Watch RWISA Write! Marcha Fox, an Author Discovered.

RWISA TOUR (1)[2337]

Please join me in welcoming author Marcha Fox to my blog.  Marcha is a fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club, in addition to being a member of RWISA (Rave Writers’ International Society of Authors).  Marcha is sharing a sample of her writing.  By the way, I’ve just started reading her book,  The Terra Debacle!

Marcha Marcha Fox

Your Wildest Dreams

I inhaled sharply when I recognized the introductory riff wafting from my favorite 80s station as Your Wildest Dreams by the Moody Blues. Even though I had the original 45 RPM record, the album on cassette tape, and more recently, the CD, I kept them safely locked away so I wouldn’t binge on it. Nonetheless, when KPLV, 93.1 FM in Vegas, got around to playing it every few weeks or so, I’d indulge in a break, a delicious reminder of why I was here.

Consumed by ethereal and intimately familiar soundwaves, I got up, closed the blinds, and even though it was unlikely the song’s strains would penetrate my office’s cinder block walls, plugged in my headset so I could crank it up—I mean really up. I melted back into my chair, eyes closed, with what was probably an idiotic smile on my face, savoring each note as the song segued into its lively, 142 BPM tempo. The next three minutes and forty-one seconds, I’d be in heaven.

Even though this song came out eight years after she left, the first time I heard it, back when I was still in college in ’86, I knew two things: One, it would always be “our song”; and Two, I had to find her.

My heart leapt with visions of galaxies beyond, of what might be out there, where she might be. I plunged headlong through space and time, besieged by memories burned into my heart as permanently and painfully as branding was to a newborn calf. Did she remember? Feel the same thing I did? Sense the enchantment of fate-entangled lives?

I memorize pretty easily, which comes in handy, especially with things like the Periodic Table or Maxwell’s equations. And of course, favorite songs. These particular lyrics struck me, hard and personal, from day one, certain it’d been written exclusively for me.

As my eyes teared up, logic intervened and yanked me back to planet Earth.

Grow up, Benson! What are you, a total schmaltz or what?

We were kids, for heaven sakes. A teenage crush. I should’ve gotten over it, but never did. No wonder. Girls like her are rare. One of a kind. She’d already experienced things I never would. Things that were part of my wildest dreams.

The admonition failed, pushed aside by that part of me that felt alive again, jammin’ like a total jerk, mouthing the words as I sang along in my head. It’s not like I’m a teenager anymore, though at the moment I felt like one. No, memories of the heart never die—can’t die, evereven if you try to kill them.

I’d give anything to talk to her. Which of course I have, numerous times over the years, if only in my head. Okay, aloud more often than I care to admit. I could swear it even felt as if she answered a time or two. I suppose that’s how it is with your first love. Or your first kiss, even if it was only a peck on the cheek. It penetrates your soul and stays there forever.

That mid-summer day in ’78 hauling hay was as vivid as yesterday in my mind’s eye. The cloudless sky, sun hot on my neck, the aroma of first-crop alfalfa sweetening the mountain air. I scratched my shoulder, a reflex memory of itchy, stray leaves sticking through my T-shirt. My chest ached as I remembered tear tracks streaking her dust-covered face at something I’d said. Then, days later, that withering look when we lied about her ship.

The one we still have. What’s left of it quietly abandoned beneath a tarp in Building 15, here at Area 51.

How she knew we weren’t telling the truth, I’ll never know. Pretty funny it’s still sitting there. And I’m sure she’d think so, too. I can just hear her saying, “Stupid snurks, I knew they’d never figure it out.” Though actually they did, just didn’t find technology worth pursuing. Even contractors didn’t want it.

I had to admit it was pretty crazy, but she was my motivation to get where I was today: just short of a decade of college linked with serendipity that put me in the right place at the right time, hoping someday I’d find her. My life had changed a lot since then. How much had hers changed? Did she make it home? Was she still alive? With the effects of relativistic travel, which I understood only too well, she could still be a teenager, while I was easing into the infamous dirty thirties.

Not good. If I ever did find her, she’d probably think I was some lecherous old fart. Either that, or, with my luck, she’d be married with a bunch of kids. I winced with the thought.

