Author, Chicklit, Drama, Indie Author, Uncategorized, women

When it Rains……

I drive a piece of junk, but it’s my piece of junk and the hubby had an incident with it. It had been raining quite hard and some roads flooded and unless you had an ark, driving was sketchy. The Darling Man who works midnights found himself suddenly in a lot of standing water with the piece of junk. Of course the aforementioned junk stalled out not wanting to restart no matter how much coaxing, kind words or the promise of better higher priced ‘engine cleaning’ fuel would flatter it into turning over. He had no choice it had to be towed.

Now I am the one in the family that worries about money. I know where every penny goes to what bills and what costs what. My father used to say that I am so cheap I would squeeze a nickel just to hear the buffalo squeal. He was hilarious.

Buffalo Nickel for my readers under 50

Buffalo Nickel for my readers under 50

Now I admit I’m the Scrooge at Christmas time since I’m the one who sets the limit on how much we spend. Birthdays for me are also no surprise. I know how much he’s going to spend before even he has time to think about it thanks to real time banking apps. Ah the technology for the obsessed! Now it’s not that he can’t handle money, I just believe I’m better at it. His approach to money is a day to day enterprise with no thought to the future. I on the other hand obsess about the future of our money which makes for sleepless nights and heartburn. I don’t recommend it!.

My inner Ebenezer Scrooge

My inner Ebenezer Scrooge

Something in my genetic makeup won’t allow me to relax on the subject. Leave it in the hands of God I hear all the time and for the most part I believe that. For the most part. I have another theory, checks and balances with a little karma thrown in. After recently purchasing a few items for myself that I would describe as wants not needs, I got sick with a flare up of an ongoing medical issue that put me out of work for a week and I will not get paid for it. Now the piece of junk is in the repair shop awaiting diagnosis and an estimate it’s little rain bath is going to cost us. My self deprecating brain has reared it’s nasty head and had told itself this all happened because I wanted a new purse!

kar·ma
 [ krmə ]
  1. actions determining future state: in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, the quality of somebody’s current and future lives as determined by that person’s behavior in this and in previous lives
  2. atmosphere: the atmosphere radiated by a place, situation, person, or object
  3. destiny: destiny or fate

Searching yet again for answers to the question of was it the purse purchase? The universe took pity on me and pointed something out. I read something my pea brain recognized as profound. Money is a game, don’t argue over it. Learn how to play the game together.

Wow, my limited synapses started to fire up and absorb the simple message! my marriage may be saved yet! OK my marriage was never in danger and I’m a drama queen I know, but the anger I felt at him for dunking the piece of junk in a flooded street like a donut in coffee, thinking in that ever present man brain of his that he could just drive through it, lingered on. Then my own anger at myself, if I had just not gotten the purse which started this ball rolling in the first place!

Was it really the purse? or just the universe messing with me? reminding me that obsessing over something as common as money is a waste of time. Crap is going to happen and happen when we least want it. Let’s be honest no one plans ahead of time to have crap happen, that’s why it’s crap. My misplaced blame on him for causing the local flood of biblical proportions is unreasonable of course and then there’s the old saying that popped into my insignificant thought pattern. This to shall pass and a new purse is a woman’s right, like new shoes!

Simple lessons for life’s woes.

I also need to stop calling the car a piece of junk. I think it’s feelings get hurt. Seriously, calling it that sends a message to the universe that I want just that, a piece of junk so from here on out it will be called the Glorious Chariot!

Now you’ll have to excuse me while I make an apology breakfast and teach the Darling Man a new game.

P.S We found out the car is dead, funeral services will be held.

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Chicklit, Indie Author, Uncategorized

I Am a Serial Complainer

My name is Joi and I’m a serial complainer.

Last October to celebrate the release of our first book,The Body Hunters, Von and I decided to go out to dinner. We went to a popular chain restaurant with a couple friends and our editor, Reggie. Now Reggie is blind (blind people have it going on by the way) and she had her guide dog, Brooks, who now is happily retired and lives with Von. I had some errands to run that day, so I showed up a little while after everyone else arrived.

When I get there, Von is talking about cutting a broad and she didn’t say broad, I’m just keeping it PG. She’s got her purse open and she’s pulling out her scalpel, piano wire, and other tools of mayhem. I ask her what’s wrong and she says the ignorant heifer of a hostess threw a hissy fit when Reggie walked in with Brooks. The girl screamed at them about how they couldn’t come into the restaurant with pets. Von explained that Brooks, who’s clearly on a harness for guide dogs is not a pet. Then the girl starts talking about how she hates dogs like they just walked in with a pit bull. Long story short, the girl made this blind, breast cancer survivor feel like she wasn’t welcome in the establishment. I told Von to calm down, just let me shoot the corporate headquarters an email and all would be fine.

I sent the company an eloquently worded email that evening explaining the situation. A couple days later I got an email back from corporate and from the restaurant manager who assured me the situation would be taken care of. They even sent $25 worth of gift cards just to make it right. But they weren’t fooling me, Reggie had a potential lawsuit, but we weren’t interested in going that route. The gift card was fine. A few months down the line Von and her husband Ray go to the restaurant with the gift card and the waitress asks how they got it. Von explains what happened and the waitress said that the offending hostess was fired for that incident. Problem solved.

I have a habit of stopping almost daily at a chain of gas stations, right around the corner from work. Tuesday I went in and over hear one of the cashiers asking her manager if she can leave early. He says no, there’s too much to do at the store. Not thinking anything more of it, I say Hi to one of the workers there who knows me as a regular. My mother’s a dialysis patient the same as her boyfriend, so we happened to see each other at the Kidney Walk. We catch up and I grab my stuff and go to pay for it. Now the manager is outside grabbing trash, leaving the girl who couldn’t get home early to ring up customers. She’s taking her sweet time putting money in the safe, while the number of customers waiting in line behind me is multiplying. I’ve had enough attitudes in my life to know one when I see one. She’s pissed because she couldn’t leave, she’s gotta work the rest of her shift and doesn’t care if customers have to wait. As if for verification of the state of her attitude, she starts ringing my stuff up without a word and says nothing to me until she gives me my total.

I go to work and marinate on that situation and get a little irritated. I’ve worked customer service for years and know that you don’t take out your frustrations on your customers. Like I did in the previous situation, I got home and sent an email to corporate. The next day they sent an email back and today I got a call from that store manager. Now he was very apologetic and didn’t want to lose me as a customer. I assured him I just wanted him to know about the behavior and like always I went there to gas up before work.

If you never speak up, how do people know they’re doing wrong? I’m not saying do it every time, your power to complain should be used sparingly, otherwise you’re a nuisance. You don’t have to be nasty and go on an expletive loaded tirade. If you have a complaint, it goes a lot smoother with courteous words. Your comments don’t even have to be all negative. If you get outstanding service, the road goes both way. Let the person know you like how they did XYZ.

If I spend money somewhere and I don’t get the service or the quality I pay for, then I have the right to complain. If I don’t tell a manager right then and there, then I’m going to send an email to their HQ to get it rectified. Now being a complainer doesn’t mean I just go around woe is me I hate my life, I hate my job. See that’s getting into the realm of being a crybaby and nobody likes a crybaby.

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biracial, Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, Indie Author, Paranormal, supernatural

Danielle’s Mardi Gras

Here is another short story featuring our herione, Danielle Labouleaux, from The Body Hunters.  In this story she’s sixteen again and she gets into a little trouble when she heads down to Mardi Gras.  Enjoy!

The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009X971ME/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_N6xQrb13R6TGQ …

The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CODG81Q/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_r7xQrb0RWBN1N … … the fun continues in the sequel.

