Rainy Day Reading

how-to-expand-your-mind

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna to get.”

I would like to apply this to anthologies, even if an anthology has a defined theam the stories with it can be as mixed as a deluxe box of chocolates. There are ones we all enjoy like a truffles, but there may be a few off putting pieces like coconut cream.

These are the anthologies I have read and recommend checking out:

Dark Places, Evil Faces Vol. II

Edited by Marc Lumby

My Review:

Probably not the best thing to be reading late at night with the world as crazy as it is at the moment. The short stories in this anthology are thought provoking, cringey and horrific, as they should be. I highly recommend because the dark places are indeed full of evil faces.

 

Ten-Word Tragedies

Edited by Tim Lebbon and Christopher Golden

My Review:

A gut punch of stories…
I enjoyed the concept of this anthology. There are some strong detail rich worlds to fall into. There is also a few ‘not my cup of tea’ stories. Overall an entertaining read for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

 

The Stories We Hide: Enigma Front 5

Edited by Chris Carolan

My Review:

Another outstanding collection of short stories from Enigma Front. Shout out to Marc Watson and Chis Patrick Carolan, if you don’t know them as authors check them out. I also enjoyed reading new authors to me and look forward to tracking down more of their works.

 

At Home in the Dark

Edited by Lawrence Block

My Thoughts So Far:

I haven’t finished this one yet, of the stories that I have read so far, they will haunt your dreams.

 

The Book of Extraordinary Impossible Crimes and Puzzling Deaths

Edited by Maxim Jakubowski

My Thoughts So Far:

This is one of my favorite anthologies thus far. Being an enthusiast of Agatha Christie and mysteries in general. This one has been fun to read especially Bev Vincent’s contribution.

 

Now Speaking of Bev Vincent:

Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales

Edited by Bev Vincent with an introduction by Stephen King

My Review:

A perfect balanced collection of bizarre, terrifying, and creepy. Fasten you seat-belts Flight or Fright is one turbulent ride of short stories.

 

A Land Without Mirrors: A Collection of Fantasy and Surrealism

Edited by Fluky Fiction

My Review:

Yes one of my short stories is included in this anthology, along side some outstanding fantasy and surrealism writers. The talented authors in this collection will pull you into their worlds of words.

 

There we go some Orange Creams along with some Turtles, I may have lost the box of chocolates analogy. With in an anthology you may just find that perfect chocolate.

 

https://cch217.wordpress.com/2020/05/17/on-my-shelf/

 

 

 

Kindred

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It had been fifteen years since the sickness had spread through the world. It took many during the first two years. People adapted as they do, most kept working, some were drawn into their personal devices spending hours, days and sometimes weeks lost in entertainment. A few fell into drugs, a new hallucinogen hit the streets and became the designer drug of the day. ‘A fix’ put you into a deep relaxed state where all your fantasies seemed real. The unfortunate side effects being that you don’t know what you’re doing while fantasizing, which led to many accidental deaths.

~ ~ ~ ~

Fraz’s size eleven, well worn, Army Surplus boots splashed through the water pooling on the street. Streaks of neon blue lighting reflected off the window fronts of Pickerton Avenue. Fraz walked with authority as his dark green trench coat became drenched from the constant downpour. “Why is it always raining.” He mumbled to himself as he turned into a darkened alley. There was a singular dim light over a side door halfway down, the figure of a woman stood huddled next to the door, trying to stay out of the rain. As Fraz approached she spoke. “Do you have some?” Her voice was scratchy like she needed a drink. “Yeah, I have some.” Fraz said coming to a stop in front of her. She held up her right index finger. “I have credits.” Fraz shook his head and sighed. “Sweety, you can’t pay for a fix with credits. They are traced back to you. So unless you want to spend time downtown in a holding cell, I suggest you come up with something else to trade.” The woman reached behind her neck and unfastened a gold chain that held a heart shaped locket. “Is this enough?” She asked,  holding it out to Fraz. He picked up the necklace from her wet palm and looked it over. “Yeah that will work.” He put the necklace in his pocket and handed her a small yellow pill. “Only one?” “Yeah, only one.” Fraz said turning and walking back towards Pickerton Avenue.

Fraz pulled a slightly crushed pack of cigarettes from his pocket, took one and placed it between his lips as he found his Zippo and lit up, taking a deep drag and exhaling slowly. Pickerton Avenue was a main drag of sorts full of convenience stores, strip clubs and pawn shops. Fraz entered Buck’s Pawn, the door buzzed as he entered the small packed shop. “Whatcha got for me now?” The big burly man behind the counter asked. “Today Gus I have something special for you.” Fraz said as he approached the counter and pulled out the necklace. “Hum.” Gus said as he looked the locket over. “I can do one fifty in credits.” Fraz gave a slight frown. “Well that’s better than nothing.” Gus took Fraz’s fingerprint and signature. “It should go through in about five minutes.” Gus said putting the necklace in the display case.

~ ~ ~ ~

Detective Joseph Sullivan reached over turning off the blaring alarm. He laid in bed for a few more minutes contemplating what it would take for him to be motivated enough to leave the comfort of his bed. He stared at the grimy stained ceiling of his small one bedroom apartment that had a consistent smell of Chinese take out. Joseph missed his old house, and his wife. Nancy was his world; they had been married for thirty years when she passed away. The cancer had riddled her body making her a shell of who she used to be. It pained him to watch her decline, even with treatment, it took over her poor broken body. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and decided to face the day. Detective Sullivan was up for early retirement when Nancy was diagnosed, after losing her he decided to keep working. He felt that he needed to keep a routine and a purpose, so he sold the house and moved into the city. He stood in front of the bathroom mirror, the heavy dark circles under his eyes along with the streaks of grey in his goatee added a good five years to his age. Joseph dressed for work, dark slacks, button down shirt with navy blue tie, and black oxfords. He checked his Glock 22 placing it into his shoulder holster and put his badge and credentials into his jacket pocket. He grabbed his tan trench coat and umbrella from the front closet and headed out into the rain. After grabbing a coffee and breakfast sandwich from the food vendor outside of the Kindred Police Department Joseph headed in for the day.

~ ~ ~ ~

Seeing that Fraz had a few extra credits to his name he felt due for a night out. He walked down Pickerton Avenue coming to a stop outside of Club Knocks. He placed his finger on the doorman’s tablet paying the cover charge. “Thanks.” The doorman said opening the door to the club, the hot air that smelled of sweat hit Fraz as he entered the club. Music screamed from the large speakers scattered around the room, as flashing green and blue lights flickered across the dance floor. Bodies pushed up against each other jumping up and down in rhythm to the music. Fraz made his way over to the bar, taking a seat and ordering a drink. He was about two drinks in when a voice caught in his ear. “Hey, I know you, don’t I?” The scratchy female voice said. Fraz turned towards the voice. “Yeah I know you, I gave you my Aunt Betty’s locket.” She continued. Fraz nodded. “Yes you did.” He gave her a once over glance, she was petite, her dark hair was loose falling over her shoulders. She was dressed in jean shorts, a light pink tank top and sandals. She leaned into him. “So do you have some?” She asked, giving him a sheepish grin. He chuckled at her begging attempt. “Maybe.” He answered, finishing off his drink. She whispered into his ear. “Join me in the restroom and I will make it worth your while.” With that she turned and headed down the hall to the restroom. Fraz took a second and then followed her down the hallway.

~ ~ ~ ~ 

“What do we have?” Detective Sullivan asked the responding officer as he entered Club Knocks. “Two deceased individuals in the restroom. The woman is Tracy Addison 25, has a record for prostitution, and solicitation. The man is Franky Lawrence 34, a known dealer who goes by ‘Fraz’.”  Detective Joseph Sullivan made his way into the restroom. Tracy was topless laying on her back with bruising around her slim neck. Fraz was slumped over against the wall with his jeans undone. “I’m sure a tox screen will answer this one.” He said.

~ ~ ~ ~ 

Fraz pushed open the door to the restroom. Tracy motioned for him to come in, he entered locking the door behind him. She flung her arms around his neck and kissed him. Fraz took a second and kissed her back, deeply as he ran his hands down her back, pulling her closer to him. It had been a while since he’d had any, and she felt good. She pulled back and dropped to her knees, she unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans. Taking his throbbing cock into her eager mouth. “Fuck.” Escaped his lips as he leaned back against the countertop and enjoyed her sucking. Tracy sucked till she could taste him. Then she stopped, stood up and removed her shirt. Fraz kissed her neck and caressed her breasts. “Now.” She said into his ear. “Now what?” He asked. She moved away from him giving him a dirty look. “Oh yeah.” Fraz fished two pills out of his pocket. “One for you, and one for me.” He said, handing her the little yellow pill. They took one each and then continued to make out. Fraz didn’t partake often but this seemed like a good enough time as any. As the fix took over everything became blurry, was his hands on her neck was he choking her. He felt outside of himself like he was watching them from another place. Then a sharp pain struck in the center of his chest forcing him to stumble back.

~ ~ ~ ~

“Sir, the tox screen and autopsy results on our couple at Club Knocks.” The Officer said handing Detective Sullivan the file. “Thanks.” He said, taking the report. “Let’s see what we have.” He said to himself as he flipped through the report.

Tracy Addison death by asphyxiation due to manual strangulation. Trace amounts of a hallucinogen and alcohol level .18.

Franky Lawrence death by myocardial infarction, (heart attack) Trace amounts of a hallucinogen and alcohol level .22.

Detective Joseph Sullivan closed the report and sat back in his chair. 

 

*this is a first stab at Cyberpunk/Dystopian fiction comments and suggestions welcome*

The Best of Apples From Edna’s Kitchen

Apple Varieties

Some Fun Facts About Apples:

Apples contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol and are a good source of fiber.

Apples ripen six to ten times faster at room temperature than if they are refrigerated.

More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the United States, but only the crabapple is native to North America.

Apples are a member of the rose family.

It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.

Table of Contents:

Beverages:

Hot Cranberry-Apple Cider

Hot Spiced Cider

Slow-Cooker Apple Cider Sparklers

Salads:

Apple-Gorgonzola Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Waldorf Salad

Honey-Mustard Coleslaw with Apples

Breads:

Apple-Bacon Mini Loaves

Apple-Cheddar Muffins

Sausage and Apple Cheddar Biscuit Bake

Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Waffles

Zucchini Apple Bread 

Sausage, Dried Cranberry and Apple Stuffing

Main Dishes:

Apple Cider Glazed Chicken

Cider-Glazed Pork

Butternut Squash with Fennel and Apple

Treats:

Snickerdoodle Apple Cobbler

Dutch Apple Pie

Applesauce Spice Cake

Caramel-Apple Upside-Down Cake

Apple Crisp
Hot-Cinnamon-Apple-Cider

Beverages:

Hot Cranberry-Apple Cider

Ingredients:

2 quarts apple cider

1 ½ quarts cranberry juice (not cocktail, no sugar added) 

¼ cup packed brown sugar

4 sticks cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons whole cloves

Spiced rum or cinnamon schnapps, if desired

1 orange, thinly sliced

Steps:

In a 4-quart saucepan, mix all ingredients. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Strain.

Pour into stemmed mugs and add a shot of spiced rum or cinnamon schnapps if desired.

Garnish with fresh orange slices. Serve hot.

 

Hot Spiced Cider

Ingredients:

6 cups apple cider

½ teaspoon whole cloves

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

3 cinnamon sticks

Steps:

1 In a 3-quart saucepan, heat ingredients to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 10 minutes.

2 Before serving, strain cider mixture to remove cloves and cinnamon, if desired. Serve hot.

 

Slow-Cooker Apple Cider Sparklers

Ingredients:

1 quart (4 cups) apple cider

3 cinnamon sticks (3 inch)

3 whole cloves

1 piece (1 inch) gingerroot, peeled

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Grated peel of 2 lemons

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

Grated peel of 1 orange

3 Tablespoons orange juice

1 vanilla bean, split, seeded

¼ cup packed brown sugar

1 bottle (750 ml) sparkling white wine or champagne

Orange, lemon and apple slices, if desired

Steps:

Pour cider into a 3-quart slow cooker. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves, gingerroot, nutmeg, lemon peel, lemon juice, orange peel, orange juice, vanilla bean and brown sugar; mix well.

Cover; cook on Low heat setting for 3 hours.

Remove cinnamon sticks, cloves, gingerroot and vanilla bean before serving. Keep cider warm in a slow cooker, or transfer to a heat proof pitcher if serving immediately.

Ladle or pour cider into mugs, filling halfway; fill rest of mug with wine. Garnish with orange, lemon and apple slices.

Tips: For a family-friendly cider, substitute club soda or sparkling water for the wine or champagne. Don’t have a slow cooker? You can cook this on the stove instead; just simmer over low heat. To make it easy to remove the spices, tie them in a double thickness of cheesecloth or paper coffee filter before adding to the cider.
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Salads:

Apple-Gorgonzola Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette

⅓ cup olive or vegetable oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Salad

1 bag (10 oz) mixed baby greens or Italian-blend salad greens

1 medium red or green apple, chopped (1 cup)

½ cup crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese (2 oz)

⅓ cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Steps:

In a small bowl, beat vinaigrette ingredients with wire whisk until smooth.

In a large bowl, toss salad ingredients with vinaigrette just before serving.

 

Waldorf Salad

Ingredients:

¾ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing 

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons milk 

3 medium unpeeled red eating apples, coarsely chopped (3 cups)

3 medium celery stalks, chopped (1 ½ cups)

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts 

*optional ¼ cup raisins*

Steps:

1 Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice and milk in a medium bowl.

2 Stir in apples, celery and nuts. Cover and refrigerate any remaining salad.

 

Honey-Mustard Coleslaw with Apples

Ingredients:

1 bag (16 oz) coleslaw mix (8 cups)

½ cup chopped green onions (8 medium)

2 medium apples, cored and cut into matchstick pieces

1 cup light honey-mustard dressing

Steps:

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours before serving.

Tips: Granny Smith apples make a perfect choice for this salad. Their tart flavor stands up well with the cabbage and dressing. Instead of using a bag of coleslaw mix, toss 7 cups of shredded green and red cabbage with 1 cup shredded carrots.
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Breads:

Apple-Bacon Mini Loaves

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

½ cup 2% milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

⅓ cup crumbled cooked bacon

¼ cup finely chopped apple

Steps:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk and butter. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in the cheese, bacon and apple.

Transfer to two greased 5-3/4-in. x 3-in. x 2-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: 2 mini loaves (6 slices each).

