Day #9 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC #RRBCWRW

PLEASE READ TO THE END FOR A NICE SURPRISE!

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Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: SUZANNE BURKE


Suzanne_Burke

“Shielded”

By

Suzanne Burke

I welcome the shield provided by darkness. Those sweet moments when I allow myself to sit in the velvet depth of silence and dwell only on what is to come.

For the past only exists to remind me of the challenges I failed to meet. The things I thought myself powerless to change. I know better now.

I have no room for failure here as I sit wrapped in the warm blanket of my darkness-inspired illusion of safety.

The soft glow of the clock now heralds your arrival. I feel my pulse jump in anticipation.

I check the window … again. No vehicle yet slows to a stop on the rain-drenched streets so many floors below.

I feel the twitch of the nerve in my jaw and suck in the air in an effort to still it.

I remind myself once more that external factors are likely responsible for your late arrival. I know you too well to ever believe that you would be late by choice. You are eternally predictable. That comforts me somewhat.

My neck muscles clench and I stand, stretching my arms and softly willing them to relax.

The clock rolls through another hour, and my calmness begins to falter.

I check through everything that I have prepared in anticipation of our meeting.

Grunting with approval at my readiness, I check the window one more time, and I gift myself a smile as your vehicle draws up and parks on the opposite side of the now quiet street.

The excitement begins to make itself felt and I shiver.

You will arrive soon, and all the waiting will end.

I lick my dry lips and take a deeply satisfied breath.

I hear the sound of the ping the lift makes as it stops on this floor. I hear your key turn in the lock.

I wait as you fumble for the light switch and flick it on. You swear in displeasure as the room remains dark. Now you search for your iPhone and seek out the torch app. The room in your immediate vicinity is caught within the boundary of its fractured light.

I smile.

My surprise still awaits your discovery.

You feel your way slowly along the wall and take a faltering stumbled step into the kitchen. The light switch disappoints you once more.

The language that follows that discovery explodes in the air. I hear you open the refrigerator to confirm to yourself that this lack of light has permeated the entire apartment. You shrug out of your coat and drop it to the floor, uncaring of the dirt and clutter it now lay amongst.

You find the bottle of scotch and slam cupboard doors seeking a glass. There are none. They lay in a disordered mess of unwashed utensils still awaiting attention on the food scrap cluttered kitchen bench.

I hear you curse as you stagger. The booze you’ve been consuming for hours rattles your movements and makes them disjointed.

You sit heavily in the easy chair uncaring of the scattered and dirty clothing that cushions your weight.

You unscrew the lid of the scotch bottle and take several satisfying gulps.

The anticipation makes me quiver now.

I have waited so long for this.

The cigarette lighter grants you a drag of the nicotine that is but one thing on your list of addictions.

The clock ticks over again and moves time relentlessly forward.

The bathroom awaits your imminent arrival and you curse again at your now shaking hands as you seek out your ever-present stash of heroin. You scream in rage and frustration when you finally acknowledge that there is none to be found.

I hear you slamming the walls with your now white-knuckled fists.

I reach across and flick off the power override switch. I illuminate the apartment.

It takes brief seconds for you to lurch back into view.

“Melody? Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you were here? What the hell! When did you get back?”

“I discharged myself from the hospital.”

“Oh. Good. This place is a mess. It needs cleaning.”

“Yes, Charles. Yes, it does.”

I watch you nod your head, pleased at my response.

You check your wallet, quickly counting the bills waiting inside. You confirm your decision, “I  need to go out. Fix me something to eat. I won’t be long.”

“Why do you need to go out again? It’s raining.”

I watch you glare at me for daring to question you. “I need a fix. I’m heading to see Freddy.”

“There’s no need. I stopped by and saw him on the way home. I wanted to give you a surprise.”

You smile for the first time. “Well, now. That’s fine. That’s good.”

“Do you want me to get it?”

You now wear your frustrated look. “Fuck yes. Of course. Hurry up.”

“Sorry. It’s a little hard to walk with my ribs strapped.”

“You’re always sorry. You’re pathetic!”

I access the bedroom and return with his fix, and watch as he draws it up and applies the tourniquet to his upper left arm.

“You broke my jaw again, and two ribs this time.”

You glare at me as I dare to disturb your concentration, “You shouldn’t aggravate me like you do. You know you asked for it.”

