Welcome to the WATCH #RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

blog-tour-banners2

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be taking part in the”Watch RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Write”Showcase Tour.

Today’s special guest: Beem Weeks

Beem

Nightly Traipsing

There might’ve been a dream. Or maybe not. Violet Glass really couldn’t recall. Probably, though. A dream concerning some stupid boy—or even a girl.

Whatever.

Can’t control what creeps through your sleep.

Her body stirred awake as the blackest part of night splashed its inky resolve across that part of Alabama.

Violet stared at the ceiling, tried like the dickens to recall a face, perhaps a voice—anything belonging to the one responsible for this latest agitation.

Nothing came through, though.

Even dead of night did little to lay low that sticky heat. Old-timers in town swore oaths affirming this, the summer of 1910, to be more oppressive than any other summer since before the war between the states.

Violet eased her body from her bed; the soles of her feet found cool the touch of creaking floorboards.

There’d be nobody to catch her—not at this hour.

Nobody, but Ruthie.

And Ruthie Sender?—she’d never let on of these doings.

Violet scampered through the kitchen, flung her blue-eyed gaze against the darkened parlor. Only shadows and silence bore witness to her planned escape, a girl’s nightly traipsing.

The back door gave up with only minor provocation.

Dripping moonlight splashed the yard with a silvery sheen; promising secrets lingered among the gathered glow.

Around the rear of the house she skulked, careful to hold close to the shadows, to remain hidden from the ones who’d blab, those others who’d hold it over her head for gain.

Back behind the barn she found her crouching spot, fell low to the ground, fixed sight on the direction of Ruthie Sender’s place a few hundred yards away. Traipsing just didn’t hold its fun without Ruthie tagging along.

Violet rushed her granddad’s cotton field without that hesitation she’d known only a summer earlier.

Shadows stirred and wiggled in the distance. Figures formed, made shapes around a low-burning fire. Even at the center of all that cotton, Violet could pick out words of songs sung by the coloreds, those kin to Ruthie Sender.

They sang about standing on wood, an old slave’s saying, drawing up recollections of a time they themselves belonged to someone else.

Belonged to Violet’s kin.

Wood smoke fogged the night air.

Violet hunched low, skirted the yard where those coloreds took up with their fire and song and whiskey. Friendly sorts, all of them. Always first with a kind word, an interest in Violet’s family, how the girl’s folks were getting on—even if that interest leaned toward pretend. But that’s the nature of the matter. It’s Violet’s great-granddad who’d once owned all those souls that gave creation to the very ones now singing and drinking.

She broke through shadows collected beneath an ancient willow tree, found respite behind the Sender family’s privy, and waited for the girl to either show or not show.

The colored girl’s legs appeared first, dangling from the pantry window, bare feet scrabbling at the air, searching for a solid thing to set down upon. The thud of her sudden drop wouldn’t wake anybody.

A dingy gray nightshirt clung to Ruthie’s body. Her dark-eyed gaze landed out where she knew to find Violet. If the girl offered a smile, it couldn’t be seen—not from this distance.

“Go out back of Tussel’s, maybe?” Ruthie asked, finding space in Violet’s shadow.

“Catch a strap across my butt, I get found by that saloon again,” Violet promised. “Daddy don’t say things twice.”

Ruthie said, “Chicken liver.”

Violet backed down a notch, weighed her options. “Who’s gonna be there?”

“Fella named Ferdinand something. Plays piano.” Ruthie tossed a nod toward those others out by the fire. “They won’t share us no whiskey.”

“Won’t share up to Tussel’s, neither—unless you got some money.”

*      *      *

They were born the same night, Violet and Ruthie, back during spring of 1895. Only a few measly hours managed to wedge in between them, separated the girls from being twins of a sort.

Close enough, though.

Ruthie came first—if her folks were to be believed.

 “Where we going?” Violet asked, following after Ruthie’s lead.

“Lena Canu’s place,” said Ruthie.

“How come?”

“She got stuff to drink, mostly.”

Droplets of sweat ran relays along Violet’s spine, leaving the girl’s skin wet, clammy. “Awful hot, it is.”

“She a conjure woman,” Ruthie announced, laying her tone low, protected. “—Lena Canu, I mean.”

Midnight’s high ceiling lent sparse light to the path splitting the two properties. Violet’s kin, they’d once owned the entire lot. Her great-granddad, he’s the one took notion to make things right, gave half of his land to the slaves he turned loose after the war.

Ruthie’s kin, mostly.

Senders and Canus.

Couldn’t ever really make a thing like that right, though.

A small cabin squatted in the brush; the orange glow of a lamp shined in the window. Used to be a slave’s shack, this one here.

Moonlight dripped on the colored girl’s face, showed it round and smooth, lips full and perfect, eyes alive with life and mischief. “Gonna see does she have any drink.”

Violet leaned closer, her bare arms feeling the other girl’s heat. She asked, “Can she tell fortunes?”

“Like reading a book.”