 

Apple-Cheddar Muffins

Ingredients:

1 egg

2 cups premix baking mix (Bisquick)

¾ cup coarsely chopped peeled cooking apple

⅔ cup shredded Cheddar cheese

⅓ cup sugar

⅔ cup milk 

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Steps:

Heat oven to 400°F. Grease bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups with shortening, or line with paper baking cups.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg slightly. Stir in remaining ingredients just until moistened. Divide batter evenly among cups.

Bake for 17 to 19 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

 

Sausage and Apple Cheddar Biscuit Bake

Ingredients:

1 package (1 lb) bulk pork sausage

4 medium cooking apples, coarsely chopped (4 cups)

1 large onion, chopped (1 cup)

6 eggs

½ teaspoon salt

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons sugar 

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

6 Tablespoons firm butter or margarine, cut into ½ -inch cubes

1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)

2 medium green onions, finely chopped (2 Tablespoons)

1 cup buttermilk

Steps:

Heat oven to 425°F. Spray bottom and sides of a 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray or grease with shortening. In a 12-inch skillet, cook sausage, apples and onion over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until sausage is no longer pink; drain if necessary. Spoon into baking dish.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs and ½ teaspoon salt with a wire whisk or fork until well mixed. Pour eggs over sausage mixture.

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Cut in butter, using a pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in cheese and green onions. Add buttermilk; stir just until combined. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls evenly onto sausage mixture.

Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes or until biscuits are deep golden brown and done in the middle. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

 

Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Waffles

Ingredients:

2 cups pancake and baking mix

1 ⅓ cups milk

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

¾ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (3 oz)

1 cup crisply cooked and crumbled bacon (14 to 15 slices)

½ cup chopped apple 

Warm maple syrup

Sliced green onions, if desired

Steps:

Heat waffle maker; lightly brush with vegetable oil, if necessary. In a medium bowl, stir Bisquick™ mix, milk, oil and egg until mixed well. Mix in shredded cheese, 1/2 cup of the crumbled bacon and the chopped apple.

Pour ½ cup batter onto the center of the hot waffle maker. (Waffle makers vary in size; check manufacturer’s directions for recommended amount of batter). Close lid of waffle maker. Bake according to the manufacturer’s directions or until the steaming stops and the waffle is golden brown; carefully remove the waffle. Repeat with remaining batter.

Top each waffle with heaping tablespoonful bacon; serve warm with maple syrup. Garnish with sliced green onions.

 

Zucchini Apple Bread 

Ingredients:

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking soda

1-½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon salt

5 large eggs

1-½ cups vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

1 cup shredded peeled apples

1-½ cups chopped pecans

Steps:

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. 

In another bowl, beat eggs. Add oil, sugars and vanilla. 

Pour over dry ingredients; mix well. 

Stir in zucchini, apples and pecans (batter will be stiff). 

Spoon into three greased 8×4-in. loaf pans. 

Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until done. 

Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Yield: 3 loaves.

 

Sausage, Dried Cranberry and Apple Stuffing

Ingredients:

1 pound mild bulk breakfast sausage

4 Tablespoons butter

3 cups sliced leeks, white and pale-green parts only, cleaned well (about 2 large leeks)

2 granny smith apples, cored and chopped

1 cup chopped celery with leaves

1 Tablespoon poultry seasoning

1 cup dried cranberries, rehydrated in boiling water for 15 minutes and drained

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

6 cups boxed bread cubes (croutons)

⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

2 to 3 cups chicken stock

1 Tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Steps:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Saute the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling coarsely with the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. 

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage and drippings to a large bowl. 

Melt the butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. 

Add the leeks, apples, celery and poultry seasoning to the skillet and saute until the are soft, about 8 minutes. 

Mix in the drained cranberries, sage and rosemary. Add the mixture to the sausage, then mix in the croutons and parsley. 

Next add the chicken stock a little at a time until the stuffing is very moist. Be sure not to overdo it; it shouldn’t be mushy. Season with salt and pepper. 

Place in a casserole dish. 

Bake in a 14-inch oval or 9 by 13-inch rectangular casserole dish and place, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is crispy and the center piping hot. 

Remove and serve immediately.

 

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Main Dishes:

Apple Cider Glazed Chicken

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 apples, sliced

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed

⅔ cup apple cider

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon Grainy mustard

1 Tablespoon butter

3 rosemary sprigs, for skillet

Steps:

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a medium bowl, add potatoes, apples and chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss until combined.

In a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, heat remaining olive oil. Add chicken and sear, skin side down, until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove chicken from heat while you make the glaze.

To the same skillet, add apple cider, honey and grainy mustard. Bring mixture to a rapid simmer and cook until mixture has reduced slightly then whisk in the butter. Return the chicken to the skillet, skin side up, and scatter the sweet potato mixture and rosemary sprigs around the chicken. Turn off the heat and transfer the entire skillet to the oven.

Bake until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. (If potatoes need longer to cook, transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest and continue cooking until tender.)

Serve chicken and potatoes with pan drippings.

 

Cider-Glazed Pork

Ingredients:

½ cup apple cider

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 Tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

pork tenderloin

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

3 Tablespoons. butter, divided

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Steps:

Preheat the oven to 400°.

Whisk together cider, cider vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl and set aside.

Trim any excess fat or silver skin from the tenderloin. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season with salt, pepper and rosemary.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and oil together over medium-high heat. Add the pork and sear until the bottom develops a golden-brown crust. Turn with tongs and continue to brown all sides, about 4 minutes more. Transfer pan to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 140°; 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. (The pork will continue to cook when it’s basted in the cider sauce.) Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the pork to a clean plate to rest.

Place the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cider-mustard mixture and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, then add remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bring to a simmer then return the pork to the skillet. Spoon the cider mixture onto the pork by carefully tilting the skillet so that the liquid pools in the bottom of the pan. Continue to spoon the sauce onto the pork until the liquid reduces and thickens, about 2 minutes more.

Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Cut the pork into slices and drizzle with more sauce. Serve warm.

 

Butternut Squash with Fennel and Apple

Ingredients:

One 3-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced crosswise into ¼ -inch-thick pieces 

2 Gala apples, cored and sliced into ¼ -inch-thick pieces 

1 medium fennel bulb, halved and sliced into ¼ -inch-thick pieces 

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

1 Tablespoon honey 

1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme 

Sea salt 

Freshly ground pepper

Steps:

Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large bowl, toss the squash, apples and fennel with the olive oil, honey and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the squash, fennel, and apple on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast in the oven for 25 minutes. Toss and continue cooling for about 20 more minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl and serve.
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Treats:

Snickerdoodle Apple Cobbler

Ingredients:

Topping

1 pouch (17.5 oz) sugar cookie mix

½ cup butter, softened 

1 egg 

5 teaspoons sugar

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Filling

10 cups sliced peeled apples (10 medium) 

½ cup sugar

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Serve With, if Desired: Vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream

Steps:

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, softened butter and egg with a spoon until soft dough forms. In a small bowl, mix 5 teaspoons of sugar and ¾ teaspoon cinnamon until blended. Set aside.

In another large bowl, stir Filling ingredients until well coated. Spread evenly in a baking dish. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls evenly over filling (some apple slices will show). Sprinkle sugar-cinnamon mixture on top.

Bake 30 to 34 minutes or until cookies are golden brown and edges of fruit filling are bubbly. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

Tips: Granny Smith apples were used in developing this recipe, but McIntosh, Braeburn, Honeycrisp or any other type of baking apple will do just fine. Baking apples are those that are firm enough to keep their shape in the heat of the oven, so your dessert doesn’t turn out mushy. Baking apples can be tart or sweet, so you can pick the one that best suits your tastes.

There’s no need to peel the apples used in this dessert, unless you prefer to do so.

When adding your topping, use a cookie scoop to make portioning cookie dough quick and consistent.

 

Dutch Apple Pie

Ingredients:

Crust

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup plus 1 Tablespoon shortening

2 to 3 Tablespoons cold water

Filling

8 cups sliced cored peeled apples

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

Topping

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

⅔ cup packed brown sugar

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

Steps:

In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup flour and salt. Cut in shortening, using a pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork until all flour is moistened and the pastry almost leaves the side of the bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary). Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into a flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap flattened round of pastry in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. This allows the shortening to become slightly firm, which helps make the baked pastry more flaky. If refrigerated longer, let pastry soften slightly before rolling.

Heat oven to 400°F. On a surface sprinkled with flour, using a floured rolling pin, roll pastry dough into a circle 2 inches larger than a 9-inch pie plate. Fold pastry into fourths; place it on a pie plate. Unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side and being careful not to stretch pastry, which will cause it to shrink when baked. Trim overhanging edge of pastry 1 inch from rim of pie plate. Fold and roll pastry under, even with plate; flute as desired.

In a large bowl, toss Filling ingredients. Pour into the pie plate, mounding apples toward the center.

In a medium bowl, use a pastry blender or fingers to mix butter, 1 cup flour and the brown sugar until a crumb forms. Sprinkle evenly over top of pie. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon granulated sugar on top.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until pie crust and crumb topping are deep golden brown and filling begins to bubble. Transfer to the cooling rack to cool.

Tips: Choose crisp and tart-sweet apples—consider Empire, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Braeburn, Cortland—as they hold their shape and aren’t too juicy. What makes a “Dutch” pie? The streusel topping, a nearly irresistible, crunchy sweet mixture of sugar, butter, flour, and nuts, probably comes from other Germanic-styles of baking.

 

Applesauce Spice Cake

Ingredients:

Cake

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 ⅓ cups applesauce

⅓ cup oil

2 eggs 

¾ cup chopped peeled apple (1 medium)

½ cup raisins, if desired

Frosting

¼ cup butter (do not substitute margarine)

4 cups powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 to 8 tablespoons apple juice or milk

Steps:

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13×9-inch pan. In a large bowl, mix flour, granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add applesauce, oil and eggs; beat on low speed of electric mixer until moistened. Beat 2 minutes at high speed. With a spoon, fold in apple and raisins; pour into pan.

Bake for 28 to 38 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until light golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in powdered sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, the vanilla and enough apple juice for desired spreading consistency. Immediately spread over the top of the cooled cake. (Frosting sets up quickly).

Tips: Be sure to use butter for the frosting. Browning the butter gives the frosting a toasty flavor. Margarine does not brown like butter does.

Once the butter begins to brown, it quickly progresses to burned. As soon as the butter begins to turn a golden color, remove the pan from the heat. The heat of the metal pan will continue to brown the butter.

 

Caramel-Apple Upside-Down Cake 

Ingredients:

Topping

¼ cup butter or margarine

⅔ cup packed brown sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 medium apples, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

Cake

1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup milk

Whipped Cream

1 cup whipping cream

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Steps:

Heat oven to 325°F. Spray bottom and sides of 8- or 9-inch square pan with cooking spray.

In a 1-quart saucepan, melt ¼ cup butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in brown sugar. Heat to boiling; remove from heat. Stir in ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Pour into the pan; spread evenly. Arrange apple wedges over brown sugar mixture, overlapping tightly and making 2 layers if necessary.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and the salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat 1 cup granulated sugar and ½ cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition until smooth. Spread batter over apple wedges in brown sugar mixture.

Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on the cooling rack for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat whipping cream on high speed until it begins to thicken. Gradually add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, beating until soft peaks form.

Run the knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Remove pan. Serve warm cake with whipped cream. Store cake loosely covered.

 

Apple Crisp

Ingredients:

4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup all-purpose flour 

½ cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats

⅓ cup butter or margarine, softened 

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cream or Ice cream, if desired 

Steps:

1 Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with shortening.

2 Spread apples in a pan. In a medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients except cream until well mixed; sprinkle over apples.

3 Bake about 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm with cream.

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More Recipes From Edna’s Kitchen:

https://cch217.wordpress.com/2020/05/07/summer-fun-from-ednas-kitchen/

 

https://cch217.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/ednas-kitchen-presents-simply-salads/

Caffeine and Nicotine

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It was a cloudy but warm day in early May when there was a knock on Margaret’s door.

“Hey John, are you here to pick up the chairs?” 

“Yeah, Hannah wants to have a BBQ on Saturday, she always invites more people than we have chairs.”

Margaret smiled and let him in.  

“They are out back in the garage.” Margaret led John through the house, into the kitchen and out to the garage.

“There in here somewhere.” She said as she opened the side door and flipped on the light. 

The bare light bulb dimly lit the dusty, cluttered garage. John moved past Margaret, briefly brushing against her bare arm. 

John started moving boxes.

“Here they are.” He said, pulling out one of the folding chairs and handing it to Margaret.

She set it up against the garage door, and returned to take another chair from him. As he handed her the last folding chair his hand brushed against hers.

“That looks like all of them.” He said. He stood in front of her, moved his hand to the side of her head and wiped away a cobweb.

He smiled at her. 

“Got it.” 

“Thanks.”

“You know, Meg, can I call you Meg?”

“Considering that you just did, I guess so.”

“Well Meg, I’ve been thinking about you since the office party.” He ran his hand along her bare arm and looked into her eyes.

“Really?” She moved closer to him as his arm moved around her waist.

“Really.” He said, almost in a hush, his lips brushing against her cheek.

“Why?” 

He gave her a sideways look.

“You know those jeans you were wearing at the office party?”

Meg nodded her head and smiled.

“I wanted to run my hands down your back and grab your ass in those jeans, seriously those jeans have haunted my dreams.”

Meg leaned into John as he ran his hands down to her ass. She kissed him lightly on the lips, he gave her ass a squeeze, she opened her mouth and he slid his tongue into her mouth. She let out a moan and kissed him back.

“You know it’s really dusty out here, would you like to go inside?” She asked.

“In more ways than one.” He kissed her again. 

She took his hand and led him back into the house. She flipped the garage light off and closed the door.

“So, couch or bed?” She asked, as they walked through the kitchen and into the dining room. He stopped and pulled her to him.

“How about right here.” He said, pushing her up against the dining room wall. He moved his hand to the back of her head and opened the clip that had been holding her hair back. He tossed it onto the kitchen table, she gave her head a soft shake, letting her hair fall over her shoulders. She closed her eyes as he ran his hand through her hair, he kissed her neck, moving up to her cheek and over to her lips. 

Meg moved her hands to his hips and pulled him into her, she could feel his hard cock, throbbing against his jeans. She slid her hand across his crotch, he closed his eyes and let out a moan. He caressed her breasts pushing into her hand.

“Meg…I want to feel you, hell I want to taste you.” John moaned into her ear.

“Bed then.” She said, leading him into the bedroom. John sat on the edge of the bed, taking off his shoes and socks as Meg closed the blinds.

“I don’t think we need an audience, besides I think we would give poor Mr. Henderson a heart attack.”