The smack hits you, and I watch as your pupils dilate. The sickly smile that you now wear is most unattractive.

I wait.

You look suddenly startled. I watch the confusion on your face turn to fear … and then a moment of understanding colors your now bulging eyes. “Fuck! Fuck, Melody! What did you d…………….”

I wait.

You make a gargled choking noise as you begin to foam at the mouth.

I wait for five minutes and then check for a heartbeat … I smile … there is none.

I need to be certain that reviving you is not possible. Fifteen minutes should do it.

I punch in a number on my iPhone.

“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”

“Oh, God … help me, please! Please! I’ve just found my husband. He’s not breathing. Please … I think he’s overdosed.”

The kind operator took my address, “Okay. Stay calm. I have paramedics on the way.”

“Hurry! Hurry, please, please hurry.”

I turn off the lights and sit within darkness’s velvet cloak. My iPhone torch casts a spotlight on your rapidly cooling body.

I smile.

The rigid look of fear on your now strictured face brings me comfort. “Did you like my little surprise, Charles?”

I hear the sirens approaching.

I laugh in delight as the heady rush of adrenaline-fuelled relief floods my system.

The dawn light is just filtering through the balcony windows. Soon now I’ll have no need to seek the comfort of darkness.

I wait now. I have finally regained control.

 The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

SUZANNE BURKE RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make an application!

500th

THIS IS MY 500TH BLOG POST!!

TO CELEBRATE, I AM GIVING AWAY TWO EBOOKS (YOUR CHOICE) FROM AUTHOR, SUZANNE BURKE (AKA STACEY DANSON). LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE ENTERED INTO THE DRAWING!

 

 

Day #8 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Blog Tour Banners

Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: JOHN W. HOWELL

John_Howell_Headshot 2

Trouble by John W. Howell ©2018

I know its morning, but I don’t want to open my eyes. I am starting to remember what went on last night and I don’t even want to imagine who might be sleeping next to me. Not that I think there is anyone there since I’m pretty sure I came home alone. I didn’t want to go back alone, and god knows I tried hard to prevent sleeping by myself. I do remember coming on to the beautiful woman in the bar. Wait a minute. I remember it because it was so early in the evening, I didn’t have a lot to drink then. I know I drink too much and lately, I have been having a hard time getting the events of the previous night together. Okay, so before I open my eyes, I will give a thought to what I believe the evening turned out to be.

First, I met David at the bar, and we had a drink. I ordered gin on the rocks and David had bourbon. So far so good. David and I were discussing something about workout shoes, then he left for the bathroom. The woman came in and asked if I would mind buying her a drink. She had some story about losing her purse and being pretty much stranded. I remember asking her if she had someone she could call. I think she told me, no, but I’m not sure. Anyway, we had a couple more drinks, and sometime in there, David came back. I introduced the woman to David. I think her name was Chloe or Carolyn. By this time, I am starting to feel pretty good. I ask her if she would like to stay over and I remember her telling me she was not that kind of girl. We had some more drinks and then decided to go to dinner. I asked the woman if she would like to join us and she was pretty definite about the decline. I chalked it up to my usual déclassé, and David and I left.

Now from there, it is a little fuzzy. I remember ordering dinner and a couple more drinks. I really don’t remember finishing the meal or leaving the place. This lack of memory is foretelling me that from experience the outcome will not be good. I’m sure David and I went out after dinner as we always do and so there are some blank places where mayhem could have occurred. I am now sweating quite hard, and it isn’t the heat either. The room must be fifty degrees if it is one. The sweat is as a result of the sinking, bottom of stomach pit nervousness coming from the fact I have no idea what I did after we left the restaurant. My head is also beginning to ache as a warning to my body the caffeine level in my system is getting dangerously low. I am afraid I have no alternative, but to get up and face whatever needs facing so I can get some coffee. I know I will also need some painkiller as well. I will try aspirin and know from previous headaches I will need to wash it down with about three fingers of vodka. No ice just the ice-cold vodka from the freezer in a glass with no ceremony. Get it into the system fast so the memory will come back, and these infernal shakes will slow down for the moment.