That dark door yawned wide; Lena Canu peered into the night. “I’ll tell your fortune, white girl,” she said.

Ruthie gave a nudge, guided Violet up the walk and into the shack.

A table and four chairs congregated at the center of the bare space. Kerosene fed a flame dancing like the devil atop the glass lamp. A pallet in a corner threw in its lot with the scene.

Lena Canu tossed a nod toward her rickety table. “Have you a seat, now,” she ordered, “—both of you.”

Violet sat first. Ruthie found perch across from her friend. Beneath the table naked feet bumped and rubbed, each girl assuring the other this would be a good turn.

“You one of them Glass girls, ain’t you?” Lena asked, dropping onto a chair of her own.

Violet said, “Yes, ma’am.”

Lena waved her off. “Ain’t no ma’am. Call me Lena, is all. You the one runs wild.” A pronouncement rather than a question.

Ruthie asked, “You got any liquor?”

A clear pint bottle came into the moment; its bitter amber liquid promised that sort of burn a person won’t mind.

Each girl drew off a long pull, let the heat mingle with their blood. Neither girl had ever gone full-on drunk; only a swig or two is all they ever dared.

Lena Canu, conjuring woman, spread a pile of bones over the table and commenced to ciphering future happenings a girl might need to know.

Things about boys and marriage didn’t come up. Neither did mention of babies and such. All Violet heard portended mainly to trouble.

“Quit you runnin’ wild,” Lena proclaimed, “and you be just fine.” She took up her narrow gaze again, aimed to settle matters. “But you keep doin’ what you been doin’, things gonna go bad.”

The suddenness of gunfire echoed through that sticky air. Three quick shots chased by a lazy fourth that staggered along a moment later.

Lena jumped first, ran for the door. Ruthie followed after, peering into the dark, no doubt expecting to put a face to the one pulled that trigger.

Violet remained stuck to her chair, attentions tugging between the matters outside and those sayings left to her by that conjuring woman. Did she really believe in such things, or was it all just a mess of nonsense?

“What am I gonna do to make things go bad?” she asked, supposing it wouldn’t hurt to know—just in case.

But Lena had other notions to work over. “Sounds like they come from over to your place,” she said to Ruthie.

Ruthie tipped a nod, said, “Could be they gettin’ liquored up too much, huh?”

“Might could,” answered Lena.

It happens that way, boys and their whiskey, wandering along crooked paths of discontent, blabbing things not really meant for harm—just boasting, is all.

But boasting to a drunken fella is as good as a punch on his nose.

“Gonna go see,” said Ruthie, pushing past the threshold, pressing on toward home.

Violet held her ground, let the colored girl disappear in the night. Attentions ceased their tugging, settled on the one making proclamations concerning bad manners and trouble to come.

Lena came loose of her thoughts, brought one to words, said, “Go on home now, white girl. Nighttime belongs to devils.”

*      *      *

Clouds laid a brief smudge against the moon, stripped its shine right off the night, left Violet to wonder if it really might be footsteps stumbling along behind her, following that same narrow path toward home.

“Fool boys,” she muttered, tossing nervous glances over either shoulder.

Footfalls fell heavy—like boots hammering the earth. An eager thing born of desperation.

Violet bolted left, squatted low behind a pile of brush that had the makings of a snake shelter. She held her breath and waited for the one at her back to pass on by.

A piece of tree limb came to her hand, a long and heavy thing, able to put a soul right should he come at her with wrong intentions.

That smudged moon went shiny again, dripped light across the path, showed off the shape of a man loping toward home. Tall and thin, this one; he moved quick with purpose.

Going the wrong way, though, Violet thought, waiting for the man to pass.

She gained her feet, charged his retreat, swung that heavy piece of wood and caught that interloper straight between his shoulders.

“Jay-zus!” the man hollered, hitting the ground like a sack of potatoes.

“This is private property!” Violet informed him, fixing up for a second swing.

The fella pulled up on his knees, tried to reach for that spot on his back no doubt gone swollen. He said, “It’s private property only ’cause I say so.”

Foolishness seeped into the girl. She squinted against the dark, drew recollection of his face. “Granddad?” she said, hoping her recollections proved wrong.

“What the hell are you doing out here?” he demanded, giving his legs a try.

“Came out to use the privy,” she fibbed. “Heard gunshots, came to see, is all.”

“Liar!” the old man spat. “You been gallivanting again, ain’t you?” He moved closer to the girl, sized her up, made a big fuss over her running around in only a nightshirt and nothing else. “Your daddy’s gonna hit ya where the good Lord split ya—then he’s gonna move you to your sister’s room upstairs. Won’t be no sneaking out from there.”

Her gaze caught that glint at his waistband, a familiar hunk of blued steel. “Don’t matter,” she said. “Daddy’s gonna put you in the county home.”

“On account of what?”

“On account of you’re going senile, traipsing off, bothering colored folks again with that pistol of yours.” Violet leaned closer, continued her spiel. “Heard him and Mama talking just last week, saying how you’re a danger to yourself just as much as to others.”