Meg slid off her pants along with her panties and socks. She pulled her t-shirt up over her head, unfastened her bra and let it fall to the floor. She moved towards John, pushing him onto his back. She undid his belt, unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans sliding them along with his boxers off and on to the floor. John sat up taking off his shirt and tossing it to the floor. Meg laid next to John, taking his hard cock into her hand, running her hand up and down his shaft. He moved towards her sliding his hand between her legs and rubbing her pussy. He kissed her, sliding his tongue into her mouth kissing her deeply. 

“I want to taste you.” He said.

“Yes.” She moaned.

He moved down in between her legs, sliding his hands around her ass and pulling her towards him. He slid his tongue into her pussy. Licking and sucking on her clit. She let out a moan and ran her hands through his hair, pushing him deeper into her. Feeling his tongue slide around in her, making her wet, making her cum. He let out a moan as she came, tasting her sweetness.

He moved up her body leaving a trail of kisses from her pussy to her breasts. He kissed her breast, running his tongue over her hard nipple and then sucking on it as he pinched her other nipple. She ran her nails along his shoulders and down his back, leaving faint scratch marks. He kissed her, she could taste herself on his lips. She moved down his body, taking his cock into her mouth and sucking. She ran her tongue over the tip of his throbbing cock, while she stroked his shaft. He let out a moan.

“Fuck Meg.”

He pulled her up to him, kissing her.

“Please.” He said.

“Please what?” She asked.

He smiled at her.

“Please…please, fuck me.”

Meg reached over to the nightstand, pulled open the drawer and grabbed a condom. She handed it to him and smiled.

“Yes, ma’am.” 

Meg got up, grabbed her robe off of the chair, slid it on and went into the kitchen. She grabbed two bottles of water out of the fridge.

“Drink?”

“Sure.” He took the bottle of water, opened it and took a long drink.

Meg smiled at him.

“What?” He asked, finishing off the bottle of water.

“Just giving you a minute to think this over.”

“Because of Hannah?”

“Yeah, what about Hannah?” She asked.

John got off of the bed and stood in front of Meg, he took her hands in his, looked into her eyes.

“Hannah isn’t here, I am here, with you.” He said.

“This is true.”

He kissed her, pulling the belt of her robe loose, and sliding it off of her shoulders.

“Meg, I want you.” He pulled her over to the bed and laid her down onto her back. He moved over her, kissing her neck and caressing her breasts. He slid his cock into her, moving back and forth. Fucking her, she moaned and pushed up against him. He leaned down and kissed her.

“Fuck me, feel me, be with me.” He breathed into her ear. She wrapped her legs around him and moved with him, fucking him, feeling him, enjoying him.

~ ~ ~ ~

John turned over and wrapped his arms around Meg, kissing the back of her neck. She let out a moan and squeezed his arms.

“I don’t want to leave.” 

“I don’t want you to leave, except…Hannah.” Meg sighed and sat up, reaching for the pack of cigarettes on the nightstand. She lit one and took a deep drag. John sat up behind her and took the cigarette from her fingers, taking a drag and handing it back to her.

“Do you mind if I take a shower? Hannah is a bit of a bloodhound.”

“Go ahead, just don’t use the French Vanilla and Lavender soap.” She smiled at him.

“Ahh, so that’s what that scent was.” He got up kissing her on the forehead on his way to the bathroom.

~ ~ ~ ~

John carried the folding chairs into the house and sat them in the spare bedroom.

“Is that you John?” Hannah asked from the kitchen.

“Yeah, it’s me.”

He went into the kitchen, where Hannah was fixing dinner. He kissed her on the cheek, she gave him a look.

“Really John.”

“Oh my God, Hannah, yes, I had one of Greg’s cigarettes with him at work after we cleaned out the back of the warehouse, it was a long day of cleaning out the old stock, it was messy and exhausting, so yes, I had one.”

“Fine, dinner’s almost ready, did you pick the extra chairs for Saturday?”

“Yes, they are in the spare room.”

~ ~ ~ ~

The next morning at work John stopped in the front office, before heading out to the warehouse. 

“Morning Margaret.” He said. 

Margaret looked up from her desk and smiled.

“Morning John.”

He poured himself a coffee and headed out to the warehouse.

“Morning Greg, what do we have for today?”

“Morning, Sir, let’s see we have two trucks this morning and three for this afternoon.”

“Sound’s good, let’s get to it.”

A little after eleven an announcement came over the intercom. ‘Margaret Williams please report to the warehouse thank you.’ 

Margaret left the front office and walked out to the warehouse.

“You, beckoned.” She said, giving John a smile.

“Follow me, need to show you something.”

He led her down the back hall to the records room. They entered the room that held all the past invoices for the shipping company. John flipped the switch and the fluorescent lights flickered on.

“Mood lighting.” Meg said.

“Something like that.” John said, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her into him. He kissed her.

“I couldn’t wait, I had to touch you again.” 

“I am glad you didn’t wait.” She said kissing him again.

When Margaret returned to the front office there was a nicely dressed tall blonde lady waiting at the front counter.

“May I help you?” Meg asked, as she walked around to the back of the counter.

“Hannah? How are you?”

“Fine, Margaret, I wanted to get a head count for our BBQ on Saturday, is John bussy?” 

“I don’t think so, I can give him a call and have him come up, if you want.” Meg answered.

“Sure give him a call.”

Meg picked up the phone and dialed extension 462, she smiled at Hannah as the phone rang through.

“This is John.”

“Hey, John, you have a visitor in the front office.” Meg said.

“Is it Hannah?”

“Yep, can you come up?”

“I’ll be right there.”

Meg hung up the phone.

“He’s on his way up.” 

“Thanks, Margaret.”

Meg went back to filing purchase orders, while they waited for John.

“Hey, sweetie.” John said as he came into the front office.

“Let’s talk outside.” as John led her out of the office, he shot Meg a look.

~ ~ ~ ~

Saturday morning John awoke to cupboard doors being loudly closed. He turned over squinting at the alarm clock 7:40 am it read.

“Fuck.” He muttered to himself as he got out of bed.

“Morning, sweetie.” He said as he kissed Hannah on the cheek, making his way to the coffee pot.

He poured himself a cup of coffee and took a seat at the kitchen table.

“Did you invite Margaret?” She asked.

“What?”

“Margaret from work, did you invite her?”

“No, was I supposed to?” He answered.

“I just figured you had, since we are borrowing her chairs, you still can if you want, there’s plenty to go around.” 

John took a sip of  his coffee.

“Maybe I’ll give her a call in a few, you know not everyone is up at 7am on Saturday.” 

“I am just making sure everything is ready for this afternoon.”

~ ~ ~ ~ 

Meg knocked on the door at 2:30 pm, John answered the door.

“Hi, are you sure you want me here?” She asked.

John smiled at her.

“Yes, please come in.” 

Meg entered the house, John closed the door behind her.

“Nice jeans.” He whispered in her ear as they made their way out to the patio.

Everyone ate, drank and told embarrassing stories about each other. After everyone had gone home, Hannah was in the kitchen cleaning up.

“Did you have a good time?” John asked her.

“You know I am not blind, John.”

“What do you mean?”

“You couldn’t keep your eyes off of her, or your hands when you thought no one was looking.” Hannah turned to face John, tears welling up in her eyes. John moved towards her taking her into his arms. She hugged him back.

“I know we haven’t been close for a while now, I thought it was just a phase, but now I know.”

“Know what?” He asked her.

She moved back from him.

“I know…that I don’t love you anymore, seeing you around her today, I don’t have those feelings for you anymore.” 

~ ~ ~ ~

John ran his fingers through Margaret’s hair as she laid sleeping. He leaned over and kissed her cheek. She let out a moan, turned over and kissed him. 

“Morning.” She said, kissing him again.

“Morning, coffee?”

“Yes, please.” She answered, sitting up.

John got up finding his boxers that had been discarded on the floor the night before slipped them on and headed into the kitchen.

John came back into the bedroom.

“Coffee?” She asked.

“First, you.” He answered, dropping his boxers.

John pulled the blanket back, and started kissing the tips of Margaret’s toes, moving down her foot and up her leg. Taking his time rubbing and kissing every piece of her smooth skin. As he reached her inner thigh he gently pushed her legs apart and kissed her pussy. He looked up at her, as she leaned back and closed her eyes. He slid his tongue into her. She let out a moan and ran her fingers through his hair, pushing him deeper into her. 

“Fuck.” Escaped her lips as she enjoyed the tonguing he was giving her.

He moved up to her stomach leaving a trail of wet kisses to her breasts. He ran his thumb over her nipple, then caressed her breast. As he took her other nipple into his mouth and sucked.

“Fuck me, please.” She said.

He moved up and kissed her deeply, letting her taste herself on his lips. He slid his hard cock up and down her wet pussy. Slipping the tip into her and then pulling back.

“You want to see teasing?” She asked. 

She pushed him onto his back and moved down to his throbbing hard cock. She ran her hand up and down his shaft, sliding the tip into her mouth running her tongue over the tip. Then she slid him deep into her mouth and sucked. John let out a moan. 

Margaret let go and sat up, she straddled his hips and slid his cock into her pussy. Moving back and forth slowly she took him even deeper when she leaned back. She slid her finger over her pussy and rubbed her clit as she rolled her hips over his cock.

She leaned forward kissing his neck and chest. She raised her hips, sliding him out almost all the way, she reached down taking his slick cock in her hand and rubbed it against her clit.

“Fuck Meg.”

He flipped her over onto her back and thrusted into her. She bit her lower lip and smiled at him.

“Fuck me, baby.” She moaned, wrapping her legs around him.

He leaned down and kissed her, thrusting deeper and faster. Fucking her till he couldn’t hold back. He pulled out and came across her pussy and thighs. Then collapsed next to her in bliss.

“So coffee?” She said, getting off of the bed and grabbing her robe.

~ ~ ~ ~

It was 11:45 am when the PA system came on. “Margaret Williams please report to the warehouse, thank you.” Margaret closed up the front office making sure to flip the ‘Be Back In an Hour’ sign on the front door, and walked across the lot to the warehouse.

“I was about to go to lunch, did you need something?” She asked John. 

John looked up at her as he finished straightening up the invoices from the mornings trucks.

“I was thinking that you could have lunch with me, here.” He pulled out a small cooler from under his desk.

“Really, kinda depends on what’s for lunch.” She said, giving him a grin. He picked up the cooler and led her over to a table. She took a seat and he unpacked the cooler.

“Let’s see a couple of hoagies from Mac’s Diner, a piece of cherry pie and two iced teas.” John laid the spread out on the table and sat across from her.

“Well if that’s what you have I guess I’ll stay.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“So dessert?” John asked.

Margaret gave him a sideways look.

“I thought that’s what the cherry pie was.”

He smiled at her taking her hand and leading her towards the back of the warehouse. He opened the door to a storage area that was full of extra office furniture, lamps and odds and ends. They entered the dark room, and John turned on a floor lamp.

“What did you do?” 

“Nothing much, just straighten up a bit.”

The storage area was set up with a brass floor lamp, an oak coffee table with ornate carved legs, a small area rug with large blue and grey swirls on it and a couch with large gold and red flowers printed on it.

“You found all this, in here?”

“Yeah.”

“Just add some screeching love birds in the corner and you would have my Great Aunt Audrey’s sitting room.”

Margaret took a seat on the couch, and patted the cushion next to her. John joined her on the couch.

“It’s very quaint.” She said, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him in for a kiss. 

“I am glad you like it.” He said kissing her back.

She looked at her watch.

“There are twenty minutes left of our lunch hour, however shall we fill the time?” She said playfully.

John grinned at her and pulled her towards him, causing her to lay back on the couch. He leaned in over her and kissed down her neck, letting his hands roam down her body.

25 years

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It’s been 25 years, and yes I double checked the math. I want to write about it, I have used it in a few stories here and there. It deserves its own unfiltered telling. Now the only sticking point to this is how? In what form do I want to express this story…

I could go the Field of Dreams style: My Grandpa Charles was 62 and on his third marriage when my father was born in Poplar Bluff Missouri, on April 2, 1950. They relocated to Wenatchee Washington sometime around 1955. My Grandmother Dazzle was 40 when my dad was born. Making her 22 years younger than my Grandpa Charles. I never knew them since they had both passed away before I was even a glimmer. I have a few pictures and stories about who they were.

My Grandmother Dazzle used to sing live on the radio, maybe I get my enjoyment of singing from her. A slight fast forward: my Grandpa Charles passed away in 1961 and my Grandmother Dazzle passed away in 1972. My dad Chuck was engaged to a woman named  Georgiana, everyone just called her George. At my Grandmother Dazzle’s funeral in 1972 Georgiana figured that this would be a good time to pick a fight with my dad, call off the engagement during the funeral and throw the engagement ring into the open grave. Georgiana was a lost soul and unfortunately passed away of a drug overdose not too long after this incident.

My dad worked and finished college graduating with a B.A. in Journalism and Communications. He met my mother at a party on the campus of Washington State University, Pullman Washington, my mother was class of 1974 holding a B.S. in Early Childhood and Development, (of which she ended up going back remotely and received a Masters in Early Childhood and Development in 1988) and my dad was class of 1972. They were married June 22, 1974…which is Grandpa Charles birthday.

Now the second part is more of a Mommy Dearest style: I’m going to sum this up this way, I grew up in a loving, ‘normal’ home. I have two younger brothers which I will expand on more later. After eighteen years of marriage my mother made the decision to walk out on her marriage.

As an adult that has been in a committed relationship for 24 years now, I have a lot of anger and resentment towards my mother for her decision and the living situation that she put us into after. She came home in the middle of the day while my dad was at work and we were at school and moved her things out. My parents were officially divorced in May of 1994. My mother let an alcoholic, abusive, con-man move in and bleed her dry emotionally and financially for five years. But that’s her story, mine is that me and my two younger brothers had to survive it.

Now for the plot twist Soap Opera Style: My dad passed away on June 15, 1995…he was 45 years old and was starting his second marriage. My mother moved out in November 1992, my dad moved his new girlfriend in June 1993 and was married for a second time on May 22, 1995…yes he died three weeks later. My dad had suffered his first heart attack in September of 1991, this was ‘A warning shot’ according to the doctors. He was 41, for the first six months after diets were stuck to and exercise was done. But people being creatures of habit it fell off and old habits and behaviors went back to being the norm.

What follows is the fictitious style, which seems to be the only way I am able to tell the story: 

Sometimes Jane   

June 12th 1995

4:26 am

“Jane, wake up.” Jane’s mother Martha said gently, shaking Jane’s shoulder. Jane was pulled from her sleep and became aware of not only her mother sitting on her bed, but that her mother’s boyfriend Anthony was standing at the foot of her bed. “What?” Jane asked, not quite awake. “Charlie’s on the phone for you.” Martha said, handing Jane the cordless phone. Jane sat up and took the phone. “Charlie?” “Jane, it’s dad, you need to come see him. It’s not good. You need to come.” Charlie said with the sound of fear in his voice. “OK, I will.” Jane said not quite understanding what was going on.

