500-750 Words

A COLD CALL (Sexual Content)


“Hi, I’m calling about your ad.”

Her voice was soft and sultry, as smooth and silky as his finest Maker’s Mark bourbon. The image of a voluptuous goddess with long wavy caramel-colored hair, tanned skin and moist red lips immediately appeared before him. He could see her pearly teeth as she smiled, tantalizingly nibbling her bottom lip. He felt himself getting hard.

“Is anyone there?” he heard her say and roused him out of his fantasy.

“Yes, sorry. I’m here. I was distracted for a moment. There’s something about your voice; it’s very … familiar” he replied trying to sound nonchalant.

“I get that a lot” she answered, her throaty laugh arousing him again.

“Are you calling about the apartment or the car?” Please let it be the apartment … let it be the apartment …  he pleaded silently, picturing her sprawled on his bed. 

The Ferrari, of course. No sexy car list would be complete without it, don’t you agree?”

There was that laugh again. He had to meet this woman. Today.

“Of course. She’s an incredible vehicle” he said, a bit disappointed that she wasn’t interested in seeing his apartment. How he’d love to get her there.

“Incredible sounds about right. And exciting, too, judging by the photo in your ad. With her open top she’s as sleek and beautiful as a topless Ferrari should be – a car to melt some hearts and explode others.”

As she spoke, he had a vision of her in the Ferrari, top down, driving along the Santa Barbara coastline, her hair loose and wild like crimson flames. She was laughing as she drove faster and faster, her hand teasing the elongated head of the gear shift. She was wearing a short black leather skirt and a low-neck sweater, her stunning breasts heaving with excitement. She smelled of honeysuckle and peaches. His heart was racing, his erection pounding.

Who is this woman? He couldn’t think straight. Snap out of it, dummy!

“So, when would you like to see her?” Today, today, today raced repeatedly in his brain.

“Today, if that works for you” came the response he hoped for.

“Hmm, today. My schedule’s kind of tight but I might be able fit you in around 4:00” he lied. “Would that work for you?”

“Yes. I can come anytime.

Was that a double entendre? This woman was driving him insane with desire!

“Hold on one sec. I just need to check on something.”

He waited impatiently for her return. His plan: they’d meet at 4:00, take the Ferrari out for a drive and get back to his place just in time for a “spontaneous” dinner and whatever might follow.

“Sorry to keep you waiting. I wanted to make sure my wife would be available at 4:00.”

Wife? Did she say wife? She was married. To a WOMAN! His passion vanished instantly along with his raging erection.

Hey, I’m getting another call. Can you hold?” he lied again.

Deflated, he pushed the “end call” button and the line went dead.

300-500 Words

SPREAD ‘EM


When I became pregnant with my first baby in 1977, my husband Bill and I were over the moon! We were thrilled and dove headfirst into the whole pregnancy phenomenon – buying furniture and clothes and setting up a nursery. At the time I was 26 years old, weighed 105 pounds and stood 5’4” tall.

Throughout my pregnancy I craved barbecued hamburgers, fresh tomatoes and hot fudge ice cream sundaes every day. After nine months, I gained a whopping 72 pounds and at some point had to remove my rings because my fingers were getting swollen.

Who cared if pregnancy gave me cankles and made my fingers swell? It also made my boobs huge and turned me into a nymphomaniac – a little perk my husband didn’t mind one bit! Besides, as soon as the baby was born I’d lose the weight. I thought I’d immediately jump back into my tiny Jordache jeans and halter tops. How naive I was! It came as quite a shock to discover I could only fit into maternity clothes. I suddenly didn’t feel quite so sexy anymore!

A couple of weeks after the baby was born, we were invited to a Christmas Eve party. It had been a while since we’d been out so I was looking forward to slipping into my fanciest maternity outfit and sliding my rings back on. I wanted to look pretty and festive and it seemed like a good idea at the time but no sooner was my sizeable wedding ring back on when my finger began to swell. Before my eyes it tripled in size and went from various shades of pink to red to finally a pulsating, throbbing blueish purple. And it started to hurt like a son of a bitch, too.

I immediately ran cold water over my hand but the ring wouldn’t budge. Bill filled a bowl with water and ice and I soaked my hand until I lost all feeling. No luck. We tried scrubbing with lots of soap and water – nothing. We dragged out every sort of lubricant we could think of from WD-40 to KY Jelly to olive oil. We even tried the “string thing” (don’t ask; that’s another story). Bill lovingly suggested I try to relax and take deep breaths while he pulled on the ring. I screamed at him to “fuck off” because “This wasn’t Lamaze Class and I felt like I was giving birth again.” Nothing worked. I was now in agony and convinced my finger would eventually shrivel up, die and fall off.

There was only one thing left to do. I told Bill to take the baby to the party while I went to the hospital. Hopefully they’d give me a shot to reduce the swelling. When the nurse noticed my maternity clothes, she told me I was in the wrong department and directed me to Labor and Delivery. I indignantly informed her that I wasn’t pregnant and showed her my ever-expanding finger; she immediately dragged me into one of the rooms in EMEREGENCY.

Doogie Howser, M.D. and his assistants took one look at my digit, gasped and scratched their heads. When you’re on the receiving end of that horrified reaction coming from professionals trained to remove knives lodged in skulls, it’s not a good feeling. Excusing themselves, the doctors stepped out of the room, consulted for ten seconds and returned with the verdict: “We have no choice but to cut it off”.

“MY FINGER??” I gasped.

“No, silly. The ring” they laughed. “We’re going to get Jerry and Ares. If they can’t cut it off, no one can” replied one doctor who immediately regretted his choice of words.

And who, may I ask, are Jerry and Ares?”

Jerry is our top custodian and Ares is the strongest 8” mini bolt cutter in his toolbox.”

Within minutes Jerry appeared; a sparkling red tool which I was pretty sure was Ares dangled prominently from his belt. I was also pretty sure Jerry had just smoked a joint but, hey, he was the best and given my predicament, beggars can’t be choosers. Jerry examined my finger, made all sorts of grumbling noises and proceeded to sterilize Ares before he scrubbed up.

At last the moment of truth arrived. Jerry told me to turn my hand palm facing up and “spread ‘em”. I assumed he meant my fingers and did as instructed. Jerry made the Sign of the Cross, kissed Ares and with the precision of a neurosurgeon gently slid Ares between my skin and my ring.

One loud “snip” was all it took for the back of my ring to be cut in half. Jerry broke out his mini pliers and separated the ring enough to remove it from my finger. We all let out a collective sigh of relief. Tragedy averted.

In case you’re wondering, I never got the ring repaired. It sits in my jewelry box as a reminder that even though it may seem like a good idea at the time, that isn’t always the case.

Ares
500-750 Words

THE WORLD IS YOUR OYSTER


“Cloak and Dagger and a dozen oysters on ice” was the order placed by a vaguely familiar voice in the corner.

Her interest piqued, Judy Lowe leaned in a bit to get a better look. Where had she heard that voice before? Finding it a little too dim to see, she decided to go over and check out the situation. Taking her Bloody Mary with her, Judy casually strolled to the end of the bar and wriggled her curvaceous bottom onto the stool.

“Pardonne-moi” Judy cooed. “The name of your drink is tres intriguing.” The man was older than Judy expected but extremely handsome with silver hair and a rich tan. “Has anyone ever mentioned you look like Cary Grant?” she asked smiling flirtatiously.

Never” he replied in a clipped Bristol accent as he gazed appreciatively at Judy’s decolletage. “Ah, yes. The Cloak and Dagger: the perfect blend of Blackwoods Gin from the Shetland Islands, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, green chartreuse and Extra Brut sparkling wine. It’s the quintessential pairing with oysters.

“I’m Judy Lowe, a model from Los Angeles. And you are?”

“Enchanté, Judy. My friends call me Archie” and he gently kissed the palm of her hand.

Judy gasped; no man had ever kissed the delicate flesh of her palm. It was so European and sexy.

“Archie, would you mind terribly if I had a little sip of your Cloak and Dagger?” Judy asked. ‘A friend once told me the perfect drink with oysters is a Bloody Mary and I’d like to see who’s right.”

“Oh Judy, Judy, Judy! Whoever told you that was obviously terribly mistaken or an uneducated boor” Archie teased. “No, you may not have a sip of my drink; you shall have your very own. Barkeep! Please prepare a perfect Cloak and Dagger for the lovely Judy Lowe from Los Angeles.”

When the bartender set the drink before Judy, she clapped her hands in glee like a little girl and reached for the glass but Archie stopped her.

“Oh, no, my dear. This must be done right! It’s a process. First slide the oyster into your mouth and savor the taste. Delight in the pleasure; it should never be rushed. Now, follow with a sip of the Cloak and Dagger and let the juices mingle. That’s a good girl. Now swallow.”

Judy was in ecstasy. Never had she experienced anything so sensual. “Oh my God, Archie! That was heavenly.”

“Let’s raise our glasses, lovely Judy, to the noble oyster and the Cloak and Dagger. May they be forever immortalized as the true nectar of the gods!”

Archie stood and kissed Judy’s palm. “And now, my dear, I must bid you adieu.” He flipped his hat onto his head, tapped the brim and left.

When Judy came back down to earth she discovered a folded piece of paper in her hand. Gently she peeled back the corners to find it was a cocktail napkin on which was scribbled: “Dearest Judy: The world is your oyster. Always, Cary.”

July slowly exhaled. “Well, I’ll be damned!”

Archie aka
Cary Grant

500-750 Words

TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS


 “Use the call button on the side panel of your bed if you need a nurse. My shift is almost over. Can I get you anything before I leave?”

It took me a few seconds to remember where I was as I stared at the friendly face of the nurse standing over me.

“Pain meds would be lovely” I answered immediately. I had been in an accident earlier, falling three feet off a friend’s deck and shattering my hip. At first I felt nothing; then incredible pain started coursing its way up from my toes to the crowns on my teeth. Moving a millimeter caused me to scream out in agony. Too bad I’d forgotten to wear my suit of armor!

“Your next round is in two hours – a specially-prepared cocktail to get you through this. Until then, try to get some rest” the nurse suggested.

I’m a firm believer that copious amounts of pain medication should be dispensed frequently but apparently here in the hospital my opinion is worthless. I smiled wanly and asked the nurse for my iPhone; if I couldn’t have propofol at least I could have music.

Trying to rest in a hospital is next to impossible. Patients crying out, buzzers buzzing, machines whirring, carts rolling, elevators dinging, doctors discussing. Even the mourning doves who held dominion over the sparrows on my windowsill were cooing incessantly.

I slip in my earbuds and cue up The Beatles “Helter Skelter” – the best and only hard rock, heavy metal song they ever recorded. No matter how shitty I may be feeling at any given moment, listening to that masterpiece makes life perfect for 4 minutes and 29 seconds.

Someone wheels in my dinner cart. Lifting the lid I see a bowl of soup, a sandwich, a beverage and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Not feeling hungry just yet, I go through my collection of albums trying to decide which one to play. Ah, “Revolver”. You can never go wrong with that beauty. I close my eyes and revel in the genius that is George Harrison singing “Taxman“.

I’m suddenly aware of a rush of air and find I am now outside floating uptown over the streets of Manhattan, my hospital gown flapping like laundry on the clothesline. I hear the old-fashioned car horn sound of “Ahooga” behind me and swivel round to see a flying ice cream truck being driven by none other than John Lennon. Somehow as bizarre as it all is it seems perfectly normal.

“You getting in? We don’t want to be late” John says.

“Late for what?” I ask.

For whatever comes next” John replies with a grin and I slide onto the seat beside him. “It’s very rude to be late, isn’t it?” and we zoom off.

“AHOOGA!!”

“What’s on your bucket list, me darlin’?” John asks me and I answer without hesitation “To go to Liverpool!”

“Ah, me lovely Liverpool. I won’t be going back there again, I’m afraid. Next stop: The Dakota!” John calls out and we swoosh away.

No, John. You mustn’t!” I beg him and I start to cry.

Oh, but I must! Now dry those eyes. It is what is and we can’t change that.

John turns to face me, taking my hand in his, and continues:

When Paul and I met for the first time, do you think we had any idea what tomorrow would bring? Of course not! We didn’t have a clue where we were going in our lives. We were kids still wet behind the ears! Then we met George and we three became as close as brothers, but we didn’t know that the best was yet to come. George brought Ringo into the group and look what happened. Well, you know; you were there with us at Shea! It was a phenomenon!

You can never stop tomorrow unless you stop today just like I can’t stop what’s going to happen to me. I’m scared but this is my destiny. Tomorrow will always happen and yet tomorrow never knows.”

