Friday, February 26, 2010

Trump Card

She guzzled the second drink while she waited for her daughter to arrive and introduce her to the foreigner she planned to marry. When she snapped her fingers and then knocked on the table, the waiter nodded. He understood the keep them coming gesture.

“Of all the bad news you can give, this is the worst,” she complained to her daughter the week before as she paced in the sitting room. “How do you know he's not marrying you just to become legal?”

Several hours of argument. No changing of minds.

Now she sat in the back of the restaurant in an immigrant section of town and drank the third glass of the thick liquid she preferred whenever she was upset. She played with the stones on her fingers and suffered another rush of ire as she remembered that her future son-in-law had not bought her daughter a ring.

A necklace! She thought. The server arrived with another drink. “Maybe in his corner of the world a necklace is the right kind of jewelry for an engagement, but it doesn't impress me,” she said to him.

“Momu, stop annoying the help.” Her daughter's arrival caused many heads to turn in admiration. She laughed, blew a kiss at her mother, and waved the server away.  She planned to make the few minutes before her fiance showed up very happy ones for her mother.

“Behold,” she said as she sat next to her on the banquette. “This is my gorgeous present.” She unlatched the chain and placed it on the tablecloth. She smiled as her mother put down her drink and, with opened mouth and widened eyes, picked up the true amber pendant.

“Daughter, do you know how rare and expensive this is?” she whispered, as she counted a dozen fossilized objects embedded in the resin. It was well understood among her circle of friends that collectors highly valued this gemstone with natural inclusions indicating mammalian life.

“Yes, Momu, it's the first one found in thirty years. And my love can afford any price,” she said with unrestrained pride.

“Wealth handed down the family line for generations?”

“Of course,” her daughter said. “The old-fashioned way.”

Her mother smiled. No need to worry about her child's future, then. She lifted the pendant and marveled at the pristine and complete specimen of bellicose creatures that, as legend has it, once roamed the world as soldiers in the Special Forces of the United States Army. This piece is truly a drama of ancient history, she thought, then looked up to see her daughter kissing her betrothed hello.

“Welcome to the family,” she said and extended her right arms. He bowed his three heads and kissed the back of her hands in reply.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I am happy and honored that two lovely people have passed on The Sugar Doll Blogger Award to me.

Many thanks to:

Deanna Schrayer at The Other Side of Deanna
Laura Eno at A Shift in Dimensions

I would like to pass along this award to:

Cathy Olliffe at Life on the Muskoka River

She is quite funny, sassy, and her comments on my stories always make me feel as if I done good!

 Now look here.



If The Sugar Blogger was not enough reason to celebrate, I've also received The Silver Lining AND Honest Scrap awards from Anne Lord Tyler who can be found at Don't Fence Me In

What can I say? I am flabbergasted. I consider these women exceptional writers and friends whose support, encouragement, and sense of fun make any day great. Please visit them and you'll see for yourself.

The Silver Lining Award is given to blogs that help others or that focus on the good things in life to uplift others. This award comes with one condition. I must now pass it on to five other blogs that I feel have accomplished the same thing.

The Sugar Doll and Honest Scrap Awards require me to list ten things about myself that are true. Damn! Er. I mean, of course I will. I'll combine the two and keep it to ten for my sake, and yours.

1. I was born and raised in New York City.

2. I taught myself to read at four years of age.

3. I attended Catholic School until junior high. Yeah. I know.

4. The only sport I enjoyed playing in school was.... Well, I'll think on it and get back to you.

5. I was asked to the school prom by the captain of the football team, even though I was NOT a cheerleader. Didn't go because my father would not allow it.

6. I was a television reporter.

7. I have three children.

8. I enjoy living in Washington, DC, but miss New York and visit often.

9. Never inhaled or exhaled cigarettes or anything else. Which explains a lot.

10. Love listening to other people's stories than talking about myself.

Once again, please forgive me for adapting the conditions to my needs at the moment. Because I know that so many of my writing friends have or are receiving these awards from different people, I've decided not to overwhelm them. So I hereby bestow The Silver Lining and Honest Scrap awards to one person who is quite wonderful and inspirational, too. She also shares her wine with me. Virtually, of course, though if I could get her to visit maybe she'll bring a bottle!

Georganna Hancock. Her great blog is A Writer's Edge and it's so chock full of good information, amusing asides, no-nonsense thinking that one can consider it as getting five blogs for the price of one!

Friday, February 19, 2010


You can only refuse to believe in something until you see it with your own eyes. Henry now believed in ghosts.

