Controversial Writings Samples from Stephen Roberts

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Novel: 30 Days, 30 stories- Conflict in the Raw
Excerpt: From Ultimatum Story 30

"We'd like to welcome you to our little home and studio Mr. Roberts. It's a pleasure to have you!"

"Thank you Steve Victor. If you don't mind, I'd like to call you S.V."

"Certainly, I feel more comfortable with that. We welcomed you here today because we understand this is the last day, August 21st, of your ultimatum. Your last story, Ultimatum completes the conflict series of shorts compiled in a book called 30 days, 30 stories: Conflict in the Raw. What inspired your book?"

by Pietro
                  Barbera, titled The Writer
by Pietro Barbera, titled The Writer

"Well, S.V., I don't know. I wrote two stories the week before I decided to attempt this book. They made me realize that my short story writing was nothing short of sporadic. I debated my future career during this time, and how writing would fit it. I've worked a part-time job the last one and a half years, juggled the kids, tried to establish an artist friend of mine, and tried to write. After countless commitments, I found myself in a rut and didn't know if I could actually be pushed to make a deadline. So, I established my own and said if I couldn't meet the challenge, my career as a writer would be over. I'd have to start a regular 9-5 job again."

"So, it was do or die with this project?" asked S.V.

"It was a moment where my whole future relied on the success of this project. Failure, wasn't an option."

"You have young kids, right? Brianna, age six and Shane age two."

"Yes S.V.. They're wonderful kids and I love them more than you can imagine. They're the reason I try and strive for success, like any other parent would. As a writer, I like to think I can spend more time with them as they grow."

"What's your fascination with conflict?" the interviewer asked.

"There's conflict in everything! I attempt to compile daily scenarios which are derived from newspapers, memory, personal experiences and others. The conflicts touch on a broad range of philosophies and all types of fictional genres, but the majority is dark. I write this way, and one of my strongest personal conflicts is releasing these stories where my in-laws can read them. I don't know if they'll easily recognize any acceptance on the The Bazaar topics brought to you. It's not easy for me to "break away" from the quiet acceptance of both my and my wife's family when they have no clue how I write. I've always subdued the tendencies to be overt about controversy. I don't think that's anything unusual, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has this, but the fact is that whenever you write fiction, people can perceive you as one of your characters. A writer is essentially an actor who wears the hat of the many roles he writes. They mould themselves to a character's feelings; put themselves in his or her shoes, and think the way they might think. I only hope that I've made a lot of correct judgments and perceptions on characters I haven't played before."

"Doesn't that make you nervous?"

Roberts replied, "Of course it does. Maybe that's why when I put this compilation out there; it may open me up to lots of criticism. It's such a dramatic departure for me going from a relatively subdued life to voicing my worldly opinion through fiction. I enjoy the balance I've found when I create dark gloomy tales at home and live a relatively normal social life. I live a happy life outside my dark writing. I look at the glass as half full in reality, and half empty when I write."

Pietro Barbera
Pietro Barbera -photo by Steve Roberts

Isolationism & Pietro Barbera

The new avant-garde theory of Isolationism combines the esthetics from an artist outside the mainstream of art (self-taught) and their internal mechanisms that categorize their emotion. They're artists that seek to change their way of being constantly and due to the nature of their environment, they cannot. Change being the thrust of the isolationist, they feel like a caged animal and produce sporadically based on: their mood swings, stimuli from books, and other human contact, via visit or phone. When looked on as a human state, we all look for change throughout our lives, but with change, comes uncertainty and for that reason fear. The isolationist, seeks change, but is unable to alter the circumstances with which they can achieve this desire for change. Thus the isolationist is a person who seeks therapy and sanity through their art.