I steel myself and get ready to get out of the bed. I will need to move my body slowly, so I don’t cause a situation that inevitably leads to nausea and the arrival of the dreaded throw up that doesn’t have the decency to come when I’m numb and in the bag. I know my body would prefer if I did, in fact, throw up, but my mind still considers throwing up the sign of someone who can’t hold their liquor. God knows I can hold mine even if I can’t remember a damn thing about the night before. Now is the time to open the eyes and have a look around. I do the left one first since I think I am closer to the left side of the bed and I’m sure no one is there. When I open my eye, I can almost hear the tearing of the lids as they try to separate. Another joy of falling asleep drunk; the eyes feel glued shut. I look with my left eye and see nothing but the bedroom window looking reddish and covered in the gauzy curtains one of my past loves put up there. The red glow must be the bloodshot view my iris gets looking out of my eyeball.

I open the right and almost scream out loud. My worst nightmare has come true and is lying next to me. That beautiful Chloe or Caroline is sound asleep, and now I have to wonder why I didn’t feel the heat of her body before I opened my eyes. Immediately the old Coyote ugly joke comes to mind about chewing off an arm to get away, but this woman is not ugly and not on my arm. I begin to hyperventilate since no good can come from not remembering how this lovely creature ended up in my bed. I can see she doesn’t seem to have a shirt on either. I am not about to probe to understand about the pants and must try to get to my medications before I actually throw up right here in the bed. I roll to the left and swing my legs over the edge of the bed and sit up as gracefully as I can. I see I am completely naked and instead of feeling free, I believe I feel more like someone who has a clamp around the midsection. I rise off the bed very slowly.

“Morning darling,” she says.

“Uh good morning,” I say. “Would you like some coffee?”

“Ummm that sounds so good right now.”

“I’ll be right back. Don’t go away.”

“Oh, don’t worry I won’t.”

Son of a bitch. What the hell have I done now? I can feel my gag reflex starting to go into automatic drive, so I rush to the kitchen and open the freezer. The vodka is right there, and I am not even going to wait for the glass. I take three big swallows and hold my breath. My stomach gives a lurch like I just dropped an explosive down the hatch but retains the liquid in place. “God thank you,” I say out loud. It Looks like I can go to the coffee machine and brew some strong stuff. At times like these, I am so thankful I quit smoking. As bad as I feel, had I consumed a couple of packs of smokes, I would have wanted to kill myself about now. I hold on to the counter as the coffee begins its cycle.

“How do you feel?”

I wheel around and almost lose my precious vodka which is just starting to worm its way into my brain. “I feel like shit.”

“I am not surprised. When I ran into you again, you were pretty wasted.”

“Whoa, I sure was. Where is David?

“You and David got into a fight.”

“A fight? What were we fighting about?”

“You wanted to take me home, and David didn’t want you to do so.”

“So, where is he?”

“I really don’t know. We left him on the street.”

“What? Left him on the street? Why the hell did we do that?”

“As I said you were pretty wasted.”

“Yeah but leaving him passed out on the street.”

“Oh, he wasn’t passed out.”

“What was he?”

“You shot him. I believe David is dead.”

“Shot him? How is that possible. I don’t own a gun.”

“That didn’t stop you from finding one.”

“Finding one? Where did I find a gun?”

“I loaned you mine.”

“And I shot David with it?”

“Yup. Right in the back as he tried to walk away.”

“Oh my God. What on Earth made me do that? He’s my best friend.”

Was. I wouldn’t say it was an Earthly persuasion. I do believe my work is done here.”

“Your work?  What do you mean?”

“Hear those sirens. They are coming for you. I called them. I would get some clothes on if I were you. Oh, and a piece of advice.”

“Advice?”

“Yeah. Think twice before you decide to mess with the devil. See you on the other side.”

 

 The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

JOHN W. HOWELL RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make an application!

 

Day #6 Welcome to WATCH RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour #RRBC #RRBCWRW

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Thank you all for joining me today on this amazing showcase tour being sponsored by RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS), an elite branch of the amazing RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB!

This showcase will feature 19 talented writers, each having their own special day to be featured on multiple blogs.  Please take a moment after you’ve read the author’s work, to click on the link to take you to that author’s profile page on the  RWISA site.  On my blog, that link will be the author’s name.

Today’s special guest: Ron Yates

Ron Yates

OUT TO PASTURE

Musings of an Erstwhile Asia Hand

by Ron Yates, RRBC 2017 KCT Int’l Literary Award Grand Prize Winner

He watched the hawk circling high in an infinite Southern California sky, far above the shaggy brown hills that loomed behind acres of avocado and orange trees. Every so often the hawk would dip as though preparing to dive on its unsuspecting prey, but then it would pull up abruptly, unsatisfied with the approach to its target, waiting perhaps for a better opportunity.