The old man’s jaw fell open and slammed shut; intended words went lost to the night. He couldn’t tell on her now—not without personal risk.

Defeat fogged his eyes. “I won’t tell your business if you don’t tell mine.”

Violet seized the moment with both hands. “That depends,” she informed him.

“On what?”

“Who’d you shoot tonight?”

“Nobody. Just meant to scare, is all.”

“Gonna kill somebody one day—if you ain’t already.”

“Ain’t in my blood, killin’.”

“Don’t have to mean it to do it.”

The old man pulled back, let frustration have its way. “We got a deal or don’t we?”

“You gonna leave Ruthie’s people be?”

“Just want what’s mine,” he complained.

“But it’s their land, Granddad—been so for forty-five years. A hundred guns ain’t gonna make it not so.”

He never did wear misery well.

Violet’s arms went easily around the man. She pulled close to him, breathed in that familiar odor of sweat and tobacco.

He said, “I won’t bother them no more.”

“Then we have us a deal.”

Thank you for joining me.  If you have enjoyed this author’s writing, please visit his Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of his writing, along with his contact and social media links.

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

https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-beem-weeks/

Standard

Welcome to the WATCH #RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be taking part in the “Watch RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Write” Showcase Tour.

Today’s special guest:  Harriet Hodgson

Look Out World: A Loving Grandma is on Duty

By Harriet Hodgson

Recently I read some blog posts by grandmas. Though a few posts were positive, most were negative. The grandmas couldn’t seem to find anything positive to say about aging or the wisdom they had acquired. My reaction to aging is different. Because I’m a grandma, I’m saying and doing things I’ve never done before. Maybe I need a badge that says GRANDMA ON DUTY!

I’m on marriage duty.

My husband’s aorta dissected in 2013 and he had three emergency operations. During the third one he suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed his legs. Since I drove him to the hospital emergency department I’ve been his caregiver and advocate. Although we have a less mobile life these days, we have a good life, and are more in love than ever. Each day is a blessing and we savor the days we have together.

I’m on GRG duty.

After my twin grandchildren’s parents died from the injuries they received in separate car crashes, the court appointed my husband and me as their guardians. (My daughter was, and always will be, the twins’ mother.) The court appointed my husband and me as the twins’ guardians and we became GRGs—grandparents raising grandchildren. According to the US Census Bureau, 10% of all grandparents in the nation are raising their grandkids. Raising the twins for seven years was a responsibility and a joy. Though the twins are adults now, I’m still a GRG when called upon.

I’m on safe driving duty.

When I noticed drivers weren’t stopping at stop signs—just slowing down and proceeding forward—I became upset. The police call this practice a “rolling stop” and it’s dangerous. What if a car hit a walking child or a child on a bike? I wrote a letter to the editor of the newspaper and asked drivers to follow the law and come to a full stop at stop signs.   

I’m on political duty.

Contentious as politics has become, I always vote and stay informed on issues. A friend of mine asked me to write for her political campaign, and I agreed to do it because of her teaching background and focus on children’s issues. My tasks included proofreading letters, writing new letters, helping with promotional materials, and delivering literature to homes. I was delighted when my candidate won re-election.

I’m on anti-theft duty.

We live in a townhome on a private street. It’s a safe neighborhood so I was surprised when a porch pirate stole my husband’s asthma medication. I reported the theft to the police and a detective came to our home. According to the detective, thieves look for neighborhood that have connected mailboxes, such as four linked together, because it saves them time. I also reported the theft to the neighborhood association and it is pursuing the idea of locked mail boxes.   

I’m on learning duty.

My family didn’t get a television set until I was a senior in high school. Instead of watching television, my brother and I went to the library and took out as many books as we could carry home. I still love to read. The day doesn’t seem right and is a bit “off” if I don’t learn anything that day. Learning is good modeling for grandchildren. The twins know I love to read and love to learn.

I’m on writing duty.

To keep my skills sharp, I write every day, everything from articles for websites, magazine articles, handouts to support the talks I give, and writing books. My 37th book is in production now and comes out in the fall of 2019. It’s a book about being a grandmother and I’m excited about it. I’m excited about the cover too. Waiting for the release date is going to be difficult.

I’m on giving duty.

Giving to others helps them and makes me feel good inside. I give free talks to community groups, talk to school kids about writing, and donate to the food bank in memory of my daughter. One of the best gifts I give is the gift of listening. A grandchild can feel like nobody is listening. That’s why I practice active listening. I make eye contact, nod to show I’m listening, and refrain from interrupting. Active listening takes more energy than passive listening and it’s worth the energy.

Grandmas have special skills to share with families. They are also keepers of history. “A house needs a grandma in it,” Louisa May Alcott once said, and I think she was right.

I’m just one grandma, trying to make a difference. There are millions of grandmas like me. Working alone and together, we are loving, protecting, and nurturing grandchildren around the world. Some grandmas are activists, others are advocates, and others are both. Instead of sitting around and waiting for things to change, grandmas are initiating change.

