We Gotta Fix This…..Now.

US-GreatSeal-Obverse

Once every four years, this country goes slightly bat-shit crazy, (or crazier than usual) and all the uglies come out into the light of day. Our citizenry, en masse,  decide to strip politically buck nekkid and parade themselves as most fit and capable to lead the rest of the thundering herd over the cliff. Someone I consider a friend decided to fly the flag of “I double-dawg dare ya’ ” on her blog post here: writerslane.blogspot.com – and the gears began to grind between my temples.  I am soooooo going to go out on a limb here, but what the hell – everyone gets at least one chance to stand in front of the diving eagle and raise the middle mousy finger of fate. To wit: Sorry, fellas. No more men in politics. You guys have have the stage for over 200 years and you have yet to accomplish anything of concrete value that has lasted with the exception of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (or as I call it “Our Acceptable Do-Over List.”)

For the next 200 years, you must be possessed of ovaries and or the secondary sexual characteristics of the feminine persuasion in order to create, amend, consider and/or approve of any legislation whatsoever at any level within the current geo-political boundaries of the United States. Additionally, at the mere mention of your personal spiritual dogma, you will be considered ineligible for office. While we’re at it, the folks that have considered themselves as the un-taxed stanchions of religious liberty? Guess what? If you’ve made any political contributions within the past 50 years you’re going to lose your tax-free status. Yes, I suppose you could call that “Hard Core Separation of Church & State” – I prefer to call it Jeffersonian Socialism. In the old days, it was more commonly referred to as “Put Up or Shut Up.”  Yes, I hear the beginning moans of displeasure. They make a product for that now, it’s called “Depends.”

If you’ve ever presided over a group of children, refereed a herd of soccer, baseball, softball, or other team sports for young ones, or organized a birthday party for anyone under the age of 12, and are not male, you are now considered eligible for public office.  Please put on your big girl panties and report to whatever passes for a local political party’s district chairperson in your area and let’s get to work. This country’s infrastructure is in a shambles, our veteran’s needs are going unmet, we no longer have a safety net for the mentally ill, and with the dissolution of the unions our manufacturing base has likewise faded to gray.  Our educational system is mediocre even though we have access to the most powerful tools ever known to disseminate information to the populace. We can no longer rely upon a standard of ethics to guide us within the parameters of the reporting of daily events, the priorities of the Fifth Estate being handed over to profit makers instead of policy makers. There are numerous other matters that must be attended to that far exceed the vagaries of tanning salons, liquor stores and golf courses.

Once upon a time when young ladies decided to gather within their peer group, the first item attended to was appropriate footwear. This usually extended itself to the donning of “trainers” or “sneakers” or “kicks” or “tennis shoes.” Ladies, listen up. It’s time. Lace ’em up, or tie ’em up, or rip the velcro – we’ve got work to do.

Sailing Unknown Waters

Earlier this afternoon, (after the painful introspection that we all need to do from time to time, but choose to refrain from) I discovered that part of the unease and unhappiness was due in part to the anticipated exit of the college kid from the nest. This is her senior year, and she already has staged plans to launch herself into that vast sky of Adulthood. The remainder of that reeking pile of gooey, emotional miasma is pure, clingy motherhood and the unwillingness to let go. Like most human beings, I am perfectly happy to dig a ditch and drag in a decorator, so overjoyed am I to contain myself in the habitat of a comfortable rut.

There is a joy in the simple terror of being drug out of the comfortable routine. Please note, I still use the word terror. I would have preferred ‘bloody screaming horror with a ninety-eight percent chance of pissing myself” but the husband claims I tend to over elaborate, exaggerate, embellish with prejudice. Of which I might own up to almost all of that, but only after a suitable period of retrospection. An epoch or so. Oh, that “joy” part? Only occurs when I discover some unique pattern to the scars left behind from planting fingernails, toenails and front incisors to the sides of the rut I am so damned determined to stay within.

catamaran

I must also admit to some pea-green jealousy when I espied another mother’s self-exposure of her anger and rage issues. Personally, I thought her more spectacular explosions of angst perfectly justified and I admired her self-control to refrain from reducing the gene pool by at least a half dozen self-righteous incubators of Chaos and kindred. I also wished I’d had her ear when I was mounting my campaigns against the windmills of public education for my ADHD challenged offspring.

All of the above aside, there is a certain private liberal arts college in Mt. Vernon, Iowa that took my daughter four years ago and has transformed a starry-eyed high school kid into a young adult with a stunning future ahead of her. I was so terrified to let her go 1100 miles away from Mom and Dad, even if I drove the big red truck with all that she deemed necessary. What if she couldn’t get her meds? What about the weather? I mean, she’s wasn’t exactly used to four seasons and all that white stuff that falls from the sky in the more Northern climes.

Now? Well, yeah – she’s convinced the parental units that moving to a Northern clime would probably be a good thing when the heat and allergens make it damn near impossible for them to get out and be as active as they need to be to stay relatively healthy. Score one for the offspring. There are probably more brownie points in the offing for her, but as she leaves our nest this one last time there is something else pending.

The Dane and I have only been without kids in the house for months at a time, this time there is the very real possibility of the child leaving for an overseas position. The others have fledged the nest, this is the last one to try out those wings. In truth, it’s not exactly an empty nest. The fur and purr-kids are still with us. Of those, only Toby has been with us almost as long as the kids, and we all know that eventually 13 year old ginger tomcats will find the Rainbow Bridge. I’m not ready for that transition, either.

I’m not and never will be a Domestic Goddess. Yeah, I can cook kick-ass Chicken & Dumplings, and the kids call me for my Mock Stroganoff recipe. Yeah, my grandfather’s chili recipe is an award winning fire starter. But, there is so much more to be said for the echoes of conversation, running footsteps, bus horns honking, dogs barking, kids laughing and the smell of pizza on a Friday night.

I don’t think I ever considered downshifting, and after all these years spent in “Adult Parent/Standard Cruise” I’m not sure that the old transmission remembers the lower, slower gear. Bear with me if you hear some gear grinding, or the chassis starts creaking, or worse yet one of the hoses fail. I’m assured by others that have made this change, that the slope is navigable and the waters will be somewhat constant. Further, the transition from Conestoga to Catamaran is possible.