He was silent for a moment, deep in thought, then he spoke very fervently to me looking me straight in the eyes.

Nancy, listen to what I’m going to say. Aim for the stars. Work hard, love with your whole heart, be the best person you can be but never ever forget to have fun. Time is fleeting so always eat dessert first. Got it? Good! Now, let’s be on our way.”

And as I nod in agreement I can hear the faint words “Try to realize it’s all within yourself. No one else can make you change and to see you’re really only very small and life flows within you and without you.”

And in a flash John and his flying ice cream truck were gone.

I open my eyes and prop myself up on my hospital bed pillow. Dinner is still there, right where I left it, and I find I’m suddenly starving. Ignoring all the food on my tray, I go directly to the Ben & Jerry’s, pop open the pint of ice cream and dig in. I realize until this moment nothing in my life ever tasted so delicious.

250 Words

TALKING ‘BOUT FIREWORKS, BABY!


Nights in Manhattan. The bright lights of Broadway. The fusion of fragrances emanating from the legion of restaurants. The cacophony of languages of millions of immigrants. The Big Apple – excitement and diversity down to its core.

So how the hell did I end up in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, hopelessly in love with my Amish husband Eli, married for four years with three kids and twins in the oven?

Good old revenge. I wouldn’t “play ball” with my boss so instead of being assigned to photograph Macy’s July 4th Fireworks I was banished for a month to cover the “Plain People’s” Summer County Fair.

What I thought was going to be a nightmare was quite the opposite. When the handsome, lusty Eli Fisher and I locked eyes, it was “Grossfeelich” – a “good feeling” from head to toe and all parts in between.

Being accepted into the Amish community, let alone marrying, is difficult but Eli and I had a few things going for us. I was a city girl but I wasn’t afraid to get my hands dirty. We weren’t kids. Most Amish were married before age 20; Eli and I were both 26.

But the clincher was the serendipitous aspect of my name: Menno Jakob.

Menno Simons and Jakob Ammann were the most revered men in the Amish religion. The elders were convinced I was descended from them when I was actually an Italian Jew from Canarsie.

That secret was ours alone for I was perfectly “oll recht” as far as Eli was concerned. I was his “little firecracker” .

Talking ‘bout fireworks, baby!

Play

BLIND HEART POURED OUT (Mature Audience)


A PLAY IN ONE ACT

The setting is Sunrise Senior Living, a retirement home in upstate New York. Julian Vega, approximately 30 years old, has just arrived to pay an unexpected visit to retired Monsignor Patrick Bannon.

Receptionist: May I help you, sir?

Julian: Yes, I’d like to see Monsignor Bannon if he’s available, please.

Receptionist: Monsignor has just finished lunch and is in the library, his usual afternoon pastime. Please come with me.

[Julian follows the receptionist down the hall to the library.]

Receptionist: There he is in his favorite corner chair. Enjoy your visit.

[The library is a comfortable room with paneled walls, Persian rugs and floor-to-ceiling shelves of books. Light classical music floats softly through the room. A tray with a tea pot, cups and a dish of cookies sits on the table to the right of the Monsignor. An empty chair is on the opposite side of the table and an open book sits on the Monsignor’s lap. As Julian approaches, he notices the elderly priest’s book is in Braille. Julian speaks softly.]

Julian: Excuse me, Monsignor. My name is Julian. I’m sorry to intrude on your private time but I was hoping we could talk. I have some important information.

Monsignor: Ah, I thought I heard someone heading in my direction but I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage. Do I know you?

Julian: No, you don’t know me but I’ve heard about you and knew I had to talk to you.

Monsignor: Well, it’s nice to meet you, Julian. Please make yourself comfortable. Help yourself to some tea and cookies.

Julian: Thank you, Monsignor. I’m fine.

Monsignor: So, what’s on your mind, Julian? You’re not from this area, are you? I detect a familiar accent.

Julian: I moved up here about six months ago; I’m originally from The Bronx. Quite a change of pace but I think I’ve finally found a place where I can settle down.

Monsignor: That’s good to hear, son. We all need to find our way home. And what a coincidence! I was at Holy Rosary Church in the Bronx for years! But please, you didn’t come here to listen to me ramble on about myself. How can I help you, Julian?

Julian: Well, you’re right about finding my way home. I’ve been a drifter most of my life. Times have been tough for me and I could never catch a break. My demons followed me everywhere I went, constantly reminding me of my sins and failings.

[Monsignor Bannon closes his book and carefully places it on the side table, a sign that his attention is fully on Julian.]

Monsignor: Please continue, my son. I may be retired but I will always be a priest and anything you tell me will stay right here.

[Monsignor pats his chest to indicate his heart. Julian hesitantly begins to unburden himself.]

Julian: Well, I’m not really sure where to begin.

Monsignor: Wherever you feel comfortable, son, but I find the beginning is usually a good place.

[The priest feels around for the handle of the teapot and begins to pour out a cup of tea for both of them. Julian immediately comes closer to help but the Monsignor raises a hand to stop him; he’s learned to do this and many daily routines instinctively over the years since he became blind. He hands Julian a cup of tea, raises his own cup to his lips and waits for Julian to speak. The two sit in silence for a moment before Julian starts talking again.]

Julian: My mother was from Puerto Rico. She and her large family settled in The Bronx where her father did manual labor and her mother took in laundry. My mother would help with the washing and ironing of clothes. They were dirt poor; my mother and her siblings never went to school. My mother did some house cleaning for women in the area. Her family was very devout and went to church every Sunday. When my mother turned 17, she was offered the job of laundress at their church. She eventually became the cleaning lady for the rectory and brought home every dime she ever made. She was good and decent but that all changed in 1970 when my mother was 20 years old.

[Julian stops talking and looks out the window. The monsignor tells him to take his time, gently encouraging him to continue. The old priest knew Julian was going to tell him something of extreme importance.]

Julian: My mother became involved with an Irish priest at the church and they began an affair that lasted seven years. That’s when she became pregnant. She told the priest that she was carrying his child but he refused to acknowledge his responsibility and told my mother he would never leave the church for her. It was her word against his and my mother knew no one would believe her side of the story. She was humiliated and desperate. She fled to Ossining to find her good friend Anita from Puerto Rico.

[Upon hearing those words, the Monsignor sits very still, makes the sign of the cross and rests his head in his hand. He waits for Julian to continue.]

Julian: Anita lived with her mother in the tiniest of apartments and worked in the kitchen of nearby Sing Sing Prison. She provided a home for my mother and I was born in that apartment. Several times my mother tried calling my father, the priest, with no success and finally gave up. Eventually Anita got a job for my mother in the prison laundry; I was raised by Anita’s mother.

[Julian places his cup on the table and both men sit quietly for a moment. Julian continues.]

Julian: I was an angry kid with a big chip on my shoulder. I was always getting into trouble, disrespecting everyone and everything. For years I heard whispers about the Irish priest at Holy Rosary Church who knocked up my mother and tossed her away like yesterday’s garbage. All the voices in my head screamed at me to get my revenge. How different our lives could have been if only he’d been a man and did the right thing. So, one day I went back to The Bronx, right back to the church where everything fell apart and found that Irish priest. I called out his name and when he turned, I threw bleach in his eyes. Do you remember that day, father, when you saw the face of your son, my face, for the first and last time?

[Monsignor Bannon weeps silently, his head bowed. Julian continues.]

Julian: I heard your screams as I ran out of the church. I didn’t know or care where I was going; I made you pay and I just had to get away.

[The two men sit crying, shoulders heaving. The Monsignor reaches for the box of tissues on the table, offers one to Julian and takes one himself. After a long period of quiet, Julian continues.]

Julian: But I was punished for what I did to you. As I was running from the church, I was hit by a delivery truck. I was thrown like a ragdoll, my body shattered. That was 15 years ago and my life has never been the same since. While in rehab I discovered a hidden talent; I’m an artist and I spend hours painting every day. When I was finally discharged from rehab, no one would hire me. I found small jobs like being a messenger and selling newspapers in subway stations. I felt like I was being cursed, chastised for what I did to you. I came here today because I knew it was time to make my confession to you. I pray you can forgive me, father.

[The Monsignor extends his hands and Julian reaches for them.]

Monsignor: Julian, there’s something you must know. Please walk with me in the garden.

[The Monsignor reaches for his white cane and the two men make their way to the door. The Monsignor holds the door open for Julian.]

Monsignor: Please, let me hold the door open for your chair, Julian.

Julian: How did you know I’m in a wheelchair, father? I never mentioned that to you.

Monsignor: When you lose one sense, your other senses become heightened. When you first arrived I didn’t hear footsteps but I knew you were approaching because I could detect the almost imperceptible purring of your wheelchair. I also knew who you were the moment you began to speak. I only heard your voice once 15 years ago but I have never forgotten it. It’s very true that God moves in mysterious ways. It was His wish that we re-connect, that you find your way home and that we become whole together. Julian, I forgive you for what you did to me all those years ago but there is something vital you must know and you need to prepare yourself for what I am going to tell you.

[With great urgency, Julian grabs the Monsignor’s hands. The priest can feel Julian’s tears as they fall onto his hands.)

Julian: Please, tell me what I need to know.

Monsignor: Julian, your mother and I never had an affair and I am not your father. When you returned to Holy Rosary seeking your revenge, I had only been there for a couple of years, taking over the position of the former priest who had been reassigned. His name was Patrick Gannon, not Patrick Bannon – a very easy mistake to make. I never even met your mother and had no idea why you attacked me. Now it has become crystal clear but I carry no hatred in my heart for you.

[Julian is shocked by this revelation and sits dumbfounded staring at the man he believed was his father, the man he thought betrayed his mother and destroyed his life.]

Julian: My God, Monsignor! How can you forgive me for such a horrible act? You’re blameless in all of this!

Monsignor: Julian, no one is blameless. Being blind has taught me to see with my heart. It has made me a better person, a better priest. I see goodness in you. God brought you here for a reason – not just for you to clear your conscience but to give you back your life. Sometimes it takes years of pain and hardship but there are things in life we can’t comprehend. We can only try to accept them and see what good can come from them.

Julian: I’m sorry, Monsignor, but I don’t understand what good can come from my assaulting you all those years ago. You’re an innocent man. Please tell me what you’re talking about.

Monsignor: Several weeks ago the art instructor here accepted another assignment and the directors have been searching for a new teacher ever since. The job pays well and includes room and board but so far they haven’t found anyone. I’ve been here long enough to have some sway. Julian, I’m sure you’d be welcome here as art instructor if you’re interested.

[Julian begins to weep again and the Monsignor places his hand on Julian’s head.]

Julian: I will never be able to repay you for helping me this way.

Monsignor: Julian, my son, I feel no need to be repaid. I have had a good life. You’re the one who has suffered for too long, physically and emotionally. Yes, it’s ironic how this all unfolded but God has a plan in mind for all of us and I learned many years ago never to question His plans. I see things more clearly at this moment than I ever have before. Come with me. Let me introduce you to the directors. I’m sure God will open their eyes and minds to the great possibilities that lie ahead.

[The Monsignor places his hand on Julian’s shoulder. Julian reaches up and covers the priest’s hand with his. Together they leave the garden.]

Guest Post

GUEST POST: FORBIDDEN LOVE, PART 2: REVENGE OF THE WINGS (Fantasy)


It’s a thrill for me to post the second installment of “Foribidden Love”, a fantasy angels and demons story created by my granddaughter, Mckenna Richy. Last time we saw our star-crossed lovers Cameron, Princess of the Angels, made a huge leap of faith and love by joining Jasper, the demon boy, on the other side. This act resulted in Cameron becoming a demon and angering her mother, Queen of the Angels. Alex, an angel who was also in love with Cameron, could not believe what Cameron had done and was willing to do whatever it took to bring her back to the Land of the Angels.

Mckenna has been working on Part 2, among other stories which will also appear here, since before Part 1 was published in February, 2020. Much has happened in our world since then; a lot was very disturbing and frightening for all of us. There were many things our kids didn’t understand; sometimes as adults we forget that. I’m so proud that Mckenna kept her mind active and her imagination flowing by continuing her writing. She’s quite the young lady now at 12 years of age. She’s determined to give everything she does her best shot and I know she will succeed at whatever she chooses to do. And if she learns a little bit from me along the way, then even better. The universe awaits!

So, what do you do for fun around here?” Cameron asked.

“Well, this place has no rules so basically you can do whatever you want” Jasper said with a smile.

“Huh!” exclaimed Cameron. The two walked through the town that the angels hated so much.

“Next question: Why the heck is there so much lava?” asked Cameron playfully, while pointing to the multiple volcanoes and lava-falls. Jasper just laughed.  Cameron flicked her finger against his head. “I’m being serious, y’know!”  