Be on the lookout for the loving grandmothers in your community. Join their efforts. If you can’t join in, support their efforts verbally and financially. The loving grandmas of the world are on duty, and always will be. Hug a grandma today!

Thank you for joining me. If you have enjoyed this author’s writing, please visit her Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links.

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

https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-harriet-hodgson/

Standard

Welcome to the WATCH #RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be taking part in the “Watch RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Write” Showcase Tour.

Today’s special guest: Robert Fear

Afternoon cycle ride by Robert Fear

Ibiza, May 1977

As I set out on my cycle ride, the streets of Es Cana were busy with pale-faced holidaymakers exploring their new surroundings. I almost collided with a couple who looked the wrong way as they crossed the road.

The hire bike was a boneshaker, and as I headed out of town to the west, the road surface was uneven. The ride became rougher, and I swerved to avoid potholes. Shocks vibrated through the handlebars and I lost my grip twice. Despite this, the breeze in my face and the sun on my back felt good.

Roads twisted and turned as I followed the coast around Punta Arabi and through the outlying villages. I passed pine tree fringed sandy beaches and caught glimpses of the sea. New tourist developments dotted the coastline, in between the traditional houses, shops and bars.

After a while I came to the dusty main road that ran from the north of Es Cana. Cycling westwards towards Santa Eulalia I soon found myself in the main square where I had changed buses when I first arrived from Ibiza Town in April.

My parched throat led me in search of a drink. Opposite the Guardia Civil offices, I spotted Fred’s Bar and decided it was a good place to quench my thirst. With the bike propped against an outside wall, I walked into the gloomy interior and blinked after the bright sunshine.

At the bar I ordered a draught beer. As I stood and sipped it, I glanced around and saw groups of men sat at the wooden tables. English was the main language being spoken, and the newspapers were days-old copies of The Sun. I felt out of place amongst the rustling of papers and whispered conversations.

Chalked on a board was a small menu of English food. I ordered Shepherd’s Pie with my next beer.

‘Take a seat at that corner table and I’ll bring it over in a few minutes,’ commanded the gruff Yorkshire voice from behind the bar. I assumed that was Fred.

‘Cheers mate,’ I smiled and walked over to the seat he had indicated.

Sat on the hard, wooden chair I placed my drink on the table.

I looked up and saw a man limping from the bar. A large glass of whisky and ice almost slipped from his hand. Without a word he slumped down opposite me. He shouted greetings to others but ignored me. His voice was slurred, and he had a distinct American accent.

My food arrived, and I dug into it with a vengeance. The cycle ride had given me a good appetite. As I polished off the plate, my table companion burped and glanced towards me. I smiled at him and he grinned,

‘Looked like you enjoyed that.’

‘Yes, it was great,’ I replied, ‘have you tried it?’

‘No man, I’m not into food much, I prefer this stuff,’ he slurred and pointed to his drink.

He pulled out a pack of Camel cigarettes, flipped back the top and offered me one.

I accepted it and gave him a light. We both took a deep drag on the rough taste and exhaled plumes of smoke. He moved closer and I could make out a mass of scars on his face and arms.

‘Do you live in Santa Eulalia?’ I asked, ‘you seem to know lots of people here.’

‘Yea man, been here ages now. Came to Ibiza in ’73. I’ve got a small apartment just outside the town, overlooking the sea.’

I looked at him with curiosity, ‘so you work here then?’

He threw back his head and laughed. All eyes turned in his direction as the raucous laugh subsided into chuckles.

‘No man, I’m pensioned off from the Army. I was in Vietnam. Halfway through my second tour I got blown to smithereens and was lucky to survive. They shipped me to the States, filled my body with metal and stitched me up. I was in hospital for months and still go there twice a year for check-ups.’

My jaw dropped, and I looked at him with a new respect. He continued,

‘The climate here helps my aching bones, and the booze is cheap. I’ve made friends, although most of them think I’m crazy. I suppose I am sometimes!’ he mused.

‘Did you want another drink?’ I asked him, to break the momentary silence.

‘A large bourbon, with water and ice would be great, thanks man.’

Back at the table I clinked my glass against his. ‘Salut!’

We chatted a while longer and I told him about the work I was doing. His eyes glazed over. He nodded as I talked, but I sensed his mind was elsewhere.

‘I have to go now,’ I said, as I stood up and offered my hand.

‘Nice talking to you man, all the best and hope to see you again.’ He gave me a weak handshake from his seated position.

‘Yes, me too, my name’s Fred.’

‘I’m Michael, or Mike, also known as Mad Mike by my friends. Take care on your ride back to Es Cana.’

He waved over as I headed out of the door.

The bike had fallen over, but it was still there. I had not thought to secure it two hours before when I entered the bar. I figured it was safe parked opposite the police station.