As usual the people who call themselves my mother and father are gone leaving me in this big empty house alone.  Of course they’re off to save the world yet again, all the while forgetting about their only child.  Dad is an FBI agent and he’s heading up a big investigation, so I expect him to be gone; it’s just part of his job.  Mommy dearest on the other hand is off trying to impress her blue blood cronies by helping them with some charity dinner nonsense.

Those rich, high society bitches never did forgive my mom for marrying a black man, well Haitian Creole man to be exact.  Mom comes from a long line of New Orleans nobility, going all the way back to caveman times probably.  The snobs aren’t exactly the most understanding and accepting group in the world.  Before the ink was dry on their marriage certificate they excommunicated mom from their little clique.  Over the years I’ve watched mom bust her ass trying to get back in the good graces of those good Christian women, for what I don’t know.

She’s even tried to use me in her ploy, expecting me to be a little brown copy of herself.  Other than my caramel complexion and my gold-brown eyes I got from Dad, we sorta do look alike.  I’ve got mom’s straight black hair, which half the time I’m tempted to chop off just to piss her off and her facial features.  Except for my boobs and my butt, which I’m assuming I got from Dad’s side of the family, me and mom share the same petite and thin body structure, though I do think I’ve got a couple inches on her.

She’s always trying to get me to go to this ball and that extravaganza.  She forces me to wear these gaudy dresses showing me off to her so called friends like her personal life size Barbie.  I drew the line when she tried to force me into befriending their equally bitchy and uptight daughters.  That’s definitely not gonna work.  Danielle Labouleaux is not going to be caught dead hanging around those backstabbing, stuck up, highfalutin’, snotty heifers.  I’ve seen them in action and I need friends like that like I need a hole in the middle of my head.

With my issues with my parents, I’m so grateful for my grand mere.  My parents were always too busy for me, wrapped up in their own worlds, so my grandmother has been my one constant.  She lives just across the street which is totally convenient for those times when my ‘birth units’ piss me off or when I come home from school to an empty house.  No topic is off limits and I can always count on her to be my Yoda with the good advice.

The connection between me and grand mere also runs a bit deeper than most.  Unbeknownst to my parents and like my grand mere, I’m psychic.  I can communicate with the dead.  Yep, I see dead people! Grand mere says that it runs in the family through the female members of the Labouleaux family.  Due to a childhood illness that nearly killed me, Grand mere says I have a stronger connection to what she calls ‘the spirit realm’ and that one day my abilities will surpass even her own.

Even though I’ve had this ability since childhood, I’ve put off telling my parents.  I’ve seen the way they look at grand mere when she starts talking about spirits and the dead.  They treat her like a senile old lady with one foot in the nursing home, which I know is far from the truth.  Not wanting them to fit me for my own personal straight jacket, I decided long ago to keep my supernatural skills to myself.

Tonight is the Mardi Gras parade, and like my alien pods called parents, Grand mere is away, spending the evening at a church function. Without her to talk me out of any mischief, I’m left to my own devices.  Oh well, it serves Marcel and Juliana right for leaving me alone.  I surmise any trouble I get into is their fault.

Right now I’m in the garage, paying dear Lucille a visit.  Lucille is my dad’s classic ’70 Z28 Camaro.  He bought her before I was born from some old dude and he spent a nice chunk of change getting her in tip top shape over the years.  Last year he had a new engine and transmission put in and the year before that he went for the candy apple or as I like to say ‘hooker red’ paint job.  He refuses to let me drive her, but what dear old Dad doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Lucille and I have an understanding.  I take her out every now and then and she doesn’t tell Dad.  Seriously, it should be a sin to keep this car locked up the way he does like a giant paperweight.  It’s like locking a lioness up in a cage without letting her go out and hunt.  Lucille is a bad ass ride and doesn’t deserve to be treated that way.  I smile to myself as I run a finger along the smooth lines of the hood.  Yeah, me and Lucille are gonna have a girl’s night out.

With a plan in my head, I go up to my room and get dressed.  I pull on a black knit tunic that ends right above my knees, with a pair of skin tight denim leggings.  A black leather belt goes around my waist and I slip my feet into a pair of black biker boots that mom finds absolutely atrocious.  Just in case it’s a little chilly out, I grab a beat up leather jacket that I stole from Mom’s closet a few months back.  I don’t know what the hell she was doing with a leather jacket in the first place.  I check myself out at the mirror and like always my eyes gravitate toward the faint scar that runs between my breasts, a souvenir of my childhood illness.  Satisfied with my perfectly punk look, I go downstairs.  I reach into the cookie jar where dad thinks he keeps the keys hidden and head to the garage where Lucille is patiently waiting.

I’m sixteen years old and I can now drive without an adult being present.  When I’m allowed to drive, it’s always the grandpa mobile my parents have designated as my car, you know the kind of car you don’t back out of the drive way, you launch it, so driving Lucille is a treat.  I start her up and Lucille roars at me.  But any drive wouldn’t be complete without driving music.  One of the upgrades dad made to the Camaro is a CD player, so I check the visor where he keeps his CD’s stashed.  Sade, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Led Zeppelin are all waiting to be played like albums lined up in a juke box, but I grab Dad’s AC/DC CD that mom refuses to let him play in the house.

With the bass cranked up way too loud, I head to my friend Amy’s house, letting Lucille stretch her legs and pick up some speed.  I called Amy before leaving and she was up for hanging out tonight.  Maybe we could check out the Mardi Gras parade after all.

One of my pet peeves is people who like to mess over other people.  When I was in sixth grade, I came to Amy’s defense when Tammy and her blue blood crew started picking on her at school.  I’d been watching from the sidelines as Amy, who joined the school in the middle of the year, was singled out by Tammy and her flunkies.  They’d call her names, talk about her mom, that sorta thing, and me rooting for the underdog, was waiting for Amy to tell them to take the express elevator straight to hell.  She never did and the bullying got worse and worse as Amy walked with her head down and never said a word in her own defense. 

The terrorizing escalated one day in the girl’s locker room when one of the gang tripped Amy and Tammy shoved her to the ground.  Not able to mind my own business anymore, I intervened.  I helped Amy off the tile floor and told Tammy if I caught her or any of her friends messing with Amy again, I’d put my boot to her ass like she owed me money.  I could see the fear in Tammy’s eyes.  You see me and that bitch went way back. 

When I came back to school after my heart surgery when I was six, Tammy was the ringleader of my torment, calling me Frankenstein because of my scar.  After not being able to take the teasing anymore, I beat the dog shit out of her.  She cried running home to mama and I was put on punishment.  She never so much as farted around me even after all those years.  She knew I wasn’t bluffing.

Since the moment I came to her rescue, Amy and I have been best friends.  She skips to the car as I pull up to her house, in her jeans, black tank top and sneakers, her blonde curls bouncing along the way.

“Sweet ride, Danny.”  She said as she hops into the car.

I turn around the corner a little too fast probably, because I immediately see the blue and red lights flashing in my rear view mirror.

Oh shit.  I mutter as the cop slow walks to my door, my hands shaking like a leaf.  Dad is gonna skin me alive if he finds out!  I hand him my license and registration and he gives me that fatherly look.  As easily as he wields that look, I can tell that he has kids at home.  He lets me off with a ticket and a stern warning not to get into trouble.

Crisis averted, I head to the Mardi Gras parade and because of the crowd gathered on Bourbon Street, I am forced to park the car over a few blocks.

Amy and I are engrossed in the sights and sounds of Mardi Gras.  Even though I grew up in New Orleans, I was never allowed to visit the festivities because as my parents said ‘Mardi Gras is not for kids’.  I immediately know exactly what they meant and as I’m quickly learning,  It’s like a place for adults to behave badly, nothing and I mean nothing is too taboo.

