Mountain Laurel – Segment #2

We met our main character in the first segment of Mountain Laurel last week. So far, all we know about him is that his name is Mr. Roberts and he’s obviously a country music star in Nashville.  We also know he lost his father in a coal mining accident when he was a young boy. A reporter is trying his best to get an interview out of him and so far that isn’t going well. Let’s head back to the bar and see how he fares.

###

I had a little brother, Timmy, seven years younger. Timmy had been born different. They said his brain never developed the way it should. He’d sit for hours and play with the dust that danced on the sunbeams through the windows, lost in his own little world. Oh, how Papa doted on him.

After that fateful day in the coal mines of Kentucky, the life we’d known as children of Robert Anderson was over. Mama fell into a deep depression and locked everyone out. If it hadn’t been for April, us Anderson kids might’ve starved to death.

My one solace was music. I’d often disappear for hours at a time, taking my guitar with me. A stream ran a few hundred yards from our miner’s shack on the side of the Cumberland Mountains. That’s where I’d go. I played my guitar and sang to the fish that jumped out of the water, turtles that sunned on a log and frogs that leaped from stone to stone.

The fat man cleared his throat loudly. “Mr. Roberts, I don’t think you’ve heard a word I’ve said. Would you at least answer one question?”

Oh yeah, I’d forgotten all about the insistent reporter. I turned to look squarely at him. “What’s your name?”

“Lewis Washington, sir. What inspired you to write your hit song, Cumberland Mines?”

“It was a tribute…to my father.” I motioned to the bartender and returned to my thoughts.

Not too long after we lost Papa, the local welfare lady came. I hid under the porch and listened.

Mountain_Shack

“Mrs. Anderson, we’re sorry for the loss of your husband, but it has come to our attention that your young son, Timmy, may need to be placed in an institution where he can get the kind of help he needs.”

I didn’t have to see Mama’s face to know she gave the lady a blank stare. That’s all she’d managed to give any of us for months.

The welfare lady droned on and on. By the time she drove her ’49 Ford down the dirt road that had brought her to our shack, I knew she’d be back to get Timmy. I crawled out from under the porch and kicked at the dust that settled under my feet.

1949_ford_carros_antigos_19

 

Anger took over and I bounded up the porch steps and into the house. Brushing past April, I went straight to Mama. Nothing I said would make her look at me. She was gone.

The worst thing a boy can do is cry in front of his older sister. Once I’d said my piece, I grabbed my guitar and headed for the creek as I’d done a hundred times since Papa died. Oh, how I pounded on the guitar that day. The more I cried, the harder I hit the strings. But, by the time I dragged myself back to the house, I’d written my first song about a tragedy in a Cumberland Mountain coal mine.

“Ahem. I heard Andy Roberts ain’t your real name.” The reporter didn’t give up.

I glanced at his flushed face. “Nope.”

“What’s your real one?” The way he held the pencil over the paper reminded of me a bird about to dive for its prey.

“You’re getting awful personal,” I growled. For a long minute, I considered punching him in the face.

TO BE CONTINUED……

Do Press Releases work?

Press Release Crossword

As a staff writer for two magazines, I receive a plethora of Press Releases every day.

I can tell you some grab my eye immediately and some I never open. So what is the secret?

First of all let me answer the question: Do Press Releases have value?

The immediate and short answer is “Yes.”

The longer answer is:

  • Press Releases are a great way to shout out an accomplishment
  • Press Releases can open doors for interviews
  • Press Releases can gain you new followers and fans
  • Press Releases offer a way to reach many with one click

So, what is it about these Press Releases that prompt me to open or delete them?

The first thing I watch for is relevance. I write for music magazines, so a press release about a new company opening down the street will not get my attention (unless it is a recording studio or music store).

That is the number one point I’d like to make. If you are considering sending out a Press Release about an award you received for a book, don’t send it to a publication that only specializes in politics (unless your book is about politics). You wouldn’t want to send your press release to a publication that only does music reviews (unless your book is about music.) I’m sure you get the idea.

In my case, if the press release I receive is not about an artist relevant to Texas or Oklahoma, I delete it.

The headline of the press release is the next most important aspect to me. It can make or break the effort. A boring headline won’t prompt me to open it, but an excited, energetic headline will draw me every time. I’ve even opened Press Releases that I knew had no relevance to me just because of the compelling subject title. They made me want to know more. That is probably the single biggest challenge for anyone writing a Press Release.

