RED, WHITE AND TRUE BLUE

 Among the assortment of ingredients contained within, aka the mumbo jumbo of stuff that make me *Me*, is a genuine patriot that tears-up at parades, is thankful for the opportunity to Vote, and thinks The Star Spangled Banner is a pretty good song.

As far back as my childhood days as a Girl Scout marching in my small town parade, I have been proud to bursting of my American heritage and the rich soil on which I’ve been planted.

AND YET,

I could claim I was blindsided and it wouldn’t be a lie. It was all so innocent. An act of over-confidence piqued by a simple enough challenge in the back pages of the Sunday Newspaper: “Can You Pass The Citizenship Test?” followed by a civics portion of the U.S naturalization test.

It’s true I might have chuckled over the warning ” One in three citizens failed this test in a survey taken this year.”  Tisk tisk. Just pitiful. They should be ashamed. 

Just a Moment, While I Sharpen My Pencil …

  1. What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?
  2. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?
  3. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?
  4. We elect a U.S senator for how many years?
  5. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
  6. If both the president and the vice president can no longer serve,who becomes president?
  7. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?
  8. When was the Constitution written?
  9. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S Constitution. Name one of the writers.
  10.  What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

Huh? My Score, You Ask?

Fugeddiboudit! Fat chance of tripping that particular Elephant in the public square 😦  Especially when such revelations could very well lead to immediate deportation. (As in, it is pitiful, and I am ashamed.)

Just let me mention that to pass the civics test, an applicant must correctly answer 6 out of 10 questions, which are randomly selected from a list of 100. (You can go to Parade.com/citizenship to see how you fared on these 10 and to try your hand at all 100.)

My Final Score:

Patriotism: A+++

Citizenship: … still studying for the re-take.

What’s your standing? Would you pass the Citizenship test as it pertains to your own little parcel on the planet? Care to pull up and chair and refresh with me?

PULL UP A CHAIR AND POP A CORK

This gallery contains 6 photos.

  A POP HEARD ROUND THE WORLD       … although maybe, it’s actually just the echo of a popping cork here in my still dark kitchen at 6:00 AM. Normally I’d be pouring coffee, but today, you see, I’m … Continue reading

Nobody Cares

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

… as much as you do.

THE BIG PARTY 

I’m not saying that no one gives a hooey about what you’re writing or have written.  Maybe you’re so blessed that the day you turned the knob and let yourself out of the writers closest your cheerleaders fell into formation, practiced and ready to spin a dozen perfect cartwheels of support over your heartfelt endeavors.  They bought your book, tooted your wordy genius to their circle of friends, posted on Facebook, tweeted from sea to shining sea.  Possibly even set your heart to singing by posting a review on Amazon and/or BN.  They told you how proud, excited, impressed, joyful they are over your accomplishment.  They begged for a sequel and your smile stretched so wide it nearly split the seams of your face from ear-to-ear.

C.O.D

You’ve worked hard.  Persevered across the fiery coals of doubt, rejection, and uncertainty regardless of  how much it never failed to sometimes hurt.  You’ve paid your dues and can at long last bask in the radiant light of an accomplished dream. It feels good.  Because it should.

BEWARE THE BURSTING BUBBLE

Whether it be weeks or months later, the thing is, it does happen.  Readers read … and then they move on. Readers have an appetite that requires constant care and feeding of good books, not just one book.  Yes, they read and thoroughly loved your book.  But now the marching band has turned the corner and your personal parade has dispersed to return to their own lives. But this writing gig is your real life and you’re still here. Alone.

FOREVER ON YOUR MIND

It’s something beyond wonderful when people care about your creations.  When they take time to share your passion and connect with your characters and stories.  And although none of that stuff is why we write, it puts an extra special spring in our step and twinkle in our eye. Until they leave. Pack up their pom poms and return to whatever they’ve temporarily set aside.  Leaving you to sweep up the confetti in a suddenly empty room.

SHHHHH, NOT SO LOUD

And here you are. No less passionate, still eyeball deep and consumed with all you’ve created. You haven’t finished talking about your characters lives, thinking, wondering, obsessing about them.  Worrying they have no friends on the playground and nobody has invited them to sit at their lunch table.

THAT BAD?

Not really. Just the facts.  No One Cares … as much as You Do. Just because you’ve written a book doesn’t mean people are going to want to read it. And even if they do, their potential love for your work will never surpass your own and you shouldn’t expect it

SINCERE APPRECIATION

Be gracious and appreciative of well wishes and enthusiastic readers.  Just keep in mind, when the final cork is popped and the lights go out, it’s still your baby. You brought it into the world and you’re responsible for future nurturing and midnight feeding.