As the parade floats pass, young women lift up their tops and show off their boobs for a handful of cheap plastic beads.  The smell of liquor and puke hangs in the air and I roughly grab Amy’s arm as she’s about to step into a suspicious puddle on the sidewalk.  Drunks stagger up and down the block while couples engage in PDA not caring who’s watching.  Drag queens make their way through the street, flirting with the men in the crowd.  With all the adult activity going on around me, I start to feel a little uncomfortable and know exactly why I was forbidden from attending Mardi Gras in the first place.  Gee go figure the dynamic duo of Marcel and Juliana got it right for once!

After getting more than an eyeful of the festivities, I tell Amy that I’m ready to go.  We take our time as we head down Bourbon Street, window shopping the various store fronts.  Amy Oohs and Aahs over the display of a voodoo shop and I am reluctantly pulled inside. 

“Oh, this is so cool!”  Amy says as inside my head all my supernatural warning bells are going off like a car alarm.

This shop is obviously a tourist trap, filled with all the stereotypical things you’d expect in a voodoo shop, from voodoo dolls, incantation books, and a smoking cauldron.  It’s to sucker the visitors in so they can buy ‘authentic’ voodoo paraphernalia.

“What you doin’ here children?”  An old woman startles us as she emerges from the beaded doorway at the back of the shop.  Her voice heavily accented like someone from the Islands.

She’s wearing a floor length caftan, small clouds of curly white hair peeking from under her turban, crowning her dark face.  Her eyes are locked on me and I can see that one of her eyes is grey and the other hazel.

“Ah, you have the sight child?”  She says to me and I know exactly what she’s talking about.  She knows about my abilities.

She turns to Amy and dismisses her with a wave of her hand.  “You wait outside.”

Like she’s watching a tennis match, Amy looks between me and the woman for a few seconds before finally obeying.

Now alone the woman reaches for me.  The first thing I think of when I see her hand is the gnarled roots of a tree.  Her skin is baby smooth though, her hands warm as she takes mine.

“You are strong, child.”  She says to me.  “Your grand mere teach you?  Yes?”

With my grand mere’s training, I’m not at all skeptical about this woman knowing about me.  It just goes with the territory.  I feebly shake my head yes.

“You will suffer a great loss of something you never knew you had.”  She predicts, her voice is raspy like she needs to clear her throat.  “Three loves you will have.”

Okay, she is really freaking me out with these predictions!  She must have read my mind because she releases my hand, but not before pointing her knobby finger into my chest.

“Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”  She says as I just nod my head like an idiot.  She smiles and waves her hand at me to leave.

I’m practically running back out to Bourbon Street where Amy is waiting wide eyed.  “What happened?”

“Um..She just wanted to tell my fortune.”  I say.  Amy doesn’t know I’m psychic and I have no plans to share it with her either.

I am totally rattled by the old woman’s predictions, so I’m not in a talkative mood as I drop Amy back at home.  I know it’s harsh since she’s my best friend, but I need some time to think to myself.  I pull Lucille back into the garage without incident, remembering to leave things as I found them.  I’m pacing in front of our big picture window, until I see grand mere pull up into her driveway.

Before she’s out of the car, I’m across the street rambling on about what happened at Mardi Gras.  Calm as ever she wraps her arm around me and sits me at her kitchen table, asking me to go over what I said slowly.  With a freshly brewed cup of her special tea in front of me, I tell her the whole story between sips. 

Grand mere doesn’t seem the least bit troubled.  She takes my hands and tells me that my future is what I make it.  No one can know my future except for me.  Feeling a little better, I nod and she wraps me in a hug and kisses my cheek.  She points her finger at me and lightly scolds me about taking Lucille out without permission.  It’s funny how just a little chastising from her feels worse than any hollering my parents do when they’re mad at me.  I tell her I’ll try and do better, but I’m careful not to make any promises.

Two weeks later the old woman’s premonitions are just a faded memory.  I walk into our house, slinging my backpack onto the loveseat.  For some strange reason Dad is home, sitting in his favorite living room chair.  There’s a small stack of mail on the wooden coffee table. 

I look at him and he looks at me.  I know something is wrong but I don’t know what.

“Hey.”  I said, putting my toe in to test the waters.

“Hey.”  He answers back.

“What’s going on?”  I ask.

“Oh, nothing.”  He says, flipping through the envelopes.  “Just sorting through mail, you know: catalogues, bills, traffic tickets.”

I am so busted.  I’d planned on paying that ticket, but I’d forgotten all about it.  My mouth opens to speak, but I can’t make anything come out.

“You mind telling me what you were doing out in Lucille?”  He growls, holding up the ticket reminder postcard.

“Uh, yeah, uh.  See what had happened was…..”

 

 

 

 

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Author, biracial, Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, Paranormal, supernatural

Danielle’s Afternoon

Here’s another short story featuring our heroine from  The Body Hunters

 I hope you enjoy it!

 

I head downstairs with a little extra pep in my step this morning.  There’s no school today and I get to hang out with my grand mere.  She has some special project she has to take care of and she asked me to come along.  She could have said she was going to watch paint dry and I would still be excited.  For as long as I can remember grand mere has been my parent, my teacher, my disciplinarian, and my confidante.  Even though I live with my parents, they’re not always around, but my grand mere is always there when I need her.

Other than being family, grand mere and I have something in common: we’re both psychics.  We both have the ability to communicate with the dead.  It’s a trait that’s passed down from generation to generation in the Labouleaux women from way before our family migrated to New Orleans.  My great-great grandmother trained grand mere how to use her abilities just like grand mere trained me.

At five years old I was diagnosed with a life threatening heart illness and while the surgeons were operating on me, I died on the table and was gone for a few minutes before I could be revived.  This event gave me a deeper connection to what grand mere calls the ‘spirit realm’; the place where we’re able to interact with people who’ve passed on.  Grand mere calls me a prodigy and promises that if I continue using my abilities like she taught me, I may be the most powerful medium in the world.  Mwah hah hah!  It’s a good thing I’m not plotting world domination.

I head to the kitchen where my egg and sperm donors, otherwise known as mom and dad are busy getting ready for their day. They have no clue as to my psychic abilities.  Sometimes the things that I’m able to see and do freak me out; so I know my logical father and prim and proper mother couldn’t handle it.

 I’m a product of a mixed marriage, dad is Haitian Creole and mom is white, her family coming from a long line of New Orleans aristocrats.  Dad is an FBI agent and mom is a high society blue blood trying to climb back up the social ladder.  With their busy agendas, it’s a wonder they ever fit enough time into their schedules to conceive a kid.

I follow my nose to the coffee maker where dad has a fresh pot brewing.  Mom is sitting across the table from dad who’s busy with his nose in some of his case file while eating a bowl of corn flakes.  Mom scowls at me, but I ignore her evil look and fill my mug with coffee and a copious couple teaspoons of sugar.

“Danielle, you’re only sixteen years old.  You have no business drinking coffee.”  She complains, peering at me with her violet eyes.

With my back turned I roll my eyes.  If she cares so much about what I have for breakfast the least she could do is have some semblance of food prepared.  Truth is she can’t boil water without causing a three alarm fire.

“I’ll be fine, mother.”  I tell mommy dearest as I stuff a Pop Tart into the toaster.  “I don’t think I’ll stunt my growth or anything.”

“What are you wearing?”  She moves to the next subject of my attire.  Unless it’s got a designer label or comes out of a boutique she doesn’t think it should be worn.  I on the other hand find nothing wrong with my dark jeans with the hole in the knee and my button up cotton top over my tank top.  I am not going to become a debutante, designer name dropping zombie like her so called friend’s daughters.