Hell, with the size of my underwear these days, it is entirely possible.

But, if you hear me mumbling about needing a “tall ship and a star to steer her by” – please pull me aside and check my caffeine levels. For that matter, please double check that I’m not smoking the local wildflowers. Goddess only knows where this is going, but something assures me the journey will be epic.

Yes, I’m giggling. Really!

Waaaaaaay back earlier this year, the heavens decided that my little part of the fetid taint of Hell needed to exit the current drought and all of Nature conspired to Make. It. So. This, I took as a not-so-direct way of the Universe allowing me to view and review some of my more glaring defects of character by trapping me within the confines of Cat’s Paw Acres and the Alumi-Turd 2000.

merit badge sekrit squirrel

Enter the saving grace of a fellow author and friend Cherie Noel and the Super Sekrit Squirrel Project. (Named because once I get cabin fever, it is not that far of a stretch for my psyche to become nuttier than squirrel shit.) Since those early days, my beloved co-author has placed the onus of the Super Sekrit Oath of Shut-Upped-Ness upon me and our joint foray into published proof of mental instability lest I invoke Her Wrath Almighty. (What the Hell do I know? This woman lives in upstate New York, and I figure that the only thing crazier than someone who lives in Central Texas and COPS to it, is someone who can claim French speaking Canadian Yeti’s as relatives!)

Thus, the fervor of Hint Dropping. Which, I have on good authority, is “supposed to make waves stronger than a large turd from a tall cow.” Again, I will claim willful ignorance. It’s safer.

There are those of you who KNOW that I have the reputation to drop metaphors so colorful they could show up a Pride Parade. Likewise with the creative adjectives of cussing. But, this Oath of Shut-Upped-Ness?

Shit Fire and Save The Matches. This is harder than keeping your virginity at the Senior Prom and every available candidate to do the dirty with is not only available, but has been the subject of ‘those’ dreams for weeks.

Almost makes me glad I’m not Catholic. (Seriously, my imagination and the resulting confessions would have driven some priests into taking a vow of silence in a desolate monastery far, far away!)

Ok, dammit all to Hell and back. I’ll just look at the little sticky note that reads “Keep Thy Mouth Shut” but that little squirrel bastard? Oh he’s gonna die a bloody, certain death very, very soon.

As in, “he’s gonna be Celtic Dragon Mama Poop” verra, verra soon. Or I MIGHT recycle his little nut sack as a bladder for the World’s Smallest Bagpipe…

Ah, the joys of planning his demise. In the meantime, let me just say that the Hint Dropping shall commence like mulberry fueled bird shit – It Shall Leave Stains Upon Thine Memory. <Insert evil laugh here.>

Once Upon A Time….

farmhouse

Of all of my childhood memories, these simple four words could and often did fuel the rustling of the wings of my imagination. Taking flights of sheer fantasy and fancy, my imagination and daydreams got me into more trouble than I can recount. In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I was written up for daydreaming, I’d have been the first child billionaire. Nevertheless, I also used to dream about writing; creating worlds in such a way to allow friends and strangers to share in those far-flung journeys of whimsy and wish. To that end, I thought perhaps I could write a short story ‘het’ romance. Yeah, this one brought its own sorrow and heartache, so I’ve kept it carefully hidden. Nurtured with my own flavor of sighs and tears, however – I recently told someone I deeply admire that “I’ll never fly if I don’t jump off the cliff.”

So, with the aforementioned in mind I present to you a story inspired by the 80’s song by the “Romantics.”

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Talking In Your Sleep

There’s a simple magic at work when you’re sitting on a wooden porch on a moonlit night in the middle of the no-one-can-reach-you-backcountry-sticks on an autumn evening. It’s even more enticing when you can hear the soft whisper of white linen curtains against the zinc window screens and you know from the delicate under-the-breeze scent that later that night there would be rain. Everything that encompasses you at that moment is there to heal you, revive you, wash away all the insanity that you’ve left when you kicked off the pumps, stripped off the suit and the oxford blouse, grabbed your jeans, t-shirts and chukka boots, packed the weekender bag and left the oh-so-ritzy-townhouse condo you rented with your friend in the big city.

When you’ve driven past the last vestiges of encompassing city madness, the scent of open meadows and living landscape begs you to turn off the artificial environment inside the car and lower the glass barrier between you and nature’s earthy scent. The wind rippling thru the open window tugs at your hair, embraces your skin and reminds you of days gone by when you lived without care – barefoot in the timeless dance of youth. All the light captured by the flashing air dances off the hood of your car, reflects in accidental rainbows thru the chrome and mirrors and just below the surface of your façade is a whoop of joy just begging to be given voice.

The day winds itself down to a point of sacred silence as the road behind you winds itself into a sliver of tarmac, then to a dusty trail then to a remembered by-way that wanders around pastures and fences. Rich memories of yesterday fill your mind as the tires gently crunch the limestone gravel, then you come full circle to the present and the presence of someone in the car to share the adventure. What will the weekend hold? Will he be the one to dance to the edge of tomorrow with you? The moon soars in full majesty to illuminate your destination with a grace to the place and the space with a magic like no other.

The routines of alarm clock, shower, dress, pack lunch, grab commuter pass and run for the shuttle had left my mind as I sat in that silvery silence on the well-known and much beloved wooden steps. Memories still danced in and out of the edges of thought as the scents of evening began to waft up from the rich soil.  I watched in awe as a barn owl snatched the first of his nightly snacks from the field in front of the old farmhouse and I had heard absolutely nothing of the drama save for the whispered breezes in the wind-sculpted live oaks. I kept observing the rippling stalks of grass in the hayfield, looking for more evidence that life was secretly dancing under the assumed calm waves of green. As scattered clouds began to rip the moonlit darkness in purplish shreds of haloed mist, a deer stepped out of the brushy break on the farthest edge if the field and I found myself holding my breath to see what would happen next.

First one doe, then three others, stepped out of their camouflaged safety into the moonlit expanse of the small meadow. I’d thought that perhaps this was the extent of the group, and then a stag of at least 10 points stepped out in all his breathtaking beauty. The small herd moved toward an area that had been recently mowed, a move I’d questioned until I remembered that they were looking to graze on the tender new growth, not bother with what was to be harvested soon. I squinted through the stark whiteness of the moonlight unsure of the shadows I was seeing until they hopped again. The jackrabbits were feeding with the deer! Of course! There was a hungry owl out there, and the deer would alert them first to any sudden movement.