While waiting for the fraternity brothers to come downstairs for dinner, he walked into the lounge and saw a young man blowing chilled breath onto three of the mullioned window panes and tracing letters in the condensation.

“Who are you?” Henry asked. “You must know there's an investigation. We're closed.”

The young man stilled his movements and turned.

“You!” Henry said, heart thumping.

Thomas smirked, tilting his head to one side. “Me,” he agreed.

“You're supposed to be dead.”

“How very interesting,” Thomas rolled his eyes. “Anyone would think I was unaware of this.”

Several days ago, “Two Die During Rush Week” was one of the many headlines in the local newspapers. Pictures revealed handsome young men with athletic builds and rakish smiles. When it happened, it was Hell Night, and Thomas stood with Henry and another freshman awaiting further instructions.

They endured several harsh antics and pranks, and only one thing needed to be done before these pledges discovered if the fraternity brothers extended a hand in bonding and unity or goodbye. The last test involved drinking lots of water quickly. The ones who drank the most within the half hour were assured a place in the house.

The autopsy report concluded death from water intoxication and its complications. Doctors were called too late and could not reverse the cellular damage from severe brain tissue swelling.

“What do you want?” Henry asked.

Thomas walked to the sofa and tapped his fingers along the frayed armrest where his head had rested that evening as he lay dying.

“It's you who needs to remember something,” he said.

“Me? You're crazy. Or I am, if I'm standing here talking to you.”

Thomas shook his head and returned to the window. He touched the last pane.

“I'll see you later, Henry.”

“What? No! Why would you haunt me? Didn't I try to call the police, when the others wanted to wait until morning to see if things got better?”

Thomas laughed. “You could not do very much.”

“I tried to help!” Henry insisted. "But no one would listen to me." He took a calming breath, trying to relax his features, trying to look less like a frightened boy. Thomas pointed to the window, then looked at him over his shoulder.

“Just returning the favor,” he said, then winked and dispersed into curling grey wisp that fogged the fourth pane and outlined a last word.

You Are Dead Too

[Edited to add few lines to clear up confusion for several readers]

Friday, February 12, 2010


This is how Tasha died: pinioned by the arms of her grandfather as her father struck her chest with her mother's favorite kitchen knife.  She expected her mother to scream, or rush at her husband, or call the police. She did not expect her Ammi would stand at the top of the stairs and nod her head in support.

Tasha has a sister, her mother thought as she watched, her eyes rimmed with dampened kohl.

Earlier, Tasha had returned home from an afternoon of studying at her best friend's house. She was introduced to an older cousin who was visiting for the weekend. He helped them with their studies and, several hours later, they walked Tasha home after stopping for a drink at the coffee shop. She waved goodbye and turned to see her parents and grandfather standing in the hall. “I'm late, I know, sorry but---”

“You were out all day with a boy?” Her father's spittle landed on her face and she stepped back.

“Not like that. We were studying!”

Her grandfather spoke. “You were told you will marry the young man we chose for you, with ties to our village. His relatives here saw you.”

Tasha did not want to talk about this. She was born in this suburban house 16 years ago, not a dusty village.  Yes, her mother and father were very strict, overly protective, and infuriating at times, but is that not the way of all parents?

“You know I don't want to get married,” she said. “Especially to some guy I don't even know. I want to study and get a job and not be tied down to your old-fashioned...”

Her mother's slap to her face sent Tasha running upstairs to her room. She sat on her bed and held her old stuffed bunny to her chest. It was her comfort in the night since she was four years old. A few minutes later she heard someone walk up the wooden steps to her room. Her father came in without knocking. He carried a cup of tea.

“You acted in a way that has brought shame to our family!” he said and closed the door. He held out the hot drink. “Your grandfather and I will give you the chance to do what you must to preserve the honor of our family members.”

He pointed to the cup in his hand. “It has rat poison.”

 “Abba?” Tasha pushed one of Bunny's ears into her mouth to stifle the scream and bile and moved closer to the window.

“No one will marry your sister until our name is pure again.” Her father placed the cup on her desk and left without another word.

Tasha's tears obscured the familiar. What was her father talking about? Those traditions had no place here. Oh, she grew up hearing about these honor killings, but they were stories - they belonged to the old country, to the villages, to the old ways. This is the United States, for goodness sake. Her father could not mean this. He was just trying to scare her. She needed to find her mother.

She knocked the cup to the floor and left her room, running down the stairs. Her grandfather stepped from the study and stood before her.