“What?” I ask.  “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”  Mom hates confrontation so I love pushing her buttons.

“Well, it’s atrocious.  You’re wearing sneakers, those jeans should have been thrown out long ago, and look at your hair.  You have that beautiful hair and you tie it up in a ponytail?  Really, Danielle how do you expect to attract a nice young man?”

“I already have mother.”  I say.  “Why just last week I gave Walter Brady my virginity.”

Mom just about chokes to death on her store bought croissant and dad is up in an instant patting her on the back.”

“Jesus, Danny!”  Dad grumbles, handing mom a cup of water.  “Are you trying to kill your mother?  Juliana honey she’s just joking.”

She looks at me for confirmation that her dear sixteen year old daughter hasn’t yet been deflowered and I’m barely standing I’m laughing so hard.  After I wipe the tears from my eyes I soothe her mind, letting her know I was just joking.

“Danielle you shouldn’t play games like that.”  She scolds.

“Okay, mom, I was just kidding.  Lighten up a little.”  I say, taking a bite out of my hot Pop Tart.

“I swear, you’re meaner than a snake some times, little girl.”  Dad complains, but I can see the laughter in his gold-brown eyes that are identical to mine.  “You bout ready?  I’ll walk you over to Mama’s.”

Luckily for me, Grand mere lives right across the street.  Whenever I needed her, she was never that far away.  As Dad opens the door to her house, the smell of her cooking immediately steps out to greet us as warmly as grand mere.  

She still lives in the same house that dad grew up in and we moved in across the street when I was just a baby.  Her house and decor has been seriously upgraded over the years though.  You see grand mere was a woman of color ahead of her time.  While my grandfather was a fisherman and shrimper, grand mere also had the entrepreneurial spirit, owning her own down home N’awlins style food restaurant.  Tourists would come from miles and mile to pig out on grand mere’s cooking. 

A few years after grandpa passed, a big corporation paid grand mere a pretty penny for her restaurant and her recipes for their own chain of restaurants.  Ever the shrewd businesswoman, grand mere made a ton of money off the deal, enough where she could retire early and still have money left over to take care of the next few generations of the Labouleaux family. 

“Mama, you sure have it smelling good in here.”  Dad says as he walks through the house to the kitchen.  The windows in the kitchen are fogged up because of the steaming pot she has on the stove.  Grand mere is at the sink, picking collard greens fresh from her garden.

My grand mere is pretty jazzy for an old chick.  She’s about my height at 5’ 5’ with a tiny waist and slender build.  She too is biracial, her dark hair now streaked with strands of grey and curled into spirals.  Her skin is a clear and flawless honey gold and she has the same golden eyes as me and dad, another Labouleaux trait. As always she’s wearing some of her colorful vintage jewelry, the type you see Liz Taylor wearing in those old movies.

“Thank you, cher.”  She tilts her head so she can accept Dad’s kiss on the cheek.  “Danielle, do your grand mere a favor and help me pick these greens.”

Obediently I follow her orders, washing my hands before separating the leafy greens from the stems and washing them.  Grand mere stirs the pot on the burner where she has a smoked turkey neck cooking for adding flavor to the greens.  She wraps the seasoned roast she has on the stove in foil before having dad put it in the oven.  As usual grand mere has been working her culinary wizardry in the kitchen.

“Isn’t this a lot of food for just you?”  Dad asks.

Grand mere smiles and pats his pot belly.  “Well you know I try to feed my son and his family every chance I get, cher.  I can’t have you starving to death.  You know that pretty little thing you married can’t cook to save her life.”

I smile to myself.  Grand mere has no malicious intent talking about my mom.  Her not being able to cook is a documented fact in our family.  Grand mere has tried to teach her to cook, but mom is just hopeless in the kitchen.  Training me in my paranormal abilities isn’t the only thing grand mere has taught me; I’m a mean cook. 

Dad leaves a few minutes later and grand mere walks him to the door.  I’m following grand mere’s orders, seasoning the greens and reducing the temperature of the big stainless steel pot. 

“What are we doing today, grand mere?”  I ask as she reenters the kitchen, taking off her apron.

“Consider today part of your training, child.”  She says cryptically.

We get in her sporty little Cadillac and head to the other side of town; the hood so to speak.  Grand mere pulls in front of nice little house that looks like it had been transplanted from a nicer neighborhood.  The two story house with the fresh coat of paint doesn’t seem to belong with the dilapidated housing on the block.

A Hispanic woman who looks to be in her mid-thirties is sitting on the porch in a white plastic chair.  On seeing grand mere she stands up, moving like she just lost a heavy weight bout.  Her eyes are red and by the balled up tissue in her hand she’s been crying.  Grand mere hugs her, whispers something in her ear and takes a set of keys from her hands.  The woman leaves and heads to a house next door and grand mere turns to me.

“What you are about to see is not like anything I’ve ever shown you before.  I don’t want you to be scared, cher.  But I want you to be prepared.  You understand?”  She says with a hand on my shoulder.

I nod dumbly, not quite sure what she means, but okay.  I’m game.

When I was a hard headed seven-year old, mom and dad forbade me from watching the movie Poltergeist.  I didn’t let their warning of the film being too scary bother me and I watched it anyway.  For weeks my immature seven year old brain was having day and nightmares about child eating trees and little girls stuck in the television. 

The scene grand mere and I encounter when we open the door to the house reminds so much of that movie.  It looks like a ghost is having a telekinetic temper tantrum.  Nearly every inanimate object in the room seems to have become animated and alive.  A kid’s collection of Hot Wheels cars have turned the wooden living room floor into their own personal race track and a Slinky moves down the staircase and back up again.  The living room chair is moving back and forth across the floor, while a pile of shattered porcelain lay on the floor.   Upstairs a voice calls for ‘Mama’ as if from the top of Mt. Everest, the voice echoing throughout the house.

“It’s okay.”  Grand mere assures me.  “He’s not going to hurt us.  He’s just scared and confused.”

As a butcher knife sails through the air, I silently hope grand mere is correct and whoever ‘he’ is he means us no harm.  

“Grand mere, what’s going on here?”  I finally get the courage to ask.

“Something bad, cher.  Something really bad.”  She says sadly.  “Are you ready to go into the spirit realm, Danielle?”

I nod my head and we sit together on the sofa, which thankfully hasn’t been brought to life.  She takes my wrist, her finger over my pulse.  We’ve done this before, her venturing into the realm first and me piggybacking on her ‘signal’ right behind her.  Grand mere is strong enough to slip into the spirit realm at will; I’m still learning so my gift requires a photograph to act as my bridge into the realm. 

I concentrate on her ‘signal ‘ and I get the chill that comes with entering the spiritual plane, that feels like someone dropping ice cubes down my back.  When I open my eyes again, we’re inside the house, but it’s not really the house, just a recreation of it.  As most times when I’m in the trance, there is no audio, so it’s important to pay attention to the minute details of the vision.  I’m standing beside grand mere and she silently nods to me; holding her right index finger is a little boy.

He’s probably about five and as cute as a speckled pup as grand mere would say, his big brown eyes looking at up at her.  In much the way I used to when I was his age, he’s tugging on her finger like he wants something.  He points up the wooden staircase; he something to show us. 

We follow our tour guide to what’s the doorway of an adult’s room.  Inside is another representation of our young chaperone and another child about the same age.  Grand mere and I watch the scene unfold as the boys are playing with action figures on the bed.  After a few minutes one of the boys grabs a chair and starts rummaging around the top of the closet.  I’m holding my breath as I see him pull down a shoebox. 