It was 6:30 am when Jane, Charlie and Paul were given special permission to enter the ICU to see their dad. Their dad Charles was laying in the hospital bed, an IV attached to his left arm, leads from his chest were monitoring his heart and a tube was giving him extra oxygen via his nose. For nineteen year old Jane, fifteen year old Charlie and twelve year old Paul this was a confusing surreal experience.

Let’s back up a bit, Charles and Martha were married June 22nd 1974, Jane was born May 10th 1976, Charlie on January 14th 1980 and Paul on November 12th 19982. By all accounts a happy little family, Charles and Martha being professionals and keeping involved in their communities. Charles was in broadcast radio and then T.V. News broadcasting, while Martha was always attached to a non-profit organization dealing with children’s needs, parenting classes and outreach programs. Jane, Charlie, and Paul went to school, had extracurricular activities like Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Summer Camps and Little League. For eighteen years all was ‘normal’ and ordinary at least as far as Jane knew. In September of 1991 Charles had chest pains and ended up driving himself to the hospital after dropping Martha off at the airport, she was attending a training out of town. Charles called Jane from the hospital, Jane was fifteen at the time it was a Sunday afternoon. Charles had had a mild heart attack, and they had admitted him. Martha then called Jane a few hours later explaining that Carol from her office would be coming to pick them up and take them to her house for the night. Jane being the organized helpful child, packed up overnight and school bags for herself and her two younger brothers. Carol picked them up, made sure that everything was shut off in the house and that the doors were locked. Carol’s house was a nicely decorated large inviting home. They made pizza and hung out in the hot tub on the deck, took showers and went to bed. The next morning they got up and Carol took them to school. Martha flew back and picked them up from school.

Life was quieter after Charles’s heart attack, or as the doctor put it ‘a warning shot’. Attempts made to eat better, exercise more all the things you should do that start out strong for the first three months then life takes back over, and old habits come back. Fast forward to November 1992, Jane being a latchkey kid gets off of the bus, walks up the driveway, unlocks the door, enters the house, puts her stuff away and calls to check in with Martha at work. The usual everyday routine. However this time when Jane calls in her mother isn’t in the office, so she leaves a message. About twenty minutes later Martha calls Jane back and the other shoe drops. Martha explained that she has decided to move out of the house, she is leaving Charles after eighteen years of marriage and three kids. She even works in that she was going to leave a year ago, but then he had his heart attack so she waited another year. Jane was confused, like the rug had been torn out from under her feet and she was now laying on her back staring at the ceiling. She hung up with her mother and went downstairs to their bedroom. There it was staring her in the face, her mother’s clothes were gone, along with her jewelry, makeup and other personal products. The anger started as a twisting in her stomach and it grew into a full rage. Jane came to the conclusion that her mother was selfish and unloving. To Jane if she was so unhappy with her marriage why continue for eighteen years, Jane felt that she would have understood if she had left after eight or twelve years but EIGHTEEN years in, what the fuck.

Other factors that came to Jane’s attention after Martha had moved out were Martha’s friend that gave her three thousand dollars so that she could get her own apartment. Also this all of a sudden ‘boyfriend’ who was in the picture, Anthony who would soon be shown to be a con artist, manipulative, bully, and an abusive alcoholic. Who bled Martha financially and emotionally over five years. Jane’s junior and senior years of high school were spent living a week at a time at each parents house. Physically and emotionally exhausting for Jane.

After Martha left Charles, Charles moved on with his life, he moved into a smaller house and found a new girlfriend. Ingrid was a large German woman from New York City, Jane never gave her the benefit of the doubt, mainly because she was being filled with negativity from Martha and Anthony. Martha left in November 92’ and Ingrid moved in June 93’. Ingrid and Charles were married on May 22nd 1995. Jane did not attend her dad’s second wedding, instead she was drug away to a retreat in the woods with Martha and her co-workers. You know the kind where you sit around in a circle on folding chairs in a cabin in the woods and introduce yourself with phrases like, ‘I am Joyful Jane’ or ‘Marvelous Martha’ Jane hated every hour.

Now seems like a good time to introduce Jane’s first boyfriend, first time and first affair. May 1993 it’s the end of Jane’s junior year of high school, and her very good friend Kate introduces her to a guy named Josh. Upon being introduced, Josh and Jane skipped their next classes, left school grounds and went over to the small strip mall that sat on the far side of the high school. They wandered around, grabbed a candy bar and a soda from the supermarket and then walked over to a park. There was an instant chemistry attraction between them. Upon returning to the school, Josh took Jane’s hand as they walked down the hallway. Jane’s stomach was full of butterflies as she sat in her Algebra class, unable to concentrate on anything except wanting to see Josh. Jane’s first time happened sometime between late May and mid June, in Josh’s bedroom in the middle of the afternoon. Two people being led by their emotions, it was how you would expect, passionate, fulfilling and painful. After the first time there was a lot of sex all the time. It became apparent to Jane that that’s all they ever did together.     

In March of 94’ Jane was told by Martha that if she wanted to only live with her and not live with Charles and Ingrid that she needed a job to help pay rent. So once again being the diligent daughter Jane got her first job working in fast food. It was a good ‘this is how the working world works’ lesson for Jane. After starting her job that she worked after school and on the weekends, as she was finishing her senior year of high school. Jane got to know one of her co-workers very well, Kevin was a friend of Josh’s and they had hung out a little and Kevin was in Jane’s Geometry class. So when Kevin came into work it was all fun and games which made the mundane work of taking orders and making hamburgers easier. Now Jane and Kevin had a connection, Kevin was a flirt and Jane gave as good as she got. To the point that the Assistant Manager told them to knock it off one afternoon when the flirting was at an all time high. That being that, Jane and Kevin started seeing each other on the side. Considering that Kevin had a girlfriend and Jane had Josh, it was a thing.

Then came graduation night May 27th 1994, graduation went as expected. Then Lisa, a friend that Jane had had throughout high school, suggested that Jane needed to attend the graduation party. Jane hadn’t intended to go seeing that she had work the next morning. But she went, it was held at an athletic center, so playing tennis, swimming and running around. Lisa introduced Jane to Shawn, now the only rationalization that Jane could come up with as to why only after a few hours she found herself making out with Shawn was a combination of over stimulation and realization that high school was over. Jane also called in sick to work the next morning considering that she didn’t get home till four in the morning. Jane and Kevin had kept their relationship private, Jane’s interactions with Shawn were very public.

To the point that Martha informed Jane that she shouldn’t lead two guys on at the same time. Because she ‘didn’t raise that kind of girl’ so Jane was forced to break up with Josh, to keep Shawn around. It hurt Jane to have to rip Josh’s heart out. Probably destroying any hope for his future relationships. Shawn lasted only two months, he went away for school and ended up landing himself in jail. While he was incarcerated he was kind enough to call Jane and share horrific stories from jail with her. Jane saw Shawn in passing a few years later as he was hanging on a leggy blond walking through the State Fair. Glances were exchanged but nothing else. Jane’s only saving grace was that she hadn’t had sex with Shawn.

Fall of 94’ Jane attended college part time and continued to work in fast food. And continued to see Kevin at work and on the side.

Church

Jane waited on the front porch wearing a green tank top with blue jeans and sunglasses. Nine in the morning but already eighty degrees out. She had left her shoulder length dirty blond hair down, a decision she was begging to regret. A white extended cab Ford pickup pulled into the driveway. Jane headed down the stairs. “Hi.” She said pulling herself into the pickup. “Morning.” Tommy said, giving her a sight grin. Jane fastened her seatbelt and Tommy put the pickup in reverse.

Tommy was a friend of Jane’s first boyfriend Josh. In the beginning it was Tommy, Josh and Jane that attended the Southern Baptist Church on Sunday’s. Tommy attended because of his family, Josh tagged along to get out of the house on Sunday’s and Jane had gone with the two of them a few times, mainly so that she could sing in the church choir, which was a pastime that she enjoyed. The dynamic of their little group had changed drastically over the last year, Josh and Jane were no longer an item, and since Jane’s dad had passed away recently she felt lost. Emotionally and spiritually. She had called Tommy thinking that maybe attending church would give her some peace of mind.

Jane took a seat in one of the pews at the rear of the church. She removed her sunglasses and bowed her head as the congregation was in prayer. Tommy was sitting with his parents and sister in the center pews. The questions that ran through Jane’s mind were mainly why’s…Why did he die? Why now? What had she done to deserve losing her dad at such a young age? The questions quickly turned to damning God for her pain and sorrow. She couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. Tommy touched her shoulder and escorted her out of the service.

They walked down the hall to the church office. Jane was in full sobs, Tommy handed her a box of tissues. Jane wiped her nose and cleared her throat. “Thanks, I’m sorry.” Tommy stood in front of her, put his hands on her shoulders and pulled her to him. “You have nothing to be sorry for. Loss is painful, grieving is a process.” He said hugging her tightly. Jane took a deep breath and hugged him back. Time seemed to slow as Jane closed her eyes and listened to Tommy’s heartbeat. “Do you want me to call him?” Tommy asked, catching Jane off guard. “Who?” Jane said breaking the hug.

Tommy gave her a devilish look and smiled. “Kevin.” He said looking her dead in the eyes. “So you know?” She asked. “Yes, I know that you and Kevin have been seeing each other for a while now. You do know that guys gossip just as much as women do.” Jane and Tommy were standing in the dirt parking lot of the church when Kevin pulled up in his dark blue SUV. Tommy went over to Kevin’s window and was saying something that Jane couldn’t quite hear as she was getting into the SUV. “Ready?” Kevin asked Jane as she closed the door and fastened her seatbelt. “Yep.”

Kevin pulled out of the church parking lot and asked, “Do you feel up to a short drive, maybe out towards the river?” Jane smiled at him taking his hand in hers. “Sure.” She answered as she put her head back enjoying the warm summer breeze coming in the window. When Kevin and Jane met they each had a significant other at the time. Jane was with Josh, her first boyfriend, the one she lost her virginity to, the one that she had nothing in common with except having sex whenever and wherever they could. It lasted about a year before Jane was forced to break it off.

Kevin had and still has a girlfriend, Tammy was his public girlfriend, the one he took to dinners and went to movies with. Jane and Kevin had an instant attraction from the beginning, he gave her a ride home one afternoon where talking turned to making out quickly. Deep passionate take your breath away kisses that lead to seeing each other on the side for well over two years. Kevin pulled onto a dirt road that led to an opening shaded by trees next to a trail that led down to the river.

He parked under some trees and tuned the engine off. They took off their seatbelts and made themselves comfortable. Kevin reached over and removed her sunglasses, he folded them and set them on the dash. He brushed her hair back behind her ear and caressed her neck, Jane closed her eyes enjoying his soft touch. She moved closer to him, kissing him. She let out a sigh and put her head against his chest as he moved his arms around her. Kevin was comforting, understanding and kind.

In closing this…whatever this rambling string of consciousness is, I want to say that I love and appreciate all of my friends, family and readers. This writing thing is an expression of my thoughts and feelings. 

More thoughts on the past:

https://cch217549678581.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/looking-back/

 

All the ‘Good Stuff’:

https://cch217.wordpress.com/2020/05/25/tripping-through-my-memories/

Alternative Rock and High Tops

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The alarm clock clicked over to 6 am. 

But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo.

What the hell am I doing here?

I don’t belong here.

I don’t care if it hurts

I want to have control…

Filled the room, Susie reached out from under the dark, heavy comforter and smacked the snooze button. She sat up rubbing her eyes, her dark hair a twisted mess from not being able to get to sleep the night before. She stumbled out of bed and made her way to the shower.

“Whose bright idea was it to take a job that starts at the ass crack of dawn,” she mumbled as she turned the water to hot and waited for it to warm up.

~ ~ ~ ~

Susie ran a comb through her hair pulling it back into a ponytail, she brushed her teeth and gargled with some Listerine. She picked up a sheet of paper from her nightstand.

Dress Code for Seaside Shipping & Receiving

Dark Jeans clean with no holes or tears.

Issued collared work shirt, clean, pressed and tucked in.

No logos or advertising on undershirts, hats or jackets.

Long hair must be pulled back, no jewelry of any kind is to be worn.

Steel-toed work boots or shoes.

Susie glanced at herself in the mirror that hung on the back of her bedroom door. In her new jeans, work shoes and issued tan, short-sleeve work shirt, that nicely covered her black flag t-shirt. 

“Good enough”   

Grabbing an apple from the bowl of fruit on the kitchen table she got behind the wheel of her 87’ Honda Civic. The one that she had flipped buggers for an entire summer to afford, she cranked the key and it growled at her before turning over.

Susie walked into the employee entrance of  Seaside Shipping & Receiving when a voice addressed her.

“Is this your first day?” 

Susie turned to face the voice that came from a guy holding a clipboard and wearing an orange safety vest over his issued tan, short-sleeve work shirt.

“Yes,” she answered, walking towards him.

“Good, I am Tim, your safety supervisor, name?”

“Susie, Susanna Ridge,” she answered.

Tim ran his blue ballpoint pen down his clipboard.

“Yes, here you are, you are training with Ethan, follow me,” he led her over to the time clock, showed her where to find her badge and how to clock in and out.

“Your badge, your responsibility, if you lose it, it’s $2.00 to get a new one from Carol in payroll,”

They walked through the warehouse to the loading area, where a handful of other employees were waiting to get started.

Tim walked over to Ethan and gave him the clipboard, he nodded and said something Susie couldn’t quite hear to Tim. Ethan turned to face the gathering of eagger bodies, he was good looking, tall, had broad shoulders and a nice smile.

“Good morning, we start at 7:30 sharp so don’t be late, It looks as if all of you are in dress code, which is for everyone’s safety, we work at a quick pace to get through all the trucks that are scheduled for the day, some days you will be unloading and other days you will be loading, so pay attention to your daily assignment sheet, which is here,” Ethan pointed to a bulletin board with three columns of papers tacked to it. 

“You all are first shift, so you come over here and find your name, listed in alphabetical order by last name, you what’s your name?” Ethan asked, looking at Susie.

“Ridge, Susanna,” she answered, giving him a slight smile.

“Ridge, Susanna,” he repeated, running his finger down the list.

“Here you are, you are on dock 7 with me, unloading for today, so you find your name and it will tell you what dock and if your loading or unloading, got it, good moving on,” 

Ethan finished going over the daily rules and regulations, everyone found their names and places. The work itself wasn’t that bad, bending, lifting, and sliding either into or out of a truck trailer. Susie was a little sore after her first day but it wasn’t flipping burgers so she was happy. 