Here is a formula that might be useful.

Headline Formula

If you can get them to open it, you at least have a 50-50 chance of some follow-up action.

Since my book of short stories, “Two Shorts and a Snort,” won the Grand Prize in the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB 90-day Alpha/Omega Beginning to End Short Story contest, I will be sending out press releases locally and statewide.

Here is my headline for local media:

Local Indie Author wins the Grand Prize in an International Short Story Challenge

And for statewide media:

Texas Indie Author wins the Grand Prize in an International Short Story Challenge

Then, in the body of the ONE page Press Release, I can give more details. To me, the draw in the headline is three things – One that I am a local author, two this was not a local contest and three I am an indie author.

What are your thoughts? Have you sent Press Releases in the past? Did you get any results?  I’ll keep you posted as to my results. I’ve had a good response in the past, getting two newspaper features and a TV appearance.

GMT_Interview_Pic

In the meantime, if you haven’t yet picked up your copy of “Two Shorts and a Snort,” here is the purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Two-Shorts-Snort-Jan-Sikes-ebook/dp/B07DY8FSWL/

TWO SHORTS&A SNORT_Final2

 

Mountain Laurel – Segment #1

If you follow my blog, you know that a big part of my life revolves around all kinds of music, but country, folk, and Americana music in particular. Why? Because most of the songs in these genres are story-driven. As a writer, that is what I gravitate to. That is not to say that I don’t enjoy classic rock and blues, because I love them. But, ultimately it’s the stories that draw me.

There are certain songs that invoke the desire to expand and tell the story in greater detail than what you get in three minutes. That is the case with “Mountain Laurel.”

“Rocky Mountain Music” by Eddie Rabbitt is the inspiration. I hope you enjoy the story and here’s a link to the song, if you want to give it a listen.  The storyline does not follow the song a hundred percent but does take bits and pieces of it to weave into this tale.

Segment 1

“Tell me, Mr. Roberts. What’s it like bein’ a big singin’ star?”

The afternoon sun reflected off the lone front window of the Nashville bar. I turned my attention from the shot glass nestled comfortably in my hand to the watery blue eyes of an overweight fellow in a cheap leisure suit. “I reckon it’s okay.”

The heavyset man eased his rear up on the bar stool next to me and motioned to the bartender. “I hate to intrude, but I’m tryin’ real hard to get established as a reporter in the music industry and I need a story bad. What was it like for you growing up?”

Shifting away from the obtrusive interviewer, I stared past him at a memory as vivid as if it were yesterday.

Wide-eyed, I watched as my mama sank into the nearest threadbare chair and crumpled into a heap of sobs.

I could hear the words that fell out of the foreman’s mouth as he laid a clumsy hand on Mama’s shoulder, but it took a while for them to register in my twelve-year-old brain.

coal miner

“Miz Anderson, I’m sure sorry. We tried everything to get Robert out, but when the back section of the mine gave away, it was awful bad.” The miner sighed and shoved a hand covered with coal dust in his pocket. “I’ll have the missus come around and check on you if that’s okay.”

Mama didn’t answer. The kind of grief a person only feels when everything they love is snatched away wracked her body causing her frail shoulders to heave. Guttural cries sprang from her throat making the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Thank heavens my older sister had the good sense to see the man to the door. After all, April was the strong one. Barely fifteen, she had long dark ringlets that hung down her back and violet eyes that Papa often said could turn any man’s head. She looked more like Papa than the rest of us.

I spared Mama a glance. She was broken. Deep down that day, I knew I no longer had a mama or a papa.

“Mr. Roberts, sir. I really would like to ask some questions if you can spare me five minutes.” The reporter fished out a pencil and tablet while he sipped on a foamy draft beer.

It wasn’t that I minded being interviewed; it was just the memories his questions stirred. No matter how much I drank, how many women I slept with or how many shows I sold out, the guilt was always there.

Papa was my best friend. I admired everything about him; the easy way he moved through life, always smiling and tipping his hat to the ladies, but most of all the ease that music flowed through him. He could play damn near any instrument.

That was the gift he’d passed on to me. From my barstool, I could picture him in his favorite rocker on the front porch blowing smoke rings from his pipe, plucking on his banjo and nodding at me when it was my turn to play my old beat-up Harmony guitar.

banjo man

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT SUNDAY…

 

Completing a Challenge #RRBC #RWISA

There are times when you throw your hat in the ring in response to a challenge and then find yourself saying, “What have I done?”

Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for me this time with the RRBC 90-day Alpha/Omega Beginning-to-End short story challenge. 

I listen to a lot of music and my favorite songs are the ones that tell a story such as “Loving County,” written by Charlie Robison and Jack Ingram.

So, when I accepted this challenge, I knew I wanted to write a short story based loosely on this song.

The first story in my new book, TWO SHORTS AND A SNORT, is “OBSESSED,” taken from the song. There is a moral to my story and that is, “If the price tag is too high, walk away.”

The second story in TWO SHORTS AND A SNORT IS “MAGGIE.” Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.

Then the SNORT is a poem. Yes, I know it wasn’t part of the challenge, but it was just there, so I went with it.

I designed the cover for TWO SHORTS AND A SNORT. I’m not a cover-designer, so this was another challenge unto itself.

TWO SHORTS&A SNORT_Final2

Then I had another challenge and that was trying to format this little twenty-one-page book. I spent hours and days trying to get it right because again, I am not a formatter.

But, I eventually got it all done and even went a step farther and created a book trailer video to accompany it.

So, if you are inclined to read some very short short stories, I’d be honored if you’d pick up a copy of the book today. It’s only 99 cents on Amazon.

PURCHASE LINK

And if you are curious about the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and the many opportunities like this they offer, take a look! It could just be the right community of supportive authors for you.

Oh yes, and HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

101582-Happy-4th-Of-July-To-All-My-Friends

Amusement Park – 3

Last week, we left Jennifer on her way back to the amusement park after searching at home for her seven-year-old little sister who had mysteriously disappeared off the roller coaster ride. The owner of the amusement park, Mr. Parker, had recruited the other workers to help search for the little girl. Jennifer is just arriving back at the park. Let’s see if anyone has found Emily yet.

***

The look on Mr. Parker’s face told me they hadn’t found her yet. I shoved the cell phone back in his hand and muttered. “Thanks, Mr. Parker. Emily wasn’t there.”

Mr. Parker narrowed his eyes at me. “Where is your mother, young lady? She should be here.”

I cast my eyes to the ground. “She was out.”

“Well, no matter. Put your thinking cap on. What is Emily’s favorite part of the park?”

“She loves the hall of mirrors. She goes every chance she gets.”

“Then, let’s go look there.”

hall-of-mirrors

I walked alongside the man who had shown nothing but kindness. Tears threatened to spill, and I blinked hard.

“Why do I have a feeling there is something you aren’t telling me, Jennifer?” He asked.

“I don’t know sir.” I picked up the pace and walked a few steps in front of him, reaching the Hall of Mirrors first. I stepped inside and called out. “Emily. Emily Ann, where are you? If you’re hiding you better come out right now or you’re in big trouble.”

The only response was a slight echo. I rushed through, not taking time to glance at my reflection in the mirrors that made Emmy giggle so. I just had to find her.

Mr. Parker’s phone jangled causing me to jump. “Hello,” he said. “Yeah, okay. We’ll be right there.”

“Did someone find her?” I tugged on his arm.

“It was Mickey. He just said to come quickly to the spooky tunnel. Let’s go.”

I didn’t wait for him. I ran as fast as I could through the maze of mirrors out into the fading sunlight and didn’t slow down until I reached the mouth of the darkened tunnel. My stomach turned a thousand summersaults.

Spook-Cars-edited

Mickey slouched against the opening of the darkened tunnel.

“Did you find her?”

He passed me his flashlight and motioned inside. I didn’t wait for him or Mr. Parker. I ran screaming. “Emily! Emmy! Where are you?”

“Sh,” A soft voice replied. “You’re gonna scare them.”

I didn’t exhale until I reached Emily. She sat on the ground deep in the tunnel with a tabby mama cat and a passel of kittens on her lap.

“Look, Jen.” She grinned up at me. “Aren’t they adorable? Can we take them home with us? Huh? Can we?”

I wrapped my arms around my little sister and wept into her soft brown hair. “Oh, Emmy. You scared me so bad. Why didn’t you tell me where you were going? We’ve looked all over and now Mr. Parker has had to pay everyone extra to stay and look for you.”

“But, I didn’t have time to tell you.” She stared at me with wide blue eyes. “I had to follow Miss Daisy and she wouldn’t wait. She needed my help.”

The mangy cat blinked her yellow-green eyes at me and meowed as if to confirm everything Emily said.