With a slight wobble I set off along the main road towards Es Cana. A car came straight at me and I had to swerve. Out of habit, I had started out on the left-hand side of the road. With a wrench of the handlebars I switched to the right and just avoided a collision.

That could have been nasty!

Thank you for joining me. If you have enjoyed this author’s writing, please visit his Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of his writing, along with his contact and social media links. 

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

https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-robert-fear/

Standard

Welcome to the WATCH #RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be taking part in the “Watch RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Write” Showcase Tour.
Today’s special guest: Jan Sikes

Jan Sikes

PARADISE BELOW
JAN SIKES

Emma Dupont shifted her backpack and lowered her head as she struggled through the crowded street. Panic struck as the sunlight faded.
It would mean sure death to get caught out after dark
“Watch where you’re goin’, you stupid bitch!”
Rough hands shoved her into the edge of speeding traffic. With great effort, she steadied herself, stepped back onto the sidewalk, and quickened her pace.
Making sure no one noticed her, she ducked into an alleyway and banged on the side of a blue dumpster with a series of raps. A camouflaged door slid open.
She tossed her backpack inside then hurried down the metal steps into the arms of a dark-haired man who held her while she sobbed.
“Susan, please bring Emma a cup of tea,” he instructed.
A tall blonde woman hurried away.
“I can’t go back up there again, Donovan. I just can’t.” Emma moaned. “They are no more than savages. Armed soldiers are everywhere, questioning everyone, barely controlling the mobs of hate-filled people. It’s awful.”
She didn’t tell him she’d felt someone watching her as she pushed through the street. The noose was tightening, but she’d die before she’d expose their hiding place.
Donovan rubbed her shoulders. “Don’t think about that right now.”
Susan appeared with a steaming cup and pressed it into Emma’s hands.
“Try to relax,” Donovan tucked a tendril of brown hair behind her ear.
Emma sank down against the cold concrete wall and let the warmth of the tea soothe her ragged nerves She watched while Donovan emptied the contents of the backpack.
When he looked up, his eyes shone. “You did good, love. We almost have enough.”
After the last election, conditions in the US had deteriorated. Humanity had gone crazy. Hate flourished and people killed each other over the slightest disagreement. Satan reigned.
Evil permeated every corner. Small handfuls of people banded together and escaped into underground tunnels determined to live in peace and raise their children.
Fed up with the insanity, Emma didn’t hesitate to join. Her group had one plan.
They had to get to Mexico.
The government’s restriction of money forced them to withdraw small amounts at a time. Emma’s experience of working in banks gave her the ability to gather the funds they needed to escape.
They were almost there, but nine months of living beneath the crazed streets of Dallas had taken its toll, especially on the children. Deprived of vitamin D, they grew lethargic and pale.
Resources, time and patience grew thin.
“I’ve been in communication with others in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. We’re almost ready to make our move,” Donovan said. “But, one mistake will mean death.”
Emma nodded. She didn’t care. The thought of dying didn’t frighten her.
Jasmine tea helped slow her heart rate and settle her nerves.
Donovan dropped beside her. “I never imagined that the ‘Land of the Free’ and the ‘Home of the Brave’ would deteriorate into such a state of evil, and hate.” He blew out a long sigh. “We’ve lost everything.”
Emma placed a hand on his arm. “But, we haven’t given up. And, we’ve kept love in our hearts.”
Susan and several others gathered around. “With trust in God and help from the angels who watch over us, we’ll survive,” she said. “We’re the future of humanity. We are the Lightworkers.”
They formed a circle and joined hands. In a melodic voice, a woman with straight black hair sang, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…”
Voices blended sweetly, and an essence of light filled the dank tunnel.
###
Melchizedek bowed his head overcome with the beauty and faith of the small group. He called Nemamiah and Charmaine to his side.
“It is almost time. We must rally everyone to watch over and help them. Please meet with the Ashtar Command and give them a report.”
Nemamiah folded his wings and nodded. Charmaine smiled and opened her wings to take flight.
“It is done.”