“Okay, well, this land has a very long history.  Do you want to hear it?  And I’m only explaining because I’m sick of the questions.”  Jasper said.

Cameron sat down. “I’m kind of offended, but I’ll take it” she said half-jokingly.

Jasper sat down next to her and began to explain the long and somewhat boring history of his home.

Meanwhile back at the palace, Alex was pacing his room, thoughts running through his head.  He knew that if he tried to kill Jasper, he would have to kill Cameron, too. But the truth was he didn’t really want to kill anyone. On the other hand, he also didn’t want to die. His mind was racing! All Alex wanted to do was fall asleep and wake up in a world where the past 12 hours never happened. Easier said than done! Suddenly the door burst open and Alex’s older brother, Mason, burst into the room.  

“What the heck did you do, Alex?! I heard that the Royal Guard is planning on killing the Prince of Demons and YOU’RE leading them. You’re supposed to be getting married to the princess in two weeks!

Alex sighed. “She’s no princess.” 

Mason was taken aback. “How can you say that?  Her mother is the Queen and she possesses the greatest power in the world.” 

Alex flopped on his bed. “Before you start shooting your mouth off, how ‘bout you look out the window?”  

Mason went to his brother’s window and saw Jasper and a demon girl talking. “Who is that demon, the one with the black hair?” 

Alex threw a pillow at his brother, “Take a wild guess, genius!” 

Putting two and two together, Mason sarcastically said to Alex “Ouch, bro!  You REALLY messed up big time!” 

Alex was annoyed. “Thanks for making me feel worse. It was your idea to marry into a powerful family.” 

Mason put his hands up. “I’m aware of that.”  He paused as Alex sat up. “But are YOU aware of what you have done?” And with that, Mason walked out. Little did anyone know that next time Mason saw his brother, he would be a different person.

TWO DAYS LATER

Cameron’s mother, the Queen, addressed Alex: “Now, I have put a spell on you so that when you cross over, you will not turn into a demon. I’m trusting you to bring my daughter back.”  Alex saluted the Queen and he and his troops marched to the border. They burst in and began putting out the fires.  

Jasper and Cameron were inside the demon castle when they heard the terrible commotion outside. The couple rushed to the window.

“It looks like war out there!” Cameron cried.

“Then we better go and fight.” declared Jasper. 

Cameron paused and looked out the window again. After what seemed like a million years, she replied “Yes, Jasper. You’re right. We must fight.” They both leapt out the window and flew over the battle scene.

Noticing Alex, Cameron asked “Jasper, why is Alex here?” 

“I have no idea” Jasper replied.

Suddenly Cameron and Jasper were sighted.

“DOWN WITH THE DEMONS!!!” Alex’s troops shouted.

Cameron flew down to Alex. “What are you doing?” she shouted.

“Just following orders” Alex answered.

“And what are those orders?!” demanded Cameron.

Alex replied: “To kill the demons.” 

“But why?” Cameron asked.

“You could ask your mother” Alex said. But wait – I think maybe there’s a way to make this all stop.”  He offered Cameron his hand. “Come back home to the Land of the Angels and never leave again. Then all this will end.” 

Cameron felt like she was going to explode. “You think I came this far just to go back after only 24 hours?!  I crossed the border because the demons did nothing wrong. I belong here as a demon with Jasper. YOU can go back and tell my mother that her daughter is gone!”  

“Listen, if I don’t bring you back to your mother…”  Alex’s voice trailed off.

“What, Alex?  What’s my mother going to do?” asked Cameron.

“She will leave me to die and come and fetch you herself” Alex replied quietly.

At first Cameron didn’t know what to say. Then she spoke what was in her heart: “I just want a peaceful world where people can love whoever they want, where there is no queen or king.”   

Suddenly Alex knew what had to be done. He snapped his fingers and the troops disappeared. Jasper flew down and stood next to Cameron.

“What are you doing, Alex?” he asked.

Alex didn’t answer. Then it happened. His angelic wings turned black and his blonde hair to a rusty red.  

Standing in the place of what once seemed like a lost cause was now a chance for redemption.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“He failed!” said the Queen of Angels angrily. “If that so-called ‘angel’ can’t bring my daughter back, then I’ll have no choice but to do it myself.” 

TO BE CONCLUDED IN PART 3 OF

“THE FORBIDDEN LOVE” SERIES

Poems

FRENCH KISSING LIFE (Mature Audience)


There is a place somewhere called Paris
And I’m going there on vacation today;
A city where every useless worry or care is
Forgotten and carelessly tossed away.

I don’t need to see the Eiffel Tower
Or pray at Cathédrale Notre-Dame.
I’d happily pick a delicate wildflower
Or caress a charming man’s arm.

I’d love to stroll through Pére Lachaise,
Have a chat at the grave of Jim Morrison.
I’d play him some tunes like Jimi’s “Purple Haze’’,
Just dishing the dirt with that sexy rapscallion.

You won’t catch me near the Seine for dinner;
Much too highbrow and touristy for me.
Seat me at a bar with the saint or the sinner;
We’ll close the place down at quarter past three.

Mona Lisa is enigmatic in a gilt frame so fine
But the thought of the Louvre is a total bore.
I’d rather be laughing in a park drinking wine
Or sharing a smoke on a bench with a whore.

I’ve got nothing to hide; it’s far from a secret:
When it comes to Parisian men I’m a big flirt.
The playboys in the square whisper “Come, be my pet”
And I purr “Oui, oui, mon cheri! Who will it hurt?”

There is a place somewhere called Paris
And I’m going there on vacation today.
I’ll give life a sultry lingering French kiss;
When I’m in Paris I like to do things my way.

Longer Stories

RED STAR PINES (Adventure)


The sun was just beginning to rise over the Sangala Valley and the day was already warm. Ekon, a middle-aged widower and his son Mosi sat outside as they did each morning eating their breakfast before beginning their long day in the fields. It had been just the two of them since Ekon’s wife Bisa died from a fever several years earlier.

The Sangala Valley is very small but a good home for Ekon and Mosi. There is an abundance of sunlight for growing crops and copious amounts of fruit trees to provide much needed shade during the hottest times of the day. Mosi goes fishing daily in nearby Lake Caballo; he has become quite proficient but Ekon is the hunter, always keeping them well-fed with rabbits, pigs, deer or fowl. They also keep roosters, chickens and have a female mule for milk.

Three other families live in the valley and share the area peacefully, frequently trading with each other. Ekon and Mosi are fortunate to have a variety of foods to eat; however, they have had no luck growing wheat or other grains – something Bisa excelled at. Sometimes the women bring them flatbread and loaves of Green Mealies, a fluffy corn bread, in exchange for various items.

Forests of wild pine trees grow in the distance and the view from the valley is magnificent. One evening as father and son relaxed by their campfire after a long day, Mosi expressed his greatest desire: “Father, one day I shall visit the Red Star Pines.”

“One day?” exclaimed Ekon and laughed heartily. “My son, the pines are thousands of miles away, a rigorous and dangerous journey of many months. It is a quest, not a day’s adventure.”

“But how can that be, Father?” Mosi questioned. “I can see them as clearly as I can see Lake Caballo.”

“Mosi, the wild pines are enormous and tower over everything” Ekon explained. “Their closeness is a mere illusion.”

“But Father” Mosi argued. “Look across the lake. The pines are plainly visible and the land is flat. We can get there in half a day!”

“That is true, my son, but they are just saplings. There’s much more to the pine woods than meets the eye. You must give up this fantasy. Now, off to bed for both of us.”

Mosi did not mention the Red Star Pines again for a long time but he never abandoned his dream. One morning during breakfast Mosi told his father that he had decided he would not be able to rest until he traveled to the woods – or at least tried. Ekon’s first reaction was to once again talk Mosi out of his idea but as he looked at his son he realized he was no longer a child and his mind was made up. Ekon told Mosi he understood the need that drove him and they would make the trek together.

Mosi was thrilled and immediately began to prepare. Ekon said they must bring only the barest of necessities, their fishing and hunting tools and their mule Shiga. There was also one priceless object which Ekon would never leave behind, a treasure handed down from generation to generation – a tiny vial containing the Tincture of Jal’mboor. One small drop on the tip of the tongue would allow the user to speak in any language chosen and the spell would remain until no longer needed.

They set out the following morning, reaching the woods in a few hours. Mosi was shocked to find he was taller than the saplings. The terrain was flat and easily passable until the fifth day when they came upon a vast, swiftly-moving river blocking their path. Having no craft, the duo consulted an old map and chose to travel east. This would take them out of their way but is was the safer route. After many days of walking they reached a shallow section of the river which they crossed safely.

The new terrain was steeper and difficult. The forests were dense and hardly any light shone through. They were keenly aware of strange sounds and Ekon kept his spear by his side. Without warning the trees began to quake; suddenly hundreds of birds flew out and disappeared. A second later a massive tiger appeared. He stared at Ekon and Mosi, slits of amber eyes observing their every move. He snarled, exposing razor sharp fangs. Ekon whispered for Mosi to stand perfectly still but Shiga was spooked and whinnied loudly. In an instant the tiger leapt but Ekon was ready and felled the giant cat with his trusty spear. The duo dined that night on sinewy tiger meat, refilled their water skins from a babbling brook and went to sleep. They would start fresh in the morning.

However, when Ekon and Mosi awoke they were not in the same place as the night before. They were in a higher elevation; it was colder and there were traces of snow. They were comfortably covered in blankets next to a small fire under a giant pine tree. Shiga happily munched in a nearby trough. Besides the change of location, there was a much more obvious and disconcerting difference: both men had aged approximately five years! Mosi looked to be about 25 years old and Ekon had some grey in his hair and beard.

A group of men emerged from the woods; immediately Ekon reached for the vial in his wrap and placed one drop on the tip of his tongue. Quickly Mosi did the same. The leader of the group spoke rapidly, explaining how his men found Ekon and Mosi unconscious near the brook five years ago and brought them back to their village. The brook had been poisoned years ago by after a mysterious storm and an antidote had yet to be found. The men were members of the ancient San tribe, learned men of science who assured Ekon and Mosi they meant them no harm. When Ekon answered in San, the men were surprised but quickly deduced Ekon possessed the power of the Jal’mboor. As they spoke some San women approached with food and clean clothes. Mosi immediately caught the eye of a beautiful young woman called Tayla and they smiled shyly.

Ekon and Mosi learned much from the San people. They knew how to preserve food in such a way that it could be dried, shrunken to a compact size and last for years. They developed a shield of invisibility to disappear at the first sign of danger thus avoiding any conflict or violence. They were philosophers and great thinkers but lacked basic skills such as carpentry. Even their tents were falling over!

Mosi and Ekon told the San people of their quest to reach the top of the Red Star Pines. Many had tried but very few succeeded. It was a treacherous journey but the San could help if Ekon and Mosi did something in return for them: teach them to build huts. The pair agreed and spent the next two years working with the San people. During that time Mosi and Tayla fell in love and he promised to return for her after they reached the summit.

The San warned Ekon and Mosi about the Sanguine Precipice, the Eikae Dragon Den and the bloodthirsty Madosu Gorillas. The San said they would provide Mosi and Ekon with a map to get them safely passed the precipice and presented them with the invisibility shield to evade the monstrous dragons and gorillas. Mission now complete, Ekon and his son prepared to leave the next morning.

Shiga was loaded down with new flasks containing safe water, bundles of food, blankets and the invisibility shield. Bidding Tayla farewell, Mosi and Ekon followed the San people until they were safely on the other side of the poisonous brook. At the last minute, Mosi fetched a few old water skins and filled them with poison water. Now they were truly on their own, prepared but anxious. The higher they climbed the colder it became and they blessed the San women for their gift of warm clothing.

The pair hiked forever, sometimes not uttering a single word. Their silence was soon disturbed by horrifying screeches and savage bellows. They knew they reached the first hazard: the Eikae Dragons. The sound of huge flapping wings filled the sky and Mosi quickly grabbed the invisibility shield just before catching a glimpse of the nightmarish creatures. They covered themselves just in time and the Eikae hovered over them, sniffing the air suspiciously with gargantuan nostrils, then angrily flew away. Mosi and Ekon remained where they were until they were sure all was safe. They carefully retracted the shield and secured it onto Shiga’s back.

At first Ekon kept a record of the passing number of nights but eventually lost count. They walked for what seemed an eternity and Mosi questioned himself a thousand times over. They came to a divided path but the San map was unclear so they chose a path with no particular reason in mind. It proved to be the wrong choice. Rounding a bend they found themselves face to face with the Madosus. They were hideous beasts, a combination of a gorilla and a hippopotamus. Ekon froze as the savages slowly came closer, snorting loudly and beating their breasts. But Mosi thought quickly and placed a drop of the Jal’mboor potion on the tip of his tonge.

