Shorts & Snippets

Everyone loves getting a little extra stuff. I know I do. I thought it would be nice to add a tad more here. Like maybe a cool picture, an excert from a WIP, or just an interesting article. If you have any ideas of what you'd like to find, let me know.

Disguarded beginning scene of MOHD. Some critique partners thought is started out too slow so I cut this out. But couldn't bear to part with it because is sets up the whole chain of events. NEVER toss out your work. Save it. You can use it for something. : )

Leslie Stone reached into the back of the closet for her black sandals and tossed them into the box. She blew the bangs from her eyes before resting back on her heels as her mom, Deloris, entered the bedroom.
“Can’t you at least wait until the end of the week?” Mom asked as she sat on the edge of the canopy bed. Never idle for long, Mom grabbed the quilt and smoothed it into place.
The striped comforter had been a gift, hand-sewn by her aunt Martha long ago. In fact, the entire room had been decorated for a much younger girl. One who believed in fairy tales.
Years ago Leslie bought into the whole happy-ever-after until recently. And then she discovered Prince Charming was a jerk.
“I can’t wait for the weekend. I’ve got to get out of here. Now.”
She had tried to ignore the whispered phone conversations, cut off whenever she entered a room. Mom naturally kept aunt Martha informed whether the wedding was on or off again. Leslie blinked back tears. All the sympathetic glances and unspoken questions were making her crazy. And this up-coming weekend was the day when the wedding should have taken place.
“I’m bound to run into someone and have to explain why I ditched TR’s most eligible bachelor.”
Her mom picked up the rag-doll nestled between the pillows. Mr. Jingles grinned across the room with his ever ready smile. He’d been Leslie’s companion for over twenty years.
A tall stack of wedding gifts decorated with ribbons and bows balanced against one wall. “When I get back, I’ll focus on returning these.”
“I know this is difficult. But I hate to think of you by yourself, especially now. If you insist on going alone, at least take Mr. Jingles with you.” Her mother stood up and hugged the doll to her chest. “I know for a fact he’s a good man,” she said and tucked the doll beneath Leslie’s arm.
“You want me to take a doll?” Leslie held the rag doll in one hand while she hoisted up her leather shoulder bag with the other, then lifted the box of stuff she’d packed for the weekend.
“Shhh, he’ll hear you. Besides, he’s not just a doll. Mr. Jingles is special. Maybe he can find the man of your dreams.”
As Leslie crossed the room, her shoes snagged the carpet like tromping on fly paper. And I need this man, why?
Mr. Jingle’s dark curly hair and flannel shirt poked from beneath the curve of her elbow. The bell on his foot jingled as she hurried from the room.
Her mom followed behind scooping up clothes off the floor as they fell from the bag gaped open at Leslie’s side. “I know you’ll be careful.” She held out a skimpy tank-top. “And promise you’ll only wear this to bed.”
Leslie bit off the words stuck in her mouth as heat flushed her cheeks. Her throat tightened. How old did she have to be before her parents realized she wasn’t a kid anymore? Not that they’d noticed, but she’d grown breasts and had a job. And would have been married in three days. this is the scene where Leslie is thinking of riding the mechanical bull. She really needs to win some money to pay to fix her car. She gets all the encouragment she needs from Sally, a new friend she's just met in the bar.