The scent of fresh brewed coffee brought my mind from the field back to the porch as my “companion for the weekend” came outside with two cups of the hot savory liquid. I knew before I sipped it that he’d remembered the cream and sugar, and just how much of each. “You know, it’s pretty late, hun,” he softly murmured into my ear as he sat down next to me on the darkened porch. “Mmmmmmmmm,” was all the comment I could or would give. I was still bespelled by the silvered silence and leaning up against his sheltering warmth as I drank my coffee and watched the drama of life unfold in front of me in the closest thing to paradise I could imagine. “Oh, here, I almost forgot,” he said as an afterthought and produced two huge white chocolate macadamia nut cookies from his shirt pocket. “You bribing me for something?” I enquired as I hungrily snatched one of the cookies from his offered hand. I could see the moonlight etch the smile on his face as his soft, slow answer came just above a whisper, “Could be.” Before I could get more than one bite eaten, he was kissing the cookie crumbs from my face and lips as his hands gently cradled my shoulders. I was still clutching partially-eaten cookie and coffee as I blinked into the depths of his eyes, “Wow. Can we do the coffee and cookie thing in the moonlight more often?”

Again, the answer was better than the discussion – it was a suddenly-scooped-up into strong arms and walked across a porch, the screen door slamming shut behind us and then we were shedding clothes in the darkness of the bedroom just down the hall. All the windows were open to catch the cool breezes, the ceiling fan on to keep them moving and the bed linens were clean and soft as we moved to capture the moment in more than coffee, cookies, moon-silvered owls and shadowy breeze-swept clouds.

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When you awaken after a night of shared bliss, the first thing that stirs your senses is the smell of the linens you are warmly caressed within. It is the gentle hummock of the pillow where your head lies cradled, the stirring of a pre-stretch where you feel your neck begin a low stretch to allow more air to enter your lungs just before your mouth opens in the first yawn that kick starts the oxygenation of a newly awakened human body. Then your hands reach out for the beloved one, somewhat sure that they are just there, out of reach; and your eyes open to confirm the reality of another dawn, just as your toes reach out to confirm the edge of the sheets.

A hawk’s cry awakened me the next morning, a morning where in the sunlight poured like elderflower honey on everything it touched, even the dust motes were ablaze with a golden glow. I stretched under the sudden heaviness of sheets and blankets to see that I was alone in the bed, my companion not within sight, but the smells seemed to indicate that he’d been awake for hours more than I. Flipping back the bed linens, I stretched my legs out over the edge of the bed and put warm feet on cool wooden floors. Suddenly, my body remembered that it needed the usual maintenance of emptying of excess fluids and I was stumbling my way to the toilet. Immediate grace and knowledge of body space after awakening was never a personal point of strength; I found the edge of the door with my shoulder, the door sill with my elbow and by the time my warm keister found the cold porcelain of the toilet I knew that I would have bruises to remember the weekend with.

“Good heavens, woman! Do you need a nurse?” I heard my companion just outside the bathroom door. “No, but I may need some arnica gel to keep the bruise from looking suspicious..” I countered with the usual wry non-caffeinated humor. “Have you been up long?” I asked. “Well, now that you mention it….” And his voice trailed off quietly.

“I’ll be out as soon as I wash up a bit. Coffee still hot?” I was trying to get a grip on his mood and my clothes.

“I’ll get some fresh going. Hungry??”

“Ummm, cookies?” I asked in a perky query.

“Ahem. Cookies are NOT breakfast food.” I could just hear the mere hint of an unvoiced chuckle under his breath.

“Ummm, and companions aren’t either??” I was snickering, and grabbing a towel to take a shower; making all the preparations that women do in the morning routines that occur no matter where we are, as long as hot water and soap is available. I heard him chuckling and wander down the hall to the farmhouse kitchen as I stepped onto the cold tiles of the shower.

The scent of the simple Castile soap took me back to memories of my childhood and the warmed towels that my Nana used to dry me and my waist length hair as I stood in front of the fireplace or a gas space heater. She’d fuss over me not to catch a chill, wrap me in her huge chenille robe and put clean warm socks on my feet. Then, I’d sit on the embroidered stool as she took a boar’s hair brush and a carved ivory comb to my hair before plaiting it into the delicate multiple braids she loved to weave into my hair. I’d end up looking like a red haired version of the fairy princesses illustrated in the books from her family’s family in Denmark.

Oh, the stories she would tell me about her childhood. Going with her daddy to the edge of the hayfield to carve out her first garden, and the sweetness of the first tomato harvested – fresh off the vine and still warm from the sun. She’d bring her memories of persnickety cook stoves, overprotective hens pecking at her fingers as she gathered eggs, and the loneliness of a little girl growing up without a mother in the harshness of  post-depression Texas.

The water was cooling as I turned off the shower and stepped back into the present and away from my memories. One last whispered, “Thank you, Nana,” into the towel as I dried myself and got dressed for the day, one more day in a hidden heaven. After I dried off the shower stall and hung the towel to dry, I heard my companion in the kitchen, “Ok, come try my cooking. It’s not as good as yours, but it’ll get you going. Maybe even keep you from finding door sills with your body parts!”

I quickly tied my hair back into a ponytail as I wandered to the other side of the farmhouse and into the kitchen. The smell of bacon, hash-browns and eggs mingled with the comfortable warmth of a hug and the happiness of a full cup of coffee. I looked into his eyes with wonder, appreciation and every intent of inhaling the feast in front of me, but I needed to clear the shadows behind his eyes. “Hun, why were you up so early?” I asked as I went to sit down. A soft sigh and then I felt his eyes peer into my soul as I went to sip my coffee. His voice deep and gravelly as he spoke, “Baby, you talk in your sleep. In fact, I need to know – and I want to hear it from you. Am I more than just a weekend thing? I thought we’d agreed to keep things like this. I heard much more.”

I gulped.