Tabby

Mr. Parker and Mickey reached us together.

“You gave us quite a scare, young lady,” Mr. Parker said with a deep stern voice.

“I’m sorry.” Emily’s bottom lip quivered. “I just had to help Miss Daisy.”

Mr. Parker replied, “Come on. We need to let the others know and call off the search.”

Emily stubbornly refused to stand up.

“Mr. Parker, you can go. I’ll deal with Emily and these cats.” I couldn’t stand to put him out any more than I already had. “And, sir, you can take out of my wages whatever you need to pay the others for staying.”

He laid a hand on my shoulder. “That won’t be necessary, Jennifer, but you are going to have to leave your little sister at home from now on when you come to work.”

I stared at the ground. “Yes, sir.”

As soon as they were gone, I dropped down beside my sister. “Oh, Emmy, you still don’t know what a problem you made, do you?”

“I didn’t mean to upset you and Mr. Parker. I just had to help Miss Daisy. She came and got me off the roller coaster when it stopped on the big curve.”

I smoothed back her hair. “I understand, but you can’t just disappear like that. If they had called the police, we’d both be in big trouble. You wouldn’t want us to be taken away and put in strange homes, would you?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. “No, Jenny. I wouldn’t want that at all.”

“Then you can’t just be disappearing without telling me, no matter what. Understand?”

Emily nodded and swiped at her nose.

“Well come on, then. We have to go. The park is closed.”

“But what about Miss Daisy and her kittens?”

“I’ll go find a box and we can take them with us. But, we have to go.”

Emily reached for my hand. “Thank you, Jenny.”

The cat meowed again.

What on earth was I going to do with more mouths to feed?

**This is NOT the end. I have lots more problems planned for these two girls. But, now that we’ve found Emily,  I am going to pull it off my blog and turn it into a YA novella. I hope I have enticed you enough with this opening to want to read more about Jennifer and Emily.**

The Alternative – New Release from S. Burke

It is my honor and pleasure to host this author and her new release! I was lucky enough to be a beta-reader for this collection of short stories and I can tell you they are not only compelling but downright riveting! 

Welcome to Day 3 of my Choose “THE ALTERNATIVE” Blog Tour.

With my grateful thanks to my marvelous host.

Thank you for joining me here.

BOOK COVER

BLURB

There are those that cling unreservedly to the lifeboat that believing in Karma hands them so willingly.

They work, they live, and they function in a world that allows them the option of unreservedly trusting that Karma has no deadline.

Until they are handed the spark that ignites them into becoming the instrument of Karma itself.

There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.

Then, of course, there are those who believed in nothing and no one, to begin with …

These are their stories.

The stories of people both good and bad, who made the choice to exact “The Alternative.”

***

Today I’d like to share with you a glimpse of the story behind one of the stories.

Part of my book blurb reads

“There are others who have had all they once held to be truths, everything they once stood for and took pride in, torn apart and ripped from them by the hand of a cruel fate.”

This story fits within this premise.

Chapter 2. Human Disinterest.

Within the pages of this particular story is someone I knew and loved. And whilst this is a fictional work, the persona of Jenny Thurston is intensely real.

In the story, Jenny runs a charity organization desperately trying to keep the people that found themselves out on the dark city streets, warm, dry, fed and alive.

Jenny takes up a large television network’s offer to do a feature piece focused on informing the public and making them aware of the circumstances that caused these folks to be out there. She puts up one hell of a fight to protect the unprotected.

My Jenny was barely eight years old when I  met her. I was eleven.  Jenny had the oldest eyes I’ve ever seen. We came from different places, she and I, both of them equally painful and dark.

Jenny spent her entire life fighting cruelty in all of its dark permutations. She inspired me to be stronger, she gave me loving arms without judgment to cling to. She opened her wounded heart to all those in need that she encountered.

She helped me to laugh, and she taught me that I was capable of loving unconditionally.

Jenny lost her ongoing battle with life several years back. She had no fight left in her. She took her own life. It was the only promise she ever made me that she had broken.

I hope I have somehow shared a glimpse of her strength, resilience, frailty and warmth within the pages of this short story.

I miss her still.

Here is a brief extract from the opening of Chapter 2. “Human Disinterest”

Jenny Thurston hung up the phone, then sat in her creaking office chair and gazed longingly up at the brief glimpse of sky visible in the confined space permitted to a two-story building surrounded by towers of concrete and glass.