Are you expecting too much from your readers?  How difficult, or potentially painful, do you find it to draw the shades on your party and wave goodnight to your guests?

Jeezaloo–fingers crossed that someone really does care that my baby number two, “Asleep Without Dreaming,” is due for release in 7 days  😀

Cover Me Please

          FINISHED! And there you have it.  Two altogether exhilarating words for anyone who has ever poured months, years, lifetimes into writing a book. Despite multiple drafts, rewrites, painful edits, etc … etc, there comes a day … Continue reading

WHY SO EXCITED?

Aren’t you so EXCITED?!  Of course you are!  At least it certainly seems you ought to be, considering that when you skim the news feed on FB, stop by to read a blog post here and there as you cruise through cyberspace, noiselessly tip-toe through twitter, it’s pretty much everywhere. Excitement, and lots of it.  Can we really be this Excited so much of the time?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m right there with you  to blow-up the balloons and toss the confetti in celebration of those occasions, announcements, and achievements of high excitement.  You’ve just gotten a new agent, your book is/will be published, you won the Nobel Prize? Absolutely that’s EXCITING stuff. In fact, pardon me while I dash off and bake you a cake …

EXCITEMENT OVERLOAD

In truth, it’s not the overabundant use of the word EXCITED that has me grousing, it’s the observation that maybe there’s far too much EXCITEMENT being tossed around, and quite possibly we’ve gotten a wee bit lazy with our word-ology.

Okay, so if you’ll hold your excitement for just a moment, I will make my point by serving up some suitable, and yes, EXCITING alternates courtesy of the every handy-dandy desk thesaurus:

EXCITE: inspire; upset, accelerate, agitate, amaze, anger, animate, annoy, arouse, astound, awaken, bother, chafe delight, disturb, electrify, elicit, energize, evoke, fire, fluster, foment (huh?) galvanize, goad, incite, induce, inflame, infuriate, instigate, intensify, irritate, jolt, kindle, madden, mock, move, offend, precipitate, provoke, rouse, start, stimulate, stir up, taunt, tease, thrill, titillate, vex, warm, worry …

Clearly, it’s nothing if not a thoroughly lazy exercise in word usage  to so often default to the generic EXCITED when we have such a diverse menu to choose from.

IF YOU’LL PARDON MY EXCITEMENT

Over here in my little corner of the world, this first half of 2012 has seen more than a few truly exciting astounding milestones. 

AND SO, A FEW EXCITING STIMULATING HIGHLIGHTS

1. Child #3 graduated with honors from Tulane University in New Orleans this past spring.

Aside from the “official requirement” that we pack up the jalopy and head off to one of my very favorite cities in order to attend said graduation, there is the deeply personal excitement fire of waving my third child off into the world with college degree in hand as she pursues her hearts desire. (Not to mention that by graduating with honors, I am assured that my darling girl did indeed resist the temptations of Bourbon Street and perpetual Mardi Gras well enough to open her books and work hard when necessary.) Certainly every parent thrills at such achievements in the lives of their children, but for those who, like me, carried their own Ivy League dreams straight from High School to enrollment at the University of Real Life, (although to my credit, I paid attention, studied hard, and did my homework along the way to earning a self-awarded doctorate) there mighty milestones elicit high levels of excitement animation.

2. Child #4 completed his Boy Scout Eagle Project this summer. Yes, absolutely the stuff that makes a mama proud, but there is something infinitely exciting stimulating in witnessing a 16 year old boy take a mighty step toward manhood by proving he is far more than an eating, sleeping, video game playing entity (cue Dr Frankenstein as his creature comes to life, “IT’S ALIVE!!!!”), by willingly shouldering the necessary design, planning, fund raising, labor, and responsibilities necessary to accomplish a mighty and highly ambitious project. In this case, by metamorphising a neglected Memorial plaque on a boulder dedicated to WW II veterans, into a beautiful memorial garden complete with archway, benches, brick walkway, flag pole, night-time lighting, and plantings. So yeah, this is one of those things that truly excites  inflames my pride receptors.

3. I am a shiny new Grandmother (or Mimi, if you happen to be Baby Sebastian.)!!!  Although I’ve only been wearing this newbie title for 4 days now, it fits quite nicely and feels especially comfy. To those of you who are grandmothers, have a grandmother, long to be a grandmother, I needn’t elaborate on how over-the-moon, EXCITED ANIMATED I am now, and will forever be.