My sentimental reverie vanished when my office door slammed open and Hector Buckhorn rolled in. Literally. Hec’s been stuck in a wheelchair ever since he crashed his hang glider into a New Mexico mountainside during spring break his last semester of college. He ridge soared a lot, particularly around Dulce, over restricted areas where he wasn’t supposed to be. Got caught a couple times, but being Native American, never got in trouble, even though it wasn’t his home reservation. He’s amazingly good at playing dumb, in spite of—or possibly because of—his 150ish IQ. He never talked about his accident, said he couldn’t remember. Makes sense, actually, given he suffered a massive concussion. The only time I ever saw him pissed him off was when he woke up in the hospital and discovered they’d shaved off his hair, since grown back beyond shoulder length.

I dropped the headset around my neck and faked a frown. “Don’t you ever knock, butthead?”

“Hey, man, wazzup?” he said, giving me a funny look. “You okay?”

I laughed. “Of course. Just thinking. Remembering. You know.”

Ahhh. They played that song again, didn’t they?”

“Can’t hide anything from you, can I, Chief?”

“Nope. I figured you were up to somethin’ with your blinds closed.”

He wheeled over to the grey metal, government-issue table on the other side of the room and helped himself to a handful of peanut M&Ms. Once I’d realized during my PhD days at Cal Tech that, in a pinch, they made a pretty decent meal, I’d kept that old, wide-mouth canning jar full. He dumped them in his mouth, perusing me with knowing, dark eyes.

“You were sure enjoyin’ that song of yours,” he said, not even trying to stifle his crooked grin as he munched away.

“Yeah,” I replied, uncomfortable with the conversation’s direction.

“We’ve known each other a long time, Allen,” he said. “Don’t you think it’s time you told me about her?”

“Not much to tell.”

He let fly with a popular expletive related to bovine excrement. “C’mon! What’s her name?” he persisted.

I blew out my cheeks and sighed, knowing resistance was futile. “Creena,” I answered, surprising myself when, again, I got a little choked up. I avoided his eyes by likewise heading for the M&Ms.

“So find her,” he said.

“It’s not that simple,” I replied, pouring myself a handful. “I don’t know where she is.” A statement that was truer than he could possibly imagine.

“I have some resources who could help,” he offered with a conspiratorial wink.

I shook my head, then stalled by popping a few colorful orbs in my mouth.

“Why not? If she’s anywhere on this planet, these guys’ll find her.”

I swallowed hard and paused; met his gaze. “She’s not.”

He scowled, making him look a lot like those old pictures of Cochise. “Say again?”

“She’s. Not.”

“Oh! I’m sorry.”

“Why?”

He shrugged. “I assumed she’s dead. She must’ve been quite a girl.”

“She was. Is. She’s not dead. At least as far as I know.”

His jaw dropped, shocked expression broadcasting the fact he’d caught the implications. “You’re not kidding, are you?”

“Nope.”

“Abductee?” he whispered.

“Nope,” I answered, raiding the candy jar again. “Immigrant.”

His eyes widened as he spewed an expletive that elevated excrement to sanctified status. “Don’t tell me she’s an EBE!”

I nearly spewed partially chewed M&Ms across the room. Extraterrestrial biological entity, indeed! Yet by definition, actually, she was.

I chuckled at his expression and shook my head. “No. Quite human. At least as far as I know.”

“Are you?” he added, chocolate-colored irises rimmed with white. His reaction surprised me—UFOs, even aliens, were no big deal in his culture, just business as usual with the Star People.

“C’mon, Chief! You’ve known me since tenth grade, running high school track!”

He leaned back, searching my face with more solemnity than I’d seen since I told him how Dad died. “You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, bro,” he said finally, shaking his head.

“You have no idea,” I said, throat constricting as scratchy lyrics from the headset, audible only to me, issued another reminder of why I was here.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Marcha Fox

 

[NOTE:–This is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Dark Circles, a slightly dark, hard sci-fi love story. No release date has been set.]