He knew this hawk. He had seen it before. There were two patches of vermilion feathers on the underside of its broad chestnut wings that reminded him of the red circles that adorned the wingtips of the Japanese fighter planes he used to see in the Pacific during World War II.

He closed his eyes, allowing the warm sun to wash over him. The only sound other than the crisp dry wind that blew up the long pass from La Jolla, was the dull whine of the automatic pool cleaner as it made its programmed passages back and forth in the pool next to the patio. For a moment he could feel himself being pulled back to a time when the heavy coughs of old propeller-driven fighters ripped through the dense, fragrant tropical air like a dull knife through perfumed silk.

For a brief moment, he pictured himself sitting at his old black Underwood, pounding out another story of some long-forgotten battle in World War II, or Korea, or Vietnam that he had covered. He could almost see the white typing paper rolled half-way out of the typewriter and he could see his By-Line typed neatly just above the first sentence of the story:

“By Cooper McGrath

 Global News Service.”

He sighed and shifted his body in the pool-side lounge chair, allowing his growing potbelly to slide slowly to the other side of his frame. “Typewriters,” he thought. “Nobody even knows what they are today.”

Then he reached for his binoculars so he could get a better view of the hawk.

“Look at old Zero-sen up there. He’s going in for the kill.”

“Zero-sen?” Ellen was still puttering around the patio, watering potted plants and trees.

“Yeah, the hawk. That’s what I call him. Look at those red spots on his wings. He looks like one of those old Japanese Zeros.”

Ellen squinted up at the sky and frowned. “You have a lively imagination, Cooper.”

The hawk continued to circle, but it was moving further away. Finally, it dipped below a small rise and disappeared. When it reappeared, it was carrying something in its talons. Cooper exhaled and at the same time pounded his ample belly, the sound of which reverberated across the patio like a hollow drum. Then he pulled himself upright in the recliner.

“I always did, you know.”

“Did what?” Ellen asked, only half paying attention to what her brother was saying.

“Have a lively imagination.”

“Oh, that.” She was on her knees pushing sticks of fertilizer into her potted plants. “And as I recall, it always got you in trouble.”

“Is it time for lunch?” he asked, rising slowly to his feet. “God,” he groaned. “I’m stiff as a dead tree.” He looked at his watch. It was already one-thirty in the afternoon—way past his usual lunchtime and his stomach was growling.

“You don’t get enough exercise, Cooper. I keep telling you, you should enroll in that aerobics class they’re offering down at the clubhouse.”

She stood looking at him for a few moments, hands on hips, white, wide-brimmed gardening hat shading her beige face from the hot sun. She loved her brother mightily, but it saddened her to see him in such physical and mental decline. Why had the Global News Service pushed him into retirement? He had given his life to that ungrateful news agency.

As he stretched his arms skyward Cooper’s ever-expanding belly caused the bottom of his shirt to pull out of his shorts at the midriff, revealing a roll of untanned flesh the color of boiled pork. Finally, she shook her head and made one of those disapproving clucking sounds with her tongue.

“I’ll call you when lunch is ready. Why not take a few laps in the pool, or even better, call the clubhouse about that senior’s aerobics class?”

Cooper mumbled some acquiescent reply as Ellen walked into the house. She was right of course. But at 70 he didn’t feel any particular need to jog around a room with a bunch of other ill-proportioned old farts in tights. Hell, he was retired. Why did he have to do anything at all? Hadn’t he worked his ass off all his life? Didn’t he risk his life reporting stories nobody cared about? Didn’t he deserve some time off to do, well, to do nothing? Nothing at all? Hell yes, he did.

He sighed heavily, and a bit guiltily. He always did when he remembered the half-finished manuscript in his small office. It sat there day after day on the desk next to his laptop computer—unfinished, unedited and unsold. Sometimes he half expected it to finish itself, to somehow link up magically with his mind, download forty years of journalistic experience and then turn it all into some kind of marketable prose that a big time publisher would snap up without hesitation.