Artwork produced by the Isolationist is difficult to categorize. When looked on in the course of day, week, or month it fluctuates so greatly, it's likely to confuse the viewer. The same viewer may not be able to see how a painting can vary in emotional consistency from one day to the next. As any person who experiences change through jobs, environment, and appearance, the isolationist changes through mood. With some study we can see a consistency on the body of work as a whole, only from the source of the man's life experiences, his emotional life, the stimuli that influenced the work, and the media on which it's done.

The classification of artwork under these circumstances must be done on purely emotional levels. Often there's a reoccurring theme and there is often a particular media which conveys that theme best. There are fine lines which develop from one stage to another as the piece of art takes creation. Often uncontrollable these "urges" portray themselves subtly into the work.

Pietro Barbera and Steve Roberts
Steve Roberts (left) and Pietro Barbera (right)

Master works are often created through two stages:

  1. Moment of inspiration: when a certain stimuli create such a mood response, the artwork is defined with an unparalleled focus. This is likely to send the artist into another form of work, which will continue after his perfect satisfaction with knowing it's a masterpiece.
  2. Building block theory: seen as working towards a common goal, the climax being the masterpiece. The development improves with each work done until it reaches a certain level. Often the artist will see certain better aspects of each work and at the climax of that run, will produce spin-offs that can move higher or lower in development.

The work achieved through an Isolationist can be looked on as an out of control train. There's a degree of control in certain work, but is often established through prior "free-flowing" works. The future is created through essential elements to their being, often brought to the forefront by shock stimuli. The Isolationist is a man or woman bound by freedom and seeks to better the world by their individualist views of life changing events, both in their own lives and indeed through television.

Novel: The Holy Servant

"I now pronounce you, woman and wife. You may kiss your partner," said the priest.

The two women kissed in front of a small reception of family and friends. They held each other's hands, and walked through the doors of the church towards their waiting limousine.

The Holy Servant
by Pietro Barbera, titled Splatter

"Hey ladies, turn around," shouted the photographer. He perched himself from the churches top step. A shot rang out a second before the shutter of the camera snapped. What was that? Curiously, the photographer looked at the lens of the camera as the bridal party evacuated the front lawn. The bride had collapsed to the ground, her mate in her arms severely bleeding from the chest. She stroked her hair amongst the small piles of rice, while the maroon pool grew. The woman was speechless.

"People, please step back, this is a crime scene," yelled a police man.

Fifteen minutes later another man unwrapped a yellow strand of tape across the churches front rail. It said in bold lettering 'crime scene'. A police lieutenant arrived on the scene and spoke with another officer, as he walked up the steps of the church.

"This is the third murder at a church this past week!"

"Ever since the Pope declared gay unions evil, it seems someone's got a vendetta against same sex marriages. We've got a good lead on this one though, looks like we may have a picture," said Officer Skylar.

"How's that?" asked Lieutenant Maynard.

He pointed to the photographer on the steps, "over there, the photographer was taking a picture the moment the shot was fired. It looks like our shooter was in the second floor window of that brick building opposite the church. We found gunpowder residue on the open window sill. Anyway, the photographer jerked the camera from his subjects when he heard the gunshot and undoubtedly took a picture. We're hoping it has our rifleman on it. You want to see something else?" He pulled a clear plastic bag from his pocket. "See this?"

The lieutenant grabbed the bag, "so it's an empty shell."

"No, look closer." Maynard pulled it close and spun it in the bag, "it's a cross. The shell has a cross etched in it."

"Definitely, a religious fanatic," said the officer.

"I checked the other victims before I came here. They're all Roman Catholics, two were male and this one's the first female. It seems the churches that practice these ceremonies aren't as strict as the arch diocese has deemed them to be. They're all in a three mile radius of each other. I guarantee our shooter's a Roman Catholic, who's decided to take the written word of the Pope as Gospel. I want a full investigation on all Roman Catholic churches in the three mile radius and their congregations. As a religious man, he must be familiar with area churches and my guess is he belongs to one. Also find out if there are other same sex marriages taking place this week. I want them patrolled because I'm sure our assassin hasn't finished his work. Probably won't until his death. I can only hope that there aren't copycat killers out there, could be the new Spanish Inquisition!"