~ ~ ~ ~

It had been three weeks of loading, unloading, pushing and pulling box after box. Susie was getting into her car after picking up her first check when she saw Ethan and a girl that looked familiar, but she couldn’t place at the moment, they were having a discussion just out of earshot. 

Susie sat in her car and watched them, the girl had short red hair, one of those pixie cuts and was wearing a light blue sundress with yellow flowers on it. Her arms kept waving up and down as she was talking to Ethan, he didn’t look amused at whatever she was going on about. When she was done talking he gave her a quick hug and a peck on the cheek and she got into her car.

“Ok, then,” 

Susie cranked the car over and drove to the bank, thinking that she would treat herself to a new Pearl Jam t-shirt at the mall.

As Susie was wandering through the CD section of the Musicland store in the Edgewater Mall she caught Ethan out of the corner of her eye. She circled around and stood behind him.

“I didn’t think you listened to music?”

He turned to face her caught off guard.

“You, look almost normal not in uniform,” he said looking her over, in her worn, ripped, faded jeans, KMFDM t-shirt and no longer white high tops.

“So Bon Jovi? Really?” she asked looking at what he was holding. 

“Yes, really, but I’m open to suggestions,” 

She gave him a devilish smile and led him over to another section.

“Hum…lets see what I can conflict on your virgin ears,” she quickly picked through the bin labeled ‘Alternative Rock’

“Here you go,” 

“Wow, ok then,” he flipped through the stack of CD’s.

Nirvana

Pearl Jam

The Smashing Pumpkins 

Nine Inch Nails

Bush

“Not a bad selection, thanks,”

“So who’s the girl, with the pixy hair?” Susie asked as they wandered through the mall.

“That’s Amber,” he answered.

“And she is your…” she trailed off giving him a look.

“Girlfriend,” 

“Aaa, wait Amber Jacobson?” 

“Yeah, why?”

“She was in my lit class junior year, she was one of the ‘Britney, Tiffany, Amber’s’, click, isn’t she a little young for you? Wait how old are you?”

Ethan stopped walking.

“How old do you think I am?” he asked.

“I don’t know, 26 ish.”

“Not quite, I’ll be 22 on Saturday, hence the need for some music, Amber wants to have a party,”

“Well, in that case, happy early birthday, can I buy you a frozen yogurt?” Susie asked, pointing to TCBY’s.

“Sure, why not,”

They sat eating their frozen yogurt in waffle cones, in the Edgewater Mall food court.

“So why the shipping and receiving industry?” she asked.

“In the beginning it was to save up for school, but it turned into a full time position with benefits so I stayed, what about you?”

“It’s better than flipping burgers, I haven’t decided about school yet,” 

Ethan got up and tossed their trash.

“Why don’t you come on Saturday,”

Susie gave him a sideways look.

“I don’t mix well with others,”

“Non-sense, come it’s my party and you are my guest,” 

He grabbed a napkin from the dispenser, pulled a pen from his pocket and began writing.

“It’s 247 Lexington street, the small blue house with the..”

“With the carport,” she finished for him.

“Um..yeah, how did you know that?”

“I use to live there, and that’s how everyone describes it,”

“Small world,” he said, handing her the napkin, she took it sliding it into the pocket of her jeans.

“Saturday at eight,” Ethan said as he headed towards the mall entrance.

~ ~ ~ ~

Susie sat outside of 247 Lexington street, she pushed the button on the radio that showed the time, 8:12pm. 

Might as well make an appearance. She mumbled as she gave herself a final look in the rearview mirror. She reached over and opened the glovebox, rummaging around she found the slim pink tube of lip gloss, pulled out the wand and rolled it over her lips. She pressed them together and gave a little smack towards the mirror.

The front door to the small blue house was open and Bon Jovi’s Bed of Roses could be heard coming from the living room. Susie entered the house, people were scattered throughout, drinking, smoking and talking. 

She made her way through the living room and into the back bedroom, as she opened the door and made her way into the small bedroom. Memories from the last time she had been there came flooding back, it had to have been at least five years ago. She made her way to the small closet, slid open the pocket door and looked inside.

“Looking for something?” Ethan said coming into the room.

“Sorta, I wanted to see if something was still here,” 

“Ok, my curiosity is peaked, what are we looking for?” he said, joining her in the doorway of the closet.

“This,” Susie said, running her fingers over a row of doodles on the inside of the closet.

“Hold on,” he walked over to the dresser and found a small pen light.

“Got this from the 7-11 for my keychain,” he turned the light on and shined it on the row of doodles.

“I can’t believe these are still here,”

Ethan stood behind her holding the pen light over her shoulder, he moved closer to her. A shiver ran down Susie’s back and she closed her eyes for a second, feeling the warmth of his body next to hers.

“Am I interrupting something?” a high pitched female voice asked.

Ethan moved out of the closet doorway and into the bedroom.

“No,” he said moving towards Amber.

Amber caught sight of Susie as she moved out of the closet.

“What is she doing here?”

Susie started moving towards the door, Ethan reached out stopping her, grabbing her arm.

“She is my guest, it’s my party and my house, if you have a problem with that you can leave,”

Amber scoffed.

“Whatever,” she said leaving the bedroom.

“You didn’t need to do that,” Susie said.

“Yeah, I did,” Ethan said, taking a seat on the edge of the bed.

“It’s weird being in this room again,” she said standing in front of him.

Ethan leaned forward and brushed her hair away from her face. He slid his hand around the back of her neck and pulled her to him. He gently pressed his lips to hers, she moved closer to him and kissed him back.

Susie smiled and took a step back.

“Strawberry?”

“Yeah,”

She moved toward the door, Ethan stood up and kissed her again.

“Thanks for stopping by,” he said.

“I’ll see you on Monday, you know at work,” she said, turning and walking out the door.

Susie made her way out of the house and to her 87’ Honda Civic, she opened the door and sat behind the wheel. Waiting for her heart to stop pounding in her ears, she glanced in the rearview mirror her cheeks were a bright shade of pink.

She started the car, and pushed play on the CD player.

Must be your skin that I’m sinking in

Must be for real ’cause now I can feel

And I didn’t mind

It’s not my kind

It’s not my time to wonder why

Everything’s gone white

And everything’s grey… 

Started playing as she drove home.

~ ~ ~ ~ 

Susie awoke from a very vivid dream involving Ethan. She looked over at the clock 5:58am.

“Fuck,” she flipped the alarm off, got up and made her way to the shower. 

She had tried not to think about it, about him, about how the butterflies were fluttering around in her stomach, while she was trying to get ready for work.

Susie had, had other boyfriends, she had dated gone to parties, the movies, or just hung-out. Although thinking about it now it had been awhile. It was shortly after High School graduation that her and Nate had called it off. Then she was working all the hours she could to afford her car and the time had just slipped away. 

She stood in front of her mirror looking over her appearance in her mandatory work clothes. She picked up the slim glass tube of strawberry lip gloss and ran the wand over her lips. Then rubbing them together and giving a little smack to the air.

~ ~ ~ ~ 

The end of Blur’s Song 2 was blaring away through her speakers as she pulled into the parking lot of Seaside Shipping & Receiving and found a parking spot. She shut the engine off, there was a tap on her window.

“Jesus Christ, don’t do that, you scared the fuck out me,” she said as she opened her car door and got out.

“Sorry, and good morning to you too,” Ethan said, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Ok, so we’re doing this now?” she asked.

“Doing what?” Ethan smiled at her as he asked.

“You’re going to make me ask, aren’t you?”

Ethan gave her a sideways look of confusion.

“What about Amber?” she asked.

“Oh that,”

“Oh my God, yes that,”

“Well she left me a lovely message on Sunday morning, where she listed what was wrong with me and why she was no longer wanting to continue our relationship,” 

“How diplomatic of her,” Susie said, moving closer to Ethan leaning in and kissing him.

“Mmm…strawberry,” he said as they walked into work.

~ ~ ~ ~

During lunch break Ethan was standing behind Susie as she waited to get a soda from the vending machine in the employee break room.

“So I have a secret,” he said in a whisper.

“Really, are you going to share it with me?” she asked back in a whisper.

Ethan grinned and slid his hand around her side as she dropped sixty-five cents into the vending machine and pushed the rootbeer button.

“I like to cook, and I was wondering if you would like to come to dinner tonight?”

Susie turned to face him as she opened her rootbeer, she took a sip thinking over his proposal. 

“Depends on what you’re planning on making,” she answered walking over to a table and sitting down.

Ethan got himself a Sprite and joined her at the table.

“I was going to go with spaghetti and meatballs, if that works for you,” 

She smiled at him. “That works for me,” she said, giving his hand a quick squeeze.

~ ~ ~ ~

I’m so happy because today

I’ve found my friends

They’re in my head

I’m so ugly, but that’s okay, ’cause so are you

We’ve broken our mirrors…

Nirvana’s Lithium flowed through the house as Susie knocked on the door of 247 Lexington street. 

Ethan opened the door.

“Come in,” 

Susie entered the house.

“It smells good,” she said as she took a seat at the kitchen table.

“Thanks, so I have dark or light for drinks,” Ethan held out a bottle of A&W Cream Soda and a bottle of Cherry 7up.

“I’ll take the cherry, cream soda is more of a dessert beverage,” 

“Good call,” Ethan poured two glasses over ice and set them on the table. He dished up and served the spaghetti with meatballs and garlic bread.

As they were enjoying their dinner the music changed from Nirvana to The Smashing Pumpkins.

“You have a CD changer in your stereo?” Susie asked.

“Yeah it holds five CD’s, I have it set on shuffle,” 

“Nice, what all do you have in there now?”

“Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Bush, Pearl Jam and Queen,”

“Who’s shirt do you have on?”

“This is Soundgarden, we’ll have to broaden your collection a little more,”

~ ~ ~ ~

After dinner Susie helped Ethan do the dishes and clean up the kitchen.

“Thanks, you didn’t need to do that,” he says sliding his arms around her.

“I know, I wanted to,” she leaned in kissing him.

“Shall we take this somewhere more comfortable?”

“Yes,” she answered, kissing him again.

Can anybody find me somebody to love

Ooh, each morning I get up I die a little

Can barely stand on my feet

(Take a look at yourself) Take a look in the mirror and cry (and cry)

Lord what you’re doing to me (yeah yeah)…

Started playing as they entered the bedroom.

Susie kicked off her high tops and sat on the edge of the bed. Ethan stood in front of her, he pulled his shirt off over his head, letting it fall to the floor. Susie got up on her knees and ran her hand along his bare chest. 

He reached behind her head and gently pulled the elastic band from her hair, letting her hair fall over her shoulders. She took off her t-shirt and bra, then laid back on the bed, he joined her kissing her neck and running his hands over her breasts.

She kissed him, enjoying the feeling of his hand on her body. Then reality set in.

“Can we just take a minute,” she said sitting up and moving away from him.

“Yeah,” he said, handing her her shirt.

She slipped it on and sat cross legged on the bed. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath.

“Susie, it’s ok,” Ethan said, touching the back of her hand.

“We don’t have to do this, I like you, I enjoy hanging out with you and I would like to get to know you better,” 

She opened her eyes and looked at him.

“Yeah?”

“Yes,” he answered, kissing her on the cheek.

“How about dessert and a movie?” he asked, putting on his shirt.

She smiled at him.

“Depends what’s for dessert?’

“Well I have a bottle of cream soda and vanilla ice cream, so I was thinking floats,”

“Sounds good, so what kinda movie collection do you have?” She asked as they left the bedroom.

“Let’s see…I have Bram Stoker’s Dracula or The Hand That Rocks the Cradle,” Ethan said, holding up the VHS’s.

“Hum…horror and sex or psycho revenge story, let’s go with Dracula,” Susie said making herself comfortable on the couch.

“Ok,” Ethan said, sliding the tape into the VCR and pushing play.

Tripping Through My Memories

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So here it is my sexual escapades, which sounds a little cheesy. Sex, sexuality and experience is all a part of life, I will admit it was a large part of my life. Even as a kid, kid being a ten to thirteen year old girl that watched too much Cinemax and Showtime, the world before television ratings, I fantasized about boys and kissing, who doesn’t. My parents had an extensive collection of books, everything from V.C. Andrews to Stephen King and of course what household didn’t have a copy of The Joy Of Sex. Which I took off of my parents bookshelf and read in my room cover to cover. I was curious. Then there was the day that I discovered my dad’s porn stash, in his office, in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet in the back. Aaa…the Penthouse Forums and some Playboy’s, personally I enjoyed reading the letters, more room for imagination. So without further explanation here are my memories.         

first kiss

It was summer, I was 14 and I had discovered the music of Queen, which I listened to constantly on my Walkman. I had let my very good friend dye my long dirty blonde hair red, with permanent hair coloring, my mother was not amused. She let me grow it out and then she chopped it all off at my chin line. I was attending one of those summer camps that teach theater, dance, music and art. I was into art, watercolor, sculpture, calligraphy and film appreciation, that summer we were studying Jodie Foster.

There was a guy, (there is always a guy) he was a little older 16 I think, we had many classes together we talked, hung-out and flirted. Towards the end of camp during our film appreciation class he started taking my pencil out of my hand repeatedly. Film appreciation class was taught in a theater style classroom. We sat towards the back of the room and the lights were dimmed, we were finishing up with Silence of the Lambs. Needless to say I was getting quite annoyed at him. On his third attempt he took my pencil out of my hand, grabbed my hand, interlaced his finger with mine and gave a little squeeze. We sat there holding hands, it was a new sensation, butterflies in the stomach and the tingling of goosebumps running up my arm.

By the end of class he had his hand resting on my leg, moving his thumb back and forth over my white jean shorts with paisley blue and purple flowers printed on them. I wore those shorts almost every day that summer, topped off with a purple tee shirt, a belt and earrings. Aw the 90’s way to many belts, earrings, necklaces and hair clips. We left class together and walked out between two buildings, the sky was a crisp blue with a warm breeze, it was quiet and secluded.

He asked me if I had ever been kissed. I of course at that time told him no. He asked if I would like to be kissed. Being someone that doesn’t say no very often to anything, said yes. He said just do what I do, so I did. I stood in front of him and he leaned down and I leaned in and we kissed, I felt his lips press against mine and his tongue slide into my mouth, I sucked on his tongue and then slid mine into his mouth. It felt natural, relaxed and good.

an introduction it anatomy

Towards the end of my Junior year of High School, I had a friend, she set me up with a guy to let’s say practice with. This guy was the worst kisser, she did warn me, some people just can’t kiss. But what he lacked in kissing ability he made up for in ‘hands on anatomy’ demonstrations. 