But it didn’t work that way. He knew that. Oh, how he knew that. After years of meeting one deadline after another—thousands and thousands of them—if there was one thing Cooper McGrath knew it was that nothing got written until he sat down at his typewriter and began banging it out. Then, about five years ago, toward the end of his career as a foreign correspondent, he had reluctantly traded in his typewriter for a computer. The laptop had been sent over to Singapore by his editors. He would no longer roam the Asian continent as he had for most of his professional life. Instead, he would write a column every two weeks that focused on current events. And that’s what he had done for the past few years. His job, he was told, was to insert his years of historical perspective into dispatches written by less knowledgeable, more youthful correspondents.

Cooper knew what was really going on, of course. He was being put out to pasture. Sure, the discipline was the same. You still had to sit down in front of a blank screen and create something worth reading. The difference was the burnout. He felt as burned out as an old war correspondent could feel—like the old iron kettle in which he cooked up his special chili. He had served up so many portions of his life that there just wasn’t anything left to spoon out anymore. It was 1990, and the kettle was empty—empty and caked with rust.

Yet he knew he had things to say, stories to tell, history to recount. He was, after all, an eyewitness to some of the greatest history of the Twentieth Century. World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, not to mention more than a score or so revolutions and coups d’état. When he thought about it that way, he could feel the juices stirring and bubbling in the bottom of the kettle, and he would get excited enough to walk into his small office, turn on the laptop and type a few lines. But after a while, an inexplicable gust of arid self-doubt would blow through his mind, and he would feel the passion receding. Then it would be gone—as extinct as that old black Underwood he used to pound on day after day in places like Rangoon, Saigon, and Hong Kong.

“Nobody gives a damn,” Cooper would say when Ellen asked him why he didn’t finish his memoirs. “It’s all ancient history. Hell, I’m ancient history.”

Ellen knew he was feeling sorry for himself. But she couldn’t bring herself to tell him that. Instead, she guilefully nudged and tugged his ego gently back to its perch above the bleak valley of his self-doubt.

“You’ve seen so much, and you have such a gift for describing what you’ve seen,” Ellen would say. “You must write it all down, to preserve it for others. That is your gift to the world. It shouldn’t be wasted.”

Cooper knew Ellen was right—if not for the sake of history then for the sake of his own mental and physical health. He needed to be doing something. And he had to admit, when he was writing, he felt like he was contributing again. It gave him a sense of power and purpose.

But after Toshiko’s death most of the power and purpose he still possessed deserted him. He retreated emotionally and physically from the world. He gave up the grand old house in Singapore where he and Toshiko had spent the last ten years of their married life. He just couldn’t bear living in it anymore—not when everything in the place reminded him of Toshiko and their life together.

For the first few weeks after Toshiko had succumbed to the ravages of cancer, Cooper would sit on the verandah of their house built during the British-raj, drinking one vodka-tonic after another and wondering why Toshiko had to be the first to go. He always figured he would be the first. After all, he was the physical wreck, not Toshiko. She had taken care of herself. Her 5-foot 2-inch body was as lithe and slim as it was the day he met her in 1946 in Osaka.

Cooper knew the hours spent on his verandah were nothing more than a boozy ritual of self-pity. But he didn’t care. It was the only way he knew to deal with abandonment. And that’s what had happened. He had been abandoned; and cheated, and irreparably damaged. By dying, Toshiko had deserted him. These were the emotions that had churned in Cooper’s sozzled brain with ever-increasing velocity until late afternoon when he was, as they say, “decks-awash and listing severely to starboard.” Then, with the sun descending past the tops of the traveler palms and tamarind trees that populated his front lawn, Cooper would stumble into the house and collapse on the small bed in the guestroom. Even drunk he couldn’t bring himself to sleep in the bed he had shared with Toshiko.

The self-pity finally wore off in a couple of months and so did the appeal of Singapore. After minimal coaxing from Ellen, he left Asia and moved in with his only living relative. Ellen, his little sister, lived in the sunburnt craggy hills just north of Escondido. The house was one of those rambling Spanish-style places with a red tile roof and bleached stucco walls. It had been built by Ellen’s husband just before his untimely death ten years before.

Moving in with Ellen wasn’t Cooper’s idea, but he was thankful she had offered. One evening in Singapore during a fierce tropical storm that had forced Cooper to retreat from the Verandah, Ellen had called, and in the course of the conversation, she suggested he come to California and help out with her thirty acres of avocado and orange groves.