The two boys hover over their prize and pull the lid off the box; inside is a shiny handgun.  Grand mere and I watch the scene unfold, wishing we could change it, but there’s nothing that we can do.  Our little guide’s future is already set in stone.

The two boys toy with the gun, playing cops and robbers or army men, whatever little boys at that age play.  All too soon the gun goes off.  It’s surreal watching it happen with no sound, like watching a silent movie.  The gun muzzle flashes, the brief flare momentarily lighting the room like someone’s taking pictures.  One child drops the gun, his expression one of horror.  The other boy falls to the ground, a blossom of red slowly spreading all over his white tee shirt.  There’s red now all over the carpet, so much red. 

The woman who we saw on the porch is in the room now and I realize she’s the young boy’s mother.  She drops to her knees, cradling her son to her chest, rocking him back and forth.  Grand mere and I are still observing as the paramedics come, pronounce our little friend dead and take him away.  Even though I knew how his story ended, I still was hoping for a better ending.

We step away from the vision and the little boy is crying, still holding on to grand mere’s finger.  Grand mere takes him and wraps him in a hug like she used to when I was little.  She wipes his tears and I’m standing there at a loss, unsure what to do, feeling totally powerless.  This scene is beyond the scope of anything I’ve ever done as far as my gift.

A nearly blinding light opens in the spirit realm, right where the bedroom door should be.  Grand mere walks him to it, but doesn’t step thru it.  On her knees one more time, she rubs his head, kisses his cheeks and hugs him one more time.  I watch as the child walks into the light, looking at us one more time as an older Hispanic man with short grey hair and kindly brown eyes appears and takes his hand. I am instantly understanding this is his grandfather who passed before him. The older man smiles and then they are gone, evaporated in smoke. I feel a couple of tears drip down my cheeks.

My eyes open in my reality and all the movement in the house had ceased.  Things are back to normal or as normal as this broken family can get.

“You okay, cher?”  Grand mere asks as I shake my head, loosening the remnants of the startling scene I’ve just witnessed.  With my gift, I’ve seen death, but never one so young.

“I’m fine, grand mere.”   I say.

We head back outside where the mother is waiting, her eyes nearly overflowing with unshed tears.  Grand mere takes the mother into her arms and the woman breaks down.  My grandmother whispers words of sympathy and encouragement into her ears.  She tells the woman that her boy is finally at peace and she needs to stay strong and keep living.  After a few moments, the woman stands up, her teary eyes and red nose the aftermath of her broken heart.  With a final goodbye, grand mere heads back to her car, but not before promising to call and check up on the mother from time to time.

As we’re headed back home, grand mere tells me what was really going on in the house.  The little boy’s death was so sudden, that he’d been stuck in transition from this world into the next.  His spirit had been acting out, desperate to break through the spirit realm and get to his mother.  Grand mere had to step in and help him move into the afterlife, something she is hoping I will be able to do in the future. I may not she says, I may only be able to help them in their immediate issue but not actually open the door for them to move on. Either way grand mere says I have to heed whatever my gift allows me to do. She explains that just the act of righting a wrong may allow them to go to the afterlife on their own. Some come and go between the earth and the spirit realm several times at will just to have a wrong righted or give a warning at a particular time and place. She is also promised to teach me to discern which spirits really need help and which ones are just trying to get attention for attentions sake, otherwise she says I may go crazy with the visitations.

Coming home, we enter into her kitchen, the roast is now done and the house smells heavenly. It’s close to 2pm and Marcel and Julianna are heading from our house across the street. Mother of course looks perfect with her long brushed shiny black hair and yellow sundress, her sunglasses hiding her sparkly violet eyes. Dad is wearing his plaid dad shorts that come down to his knees and a white polo shirt. What a pair! He is holding her hand as they cross onto grand mere’s lawn. Ugh, now he’s kissing her. Grand mere is watching this hideous display of affection through her dining room window smiling at them. I stick my finger down my throat mocking the scene. Grand mere smacks me on the arm and warns me to behave. Dad opens the door and lets mother go through first. We are having an early dinner because apparently it’s the alien pods anniversary.  Dad settles into a chair in the kitchen after kissing grand mere on the cheek. Mother follows suit.

“Mama that smells wonderful, we about ready to eat?” Dad is patting his belly. “Where did you two go today?” He looks directly at me hoping to catch me flinch. I know his interrogation techniques and I’m prepared to put on my game face.

Grand mere answers. “Cher, we just went to the mall, why are you always so suspicious?”

Mother speaks up on his behalf. “Danielle did you tell your grandmother we caught you sneaking out at night twice this week?”  She’s boring holes in my head with her stare. I have to quickly defend myself.

“It’s not that big of a deal, I just had to give Amy her homework, she’s been out sick. I didn’t want to disturb you and dad fooling around on the couch.” Dad spits his sweet tea all over his shirt as I burst out laughing. Mother is hiding her face behind her hands.

“Danny!” Grand mere admonishes as she smacks me on the back of the head as I pass her to get plates. “Child, I swear you are going to be the death of me!” For the moment the subject of my escaping the prison is forgotten as we set the table for my parents anniversary dinner.

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Chicklit, Fiction, Indie Author, Multicultural, Murder, Paranormal, supernatural

Aiden Stone FBI Agent

Please enjoy another short story on our hero from The Body Hunters and The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied.

The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009X971ME/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_N6xQrb13R6TGQ …

The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CODG81Q/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_r7xQrb0RWBN1N … … the fun continues in the sequel.

The chorus of a thousand cicadas surrounding him, child predator Chester scrambled through the marshes of the Florida Everglades.  He was covered in swamp muck and the stink of his own fear, rivers of sweat pouring down his body. His heart jack hammered against his ribcage. Pushing through wild grass and reeds, the police bloodhounds howled at his back like the hounds of hell. He could feel the jaws of the law slowly closing in on him.

He wouldn’t be caught, he couldn’t. Chester may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he knew he could not let the authorities catch him. He knew what happened to men like him in prison. With his scrawny physique, there was no way he’d survive life in prison with muscle bound inmates with a penchant for taking their frustrations out on child killers.

Chester slipped into a grey puddle, while the FBI helicopter hovering over his head like a hawk lost track of him.  He nervously pulled himself out of the marsh as discreetly as possible, mindful of the gators that resided in the area.  He turned his head to his left to see the flashlights belonging to police and Feds getting closer.  Chester escaped down a path through the brush he’d been familiar with since he was an adolescent.  He smiled to himself as he eluded his pursuers.

FBI Special Agent Aiden Stone was separate from the pack of law enforcement agents, tracking his quarry on his own.  A walking mountain of solid muscle, Aiden was six foot four, his skin the color of damp Hawaiian sand, a compromise of his native Hawaiian father and his biracial mother’s heritage.  A grinning skull that symbolized his time with the Marines was tattooed on his right bicep. Ocean blue eyes inherited from his Irish maternal grandfather were wide and searching the area for the child murdering beast. Dressed in his Kevlar FBI vest, t-shirt and jeans, Aiden large hand clenched a plastic charm bracelet that belonged to Chester’s latest victim.

After the sixth child murder, two weeks ago by this particular serial killer, the FBI was called in to investigate. Tracking serial killers was Aiden’s specialty. Along with the usual detective skills required by the Bureau, Aiden was also blessed or cursed with another set of skills; he was a physical medium or psychic. By touching an object belonging to a victim, he was able to access the memories attached to the item.