4. Having weathered the accustomed angst, turmoil, and brain strain hairpulling, sulking, whining of writing, I now have a mostly official date penned on the calendar for the release of my latest novel, Asleep Without Dreaming. (September 18, 2012. Woo woo!) If you’re a writer, no elaboration necessary.  If you’re a reader, I hope pray, gnash teeth, cross fingers that you’ll consider climbing into your favorite comfy chair with my book and while away an afternoon. After mucho years of scribbling out these chapters, my EXCITEMENT supreme sense of electrification is near blinding.

AND SO

What exactly does all this word-muddling prove, you ask?  Probably that EXCITE, EXCITING, EXCITED, are pretty good words.  Because, shoot, we really are  EXCITED! And for good reason. EXCITEMENT is a feel good, done good, bring on the parade, perfect fit of a word.  Accept no substitutes imitators that sound really awkward and stupid. I might be inflamed, animated, fired up and stimulated, but mostly I’m EXCITED, by golly! EXCITED, EXCITED!

EXCITED is life at it’s finest and nothing quite expresses it like good old tried-and-true EXCITED EXCITEMENT! 

So what’s got you Excited lately?  It’s fun to share, please do 😀

*Hoping you don’t mind my adding a fleeting dash of EXCITEMENT by announcing that my debut novel The Secret of Lies will be FREE on Kindle August 2 – August 3 in celebration of the near-release of Asleep Without Dreaming 😀

Hair of the Dog

As You May Recall,

I have something of a fascination with Idioms.  You know, those expressions that are near ancient in origin, which we toss out often enough to assure their permanence in the rhelms of common language.  And yet, when we take a moment to think about what it is we’re actually saying, uh well, What actually are we saying?

For starters, just how guilty are you of  Letting the Cat out of the Bag?  I know I’ve done it more times than I care to publicly admit. Or, maybe not, considering the true meaning of this odd little phrase. Let the Cat out of the Bag:  Possibly related to the fact that in England in the Middle Ages, piglets were usually sold in bags at markets. Sometimes, someone would try to cheat a buyer by putting a cat in one of the bags instead of a piglet. And if someone let the cat out of the bag, the fraudster’s secret was revealed.

And when was the last time your mother, husband, or BFF had to corner you with this particular admonishment:  Get off Your High Horse: Medieval soldiers and political leaders bolstered their claims to supremacy by appearing in public in the full regalia of power, and mounted on large and expensive horses, thus presening themselves as larger than life. The combination of the imagery of being high off the ground when mounted on a great war charger, looking down one’s nose at the common herd, and also being a holder of high office made it intuitive for the term ‘on one’s high horse’ to come to mean ‘superior and untouchable.’

Is it possible that a  little Moderation might be just the thing to keep the dog hair off your tongue:  Hair of the dog is a colloquial expression in the English language predominantly used to refer to alcohol that is consumed with the aim of lessening the effects of a hangover. The expression originally referred to a method of treatment of a rabid dog bite by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound. The use of the phrase as a metaphor for a hangover treatment dates back to the time of William Shakespeare, when it was a popular belief that “a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences.” Applied to drinks, it means, if overnight you have indulged too freely, take a glass of the same wine within 24 hours to soothe the nerves. “If this dog do you bite, soon as out of your bed, take a hair of the tail the next day.”

As a kid I thought this sounded like a fun idea, but only because I believed real animals were involved:  The term Kangaroo Court may have been popularized during the California Gold Rush of 1849. The first recorded use is from 1853 in a Texas context. It comes from the notion of justice proceeding “by leaps”, like a kangaroo. The phrase is considered an Americanism.

Sadly familiar because it’s practiced so often: Lying through your teeth:  This also may be an expression describing the act of lying with a smile or other patronizing tone or body language.  It is very old, traceable to the early 1300’s.

So, what’s the most oft used idiom in your language closet? Do you know what it really means, or do simply enjoy it for it’s familiarity and the fact that regardless of true meaning everyone tends to “get it” when you say it?

The Best Laid Plans … Yeah, Right!

It goes something like this …

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of real life, I can’t help but believe that the medicine goes down better when accompanied by a well laid plan spoonful of sugar.  Whether it be a mental list (Bahahahaha, yeah right! What kind’ve bone-head boob would rely on such foolish tactics!) or a tidy inventory laid out on paper– complete with bullet points–I’m all about planning.  Not that all my plans see fruition, it’s more about the fact that having a plan makes me feel fools me into thinking that I have a safety net in position at those times when real life comes along and attempts to blow the post-its off the refrigerator.