Brad Levinson hesitated momentarily outside the door, and then he walked heavily, the sound of his intrusive feet deliberately loud to gain his boss’s attention.

“’Sup, Jenny?” he asked.

“I had a phone call, just now. CNN wants to do one of their ‘A Day in the Life of…?’ programs.”

“Wow, Jenny … I mean, hon, that is huge!”

“Oh, it’s huge alright. It’s not a focus on me or our work here they’re after; they want to do a three-part series based on interviews with our street folks. They want me, as the head of Street Angels, to gain them introductions after they have carefully chosen their preference. Jesus, Brad … they don’t give a crap. They just want someone guaranteed to spike the ratings.”

“Well, that would have been a fast conversation. You didn’t threaten them, did you … Jenny?” He looked at her face and found his answer, “Oh, Jenny … not again?”

He was trying hard not to laugh and failed miserably.

“Winter is coming fast, Brad. I don’t have time for this shit. You know we stand to lose a few. The donations always slow down around now.” Jenny smiled and then said, “Anyways, I made them an offer.”

She stood then and stretched her lean frame. “Let’s go over those rosters again for tomorrow night. You know it’s going to get crazy. Friday night and a full moon both at once. I’ll need our most resilient on duty. Can you contact the guys for me, please?”

“Whoa, go back a second, you made them an offer? Please tell me it wasn’t one they couldn’t refuse.”

“Yeah … Don Corleone, I’m not.”

Brad just grinned and said, “Coffee first?”

“Always.”

He laughed again. Jenny was like this most of the time. The other times weren’t so hard to witness, knowing that this Jenny … his Jenny would always come back.

***

Thanks so much for joining in my New Release Promotion. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Again my sincere thanks to my host, and to the great crew at 4 Wills Publishing for organizing my blog tour.

“The Alternative” NOW Available Amazon.com

Author Bio:

Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds- of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Suzanne had long wanted to write, life interrupted and she didn’t begin her journey into the world of writing until she was in her early fifties.

Suzanne has written her memoirs under the author name of Stacey Danson, both her non-fiction books have ranked in the top 100 paid in Kindle on Amazon. “Empty Chairs” and “Faint Echoes of Laughter” continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Suzanne writes her powerful Thrillers “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts of Betrayal” and her Paranormal anthology “Mind-Shaft” as S. Burke.

Suzanne Burke is a member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

Amazon Author Page

On TWITTER.

On Facebook.

My Blog

This tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

Amusement Park – 3

If you’ve just tuned in for this story, you can find segments 1 and 2 in my archives. I post a new episode every Sunday. This story is a writing exercise for me on two levels. I am writing it in first person (I hardly ever do that) and I am working on ways to make horrible things happen to my characters (which I struggle with.)

Last week, Mr. Parker had rounded up all the employees who were still in the park and organized a search for six-year-old Emily who seems to have disappeared off the roller coaster ride earlier. Her older sister, Jennifer, is panicked. She is responsible for her sister. Let’s head to the amusement park and see what’s going on.

***

I half-listened as Mr. Parker assigned each man a different area of the park to search.

Fear gnawed at my gut. Time was wasting. I had to do something.

Finally, he turned to me. “Jennifer, I know this is not what you want to do, but I need you to check at home and see if Emily might have gone back there. And bring your mother with you when you return.” He shoved a cell phone into my hands. “I’ll call you if we find her.”

I nodded and dashed out the gate. I ran like the wind to our two-story wood-frame house six blocks over. I suppose she could have gotten bored and walked home.

What would I tell Mr. Parker when I returned without our mother? Bitterness arose in my throat. I couldn’t even say the word without feeling angry and sick.

No real mother would take off with some strange man and leave her fourteen and six-year-old daughters to fend for themselves without so much as a fare-you-well. She’d been gone for over six months this time. It didn’t matter much that old lady Jobe lived in the house. At 93, she was blind and almost totally deaf. She depended on me to help her with the smallest of tasks. But, she paid her rent every month and that kept the lights on.

“Oh, Emmy, where are you?” This could get really messy. Attention was the one thing I’d managed to avoid until now. I couldn’t lose Emmy. I just couldn’t, and I wouldn’t let them put us off in some strange foster home.

If nothing else, the woman who called herself my mother had taught me to lie…and lie I would.

I reached the front door out of breath and shoved it open screaming. “Emily! Emily, are you here?”