Through his psychic forensics, Aiden was able to obtain evidence linking Chester to the brutal crimes. With a warrant, they entered Chester’s seedy apartment, finding all the evidence they needed to convict him, but before the suspect could be arrested he’d attempted to abduct another victim that very morning. Luckily the grade schooler knew all about ‘stranger danger’ and was able to get away. The incident sparked a county wide manhunt for Chester who’d vanished into the Everglades after a high speed chase.

Aiden kneeled, his black Timberland boots squishing the mud under his feet as he ran a hand over his close cropped hair.  Closing his eyes, he squeezed the bracelet a little tighter in his fist.  Like a television that needs an antenna, he saw static at first and then the picture in his head started to make sense, but still with interference.  He closed his eyes tighter, hoping that would make the image easier to decipher.

In the spirit realm, the place between life and death, Aiden opened his eyes.  What he sees is still grainy, but he’s able to see the original owner of the necklace; a seven year old girl with brown curls, still in her Disney Princess pajamas and bare feet, the charm bracelet on her wrist.  They’re standing in the Everglades and the little girl is pointing to a barely visible path and a triangular shaped boulder.  A small cabin can be seen in the distance.

He took me down there.” The child informed him.

Aiden nodded, looking down on the child. “I’ll take care of this.”

The little girl nodded her understanding and Aiden’s blue eyes snapped open in the real world.  The image of the path the little victim pointed out is burned into his memory.  In minutes, Aiden located the triangular boulder and headed down the path.

Chester has just reached his destination, nearly tumbling down the hill to the small shack where his rusty pickup truck is parked out front.  It would take the police hours to locate the ramshackle cabin where he takes his young victims and has his way with them before dumping their broken bodies in dumpsters or roadside ditches.  By the time the cabin was discovered he’d be well on his way to Mexico. He shoved open the door, ready to change into a clean set of clothes before making his escape.  The cabin contains ‘trophies’ from his young victims, connecting him to each of the child murders over the past five years.

While Chester was in the back of the cabin changing, Aiden stealthily entered the premises, his flashlight and Glock handgun aimed in front of him.  His flashlight falls on the ‘trophies’.  A toddler’s Crayola red tricycle, a pair of tiny patent leather shoes, a child’s backpack, and several other items belonging to victims are scattered throughout the large room.  Beside each item stands the ghostly, semi-transparent form of the corresponding victim.  Seven little victims filled the cabin for Aiden’s eyes only, including the owner of the charm bracelet who was standing directly behind him.

Pulling a relatively clean shirt over his red hair, Chester stopped in his tracks upon seeing the FBI agent in his hideout.  Aiden levels his Glock at Chester’s chest.

Aiden’s baritone voice echoed in the nearly empty cabin. “Chester Drummond, you are under arrest.  I want your hands on top of your head NOW!”

Chester’s eyes shifted from left to right as if considering his options.  He became skittish and antsy, like a cornered animal.  His eyes are aimed at the front door, his body poised to move.

Aiden didn’t miss a beat. “I said get your hands on top of your head!  On your knees NOW!”

Instead Chester screamed, leveling a large plank of wood at Aiden.

The ex-marine easily blocked the attack with a large forearm, putting the perverted killer on his back.  Aiden stood over the twisted killer, weighing the option of putting a bullet in his skull and ending things right here and sparing the taxpayers the cost of a trial. He was an FBI agent after all and he could make up any excuse he wanted as to why he had to shoot the suspect.

“Kill me. Please kill me!” Chester pleaded, his dirty grey eyes wide with fright as he looked up at Aiden.

Aiden had nephews and the things this animal did to innocent children sent chills down his spine. Leaning heavily on the side of vigilantism, Aiden considered pulling the trigger, but the appearance of Chester’s ghostly victims stayed his hand, the children were watching his every move. Sighing heavily, Aiden shouldered his Glock and slapped the cuffs on Chester.

As he was leaving the cabin with Chester in tow, FBI and police swarmed the area, having gotten the call from Aiden before he entered the premises.  Aiden escorted the predator to other agents who took him off to a Bureau issue Suburban. 

Aiden walked over to his superior officer.You may want the Crime Scene Unit to go over the cabin.  It looks like he has trophies from his other victims.”

The older man nodded. “The forensic team is en route.  Good job, Agent Stone.  How did you find him?”

Aiden shrugged “Just a hunch I guess.”

Looking back to the cabin, he saw the ethereal forms of the seven little victims, who quickly dissipated into the night.

 

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Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, Indie Author, Murder, mystery, Paranormal

Lucius Johnson

 This is a short story featuring one of our, supporting characters, Lucius Johnson, from The Body Hunters. In this story he’s 16 years old and not quite the uptight g-man he is in the book.  Enjoy!

“Lucian Tepes, the headmaster will see you now.” The pretty blonde secretary  sitting politely at her desk is waving me into his office. I know I’m  in trouble, I  have once again pissed off the headmaster and now I’m apprehensively  walking into his office where my uncle Miroslav waits.

 He goes by Mike  now since living in America.  I am surprised to see him and I know that I  must be in real trouble for him to fly all the way to England. He is pissed.  I have broken curfew and disappeared for 3 days. I’m not  telling them I was on a bender in Paris. My parents are dead and it falls to Uncle Mike to look after me. He has  wasted no time squirreling me away to boarding schools all  over Europe. Every time I get kicked out of one school he puts me in another.  He has the money to do so having made his fortune in paper  products in America. I don’t care about him or his money. He really  doesn’t want me around and I don’t want to be around him.

 A few minutes  later and I am packing my things under the watchful eye of the  headmaster and Uncle Mike. Kicked out of yet another boarding school.  I must be setting some type of world record.  With  my shoulder bag and suitcase I am led out the door to the waiting  oversized Black English taxi. This is not going to be a fun ride to  Heathrow.

Uncle Mike is staring me down, he starts to yell in Romanian at me, I yell  back at him to speak English; I refuse to speak my native language. He  gives me a stern look “OK.” he says. “If you want English then we will  speak English, but you boy, will listen and listen well if you know what is good for you.” 

The cabbie seems to be snickering at my predicament. I nod my agreement to my uncle and wait to hear what heavy handed  sentence he plans to lay down on me this time. Another boarding school?  Perhaps Switzerland this time? Maybe Germany? I have been to one in Italy and  two in England already. Why doesn’t he just take me to the States?  I am sure he is afraid I will really act out like the American teenagers he sees  on television.  My uncle is glaring at me, daring me to say something stupid. “You are going to get your wish.” He says to me. “I’m taking you to the U.S.”  I am ecstatic. Finally! 

“Military school?” I yell out and the whole plane turns to look at me. Uncle Mike is hushing me. “You can’t be serious!” I ignore his hushing and yell. In my imagination of what my American life will be, military school was not in the picture.

“You need the discipline.” Uncle Mike says  ignoring his own voice level. The female flight attendant sidles up to  our chairs and squats down asking us to please lower our voices. I see  several people staring at us. Her smile is false and she is giving us a  tone reserved for unruly children. I look away from her. Uncle Mike  reassures her we will be quiet and she leaves us alone. He doesn’t speak to me much after that and when he does, it’s in Romanian. I put the headphones into the armrest jack and  listen to music to ignore him. It’s going to be a long flight.

We arrive at LaGuardia, where my Aunt Helen and their young seven year old daughter Susan are waiting for us. Auntie as I call her is far happier  to see me as she kisses me hello and hugs me tightly. Susan eyes me  warily as if I have antennas on my head as she hides behind her mother  trying not to make eye contact with me. Auntie does most of the talking  on the way to their home in upstate New York. They live in a gated  community surrounded by wooded lands. I’m secretly planning my escape till I see my uncle reading my mind. He mentions something about my visa and  something called the I.N.S. I see it’s not going to be as easy as I  thought. My little cousin is in the back seat with me playing with some of her dolls she calls Barbie. Her sweet blue eyes look at  me suddenly as she asks “Are you going to be my new brother?”  My uncle practically runs the car off the road.