Did I mention my delusional tendencies?

Plans are admirable and good, even necessary at times, and yet, to believe they are ironclad or accident proof is to be mighty disappointed delusional.  The hard, cold, nails-down-the-chalkboard-truth, my friends?  Real Life Trumps The Best Laid Plans. 

For example (and I have so many I will make an effort to curb myself from dumping an avalanche here), I never fail to compose a grandiose list of New Year’s resolutions on or about January 1st, ready to sprint out the gate the moment the countdown ends, the ball drops, and I can *officially* crawl into my sparkly new and improved skin.

Make no mistake, I’m no lightweight

Which isn’t to say that I am simply a composer of abundant schemes and flowing designs–no ma’am, not this runaway chicken. To my credit, I stockpile ammo, suit-up, dig-in, and prepare for the long haul. I aim high, because I don’t know any better somewhere deep inside my rock hard head, I’ve succeeded in convincing tricking myself into believing that I’m up for the task and ready to vault over the wall at a moments notice.

My proposed lead into 2012 was no exception. Grand planner that I am, I prepared early, toiled over my intentions,scratched some, and elevated others.  It was an admittedly rosy start and I had a good run. All things orderly, neat, and infinitely promising for nearly a week.  Right up to the moment when the clown car pulled-up  and stormed the castle.

And so …

What happens when THE BEST LAID PLANS step out for a smoke, take a powder, leave the building? Well, duh, for starters you need to make new ones.  You rethink, regroup, refocus.  Because here’s the thing, the reason REAL LIFE trumps all variety of planning is because REAL LIFE is the big ticket, the hot tamale, the Leprechaun’s lucky charms. Whereas PLANS are more akin to those unintelligible instructions that come inside the box of high-quality-assemble-it-yourself furniture (why does it look like a coffee table when you’re supposed to be constructing a chest of drawers???), equal to the odds of winning more than two dollars on a scratch-off lottery ticket or waking up to find Brad Pitt scrambling eggs in your kitchen.

Say What?

Simply put, PLANS are good. They help us streamline, focus, accomplish. But still, there are plenty of times when REAL LIFE has its own PLANS and we’re left feeling as if there’s a runaway tractor trailer barreling straight through the center of our life.  Just as there are nevertheless moments when an even better PLAN comes along and trumps the seemingly perfect one you scribbled on the back of the cocktail napkin or jotted in the margin of the newspaper.

Um hum, REAL LIFE, it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

And you? Are you a planner? How often do you defer to Real Life without a knock-down, drag-out fight?

A Peek Through the Keyhole…

The Versatile Blogger badge

Not so long ago I came across a ribbon I’d won a bazillion years ago on Field Day when I was in Jr High. It’s a yellow ribbon, which means I won FIFTH place competing in a sport that I obviously wasn’t very good at. I can only imagine I kept this not so impressive reminder because I love the color yellow. Or I’m a masochist.  Or maybe I thought if I kept it pressed in a book long enough it would eventually turn blue.  It didn’t.

I hope this means I’m not much of a sore loser. That while I might aspire for FIRST,  I can still appreciate FIFTH, (even as I hope that when we “go to the video tape” it will show that I actually won by a toe, and that fifth place straggler was just some limp-along wearing similar gym shorts.)

Winning isn’t essential, it isn’t the be-all-end-all, but still, it’s nice. Really nice.

Nice in a way that makes your cheeks glow, your eyes shine, and your head lift swell  when one of your VERY favorite bloggers nominates you for the coveted *Versatile Blogger Award*.  Uh hum, that would be correct. I’m talking about Elaine Smothers at Wonder in the Wild. If you haven’t been over to Elaine’s place, you must take the fastest train, plane, or automobile and get on over there. Or you can always  just click on the handy dandy link here 🙂  Because once you meet Elaine and Forrest you’ll want to pull up a chair and just stay a while.

I thank you, Elaine, most humbly and appreciatively for this Blue Ribbon Honor. Honestly, but my heart is shining– full to bursting.

And now for the fine print, as there are certain rules one must follow to accept the nomination.

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link to their blog. Check
  • Select 15 blogs you follow and enjoy, and nominate them for the award. Ouch! Was that a brick wall I just hit?  Well this is definitely a glitch, since I happen to know from my position as one of the last kid lumbering onto the bus, that by now you’ve all beat me to the podium and been nominated and re-nominated. 
  • Share 7 random things about yourself. Ha! Got this one! I am the Queen of Random! Random is easy. (Though, making sense? Having a point? Not so much.)