How did I tell him, how could I when I was the one who insisted that we just keep things casual, and then fell in love? I let my hair fall forward, trying to hide my heart that had jumped up to blast through those azure windows of my soul. A gentle touch as his finger reached under my chin to pull my face up from the curtain of auburn hair.  I couldn’t deny my heart, and looking at him I saw the little boy behind his blue eyes just waiting to be told that I wanted to share more than cookies and weekend breakfasts with him.

Softly, I stammered out, “I never intended to fall in love with you, but I couldn’t…” That was the limit of all I could speak as he bent forward and enveloped me in an embrace and a kiss that silenced me into tears of joy. Gasping for air, I pulled back just enough to see a light within his eyes that only barely matched the sheer delight on his face. He attempted to express a serious, more somber expression, but it was ruined by his exclamation of “Oh Hell, woman. Me too! You know, we both suck as this casual relationship stuff. So, here’s a question…”

His pause made my stomach flop like being on the high diving board with the water being way down below my toes.

“Are we ready to do more than this? I think I might be ready to settle down if I found someone who appreciates my cookies.” There was the little boy again, right there in front of me. Like the sudden happy surprise of finding ripe peaches in the sunshine, I realized that my inner little girl felt like she’d found a fishing partner that wouldn’t drown the worms or lose the bait. But I wasn’t willing to be an easy catch, or was I?

Wiping tears from my cheeks and onto my jeans, I looked up at him with pure mischief in my heart. “Um, I dunno. That last batch was sort chewy, I think you almost burnt ‘em. But if you’re willing to take a little direction and maybe a bit of criticism, you might’ve found yourself a baking partner.” I flashed him a grin that quickly was covered by another kiss until I broke away to complain, “Hey! What’s a lady gotta do to get some food around here?”

“Aw Lord, woman! Is your stomach all you think about? Here I make you a proposal to make an honest woman outta you, and you’re grumbling about food?”

I leaned across the red checkered tablecloth to grab my coffee and countered with, “Oh no, buster! You are not going to call THAT a proposal.  A proper proposal has flowers and a ring and someone is gonna get down on one knee and get serious! Hash browns and coffee do not a proposal make…but they can come close.”

I watched his right eyebrow begin to climb into his hairline, but the grin that threatened to burst loose from the corners of his mouth belied the seriousness he was attempting to hide behind.

“OK, if that’s what the lady wants….”

He stood up and went to the sink and leaned over to the windowsill to remove the faded plastic flowers that looked like they had been placed there years ago. I grabbed a quick mouthful of bacon as I watched him pull the bread bag from the pantry, remove the wire tie and just as efficiently tie the bag into a secure knot. He grabbed my left hand to measure, and then placing the plastic flowers between his teeth he wove the bread tie into a rough ring and dropped to one knee in front of me. With flowers in one hand and the bread-tie ring in the other, he suddenly frowned, “Music, we need music.”

I was amused that he wanted this as spontaneously perfect as he could make it, and that it was important to him. I was also still as ravenous, so I had one eye focused on his lanky frame bending over the beige plastic box of an old fashioned radio, while the other eye was navigating a fork into scrambled eggs. I’d almost devoured all the eggs when he discovered that the radio still worked, and was negotiating the hazards of hash-browns cooked with caramelized onions when he discovered what he ascertained was the perfect music. I had to agree with him, “Knights in White Satin” was an excellent choice, and he turned, made a bow and then resumed his one-kneed position in front of me.

He was attempting to make light of the spontaneity of the moment- plastic flowers, bread tie ring and all, but behind it he was somber and serious. “Beloved titian-haired lady of my dreams, she who speaks the truth of her heart in her sleep but hides her light behind her hair in the day…..Will you join me in my life and be my lady for all time to come? And will you accept this token of my affection, desire and promise-to-do-better-when-we-find-a-decent-jewelry-store?”

I would have loved to laugh and accept his proposal, but I’d taken a mouthful of hash-browns and any response on my part would have spewed half-chewed food all over him. I was trying to chew and swallow, but there was this silly grin on his face like he was savoring the moment of me NOT being able to say a thing.

“Oh, woman. I do so love you. Look, don’t choke on your answer, just nod your head and take the ring will ya’?”

I was nodding my head when I got choked anyway…and he ended up patting my back with the solid ‘thud, thud, thud’ and the comment that this was getting things off in a good direction. To which I responded with placing his handmade bread-tie engagement ring on my left hand, and jumping up to hug his neck. We sort of got tangled up in the tablecloth and somehow brought all the plates and coffee cups into the floor while exchanging yet another kiss amidst the laughter.

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It took a good hour or so for the couple to clean up the mess in the kitchen, by then the sun was high enough to take the chill off the morning and actually make the day warm enough for a good swim. They both changed into t-shirts and cut-off jean shorts and wandered down to the broad creek with towels in hand to enjoy the water, the sunlight and each other. As they walked hand in hand away from the old farmhouse, the radio in the kitchen was softly buzzing with another tune, “…I hear the secrets that you keep, when you’re talking in your sleep…”

Sometimes You Have To Laugh – Guest Post by Angel Martinez

Yeah, it’s that dreaded day of the week, Monday. However, to make it a tad bit easier on some of us, it’s also Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start to the summer.   Some of us look forward to those long, lazy days – and some of us greet them with a feeling akin to nails scratching on a chalkboard. However and whatever your particular perception, it’s always better to find a good book and curl up somewhere shady and cool. Let your imagination spread its wings on those lovely summer breezes and glide where it may take you.

Angel is a Gift of Serendipity that I met at GRL 2014, and had seen online a couple of times. She’s come to be a friend and someone I can count on to give an honest opinion when those matter most. Without further ado, here’s her lovely guest post!

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Secret Vampire Shame – or Things Paranormal Authors Don’t Want You to Know 

LimeGelatin

My writing’s about half and half – half serious, half not. Even the serious pieces have comedic moments, funny lines, and the occasional absurd situation. Even the humor pieces have moments of doubt and disaster. But I have a serious soft spot for the satiric, especially when something’s big and loud and popular.