To the bewilderment of the gorillas Mosi began speaking in fluent Madosu: “We are travelers. We seek no trouble. All we wish is to pass by safely.”

One of the gorillas asked: “How is it you can speak our language?”

“We are magicians. We can offer you whatever you desire. What is your greatest wish?” Mosi asked, covering his fear.

“TO EAT YOU!” shouted the Madosu.

“But you can do that any time” countered Mosi.

“ABSOLUTE POWER!” roared the gorilla.

“If that is what you desire, I can provide it. It’s as easy as drinking the supernatural waters in these skins” and Mosi tossed the sacks to the gorillas. They greedily drank the brook water and were poisoned within seconds.

Elated with their great success over the Madosu, Ekon and Mosi quickened their pace and moved on. Their relief was short lived, however, when they reached the Sanguine Precipice. Never before had they seen such a narrow path nor so steep a cliff. Mosi checked the San map and saw a widening in the path about four feet ahead. Crossing those four feet would be crucial. They could not make one false move. Mosi believed he and his father could do it but he wasn’t sure about Shiga. The men decided to lighten Shiga’s load by dividing it beween them. She stood a better chance without the extra weight. Slow as snails they proceeded, placing one foot before the other, Mosi leading Shiga and Ekon gently pushing her rear.

Just as they safely reached the clearing, Shiga lost her footing and landed full force on top of Ekon who howled in agony. Working quickly Mosi got Shiga upright and tied her to a tree; then he returned for Ekon. As soon as Mosi tried to lift his father, Ekon screamed and lost consciousness; Mosi immediately knew his father’s back was broken. Mosi carried Ekon like a newborn baby and laid him in the shade of a Red Star Pine; it was only then that he realized they had made it to the summit. His quest was complete but at what cost?

Slowly, Ekon opened his eyes and whispered “We made it, son!” Then quietly he exhaled and died. Mosi cried out in sorrow, the mountains echoing his mournful wail, and Shiga softly nudged him with her head. Mosi buried Ekon on the summit of the Red Star Pines, laying his trusty spear, bow and arrow across the grave. Snow lightly began to fall as Mosi packed all their belongings and securely placed them onto Shiga’s back. Now knowing the safe route Mosi and Shiga began their trek back to Tayla and home to the Sangala Valley.

Poems

A SHELL OF A MAN (Mature Audience)


A SHELL OF A MAN

Who the hell do you think you are,
Sitting out there in your fancy car?
Everyone know that you’re just a tool
Strutting around town like a Goddamn fool! 

You spend more time on your pretty boy look
Thinking you can snag me with your Devil hooks.
Well, let me tell you something that you might not know:
Your looks count for nothing when it’s all for show.

You’re not a man, just an empty shell
Of someone I thought I knew so well.
It’s obvious to everyone who called you friend
You care for no one and deep wounds never mend.

What happened to your soul, your spirit, your heart?
Did you ever once wonder why we had to part?
Of course you didn’t; your conscience is clean
Of every misdeed you claim to have never seen.

You used and confused me, deluded and abused me
And made me forget the strong woman I used to be.
I don’t look any different; it’s inside I’m not the same.
It’s gotten so don’t even recognize my name.

It won’t be long before you’re all alone.
No one’s gonna call you on the telephone.
You’re the biggest loser so face the facts:
People will judge you by your deeds and acts.

You think you’re perfect like Christ walking on water
But what kind of man abandons his wife and daughter?
My father always said you were a piece of shit
But I turned a deaf ear; I just didn’t want to hear it.

I trusted you once; I was blind, deaf and dumb
To the fact that you were nothing but a piece of scum.
How could I have been such an idiot not to see
What a snake in the grass you’d turn out to be?

You wooed and chased me, swept me off my feet
With pretty little gifts and whispered lies so sweet.
I felt so very special when we were out together.
Never listening when told I could do much better.

I loved you so much and you promised me all
So we ran off and got married at Buxton Hall.
A quiet little honeymoon at the Tan Hill Inn;
No more sneaking around and ‘living in sin’.

It didn’t take long for your true colors to show.
I caught you making time with some floozy named Flo.
That was just the start of a whirlwind of deceit.
You broke my heart to bits and I kicked you to the street.

So now you’re sitting there just like you own the place
With a look so smug I want to slap it off your stupid face.
You thought you could control me, break me down, but in the end
I turned into a willow tree and I learned how to bend.

Do us all a favor and get the fuck out of here.
Don’t come close to me or those I hold so dear.
Drive as far away as you can and don’t ever return.
You’re going straight to hell and I’ll be laughing while you burn.

Poems

GUEST POST: BEFORE MY EYES


BY PETER DAVIES

IT IS AN HONOR TO PRESENT TO YOU A POEM BY PETER DAVIES, MY FRIEND FROM ACROSS THE POND. I’M SURE ONCE YOU READ THIS INSPIRING PIECE YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY I CHOSE IT FOR MY SITE. THANK YOU, PETER, FOR YOUR BEAUTIFUL PROSE.

Why do I feel so pointless
As a broken pencil to be cast away;
My mark fades now on this true Earth
These eyes are turning from blue to gray.


Why do I feel so shattered
As a window looking far into the Sun;
My words sinking away to the shadows
These eyes beholding the kingdom come.


Why do I feel so helpless
As a sparrow with a broken wing;
My heart becomes hollow and empty
These eyes searching for a soul to cling.


Why do I feel so unloved
As a beast of burden before the blade;
My hands are cut to the bone and bleeding
These eyes they close in a dream of shade.


Why do I feel so mortal
As a child who is born only to die;
My tongue it tastes the salt of the shore
These eyes have drowned in tears to cry.


©️ Peter Davies. 2021

Longer Stories

SHOULD HAVE GONE FOR PIZZA


“End of the Line. What a clever name for a seafood restaurant!” declared my mother as we rode down Main Street in Sag Harbor. “Let’s stop for dinner, Mark. I’m starving.”

My sister Mckenzie, brother Jake and I exchanged looks and rolled our eyes. Going to a restaurant with our parents was our least favorite part of vacation.

“Sure, Jan. Looks like a nice little place!” my Dad readily agreed, as usual. “Whaddya say, kids?”

“Why don’t you drop us off at the pizza place and we can meet you back at the hotel?” I suggested knowing that idea would never fly.

“Rebecca Grace, this is the first summer vacation we’ve taken in years and we’re going to dinner as a family. There’ll be no further discussion, is that clear?”

Why do mothers always use our first and middle names when they’re cross with us? That conversation ended exactly as I knew it would but dammit it, I had to try for my sake and my siblings. Being in the company of our parents 24/7 sucked. We have dinner with them back home every night. We’re teenagers; we can handle pizza or burgers on our own once in a while – and some Mike’s Hard Lemonade! (You didn’t hear that from me!)

The restaurant was actually pretty nice – nothing fancy and it was right on the water. Even I had to admit it had potential. The proof would be in the pudding and by that I meant the menu. Mom was the pickiest eater on the planet and Dad, God bless him, had the patience of a saint. My sister, brother and me? Not so much.

First thing my eternally hormonal brother noticed was the pretty young waitresses in their tight white t-shirts and even tighter khaki shorts with “FORE” and “AFT” emblazoned respectively.

“Yeah, baby, this place is a bit of alright” Jake said, practically drooling over a cute redhead who smiled flirtatiously at him. Mckenzie laughed so hard she nearly choked on a breadstick and said “When did you turn into Austin Powers? You’re such a dickhead!”  I thought that was pretty hysterical coming from a 13-year-old. Jake gave her the finger under the table and Mom gasped “Mckenzie Faith! I swear sometimes the devil himself resides in that mouth of yours! Mark, why do you let them watch those nasty foreign movies?”

Dad was nonplussed and mumbled something that sounded like an apology even though he had no idea what he was apologizing for! He was just trying to avoid an unpleasant scene.

Much to Jake’s chagrin one of the head waitresses came over to our table. She wore black pants, a white blouse, a black vest and looked more like Sister Rosetta Stone than Emma Stone! She asked if we were ready to order; Mom gave her standard reply which we all silently recited, our noggins bouncing back and forth like those little bobble-head dolls on car dashboards: “Everything looks so delicious, I just can’t decide! You all go ahead and order first. I’ll be ready by the time you’re done.”

Dad ordered first: “I’ll have the salmon with mixed vegetables and a Sam Adams, please.” BAM! Four seconds flat.

Jake said he’d have the pizza. The waitress pointed out the window to Sag Pizza then announced that ‘our pizza is on the kid’s menu and available only to children aged 10 and under”. She jokingly asked if Jake was 10 years old. I couldn’t resist replying that he only behaved like a 10-year-old but he was really 15. Jake hid behind a menu, his face turning as red as pizza sauce.

Giving Jake a chance to cool down, the waitress asked “How about you, girls? Do you know what you’d like to eat?”

Mckenzie and I answered in unison: “Fried shrimp, waffle fries, iced tea and extra ketchup, please.” BAM! Five seconds flat.

Recovering from his embarrassment, Jake sullenly said “Fish sticks, onion rings and a Coke.” BAM! Two seconds!

Shocker of shockers: Mom wasn’t quite ready! Flustered, she said “Oh, my! That was awfully fast! Let’s see” and she buried her head in the menu which the rest of the family had now committed to memory. Finally her recitative began:

“You know, I’d really love to try that soft-shell crab sandwich but I remember when I was a little girl I ate one and the shell wasn’t soft
at all. I’ve never forgotten that;
very traumatic! Tiny shards of shell getting stuck in my throat!
How’s the blackened swordfish? Is it spicy?
I just can’t tolerate spicy foods.
Delicate constitution, you know?
Sometimes they say it’s not spicy when it really is
so you can’t be too careful.
Uh, sushi? Definitely not! Anyone who eats raw fish
is asking for trouble.
You have to be out of your mind to order that horrid stuff,
no offense.
Oh, now, this looks promising: grilled tuna, but it comes with a horseradish sauce.
Why does everything come with some kind of sauce?
Seems all the rage lately.
I’m not so sure how I feel about that – almost like they’re trying to
cover something up”
(and she laughed at the little joke she just made).
Hmm, baked potato or rice? All those useless carbs!
Can I substitute something healthy and gluten free,
maybe green beans or a salad but no cucumbers, croutons,
onions or dressing?
And absolutely no horseradish sauce!
Oh, yes, water to drink, with a lemon wedge, please.
Not a wimpy slice; a nice big wedge. Yes, that’s what I’ll have.
Thank you, ma’am.”

And she handed the menu back to the waitress whose eyes had glazed over five minutes ago – much like Luca Brasi who sleeps with the fishes.

The blessed waitress, who was even more patient than Dad, innocently suggested Mom try the plain grilled tuna on a bed of fresh salad greens to which Mom replied “Oh, goodness me! I didn’t even see the salad section on the menu. Why don’t you bring everyone their drinks and I’ll just give the menu another look?” I think we all died a little just then.

Jake grumbled “Should have gone for pizza” and we sat there contemplating the scrumptious Sag Pizza right across the street and another two weeks of meals just like this one – all except Mom who still had her head stuck in the menu.

Dad discreetly motioned for the bartender to keep the fortifying Sam Adams coming. Way to go, Dad!

It was gonna be a long night.

End of the Line

250 Words

CYBER HOOKUPS (Sexual Content)


Flower child, bohemian, hippie. No, she was never one of those. She was always cool with her oh so very low-rise jeans, halter tops, outrageously high platform shoes and drop-dead smile. She had a peculiarity for going commando, occasionally opting for the tiniest of thongs.

Classy in a smooth and sensual way that was second nature, she was never one who had to try too hard. Delightful imperfections that went unnoticed, she had IT and she was irresistible.

Living in the fast lane, she went to clubs and concerts, hanging out with everyone from hookers to Carmelites. She never really enjoyed drugs with the exception of the indescribably exquisite quaalude. She led a life of no regrets, no apologies, no explanations.

Friends and lovers – never a lack of either. Women were jealous of her but she was too much fun to dislike. Men were ineffably drawn to her like the proverbial moth to flame. She was no alley cat, no “screw-‘em-in-the-disco-bathroom” type. She could be submissive when she wanted to be but knew how the game was played, never doing anything she wasn’t curious about, and stopping if she didn’t enjoy it.

And now in the autumn of her life when all her friends are winding down, she’s still starting up. A couple of seemingly innocuous messages online led to the start of a crazy, sexually charged and mutually intoxicating long-distance liaison. No attachments, no commitments, no worries. Something that could end as quickly as it began but would never be forgotten. Games with one roguish, audacious and charming devil who’s as insatiable as she.