I smile sweetly at her and take hold of her hand. “We are cousins.” I  tell her. “Would you like me to be your big brother?” She nods yes and  fingers the ring on my right hand.

“I know this ring. Daddy has one just like it, but he doesn’t wear it.”  Her little fingers are running over the small ruby eyes of the dragon  head in the ring.

“Yes, I know, I got this from my father, your Uncle Josef. Do you know what  the dragon means?” I am talking really low to her, but not low enough it seems.

“That will be enough!” Uncle Mike barks out.

“She will find out eventually.” I snap back. My Auntie gives me a pleading look as my Uncle glares at me from the rear view mirror. 

“She may find out later, but not by you and not today! Do you understand?”

Susan has a confused look across her face. I tell her it’s just a dragon and that’s all.  My uncle is satisfied with my answer and my Auntie breathes a sigh of  relief. I pat little Susan on the cheek and she continues playing with  her dolls.

We reach the gated community and pull into the drive. The two story house  overpowers my sight as I try to take in its enormity. We enter into the  great hall and my Auntie ushers me into a room she has set up for me. I  am surprised to see how little furniture there is in such a big room;  just a dresser and a single bed. She shows me the closet that could  almost sleep a few more people and she puts my shoulder bag in it. She  sits at the edge of the bed and pats her hand on the mattress beckoning  me to sit next to her.

“Lucian, please while you are here, try not to anger your uncle.” She pleads. “He is not a patient man, you know this.”

“He hates me.” I say dryly. “And I really don’t know why.”

My auntie takes my hand. “Lucian, you know your father and he didn’t get  along and with all that mess in Romania, he just never expected to have  to take care of you. He blames your father for not looking out for his  family and leaving when he had the opportunity, choosing instead to  ignore his duties as a father and husband. He pushed his limits for what  he felt was his own righteous indignation with no thought to you or your mother. He sees in you the defiance  your father had. You just haven’t learned to channel it into something  productive.” Her eyes look weary and tired. “Please Lucian I can’t fight for you if you will not meet me half way.”

“He is sending me away again isn’t he?”

“Yes, he is, I tried to stop it. I begged him to just be a father to you. He  says it will end with you two killing each other. I’m not so sure he is  wrong.” She is now patting the back of my head. “You need a haircut.”  She laughs as she tugs at my locks. “Dinner will be soon, you may want  to freshen up. Lucian?”

“Yes Auntie?”

“Please remove that ring while you are here.” She touches my dragon ring.

“Why, is he ashamed of our family history?” I voice out angrily.

“Lucian, please for me.” I can’t say no to her kind eyes. I take it off and put it in my jeans pocket.

“Thank you.” She kisses me on the forehead before leaving my room.

After dinner Uncle Mike and I are in the living room by ourselves. On the  coffee table he has placed three brochures of military schools. “Pick  one.” He says. “I don’t care which one, just pick one.”

“What if I don’t choose?” I am pushing my luck and I know it. “What then?”

“I will pick for you, no matter what your aunt tells you, you are going to one of them. If you straighten out then maybe we will reevaluate your  situation, but you are sixteen Lucian.  You need to learn discipline and  to be a man.”

“I am a man!” I scream out.

He is screaming back. “You think you are a man, running away to Paris with some girl and being on a drunk for a few days?”

I am totally stunned. How could he have possibly known? I ask myself. “What if I run away?” I try to ask more calmly.

“You only have a  student visa. I will have it revoked and I will see to it you are  deported. So the choice is up to you.” His threat works. “You can take the  brochures to your room and give me your answer in the morning. Go now!” He waves me off with his hand and I decide I am too tired to fight with him.

I am trying to let this new reality sink in as I walk past my little  cousin’s room on the way to mine. The difference is stark. Hers is all  pink and purples, with stuffed animals everywhere. She is seated at a  small child’s table pouring imaginary tea into small cups talking to an  empty chair next to her. She catches my eye and invites me in.

“Lucian!” She joyfully leads me by the hand to the table. “Come meet Mr.  Vandermarliere, he lets me call him Mr. Van for short.”

I am staring at air. “Susan there is no one here. Is he your imaginary  friend?” A tea cup flies off the table and lands against the wall,  luckily it was plastic.

“You’ve made him mad Lucian.” She gets up and stamps her foot at me. “He is getting angry.”

I feel a chilling breeze pass by me. “I’m sorry, Susan, tell Mr. Van I meant no disrespect.”

She is talking to her friend and then looks back at me. “He says he wants  to know why you can’t see him; he knows you have a gift. What gift? I  didn’t see you bring in a present!” Susan is very confused now.

“It’s not that kind of gift.” I explain to her. “It’s like the same gift you  have to be able to see him and I don’t. Do your mom and dad know he is  here?”

“No.”  She says sheepishly as she looks at her feet. “You’re not going to tell are you? Daddy would be mad and send me away like you!”

I reassure her that no, I will not tell and they are not going to send  her away. Another tea cup smashes against the wall. “Please tell Mr. Van to stop throwing things or your parents will come up here and find out  what’s going on.”

“He says he wants to talk to you and you know how to do it.”  She playfully dances around my chair.

“He is right Susan, and if he promises to stop throwing things I will try. Can you describe him to me?”

“He is older than daddy and he wears a black suit with a black hat, he  calls it a fedora. That’s a funny name!”  She  sounds out the word. “feh door a.” She giggles as she continues “He has blood  down the side of his face.”  I am taken aback by  this. I have been taught that children can sometimes see spirits where  adults can’t. I wonder if my little cousin will end up with the same  gift I have.

“Tell Mr. Van I need something of his, did he live here at one time?”

“He did.” She tells me and runs to a knee wall in her room, she slides open the little door and brings me what I presume is Mr. Vandermarliere’s fedora. “Thank you Susan. Tell Mr. Van that I will try in my room. You must stay here, do you understand?” She nods yes and I leave her.

Back in my stark room, I close the door as I make sure no one else is in  earshot of me. I lie on the bed and hold Mr. Van’s fedora on my chest.  I’ve done this a few times now and I never know what is going to happen, but I know enough to be alone.

 Lights shimmer around me as I start to  get pictures, snapshots of Mr. Van. The images are in black and white at first. I am confused by this, but slowly they turn to color. They are  spinning faster like on a movie reel until I am in his presence and he is motioning to me follow him. I follow in earnest as I see we are in a  dark alley, the smell of garbage and old liquor bottles mixed in with  urine assault my nostrils. He points to a body and I kneel on one knee next to it. 

“Is it you?” I ask and he mutters what  sounds like a yes. He points to the fedora and motions me to remove it. I do. One gunshot to the head and half his skull is gone. I start to feel a little sick and walk over to the dumpster and puke. The maggots have  already invaded his head. He is standing next to me and is pointing to  the name on the dumpster. Salvatore Rubbish Removal. He is insistent I  pay attention to this name. He is now pointing to a balled up piece of  newspaper and I go to pick it up. The date shows January 7th 1962. This murder is over 30 yrs old. I feel overwhelmed as I have had  only three other experiences and they were nothing like this or even  this old. “I’ll see what I can do. I don’t have a lot of time you know  that, you know I am being sent away soon.” I explain to my dead  companion. He nods yes and puts his hand on my shoulder. I look back at  the body and see a card sticking out of the jacket pocket. Van’s Barbershop it reads and the address is  visible. I walk to the end of the alley and onto the sidewalk. We are  directly across from the barbershop. I look up and my companion is now  dressed in all white suit complete with an all white fedora, there is an otherworldly glow about him and he is smiling as he disappears. The  scene spins in front of me and I wake up with a start. My head pounding  and there is a little blood trail running from my nose.