Pack shifters, anyone? I keep saying I’ll write a send up of all the pack shifter tropes out there. You know, the whole Alpha/Beta, fated mates, knotting, mpreg, thrown out of the pack and needs a new one/ has to reclaim pack from evil overlord/stepfather/uncle-who-married-mom. Haven’t had time to do it yet, but some day. Some day…

Another paranormal send-up I think about involves vampires. Oh, come on. So, so much to make fun of. Though I certainly wouldn’t be the first. But one thing I’ve never seen discussed is vampire eating restrictions. Seriously, the transition to immortal can’t be an easy one. There have to be some. What if a vampire was afraid of a certain blood type? Or couldn’t feed from someone wearing a certain scent? Or thought that feeding directly from a vein is icky? What if a vampire had a bad reaction to certain blood components?

Since Lime Gelatin isn’t about a vampire, but has a vampire as a secondary character, I picked that last one. Poor Carrington can’t consume whole blood, so he has to obtain washed RBC’s (red blood cells washed with saline to remove most of the plasma and white blood cells) from the blood bank. Just not quite the same effect, trying to be a Prince of the Night when you can’t sink your teeth into someone. Can you imagine the try at a hookup conversation in a bar?

“Hello there, I’m a vampire.”

“Oh, cool! That’s such a turn-on. Wanna go out to the car and you know, I’ll suck you off while you suck on me?”

“Um. No, that is, I can’t. You’d make me sick.”

*potential hookup stomps off in an offended snit, possibly after punching aforementioned unfortunate vamp*

Now…about that shifter piece…

Lime Gelatin and Other Monsters

Offbeat Crimes 1

(part of Amber Allure’s 77th Precinct Pax)

Blurb:

Officer Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to Philadelphia’s 77th Precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.

Just as Kyle’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, his new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved, and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways.

Now, if Kyle and Vikash can learn to work together, they just might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.

Excerpt:

Kyle sat up straighter, shifting to see between the heads in front of him. Soren looked like a poster boy for the model police officer, tall and straight, uniform crisp and sharp. He stood at parade rest beside the lieutenant, impassively surveying his new colleagues. A little knot of resentment lodged in Kyle’s stomach. At his own introduction to the 77th, he’d been nervous and fidgety, freaked out by the collection of…freaks. How can he be so calm?

“Officer Soren transferred from the Harrisburg PD—”

“Don’t they have enough freaky shit of their own up there?” Wolf called out in his rasping growl.

“Since Harrisburg is in our jurisdiction,” she continued with a quelling glance. “He’ll start out partnered with Monroe.”

“What does he do, ma’am? That it’s safe to put him with Kirby, er, Kyle?” Shira Lourdes asked as she flicked nervous glances across the room at Kyle. An empty chair slid away from her and fell over. Her partner, Greg Santos, shook his head and righted the unfortunate piece of furniture.

“Officer Soren’s abilities are his business, which he may or may not choose to share if you ask. And don’t bully him about it either, any of you.” Lieutenant Dunfee swept the room again, pinning each of her officers with her needle-laser gaze like captive butterflies. “Monroe, my office after briefing. Info on your current case.”

She dismissed them, stalking from the room with thunderclouds in her eyes. Kyle found himself approaching the new guy and trying his best not to be awkward. Did he offer to shake hands? Was it safe? Would the guy flinch like so many people did at the sight of Kyle’s scarred hands? Soren was even taller up close, six-foot-three of lean inscrutability, his blue eyes startlingly bright against smoky bronze skin.

“Um, hi, I’m Kyle Monroe.” Kyle fidgeted when Soren didn’t offer his hand either. “You’re with me, I guess. I’ll show you our spot in the squad room.”

Soren followed him silently and Kyle was starting to wonder if he was like Krisk in the not-speaking department until he finally spoke in a smooth, soft baritone, making Kyle startle and miss a step. “Why do they call you Kirby?”

“You’d hear it sooner or later, I guess.” Kyle shrugged. “It’s this thing I do, absorbing other people’s talents temporarily. If they’re close to me. Or touch me. Like Kirby, the little pink dude in the video game.”

“Ah.”

Just that? Soren didn’t edge away, or change expression at all. Was he made of stone? “It’s a thing. Everyone here has a thing.”

After a few more steps, Soren asked, “Always?”

“What… Oh, was I always like this? Who knows? I mean, maybe I’ve picked up stray thoughts or something, but no. It’s pretty recent. Knowing that I do this.”

Kyle took a wide arc around Vance as he entered the squad room, pointing to the double desk in the far corner, well removed from everyone else. “That’s ours. Coffee’s over there, but you might not want that coffee. Let me grab my file and we’ll go see the lieutenant.”

“So what’s your story, Soren?” Vance called across the squad room. “What flies your freak flag?”

“Yeah, what do you do?” Jeff Gatling stopped ’porting his banana from one corner of his desk to the other.

“I don’t really do anything,” Soren answered as he hefted the empty coffeepot. “Guess I’ll make fresh since I’m the new guy.”

He opened the top to remove the filter and every human voice in the squad room yelled out, “No!”

Most people would have startled, maybe dropped the carafe. Soren just blinked at the roomful of people gesturing wildly. He took the filter out and emptied it over the trashcan. “Why not?”

“You don’t want to do that.” Kyle stayed by his desk, a nice safe distance from the coffee station. “That’s Larry’s job.”

“Larry’s not keeping up then.”

The container of sweetener packets began to rattle. It shivered across the counter and leaped to a messy end, ceramic shards skittering across the floor. The desk that Krisk and Wolf shared rose from the floor several inches and slammed back down. Wolf fled with a squeaking yelp just before the desk flipped on its side.

Soren glanced toward Kyle. “Larry’s not a cop, is he?”

“He is…he was! A dead cop. Larry’s a ghost. He gets ticked if anyone else makes the coffee. Put the stuff back, please!”

“Larry?” Soren raised his voice but to all appearances remained completely unruffled. “I’m new here. I’m very sorry I invaded your jurisdiction. See? I’m putting the carafe back. Closing the top. Are we good, Larry?”

A breeze ruffled through a stack of papers, but no further mayhem ensued. The carafe slid from its pad on the coffeemaker and floated to the water cooler where Larry, who never manifested in a visible form, whistled tunelessly while he filled the carafe.

From his dim corner of the room, Carrington said in his dry, genteel way, “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Freaks…”

Giveaway:

2 commenters will be chosen at random (’cause I have a formula to do that and everything) for their choice of backlist Angel Martinez book!