And right now that’s exactly how she likes it.

500-750 Words

DANCING ON THE BLACK KEYS


DANCING ON THE BLACK KEYS

Orlando Hightower – or “Keys” as he was known by everyone – was probably the hottest black jazz pianist since the legendary Scott Joplin. He was the real deal, on top of his game at the tender age of 17. The world was his oyster.

Times were dangerous in Harlem, New York. The year was 1923 – the United States’ era of Prohibition and racial segregation.

Orlando was born with fingers wiggling and toes tapping. He had an innate talent to play whatever popped into his head and danced out of his hands. Once he heard a tune it was carved into his memory. He created songs on his grandmother’s rickety upright as easily as someone writing a shopping list.

When Orlando was 12 his mother got a job as chief housekeeper for the Gale Family. Orlando would tag along with her, making himself useful and staying out of trouble. Mrs. Hightower kept him on a short leash knowing how easy it was for young boys to get caught up in the allure of unsavory activities. She always said Orlando was destined to be a man of noble position. A life of crime only led to the destruction of morals; once that happened you had nothing in your future except misery and a jail cell.

Moe Gale was co-owner of the world-famous Savoy Club and an extremely wealthy man. Orlando would entertain himself for hours at the Gale’s baby grand by penning original songs. One of his favorite things to do was write pieces in the pentatonic scale using only the black keys of the piano. Orlando’s talent did not go unnoticed by Moe and he was determined to have him play at The Savoy. Unlike many clubs, The Savoy had a no-discrimination policy. Moe implored Mrs. Hightower several times a week to allow Orlando to play at the club and her answer never changed: “When he’s old enough. Let him be a boy.” Moe would always ask when that would be but Orlando’s mother just shrugged saying “When I know, you’ll know.”

After almost five years of pleading with Mrs. Hightower, she finally relented and gave permission for Orlando to play at the club – on a trial basis. Moe was ecstatic; he knew a sure thing when he saw one. Moe became Orlando’s manager and kept him on the straight and narrow.

Orlando started at The Savoy as pianist with the large house band and his skills were quickly noticed by the clientele. Soon he became a member of the jazz quartet and shortly was featured as accompanist for some of the biggest singers of the day.

Finally the night arrived for the premier of Orlando’s solo performance and his career took off like a starship. Mrs. Hightower sat at the best table in the house, her face beaming with pride as she watched her son play. But the thing that brought her enormous joy was the marquee out front –

Appearing Nightly At The Savoy:
The Incomparable ‘Keys’ Hightower!”

Mrs. Hightower could now rest east knowing her job was done. Orlando had turned into an accomplished, successful and noble gentleman of high character. He made his mother proud.

500-750 Words

GONE SOUTH (Adventure, Mild Violence)


GONE SOUTH

“Lie to me one more time, boy, and I’ll toss that mutt of yours right off the cliff” Sidney Granger threatened his stepson, Harry. “Now, I’m gonna ask you again; where’s my compass?”

Harry glanced up at Sidney with an indifferent look on his face. “I don’t know where your stupid compass is, Sidney. Have you tried looking up your ass?” Harry quipped, knowing the comment would only make matters worse. He didn’t care; watching his stepfather get apoplectic was worth it.

Harry immediately regretted what he’d said, not for himself but for his dog. Sidney reacted in his usual way – one swift kick of his hobnail boot directed at Harry’s springer spaniel, Charlemagne. The dog sensed what was coming and quickly darted away, baring his teeth and growling at Sidney. Charlemagne remembered the pain of that boot all too well.

You got lucky, mongrel. Next time I won’t miss” Sidney snarled. “And, boy, you keep calling me by my name and there’ll be hell to pay. You’re to address me as ’Sir’, is that clear?” Sidney turned and angrily walked away. Harry gave him the finger behind his back.

“Sir!” Harry muttered under his breath. “You’re not in the navy anymore, you bastard! Now you’re just an angry impotent nobody who abuses animals and women.” Harry’s eyes turned dark as he thought of the fresh bruises on his mother’s arms and legs. The man had no conscience.

Barbara Granger fell under Sidney’s spell the first time they met. She always had a weakness for a man in uniform and longed for the life as the wife of a highly regarded military man. Widowed for several years, Barbara happily accepted Sidney’s proposal but her joy was short lived when he was forced to retire due to his age before reaching the coveted position of Rear Admiral. Barbara’s disappointment paled in comparison to Sidney’s humiliation and indignation.

Now Sidney vented his frustration and disillusionment on Barbara and Charlemagne. He tried several times to dominate Harry but the boy’s resilience and stubborn dismissiveness caused Sidney to feel weak and powerless – a role he was not familiar with. He wanted nothing more than to wring Harry’s neck. He knew there was more to the boy than met the eye. Harry would not succumb easily, if at all, and that concept enraged Sidney. 

Harry waited until Sidney was far enough away before he whistled for Charlemagne. The two friends walked to a secluded bower on the other side of the large garden. Harry reached into his pocket for his treasured penknife, one of the few possessions he had from his late father. Harry looked for the small marker he’d carved in a tree, crouched down and snapped open the knife. Charlemagne sat quietly in the shade as Harry carefully cut a circle in the moss-covered ground, then painstakingly began to dig until the blade of his knife made contact with a rock he had buried. Harry wiped the knife clean and folded it closed, slipping it back into his pocket. He removed the rock and placed it to his side. Reaching into the hole Harry retrieved a dirty burlap pouch and gently loosened the drawstring to reveal Sidney’s precious compass. Even in the shade of the willow tree the compass gleamed.

Just then Charlemagne began growling and barking; instinctively Harry knew Sidney was standing behind him.  

“You thieving little liar!” Sidney spat out furiously. Harry reached for the rock but Sidney kicked it out of Harry’s hand, causing him to cry out in pain. Harry managed to whistle and Charlemagne lunged at Sidney with a force so powerful he fell backwards. The spaniel sank his teeth into Sidney’s neck. Writhing on the ground, Sidney managed to break away from Charlemagne who relentlessly attacked again in an effort to protect Harry. 

With arms flailing Sidney edged closer to the side of the cliff but once again freed himself from the clutches of the dog. Harry grabbed the rock from the ground and with a mighty force flung it at Sidney, hitting him squarely on his forehead. Stunned and bleeding, Sidney reeled and careened off the edge, bouncing off the boulders on his way down and disappearing into the choppy sea. 

Charlemagne ran to Harry who scooped him up in his arms. “Good boy” Harry said soothingly as they walked to the cliff’s edge. The only sign of Sidney was one hobnail boot sticking out of a crevice. Harry realized he was still clutching Sidney’s compass. Glancing at it, he smiled slightly. How fitting that Sidney had gone south.

250 Words

DOWNTRODDEN (Mature Audience)


Betsy (middle) and the cotton mill girls
Georgia, 1909
Photograph by Lewis W Hine

Carry myself with pride, as my mama taught me. My name is Elizabeth but everyone calls me Betsy. I am sixteen, pretty and full of life. This is day one of my very first paying job – working in the cotton mills. I’m lucky and oh so grateful.

Mama is home doing chores and caring for my seven little brothers and sisters. Daddy left one day and never came back.

In my lunch sack is bread, an orange and a chuck of cheese. During my break I’ll sit by the banks of the Conasauga River and splash my scorched face. Life is good.

Carry myself with stooped shoulders. I’ve been in the mill for eight months. It’s hotter inside than the blazing Georgia sun. Humid, too, to keep the thread from breaking. Boiled potatoes, cabbage and river water for lunch. I’m sixteen. Maybe I’ll meet a husband here.

Carry myself on leaden feet. I work six days a week, twelve hours a day. I earn $1.00 each week. The air is thick with cotton dust. Nobody talks anymore; we keep our mouths covered but that doesn’t stop the coughing. I have no time or energy for anything else. I’m sixteen and feel like I’m sixty.

Carry myself with doom. I’m coughing up blood now and see nothing in my future except dying in the mill. I think I’ll just walk into the river and never come out.

Carry my dead body to the graveyard. I was only sixteen and my name was Betsy.

500-750 Words

THE WHITE STUFF (Mature Audience)


It was the middle of February, probably one of the coldest days of the year, but that didn’t bother me. I liked the cold; people just assumed my persistent runny nose and watery eyes were from the harsh weather when in reality the cause was yet another hit of cocaine – my constant companion, my best friend and my most insidious opponent.

I was waiting outside the NY Public Library in Manhattan for my guy to show up with that lovely little glassine envelope of blow. He was running late, as usual, and I was freezing my ass off, so I decided to wait in the lobby. At least it was a little warmer.

Just a few feet from the entrance sat a bench where I took up residence. I was starting to get agitated, my fingernails tap-tapping on the wooden slats. It had been several hours since my last snort – an eternity for an addict – and I couldn’t still my scattered mind. A prune-faced woman sitting on a bench opposite me kept looking from my fingers to my face, clearly annoyed. Self-consciously I put my hands in my pockets, immediately coming in contact with my little amber bottle with the attached spoon – what a clever design that was, although I must admit the one with the little golden spoon neatly built into the inside bottom of the lid was pure genius. You know the one I’m talking about. OK – this was a nice surprise! I’d completely forgotten about it when I changed jackets the other day; I always keep my stash in my backpack.

Elated, I wrapped my fingers around the bottle, delighting in the feel of the all-too-familiar smooth surface. I could just walk to the corner of the lobby and pretend to blow my nose while actually taking a hit. I’ve done it a hundred times. One quick glance at the bottle and I cursed; it was empty. Hoping against hope, I decided to check my backpack just in case I’d hidden a spare bottle.

I reached down to retrieve my backpack from under the bench when I caught a glimpse of a bright pink book, obviously forgotten or misplaced by a library patron. Being a curious sort, I reached over to check it out and my heart stopped; in bold black print was the title of the book – QUITTING COCAINE: YOUR PERSONAL RECOVERY PLAN. That book and I stared at each other for a full five minutes. Was this some kind of joke, a sign of divine intervention or just a crazy coincidence. Well, I’m not the type who believes in coincidences; everything in our lives happens for a reason, whether we like it or not.

My leg was bouncing up and down like a jackhammer – something that always happened when I needed a hit – so I put my backpack on my lap, crossed my legs and snuck a peek at the book. The first line was a blistering slap across the face: “Keep shoving coke up your nose and you’ll be dead by this time next year.” No “probably” or “there’s a chance”; just a flat-out death sentence, literally. I read the first chapter in five minutes; still no sign of my guy so I continued reading. Forty-five minutes later I’d read the whole book and still no delivery. But I realized my leg had stopped bouncing; when did that happen?

Slipping the book into my backpack I noticed the author’s name on the back cover: Dr. Arnold M. Washton, an internationally recognized psychologist and author specializing in substance abuse treatment. A little further down was a picture of the good doctor, an email address, phone number and the location of his office. Holy shit! This was definitely no coincidence. His office was about a three-minute walk from where I sat at the library.

For the first time in my pathetic and broken life I felt like I had a purpose. I left the library and walked straight to Dr. Washton’s office. I had no idea if the place was even open but I knew I had to take the chance. When I arrived I hesitated for a second, then rang the bell. Immediately there was a buzz and the door unlocked. As I entered I heard a man’s voice call out “In here” and I walked into a dimly lit office. It was a very calming room with the smell of leather and black cherry pipe tobacco.

Dr. Washton sat in a large over-stuffed chair next to a blazing fireplace reading a book. He took the pipe from his mouth and looked up at me; his eyes were warm and kind.

“I need help” was all I said.

“Then you’ve come to the right place” was his response.

And I knew I had.

500-750 Words

SCREAMING OUT FOR HELP (Violence, Sexual Content)


It was 7:00 AM when Jason Peterson’s cell rang. Reaching for the phone he saw the call was from Dr. Philip Zane. Jason froze. How long had it been since he last heard from Dr. Zane – twelve, possibly thirteen years? He hoped never to hear from him again. With great reluctance he answered the call.

“Dr. Zane. It’s been a long time. I assume there’s been a development.” Jason said with a strange combination of indifference and dread.

“Yes, Jason. Your father is showing signs of coming out of his coma. Considering the circumstances, I thought you’d want to be here when he wakes up” was the doctor’s response.

The only news Jason wanted to hear was that his father was finally dead. But no! The bastard refused to give up without a fight, damn him! Calming himself, Jason said “Thank you for the update, doctor. Please let me know when my father is fully conscious.Considering the circumstances’ as you said, I want to be the first person to see my father when he‘s conscious. I’m sure you understand. Goodbye.”