“Buna dimineata, Lucian. Te-ai dormit bine?” My auntie Helen asks in Romanian.

“Good morning auntie and yes I did sleep well. Thank you.” I give her a kiss  on the cheek as I head over to little Susan who is eating her eggs. I  kneel down and whisper to her. “Did you see Mr. Van again this morning?” She nods yes and whispers back to me.

“He says thank you.” She kisses me on my nose and I give her a little  laugh. My uncle has entered the kitchen and sits at what I presume is  his usual seat at the table. He eyes me suspiciously as I get up from my knee and  away from little Susan. My auntie places a plate of eggs and sausage in  front of him and motions for me to sit opposite her as she puts a plate  in front of me as well. It smells delicious but the image of Mr. Van and the maggots is staying with me and I am a bit put off by it.

“Did you decide?” he asks dryly and my aunt holds her breath. I decide to look him straight in the face.

“Yes.”  I sit silent. My uncle is staring at me for a few seconds before throwing his hands up in the air.

“Would you like to share your decision with me?”  He is getting irritated and  my auntie kicks me under the table. For her sake I decide not to  continue poking the bear.

“The one in New Mexico.” I say no more to him. I picked that one because  according to the map of the United States, it would be the farthest away from him.

“Good, I will call and make the arrangements. In the mean time you will be  going to work for me and I will hear no argument about it.” He picks up  his news paper and hides behind it. The conversation is over.

I am in the study after breakfast with the phone book. I look up  Salvatore Rubbish Removal. It’s unbelievable as I see they are still in  business. The yellow pages ad says family owned since 1948. Dean  Salvatore proprietor and owner. I must sneak out to use a payphone. It’s a Saturday and uncle is home from his business, but he leaves to run errands. My auntie is busy cleaning. I press little Susan into helping me escape for a little while undetected. 

She shows me the basement and the large  windows that I can climb out of in the back of the house and I do. I  have no idea where I am but Susan tells me there is a payphone a few  blocks away at a little supermarket she remembered seeing when she goes there with her mother. She says she will pretend she is playing hide and seek with  me if her dad returns before I get back. I am beginning to feel real love for this child now. I scramble out the window and run like mad reaching the  party store out of breath. I only have minutes and I have re-gain my  composure. Drawing a deep breath I dial the 911 number and am patched  through to a police detective. I give him the information I know on Mr.  Vandermarliere and Dean Salvatore. I refuse to  give him my name. I hang up and run back to the basement window as my  uncle is pulling into the drive. I am sweating like mad. My sweet little cousin is waiting for me in the basement and leads me up the stairs and to a back staircase in this large house, it empties into the second  floor rooms. I hear Uncle Mike talking to my aunt as I quickly dip off  into my room and lay on the bed wiping sweat away from my forehead with  the sheets. Uncle Mike is at my door.

“Get up off that bed boy! What now you are lazy? I have work for you to do.”

A few weeks later and we are at our usual breakfast seating arrangements, my arms are sore but getting stronger as my uncle now has me loading rolls of paper onto trucks for delivery all over the U.S. I am eating  my breakfast as my uncle unfolds his daily newspaper to hide behind and I see the secondary headline. Thirty year old murder solved. Dean  Salvatore charged in mob style killing. 

Apparently Mr. Salvatore was a  mobster before going legit and was demanding protection money from small businesses in the New York neighborhood where Mr. Van’s barbershop was. Mr. Vandermarliere, a Dutch  immigrant refused to pay and paid the ultimate price for not cooperating. The mob made an example out of him. The article said the murder investigation was given new life when detectives received an anonymous phone call.  I can’t help but smile.

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Author, biracial, cats, Chicklit, Chihuahua's, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, dogs, felines, Fiction, Guide Dogs, Indie Author, Labrador Retrievers, Labradors, Multicultural, Turkish Angoras, Uncategorized

Dogs by any other name….

Does my Labrador Retriever know that he is? do my Chihuahua’s know that they are just that?  At what point do we go from being proud of our culture and ethnicity to ethnocentrism? That we devalue all others and exclude people and other ways of life.

The line is fine and easily crossed. Those of us who are blessed enough to live in melting pot areas of the country like I am, that can find Arabic bakeries and Asian markets along with Polish and Italian meat markets, Soul food restaurants, Mexican restaurants, Indian food and everything in between (My taste buds should never get bored) have an opportunity to enjoy many cultures without ever having to get on a plane. Now you would think that with all these ethnicities I live in a utopia where everyone gets along. Yeah, no! I have heard phrases like ‘marry your own culture’ and witnessed people who will not talk to you because even though they are living in the land of a really humongous statue that says ‘Bring me your huddled masses’, huddle only with their own. Birds of a feather…….

My Labrador is yellow and weighs 80 pounds. He is a retired Guide Dog for the Blind. He is smart, playful and loves to…you guessed it….retrieve. He still tries to Guide on occasion forgetting that he is retired and I am not blind. So I wonder what is his culture? Guiding was taught to him so that is not part of his culture, that was his job. Maybe  retrieving, killing and destroying toys is part of his true culture. (hover your mouse over the pictures)

brooks (2)

Brooks the ex-Guide dog toy destroyer

My Chihuahua’s were there first and Brooks had to adjust to their way of life, much like the Chi’s had to adjust to feline culture when they arrived. The Turkish Angora’s (Yes we are a multiracial feline/canine household) showed the then 1lb puppies the ropes and how things were done in their feline Arab American household. They grew up speaking cat and had an overwhelming love of them even though cat was not in their DNA.

Cat culture

Cat culture

Brooks never got a chance to learn the ancient and honorable feline culture from the elder statesmen of the feline tribe since all the cats have passed on, but the Chi’s have done their best to educate and depart the time-honored feline knowledge and culture of their feline Arab American brothers and sisters to him. Sleeping anywhere he pleases is one of his favorite adopted cat culture activities he’s learned.

Now Chihuahua’s it’s been rumored are not descendants of wolves but from Fennec foxes from Mexico. An interesting theory because that would mean over the many years Chihuahua’s have been human’s pocket companions we have been forcing a domestic canine culture and silly clothes on a native desert animal. Sound familiar in human history? Do my Chi’s tolerate domesticated wolf culture, sparkly shirts that say grrrl power or tuxedo t-shirts for the boy Chi, or do they pine for the desert life of their ancestral homeland? That would explain the burrowing in blankets and sunning themselves in 90 degree temps while their much larger canine companion enjoys air conditioning. Labs are after all from Newfoundland not as the name might imply Labrador, where colder temps are normal.

bindi cheech

Psst! We’re actually foxes!

fennec fox 2

Yo no soy un perro! (I am not a dog!)

My 4 legged household companions can teach us all a lesson in diversity and getting along. Enjoying and learning from each other’s differences and recognizing that we all share in one universal culture, human culture. We all want ultimately the same things, family, faith, love, a nice place to live and enough to eat, a bright future for our children and to be able to carry on our legacy through them, plus small dogs to dress up. Be proud of who you are and the heritage you came from, take the positive lessons of your ancestors and the good things of your culture and move them forward, share them with others and enjoy the diversity and history of another. Mix it up a little, I’m a firm believer in once you learn about it, you end up respecting it and your world is a richer place for it.

Then again maybe I’m being Pollyanna. (an excessively or blindly optimistic person.)

Part of Chihuahua culture is staring, giving off subliminal messages till you give up the coveted object. Something they learned from their feline Arab American upbringing.

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