Leslie grabbed the Miller’s bottle in front of her. If she was going to go through with this, she needed all the fuel she could get.
“How do you go about entering this contest?”
“There’s a clip-board at the end of the bar with a sign-up sheet. Reba, that’s Rowdy’s wife, takes down all the names. When she feels there are enough contestants for a good show, the fun starts.”
Leslie finished her beer and contemplated signing up. Judging from the small crowd, there wouldn’t be too many people watching.
“Are you going to sign up?”
“Sure. It’s the only action I get these days. I can get a hot, sweaty ride, stiff and sore on the back of that mechanical machine without the tiniest feeling of guilt. For a few minutes nothing else matters ‘cept holding on. Just me and Old Iron.”
“Old Iron?”
Sally grinned. “That hunk of steel mounted over there, slicked up and hammered smooth, was once a rusted piece of scrap iron left over the Harvey’s Ferris wheel.” Sally’s face beamed. “Impressive, huh?”
“I’ll say.” Leslie strained to get a better look at the large metal bull bolted to the floor in the next room.
“The guy who made it, Jay, has been with Harvey since forever. Rumor is he was an orphan, abandoned by his show girl mother. Could even be the old man’s son. Before Harvey got old and stooped, he might have been a real looker, who knows. Jay certainly is, although I’ve yet to see him actually with anyone yet. Maybe he’s hiding out or something.”
So what if Jay wanted to ignore the devil sitting on his shoulder? Wasn’t that exactly what Leslie wanted? Escape? Total freedom from the pressures of her co-workers, family and high expectations of the rest of the world?
Sally was the best dose of medicine Leslie had come across. Normally, she’d have called Gina first thing and the two would have hashed over all Kevin’s short-comings. As it were, right now, the biggest regret she had regarding her breakup with Kevin was losing her best friend.
Leslie ordered another beer. Her pulse raced the more she thought about riding Old Iron. She had promised herself to become more assertive, to do daring things just for the sheer fun of doing it. There had been too little joy in her life lately. And although a couple of minutes couldn’t exactly change anything, it was a start. Besides, the money certainly would come in handy.
Provided she won.
* * *

Over a basket of fries, Leslie discovered how funny Sally was and that she had problems of her own. Namely, a husband, Will Cooper, who’d ridden off eleven months ago. He’d left her in a trailer park on the edge of town with an eighty year old mother-in-law.
“Do you have any idea where he went? I mean, why would he just pull out like that and not call? Or send money?”
“Ha! That’d be the day. I’d probably die of a heart attack if I got a wet one.”
“A wet what?”
“A letter with cash in it. The main reason he left this shit-hole was because of money. Mainly, he didn’t have any.”