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISAWRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to 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:

 

Marcha Fox  RWISA Author Page

 

 

#WeekendCoffeeShare. Turn off the News! #poetry

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Welcome to the Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Diana at parttimemonsterblog.com. If we were having coffee today, on August 18, I’d tell you I’m glad for a new school year in a job that I love, but I’m tired. I dream about distant shores, maybe since I didn’t travel much this summer, and my writing projects are on hold until I have the energy.
I’d tell you to stay safe during the upcoming eclipse, but to enjoy this natural phenomenon, because nature is the greatest thing in this world, and we should all appreciate it much more.
I’d also tell you I’m terribly sad for our world, and I am praying for peace while I avoid the news today. I just can’t take anymore of it today. I penned a poem expressing my frustration.

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(c) Pamela Schloesser Canepa, 2017.

On that note, I am signing off to spend some time with a loved one, enjoy some play with my dog, and hopefully have time for reading and appreciating nature! I suggest you all do something today that makes you appreciate this world.
Does anyone have a different hobby that gets them away from reality?
Have a great weekend, and check out the other coffee shares at parttimemonsterblog.com! You may even want to add your own.

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Watch RWISA Write. An Author Discovered, Harmony Kent. #RRBC

RWISA TOUR (1)[2337]                            Please join me in welcoming fellow author, Harmony Kent to my blog today!  Harmony is a supportive fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club and is also a member of RWISA, Rave Writers’ International Society of Authors.    The following is a sample of her writing.

Harmony

Live or Die?

by Harmony Kent

 

Sometimes, you need to accept help. Sometimes, you need to admit that you need it. Sometimes, you need to take the hand that’s offered. You reached out and took my arm. I let you. I took the assistance I needed. I gripped your hand so that you could pull me to my feet. The last thing I needed was for you to slit my wrists. So much blood. All that carnage. My heart ripped right out of my chest.

I did my best.

Though, what kind of an epitaph is that?

Do I want that immortalised on my headstone?

Does that adequately sum up a life?

What about all the rest?

At the end of the day, what’s left to show for all that struggle, all that pain?

Right now, only one thing remains certain, that things can never be the same. That river? Already crossed. That road? Already travelled. That life? Already lived.

No going back. Not ever.

Going forward, though? Now, there’s the question.

For this gal, only one choice remains. Live or die?

Sometimes, you need to accept help. Once bitten, twice shy and all that, though, ya know? Truth be told, I’ve come to the end. Like I said, no going back. The rub is that I can’t go on either. The wind whips my hair into my face and throws cold pellets of rain at me. I shiver and dig deep for the courage. Never did like heights, yet here I stand. To jump or not to jump? That is the question.

The darkness wraps around me and locks the breath in my lungs and my feet in place—leaves me perched here in a daze. The metal burns cold within my death grip. With pulse racing, I edge my left foot forward a couple of centimetres, and then bring the right one up level. Perforce, I have to let go of the steel girders now. I’ve taken a step too far. Sweat breaks free from every pore and soaks this trembling mass of flesh, muscle, and sinew. With a heart this broken, how does it even continue on?

‘Miss? Are you okay? … Miss?’

At the unexpected voice, I twist and startle. A man reaches for me, indistinct in the arc-sodium lights.

‘Miss? Here, take my hand.’

A sudden gust buffets me from behind, and I stumble forward, a scream frozen in my terrified throat. All of a sudden, it hits me, I don’t want to die. Too late, however, as I’m off balance and too close to the edge. Dimly, as I fall, I see that it’s not about living or dying but about having the choice. It seems the wind has finished your job for you. Limp and spent, I plummet to the waiting river below, which sends up cold plumes of spray and waves like open arms welcoming me in and under to die beneath.

Sometimes, you need to admit that you need it. At the first swallow of brackish water, I swallow my pride, and every molecule of this being cries out for help. I should have grabbed his hand. Should have, but could I have? Would I have if given the chance? More ice-cold water pours into my throat and drowns my lungs. All the philosophising ceases as it becomes a fight for life. The cold pierces and stabs like a knife.

Tired and afraid, and no longer quite so numb, I kick, searching for the surface. Already, my limbs have gone stiff. The pressure in my chest has grown unbearable, and I have to take a breath, even though I know it will mean certain death. I just can’t do it. Can’t hold it all in anymore. Bubbles erupt when the life-giving air breaks free of my now open lips.

They show me the way when they float up, up, and up.