"You're not kidding. The gay community is shook up by these events. I read something in the paper that a few scheduled marriages have been ousted by certain churches after the decree was issued. The Catholic Church is taking a hard stance, and I'm sure we're going to see a lot of repercussions. I only hope they're not as extreme," said the Skylar.

"How's the woman doing, the bride?"

"Not good, she was pried from her dead wife. She kept repeating the word no. The ambulance took her to the hospital and put her under psychological evaluation. For the time being, she's sedated. We have an officer to take a statement, whenever that may be. In the meantime, the crime lab should be finished with the film from the photographer's camera. Why don't we go and see if they found something?"

The two men walked to the crime truck, opened the door, and went in. A curtain cut the truck in half to protect the dark room at the back. A few pictures were hung from a string like a clothesline outside. Maynard grabbed one.

by Pietro Barbera, titled "Cloning: Man's Demise"

April 2001



"Genetic subject #456117A,
We've discovered on the A chromosome of your makeup,
The mutated gene for bone cancer."
"We've decided this discovery has put our insurance company at risk,
and therefore we are extraditing you from our plan- Immediately."

"Sir, understand, I'm a famous genetic doctor,
who was instrumental in the identification of chromosome codes,
on which our entire genetic identification program exists.
I have three children, none of which is older than fifteen.
They rely on my insurance. What can I do?"

"Step to the cages on your left.
There you will be sent to the TC colony,
in layman's terms- the terminal cancer colony.
You will find a comforting place to die."

-But doctor, my children, are they protected from these colonies?"

"We have their results and the answer is no.
#712610BC, is being sent with you to the TC colony.
#778525BE, is being sent to the MS colony or Multiple Sclerosis Colony.
#821061DA, the youngest, will be protected. He's in perfect health.
He'll be lavished with riches and among the world's elite super race.

"Sir, #821061DA is Eli, and he was born without a brain.
He lives on life support."

"#456117A, according to his chromosomes he's in perfect health,
and so he will live comfortably amongst us- the Ruling class."

"Not a bad looking couple." He tossed it on the counter.

A voice came from behind the curtain, "I think we got something here."

"Can we come in?" asked Maynard.

"Yes, come in." Maynard and Skylar stepped behind the curtain.

"Lieutenant Maynard, this is our scene specialist, Laurie Bird."

"Take a look at this. Lieutenant," she said. She handed him the developed picture and a magnifying glass. "There." She pointed.

Maynard took the glass and positioned it over the top center of the photograph. He looked at the building that faced the church. "There he is, clean shaven, olive skin, dark slicked black hair, and sunglasses. He could be Italian. Looks like he's crouched over the rifle, like a sharpshooter." He turned to Skylar, "isolate our description of potential killers to have military or police experience, dark hair, males of Italian origin. I presume the killer has some type of record, so cross reference the suspects with any that might have a record."

"Maynard, how could he have gotten the time of the marriages?" asked Skylar.

"Maybe the newspaper, then called the church. Ask the few churches, who do these ceremonies, to get people's names who contact them for same sex wedding information, ask them to jot down details. Find out if the last three victims had their marriage announcements in the same paper, or any paper at all. Get a blow up of this photo, for an APB."

"Certainly Lieutenant, we're on it," said Skylar.

Lieutenant Maynard stepped down the steel stairs of the crime lab. He made his way to the squad car, lit up a cigarette, and sat down. He looked at Vito Salvatore, his driver .

"How's it look," asked Salvatore.

"Not good. We have a religious psychotic, who believes he's doing Gods work. I have a feeling he's not going to stop till his last breath."

"A man with divinity above all else, is the worst kind."

"Get me to the station, I need to map this out," said Maynard. The police radio came to life.

"We have reports of a fired shot at Saint Mary of Aquinas on the corner of 25th and 8th. Any available squad cars, please report."