After school one day we ended up over at a baseball field, in the dugout he was demonstrating how to grind. He stood against the wall of the dugout and I moved into him. I could feel his very nice hard cock pushing up against me through his sweatpants. His hands on my hips pulling me into him, can you feel that he asked, yes, yes I could. He taught me how to breathe with another person without having to say anything, just being in the moment with them.

first time

My first public boyfriend, a typical boy meets a girl, they skip class together, go to a park, get to know one another. After school we went back to his house, because hello latchkey kids, so no parents around. Side note best time for getting away with things are the hours between the end of a school day and the be home for dinner time. Seriously, I had more sexual experiences between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm than any other time in High School. First time making out in his bedroom after school, a typical messy teenager’s bedroom, posters of bands on the walls, clothes, books and papers all over the floor, I still don’t know what color the carpet was.

I was sitting on his desk with my shirt unbuttoned and my bra undone, he was sucking on my nipples and leaving hickeys on my neck and shoulders. One of which had to be airbrushed off of my senior picture, my mother did not see the humor in that. 

The song now acquainted forever with my first time is 500 miles by the Proclaimers, suppose it could be worse it was the 90’s. He was my first, I do wish someone had reminded me that it was going to hurt, but that aside it was good. As good as two people not knowing a whole lot about what they were doing at the time, can be. It was quiet and intimate just breathing each other in and enjoying the moment together. It awoke in me this thing, a feeling, need, desire, the once you have it you always want it, craving that I had never experienced before. It was now a game, a challenge with a wonderful reward at the end.

first oral

Through my first boyfriend I met someone that I had instant chemistry with, four of us skipped the last two classes of the day and drove out to the river to hangout, because that’s what teenagers do. My first boyfriend who was more interested in me giving him a hand job whenever possible, was occupying my time doing just that.

My new instant chemistry friend gave us all rides home, one person in the group always has to have a vehicle. We dropped off my boyfriend so he could go to work and the two of us went to my house. He parked and we went into my backyard, there was a spark, an instant need to want to be with this person, chemistry, instant attraction. He moved into me and we kissed, it felt like we had an unspoken connection. He was a very good kisser, we didn’t say much just kissed and groped each other. Those deep passionate take your breath away kisses, that were very nice.

Even more fun we ended up working together at my first real job during my senior year of High School. We definitely had our moments of pleasure during our time together. He was the first and only guy I ever snuck into my mother’s house. We were coworkers on the closing shift, it was 1am, I let him into my bedroom, we listened to music, Garth Brooks of all things, I was young and impressionable, didn’t know any better, at least the county music thing was short lived.

He was the first guy to introduce me to oral sex. He unbuttoned my jeans, unzipped them and hooked his thumbs into my jeans and panties and slid them down to my ankles. I took off my shirt and bra, dropping them to the floor. I stepped out of my jeans and panties and sat on the edge of the bed. He kneeled before me and ran his hands along the inside of my thighs moving my legs apart. He gently pushed me back onto the bed and moved himself in between my spread legs. He gently kissed my pussy, before starting to lick and suck at my clit, feeling his tongue slide in and out of my pussy, making me moan with pleasure. As he licked and sucked at my pussy, I ran my hands through his hair pushing him in deeper. I let him eat me out, till I came. We ended up laying in bed discussing the future.

consequences of actions

On to what I consider a miss step in my relationships, on graduation night, I was talked into attending the grad party. I was introduced to a guy that I now wish I had not met, however being that he is a part of my past he at least gets a mention. At the grad party fueled by adrenaline and excitement as well as the realization that High School was now over, and what the hell am I supposed to do now, this guy was a needed distraction from reality. We ended up making out rather quickly that night.

I made it home around 5 am, collapsed into bed, called in sick to work the next morning, then got a call from my new friend to go to the movies. Of course I went, forgetting that I still had that first boyfriend at the time, I got caught up in the excitement of a new person paying attention to me. Not realizing the damage I was about to do, I came home from my outing at the movies to my mother informing me that I can’t string two guys along at the same time. Even though at that point it was three but that is neither here nor there.

So I called boyfriend number one and broke it off with him, destroying his illusion of trust and making him hate me.

I then hung-out with my new found friend, we had one night of trying to have sex that just didn’t go well and ended in stupidity and immaturity. 

He went away for school and ended up in prison, he was not very street smart and got himself into situations that he then paid for. He did write me letters from prison and I had a few phone calls, he was nice enough to share some very disturbing stories of prison life that I could have done without. I did see him in passing when he came home from his time in prison, he was hanging on a tall leggy blonde and didn’t even acknowledge me.

the strange ones

College was a wonderful place to learn how to flirt and pick up guys for meaningless sex. Or a way of getting my fix without having a relationship attached. Thank you institution for higher learning. So I was introduced to a guy that had gone to a private Christian High School and was raised by an older single mother. We ended up back at his house, he lived at home with his mother. She was out for the evening, we sat at the kitchen table and I asked if he had ever been kissed. He said no, strong Christian beliefs of waiting till you find the one and all. 

I ask him if he would like to kiss me, he says yes, I lean in and gently press my lips to his and slowly slid my tongue into his mouth, he reciprocates then broke it off. He got up from the table and wandered into the kitchen. I was slightly put off by his response, I got up and moved over to where he was standing, I put my arms around his waist and we embarrassed, I kissed him again and he let out a moan.

He then led me upstairs to his mother’s bedroom, he turned on the t.v. Star Trek Deep Space Nine was on. He then actually surprised me, he pushed me back onto his mother’s bed, complete with the pink and green flowered comforter and lace trimmed throw pillows. He undid my jeans and slid them down to my ankles along with my panties. He gently moved in and licked and sucked my pussy till I came.

I don’t know if he was rebelling or just embracing the moment but it was good. So in my mind the fine line of Christian beliefs you can’t have intercourse but you can have oral. He became a good friend although we never did anything else sexually.

The ‘Oh My God’ what was I thinking ones, a guy I had known slightly in Jr. High, shows back up in my college life, small community and all. We had a class together and he was my ride home from the late evening class. All good, we messed around a little, I was a little too forward, leading him to make comments like I can’t believe you just did that. Then it got strange, after an afternoon at his house messing around, making out, letting him feel me up, and whatnot.

He drops the phrase ‘I want your soul.’ I told him it was mine and no, thinking he was kidding. It got eerie quiet, the room filled with a strange vibe. I got an uncomfortable gut feeling, like he was going to take out a knife and do a blood and fire ritual right there on the spot kinda feeling. Needless to say that was definitely the end of that.

The only other one that compares is the guy I went out with once, we took a drive and parked made out a little. He then declared during a conversation with others that it was fine to beat the hell out of a woman if she didn’t comply. That ended that, I did spend an interesting night with that guy’s sister watching porn. Out at their house, she raided her parents porn stash. I am all up for watching porn, it was just weird doing it in someone’s else’s parents bedroom.

I had a conversation with a slightly older guy who was married and attending college. I walked up to married student housing with him one afternoon so he could grab lunch from home. I was asking him what was wrong with me that I couldn’t maintain a relationship at that point with anyone. He told me as we were standing in his apartment making ham and cheese sandwiches, that it wasn’t me and if he wasn’t married he would definitely take advantage.

After having this heart to heart discussion he came over to me and put his hands on my shoulders and leaned in and kissed me sweetly. He then whispered in my ear, believe me it’s taking a lot of restraint to not bend you over this couch and enjoy every inch of you. I was flattered.

the real fun

I consider myself a natural when it comes to playing pool, I spent many hours shooting pool in the games area of the student center in college, which of course led to meeting a guy. He watched me play for a few days and then approached me with the line, ‘let me help you with that.’  He came up behind me while I was getting ready to take a shot and showed me that my finger needed to hold the cue like this and to move my arm through the shot. Let’s just say I enjoyed his hands and brushing against me more than the unsolicited advice.

The second time he decided that he needed to assist me in lining up a shot, I whispered to him that we could finish this demonstration in private, if he preferred. He preferred and we ended up in his dorm room. He stood in front of me in his dorm room and said things like, you don’t understand how turned on I am by you, especially leaning over the pool table in those jeans.

He moved towards me and we kissed, deeply, as he ran his hands over my ass, pulling me up and into him. He sat on the bed and I put on some music, I pushed play on his cd player and Name by The Goo Goo Dolls came on. I am not one to judge others musical preferences. I did a strip tease for him, which he enjoyed as he undid his pants and started stroking his cock while I undressed. I came over to the bed, got on my knees and proceeded to slide his cock into my mouth, he let out a moan. I pushed him onto his back and straddled his hips, sliding his hard cock into my pussy. Enjoying each other I gave him what he wanted and I got what I needed.

On returning to college the fall after my father passed away, all I wanted was to be around people, not necessarily interact with them just know that they were there. I took up hanging out in the student center playing cards, shooting pool, making small talk with strangers, flirting with everyone, guys and girls just for some attention. Should have been going to class more but my mind was not interested in learning at that point, my heart was looking for comfort. My body was looking for some sort of enjoyment to numb the pain of loss.

I started up with a guy in my trigonometry class, flirted with him and quickly got to making out in public. Because I seriously didn’t care what others thought at that point and was just after the high of physical contact from another person. We meet up in a dorm room, once again a very messy room with papers, books and clothing scattered everywhere. I laid on my stomach on the bed and he started to massage my shoulders, moving his hands down my back and then to my legs. I was at the time wearing dark purple sweatpants and a gray tee shirt, with nothing else on underneath. Let’s just say underwear at that point in my life just got in the way. He slid my sweats down and I turned over on to my back and he fingered me and ate me out. It was a short lived experience but extremely enjoyable.

Unforeseen

Sometimes in life you meet people that awaken things within you that you never knew you possessed. This guy taught me about myself, human nature and life during our brief acquaintance. He called me out after class, out of the blue, someone is calling my name as I walk down the hall to go to lunch after an English class. He caught up to me, we went to lunch, had pizza, made small talk about college majors and careers.

Don’t really know how it got to the next level, depraved minds thinking alike. He asked me to come to his office wearing particular clothing, so I did as requested, I wore black stretch pants and a long gray button down shirt. I went into his office and he closed and locked the door behind me, we talked for a few and then he told me he had dreamed about me, a dream about being inside me and wanting to fuck me. 

I was seeking attention and he was giving it. He moved over to me and unbuttoned my shirt and caressed my breasts, undid my bra and started to suck on my nipples. He moved me over to the floor next to his desk and I laid on my back, he removed my stretch pants and panties and slid his hard thick cock into me. Feeling him slid in and out of me making me so wet and then fucking me till I came, then feeling him cum in me was just so needed at that point. It felt so good, so much emotional release.

It helped to feed that need, the carving that I had been carrying around. Apparently nothing like a really good fuck to help regain clarity on life. The second time with him was in the basement of a building, there was a yellow plastic school chair that I sat in while he kissed, sucked and licked my pussy. Then I sucked his hard thick cock, it felt so good feeling his cock sliding in and out of my mouth. Sucking and stroking his cock then letting him fuck me hard and deep, I think we were both slightly depraved and in need of a physical release.

The third time was at his apartment, in his bedroom, completely naked and thoroughly enjoying each other to an extreme. I was laying on the bed naked, he was moving towards me spreading my legs, licking and sucking at my clit, feeling his tongue slide into me, his finger pushing into me making me so wet and wanting. He moved up to my breasts kissing them and caressing them sucking on my hard nipples. 

Then he lays on his back and I move down to take his hard cock into my mouth, sucking and enjoying. I straddle his hips and slowly slid his cock into my wet pussy, taking him deep in me, I sat up and leaned back he let out a moan of pleasure, he reached up caressing my breasts and pinching my nipples.

I move faster thrusting him into me deeper, fucking him till we both came and collapsed in utter bliss. Just laying there breathing each other in and enjoying the high. Bizarre side note to this one we never kissed, we used each other for sexual release but never kissed. Kissing is an intimate thing fucking is just a physical need. In hindsight his not kissing me was one of the rudest things anyone had ever done to me. His insecure immaturity not mine. I’m also aware that the people that I was having sex with in High School and College had other relationships and were sleeping with other people during the same time.

going after it

I am a flirt, I started making eye contact with a guy during a class, it was a once a week three hour class that had a ten minute break after the first hour and half. During this break he comes over to me, introduces himself and we chit chat about whatever. Moving on I go find his dorm room a few days later, it’s a late class so this is the after dinner before class time, I find him in his room, at least his room was cleaner than the others I had encountered. There was a mix of Oasis, Pearl Jam and Beck playing on his stereo. He invites me in, we talk about the music playing and then he says ‘I am going to lay down for a few before class, join me.’ Of course I do otherwise why am I here.

I take my shoes off and we lay down together, he starts running his hand along my leg up to the top of my jeans. He unbuttons and unzips my jeans, then slides his hand down between my legs and proceeds to finger me. Without saying anything just enjoying the moment of pleasure, as his fingers are sliding in and out of my pussy.

I feel his hard cock pushing against me, I reach over and rub his cock through his pants, he lets out a moan. I undo his pants and stroke his cock while he is fingering me, making me cum. I slide my hand up and down his shaft until he cums. He stops, gets up and says you’re bad, very bad. He gets some clean clothes and leaves the room. I get up and straighten myself out and that was that. I let him finger me, I gave him a hand job and he decided that I was a bad idea. Needless to say we went our separate ways. Once again I have to question if it was just one of those taking advantage of the situation things to enjoy the experience and then having doubt? Why the doubt, did you enjoy yourself, then what’s the problem, no harm, no foul.

While looking for this guy’s dorm room I ran into a guy that I had photography class with and after a brief conversation about the project due in class and that I was kinda stuck on part of it. A deal was struck, this guy was very nice, kinda shy and lacking in experience, since I needed his assistance in class he asked me for a favor. All he wanted was to experience his first kiss, so I helped him out with that. 

I moved in towards him and gently kissed his lips, then I slowly slid my tongue into his mouth and he slid his tongue into my mouth and I gently sucked on it. He let out a moan and I moved back, he said one more to make sure I got right, so I let him kiss me again, he was a natural. I think it was at that point that I realized that you can use sex to obtain things.

Thanksgiving 

First and only Thanksgiving college party, and it was one for the books. There was a group of students that were renting a house together, that just happened to be just a few blocks from my mother’s house at the time. This was their first away from home Thanksgiving cooking for themselves. So I being the kind hearted person that I am, I came over to help them prepare and cook their Thanksgiving dinner. I then had Thanksgiving dinner at my mother’s house and came back after to party with them. It was Thanksgiving, Star Wars was on the Syfy channel and I am 19 years old, at a party, with alcohol, pot and sex. I took a seat on the couch, a guy I am mildly interested in comes over and hands me a beer and sits next to me on the couch. Not wanting to be rude I drink the beer. Shortly thereafter another guy comes, hands me another beer and sits on the other side of me on the couch. 