The bar had started to fill and around eight thirty most of the group moved to the tables in the adjoining room. A muscled-up brunette named Janet would be the first contestant. Leslie watched with interest the way the woman swaggered across the platform. Her wrangler jeans looked as if they’d been painted on, and her faded blue tee-shirt had been cut up and down the middle ending just between her breasts.
Anchored on the center of a ply-wood platform with steel bolts sat Old Iron, bales of hay scattered across the floor. She grabbed the leather strap and toned biceps flexed as she pulled herself into the saddle.
“Come on, Janet!” One guy yelled, and then banged his fist on the table. “Let’r rip!” An ear piercing whistle and music from the jukebox blared.
The whole arena lit up under a spotlight. Rowdy wore a Texas size grin as he moved the controls on a small box making the bull turn super slow, its back rising upward. Janet drew back on her heels, one arm over her head and struck a pose of a pro.
Her hand was wrapped tight around the leather reins and her other high in the air. “Turn it up, Rowdy!” she yelled.
Sally leaned over and whispered, “Watch the way she’s choking the apple. Not nearly as professional as she claims.”
“What apple?”
“The saddle horn. Sometimes called an apple. Same thing. To me, it’s just a knob.” She grinned. “And you know what to do with those.”
Leslie nodded, her gaze locked on the rider. Janet turned with the beast as Rowdy rotated Old Iron around slowly. Then, he cranked it up. The bull made a complete circle with short dips and lunges.
The bull sped up. Janet looked like a rag doll trying to stay on the back of Old Iron. Her Stetson flew off and landed across the room near the flashing lights. Her butt slid out of the saddle and she hung haphazardly on her belly, her hands wrapped around the neck. Despite the spinning and jerking, which Rowdy had slowed considerably, Janet stayed on a few seconds more before being tossed onto the scattered hay. The crowd applauded her effort and whistles echoed around the room as Janet limped back to her table.
She’d managed to ride six seconds.
Leslie swallowed a knot the size of a boiled egg in her throat. It seemed much longer. She was pretty sure Janet thought so too.
“Come on, I got an idea.” Sally pulled Leslie off the bar stool and through the maze of tables.
“Where we going?”
“To the bathroom for some serious transformation.”
The tiny bathroom at the corner of the bar was lit by one yellow bulb that dangled from the ceiling and cast a dim hue upon an old porcelain sink. A rusty hard-water trail stained the bowl and the only remaining faucet was the cold. Paper towels littered the floor, wet and blackened from being trampled underfoot. “Transformation huh? What are you going to do, clean the bathroom?”
Sally ignored her, pushing open one stall door after another to make sure they were empty. “No. Although from the looks of it, somebody should.” She plopped down a purse big enough to be an overnight bag on the small stainless-steel ledge above the sink.
“You got nice features but no one can see them in the dark.” She took out a handful of cosmetics. “Pucker up,” she said, rolling up a tube of cherry red lipstick. “Let’s show off that pretty mouth.”
Leslie blinked, grounded in place. Sally meant to transform her. Normally, Leslie wore little or no makeup, preferring to go natural. She’d always been told her skin was nice, that her eyes and the set of her chin resembled Grace Kelly. “This isn’t Vegas, you know. I’m not on stage or anything.”
“Honey, in this life we’re always on stage in one way or another. People look at you and immediately start judging. You gotta be ready.”
Sally puckered her mouth intending Leslie to mimic and came at her with the tube. A loud whoop from the other room echoed. “Hurry up. It sounds like the crowd is really into whoever’s riding now.” The tube glided across Leslie’s lips and tasted fruity, the smell, highly intoxicating.
“Taste tart.”
“You’re not supposed to eat it. Now, be still,” Sally said and dotted each cheek before rubbing it in with her thumb.
She opened the mascara and stroked the ends of Leslie’s already long lashes making them stand out dramatically. Last, she swatted Leslie’s nose with face powder, hitting all the shiny spots. “Let’s see. You need something for your costume.”
“Um… I’m only wearing two things, my shirt and my shorts. Not much you can do with that.”
“Watch me,” she said and grabbed the hem of Leslie’s blouse. “We just have to improvise,” she said and yanked the bottom of the tee-shirt up then tucked it beneath Leslie’s bra.
Sally narrowed her eyes as she glanced around the room. Leslie feared this crazy woman would start unraveling the toilet paper any minute.
The curtain shimmered against the slight rustle of breeze coming through the open window. A silvery blue silk panel sparkled beneath the glowing light. “Nice color.” Sally pulled it down. “This will look great with your pink shirt.”
“I can’t wear that out there. What would Rowdy say? I doubt he’d appreciate me sporting around his bathroom curtain.”
“He won’t even miss it,” Sally said, intent on threading the shimmery fabric beneath the belt loops on Leslie’s shorts. “Besides, someone’s already made off with the other one.” Sally weaved the material around the waistband leaving a pirate-style tail hanging off at the hip. It fell in a wave against Leslie’s thigh. Sally stepped back and grinned. “Perfect.”
The noise from the other room grew louder. Sally grabbed Leslie’s hand. “Come on. Sounds like they’re getting antsy.”
Reba met them on their way out of the bathroom. “Hurry up, ladies. We need a rider.”
“You ready?” Sally asked.
Leslie’s eyes got wide. “But, I thought you were next. You signed up before me.”
“I X’d out. You need the money so you can fix your car.” She pushed Leslie out onto the floor. “Give it to ‘em, Les. And don’t forget, it ain’t so much the staying on time that makes for a good one. These guys want to see something interesting. Something hot.”

This is a snippet from my completed novel titled, Man of her Dreams.

Jay has just discovered his long lost mother, Madame Luella. She ran out on him when he was a boy.