Old lady Jobe stirred in her chair. I shook her and yelled in her ear. “Have you seen Emily?”

“Huh?” the old lady looked dazed and confused.

“Emily,” I repeated. “Has she been here?”

“I don’t think so, child. What’s wrong?”

It took less than two minutes for me to scour every room in the house. Emily wasn’t there.

Without another word, I ran back to the amusement park. Maybe they’d found her by now.

Oh, if only our papa hadn’t gotten killed. None of this would be happening. Tears flowed as I remembered his strong arms around me in the warmest bear hug. Had it already been two years? Emily barely remembered him. It was after that our mother quit caring about anything or anyone but herself. I didn’t mind that she’d left. I’d been taking care of everything anyway.

From that day forward, it fell on my shoulders to take care of Emily and now I’d failed.

I sprinted through the amusement park gates.

To Be Continued…

 

Amusement Park – Part 2

Last week I started a new story and introduced you to a young girl in a panic because she cannot find her little sister. We don’t know much about these two girls yet except they appear to be on their own without parents. The setting is a small amusement park. Let’s check in and they have found Emily.

***

A rough callused hand grabbed my arm. “Hey! Slow down there, girlie. Where’s the fire?” Mr. Simpson had been the grounds caretaker since the amusement park opened, and that must have been at least fifty years ago. He’d always spoken kindly to me. But, right now, I didn’t trust anyone. Rheumy eyes stared down at me.

Rheumy_eyes_at_91

My breath came in ragged gasps. “It’s my little sister, Mr. Simpson. I can’t find her.”

“There, there.” He patted the top of my head. “She has to be here somewhere. Maybe she fell asleep.”

“I’m afraid something happened to her. Maybe she fell out of a ride and hit her head or what if someone took her?” I choked back tears.

“No need to think the worst, Jenny girl. Let’s go talk to Mr. Parker.”

I nodded.

“Come on now,” he prodded me. “Runnin’ around here helter skelter ain’t gonna do you or her any good.”

The old man moved like cold molasses and I resisted the urge to scream. Time was wasting. My gut told me Emmy was in trouble. I always trusted my gut.

But, I matched my steps with his shuffling feet while my eyes darted right and left looking for any tell-tale sign of Emmy.

We finally reached the office and I rushed inside. Cool air relieved my flushed face.

Mr. Parker sat behind his computer pinching the bridge of his nose. He looked up with kindly blue eyes. “What is it, Jennifer? Is something wrong.”

“Oh, Mr. Parker,” I blurted. “I brought Emily to work with me today and kept an eye on her until right before closing when it got busy. Now I can find her anywhere.” I brushed tears away with the back of my hand.

He pushed his chair back and stood. “Otis, who’s still here?”

“I saw Darren, Tom, Mickey, and Bart a few minutes ago,” Mr. Simpson replied.

“Go gather them up. No one leaves until we find the girl.”

Mr. Simpson nodded and shuffled away.

“Don’t worry, honey. ”  Mr. Parker put a hand on my shoulder and steered me toward the door. “Now, where was the last place anyone saw her?”

I quickly told him everything I knew.

“No one goes home today until we find her,” he declared. “We’ll search every inch of this place.”

Nothing would stop my heart from pounding until we found Emmy safe and sound. I’d never considered any of the guys that worked there dangerous or possibly pedophiles.

Had I been wrong? What had I done to jeopardize the only blood kin I had left in the world? Oh, God! What had I let happen to Emmy?

Amusement Park – Part 1

Pixieland-Amusement-Park-Entrance

“Emily!” I yelled. “Emmy! It’s time to go home. Come on out wherever you are. The game’s over.”

She must be playing hide-and-seek with me like she did the other day in the grocery store. My patience was growing thin. I knew I shouldn’t have let her talk me into bringing her with me today. But, she begged and pleaded and said how much she hated staying with old lady Jobe on Saturdays while I tried to earn enough money to feed us.

Mr. Parker, the owner of Pixieland amusement park, had been generous enough to give me a job, even knowing I wasn’t old enough to work. Truth be told, I’m sure he felt sorry for me. Such a young girl on her own trying to take care of her little sister.

“Emmy! Where are you?” I looked under the empty chairs on the tilt-a-whirl then moved on to the carousel, sure she was hiding behind one of the horses or benches. She’d jump out any minute and yell “boo!” Then she’d giggle and I’d reprimand her for hiding and scaring me.