A month later, after selling off five decades of Asian bric-a-brac, several rooms of teak, rosewood and rattan furniture, half of his oriental carpets and various silk screens, wall hangings and jade statuary, Cooper returned to the U.S. It was the first time he had been back in almost 20 years. When he stepped off the plane in San Diego, he couldn’t help observing how sterile, how ordered, how incredibly mind-numbing it all was.

“Where’s the texture?” he asked as Ellen drove him north toward Escondido.

“What?” Ellen responded.

“You know, the texture. The dirt. The coarseness. The graininess that makes a place look lived in.”

Ellen had dismissed Cooper’s outburst as a sign of jet lag or crankiness.

In fact, Cooper was frustrated by how little the change in scenery had done for him. He had merely traded the verandah of his house in Singapore for the poolside patio of Ellen’s mountainside villa. There was one huge difference, of course. There was no booze to be had anywhere in Ellen’s house. Just lots of lemonade and cases of those flavored ice tea drinks that were so irritatingly trendy.

And so it had gone for the past six months that he had lived with his sister in the hills north of Escondido. He purged the booze from his system, but not the pain. He drank lots of ice tea and lemonade and every so often the two of them took day trips to places like the old missions at San Juan Capistrano or San Luis Rey, or the old stagecoach town of Temecula, or the posh resorts of La Jolla.

If nothing else, Cooper was getting to know his kid sister once again and Ellen was rediscovering her brother. Nevertheless, sometimes she thought he would have been better off staying in Singapore. But she was the only family Cooper had left and it distressed her to know he was alone and suffering in Asia.

Cooper watched Ellen as she reemerged from the house and moved across the patio with the water hose trained on the hanging plants. He closed his eyes and imagined Toshiko standing on the long wooden verandah of their Singapore house under slowly turning teakwood paddle fans fussing with the bougainvillea and orchids. It was too easy. All he had to do was will her into his consciousness and there she would be, just as she had always been. That was the problem. As much as he had loved Toshiko in life, he found himself consumed with an even stronger love for her in death. Sometimes he thought it was becoming his own personal cancer, and he had no doubt that it was killing him.

Cooper paced the length of the patio, spent a moment or two pushing himself up by the toes, then walked back to the lounge chair, eased himself onto its thick foam rubber cushions and closed his pale blue eyes under freckled eyelids.

“That’s enough exercise for today. I think I’ll take a little nap.”

Ellen looked over at him and shook her head. His tanned legs with their crepey skin extended from knee-length blue shorts and his meaty, liver-spotted hands rested on a half-buttoned red, yellow and blue Hawaiian shirt that threatened to burst open with each of his breaths.

“You really are a lazy old bear, Mr. McGrath.”

Cooper, muttered an indistinct reply and watched Ellen as she pottered past him into the house. He closed his eyes, yawned, and began drifting away to another time in a vanished world where his personal cloistered refuge awaited.

“Tomorrow,” he mused. “Maybe tomorrow I’ll come in from the pasture.”

 The End

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

RON YATES RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!

 

Mountain Laurel – Segment 4

Last week when we left Andy Roberts and Lewis Washington in a Nashville bar, a voluptuous brunette had caught Andy’s eye and, we were just starting to hear the story of how Andy got to Nashville. I have a feeling this is going to be juicy. Of course, Andy is lost in his thoughts and sharing very little of this with the insistent reporter.

###

The brunette managed to bump into me as she brushed past on her way to the ladies room. “Oh I’m so sorry,” she tittered.

I silently tipped my black Stetson and turned away.

“Pardon my French, Mr. Roberts, but what in the hell does a fifteen-year-old kid do in Nashville?”

A smile crossed my face as I remembered the lady who took me in off the streets. She was a beauty with flaming red hair and fourteen years my senior. But, she could sing. She was already a star, performing on the Grand Ol’ Opry and recording on Columbia Records. She would tell me I was the prettiest thing she’d ever seen and I’d blush.

dottie-west-196956-1-402

I raised my head and stared long and hard at my reflection in the mirror behind the bar. I never thought of a man as being pretty. My eyes weren’t violet like April’s, they were more of a blue-gray and I had a head of dark wavy hair.

cowboy black hat

I was tall and slender and she loved dressing me in expensive rhinestone suits. She was as fine a lady as had ever been born. She took me with her everywhere she went and introduced me to all of the Nashville players.