For a second, I hesitate. Do I go for it or not? Here is my chance for total surrender. To not have to fight any further. Do I have the energy? The will? At the end of the day, what’s left to show for all that struggle, all that pain?

I did my best, but I don’t want that on my epitaph.

My legs kick and arms stroke, pushing through the murk and trying for air. With this exhaustion and cold, I doubt I’ll get there. By now, the bubbles have long gone, but I’ve come near enough to discern the orange city glow. Not far now. One more kick. One more. That’s it. Just one more.

Sometimes, you need to take the hand that’s offered. I come to, afloat on my back, and the icy waves provide my waterbed. Way up high, atop the bridge, come the blues-and-twos, as the emergency services rush to the scene of my demise. Don’t they realise that I’ve fallen too far from reach? Beyond any assistance or redemption.

It seems as if hours pass me by while I drift in and out and upon. This time, a deafening roar causes me to rouse. A shadow flies through the sky, trailing a bright beam. The search is on. These arctic temperatures have other ideas—so much so that I’ve begun to feel warm. A bad sign. Sleepy too.

Impossibly white light hits me and burns my eyes. I raise a hand to cover them and, immediately, lose my buoyancy and sink back into the dark. The search light now glows dimly above the water. Too tired, too cold, too done to even try and fight, I let the river have its way.

The universe has other ideas, it seems, and once again, I lose the choice. Strong hands grip my armpits and haul me upward. To the artificially lit night and the cold and the air and the despair. Oh, love, what did you do to me? So much blood. All that carnage. All those lies and abuse. What’s the use?

 

You reached out and took my arm. It all unfolded in a blur and strobe-like snapshots—the winch into the helicopter, the medi-flight, and them getting me here. Trouble is, I think they left my heart there.

A nurse bustles into the private room and pulls apart the drapes. ‘Time to let in some light,’ she says. Oh, how wrong could she be? The last thing I want to do is see. Right now, only one thing remains certain, that things can never be the same. I want to stay in the dark; hide from my shame.

‘You have a visitor.’ Her voice sounds far too bubbly. It hurts. ‘The police officer who tried to help on the bridge.’ A shadow crosses her face. Then she gets busy tidying the bedding and then me. ‘I’ll just go and show him in.’ Once again, I don’t get a choice. No time to find my voice.

The door opens slowly, and I lay with baited breath. A young man eases in, dark hair and chocolate eyes, with a smile that feels like the most glorious sunrise. ‘May I?’

His question gives me pause. Never before did anyone ask my permission. Dumbstruck, I give a mere nod. My visitor edges to the bed and takes a seat on the hard plastic chair that the nurse placed there. We sit in silence for a while, and then his eyes find my scars. So many. Clouds snuff out that beautiful dawn and darken his face.

Now, he’ll make his excuses and take his leave. He’s done his bit. But no. Instead, he takes my hand. Looks into my eyes. Somewhere from the edges, I register that he doesn’t have on his uniform. ‘It’s okay,’ he tells me, fingers rubbing mine. ‘You’re safe now. We’ll make this right.’

Uninvited, a sob brings the elephant right into the room. ‘No one can,’ I croak.

‘It’s okay. He won’t hurt you again.’

‘You know who I am?’

He nods, gives my hand a squeeze. ‘We know everything.’

All I want to do is shrivel up and crawl within.

With both hands, he reaches out and takes my arms. I let him. He seems an angel in human form, and I feel safe within his embrace. Into my hair, he whispers, ‘It’s okay. I’ve got you. I got you now.’

Can I take the leap of faith?

Now, there’s the question.

Live or die?

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH RWISAWRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to 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:

 

Harmony Kent  RWISA Author Page

 

 

Alone, (a short story). #writephoto

Photo provided by Sue Vincent at scvincent.com

No one knows where I am.  They’re probably saying I’m crazy.  That’s okay; I don’t expect most of them to understand.

I’m out here, all alone.  Miles away, on another continent.  The view is breathtakingly beautiful.  The sounds are inherently calming.  I don’t wake to an alarm; the slight hint of dawn and the chirping of birds is what wakes me every morning.

