wasn’t going to give up so quickly. From where she stood, it seemed like he could use a friend.

“Are you alright?” Her voice was gentle and genuine.

Yeong Gi was a bit taken aback by the question, but still offered no response. He wondered why she seemed so invested in him. They had never spoken to each other before, so it felt weird talking now. If she pitied him, that was even worse.

Taking the hint, Areum ignored it and sat down next to him. She looked out the large glass window-like wall to see the pretty trees that stood guard outside the school.

“We really have a nice view here,” she said listlessly, trying to make small talk.

Yeong Gi bit his tongue and continued to look away from her. He didn’t hate her or anything, he just didn’t want to be bothered. Plus, they didn’t even know each other.

“What year were you born, Kim Yeong Gi Shi?” she asked cheerfully. “I am the year of the Ox!”

Yeong Gi held his ground in silence. She seemed nice, and he appreciated the effort she was giving, but he didn’t understand it. It made no sense why she suddenly started to bother him.

“If we are in the same year, we can drop the formalities!” She smiled eagerly.

Yeong Gi quietly cleared his throat. “I do not want to,” he mumbled.

“Oh, daebak!” Areum exclaimed with wide eyes.

“What?” Yeong Gi asked in a low tone.

“So, you can talk!” Areum noted teasingly.

Yeong Gi lightly scoffed. “Why are you talking to me?”

Innocently shrugging, she answered, “I just want to know what year you are.” It was an innocent question to spark a connection.

Yeong Gi furrowed his brow at her. Surely that wasn’t the only reason. He turned away from her again. He didn’t want pity; it made him feel worse.

“Oh, come on!” She pleaded, “What year are you?”

Sighing heavily and rolling his eyes, Yeong Gi finally gave in. “The rat.”

“Ah, I see,” Areum nodded and pouted her lips. “I assume you do not want to drop formalities.”

“No,” Yeong Gi grabbed his binders and bag and abruptly stood from the bench. “You should get to class.”

“You should too,” Areum said, standing up as well. “What class do you have next? I have music theory.”

“Does it matter?” He huffed. “See ya around.”

Areum pouted again as Yeong Gi turned away from her and headed down the hall. “Goodbye! See you tomorrow, Yeong Gi Shi!” she called after him.

He didn’t bother to turn around or wave or even acknowledge her. She wasn’t bummed, though. At least he spoke to her. That had to be a good sign. Although she didn’t get to look at his face since he wouldn’t take his hood off, he did talk to her.

“Progress,” she smiled to herself. Satisfied with what little conversation they had; Areum skipped down the hall to her next class.

After school was over, Yeong Gi had to rush to one of his part-time jobs. This one in particular happened to be waiting tables at a little corner cafe two streets down. Luckily, he didn’t need to take the bus and he could walk, which saved him money. Anything that saved him money was welcome.

When he entered the cafe, his boss immediately hollered at him. “Hey, part-timer! It’s about to get busy, so hurry up!” She pointed toward the register, indicating she wanted him behind the counter.

“Yes, sa-jang-nim,” he bowed politely and immediately headed for the counter. He hesitantly took off his hoodie, his purple eye now on full display.

His boss finished cleaning up a table and met him behind the counter. She snagged an apron from the back and handed it to him.

“Hey,” she said slowly as she noticed his eye, “are you okay, part-timer?”

Embarrassed, he turned his face away from her. “I am fine, sa-jang-nim,” he unconvincingly assured her.

She was unconvinced. “Yah, Yeong Gi-ah,” she reached up to turn his head to face her, “did your father strike you again?”

He didn’t need to respond. The shame in his eyes was enough. Unable to meet her gaze, he looked down at the floor.

“Aigo,” she sighed, “I told you, didn’t I? Don’t let that man touch you anymore. He’s no good! Any man who strikes his own kid is no good! Understand, part-timer?” She pointed sternly at him with the tablecloth she had in her hand.

A subtle warmth spreading over him. Yeong Gi nodded. “Yes, sa-jang-nim.” Even though she was tough sometimes, he knew his boss genuinely cared for his well-being, and that was comforting. Not even his own mother cared, at least, not enough to do anything about it. A pang resounded in his chest as he choked down tears. He didn’t want to cry and look weak in front of his boss. He didn’t need to add to his list of humiliations.

“Good, now put some ointment on that, then get to work,” his boss ordered.

Just as his boss had predicted, the cafe was soon filled with students hanging out after a long day of school. Yeong Gi recognized some from his school but secretly hoped they wouldn’t recognize him, since his shiner was on full display now.

He busied himself with clearing tables and taking orders, trying to get his mind off things. It seemed to be working until a familiar face walked in. “Aish!” He exclaimed internally, “What is she doing here?”