Sweat trickled down the back of my neck and my stomach growled. Funny how the atmosphere of the park changed when all the laughter from children was gone. I shivered in spite of the heat. Where was she? This game wasn’t funny anymore.

“Tom, have you seen my little sister anywhere?”

Tom methodically wiped down the safety bars on the rollercoaster. He was an odd man, tall and thin with a full beard and black mustache that curled at the sides of his mouth. He had a habit of chewing on it. Mr. Parker seemed to collect strays.

He never looked up. “Saw her get on the roller coaster.”

“Okay,” I said. “Did you see where she went when she got off?”

“Nope.” He paused and sprayed Lysol on a rag. “Didn’t get off.”

My heart pounded. “What do you mean she didn’t get off? She’s only six years old. She couldn’t just jump off. Are you sure she got on it?”

Tom nodded. “Yep. I’m sure. Wasn’t on it when it came back around.”

My hands shook. “And you didn’t bother to say anything to me? She could be hurt or…”

I couldn’t even say the words.

I took off running. The soles of my shoes pounded against the planks beside the Wooden Warrior keeping rhythm with my heart. “Emily,” I screamed. “Emmy! Where are you?”

wooden-warrior-roller

Thanks for tuning for the first episode of “Amusement Park.” I’ll put up a new segment every Sunday.

 

Jonah – Part 14

When we left Jonah last week, not only had he chosen to stay on the island when the boat finally came for him, but he met Drake and Jade and learned a huge secret. Drake is his father. Jonah is half Wizard and half mortal. And now, Drake has told him he has work to do. To say the least, Jonah is overwhelmed with all the developments. I thought I would end Jonah’s story with this segment, but there will be one more. 🙂

“Work to do?” Jonah asked.

“Yes. While you are learning of our ways and practicing the magic, you will be given assignments.” Drake paused. “You see, our original mission on earth was to help mortals find their true selves and lead them into the light and knowledge that lies within each of them.”

“How am I going to do that trapped on this island?” Asked Jonah.

“I will show you. We will work together.” Drake handed Jonah a small staff with a pulsating blue Crystal attached to the end.

blue crystal staff1

Jonah accepted the staff and was surprised to feel it vibrating in his hand. “What is this?”

“It is your key to passage through the portal.” Drake stood and pointed to the North.

Again, Jonah’s head swam. “Portal? I don’t understand, sir.”

“You remember how you tried to follow Tidus the first day you met him, and how the snakes blocked your way while he disappeared through a crevice in a stone?”

Jonah nodded.

“This Crystal allows you passage through that portal into our world.”

Jonah stared at the glowing gem. “I still don’t understand.”

“It will all become clear,” Drake put a hand on Jonah’s shoulder. “Gather your things. Let’s go.”

It only took Jonah a few short minutes to gather his meager possessions. He stuffed everything into a small bag and threw it over his shoulder. With a quick backward glance, Jonah bid farewell to the place where only a short time ago, he’d thought he was doomed to spend the rest of his life. When he stepped away, he watched mesmerized as the hut, the beginnings of the garden, and everything surrounding it dissipated into a dark vapor. Nothing but stinging nettles and tangled brush covered the area.

The four of them, Drake, Jade, Tidus, and Jonah followed a clear and unobstructed path toward the North.

When they reached the crevice in the rock, Drake stood aside. “Go ahead, Jonah.”

Crevice

Jonah hesitated. He held the staff in front of him and cautiously approached the rock. With a swoosh of air, he found himself in the most beautiful tropical paradise imaginable.

He turned around in time to see Drake, Jade, and Tidus appear in a mist. This was where Tidus lived. The enormity of the sacrifice Tidus had made to help him overwhelmed and took his breath away. And, to do it without knowing Jonah was his half-brother.

He approached Tidus with tear-filled eyes. “You gave up all of this to hang out with me in hell?” He made a flourish with his right hand.

Tidus grinned. “It was better than being here completely alone.”

“Thanks, kid,” Jonah choked. “I never imagined your world was this.”

“And, now it’s your world too, Jonah.”

Drake and Jade stood arm-in-arm and observed the two. Jade looked up at her mate. “We did well, my Lord.”

Drake lowered his head and claimed her lips. “That we did, my Lady.”

“I have one regret,” Jade said. “I wish I had been Jonah’s mother.”

Drake sighed. “Ah, my love. I could but wish I had only one regret.”

**Please join me next week for the conclusion to Jonah’s story**