"Tell me that's not a Roman Catholic Church," said Maynard.

"It is," said Salvatore, "my cousin goes there and their devote Christians."

"Get us over there."

The squad car turned on the lights and sped through the city; the church, five minutes away. They pulled their car on to the scene behind two other police cars.

Maynard watched a policeman to the left of the crime scene, calming a large Hispanic male; another man lay face down on the cement, to the right side of a path; a sheet over his upper torso. Another policeman scribbled notes from a hysterical woman.

"Who's in charge here?"

"Officer Ted Riley here, Lieutenant."

"What's happened?" "These two men were in the process of getting married when a sharpshooter capped one of them."

"But they were on the front lawn?"

"It was a strange thing. The priest moved the whole congregation outside because of the beautiful weather. There were so many witnesses, but no one could place the shooter. It happened before they exchanged vows."

Maynard turned to Salvatore who followed him to the crime scene, "weren't the last victims assassinated after the marriage vows were pronounced?"

The Holy Servant
watercolor by Pietro Barbera

"As far as I know."

"Then why would this murder be different? Normally, murderers follow patterns."

"If you ask me, two killings in one day is ambitious for an assassin. Maybe he's lucky."

"No such thing as luck. Get Officer Skylar on the radio."

The driver went to the patrol radio and got Skylar at the crime lab. He handed the microphone back to Maynard.

"Skylar, is that you?"


"I want to refine the search on our killer to Saint Mary of Aquinas. Check the congregation and get back to me. Maynard put the line down. "I want to question the priest."

He walked into the church, where he found the priest kneeling at the alter. "Excuse me, father?"

The priest stood up and turned around, "what can I do for you my son?"

"Could I ask you a few questions?"

"Of course."

"Why did you take the congregation outside the church?"

"It's but a beautiful day. I thought we should have the ceremony on the church grounds, for all to witness the beautiful event." "Was that preplanned?"

"Not in the least. I do the work of God, and should God tell me to say the sacred marriage vows outside, so I should. It was like that today."

"Your name is Father John Doyle isn't it?"

"Aye, it is. Are you from this parish?"

"No, I'm afraid I'm not. Didn't I see you in the paper last week marrying a couple on the lawn of the church?"

"Yes, that was I."

"But wasn't it in the rain?"

"It was."

"If I remember correctly, that was another gay marriage, wasn't it?"

The priest paused, "as a matter of fact it was."

"Isn't that odd?" Maynard asked the priest. "The Lord works in mysterious ways, but if you excuse me gentlemen, I must prepare for tomorrows sermon. The bishop will be here and I must make him feel at home. If I can help you with anything else, please let me know."

"Certainly, father," Maynard replied. He turned to Salvatore as the priest walked off, "didn't seem very remorseful on the murder at the front of his church."

"He's a man of God, believes in a better place after life. I'm sure he must think the man's soul's gone straight to heaven."

-or straight to hell," said Maynard under his breath. "I want to hear his sermon tomorrow. Will you come with me in the morning, Salvatore, I'm not very good at this type of thing."

"Sure, lieutenant, we'll come to the 8 am mass. It's my day off, so I'll meet you at the station -7:15. I'm warning you now, I won't be in uniform."

"That's all right. I appreciate it."

The following day

Maynard and Salvatore arrived at the church at 7:45 am. They slid into a Pugh at the back of the church and looked on to the congregation.

At 8am the sermon began. He read through several passages of scripture, sang several songs from verse and half hour into his normal ceremony, he spoke.

Map of the Crusades

"My dear people, recently our mighty leader Pope John Paul has given strict adherences for the members of our church to follow especially in the holy sanctimony of marriage. He wrote, 'when legislation in favor of gay marriages are proposed the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it.' I have in the past, listened to what guided my heart in these matters. Although, I have always been against them, I have conceded to ceremonies in certain circumstances, this will be no more. I stand firmly with the words of the Pope, and I believe myself to have wronged the church, over the course of my stray from the Holy Scripture. I beg forgiveness of you my Lord, God and put my body at the mercy of your hands, I am but your servant. Bishop Costa, would you please take over my congregation."