So there are the three of us sitting on the couch enjoying our drinks. Guy number two lights up a joint and politely offers it to me, I do not partake, but I do enjoy the contact high that is occurring because the two of them are handing it back and forth behind me on the couch. That and I am two beers in and I am a lightweight. So now that we are nice and buzzed sitting on the couch I need to pee, so I try ever so hard to get up gracefully and make my way to the bathroom. I manage to get up and find the bathroom, coming back to the couch however is another thing. I misjudged the distance and hit my shin on the edge of the coffee table, stumbled forward and onto the first guy’s lap. 


He then declares that I am cut off and that I need to drink water, before going home. A tall glass of water later, guy two asks me if I would like to join him and his friend sitting on the other side of me, downstairs in his room. I do think about this for a moment, realizing that this opportunity may never occur again, I jump on the offer. Because there is just something about two guys, so guy two taps his buddy on the shoulder gives him the heads up. 

Guy two says give me a minute then follow, so I wait a minute then I take my now empty glass of water into the kitchen. I stop at the sink and guy one comes up behind me. He slides his arms around my waist and leans in to kiss my neck, I can feel his hard cock pushing up against me. As a wave of adrenaline washes over me. We cross the kitchen to the basement doorway where guy two is waiting on the steps he leans into me and kisses me, then takes my hand and leads me downstairs with guy one behind me.

We go into the basement to his room, a very small room with a bed, desk, closet and a lamp.  Guy two switches on the lamp, we undress, guy two gets on his knees in front of me and starts to suck and lick my pussy, guy one stands behind me kissing my neck and rubbing my breasts, my body shutters from the sensations and I cum. Guy one lays on his back in the middle of the bed I move over to him and start sucking his hard cock. He moans and runs his fingers through my hair, guy two watches and strokes his own cock. I move up and straddle his hips, sliding his cock into my wet pussy, moving back and forth taking him deep into me. I lean forward and he kisses me deeply. Guy two moves in behind me and gently starts to slide his cock into my ass.

Absolute pleasure of having two guys at once, I push back against guy two feeling him go deeper. The three of us enjoying each other on a primal level we each came, and then just lay there caressing and kissing each other taking in the moment. I move over and kiss guy one, then I kiss guy two and then they kiss each other, there is just something about two guys that is indescribable.

fractured memories

It’s at this point that I stumble upon my next public relationship, this guy I picked out, I followed him, I initiated the flirting and made the first move. After about a month of flirting and purposely being in the same place at the same time, we were sitting next to each other in the lounge area of the student center with a few mutual friends. I do believe he asked me if I wanted to go to the movies with him. We didn’t go to the movies though, we went for a drive and parked. We talked, we made out, it was the beginning of a relationship. At the end of the semester right before winter break of which I was going on vacation with my family for two weeks. He drops the I Love You, on me as it is time for me to not see him for the next two weeks. I was caught off guard, being one that has learned how to give lip service thanks to my mother, always told her what she wanted to hear regardless of the truth or what I felt. I said it back to him on the spot. Of course much later I found out that he had said it on a dare to see what I would do. Kinda fucked up, at the time I thought he was sincere.

So at this time in my life I decided to move into the dorms on campus and away from my mother, which of course she was not too happy about. But it had to be done, I needed my independence. I moved into the dorms but I did not live there, I lived in this guy’s bedroom at his house with his parents. His parents didn’t seem to mind me being there, they were very nice. I think they were just relieved that their son had a relationship with someone. Personally I don’t remember a lot of details during that semester, because when you don’t sleep you don’t make memories. Thankfully I was taking photography that semester and ended up with a good collection of photos to go with my lack of memories. What I do remember is hanging out at Denny’s drinking coffee till 3 am then collapsing into bed and trying to make an 8 am class. 

We spent a good amount of time in bed together, learning that sleeping naked next to someone is a great comfort. He was caring and gentle the sex was, not very memorable apparently, let’s call it traditional, we fucked, usually missionary style, and then he went to sleep. We were dating, we went to classes, he helped me pass Trigonometry of which I had failed along with World History the semester before. We hung out with groups of people, went to movies and concerts. It seemed to be all good till one day when it just wasn’t. I had moved back to my mother’s house after the semester was over, he wasn’t too happy about that. I can see why we were together a lot during the semester, and then I just went home and kinda left him hanging. No longer having someone to sleep next to is jarring. I went by to see him and something had changed, we tried having sex but it was rushed and felt forced. I think we both knew at that point it was over. He did politely come by my mother’s house and break up with me though, he even gave me one of those blank journals, it was black with gold marbling. Aww the things that you remember.

All in all the act of sex is easy, relationships however are complicated and messy. They take time and effort to maintain, and they don’t always turn out the way you expect them to. I will say that on some level I loved all the people I have been with, how do you not love someone that you’ve been intimate with. For better or worse they are all a part of me, that shaped who I am today. If you are a reader of mine you will find similar situations found throughout my writing, because we write what we know and have experienced.

The End 

https://cch217.wordpress.com/2019/12/30/haunted-hydrangeas-an-experiment-in-flash-fiction-continued/

Accused

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“Detective Andrews, how can I help you?” James answered.

“James?” The frantic female voice asked.

“Yes, how can I help you?” James asked sitting up in his desk chair, opening his notepad and retrieving a new ballpoint pen out of the desk drawer.

“I need your help. Something bad happened, but I didn’t do it. Can you help me?”

“What’s your name?”

“Julie.”

“Do you have a last name Julie?”

“I do…but I can’t tell you yet. Not until I know you can help me.”

“OK, where can we meet?” James asked. The line was silent.

“Do you know the bar on 14th street?” Julie asked.

“Yeah, Angel’s, right?”

“Yep, in an hour.”

“Sure.”

~ ~ ~ ~

“James?” A hesident female voice asked. James turned to face the tall brunette that was standing behind him.

“Julie?” He asked.

“Yes.”

“Take a seat.” He motioned to the open bar stool next to him.

“Drink?”

“Scotch on the rocks.” She answered.

James motioned two fingers to the bartender.

“So what do you need my help with?” James asked.

“There was a party last Saturday night. It was up at one of those big mansions looking houses out on the hill.” She said. James nodded he knew the area.

“There was this girl there, we hung out together for most of the night. Doing shots and dancing. Then she started feeling sick and I called her a cab and sent her home.”

“OK, so where’s the problem?” James asked.

“I don’t think she made it home. I think she’s dead.” Julie said, James stared into her dark eyes.

“What makes you think she’s dead?”

“I can’t get a hold of her, and I can’t find her.” 

“Write down her name and number and give me a description of her.” James said, placing his notepad and ballpoint pen in front of her. Julie started writing.

James ordered another round. Julie slid the notepad back over to him. James read over what she had written.

Alice Jones 

Tall, slim, brown hair with red highlights, green eyes. 

“Well it’s a start. Do you know how old she is?” James asked.

“That’s where it gets a little sticky. When I was putting her into the cab she was talking about how her parents weren’t going to be happy with her. So I asked her how old she was.” Julie said, taking a sip of her drink.

“And…” James said, giving her a look.

“Seventeen. But she didn’t look it or act like it.” 

“I’ll look into it.” James said tossing a twenty on the bar.

“Thank you.” Julie said, putting her hand on his arm. 

~ ~ ~ ~

James sat in the records room thumbing through missing persons and Jane Doe records.

“Any luck Sir?” Officer Roberts asked, setting down a fresh cup of coffee in front of James.

“Not yet. Thanks for the coffee.” He said, taking a sip. As James was working his way through another stack, a similar description caught his attention.

Jane Doe found early Sunday morning.

5” 6’ 140 lbs

Dark brown hair

Green Eyes 

~ ~ ~ ~

“Are you ready for this?” James asked Julie as they stood in the viewing room of the morgue.

Julie took a deep breath. “Yeah, I think so.” 

The attendant pulled back the sheet. Julie looked at the pale face of the Jane Doe. She exhaled slowly. “It’s not her.” She said.

“Are you sure?” James asked.

“Yeah I am sure.” Julie answered, turning away from the Jane Doe. James nodded and the attendant pulled the sheet back up.

“Can I get you a cup of coffee and you can explain how you know it’s not her?” James asked. Julie nodded. “That would be nice.”

They sat outside in front of the Downtown Deli. “Maybe you should start at the beginning of last Saturday night.” James said. Julie sipped her coffee, giving James a smile. “OK, I met Alice at the party, we hit it off. There may have been some coke and making out involved, along with the shots and dancing.” 

“Like enough for you to not clearly remember her?” James asked.

“Well after seeing that girl in there…I don’t know. Do you have a cigarette?” 

James pulled out a pack and offered it to Julie. She took one and James leaned over and lit it for her. Julie sat back and took a long drag. James lit his own, watching Julie, as she appeared to be searching for a story to tell him.

“We’ll keep looking for your Alice Jones.” James said as he fished his card out of his pocket. He tossed it on the table in front of her. “Call me if you can remember anything else.” He said walking back towards the Downtown precinct.

~ ~ ~ ~ 

Buzz… James answered his desk phone.

“Yes.”

“Sir, there is an Alice Jones here to see you.” Officer Roberts said.

“I’ll be right up.”

“Hello, I’m Detective Andrews.” James said holding out his hand to the young woman dressed in a school uniform. White button down shirt, plaid skirt that hit the top of her kneecaps, white socks, black shoes and topped off with a navy blazer.

“Alice, I think you’re looking for me.” She said, shaking James’ hand.

“Let’s talk, this way.” James held the door for her, directing her to conference room B.

“Can I get you anything to drink?” James offered as they each took a seat at the small conference table.

“No, thank you.”

“OK, shall we start with the party on Saturday August 12th. Where you met Julie, and why she thought you were missing.” James said looking at Alice.

Alice cleared her throat and sat up. “I know I shouldn’t have been there, I just needed to get out of the house and away from him.”

“Who?”

“My stepfather Derek Maguire. Can’t stand him. So I went to a party, met Julie, and had a good time. Did I drink a little too much, probably. Was making out with Julie in the bathroom and doing some coke a wise decision? Probably not.”

“You’re how old?”

“Seventeen.” Alice answered, giving a devilish grin. 

“And you attend All Souls Catholic School, judging from the get up.” James said, moving his ballpoint pen up and down towards her wardrobe. 

“Yes, Derek’s idea to keep me accountable. I don’t really care for it but it’s my last year.” 

“Well you’re not missing or dead so I don’t see that this needs to continue. Let Julie know that you’re fine. And good luck on your senior year.” James said getting up and opening the door.

~ ~ ~ ~

Alice returned home to the large two story house that was located at the end of a cul-de-sac. She let herself in, put her things down and headed towards the kitchen. As she was passing Derek’s office door that was slightly open she overheard him raise his voice on the phone. “What the fuck were you thinking Theo? Do you know what that will cost us?” Alice made her way past the door, Theo, Derek’s younger not so smart brother had done something stupid. Alice noted to herself as she opened the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water. She snatched an apple from the countertop and headed up to her room.

~ ~ ~ ~

There was a soft knock on her bedroom door. “Yes.” Alice said. The door opened and her mother Beverly entered her room. She was all done up, her platinum blond hair teased to twice its size, that blue eye-shadow and red lipstick that went out of style a decade ago. 

“Hey, hun how was your day?” 

“Fine, are you guys going out?”

“Yeah, Derek’s got a meeting with some clients at the club. We shouldn’t be too late.”

~ ~ ~ ~

After finding something in the fridge that passed as dinner Alice went to her mother’s bedroom. She opened the door and made her way into the walk-in closet. She flipped the switch and began pulling down the boxes from the top shelf. “There has to be something here” She mumbled to herself. Alice was determined to find anything she could on her father. Beverly didn’t like to talk about it, so Alice was left up to her own devices. Her parents had separated when she was eight, she had some vague memories of him. She remembered that he had a full beard and mustache and kind dark brown eyes. He was a writer and had been working on getting a manuscript published, his name was Harvey Jones. Alice was also adamant in keeping her father’s last name when Beverly married Derek. Alice spent the evening searching through old shoe boxes of photos and papers, without much luck of finding anything new that would help her locate her father.

~ ~ ~ ~

“Sir.” Officer Roberts said, holding out a file.

“What’s this?” James asked, taking the file.

“Background on Alice Jones. You requested it when she was a possible missing person.”

“Oh yeah, OK, thanks.”

James flipped through the report.

“Hey, Roberts do we have anything else on Derek or Theodore Maguire?”

“I think I saw a file from Vice on Theodore. Maybe Detective Daniel Hayes has something.” Officer Roberts answered.

“There’s a thought, thanks.” James said, picking up the phone.

~ ~ ~ ~

James sat in a booth at Mac’s 24hr Diner sipping on a cup of coffee.

“James, been a while.” Daniel said, as he slid into the booth. An overly eager waitress bounced over to the table.

“Can I get you anything.” 

“Just coffee, thanks.” Daniel said. She smiled and bounced away.

“Is it just me or are they getting younger?” Daniel asked. James shrugged.

“How’s Holly and Lily doing?” James asked.

“They are both doing good. Holly’s happy and Lily’s growing like a weed.”

“That’s good to hear. So what do you know about Derek and Theodore Maguire?”

“After Marco Bishop disappeared and Anthony Costello’s untimely demise, a new player came in to keep the ‘business’ up and running. His name is Vincent Armani. There were rumors involving the Maguire brothers and how Vincent was offering a large sum of money to use their international shipping company to help move his product.”

“That’s not good. What did Theodore get collared for?”

“Possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. His brother paid off the fine.”

“Thanks for the info. Something I’m keeping an eye on before I officially move on to the PI world.” James said, finishing off his coffee.

~ ~ ~ ~ 

They stood in front of Mac’s Diner, James lit a cigarette and offered one to Daniel.

“So are you going to ask about Stella?” Daniel asked, taking a deep drag.

“Wasn’t going to. But since you brought it up, how’s Stella?”

“She’s still pissed.” Daniel said, grinning.

“Kinda figured.” James said, finishing his cigarette.

“Don’t be a stranger, I know Holly would like to see you sometime.” Daniel said.

“Tell her I said ‘hi’ and I will try to stop by sometime soon.”

~ ~ ~ ~

There was a distinct chill in the air on this late October morning. Detective James Andrews put his collar up as he walked towards the responding officer that was pulling crime scene tape around the front of the Starlight Lounge.

“What do we have?” James asked.

“Multiple victims, looks like a drug deal gone wrong. Detective Hayes has more inside.” The Officer said. James made his way into the lounge. At one of the corner booths there were three bodies with multiple gunshot wounds.