Jay wiped the moisture on the glass, the beads of condensation wetting his hands. He needed to get a grip before going home. The Bull Pen might not be the best choice, but at least he wasn’t alone.
Regardless how many years he spent putting the past behind him, nothing had really changed. Seeing Luella brought it all full-circle. Her appearance, the hot-pink camper, right down to the phony crystal ball she kept on the table, all verified everything was still the same. He was still the same. Like a stupid mutt, he’d only been chasing his tail.
Foolishly, he’d hoped if he put enough distance and time behind him, worked hard and lived right, he’d be able to look himself in the mirror and not see the ugliness of his past.
Tonight, he realized that would never happen. Nothing could change who he was or where he’d come from.
The man picked his trousers off the floor while Luella staggered into the bathroom. Jay sat at the table and gulped down his cereal, hoping the guy would leave before Sonny arrived. The two always rode their bikes to school together.
Jay needed to ask his mom for lunch money. If she didn’t come out of the bathroom soon, he’d be late. Jay tapped on the door. “Mom,” he said. “I need money for lunch.”
Luella cracked the door and poked her head out. “Steve, give the kid some money, will you? I’ll pay you back later.” She smiled, “with interest.” The dark smudges of last night’s makeup gave her a ghoulish appearance.
“Forget it,” Jay said, and attempted to pass Steve in the cramped hallway. “I don’t want his money. I’d rather starve than have you owe him anything.”
The bathroom door had already closed and he could hear her vomiting. His chest hurt and he needed clean air, the sour stench seeping into the hall.
Steve held out a five dollar bill. “Take it kid. You want to grow up to be big and strong, don’t ya? He swayed and leaned hard against the thin paneled wall.
“Forget it,” Jay said, and started to slide past the guy.
Steve grabbed the back of Jay’s shirt. “What’s your problem? Here I am trying to be nice to you. Let me tell you something, kid. You should be happy with five dollars. It’s more than she’s worth. I could buy your mother, hell; I could buy your whole fucking family with the change I’ve got in my pocket! What’d you think of that Mr. High and fucking mighty?”
The material of Jay’s shirt stretched and he squirmed out of the shirt and broke free. His footsteps pounded the floor as he raced through the kitchen and out the door. “Worthless piece of shit!” the man’s angry words followed him and still rang in his head long after the school bell.

Jay crushed the ice between his teeth fighting the urge to slump against the bar. His throat burned. It wasn’t that he felt sorry for himself. Hell no. He rubbed his eyes and lowered his head into his hand. It was just that life could be such a bitch.

Secondary characters, Dottie and Earl, are experiencing a bit of insecurities.

Read what happens below when Earl receives a strange text message.

Earl looked at the cell phone in his hand and waited for a message. Nothing. What’d he expect? No one knew his number or that he even owned a damned cell phone. He’d purchased it on a whim. One of those pay as you go deals, an attempt to impress Dot who constantly complained how behind the time they were. She proudly waved hers and tried to convince him how efficient a cell phone could be. ‘I could call you if there was an emergency or something.’
“That’s what 9-1-1 is for,” he answered, which earned him a growl. He put the thing up to his ear. Convenient. Yeah, right. Could be…if anyone ever answered the damned thing.
A young woman in the produce section had shown him how to send a text message and even did it for him, her fingers flying over the keys. In just a few seconds he had sent a message asking Dot if she wanted anything special from the store.
Finally the little gadget dinged. One new message. He pressed the button and read the screen.