1. As a teenager I was wildly, madly, passionately in love with Robert Redford. My good friend Tina gifted me with a FULL LENGTH poster of my golden heartthrob that hung on the wall across from my bed assuring his was the first and last face I saw every morning and night for YEARS.

And all is blissful and flowery for someone so willing to pretend crush, destroy, lock in the vault away the rather disturbing fact that this magnificent specimen is in reality THE VERY SAME AGE AS MY DAD!

2. I love clothes. Vintage, classic, funky bohemian…love my glad rags!  And I compulsively clean out my closets (Yes, that’s correct, multiple closets, since one clearly won’t do the job,) in order to keep my threads tidy and organized.  Occasional writers block even allows me time now and again to color coordinate said garments 😀

3. Despite having multiple collections of stuff: Depression glass, vintage clothes, old jewelry, garden sculpture, typewriters, pens, etc…. I HATE clutter and disorganization, which means continuous sorting, arranging, removal. (Yes, I know, “Sick minds….”)

4. My family doesn’t think I know that they have not so discreetly nicknamed me The Food Nazi.

I care deeply am obsessed with all the crappy worthless garbage being passed as nutrition on the grocery shelves and dished up in our homes.  That’s not so say I never eat a Hershey bar, but I have this idea that if I treat my body really well and fill with High Test Fuel on a regular basis, it will return the favor by hauling me around in relative comfort until “Day is done.”

5. Despite multiple knee-scraping, butt bruising, embarrassing crash and burn, dirt eating wipe-outs over a span of months, I can now cruise around on my in-line-skates without mishap. And this makes me happy. Really really happy. Not only because I have mostly conquered my anxiety of broken bones and road burn, but I’ve again verified to myself that I’m not a quitter very sensible.

6. I think Zombies are stupid.

7.  Even when it makes no logical sense to keep standing on the tracks when I see the train hurtling toward me at an alarming speed, I remain wildly optimistic and hopeful that it will derail before impact. Pessimism annoys me probably as much as I annoy most pessimists.

You may now sigh with relief that this ever fabulous nomination only requires 7 random facts about moi.  But now it’s your turn. Care to share your own random fact?  We’d all love a glimpse behind your shades. So kindly do share 😀

MY MIND ON A SHELF

“These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but MINDS alive on the shelves”

Gilbert Highet 1906-1978
Teacher & Scholar

I am not familiar with Gilbert Highet, but his words are immortalized on a bronze plaque outside the public library in Baltimore Maryland.  I’ve read and reread this single line  inasmuch as it speaks volumes to my writers heart, particularly when I am struggling to compose that perfect sentence or Frankenstein design the endearing or imperfect character persistently struggling to stear me into their story. Despite all there years of writing, the actual process is something I find impossible to explain let alone understand. Somehow, to say that it “just happens” comes across as something of an insincere cop-out, and yet that’s pretty much the truth as it applies to my own experience with words.

Which isn’t to say that it’s easy.

It sometimes never happens that a perfect chorus of words will tango across the page with the poise and grace of a winning contestant on Dancing with the Stars.  Yet just as often, it’s a matter of strapping on a headlamp and heading in to excavate  the treasure that’s right over there behind that mammoth pile of boulders.  And you keep at it with heart and diligence, until all at once–total darkness–the vivid path of illumination unceremoniously extinguished when the bulb burns out.

FORK IN THE ROAD PIE

Even then you can’t allow yourself to cave to temporary obstacles or turn-tail from the illusion of a bottomless crevasse. Okay, so take a moment to hoist the white flag and head to the kitchen for a medicinal slice of conciliatory pie (although you’ve been writing  not baking, so it’s likely there is no pie.), but only a moment.   You’ve learned the essential importance of holding on by now. Your creative mind hasn’t taken a powder, left the building, or fallen into something scary and bottomless.  You know that if you stay in your chair, even if only to doodle in the margins, the tiniest speck of an idea will spark and then somehow–whether consciously fueled or not–will quaver and persistently swell to rekindle the fire. And I am never anything less than awed and amazed when the dust of creativity finally settles and a finished manuscript rests in my hands.  Not that I understand how it works.  I just know it does, not easily, but it does.

THE END (NOT!)