And at night, when the curtains fell and we were alone, she took me to her bed. She made me a man…a real man. She taught me how to please, exactly how to touch all the right places and what made a woman lose control. By the time I turned seventeen, I opened shows for her and warmed her bed when her husband was away.

Corinna South was on top of the world. She drank heavy, fought hard, loved harder and sang with all of her heart and soul. Then a car wreck took her from me and from the world. There would never be another Corinna South and I’d never give quite as much of myself to another woman.

Despite the thoughts that flooded my mind, I managed a civil reply to the insistent man. “I was lucky. Corinna South needed an opening act and I auditioned.”

After a long moment, I stood, threw some bills on the bar and headed for the door.

tip money

Lewis shouted after me. “But, I’m not done yet, Mr. Roberts. We’re just getting started.”

I waved at him over my shoulder and dug the keys to the Jaguar out of my pocket. Without a second thought or backward glance, I turned the car onto the highway and gunned it. I didn’t let off the gas until the speedometer hit one-hundred. When it slowed to ninety, I hit the cruise control.

It didn’t matter that I had a show to do twenty-four hours from now, or that a pretty blonde waited for me at my uptown Nashville apartment. I located a half-empty bottle of whiskey under the front seat. A quick twist of the lid and the amber liquid burned its way down my throat.

Jack Daniels Half Full

The sun was starting to slip behind the mountain when I turned down the rutted lane that led to the familiar miner’s shack. My Jag hit bottom as the tires slid into deep ruts. I maneuvered it the best I could and rolled to a stop in front of what was left of our cabin.

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…

 

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?

JONAH – FINAL SEGMENT

When we left Jonah last week, his father, Drake, had given him a key that allowed passage through the portal to a paradise on the other side of the island. The enormity of the sacrifice Tidus had made to try and help him overwhelmed Jonah. He’s taking in this new world but still doesn’t know what his assignment will be. Let’s join Jonah, Tidus, Drake, and Jade for the conclusion of this story.

Jonah turned in a full circle taking in the beauty surrounding him. Palm trees swayed, turquoise water lapped at the shore, birds chirped, and brilliant flowers filled the air with their sweet fragrance.

island

The beauty made his head spin. A large house with stone dragons guarding the entrance sat approximately one hundred yards away.

Drake stood beside Jonah. “You’re home, my son. I have dreamed and hoped for this day when I could claim you. You are strong and brave. You’re everything my son should be.”

Jonah mumbled. “Thank you, sir.”

“I will teach you our ways, and your magic will grow, just as it did with your mother. But, you will have to work hard.”

“You mean like chores?” Jonah asked.

A deep rumbling laugh erupted from Drake’s chest. “I guess you could put it that way.”

Jade reached for Tidus’ hand. “Come, my love. We have some catching up to do.”

Tidus wrapped an arm around his mother’s waist and they walked toward the house, heads together, speaking in low voices. The obvious love between them brought a lump to Jonah’s throat. How he wished for the love of a mother, but his mother was dead and not coming back. He was happy for Tidus, though. The kid deserved to have his family again. He faced Drake.

“I’m ready. What do you have to show me?”

Drake pulled a spyglass from his coat and passed it to Jonah. “Turn around and look through this glass in the direction we came.”

Spyglass2

Jonah put the spyglass up to his eye and let out a shocked gasp. It was as if none of the rocks or brush existed and he had a clear view of the place he’d just left less than half an hour ago.

A smaller boat than the one he had refused to leave on, pulled up to the dock and dropped off a passenger. The memory of himself in that exact situation flooded Jonah. But, wait! It wasn’t a male. It was a female with long flaming red hair!

female red hair

He turned in confusion. “I don’t understand.”

“She, like you, has been banished to the island for her crimes. You will be allowed to help her, but only when she is seeking and ready. You can observe her from time-to-time but, cannot go to her until she does her part of the work.”

Jonah asked. “So, I will be for her like Tidus was for me? Is she my sister? Is she one of us?”

Drake chuckled. “No, my son. She is a mere mortal trying to find her way. And, yes, you will help her. As a half-mortal, you are more able to understand and communicate. She is your first assignment.”

Jonah turned back toward the girl. That moment of helplessness, fear and vulnerability he’d first felt, when he’d been in her shoes, washed over him. It was almost as if he could read her thoughts and emotions.