“Daniel.” James said, approaching the table.

“James, what a fucking mess. On the left we have Derek Maguire, center is Beverly Maguire, his wife and on the far right is Theodore Maguire.”

“Fuck, is this Vincent Armani?”

“Looks like it, I have a CI that is submitting a report. Short version is that Theodore skimmed off the top of the shipment and made a bad deal with some street punks that refused to pay up. Vincent gave him a chance to pay up or replace the stash but he didn’t follow through and a price was put on him and his family.” 

~ ~ ~ ~ 

“There’s a package for you on the table.” Mary said, when Alice entered their apartment.

“Thanks.” Alice said, as she set down her things and took off her coat. Alice looked over the package, she didn’t recognize the sender’s address. 

Law Firm of McLean, Nesbit and Lewis 

Southside Chicago Illinois

Alice opened the package, on top was a letter addressed to her.

Dear Alice,

As my last act of kindness as a detective with the downtown precinct I have done you a personal favor. I found your father Harvey Jones, enclosed is his book entitled Ice Station Delta. Now I’m not big on science fiction, but from the blurbs and reviews it’s good. The law firm in Chicago has his contact information and you are free to reach out to them.

I wish you well,

James 

~ ~ ~ ~

James unlocked his apartment door letting himself in. 

“Hey.” Kate said from the kitchen. James took off his coat and hung it over the kitchen chair. He stood behind her, wrapping his arms around her, pulling her close. He leaned down and kissed her neck. She let out a moan and leaned into him. Kate turned to face him, looking into his dark tired eyes.

“That good then.” She said. James gave her a grin and kissed her deeply. He picked her up and carried her into the bedroom. 

Church

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Jane waited on the front porch wearing a green tank top with blue jeans and sunglasses. Nine in the morning but already eighty degrees out. She had left her shoulder length dirty blond hair down, a decision she was begging to regret. A white extended cab Ford pickup pulled into the driveway.

Jane headed down the stairs. “Hi.” She said pulling herself into the pickup. “Morning.” Tommy said, giving her a sight grin. Jane fastened her seatbelt and Tommy put the pickup in reverse. Tommy was a friend of Jane’s first boyfriend Josh. In the beginning it was Tommy, Josh and Jane that attended the Southern Baptist Church on Sunday’s. Tommy attended because of his family, Josh tagged along to get out of the house on Sunday’s and Jane had gone with the two of them a few times, mainly so that she could sing in the church choir, which was a pastime that she enjoyed.

The dynamic of their little group had changed drastically over the last year, Josh and Jane were no longer an item, and since Jane’s dad had passed away recently she felt lost. Emotionally and spiritually. She had called Tommy thinking that maybe attending church would give her some peace of mind. Jane took a seat in one of the pews at the rear of the church.

She removed her sunglasses and bowed her head as the congregation was in prayer. Tommy was sitting with his parents and sister in the center pews. The questions that ran through Jane’s mind were mainly why’s…Why did he die? Why now? What had she done to deserve losing her dad at such a young age? The questions quickly turned to damning God for her pain and sorrow. She couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. Tommy touched her shoulder and escorted her out of the service.

They walked down the hall to the church office. Jane was in full sobs, Tommy handed her a box of tissues. Jane wiped her nose and cleared her throat. “Thanks, I’m sorry.” Tommy stood in front of her, put his hands on her shoulders and pulled her to him. “You have nothing to be sorry for. Loss is painful, grieving is a process.” He said hugging her tightly. Jane took a deep breath and hugged him back. Time seemed to slow as Jane closed her eyes and listened to Tommy’s heartbeat.

“Do you want me to call him?” Tommy asked, catching Jane off guard. “Who?” Jane said breaking the hug. Tommy gave her a devilish look and smiled. “Kevin.” He said looking her dead in the eyes. “So you know?” She asked. “Yes, I know that you and Kevin have been seeing each other for a while now. You do know that guys gossip just as much as women do.”

Jane and Tommy were standing in the dirt parking lot of the church when Kevin pulled up in his dark blue SUV. Tommy went over to Kevin’s window and was saying something that Jane couldn’t quite hear as she was getting into the SUV. “Ready?” Kevin asked Jane as she closed the door and fastened her seatbelt. “Yep.”

Kevin pulled out of the church parking lot and asked, “Do you feel up to a short drive, maybe out towards the river?” Jane smiled at him taking his hand in hers. “Sure.” She answered as she put her head back enjoying the warm summer breeze coming in the window.

When Kevin and Jane met they each had a significant other at the time. Jane was with Josh, her first boyfriend, the one she lost her virginity to, the one that she had nothing in common with except having sex whenever and wherever they could. It lasted about a year before Jane was forced to break it off. Kevin had and still has a girlfriend, Tammy was his public girlfriend, the one he took to dinners and went to movies with.

Jane and Kevin had an instant attraction from the beginning, he gave her a ride home one afternoon where talking turned to making out quickly. Deep passionate take your breath away kisses that lead to seeing each other on the side for well over two years.

Kevin pulled onto a dirt road that led to an opening shaded by trees next to a trail that led down to the river. He parked under some trees and tuned the engine off. They took off their seatbelts and made themselves comfortable.

Kevin reached over and removed her sunglasses, he folded them and set them on the dash. He brushed her hair back behind her ear and caressed her neck, Jane closed her eyes enjoying his soft touch. She moved closer to him, kissing him. She let out a sigh and put her head against his chest as he moved his arms around her. Kevin was comforting, understanding and kind.

https://cch217549678581.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/sexual-escapades/

Summer Reads

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A light breeze on bare skin as the sun beats down. Summer heat is upon us. Don’t get me wrong it was a long, snowy, cold winter and almost overnight it is now in the eighty degree range, sunny with the occasional afternoon thunderstorm. Seems like a good time to check in with some authors to see what they have on the horizon. Here are some of my Summer Reads suggestions for the long hot days ahead.

 

Richard Chizmar

https://richardchizmar.com 

The Long Walk Home

The Girl On The Porch

I picked up copies of The Long Walk Home and The Girl On The Porch  

My review of The Long Walk Home on Goodreads:

Now I’m a very picky reader, not a whole lot holds my attention. That being said I have yet to read anything by Richard Chizmar that not only holds my attention but leaves me with an icy cold chill down my spine. The quick wit dialogue and depth of characters sucks you straight into these short stories. Even if you know that the other shoe is about to drop on these characters you keep reading. Which tends to lead to a WTF usually out loud at the end. I highly recommend reading anything by Richard Chizmar he has an art to delivering the unexpected.

I am currently reading The Girl On The Porch taking it slowly as to enjoy each twist. All of Richard’s works are worth getting into.

 

Cori Lynn Arnold

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5807555.Cori_Lynn_Arnold 

Northern Deceit

Scalding Deceit

I know Cori Lynn Arnold from college, I know her in passing, one of those friend of a friend acquaintances. It took me awhile to get around to reading her work. But when I finally did I was not disappointed, I started with Northern Deceit and it sucked me in, the environment, characters and the fact that she wrote about where we had grown up was strangely nostalgic for me. I then read Scalding Deceit which was also entertaining and gave more backstory for the characters. Cori has a way of making you feel comfortable like you are with the characters also having a coffee.

My review of Northern Deceit on Goodreads:

I may be a little bias, only because I grew up in Alaska and I know what cold feels like. In reading this book I was taken right back to it, the numb fingers, the frigid cold that chills your bones. This story pulls you in and takes you for a ride. 

I’m not sure if Cori has anything in the works at the moment but I’m looking forward to anything she is working on.           

 

Ken Bruen

https://www.goodreads.com/series/50920-jack-taylor

Jack Taylor Series 

Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor Series is also something that I stumbled upon while hanging out at libraries and thumbing through the mystery/thriller section. There are now fifteen Jack Taylor books, the last one released in November of 2019. I have read eight of them, so far, enjoyable, immersive stories that you can get lost in. I will admit that I need to catch back up with Jack Taylor.   

 

Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales 

Edited by Bev Vincent

http://www.bevvincent.com/ 

This was an outstanding collection of short stories all with the running theme of  ‘while on a plane’ I enjoyed all seventeen stories. I highly recommend this collection, just may not want to read it while flying. Also Bev has some insightful posts on his blog page, worth giving a read. 

My review of Flight or Fright: 17 Turbulent Tales on Goodreads:

A perfect balanced collection of bizarre, terrifying, and creepy. Fasten you seat-belts Flight or Fright is one turbulent ride of short stories. 

 

Marc Watson

https://twitter.com/writewatson  

Death Dresses Poorly

Catching Hell 

A Land Without Mirrors: A Collection of Fantasy and Surrealism by Fluky Fiction

The Stories We Hide 

Marc has a way of taking you on a trip that you never knew you needed to go on. Marc also has something new ‘Coming Soon’ just not soon enough.  

My review of Death Dresses Poorly:

An outstanding job on mixing everyday life with the unknown. An enjoyable read filled with humor and emotion. You will surely enjoy the trip.

My review of The Stories We Hide:

Another outstanding collection of short stories from Enigma Front. Shout out to Marc Watson and Chis Patrick Carolan, if you don’t know them as authors check them out. I also enjoyed reading new authors to me and look forward to tracking down more of their works.

 

J.M. Sullivan

https://twitter.com/jmsullivanbooks 

Alice (The Wanderland Chronicles #1)

Broken Glass (The Wanderland Chronicles #2)

Second Star (Neverland Transmissions #1)

Lost Boy (Neverland Transmissions #2)

Blood From A Stone Twisted Villains Anthology 

J.M. Sullivan keeps rolling out the stories. I love her energy and passion that drives her storytelling.

My review of Second Star (Neverland Transmissions #1):

It’s time to embark on a scifi adventure with Peter and Wendy, in this fantastic retelling of a beloved classic. Full of adventure and fun characters, Second Star is a ride to a new Neverland that you soon will not forget.

 

Jessica Julien

https://twitter.com/jjulienauthor

Becoming The Wolf: A Twisted Retelling 

Rise of the Ringmaster

A Spectacle of Souls

Blood From A Stone Twisted Villains Anthology

Jessica Julien is a new up and coming author that knows how to turn a phrase. I had the pleasure of reading her short story Becoming The Wolf, an excellent eerie retelling of the boy who cried wolf.  

“…He was like a whisper trailing the wind as it blew through the flock we protected and in an instant she was gone. I heard the scream, the crack of bone, the dragging of the body through the brush. I wasn’t fast enough…’  

 

Paige Lavoie

https://twitter.com/MrsPaigeLavoie 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCehSv55CVqPnrGx-_0Dl6yQ/videos

A Girl Called Monster

Confidence: The Diary of an Invisible Girl

Paige Lavoie has been one of the most entertaining down to earth authors I have had the pleasure of coming across. She is an outstanding storyteller, full of advice on writing, fashion and life. She is always writing, when she’s not doing Motivational Minute Videos for Writer’s Atelier. I’m looking forward to her next book. Something about a 50’s diner in space.  

 

Mark Lumby

https://twitter.com/marklumby1 

Dark Places, Evil Places Vol. II

Sword and Snakes

I enjoy Mark’s writing style, even when it gets gory and uncomfortable. Being pushed out of our comfort zone is good…sometimes. 

My review of Dark Places, Evil Places Vol. II:

Probably not the best thing to be reading late at night with the world as crazy as it is at the moment. The short stories in this anthology are thought provoking, cringey and horrific, as they should be. I highly recommend because the dark places are indeed full of evil faces.

 

Neil Christiansen

https://twitter.com/WriteGavinGayle 

Dark White

Neil Christiansen has a way with words and imagery that pulls you into the gritty underworld of Chicago, in his modern noir thriller Dark White

“…The rain fell in sheets, straight as pinstripes through the narrow canyons of glass and steel. It battered the pavement making blisters on the cracked asphalt, turning it dark and heavy…” 

 

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Other Books that I would like to recommend for your Summer Reading:

Ten-Words Tragedies 

Inspired by Frank Turner and his songs—especially that evocative verse from Mittens—the editors were delighted to learn that he really did find that box of postcards in a New York thrift store. Frank was kind enough to send us the box, and from it we chose a series of postcards and forwarded them to the writers in this book. Gaining inspiration from the postcards and their ‘ten word tragedies’, the contributors wrote an amazingly eclectic selection of tales—moving, funny, horrific, bizarre, and delightful, these are the lives these strangers lead.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51825796-ten-word-tragedies

 

Custodian (Monsters of Earth #1)

By Patrick F. Johnson 

Frank is torn between working himself to death and drinking himself to death. His slow suicide is interrupted when he is abducted, along with dozens of others, and subjected to the test.

An alien invasion is imminent, and an ancient being is desperate to find and appoint her Custodian to safeguard humanity.

The reclusive construction worker begins his journey from relative obscurity to galactic infamy, making plenty of friends and enemies along the way.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38088826-custodian

 

The Painted Darkness

By Brian James Freeman 

When Henry was a child, something terrible happened in the woods behind his home, something so shocking he could only express his grief by drawing pictures of what he had witnessed. Eventually Henry’s mind blocked out the bad memories, but he continued to draw, often at night by the light of the moon.

Twenty years later, Henry makes his living by painting his disturbing works of art. He loves his wife and his son and life couldn’t be better… except there’s something not quite right about the old stone farmhouse his family now calls home. There’s something strange living in the cramped cellar, in the maze of pipes that feed the ancient steam boiler.

A winter storm is brewing and soon Henry will learn the true nature of the monster waiting for him down in the darkness. He will battle this demon and, in the process, he may discover what really happened when he was a child and why, in times of trouble, he thinks: I paint against the darkness.

But will Henry learn the truth in time to avoid the terrible fate awaiting him… or will the thing in the cellar get him and his family first?

Written as both a meditation on the art of creation and as an examination of the secret fears we all share, The Painted Darkness is a terrifying look at the true cost we pay when we run from our grief–and what happens when we’re finally forced to confront the monsters we know all too well. 

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7849115-the-painted-darkness

 

At Home in the Dark

By Lawrence Block 

The crime fiction canopy’s a broad one, with room to give shelter to writing of all sorts, as editor Lawrence Block shows with At Home in the Dark: “Some of these stories have one or both feet planted in another genre. James Reasoner’s story is a period western, Joe Lansdale’s is bleakly dystopian, and Joe Hill’s novelette slithers through a little doorway into another world. 

https://www.amazon.com/At-Home-Dark-Lawrence-Block-ebook/dp/B07N96FTBH/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

And of course:

https://cch217.wordpress.com/2020/02/22/forgotten/

https://cch217.wordpress.com/2019/12/30/haunted-hydrangeas-an-experiment-in-flash-fiction/