It takes me at least a year forever  to finish the first draft of a novel– not a 700 page Stephen King size tome, but compositions half their size,  between 350-375 pages. Then comes the editing–another year of rewriting, rewriting, disgust, agony, despair…and only then does it begin to look like something connected to the vision that first caught my attentions. I marvel over writers who produce a masterpiece in the space of a few months–or incredibly, weeks. How that works I can’t imagine.  I can only assume it”s because my mind is set at 33 where others are steady at 78.

Still, I’ve come to accept bemoan my slower pace as necessary for me. I am after all an obsessive compulsive editing machine. I hack, slash, and burn until I can see the words coming to life and feel my characters breathing on the page, and for me that takes some time.  The reward for my efforts, a cross-my-fingers-confidence that my work is pruned, polished and ready to stand right up there in the shadow of the big boys.

Except when it’s not.  And editing resumes.  Because it is my mind after all–quiet, hopeful, earnest–there on the shelf.  My story. My characters. My truth. Me.

I’ve always had something of a problem with the adage that so often accompanies rejection or bad reviews.  I assume it’s intended to soften the blow: “It’s not you that being rejected or disliked torn asunder by the roots, just your writing.”  Agree? Can/do you separate your personal self from your words?

The Octopus Knows- Round Robin #8

The Octopus Knows – Part 8

And so here it is my turn to write an installment of the progressive story, The Octopus Knows, originally conceived and created by the always inventive, Laird Sapir. I admit it’s a wee bit intimidating to contemplate this increasingly sticky predicament that Ninja and Simon now find themselves in, and I can only hope my writing brain kicks in to nudge our conflicted heroes in the right direction.  After seven very creative installments to-date, the most recent by Ellen Gregory (links to all installments can be found on Laird’s round robin page) we find the heinously kidnapped Ninja being held hostage in a whirlpool tub, and Simon foolishly fishing in his unflushed toilet with his toothbrush in order to recover the card containing the address of  Braden–aka Ninja’s unscrupulous kidnapper.

As we left off:

A minute later, staring at the soggy card covered with illegible watery blue ink, Simon reflected this wasn’t his finest hour. The address couldn’t be read, his wand was in the toilet, Braden had Ninja and Mr Jones was on his way to claim him.

For the first time in over a year, Simon’s immediate inclination isn’t to eat something; although it’s possible that his reluctance to self medicate with a fistful of Oreos has less to do with any sense of renewed discipline, as it relates to the distasteful condition of the card he now held in his hand.

He dropped the paper to the floor and gently laid the wand in the sink before turning the handle on the faucet to the far left–watching as the water gushed warm, then hot, over the wand.

Okay,so maybe this was it.  This was what it felt like to hit the wall at full force. He’d spent the entire past year overeating in an attempt to forget, and yet an expanding waistline had done little to dim the pain. Nothing had changed, and now Jones was back in town, towing  Marguerite like a shipwreck that gravity should’ve sunk long ago.  No question, that dame was resilient. She had no qualms about baring her fangs when cornered, and yet, in a strange way, Simon thought he might even admire her tenacity.  He wished he could say the same about himself.  But instead he’d gone soft. Traded his soul for a Twinkie.

The truth was that whatever Braden had written on the card didn’t matter. Simon knew where to find Ninja–the very place he’d long promised himself to never return. What’s more, whether he liked it or not–and he sure as hell didn’t–he somehow had to stuff himself back into those damned pants or otherwise risk losing Ninga.

And the bag–he needed to grab the bag from where he’d stashed it at the back of the refrigerator behind the gracefully molding cheese, praying hard and fast that the meticulously wrapped package inside hadn’t expired.

Steam now billowed up from the sink and with a hard twist on the faucet handle, Simon shut off the water and grabbed the wand from the sink.  He didn’t have much time and every instant was crucial. His fingers quivered like jello on bone as he attempted to handle the wand with essential care–turning the still hot tip in his fingers as he unscrewed it from the shaft.  Separating the two sections, he slid the slender glass vile encased inside into his palm. And he didn’t stop to consider risk or consequence as he popped off the lid and upended the contents onto his tongue.

Far off,  on the other end of town, Ninja’s eyes blinked open as the water in the tub all at once began churning, rolling, sloshing wildly.  A high pitched girlish scream that could only be Braden, broke loose beyond the closed bathroom door.  

With all eight tentacles reaching to grasp the edge of the tub, Ninja held tight to keep from being pitched onto the tile floor.  And if he’d had a set of lips instead of a beak he would’ve smiled.  He almost couldn’t believe it.  At long last it looked like his boy Simon had grown a set.  High time to lock and load, baby …

To be continued…

And now I respectfully pass the keyboard to Carrie Dawes 😀  Stay tuned!