Gregory Peterson had been in a coma ever since Jason bashed in his head that night of unspeakable horror in the Peterson house.

Jason was only fifteen when he called the police in a state of panic screaming out for help. His family was dead, butchered by his father, Gregory. When the police arrived at the house, they discovered four people savagely murdered, an unconscious man crumpled on the floor and Jason locked in the basement. The victims were taken to the morgue, the injured man transported to a high security hospital and Jason brought down to the police station.

The detectives sat in stunned silence as Jason described the events of that night:

“I was at Mike and Dan Kelly’s house smoking weed. Mike and Dan got really stoned and passed out around 1:00 so I left. When I got home I found everybody dead. My grandma and little brother Jake were tied to chairs. They’d both been shot in the head. My mom and sister Janice were on the sofa. They were naked and beaten so bad I could barely recognize them. They’d been raped, too. My dad just stood in the middle of the room, staring straight ahead like a crazed animal. He was clutching a huge bloody wrench.

Then he saw me and snapped to life. He came at me like a wild man swinging that wrench. All I could do was run, try to get out of his way. I stumbled and fell on top of Janice. Her blood was all over me and I scrambled away as fast as I could. I saw the gun on the floor and dove for it. I pointed it at my dad but it jammed. I threw the gun at him and he lunged at me but the wrench slipped out of his hands. I grabbed it and swung at him. He was gonna kill me, too, just like he killed all of them. I had to do something to protect myself so I bashed him over the head. I hit him pretty hard and he went down. I dropped the wrench and ran to the basement. I locked myself in and called 911. It was horrible, a nightmare. How could he do something so awful?”

And he broke down, sobbing.

After checking out Jason’s story with the Kellys, the police saw no reason to detain him. The dead were buried, Jason moved in with relatives and Gregory languished in a coma. The years went by.

Three days after the call from Dr. Zane, Jason heard from him again. Gregory was conscious and speaking but repeating only one word: “Jason”.

It was evening at the hospital, that twilight time when patients sleep and hospital staff chat quietly. A bored policeman sat outside Gregory’s room, dozing. He checked Jason’s visitor’s pass, did a cursory pat-down and told him he could go in. Gregory was asleep, neatly tucked in and handcuffed to the bed rails. In the dim light he looked old and frail. Jason flipped the switch flooding the room with light.

Abruptly awakened, Gregory mumbled his disapproval. Approaching the bed Jason could see the apprehension in his father’s eyes as he focused on his son’s sneering face.

Bending close so that their faces were just inches apart, Jason whispered menacingly “I wish you died that night, old man, just like everyone else. I should have finished you off. That was sloppy of me. Think how much easier if would have been without having this to deal with all these years. Well, we can’t have you spilling the beans now, can we?” Jason removed his cell phone from his pocket, the same one he used to call the police that grisly night. Smugly he thought how stupid the police were not asking to see his phone. It was laughable but then again his performance down at the station was magnificent. By the time he was finished every cop wanted to hug him and make all the terrifying images go away. Smugly he showed his father one selfie after the other; each one was of Jason standing over the bodies of his family, his victims. The final images were graphic videos of Jason raping his mother and sister. Too bad their mouths were taped shut; he would have love to have heard their screams.

With each photo Jason grinned as Gregory became more and more agitated, his breathing labored and his eyes bugging as his face turned crimson. He opened his mouth to cry out but only silence filled the room.

What a shame to remove such works of art” Jason said as he deliberately deleted each photo, unfazed by the fact that Gregory was in extreme distress. He smiled coldly as his father died before his eyes. If only he could have bashed in his head just one more time.

Slipping into character, Jason strolled to the door of his father’s room and flung it open, screaming out for help.

Poems

KATHMANDU DÉJÀ VU (Mature Audience, Sexual Content)


The other day I got some news that threw me for a loop;
I felt like a headless chicken running ‘round the chicken coop.

You see, I met this awesome guy who made me lose my mind.
A handsome man so witty and sexy can be awful hard to find.

We both had friends from childhood days who knew us oh so well.
They figured if we two hooked up we’d get along rather well.

My friend called me and his called him and we agreed upon a date
To meet at Charlie’s Ribs and Ale next Friday night at eight.

Well, I was pretty keen on the idea of meeting someone new;
The last few dates I had were dull as hell and that would never do

See, I’m the kind of girl who likes to go out and have some fun.
A couple of hours with some boring dude would have me on the run.

I’m really not high maintenance, I just need some stimulation;
The kind that gets my juices flowing and speeds up my circulation.

I know you know what I’m referring to; I can see it in your eyes.
I want a man who knows what’s what, the hows and whens and whys.

So, there I was at Charlie’s, me and my friend waiting for our dates
When in walked these cool guys who made me want to masturbate.

They came straight to my table and I knew right off the bat
This blue-eyed, bearded devil was a curious kind of cat.

He looked at me and I at him and our eyebrows began to rise;
When we thought perhaps we knew each other almost all our lives.

We’d no idea that this blind date would not be so blind at all
For although we thought we knew each other we couldn’t quite recall.

In fact, we never took the time to learn each other’s names.
Our paths crossed countless times before as kids playing kiddie games.

Yeah, we were nameless friends in school in days from way back when.
We even went to church at times, seeing each other now and again.

We attended the same college where we learned a thing or two
But we never said “Hey, what’s your name? I think I may know you!”

Now here we were having loads of fun, hitting it off like two peas in a pod;
But the incredible fact that we sorta knew each other was really very odd. 

The night flew by, we ate and drank; this guy could talk the talk
And deep inside my womanly mind I knew he could walk the walk.

So, I took a wild chance and asked him to come back to my place;
He looked at me, eyes twinkling and a roguish grin upon his face.

We tried to act all nonchalant, no need to rush the night.
He said he was a poet; I said “No kidding? I like to write!”

We sat real close on my old couch and he said “Tell me, what’s your sign?”
I turned to him, said “Pisces” and he said “Yeah? That’s the same as mine!”

He wove his fingers through my hair and slowly pulled back my head.
I opened my mouth and licked my lips saying “Take me to my bed.”

We started slow, real nice and easy, just feeling each other out
But it didn’t take long before both of us were doing the ‘Twist and Shout’.

This went on the whole night long; he was quite the voracious lad.
I met him thrust for thrust and lick for lick and none of it was bad.

We spent the next few days together; we got along really great.
He told me his name was Kevin and I told him my name was Kate.

He said he lived in Baltimore now but was born in Kathmandu.
His eyes nearly popped out his head when I said “Jesus! I was too!”

Things were really getting eerie now; we both knew this was bizarre
Especially when we simultaneously said “On March 10th at Paropakar!”

Now hold on, wait just a damn minute; how could this possibly be?
We were born in the same hospital on the same day in 1983!

Our piercing eyes stared at each other as we silently sipped our tea.
Who was going to ask the next question? Was it me or possibly he?

I grabbed the bull by the horns, so to speak, and said “What’s your mom’s name?”
He lowered his cup rather slowly and replied somewhat warily “It’s Germaine.”

I heaved an enormous sigh of relief which proved to be premature
Cos he was adopted; his birth mom’s name was Faye, of that he was quite sure.

I think I peed my pants right then and nearly fainted as I screamed “No way!
For you see, Kevin, I was adopted, too, and my birth mom’s name was Faye!”

Now this is no laughing matter, dear readers, for I’d just had me a fuck like no other
Who turned out to be to my shock and dismay my long-lost fraternal twin brother!

Poems

GUEST POST: TWICE AS SLOW AS MOLASSES


TODAY I AM FEATURING A NEW GUEST ON MY SITE – ROBERT CAMPBELL. HIS POEM IS ONE OF THOSE PIECES THAT REACHES INTO YOUR CHEST, GRABS ONTO YOUR HEART AND WON’T LET GO. IT PIERCES THE SOUL AND WRIGGLES INTO THE BRAIN TO MAKE YOU FEEL AND THINK AND PRAY FOR CHANGE. THIS POWERFUL HOMAGE TO ALL WOMEN EVERYWHERE IS APPROPRIATE AND NECESSARY EVERY DAY, PARTICULARLY NOW AS WE CELEBRATE MOTHER’S DAY. THANK YOU, ROBERT, FOR ACKNOWLEDGING THE PLIGHT OF WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD. IT’S AN HONOR TO SHARE MY SPACE WITH YOU.

AND THE MUSE CAME AGAIN AND SAID,

“Bard, Mother’s Day is this Sunday. It
should make us ponder how our mothers
lived and died to determine if our society
should look for ways for it to improve in
regard to their welfare from the cradle to
the grave, improvements in areas such
as education, gender equality, and health care.”

AND THE BARD REPLIED,
“It would be wonderful if we would all so
ponder and make vast improvements.”

How Can You Call Yourself a Woman

***Oh Yes***

For to truly be a woman,
Is to get your joy from serving others,
And to be a beast of burden,
To your husbands, fathers, and brothers.

But, it all really comes down to,
Just kissing a lot a asses,
And watching your life go by,
Twice as slow as molasses.

***Yes***

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you weren’t molested when you were young,
And you haven’t been told by everyone,
That you are ugly, boring, fat, and dumb.

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you’ve never been asked to be nice,
Or reminded to keep your nose clean,
And not have to be told anything twice.

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you’ve never been taught how to cook,
To get up at four in the morning,
And be pretty for all who want to look.

How can you call yourself a woman
If you have never been told a lie,
And how you must learn to live with it,
To suck it up, and never ever cry.

***Oh Yes***

For to truly be a woman,
Is to get your joy from serving others,
And to be a beast of burden,
To your husbands, fathers, and brothers.

But, it all really comes down to,
Just kissing a lot a asses,
And watching your life go by,
Twice as slow as molasses.

***Yes***

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you were not raped on your first date;
And then hear all others blame you for it,
And say, “Some bring about their own fate.”

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you weren’t screwed on your wedding day,
And then got to find out soon thereafter,
You were forever in a family way.

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you have never done no child care,
If you have never scrubbed a dirty neck,
Or gotten crap out of soiled underwear.

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you’ve never been told a million lies:
Or if you’ve never had to believe them,
Or in a bunch of feeble alibis.

***Oh Yes***

For to truly be a woman,
Is to get your joy from serving others,
And to be a beast of burden,
To your husbands, fathers, and brothers.

But, it all really comes down to,
Just kissing a lot a asses,
And watching your life go by,
Twice as slow as molasses.

***Yes***

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you’ve never gone to Sunday School,
And had to hear all of the Brothers say,
“Be like us and practice the Golden Rule.”

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you’ve never forgiven everyone,
For each of their cruel and hateful acts,
And for everything else they have done.

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you’ve never had a dreadful disease,
And never gotten help from anyone,
Unless you begged for it on bended knees.

How can you call yourself a woman,
If you have never died all alone,
And have felt oh so grateful for it,
And had “At Rest” etched on your tombstone.

***Oh Yes***

For to truly be a woman,
Is to get your joy from serving others,
And to be a beast of burden,
To your husbands, fathers, and brothers.

But, it all really comes down to,
Just kissing a lot a asses,
And watching your life go by,
Twice as slow as molasses.

Copyright 2016 The Bard & Mrs. Bard R. Campbell

500-750 Words

A HIGHER BEING


Quick. When was the last time in the past 16 months you felt truly happy, safe from the perils all around, free to travel, visit your family or even simply take a walk? 

Oh, there were happy days but they were few and fleeting. For me and my husband it was the day our grandchild was born. I remember anxiously arriving at White Plains Hospital to meet our precious granddaughter. She, an innocent, peaceful, beautiful little soul completely dependent on family for every aspect of her life. We saw her exactly twice in the hospital before she was whisked away to the safety of her loving home. That was February 2020, just as COVID hit, and we didn’t see her again until May. We were among the lucky ones; in light of what was about to unfold, three months was nothing.

Think back to the time you brought your first baby home. Many of us had the wise and caring help of our parents to guide us and pitch in when we needed encouragement or just a break. We had friends to run to the store for formula or diapers, family to help cook meals and do the laundry. 

Now imagine as first-time parents bringing your baby home and you are stricken with an unknown and dangerous virus. That’s what happened to our son and his wife. They couldn’t believe what was happening to them but being a doctor herself, our daughter-in-law had to face reality; they obviously contracted COVID while she was in the hospital. She broke out in a cold, damp sweat fearing the worst, praying for the best. New parents, both sick with what was now categorized as a pandemic; could anything be more horrifying? Would they be ok? Would the baby be ok? Would they survive when so many around them were dying?