Chastity might understand.  Maybe one day I’ll go back for her.  Or maybe I won’t, if it could mean losing everything I have right now.

What I have now is freedom.  Like the gulls cawing above, I have freedom from my uncouth boss, freedom from bills, the mortgage, that ex-wife and her constant prying for alimony.  I have freedom from the stress.  The only thing I have to stress about now is what I’ll eat.  So far, I’ve been able to find a way, every time.  This is a life of survival, and I’m doing it.  I never thought I could give up that false security back home.  Now, I know it’s totally possible.

The beach breeze brings a pleasant, salty smell to the air.  Some days, I remind myself that the lack of a shower means a lack of interest–on my house, my credit cards, my car.  I let them repossess it, and the house went into foreclosure.  Some will say I was only trying to jilt my ex-wife, but they don’t see the larger monster that I needed to escape.

Money is what ruled me, and what was bound to kill me.  I was working non-stop, fueling myself with caffeine, Redbull and barbecue.  Now, I take my chances on a steep mountain or waking up in a hostel, not knowing if I’ll gather money to buy my next meal, but I am getting better day by day.  Instead of getting  heart disease, I will get leaner.

In a day or two, I’ll go to visit the monks on the next mountain.  I think they’ll agree with my decisions.  Learning to do without is really freeing.

 

 

*Every week, Sue Vincent posts a photo prompt and a challenge to fellow bloggers.  Directions are:  Use the image (below) as inspiration to create a post on your own blog… poetry, prose, humour… light or dark, whatever you choose, by noon (GMT)  Wednesday 16th August and link back to this post with a pingback.

I invite you to visit the post on Sue Vincent’s blog at https://scvincent.com/2017/08/10/thursday-photo-prompt-alone-writephoto/

Two Americas. #amwriting #poetry

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I see two Americas

each believing they are right

polarized to different margins

there is no middle for them.

 

I see two value systems

each in extreme form

leading many to believe

that they must choose.

 

There is no middle ground

and your actions can’t be wrong,

if you are right.  Right?

After all, this is a fight.

 

I see the colors fading,

only into black and white

there will be no gray, and certainly,

no other colors here.

 

I dream it could be different,

and I’m called so many names.

They say I’m too scared to fight,

that I’m too scared to choose.

 

Dear young one, when you choose,

be clear what you’re fighting for.

Be clear whom you’re fighting with.

Remember, wrong is never right.

 

Dear young one, don’t be scared

to stand up on your own,

to resist the leading group

and to bring peace in this world.

 

Of course, I am only dreaming

of a country that:

accepts difference

promotes peace

talks through disagreements

never uses violence

let’s an individual choose

gives more than two options

respects all opinions

lives in democracy.

 

Perhaps that is Utopia,

and maybe just a dream.

Maybe I am just a dreamer,

so throw tomatoes at me.

 

Yet all is not yet said and done.

There is still a tomorrow unknown.

Maybe I’ll see that I had a right

to sit and dare to dream.

 

 

 

 

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#WeekendCoffeeShare. Who Says I Can’t Still Vacation? #amwriting

cappuccino-1149061_1280 Images via Pixabay.com

Welcome to the #WeekendCoffeeShare, hosted by Diana at parttimemonsterblog.com!  If we were having coffee today, on 8/13, I’d tell you…

Summer’s over, but I can still visit Endless Summer in my mind!  I’ve been back to work this past week, getting ready for the new school year, trying to stay on the positive bus.  I know how to do it, so I’m going to try.  For me, it certainly involves relaxing, getting away (even if only in my imagination), and to avoid workplace negativity/ burnout or dwelling on national and world news (Ugh).  So, this morning for coffee, I’m visiting Italy with a dark roast and a bit of almond milk with sweetener.   Yes, it’s 11 a.m. and I’m still working on my coffee. Don’t judge! I like where I am.  So, in my imagination, I’m sitting, sipping my coffee and staring out at this.  Ahh.

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In reality, I’m sitting here choosing that as my reality by using my words and my keyboard.  You see how this writing thing works?  It has saved my life on occasion.