About the Author:

Angel Martinez is the erotic fiction pen name of a writer of several genres. Her experiences as a soldier, a nurse, a banker, and an underpaid corporate drone give her a broad view of the world and a deep appreciation for the astounding variety of people on this small planet.

She currently lives part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head. She has one husband of over twenty years, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

To contact Angel with praise, adulation, sarcasm, and complaints to the management (any management, she’s not picky, but it might not solve your flight reservation issue) please try these linky things:

Email: ravenesperanza@yahoo.com

Website: http://angelmartinezauthor.weebly.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amartinez2

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/angelmartinez

Watch This Space

galaxy

I’ve been so scattered of thought, body and spirit of late that I nearly totally blanked that I even had a blog. No worries though; there’s this little e-mail notification that tells me that the spam-meisters have been hard at it again. I really do wish that I had less of an ethical filter at times, because whamming the crap outta their blatant promo would just thrill my little dark heart.

At some time in the VERY near future, I will be hosting a wonderful author & friend on this site, so if you are following me, please be nice to her. Read some of her work and feel free to fawn all over her awesomeness. (Hope you’re blushing pink at this point, Angel Martinez….<evil grin>) Further, to all the beloved author friends hammering the good times gong at the Romantic Times 2015 convention in Dallas this week, huge and gentle hugs. Sorry you folks had to hit here during the rainy season!

This is the time of the year that the Dane and I shift gears into parental mode because the college kidlet is at home for her final summer break before kicking off her senior year at Cornell College. We are incredibly proud of her and just KNOW that she’s going on to incredibly awesome adventures (especially if the posse’ she’s surrounded herself with is any indicator!) Beyond that, there are other opportunities that are dragging us away from Cat’s Paw Acres. It’s time for us to re-connect, re-consider, re-new and re-vamp. That being said, I’m having to learn about some time management wherein health concerns are part of that equation. Did I ever mention that I SUCK at algebra?

We’ve lost some more of our barn cats due to a bumper crop of coyotes and my heart is heavy with their loss. Until recently, both the coyotes and the cats were fine having co-opted a truce that included George the Anatolian being the gatekeeper of goodness. Once George was taken out of the picture by incarnated slime parading as neighbors, everything fell out of balance and relative peace. While I totally despise the idea of returning to being apartment dwellers, it appears that this will be our temporary respite until we leave the State. Which means I get to explore the outer limits of Creative Downsizing.

On a happier note, a completely different surprise in that I’m actually hitting my stride with “Lyriel’s Moon” – a novel that I’ve had in my head to write ever since I narrowly escaped the clutches of the Evil Day Job with my very life. If you are ever victimized by an evil supervisor, boss or co-worker, I heartily recommend exacting revenge through the medium of writing. Nothing feels quite so invigorating as creating your own version of Karmic Payback to bless them with. I’ve created a playlist on YouTube that consists of all my beloved 80’s hair bands, some late 70’s rock, and a few of the latest happy musical creations that has me chair dancing and rocking out as I put my characters through the blender of human experience. The Yorkie thinks I’m two biscuits short of a snack, the cats are conversing about my shredded threads of sanity, and the neighbors are nervously avoiding me. It’s all good.

Sending out love and gentle hugs to one and all. Billy Joel and the rest are tuning up, and the Muse beckons.

A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self

YouTube sent out an e-mail today where in honor of International Women’s Day, they asked women to make a video letter to their younger self.  Well, I’m still on the upward climb of learning video technology, but I knew I could write that letter. Without further ado, here is the “Letter to my 18 year old self.”

**************************************************************************************************************************************************************chicago peace rose

 

Dear Me;

 

I’m writing you nearly two years after a life-altering event and near-death episode. Since it’s been 39 years since I made a monumental decision to join the military instead of attempting to find a way to go to college, I’m writing this so that hopefully, one day, time travel of at least video correspondence is a reality. In November of 1975, I raised my right hand, and had Mom sign an age waiver so I could gain entry into the Texas National Guard. I was so idealistic, so naïve, so sure I was doing the right thing.

Yes, going into the military was a good thing; but I seriously needed someone to tell me about homesickness and familial dysfunction and alcoholism and rape. I seriously needed someone to tell me that my spirit was a beautiful, sacred thing and all those empathic impulses I’d been denying were REAL. I needed someone to help me find the beautiful Goddess in Training that I was, to find the self-confidence that the writing voice within should never have been denied over the need to simply survive. I needed the strong guidance that helped me discover I could do this on my own, that I never needed a man to make me complete. I needed someone to teach me by example that a life companion complemented who you are, not changed you to fit their reality. Further, no one had the right to raise a hand to you in rage; no one had the right to define your spirituality, confine you to their definition of Deity.

There was so much of the masterpiece of my being that was so incomplete at 18 that it should have been considered a felony for me to have been sent out into the world of the late 70’s without at least a Master Class in Reality. You are more than pumps, sandals, boots, or bare feet. You are more than jeans, cut-offs and bikini bottoms. You are more than a bra, a halter top or a t-shirt. You are more than the outside accoutrements of clothing, or style. Your spirit is as free as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, never let anyone tell you or try to convince you otherwise. In fact, do yourself a favor – don’t allow anyone who attempts to corral who you are with conventionality to stay in your life.

Education is a passport to freedom, little one. No one can steal the treasures of knowledge you hold between your ears. There is nothing shameful about being intelligent, there is only the shame later that you were never able to develop the bright promise you held. I said it before and I’ll say it again and again – if the guy you want doesn’t comprehend what you love, let him go. Someone will show up that shares your love of the stars, and the planets, and Star Trek and all things geeky. Someone will show up that is as much a hopeless romantic as you are, and if you are willing to let that special someone, they will sweep you off your feet and worship you every day of your lives together.

Don’t allow the bigotry of those around you blind you to the beauty of everyone you meet. Commit the words of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata to heart and find a way to live/express/develop the intent of that writ every moment that you draw breath. Find a way to play every day, coloring books are not the territory of the very young, neither are finger paints or Play-Doh, or Legos, or Lincoln Logs or even rag dolls and dollhouses. Remember the fun you had in the kitchen with your grandmother, and your nannies, and learn that food is as much a palette as are words and crayons.