###
Emma barely survived her last venture above ground. When three hoodlums grabbed her and dragged her into a deserted alleyway, she fought hard, but they stuffed a dirty rag in her mouth and kicked her with the sharp toes of their boots.
From their sneers and insinuations, she knew they intended to take more than the contents in her backpack. She silently prayed.
The moment her attackers dumped the money out of her backpack, a flock of Ravens descended from nowhere, flapping their wings and pecking at their heads and eyes until they ran screaming from the alley.
Emma was sure they’d attack her next, but to her surprise, the birds hovered around her while she picked up the money, then flew above her while she ran for safety.
She shook her head when Donovan questioned her bruises and told him the angels had protected her.
Wheels were in motion. They would soon be away from the nightmare.
Donovan gathered the group for final instructions. “Travel light. Anything you don’t need, leave it. We have two vans, but there’s limited room.”
While the rest did the same, Emma gathered her belongings. She wouldn’t take more than she could carry on her back. She stared at a photo before tucking it into a zippered pocket. That life was gone. All she had left was her faith, strong will, and this family determined to live in peace.
By the time the twelve adults and four children were ready, the first shy rays from the sun graced the sky. It would be a long day.
They piled into the vans in an orderly manner. Donovan would drive one vehicle, and Michael the other.
Emma got into Donavon’s van. They’d grown close over the months of their confinement. She wouldn’t call it romance, but pure love. She’d grown to love all these gentle souls. Together, they would build a new life in paradise.
They slapped magnetic signs on the sides of the vans that read, “Hollow Road Baptist Church” and crawled through early morning traffic toward I-35 south.
They hit a roadblock a few miles outside Dallas.
“Remember what we rehearsed,” said Donovan as he pulled over.
Several of the group placed Bibles on their laps. Emma held her breath.
Armed soldiers approached. “Papers,” one soldier barked, “and state your destination.”
“Camp Zephyr, sir, for a retreat.” Donovan handed him papers.
Soldiers surrounded both vans and peered through the windows. Emma was sure they could hear her heart pounding. She forced a smile.
Donovan stared straight ahead.
After what seemed like forever, the soldier passed the papers back through the window. “You can go. But, stay on the main roads. There are crazies around.” He motioned them on.
Donovan nodded and pulled away. “Emma, pull up GPS and find a back route, then tell Michael what we’re doing.”
The route took them through miles of open pasture and small Texas towns. Finally, their headlights pierced the darkness and lit up a rusted VW van shell.
Donovan pulled to a stop. “Everyone stays put until we know it’s safe.”
He jumped out. He and Michael hurried toward the VW, looking in all directions.
Emma chewed her fingernails and stared out the window. Nothing could go wrong now. They were so close.
Donovan had explained that a Coyote would escort them through the tunnel into Matamoros, where they would find papers and transportation.
When the men turned and waved, the group grabbed their belongings and exited the vans. One-by-one, they climbed down rickety wooden steps into a damp tunnel. Flashlights reflected off dirt walls supported by boards and rocks.
Painted on one board, “Paradise Below” promised a long awaited redemption. The narrow tunnel forced them to walk single-file, and some taller men had to hunch over.
But, discomfort didn’t matter.
In an hour, they emerged onto a deserted side street in Matamoros where a dilapidated bus waited.
Without a word, the group filed onto the bus. The driver closed the door and ground the gears into forward motion.
Emma sat beside Donovan and reached for his hand. “We’re going to make it.”
He sighed and leaned back against the seat. “We are.”
A brilliant red sun rose over the ocean, bringing with it a new day, as the bus lumbered to a stop many hours later. Gentle waves lapped the shore and seagulls cawed as they swooped down searching for breakfast.
When the bus door opened, a couple dressed like American tourists greeted each person.
A woman with flaming red hair hugged Emma. “Welcome to Mexico. I’m sure you’re exhausted. We have rooms prepared for each of you.”
“Thank you,” Emma murmured soaking up the tropical scenery.
Paradise! They’d made it. No more hate, no more violence, and no more hiding.
They’d reached Pueblo de Luz, (City of Light).
A band of angels hovered above the group with tears of joy shining in their eyes.
There was hope for humanity.
Hope in these small groups that dared to keep love alive.