To his horror, the girl from earlier walked through the front door and took a seat at a booth with two friends. Frustrated and worried she’d say something, he bit his lip and took a deep breath.

Toni Kore was born in CA but raised in AZ. She studied vocal performance at MCC and is now in management at a highly popular theater company in the Phoenix valley. Her gift of writing fiction and her love of Korean culture shine through in this beautiful story. Toni also designs stunning pins for K-Pop fans. Check out her pins on etsy! https://www.etsy.com/shop/urkoodesigns?load_webview=1&bid=Y2z7Oa82Z3aOmEZxNZ5-rtCjMCnw

Posted in August 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | Leave a comment

At Last Farewell

Part 2: Trinkets, Trolls & Tyrants

By Raymond Keith

“Trinkets? Even you may be impressed by my trinkets, Daggnir. They will make fine additions to your collection. That is, if I decide to leave them for you.”

Hereb sat against the wall of the cavern, barely able to move due to his injuries. His foe, Daggnir, mocked him from the shadows of his lair. Hereb may have lost his sword and spear, but he still had one weapon left to use: his wits. He did not know if he would survive, but he was not ready to die. Whispering a short prayer to the only god he thought might be real, he prepared for the next battle.

Daggnir laughed through his coughs. “Hmmm, what trinkets? Why don’t you elaborate? I doubt I will be impressed.”

“Well,” Hereb grunted loudly as he shifted his battered weight to pull a small, folded cloth from behind his belt with his still-functioning sword hand. “To start off, right here is a unique silver coin. I discovered it while walking the streets of the fabled Silver City of Hagdan.” Laying the cloth on his leg, he unwrapped it one-handed. In the middle was a large, engraved coin, the crevices blackened with age. He held it up to his face but was unable to see it in the darkness.

“A special coin? Found at Hagdan?” Daggnir mocked. “Hagdan is still lost, my little tale-spinner. Though my den is remote, I do know much of what happens in the world. Do not think you can deceive me so easily.”

“I understand if you do not believe me. I have not spoken of this to anyone until now.”

“A dying confession? Hmm, I have heard of the human habit. How amusing you should share it with your bane.” Daggnir burst into a new coughing fit that lasted several minutes.

“I did not have the heart to tell anyone. It is truly the most magnificent city ever built, whether of elves or dwarves or men—just as legend claims. The silver columns, marble fountains, bejeweled domes. Many an adventurer had searched for it, and many had failed, some even giving their lives. But it was I that found it! I was the first to see it in a thousand years. What riches could there be in such a place? What glory would I receive from all the world? What a life I have lived! Could anyone boast as much as I?” Hereb remembered the moment so clearly still.

“Sounds exciting, if true,” Daggnir replied. “So, what is so unique about this coin? What magic does it hold?” The dragon began to purr, broken by occasional coughing fits.

A dragon purring? Who had heard of such a thing? Hereb wondered. Was he finding pleasure in my story, or perhaps my approaching death? Or did I touch a greedy nerve with the coin…

“As I walked those streets, I came to a sudden understanding. Looters would come. Exploiters and destroyers. They would strip it all in greed. It was a sad thought. Then I realized I was not much better—only here for my own pride and glory. I had searched for the city so I could pawn it off and enrich my own ego. Nothing more at the heart of it. Sitting in the high tower, I struggled for days. On the third morning, I knew what I must do. I would leave it to the jungle. So, I pocketed a few coins I had found, strolled the streets one last time, and left. I have never spoken of it before this moment.

“I headed back to civilization, feeling lost. Who was I and what would I do now? The first community I came to had an orphanage. The children were hungry and cold. Many more still roamed the streets. The workers were struggling to care for them all. So, I gave the silver coins to them.”

“How noble,” Daggnir chortled in disbelief, which brought on a deep cough. “Spend lots of your time daydreaming, I see. Hero of your own tales. Finally, started believing your own fantasies, didn’t you shaddi? I would wager you are really just a homeless bard or a penniless rogue. Finally, thought you would try to be a real warrior? Come rescue a maiden and all that? But this little adventure here did not go so well, did it?”

“Not so noble. Those who labor away their days caring for those orphans are the real heroes, not me. If I really cared, I would have stuck around and helped, at least made sure they got their money’s worth from the silver. Those coins could have bought the Palace of Sikė, but they probably didn’t know what to do with them. Sold them for a song, I am sure. But I did it just so I could feel better about myself.”

“Spare me the false humility. What about this coin? What is so different about this one?” Annoyance touched his voice.

 “I keep this piece in my belt as a reminder of that city and the struggle that night. This coin changed me. I stopped living just for myself. Maybe it will have the same effect on you.”

 “I have my doubts. Whatever its real value, soon this too will be added to my collection,” Daggnir’s purr became a spasm again, sputtering out a few more coughs. “So, what came next? Slaying dragons and rescuing damsels?” Daggnir chuckled at his own humor.