Last, learn to grieve as deeply as you loved. Never allow someone to tell you to “get over it.” While the great sages and wise women through the ages affirm that we are never truly separated from those we love, there are those who will share time with you as you dance on this planet that will only share the journey but briefly. They will be the beacons of Light along parts the dimly lit passages as no life is lived in sunlight alone. Never forget to appreciate the Light in your life; taking people for granted should be considered a mortal sin.

When you have children, stick to your guns and your gut. Your intuition as a mother is a far better diagnostic tool than the most schooled pediatrician, the most well-intentioned educator. You KNOW your children. Never deny yourself a moment spent with the extra cuddle, the additional kiss on the forehead, the caress of a silky head. Spending time cuddled together on the ‘mommy/daddy’ bed builds a bond that no one can ever break, and gives them memories of security and love to hold in their hearts forever. Remember that old pots and pans, worn out aprons and wooden spoons are far better toys than those that others spend a fortune on. Teaching them how to build fairy houses out of leaves and sticks encourages imagination, and planting a garden together grounds them to life itself.

Creating things of use and beauty with knitting needle, sewing needle or crochet hook, hands a legacy to all children. There’s nothing wrong with teaching the playmates of your kids how to do it either. Oh yes, one more thing, and it’s the most important. Kids are like that garden you’ll grow together. They need the sunshine, the dirt and the water. Letting them dance naked in the rain allows their spirit that freedom of expression in a memory that will get them through the tough times they will undoubtedly face.

You are an incredible person. You will meet other incredible persons and you will meet people of both great good and horrific evil. When you meet people of evil, walk away. Quickly. Do not attempt to find the good in anyone that greets you with all the ugliness that they are. Accept them as ugly and walk away. The greatest truth is the saddest lesson you will have to learn, and it is this: Good people attract bad people like ants to a picnic. Ants have the right to be ants, but you do not have to sit there and let them hurt you. They have their place in the scheme of things, and it is up to you if you choose to share your life with anyone who willfully hurts you. Make a different choice.

Life is incredibly short. Dance. Eat with joy. Love with abandon. Appreciate the special people in your life, and allow to pass those who would cause you or yours harm. Grow a garden, love a pet, plant a tree. When it is time to go, you want to look back and laugh with love.

Hug yourself for me – and let go of any regrets – you can always start over, on any given day.

Love,

Me.

It’s Not All Hearts And Flowers

Robert A Heinlein_Stranger in a Strange Land_ACE_James Warhola

In Truth, I’m struggling here.

The inner Rhae KNOWS the Universal Laws. The person behind the pen name KNOWS that our experience with our True Selves on this plane is limited at best. However, the spirit that lives within the very fragile, time-limited expression of Homo sapiens is brought to her very mortal, aching knees every damn time by the acts of cruelty expressed by her species. There are numerous tomes, poems, books, movies and scripts to immortalize the highest aspiration of our very souls. Yet, on a daily basis, there are other mortals who actively choose to express the polar opposite of what we’ve been advised is our legacy and our nature; Love.

Love has been analyzed, dichotomized, romanticized, victimized and torn to its very quivering Thread of Quantum Existence. However to this day, despite the wisdom of prevailing religious structures, spiritual expressions, even international law and dictate there are starving children, women and men of every persuasion beaten, abused, demoralized and in some instances killed. There are individuals whom profit off of the misery of others despite the moral warnings written by the wisest and most venerated. There are massive groupings of businesses in existence solely to make as much money for the upper echelon of their operation as possible whilst ignoring the poisoning of the planet they live on. There are businesses that mask their true intentions by parading as religious institutions structured to inculcate the masses into their carefully prepared propaganda.

What is it about the human species that simply cannot accept Love as a pure essence of self? We place strictures and values and rules and taboos and shades and colors and judgment on what Love is until it no longer resembles what it was meant to be; the last Unified Field Theory of Life. Heinlein approached the mysticism of love through a character named Lazarus Long; and I finally found a handle on the strangeness of the male perspective of love through the eyes of this fictional character. Masculine nature quantifies desires and needs, this is a Universe defined by Order through this perspective. The feminine nature knows intuitively that Love cannot be quantified and only temporarily defined; the true nature of Love is Chaos framed by Order until Chaos decides otherwise. Look at any household filled with children and the inescapable Truth of this is lovingly provided in everyday explosions of clothes, toys, pets, shoes and household chores done with an eye towards the activity of framing Chaos again. Androgyny stands in the middle of all of this Divine Drama and poses the eternal question mark of What The??

There are intersections and collisions of Chaos and Order, passion and tolerance, lives of despair and lives of fulfillment. These are the Threads that weave the human experience into the Masterpiece Declarative we live within. I just want to know why, with the majority of us that know the joy of what lives within our hearts, why we have chosen to express anything other than Chaos defined by temporary Order and described as Love.

In Truth, I’m struggling here.

Tums & Tarantulas

tarantula

We all have demons to slay; those personal little horrors that sit quietly gnawing at the back corners of our sanity until common sense and equilibrium start leaking out of the hole in our souls. Such is grief when never properly allowed to be expressed, and if you came from a family that put the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional’ you can identify with this. As such, I’ve carried 3 camels worth of sorrow for my beloved best friend. Further, I’ve never found a way to process it; so, when in the flash of an instant it came crashing back over my psyche, I was a sobbing huddled-in-sorrow mess on the floor of my office.

For me, part of the healing process comes with writing about this unique friendship and the bizarre joys of our time as roommates. It was the eighties, I’d just barely escaped the clutches of an abusive husband and Mary had lost her previous roomie (a cousin) to job changes. Fate had us looking to move closer into town from the wilds of the suburbs, and as luck would have it, a rather fashionable townhouse had opened up just down the block from where I was working.

This was both opportune and serendipitous as not only was the grocery store within walking distance, should I choose to change my current employment situation, the metro stop was fairly close as well. I was working as an assistant credit manager and deposit clerk in an upscale department store, Mary was working as the educational liaison for a chain of nursing homes. We were both fairly happy in our positions and loved the proximity to entertainment, restaurants, etc. that our new home would provide.