#

Thank you for joining me. If you have enjoyed this author’s writing, please visit her Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links.

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

https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-jan-sikes/

Standard

Welcome to the WATCH #RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be taking part in the “Watch RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Write” Showcase Tour.
Today’s special guest: Suzanne Burke

“Shielded”
By
Suzanne Burke.

I welcome the shield provided by darkness. Those sweet moments when I allow myself to sit in the velvet depth of silence and dwell only on what is to come.
For the past only exists to remind me of the challenges I failed to meet. The things I thought myself powerless to change. I know better now.
I have no room for failure here as I sit wrapped in the warm blanket of my darkness-inspired illusion of safety.
The soft glow of the clock now heralds your arrival. I feel my pulse jump in anticipation.
I check the window … again. No vehicle yet slows to a stop on the rain-drenched streets so many floors below.
I feel the twitch of the nerve in my jaw and suck in the air in an effort to still it.
I remind myself once more that external factors are likely responsible for your late arrival. I know you too well to ever believe that you would be late by choice. You are eternally predictable. That comforts me somewhat.
My neck muscles clench and I stand, stretching my arms and softly willing them to relax.
The clock rolls through another hour, and my calmness begins to falter.
I check through everything that I have prepared in anticipation of our meeting.
Grunting with approval at my readiness, I check the window one more time, and I gift myself a smile as your vehicle draws up and parks on the opposite side of the now quiet street.
The excitement begins to make itself felt and I shiver.
You will arrive soon, and all the waiting will end.
I lick my dry lips and take a deeply satisfied breath.
I hear the sound of the ping the lift makes as it stops on this floor. I hear your key turn in the lock.
I wait as you fumble for the light switch and flick it on. You swear in displeasure as the room remains dark. Now you search for your iPhone and seek out the torch app. The room in your immediate vicinity is caught within the boundary of its fractured light.
I smile.
My surprise still awaits your discovery.
You feel your way slowly along the wall and take a faltering stumbled step into the kitchen. The light switch disappoints you once more.
The language that follows that discovery explodes in the air. I hear you open the refrigerator to confirm to yourself that this lack of light has permeated the entire apartment. You shrug out of your coat and drop it to the floor, uncaring of the dirt and clutter it now lay amongst.
You find the bottle of scotch and slam cupboard doors seeking a glass. There are none. They lay in a disordered mess of unwashed utensils still awaiting attention on the food scrap cluttered kitchen bench.
I hear you curse as you stagger. The booze you’ve been consuming for hours rattles your movements and makes them disjointed.
You sit heavily in the easy chair uncaring of the scattered and dirty clothing that cushions your weight.
You unscrew the lid of the scotch bottle and take several satisfying gulps.
The anticipation makes me quiver now.
I have waited so long for this.
The cigarette lighter grants you a drag of the nicotine that is but one thing on your list of addictions.
The clock ticks over again and moves time relentlessly forward.
The bathroom awaits your imminent arrival and you curse again at your now shaking hands as you seek out your ever-present stash of heroin. You scream in rage and frustration when you finally acknowledge that there is none to be found.
I hear you slamming the walls with your now white-knuckled fists.
I reach across and flick off the power override switch. I illuminate the apartment.
It takes brief seconds for you to lurch back into view.
“Melody? Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you were here? What the hell! When did you get back?”
“I discharged myself from the hospital.”
“Oh. Good. This place is a mess. It needs cleaning.”
“Yes, Charles. Yes, it does.”
I watch you nod your head, pleased at my response.
You check your wallet, quickly counting the bills waiting inside. You confirm your decision, “I need to go out. Fix me something to eat. I won’t be long.”
“Why do you need to go out again? It’s raining.”
I watch you glare at me for daring to question you. “I need a fix. I’m heading to see Freddy.”
“There’s no need. I stopped by and saw him on the way home. I wanted to give you a surprise.”
You smile for the first time. “Well, now. That’s fine. That’s good.”
“Do you want me to get it?”
You now wear your frustrated look. “Fuck yes. Of course. Hurry up.”
“Sorry. It’s a little hard to walk with my ribs strapped.”
“You’re always sorry. You’re pathetic!”
I access the bedroom and return with his fix, and watch as he draws it up and applies the tourniquet to his upper left arm.
“You broke my jaw again, and two ribs this time.”
You glare at me as I dare to disturb your concentration, “You shouldn’t aggravate me like you do. You know you asked for it.”
The smack hits you, and I watch as your pupils dilate. The sickly smile that you now wear is most unattractive.
I wait.
You look suddenly startled. I watch the confusion on your face turn to fear … and then a moment of understanding colors your now bulging eyes. “Fuck! Fuck, Melody! What did you d…………….”
I wait.
You make a gargled choking noise as you begin to foam at the mouth.
I wait for five minutes and then check for a heartbeat … I smile … there is none.
I need to be certain that reviving you is not possible. Fifteen minutes should do it.
I punch in a number on my iPhone.
“911. What is the nature of your emergency?”
“Oh, God … help me, please! Please! I’ve just found my husband. He’s not breathing. Please … I think he’s overdosed.”
The kind operator took my address, “Okay. Stay calm. I have paramedics on the way.”
“Hurry! Hurry, please, please hurry.”
I turn off the lights and sit within darkness’s velvet cloak. My iPhone torch casts a spotlight on your rapidly cooling body.
I smile.
The rigid look of fear on your now strictured face brings me comfort. “Did you like my little surprise, Charles?”
I hear the sirens approaching.
I laugh in delight as the heady rush of adrenaline-fuelled relief floods my system.
The dawn light is just filtering through the balcony windows. Soon now I’ll have no need to seek the comfort of darkness.
I wait now. I have finally regained control.
#

Thank you for joining me. If you have enjoyed this author’s writing, please visit her Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links.

You might also want to check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Click the link below to learn more about this author:

https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/meet-rwisa-author-suzanne-burke-pursoot-rrbc/

Standard

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be taking part in the “Watch RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Write” Showcase Tour. Thank you for joining me. I’d like to introduce Ron Yates.

ron-yates

OUT TO PASTURE
Musings of an Erstwhile Asia Hand
by Ron Yates, RRBC 2017 KCT Int’l Literary Award Grand Prize Winner

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

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

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

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

“By Cooper McGrath
Global News Service.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I always did, you know.”

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

“Have a lively imagination.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?” Ellen responded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The End

Thank you for supporting Ron Yates along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you have enjoyed his writing, please visit his Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of his writing, along with his contact and social media links.

We ask that you also check out his books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!

https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-ron-yates/

Standard

Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC

Over the next two weeks, I’ll be taking part in the “Watch RWISA (RAVE WRITERS – INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Write” Showcase Tour. Thank you for joining me. I’d like to introduce Karen Ingalls.