“Oh, Dada, Dada!” she wept as he held out his arms.

Tasha expected them to take away her phone, or ground her for a month, or any other loss of privileges as punishment. She did not imagine this.

“I am justified,” her father whispered as he pulled out the knife. “Allah Haafiz.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bald Lying

I've been tapped by Carol Kilgore at Under the Tiki Hut to receive the Lesa's Bald Faced Liar "Creative Writer" Blogger Award. I'm honored! Thank you, Carol.

As with the best things in life, this is not free. There are some things I must do before I can relax and stare at my lovely award.

Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth.
5. Nominate seven "Creative Writers" who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.
6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

That's it. Now, of course I must tell six outrageous lies about myself. Hmmm. Dunno why Carol thought I knew how to lie, but never mind.  Will have words with her later. Oh. And one outrageous truth. Well, there's nothing outrageous about the truth. It can only set one free.

So, here goes:
  1. I gave a drunken lap dance to a 21-year-old stranger at a transvestite club.
  2. My father was the mayor of his New Jersey town.
  3. I never went to college because I was kicked out of high school.
  4. I gave up a rock star life because the sex and drugs became same-old, same-old.
  5. I am now a happy little homemaker and cook, clean, bake every day.
  6. My mother spoke French to me until I went to first grade.
  7. I never learned to drive.
Now, I must torture nominate seven "Creative Writers" and warn them about it.

I'm tapping the side of my nose with my index finger as I think. All right. Here are the seven bloggers I'm passing this award to:

  1. Deanna Schrayer at The Other Side of Deanna
  2. Anne Tyler Lord at Don't Fence Me In
  3. G.P. Ching at So, Write
  4. P.J. Kaiser at Inspired by Real Life 
  5. Karen Schindler at Miscellaneous Yammerings
  6. Tony Noland at Landless 
  7. Alex Carrick at Alex Carrick's Blog
That was a lot of work, Carol.

But it was an entertaining way to spend my snowbound day! Thanks again.

Friday, February 05, 2010


The school yard fell silent as the two boys stood toe-to-toe at the center of the growing crowd.  The bigger of the boys, whom everyone called Buster, kept his hostile brown-eyed stare pointed at his opponent. His beefy arms dangled loosely at his sides, but his fists were clenched and ready.

Teddy was new to the school. Earlier, while he ate lunch at a table by himself, Buster and four other boys approached and pushed his tray to the floor.

“You think you be so smart, laughing cuz I got the wrong answer in class?” Buster asked.

He looked around at the nearby students, who stopped chewing in order to hear what was happening. “Let's see him laugh when I break his face outside.”

He turned to Teddy and sneered. No one said a word until Buster and his cronies left the room.

Now, all the spectators waited in excited chatter for it to begin. When Buster spat on the ground, a signal that he was ready, the crowd stepped back to give him room. Teddy started to tell this bully he did not want to fight, but had hardly spoken when Buster struck and hit him in the head.

Fight! Fight!" came from those looking on, and this was taken up on all sides.

Though a cut in his temple was bleeding into his right eye, Teddy ducked the next blow and ran at Buster. They tumbled to the ground. Teddy, being leaner and quicker, rolled away and stood. He  kicked at Buster's ankles and shins, but fell over when he lost his balance.

"Boys! boys! Stop this now!” It was the school principal. He forced his way through the crowd to where Buster and Teddy lay, still pummeling each other, and, reaching down, caught each by the collar and dragged him to his feet.

As they were led away to the front door of the school, Teddy thought about his grandmother getting the phone call. He lived with her now, after his mother had left him on her doorstep a week ago with a small suitcase and run off with another deadbeat boyfriend who promised her everything but stability.

His grandmother sighed when she answered his knock that day but knew Teddy could not live alone and had no other place to go. “Don't want trouble with you, hear?” she warned after explaining the rules of the house. He promised.

This is trouble, he thought as he and Buster reached their fourth grade classroom to collect their books while the principal spoke to their teacher.

Later, as he sat waiting in the hallway for his grandmother to come and sign him out of school, Teddy remembered his mother once told him, “Baby, dreams don't cost nuthin' but the time it takes to have 'em.”  

So he will dream of a transformed life ahead. But, the world he inhabits will not make it easy.

He feared he will always have to fight to make his way.


I have Clifford Fryman to thank for the first sentence. I found it at #storystarters, his brainchild, a place to go if writers need a prompt to “kick start their creativity when their muse is a no show.” You can find him at Twitter here.