“That came later. Thought I would start out small: trolls. I encountered a troublesome brute not too long after that.”

Daggnir snorted. “Miserable, filthy things. Taste terrible and smell worse.”

Hereb continued. “I drifted about after giving away the coins, trying to figure out my purpose. That is when I came to the village of Farewell.”

“Never heard of it, little man.”

“No doubt. Long way from here. It has a bridge over a crag just outside one of its gates. A troll had moved in. Underneath the bridge, I mean. It was eating everyone who got too close, mostly travelers from out of town. Bad for business.” Hereb paused, taking a deep breath. His sides ached terribly, but he stifled his moan this time. Talking was exhausting.

“I was crossing the bridge, heading into town, when the flabby beast stopped me. Wanted me to empty my pockets so he could see my trinkets. Must be a fetish. Apparently, he thought I was to be his dinner. Ugly beast, not very bright, but terribly strong. I recommended he move on and find another place to settle, but he wouldn’t listen. Said he liked it there, that it was a nice place to call home. He put up a good fight. He was quick despite his big belly, but I prevailed in the end. Rolled his corpse into the crag and dragged his head into the town square. The villagers were very grateful to be rid of him and offered many gifts, but I was content with the few choice pieces from the troll’s lair. He had a few good treasures under that bridge. Nothing compared to yours, of course. Your collection is quite impressive, I must say.”

“I am almost insulted by the comparison, shaddi. Is that where you got this sword? It was not made around here.”

“No, no. That blade is far too good to be found in a troll’s hoard. I got it afterward. That sword has a tale all its own.”

“Do you still have the time? Or will you be passing soon?” taunted Daggnir.

“I will keep it short. Just the highlights. Are you sure you do not have other things to do?”

“I have no plans other than to monitor my uninvited guest. Entertaining can make one hungry, however. Maybe the troll had the right idea.” Daggnir chuckled, then wheezed.

The monster shifted his weight, the sound of scales scraping against rock sending chills down Hereb’s spine.

“You are welcome to hold onto it for now. That sword belonged to the tyrant of Chu before I possessed it. He gave it to me… sort of.”

“Was it a true gift or did you steal that, too? Or maybe you killed a troll for him? Perhaps you picked it up in a lost city.”

“You have a quick wit. I would laugh more if it didn’t hurt so much,” Hereb complimented. Daggnir just coughed in response.

“After slaying the troll, I stayed in Farewell for a while. The troll was right. It was a good place to be. Wonderful folks. An old farmer took me in, and I worked the place with him for a time. It was a good life, but I could not stay. Very religious people. The place made me realize I did not like the man I was. So, I traveled east to learn their ways and to find others to help. I entered a small kingdom where the people were all living in fear. A warlord from Chu was terrorizing the people all around. He had quite an empire by the time I arrived. These villagers were next on his list and asked me to help them, so I did. We were able to outwit the tyrant in battle, destroying his army. On the battlefield, he refused to yield and challenged me to a duel. I took the sword from his dying hand. He was a cruel man, but he respected a skilled warrior. He nodded his approval as he breathed his last. It was the finest sword I had ever held, so I kept it.”

“I think I actually believe that one, shaddi.” Daggnir coughed for a while, then resumed his purr. “You claim to be quite a traveler, according to these stories of yours, anyway. Do you not have a home?”

“Not really. Left my small village when I was young looking for adventure.”

“Sounds like you found some—maybe more than you can handle,” Daggnir purred. “So, did all this excitement satisfy you? Was it worth it? Any regrets?”

“I do not regret the adventures or seeing the places I have seen.” Hereb’s voice softened as his memories drifted. “The most beautiful place you will ever come upon is Dova. It is even more awe-inspiring than Hagdan. Nothing compares to it, and I will never forget. No decent mortal could look upon the magical pools sparkling in the morning sun without weeping. The waters are sweeter than any nectar you will ever taste. I drank from every pool. The headwaters are the most satisfying. Just a drop will heal body and soul. I long for a sip now. My heart is refreshed at the mere memory.” Hereb sighed. “I do regret the many years of selfish living.”

Hereb sunk down the wall, cold and exhausted. He found it odd to be bearing his soul to this great beast with whom he had just battled. But now, he was too out of breath for more stories. The den fell silent except for Daggnir’s ponderous purring that filled the light-starved chamber. Hereb knew that cats purred for pleasure or to get attention, but he had also heard once they would purr to enhance healing. Could a dragon heal by purring? Hereb knew the dragon was wounded from their battle, but he could not guess how bad. Was Daggnir increasing his strength as Hereb’s drained away? Was he just toying with him? Was it a matter of time before the beast decided he had enough of his pest? Was the time growing near?

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Posted in August 2022, The Compass Issues 2022 | 1 Comment