JUST ONE MORE

The bright neon lights of Las Vegas did nothing to improve Jack’s self-loathing. He walked the Vegas strip with head hung down and his shoulders slumped, ignoring the people rushing past him. He was desperate as he fingered the five coins in his pocket, knowing they were the last of his money

The hot, bright sun did nothing to lift Jack’s spirits. “What am I going to do? Where should I go?” His questions went unanswered. He did not know how long he had been walking, but he soon realized how hungry he was. He stopped at the intersection looking in all directions, not knowing where he was and not caring. The crosswalk signal changed, and the crowd of laughing and drunk people, pushed him out into the street. Jack looked down as he stepped onto the curb and saw a wallet. He picked it up and looked around. The people that had once surrounded him had dispersed in different directions moving far away from him.

Jack slipped the wallet into his coat pocket and walked into the nearest casino and entered the men’s room. He went into the first open stall and with shaking hands he opened the wallet revealing a large amount of one hundred-dollar bills. “This can’t be. I must return the wallet.” He searched further and found a driver’s license for a Stephen Richardson from New York City. There were credit cards plus a family photo of a man, woman, and two young girls. “I suppose this is his family.”

“I will get hold of Mr. Richardson and tell him I found his wallet.” Jack put the wallet back in his coat and left the stall. He stood in front of the mirror looking at the unshaven face and unkempt hair. He washed his face and ran his fingers through his hair. He pulled his tie up and tucked in his shirt. “Well, I look a little better. Maybe I could use one of these bills, get a shave and haircut and have enough left over for dinner and a room for the night.” Jack reasoned that Mr. Richardson will never miss one hundred dollars out of the thousands in the wallet.

The lights of the casino were less intrusive, and the noise lifted his spirits a little. Jack walked past the slot machines and gaming tables out into a hallway. He walked past clothing stores and gift shops until he came upon a barber shop. The shave with the hot fragrant towels followed by a shampoo and haircut were what Jack’s weathered appearance needed. He hardly recognized the face in the mirror looking back at him.

“Perhaps a new shirt, slacks, and jacket would not be too expensive.” Jack reasoned that he would pay Mr. Richardson back every penny once he gets back on his feet.

The memory of his gambling habits which caused the loss of his marriage, job, and friends had faded. “I will never become that person again. I will change for the better.”

The new clothes and filling steak dinner with all the trimmings, relaxed Jack, and he confidently made his way back through the casino. The slot machines were well occupied and occasionally Jack heard the screams from a winner while the lights and sirens of the winning machine blared. “I would rather play poker than throw my money down the one-armed bandit.” He stopped at a Texas Hold ‘Em table where there was one vacant seat. “A few hands won’t hurt anything. I can play with Mr. Richardson’s money and pay him back with my winnings.”

The free drinks, the smoke, the cocktail waitresses and the sound of the cards being shuffled were magic to his ears. With each hand dealt, Jack became more determined to win the big one. He eyed each of the players trying to read their body language. On the fourth deal he opened his hand to reveal two queens. The flop showed a queen, seven, and a five. Jack made a modest bet. The dealer placed another card up which was a ten. Jack called the bet made by a player across from him. They placed the final card up revealing a seven, which gave Jack a good hand of two pairs. He raised the bet from another player and watched as other players either folded or called.

“I must have a winning hand because no one is aggressively betting,” he reasoned. “I’m all in,” he announced as he pushed all $500.00 of his chips into the middle. Players folded one after another except for the man sitting across from him. Jack tried to remain calm and put his shaking hands in his lap. The noise in the casino seemed to become louder and perspiration ran down his face.

“I’ll call.” The man turned his cards over to reveal two sevens.

“That can’t be. I had you beat.” Jack felt weak and nauseous. “Hold my place. I’ll be back.” He knelt in front of the commode and vomited up his lunch. At the sink he washed his face, straightened his tie and took another $500.00 out of the wallet. At this point he did not care and had convinced himself it was his money. “I found it. Finders, keepers.”

The evening turned to long hours. There were no windows or clocks in the casino, so Jack had no awareness of the hours slipping by in the same way the money was slipping away.

Jack’s luck and poker skills did not change. He won a few small hands, but he never recouped what he lost. He took his last $100.00 bill out of the wallet. “All I need is one good hand. Just one more.”

The big winning hand never came. Jack threw the empty wallet into a trashcan and walked out into the bright, sunny and hot day. He could not adjust his eyes to the brightness as he staggered down the street. “What am I going to do? Where should I go?”

Jack did not have one more game to play. He was found on a park bench late that night, alone, penniless, and without any life force in his body, still dressed in the new clothes.

***

Thank you for supporting Karen Ingalls along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today! If you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit her Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of her writing, along with her contact and social media links.

You might also check out her books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs. Thanks, again for your support and I hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent! Click the link below to learn more about this author:

Karen Ingalls https://ravewriters.wordpress.com/meet-the-authors/author-karen-ingalls-2/

Standard