I must confess, I’m drinking coffee late because I slept in due to being out last night dancing with friends.  One of them was in town so I knew I’d see her and a few other mutual friends.  My boyfriend and I met them.  It was a great escape, talking about non-work stuff, watching a crowd of people I don’t know, who all seem impossibly younger than I but not caring or worrying that I look a fool when I hear a song I’ve got the nerve to dance to.  I  know, that seems like a run-on sentence, right?  I’ll leave it be this time.  Anyway, wearing sneakers helped a lot.  I’m at an age where comfort is key, and a t-shirt, sneakers, jeans combo is my go-to attire.

Funny, I was going to mention how I am empty in the writing area lately, but it is doing me right today.  I don’t know if you like it, but I like where it’s taking me.  Yes, my thoughts seem a little disorganized, and I apologize.  Summer left me unfocused, but I really needed to relax.  The writing I’m doing right now is helping me keep my state of mind positive.  The purposeful writing that I need to do to get my ideas channeled into writing projects will likely come when it truly feels like fall.

Since summer’s over, and fall is on its way, let me share my letter to fellow teachers.  I see an epidemic with new teachers and some veterans that leaves them with little personal life, children who long for them to come home, or neglected friendships and relationships.  Some of them work during the summer to set up a room, only to find they were re-assigned to a different school.  Others are just so tired that they take it personally when kids don’t respond to them (the latter is me; I did that).   Really, those long days will happen in the fall, when you have to reach a parent right away or some other urgency occurs.  Right now it is too soon to stress out.  So, here it is:

 

Dear teacher,
Yes, your classroom looks good enough. Go home! Yes, you’ll likely forget some little detail. It means you’re like the rest of us. Go home and remember you’re a human being with friends, family, hobbies. Relax. It will make your first day smile much more genuine when you meet those kids.
Signed, 
A 17 year veteran teacher who has been there.

 

I plan to be the teacher who is all about positive energy this year, and it will happen because my brain is calm and relaxed.  That’s my goal.  I’m also planning on things going smoothly with the family, so that my brain energy is focused on being all that I can be for myself and for the needs of others.  Yet, if someone in my family needs me, this calm state of mind could only be helpful at that point, as well.

Have a great week, everyone!

**Please visit Diana’s blog at parttimemonsterblog.com to check out other Coffee Shares or to share your own by clicking on the blue linky button.  You may also feel free to leave me a comment about your week, your taste in coffee, vacation experiences, writing progress, etc.

Watch RWISA Write! An Author Discovered, John Howell #RRBC

RWISA TOUR (1)[2337]

I’m proud to display the work of fellow author, John Howell, today.  John is a fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club and RWISA (Rave Writers International Society of Author).  You can find out more about his writing and published books following his brief story below.

John W. Howell

Last Night by John W. Howell © 2017

So, with nothing better to do, I figure I’ll stop at Jerry’s place and grab a couple of drinks and a burger. Usually, I don’t go there on Saturday night since there’s a crapload of amateurs taking up what would be considered prime space. I figure since this is a Friday and close to Saturday, it may be packed, but not as crazy as Saturday. It’s the kind of place where everyone minds their business. They’re there for a good time and will likely not notice me. Even so, I go through the door, stop, and have a look around, trying not to make eye contact. I hope that the ball cap and large coat will keep me from getting noticed.  The bar holds a weekday crowd, hanging on each other like they never had a date before. I tighten my eyelids against the smoke and make out four guys near the pool table, and what looks like a couple of girls fetching drinks. I search for a seat beyond the table in the back, but it seems like they’re all taken.

A guy bumps into me as I stand here. I say excuse me, and he looks me in the face. “Hey, don’t I know you?” he says.

“I don’t think so.” I make to turn away.

“Yeah, you’re the sports hero who lost all his money. I saw you on TV.”

“Naw, people always say stuff like that. I’m not him, buddy; trust me.”

He gives me a puzzled look but doesn’t want to push it, in case he has it wrong. I turn away and continue to look for a seat.

Straight ahead lies the bar, and it has a place right in the middle. I move in the direction of the empty place and look over to the other side of the room. The tables look full of happy drunks. Buckets of empties line the bar top, and the barmaid’s trying to sell more. She doesn’t have much luck since most of these people just spent their last five bucks on this outing. Upon making it to the stool, I hoist myself up and lean on the bar.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. “Whadda you have?”