The bishop stood up and the priest stepped down from the pulpit. He took a seat in the Pugh with one of the congregation. Maynard looked at Salvatore in astonishment.

"Did that just happen?" he asked.

"It did."

"He was the one who preformed the ceremony yesterday, wasn't he?"

"He did, that must have been why he preformed it outside. He could justify the ceremony if it was outside the church."

"That would explain the rained out couple last week. Do you think he'll be in serious trouble with the church for marrying those gay couples?" asked Maynard.

"Well, the last one wasn't married were they?"

"No, they weren't," he said, "wait, the other couple that got married in the rain last week, was it before the decree of after the decree?" asked Maynard.

"It was before the decree."

"That would explain it," said Maynard. "Our priest knows the killer. He had to have the ceremony outside of the church, and make sure the groom was killed before the vows were exchanged. They have confession here later, don't they?"

"They do."

"As a good Catholic, the murderer would want to get this off his chest, no?"

"Yes, especially if he knows he's being hunted down. Probably want to confess daily, if he thinks he's going to die," said Salvatore.

"Do you think Father Doyle would grant him daily confessions?"

"I don't see why he wouldn't, especially if the father realized he strayed. He probably confessed his own sins to the bishop. I bet your bottom dollar our killer will confess later to Father Doyle."

"Then come back later with backup," said Maynard.

The men took communion and quietly left the church. Salvatore dropped Maynard back at the precinct and took off. Maynard checked his fax and received an enlarged photo of the killer. He called several detectives to look at their suspect, and join him at the noon confession. The men took undercover police cars and parked them at various locations around the church. Maynard and another officer entered the church and climbed a back stairwell that led to the organ. The position overlooked the confession rooms. They sat back and waited.

At 12:15 they watched Father John Doyle enter a confession booth. A slim Italian man followed from his position beneath their location. His hair was slicked back and he wore the trademark glasses. The men picked matched the copy of their suspect.

"It's him, we have our killer and he's trapped himself in the confession room. Move in." whispered Maynard's voice from the music floor. Six people rushed the confession doors from doors around the church. They closed in quickly, as Maynard made his way down the back staircase. The teams surrounded the curtains.

Maynard tapped the stone next to the confession room.

"Father Doyle, you and your friend are surrounded. We have six armed policemen. We'd like you to give yourselves up."

Maynard listened at the confession booth. They heard slight whispers. Maynard stood to the side of the curtain. He stuck his ear closer and the policemen positioned themselves for a potential shootout. Their voices went quiet.

Suddenly, two shots rang out and the policemen stood back. They jerked erratically into new positions behind the Pugh's.

Maynard shouted, "you've got three seconds before we rush you." He examined the curtains in the distance, "I don't see a gun holes in the curtains, did they fire from inside?"

"I don't know," said an officer.

"I don't think they did," Maynard replied. "One, two," two officers backed up against the walls outside the booth, "three!" he yelled and the officers pulled back the curtains of the booth momentarily. They flopped back and forth, to rest. Maynard noticed a streams of blood emerge from beneath the curtains. He stood up. "Men, pull open the curtains."

When the police officers pulled open the curtains they found the killer with a gun fallen on his lap, his shirt off and tucked to the side. A large cross tattoo was down the center of his chest, and a large bullet hole was through the center. A tattoo on his neck gave the appearance of him being a priest, and there were words below the cross. Maynard stepped closer,

"Servant of God."

They looked through the steel cage and found Father John Doyle with a gun at his ankles. He bled profusely from a gunshot wound to his head.

"They shot each other," Maynard said. "Suicide means hell, right?"

"That's what I'm told," said an officer. "They confessed to each other, so now they're free."

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