Thankfully they had mild cases of this scourge that raged like wildfire from north to south and east to west. They managed to get by while masked family members delivered bags of groceries and supplies, rang the bell and left. Our son would hold the baby up to the window as we waved and blew kisses, mouthing the words “I love you“. We would make the slow walk back to our car and cry – heartbroken that we couldn’t be with them yet thankful that – so far – we were all well. We all found ourselves praying more than ever before. Our son and his wife made it through the most terrifying period of their lives. They regained their health, the baby thrived and their faith was strengthened.

Finally that day in May arrived when we all agreed that our isolationist lifestyle and carefulness allowed us to visit our granddaughter. We were overcome with joy and thankfulness. There were more than a few tears shed that day.

As time went by how many people lost their businesses, homes, jobs, loved ones or their own lives? And through all this I am constantly reminded that there is a higher being protecting us. If we lose sight of that, we lose everything.

Our healthy son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter

Poems

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND



WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND

Children are a blessing, a fact no one is denying.
They come into our quiet lives all wrinkly and a-crying. 

Parenthood’s a heavy task you never learned in school
And if you think it’s easy then you’re just a God-damn fool. 

You take them home as newborns not knowing what to do.
Warm their bottles, wash their clothes and clean up all their poo. 

Those little babes can tire you out and run you in the ground
And when bedtime rolls around you pray their sleep is sound. 

You do the very best you can to teach them right from wrong
And feed them milk and vegetables to grow up big and strong.

Some kids are such a pleasure, they warm their mother’s hearts.
All they do is such a joy; you can’t even smell their farts! 

They do their chores, their homework, too, and never answer back
And when it’s time to go to bed they jump right in the sack. 

Then there are the nasty ones who don’t do what they’re taught.
Like Harry Potter’s nemesis they act like Lord Voldemort. 

They’re mean to all the other kids like a dog without its bone,
A bunch of little shits who make life miserable at home.

They say that kids learn from their folks to live a proper life
So try to fill your child’s world with happiness, not strife.

And don’t forget in sixty years-time, give a year or two
It’s your kids who’ll be feeding you and cleaning up your poo! 

500-750 Words

STARGAZING


Marcy Grey was sixteen, neither a kid nor a woman. She was one of those unpopular girls, just her unlucky lot in life for which there was no explanation. A wisp of a thing, she had a constant look of sadness in her eyes. Having no friends she’d spend most of her time alone, often on the roof of her apartment building gazing at the stars and listening to her parents Beatles CDs. Their music and message resonated with her more than anything else in the world and it was the only time she didn’t feel lost and scared. 

Her parents worried about her, as parents are wont to do, and they encouraged her to pursue activities in school or join a club of some sort. Marcy half-heartedly tried a few times but never felt accepted or welcome and eventually gave up. School was almost over for summer break and while others were chit-chatting about going to camp or planning a family vacation, Marcy knew the long days of July and August would be no different for her than any other day in her life. Her parents worked hard, barely making ends meet; there was no time or money for recreation. 

One night Marcy overheard her mother talking on the phone with her sister, Marcy’s Aunt Rita; from the snippets of conversation she knew they were talking about her. “She really needs a diversion … We’re worried … She’s so sullen … Well, that sounds wonderful – are you sure? … I have no idea how she’ll feel about it, though … Yes, I’ll talk to her and call you back.” 

Not surprisingly a few minutes later Marcy’s mother knocked on her bedroom door. “Aunt Rita bought a little beach café in Atlantic City and wants to know if you would like to spend the summer with her. Rita would love the company and could use some help at the new place.” 

Marcy frowned and told her mother she’d think about it; at least that wasn’t a flat rejection. And she did think about it, weighing her options. The pros: she really liked Aunt Rita; Marcy had never gone anywhere, ever; she was stuck in a small apartment with her parents; she could look at the wide-open sky at night and the stars dancing off the ocean; she might actually have fun. The cons: leaving her rooftop comfort zone. The next morning she shocked her parents by announcing she would spend the summer in Atlantic City with Aunt Rita. 

Marcy was met at the bus depot by Aunt Rita all decked out in her bright pink sundress, straw hat, Ray Bans and sandals, giddy and happy as a clam. As she drove to her house Rita talked non-stop about her fabulous new beach café, The Pink Flamingo. Even Marcy found her aunt’s enthusiasm contagious and couldn’t help smiling. 

There were seven other teenagers waiting tables at the café; all of them were nice and greeted Marcy warmly. Work wasn’t easy and it took Marcy about a week to get accustomed to her new life but she found she actually liked it. Surprisingly Marcy enjoyed being with her co-workers and meeting new customers every day. But the best part was climbing the dunes at night, sitting on a blanket and gazing at the stars while listening to “Rubber Soul”. 

One night on the beach Marcy saw someone approaching. She got nervous until she realized it was Adam, one of the guys she worked with. He asked if he could join her and Marcy said yes. Adam had an MP3 player, as did Marcy, and she asked him what he was listening to. He smiled shyly and answered “Revolver. I was raised on the Beatles”. Marcy grinned and handed Adam her earbuds. Music wasn’t the only thing they had in common; Adam spent most nights back home gazing at the stars. He was a loner with no real friends and this was his first time away. And to their complete amazement they discovered they both lived in Queens, NY. 

Marcy and Adam met at the beach every night and talked about everything. The end of summer was drawing near and their time together in Atlantic City was almost over. They rode the same bus back to Queens, exchanged phone numbers and gave each other a quick hug before going their separate ways. 

Late that night as Marcy sat on the roof of her apartment building she got a text. It read “Hey, Stargazer. Dream sweet dreams for me”.

Smiling, she quickly wrote back “Dream sweet dreams for you”. 

Stars aligning? Time to make a wish. 

500-750 Words

SOMEWHERE THERE’S A KILLER (Violence)


It was a beautifully warm Saturday afternoon in East Hampton, New York. The sun was glistening off the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, waves just the perfect height for surfers in early Spring. A few people sat on beach chairs basking in the glow while others wandered through the chic little town looking in boutique shop windows and stopping for a latte. 

The scene inside the exclusive beach house on Oceanview Drive, however, was quite a contrast to the glorious panorama outdoors. It was nothing short of gruesome. 

Inside that house lay wealthy divorcée Linda Myers Bronson, sprawled out on her kitchen floor. Judging by the impressive crossbow bolt protruding from the middle of her chest and the copious amount of blood on the gleaming Italian marble floor beneath her, she was most definitely dead. 

The police showed up after being notified by Linda’s friend, June Parker Singleton. Apparently Linda failed to show up for their usual Friday lunch at ’The Palms’. June said she’d been trying to reach Linda since then but all her calls and texts went unanswered. 

Nothing looked out of place in Linda’s house – no sign of a struggle, robbery, forced entry or even a shattered window. The police were certain Linda was killed by either someone she knew or allowed in. 

Linda’s cell phone was on the kitchen table; police checked messages and calls but there was nothing even remotely unusual or suspicious. Then they discovered a landline phone with a recording machine on a bookshelf in the study. A little red light was blinking, indicating there were messages. The detective in charge, Tony Collins, was anxious to hear what was on that machine. 

There was the usual greeting recorded by Linda followed by a message from the landscapers letting her know they’d be planting the new arborvitaes on Monday. Another message from the local jeweler informed Linda that her pearl necklace had been restrung and she could stop by at her convenience. 

Detective Collins listened to the next message but it was Linda speaking: 

“This is Linda Myers Bronson. I need a job done.”  

Silence. The detective pushed the play button and Linda’s voice came on again: 

“What does it matter how I got your number? You were highly recommended and I’m willing to pay top dollar.” 

Again all was quiet before Linda spoke: 

“Please, I don’t need to know about your various equipment; that means nothing to me as long as everything’s done right. It must be taken care of quickly.” 

The pattern of conversation continued in the same manner with only Linda’s voice on the recordings. It didn’t take a genius to realize that for some bizarre reason the comments from the person she was talking to had been deleted. Two questions remained: who was Linda talking to and why was their part of the discussion deleted? The detective continued listening:

“Yes, that price is fine. The cost doesn’t concern me. I understand; cash only.” 

“A date? Well, as I mentioned before, as quickly as possible.” 

“Oh, that soon!” 

“No, that’s not a problem. I’ll be home.” 

“The address is 7 Oceanview Drive in East Hampton. What time will you be here?” 

“I don’t care if your other clients are okay with a two-hour window. I want to know the exact time you’ll be here.” 

“Oh, and use the rear entrance into the kitchen. I don’t want my rugs getting dirty.” 

Detective Collins listened to the recordings again, unable to hear even a trace of sound between Linda’s comments. “I want this tape machine bagged and brought down to headquarters”  he barked. 

Hey, Detective” one of the cops called out. “You might want to take a look at this. I found this folder in the victim’s desk.” 

The folder contained medical records and reports from Linda’s doctor. 

Collins whistled, slapping the folder against his hand. “Well, I’ll be damned. According to these reports it looks like our victim was practically dead already. She had cancer everywhere and about two weeks to live.” Closing the folder the detective added “Looks like she decided to end it all and hired somebody to take her out. A classic case of suicide by murder.” 

Returning to the kitchen Collins took a close look at the bolt still sticking out of Linda’s chest. Common, no distinguishing marks, available in any hunting or sporting goods store. He’ll have forensics go over this baby with a fine-tooth comb. After all, somewhere there’s a killer.

“Goddamn! I gotta admit it. This lady had some set of balls!”

Poems

GUEST POST: LOVED BY AN ANGEL


SOMETIMES IT’S BEST NOT TO SAY ANYTHING ABOUT A GUEST POST; DOING SO WOULD SIMPLY TAKE AWAY FROM THE INTENSITY AND BEAUTY OF A PIECE. TO EXPLAIN SUCH A PERSONAL MEMORY WOULD BE A DISSERVICE. I KNOW YOU WILL BE QUITE TAKEN BY THIS POEM WRITTEN BY MY DEAR FRIEND, PAUL GRIFFITHS – THE POET OF BIRKENHEAD. THANK YOU, PAUL, FOR ALLOWING ME TO SHARE IT HERE. ❤️

I loved her with a vengeance that even the devil failed to understand.
For her I would have gladly sold my soul and for eternity be damned.
She was worth crossing the great divide, the line drawn in the sand.
I’d have broken every commandment and dismissed God out of hand.

My angel who became a mortal and turned her back on heaven above.
Such things are worth the sacrifice if it’s done in the name of love.
When her wings were clipped she did not cry out or complain.
She said to feel true love for just an instant was worth any amount of pain.

I never knew why she would do such a thing, falling for a wretch like me.
She told me, when she looked into my eyes she saw what others failed to see.
To become a mortal woman yet my goddess to me was still held as divine.
I worshiped her with all my heart with a love that transcended time.

I think God punished us by punishing her for abandoning him for me.
God might be omnipotent but I think he got stung by that green eyed jealousy.
She made her choice and she fell in love and it was her free will.
But now she became vulnerable to human traits and my angel fell ill.

God now turned his back on her, as I turned my back on him.
She told me not to go to war with God, it was a battle we couldn’t win.
I told her I was sorry that she ever fell in love with a wretch like me.
She said she would not change a thing that our love was meant to be.

I have yet to face God’s wrath when we finally meet eye to eye.
He’d better beg for my forgiveness; why did he let her die.
For she held heaven in her eyes and a look of love so clear.
If the devil awaits me then I shall enter hell without a hint of fear.

I don’t know if I was blessed to fall in love or is love but a curse.
To be loved an angel briefly then to lose her, what scenario is worse?
God only knows the answer and he ain’t talking to a fool like me.
So I guess I’m damned to walk alone, and if so then it shall be.

PTG © copyright

Longer Stories

HER DRIVING FORCE (Sexual Content)



When she saw him for the first time, he was walking alone at night in the pouring rain. She sat in her car, stopped at a red light, and watched as he slowly tramped forward, head lowered, collar raised and hands in his pockets. He seemed haunted, lost and oblivious to the weather and his surroundings.

He appeared to be in his late teens, tall and slim. Even though she couldn’t see his eyes she felt a great sadness must be behind them. She had the strong urge to reach out to him. She experienced that familiar combination of sympathy, nurturing, curiosity and desire. 

The light changed and she had no choice but to move on. Instead of going straight she turned right once, twice, three times until she was now at the corner just as the teen approached. She pulled up to the curb and rolled down the window, asking if he needed help, perhaps a ride to wherever he was headed. At first her questions got no response; neither she nor the young man moved. Then he slowly raised his head and looked up. His eyes were lifeless, his face devoid of emotion. 

Again she called out to him, saying he must be cold, possibly hungry. No reaction. She leaned across the seat and opened the passenger door offering him shelter from the rain. Still he did not move and she quietly asked him to allow her to help. His face softened imperceptibly and he tentatively approached the car. She said to please get in and close the door. She smiled as he did what she asked. 