“Evening, Jerry. I’ll have a Gin on the rocks with a water back.”

“Comin’ up.”

I like Jerry’s no-nonsense way of handling things. He doesn’t like small talk and gets right to business. My eyes smart from the smoke, and I wonder how Jerry gets away with letting people kill themselves, when clearly, it’s not supposed to be allowed in this kind of establishment.

“Here you go. Want me to run a tab?”

“Yeah, I would appreciate that. I intend to have another drink and then a burger.”

The guy who thinks he knows me grabs my shoulder from behind. I almost fall off the stool.

“You’re Greg Petros, the big fund manager. I knew I’d seen you on TV. You took a beautiful career in football and ran it into the ground.”

Jerry leans over the bar and lays his hand on the guy’s shoulder. “Move on, my friend. You made a mistake. This guy is nobody. Go sit down and let me buy you a drink.”

“You sure? You called him Greg.”

“Yeah, I’m sure. Go get a table, and I’ll send someone over.”

The guy looks at me one more time but does as Jerry suggests. He believes Jerry’s wrong, but the idea of a free drink lets him get away without losing face.

“Thanks. I didn’t mean for you to have to jump in.”

“No problem. Gimme the high sign when you’re ready for another drink.”

“Will do. Thanks.”

“For you buddy, anything.”

I should mention that Jerry and I go back aways. When I fell on hard times, he became the only one that seemed to give a shit. I take a sip of my drink and wait for the burn in my throat, which signals the good stuff. Here it comes. I take a swig of the water and almost believe life is good. The Gin needs to get to the brain before making any honest judgment.

While I wait for the warmth to go from my stomach to my head, I check out the folks seated on either side of me. They both have their backs turned to me and sit engrossed in some discussion with their neighbor. I figure it’s just as well since I don’t want to go through that old “don’t I know you?” bullshit again. Also, I don’t figure on staying the night, so no use in getting into any long discussions about life.

I look down at my drink and wonder what will happen tomorrow. My daughter Constance wants to come and visit. She lives in New York, and before all hell broke loose, we didn’t see each other often. I missed her so much, and it seemed I had to beg her even to talk on the phone. Now, it’s like she wants to be here every weekend. It’s only an hour’s flight by the shuttle or three by train, so she can come when she wants. I just can’t figure out why she got so clingy. I have my troubles, but it doesn’t have anything to do with her. No use in asking her husband, either. Though a nice enough guy, I always wonder if he has someplace important to go when I visit. He never sits still, and stays busy on the phone or at the computer. He makes a good living, but it seems a person could take an hour to sit and talk. I’d looked forward to some kind of relationship when he and Constance got married. It’ll never happen with him.

When I take another pull at my drink, I notice the burn feels less. It happens every time. First sip initiation, I call it. It’s like the first puff of a cigarette, hits hard then, after, nothing. I decide to let Constance pretty much have the agenda tomorrow. She and I have not had a chance to talk about anything deep for a while. It could just be that she blames me for her mother running off with that guy with the house on the Hudson. He has a title, and the old gal couldn’t resist, but, I think the daughter always felt I should have done something. Her mother’s sleeping with another guy and what the hell can I do about that?

I’ll just go with the flow. If she wants to go out, we will. If she wants to stay in, we can do that, too. I better think about getting some food in the house. Of course, we can always order take out. I need to move on to my drink and let this go. Tomorrow will be what it is. I remember the day she was born. I looked down at her in my arms and promised I would do anything for her. I love her more than life itself, and I hope we can somehow get to the root of whatever’s wrong. She sounded strange on the phone this morning, and I feel helpless to do anything about it. I hope she opens up when she gets here.

For some reason, I feel tired. Perhaps I’ll go ahead and finish my drink. Maybe I’ll just go home and forget the burger. First, though, I’ll just shut my eyes for a minute. My hands feel good when I put my head down.

“Hey, Greg,” Jerry says. I barely hear him. “What’s the matter? You taking a nap? Greg?” I can feel him shake me, but I have no interest in waking up. His voice gets further away, and I think he says, “Oh my God, Sophie, call 911, quick.” Now the room goes silent.

 

END

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John Howell  RWISA Author Page