Drake laid a hand on his shoulder. “Remember what you’ve learned. She must seek inside herself for redemption and answers. In the meantime, you will become my student. And, when you are ready, you will meet the others.”

“Others?” Jonah found words jumbled with thoughts and hard to form.

“Yes, Jonah. Others. We are not alone. But, all in good time. For now, let’s go to the house and get you a proper bath, and clothes.

Jonah nodded and fell into step beside Drake, the powerful Wizard ― his father.

In losing everything, Jonah had found all that he sought. And so it is for us mere mortals from time to time.

THE END

I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed Jonah’s story. It’s been a pleasure to share it with you. My intent was that maybe you’d find bits and pieces of inspiration along the way. To those of you who followed it from the beginning, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

Forbidden Love – Nonnie Jules #RRBC #RWISA

5-star-review

In my opinion, these two books go hand-in-hand and there is no way to separate them.

If Only There WAs Music              And the music played

“IF ONLY THERE WAS MUSIC – THE POETRY OF FORBIDDEN LOVE” BY NONNIE JULES AND GIANI JORDAN

BLURB:

This is a book of poetry for and about forbidden love. These poems are sexy, sensuous and hot, but most of all, they are poems of love… and the feelings they arouse in you are unbelievable! They “feel” like love songs and you will “feel” like singing, but they are only spoken words coming from your mouth, without music. If you aren’t in love before you begin reading this book, you will go seeking a love afterward.

MY 5 STAR REVIEW:

This book of poetry is unique, not only because of the authors and the way they collaborated to write these poems but also because of the subject matter ― Forbidden Love.

The emotion, longing and unbridled passion are expressed exquisitely. Divided into two sections, the book explores two points of view. The first is a compilation of poems written by Nonnie Jules. She approaches the subject of forbidden love through the eyes of the woman who is the object of Giani Jordan’s affection. The second part of the book is told through his eyes. The poems are raw and honest emotion felt by both as they take us, the readers, through a myriad of regrets and guilt to longing so intense it causes physical pain. What can two people do who fall in love, yet are committed to others?

In my opinion, the authors work through to a climactic solution and conclusion from one poem to the next. I felt as though I was watching two people waltzing across a dance floor or observing a well-executed opera. Each poem stands alone yet blends with perfection into the next. This is a beautiful book from cover to cover, and it is an absolute must that you take time to read about how the collaboration of these two authors came about.

“…AND THE MUSIC PLAYED” SHORT STORY BY NONNIE JULES

BLURB:

This book is the sequel and the final chapter in the love story between Giani and Christine. The first book, “IF ONLY THERE WAS MUSIC…The Poetry of Forbidden Love” (a co-authored project), was a love story told thru the eyes of two lovers…but written for the hearts of many.

Across oceans and thru many barriers, two hearts try to connect – but with the distance between them, will their love survive? And, with the forces-that-be against them coming in the form of murder plots and domestic abuse, the bigger question is…will they?

MY 5 STAR REVIEW:

I read this short story before I read the prequel to it, “If Only There Was Music – The Poetry of Forbidden Love.” And, because of the way this story affected me, I had to immediately go and read the book of poetry that inspired this short story. When Giani Jordan falls in love with beautiful Christine who lives halfway around the globe, he struggles with guilt. He is married. She is married. But, their love is so strong, so intense neither of them can deny it. So, when Giani walks into his house after making a trip to Italy to see Christine and hears his wife, Lena, making love to another man, he makes an easy decision. Divorce is the only answer. But, Lena’s greed takes over. After all, how can she be expected to live on a measly one million a year? When she recruits her ex-con boyfriend to kill Giani, she is smug and confident all the wealth soon be hers. But, justice is sweet. I won’t spoil the story by telling you what happens, but I couldn’t put this book down. I had to know who would triumph. If you love a satisfying short story filled with intense drama and emotion, you’ll love this one.

FOR MORE BOOKS BY NONNIE JULES, CLICK HERE

Nonnie Jules is the President and founder of THE RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB and THE RAVE WRITERS’ INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS.  Both are International Organizations that provide support to and guidance for authors who want to get more reviews for their books and find new readers. But, there is a kicker. You have to give to get. You can read all about it here: https://ravereviewsbynonniejules.wordpress.com/