She inquired if she could take him somewhere; no response. Shifting the car into drive she headed in the direction of her house. She told him he could trust her. She offered him the comfort of a hot meal and a place to rest. He sat looking straight ahead, saying nothing. She spoke softly, telling him she had groceries in the car – a freshly roasted chicken and warm bread – and she noticed he inhaled slightly, savoring the delectable aromas. She drove into her driveway, pulled straight into the garage and closed the door using the remote control. With a velvety laugh she told the young man she was famished and was going inside to eat. He was welcome to join her – his choice. 

She became aware of his presence before she saw him. He stood in the doorway, his sopping wet coat dripping on the floor. She told him to remove it and she gingerly helped him take it off, hanging it on a hook to dry. She placed heaping platters of food on the table and only then did he look up, his face expressionless yet more handsome than she imagined. He allowed her to lead him to the table where his hunger overcame him and he devoured everything on his plate, never once looking at her.

When he finished eating she brought him to the den where he sat on a sofa by the fireplace. Quietly she placed pieces of kindling and wood in the fireplace and watched as the flames began to flicker, filling the room with a warm glow. When she turned around the teen was asleep, his face finally at rest. She removed his shoes, covered him with a blanket and went upstairs to bathe.

Slipping into a sheer robe, she went back downstairs and silently walked into the den. Her guest was awake, staring at the fire. She sat beside him and placed her hand over his. He didn’t move away. Emboldened, she lifted his hand and placed it on her breast. He shuddered and closed his eyes. Reaching across his body she placed her left hand on his right shoulder, turning him to face her and for the first time they looked into each other’s eyes. She shrugged off her robe and placed both his hands on her breasts, encouraging him to caress her. His breathing was ragged and she smiled seductively as she began to unbutton his shirt. Now his hands were roaming freely and he didn’t stop her when she unzipped his pants, feeling his erection growing harder beneath her deft fingers. 

She told him it had been four empty years since her husband’s sudden death and she was very lonely. Slowly she eased him back and mounted him, delighting in the exquisite sensation. She gyrated smoothy, deeply; there was no need to rush. Afterwards they went upstairs to her room. There was much she could teach this boy and the possibilities excited her. 

The next morning when she awoke she was alone. She went downstairs but he was gone. Unperturbed, she walked into the kitchen and brewed some coffee. She lit a cigarette and sat at her laptop. Clicking a key she studied the roadmap that appeared on the screen, contemplating her next objective. In which direction would she drive tonight?

500-750 Words

HIS MOTHER’S LOVE (Mature Audience)


Fish” Mulally didn’t come by that nickname accidentally. There’s a good reason: there wasn’t another man who looked more like a cold-blooded vertebrate animal with scales, gills and fins than “Fish”. Radical as it may sound, it’s not an insult; it’s a fact.

Born in 1959, Brendan Mulally was one of those tragic thalidomide babies. His mother Maeve suffered terribly from morning sickness and took the unapproved drug during her pregnancy. She’d heard rumors about the anti-nausea medication being dangerous, possibly resulting in abnormalities to the fetus, but Maeve’s doctor assured her the drug was safe. The moment she gave birth, the delivery room fell silent. The only sound was Brendan’s whimpering.

Maeve knew immediately something was wrong and pleaded to see her baby. The doctor walked to the head of the bed and told her the baby was malformed and it would probably be best if she didn’t see him, but Maeve was of hardy Irish Catholic stock and demanded the baby be brought to her. A nurse gently cleaned Brendan, wrapped him in a blanket and put a little bonnet on his head. With sorrow in her eyes, she reluctantly handed the baby to Maeve.

Even though Brendan’s eyes were closed Maeve could see they were large and protruding. His face was long, his lips flabby. With trembling hands she removed the baby’s cap and drew in a startled breath. Where there should have been hair there were scales – massive amounts of tiny shimmering bony plates overlapping one another. His right arm and hand were covered in the same thin scales. Summoning all her courage Maeve carefully unfolded the swaddling; at first glance her baby appeared perfectly normal and she tenderly placed her hands beneath his back to lift him to her breast. It was then that she felt the two small fins sticking out of his shoulder blades.

The doctor spoke softly. “Maeve, I know this must be a shock to you but surely you realize your baby will not thrive. I suggest we call the hospital chaplain to perform the sacrament of baptism while we still have time.” Maeve silently nodded in agreement and the priest was summoned. At least now little Brendan would go on to heaven and not languish in Limbo with other unbaptized babies.

Maeve insisted that Brendan be placed in a bassinet next to her bed instead of the hospital nursery; she didn’t trust the doctors and nurses and wanted to keep her baby close. The doctor rambled on about going against hospital policy but Maeve would not back down; begrudgingly the staff acquiesced.

Maeve’s husband Patrick paced impatiently with other expectant fathers in the hospital waiting room. He toyed with the packs of cigars in his pocket, looking forward to proudly passing them out to his friends. Finally his name was called and he was allowed to see his wife and meet their baby. The nurse gave Patrick no information other than to say his wife had delivered a boy.

Patrick entered his wife’s room, his face beaming with joy. He kissed her forehead tenderly then turned his attention to his son sleeping in the bassinet. With eyes wide in shock and disbelief, Patrick flinched and recoiled.

Holy Christ! Saints preserve us!” he exclaimed. “This is the work of the devil! He’ll not be coming home with us!”

Maeve was not surprised by Patrick’s reaction; he was an arrogant and inflexible man. It would take much convincing on her part to bring him around; however, Patrick was imlaccable and stormed out of the room. Maeve never saw him again. The first night home alone with her newborn son, Maeve knelt before the statue of St. Brigid and prayed for courage and patience.

Despite the doctor’s opinion, Brendan grew strong and healthy under his mother’s loving care. Maeve made sure he wore a cap and glove to conceal his scales but there was no hiding his face. Brendan was bullied relentlessly and everyone called him “Fish” but he never caved under the pressure. He gave as good as he got and eventually earned respect and notoriety.

Brendan’s fighting skills were impressive and he caught the eye of crime boss James “The Prophet” O’Neill who asked him to become his bodyguard. Brendan accepted the job with one condition: for his mother’s sake, he would never take another person’s life.

O’Neill respected Brendan’s devotion to his mother and agreed to his request. “Fish” Mulally made Maeve proud until her last breath.

500-750 Words

WHEN IN ROME


Name?” the incredibly bored girl working at the pizzeria asked me indifferently. It was clear she’d rather be doing anything other than doling out food orders. She gave a cursory glance at her clipboard.

Nancy” I replied hoping my order had been received.

No kidding?” the suddenly animated young woman said loudly, slapping her hand on the counter and grinning broadly. “That’s my grandmother’s name! You don’t hear that name much these days. What year were you born in?”

It wasn’t really any of her business but I reluctantly told her anyway. This was a new place in my neighborhood in Rome, New York so I tried to play nice.

Get outta town!” she exclaimed, startling half the people in the place. “Same year as my grandma, too! What are the odds?” she cackled.

I gritted my teeth at the public announcement that I was as old as this girl’s granny. “Little twit” I said to myself.

Well, Miss Nancy, your food ain’t quite ready yet. Just plop yourself down in one of those booths and I’ll bring it over.”

Plop? I may be old enough to be this bimbo’s grandmother but I definitely do not plop!

I found an empty booth, slid in and looked around the pizzeria. There was a hideously unappealing statue of a she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, framed photos of Frank Sinatra, Pope John XXIII and Christopher Columbus. On the far wall was a large mural of a ship with “Nina” emblazoned across the bow – no doubt an homage to the restaurant which was called “Nina’s Place”. The decor was tacky and stereotypical.

There was a sudden pounding on the back of my seat and I turned around to see two toddlers bouncing around their booth, a sullen child of about four years of age, a crying infant in a carriage and a woman, obviously their mother, at her wits end. Food, spilled drinks and toys were everywhere. The woman looked at me, her eyes pleading “Kill me now!” I half-smiled sympathetically at her.

I thought about changing seats but just then the pizza girl arrived with my food.

Here ya go, Fancy Nancy! One caprese salad with grilled chicken and a Diet Coke. If you don’t mind my saying so, you look really good for a gal your age.”

I blinked a few times, unsure if I should say “Thank you” or “Kindly go the fuck away”. I chose the former which she took as an invitation to join me as I ate!

So, anyway, my grandma – she’s named after Frank Sinatra’s song ‘Nancy With the Laughing Face’ ” pizza girl said, pointing to the photo of the legendary singer. “Are you, too?”

No, I’m not. It’s a long story” I explained.

Ooh, I love me a good story! I wanna hear all about it. But first I gotta make sure Mr. Rizzo doesn’t cheat me outta my tip, that old miser! Be right back, Nance.”

I cringed; only a select few called me by my nickname.

Take your time” I replied. It looked like it was going to be a long lunch. I really should have ordered the wine!

250 Words

HOSANNA! HEYSANNA!


Legion after legion they watched him with wary eyes, like vultures in search of prey. This seemingly simple man healed the sick and preached of love for one another. What a rabble-rouser, a threat to those in power! He made them all very nervous, suspicious, just by his mere existence.

Multitudes thronged after him chanting “Hosanna! Heysanna!” but he chose only twelve by uttering just two words: “Follow me”. In a darkened room they broke bread together. They clung to his every word, pledging their undying loyalty, but they couldn’t stay awake for even one hour as he prayed that night in the garden.

There was one who denied him – not once but three times – before the cock crowed the next morn. Coward! Yet another betrayed him for a paltry sum. Viper! Like a hunter slinking through the woods he led the soldiers who dragged this innocent man away to face judgement. He stood before one official, then another; no one could find fault with him. They washed their blood-stained hands. He was tried by a kangaroo court. The verdict: guilty of blasphemy.

Stripped bare, whipped and scourged, he was nailed to a cross enduring an agonizing symphony of pain. His desolate mother wept silently at his feet. After torturous hours, whispering words of forgiveness, he slipped into the arms of death. He was buried in a plain tomb.

Three days later his crypt was empty. No force could defeat him. No power could contain him.

Hosanna! Heysanna!”

500-750 Words

ROY G. BIV


“Mommy, who’s Roy G. Biv?” my five-year-old daughter Colleen asked holding up a lesson folder I’d just finished preparing.

“Roy G. Biv isn’t a person, honey; it’s an acronym” I replied, clearly getting ahead of myself judging by the confused look on Colleen’s face.

“What’s a acrimin?” she asked, her freckled face all scrunched up.

I couldn’t help laughing at her mispronunciation. “Acronym, pumpkin. It’s an abbreviation formed from the first letters of a group of words and pronounced as one word.” I explained, forgetting I wasn’t teaching my 4th grade class.

Colleen cocked her head, looked at me quizzically and uttered “Huh?”

Okay, I think I needed to try a different approach. 

“You know how sometimes a rainbow appears in the sky when the sun comes out after the rain?”

Colleen nodded enthusiastically, her ginger pigtails swaying from side to side.

“Well, if you take the first letter of each color of the rainbow you get Roy G. Biv. Look, I’ll show you” and I opened the folder for her to see:

Colleen’s gleaming eyes opened wide and she exclaimed “Oh, yeah! I get it! It’s like LOL, right?”

“Um, close enough” I agreed. “Why don’t you get your big box of crayons and you can draw pictures of rainbows?”

Colleen was meticulous about her crayons, each one going back in its proper place after being used. One by one she picked out the seven colors of the rainbow and began drawing while I finished grading assignments.

When she was done, Colleen ran to show me her picture; it was both amazing and mystifying at the same time. She had drawn a little girl, obviously herself, with a giant bubble coming from her mouth, a beautiful glittery rainbow and a liberal smattering of the ROY G. BIV acronym inside the bubble.

“This is great, honey!” I declared. “Please tell me all about it.”

Colleen was happy to oblige.

“Sure, mommy!” she squealed and jumped onto my lap. “You see this girl down here? Well, that’s me. My hair is red and my freckles are orange! Up here is the yellow sun and down here is the green grass. Blue is for my eyes, all the letters inside the bubble are the color indigo and right here by my feet are violets. Do you like it?” Colleen looked up at me with those crystal blue eyes searching my face for approval.

“Pumpkin, this is the most beautiful picture I’ve ever seen” and I meant it with all my heart. 

“Yay! I’m so happy you like it. I made it for you!” She handed me the drawing and I hugged her ever so tightly.

“I think a picture this wonderful should have a name” I suggested. “Do you have any ideas?”

“I already named it, Mommy.”  And turning the drawing over I saw the title that truly touched my heart: “The Secret Language of Color”.