The townhouse had a gated courtyard and a willow tree that I happened to adore with all the romantic bliss of the ignorant. It also had a fireplace; something Mary and I both insisted upon because hot cocoa and Grade B romance movies were a passion on those long Friday nights without dates. I’d taken the upstairs bedroom and en-suite bathroom, she’d chosen the downstairs. I loved my room with its lovely bay window shaded by the willow tree, she was happy with the room downstairs and its relative quiet as I was working long hours.

For the first six months, it was bliss. We’d have lunch together in the food court of the mall attached to the store where I was working when she was in town and we’d chat, laugh, and catch up on what was going on in our lives. Her job required travel no less than 4 days a week, so our lunch dates were special to both of us. We’d also plan out menus, shopping, movies, laundry, carpet shampooing, mundane household tasks, and when we could escape to go see her folks in North Texas. Her Dad had simply ‘adopted’ me as another kid in the family and when we went to see them, I had chores just like everyone else.

Then, early one spring morning I was pouring a bowl of Corn Flakes and discovered a very nasty buddy in my bowl; in fact, several. Cockroaches had infiltrated the cereal box and were feasting on my morning munchies. I’m not squeamish, but I squealed a very loud squeal of disgust. Mary’s howl of horror was not far behind. Then, when she went to open the refrigerator, several came flying out of the rubber seal of the door. We opened the cupboard doors under the sink and discovered a cavalcade of critters under there was well. She immediately called the 24 hour maintenance line and demanded extermination services.

For the next month or so, we were in chemical warfare against the little 6 legged invaders. We bought hermetic containers for any foodstuff that usually resided in a box, changed out canisters, and basically robbed the bastards of any foodstuff we could think of. Until, they broached the last bastion of our sanity. When deprived of any foodstuff humans normally consume, they turned to the electronic and proceeded to eat the plastics and coating within our video cassette player and television. Cry HAVOC!

We were at our wit’s end, eating lunch in the food court and were discussing everything from radiation to relinquishing the place we loved so much when, this tall rangy fellow from the exotic pet store comes over to our table and introduces himself. “Hey, there ladies! My name’s Clint, and I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation and your problem and well – I think I have the solution.” Mary and I were stunned into silence with the sudden, unexpected introduction to the fella, but nothing could have prepared us for Clint bringing a small terrarium with a HUGE brown tarantula in it around from behind his back and placing it right in the center of our lunch table. I immediately attempted to see how far my butt would fit in the large planter behind me and I remember Mary attempting to climb Clint like a tree in order to affect escape. Yes, there were the usual accompanying sound effects of squealing, screaming females.

Clint, in the process of prying Mary out of his hair and off of his person, remained nonplussed by our reaction and began calmly explaining that tarantulas give off a pheromone that sends roaches packing. We looked at one another; which one was going to do terrarium or rather terror-ium duty? Who was going to feed the eight-legged monster once he’d eaten every roach? How often do they pee/poo and what does cleaning up after a tarantula entail? We were not convinced that any amount of salesmanship was going to confer ownership of the spider to either of us. “Ok,” Clint sighed, “Ladies, look. I’ll loan you the tarantula for a month or two. I’ll even come over once a week to check up on him and see how he’s doing. Heck, I’ll even set the whole thing up.”

“Look,” Mary replied, “as long as you take care of that thing and neither of us have to do one thing that remotely involves removing the top of the container he lives in, we’re good. And DON’T get funny and slip in a pregnant female thinking it a joke because we WILL hunt you down!” Clint sorta turned a bit pale, but true to his word, that evening after the mall closed he came over and set up “Hairy’s” home in a corner of the galley kitchen of our townhouse.

A couple of nights later, we were curled up watching MASH and Mary looked with a funny glance at me and muted the sound on the television. “Do you hear a funny crunching noise?” She asked.

“Yeah, I do. Sorta like someone eating Frito’s.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“But, it sounds like it’s coming from the kitchen.”

“I ain’t going in there alone.”

“Me neither.”

“Come on, Roomie.”

“Oh, God! Ok.”

What we did not expect was to see something vaguely reminiscent of a 50’s science fiction thriller; Clint had set the terrarium up with a pickle jar lid of Cheerios in the corner. We’d assumed that this must be some sort of unknown treat for the tarantula, what the Hell did we know about tarantula diet? Nope, good ol’ ‘Hairy’ was crunching down on the cockroaches that nearly covered the small pile of cereal in the corner of his habitat, like a kid crunching on Cheezy Poofs. We would have screamed in horror, but the objects of our more immediate disgust were being permanently removed from our environs one juicy crunch at a time.

True to his word and ‘Hairy’s’ appetite, within six weeks the roach problem was reduced to the ‘damn near extinct’ level in the townhouse. Clint came over to take ‘Hairy” back to the pet shop, but Mary decided that as long as Clint would come over and “service” the beast we’d buy him and give him a home. Then, Clint gave us one more little trick to address the cockroach problem.

The fella was a good salesman because if he’d shown us this little trick, we might never have agreed to ‘Hairy’s’ presence. From a bag, Clint retrieved beer bottle caps. I asked, “What, we’re gonna get them drunk and toss ‘em out the door?” “Nope.” He grinned.

He placed a bottle cap next to the baseboards at the common wall between us and our neighbor’s townhouse. Then, out of his pocket he produced a roll of Tum’s antacids and he placed one in the bottle cap. “Now,” he smugly noted,” we wait.”  Within a minute or two, a cockroach came up from under the baseboards and began nibbling on the tablet. After a couple of minutes, the insect left the tablet, replete. It then began to walk across the carpet and it didn’t make it six inches before we heard a distinct “pop” and the insect jerked once and rolled over, dead. “Roaches can’t burp, ladies.” Clint calmly announced.

Mary would have fumed, but Clint was grinning such a gamine smile, she just threw her hands up in the air and for the next hour or so we were placing bottle caps with Tums tablets in them all over the townhouse. Granted, for a couple of nights the sounds of exploding roaches was a little unsettling, but we vacuumed up the conquered invaders with a sense of satisfaction that we were no longer engaging in hazardous chemical warfare, and we’d taken a homeless tarantula off the streets.

So, there you are. A little story that will forever remain in my heart about our escapades as roomies and how we simply didn’t give up the little townhouse we both so loved. Perhaps I also believe that in sharing this a wee bit of the grief that I’ve carried for 27 years has melted. Love ya’, Mur….