He punched in an answer. Yes. Name it.
Dot had been unsettled lately. Especially after their daughter had come home engaged. Earl pretended not to notice how often Dottie got up during the night, or the fact she rarely laughed. These days, she cleaned excessively, like she was purposely trying to tire herself out.
Secretly, he’d been looking forward to the day all their kids were gone. He loved them. Of course, he did. But damn it, he’d pulled his time. Had years of little league and school pageants. Now that Ben was leaving for college, Earl hoped they could have a little more freedom. Do the stuff they’d put off while being a responsible adult.
If only he could get Dot to see that. She’d been the perfect wife and mother. And he loved her for it. He wouldn’t trade his life or family for anything. Still…there had been a time when they almost didn’t get together. A time when Dot was not so… well, perfect. Hard to imagine, but in the beginning winning her attention required a challenge. His heart sped up just thinking about it. She never failed to surprise him.
He wanted that back. That spark they’d known in the early days.
The phone dinged again and small block of text came up. Hot, steamy sex on a blanket on the ground…or in the backseat of a 65 Chevy Impala or somewhere high in the sky with only the clouds to cover our nudity.
Earl stumbled and accidently rear-ended his cart into the back of an old woman. “Excuse me. I’m terribly sorry.” He pulled his buggy off to the side of the aisle, out of the way of serious shoppers with their coupons and read the message again, slower this time. What did she say…?
The gray-haired woman huffed past reeking so strong of Bengay, his eyes watered. She rolled her cart around the Idaho potatoes and Vidalia sweet onions, her nose flipped in the air. He blushed and buried his phone to his chest. Once the woman was a safe distance away, Earl scrolled through the message again. Nowhere did it mention milk, bread or bologna. Just the words SEX…SEX…SEX…SEX repeated so many times he powered it off, afraid any minute smoke would start rolling from the screen.
Something was definitely up with Dot. And he looked forward to finding out what.

In the meantime, while I'm scouring the lost & found, here's a really old, and I do mean old, story that I wrote. It was fun to write. I'm coming to suspect that I have a thing for birds.

I hope you enjoy it.

The Wings Of Love

San Antonio, Texas 1962

Emily rolled her wheelchair down the newly constructed ramp and out into the yard where she parked beneath a shady old oak, then reached into the bag of birdseed resting on her lap and scattered a handful on the ground.

“Emily, telephone,” her mother shouted through a raised window. “It’s Lawrence. Hurry up, he’s not going to wait forever.”

“Not likely,” Emily whispered. She and Lawrence were engaged to be married. Should have been married by now, she reminded herself.

As she attempted to steer the cumbersome wheels through the doorway, flakes of paint fell to the floor. “I don’t know why I’ve got such a wide chair, my butt’s not that big…yet.”

“Shhhh,” her mother said. “Don’t let him hear you talk that way. This is all just temporary. Now hurry, please,” she moved her lips in a silent jester.

Heat bubbled in Emily’s throat and tears blurred her vision, paused in mid-stream and allowed herself a few seconds to get a grip on her emotions. These last few months it seemed the tiniest thing could make her cry. Slowly she approached the glossy table, drew a deep breath and lifted the receiver to her ear.

“Hello, Lawrence,” she said, wondering if he called to cancel dinner again. Most likely he would cancel their usual Saturday night dinner date. It seemed to happen more often as not. They hadn’t actually went anywhere in two months. And when they did go out, it was to some out of the way, back street restaurant. And not a chance of seeing any familiar faces. Emily pretended not to notice and be appreciative with the effort he’d taken. Like today. At least he called, right? “How are you? Where are you?”

“At the airport, uh…I’m getting ready to fly to Houston. You remember that position I told you about, the one at Harris County? The director called. He wants me to interview for the job.”

The line buzzed during the brief pause. “You remember, right?”

“Of course I remember. I just wasn’t sure…that’s wonderful. I’m glad you decided to go.”
“It was your insisting that finally convinced me.”
“Right. I’m glad to know you’re listening.”
As he rambled on, the excitement carried across the wire and she bit down on her bottom lip. Lawrence babbled on about the opportunity it meant and with each plea, her heart sank. “Good luck,” she said and hung up the phone.

“Well? What’d he say?” Her mother stepped aside as Emily attempted to roll through the doorway. “Em? He’s not upset is he?”

“You’ll have to ask him that, when and if he ever returns from Houston.”

The crash that almost took her life did so now, in a slow, agonizing parody of living. Unable to stand the confinement or her mother’s sorrowful stare, Emily retreated outdoors once again to watch the birds.

The sun beat down, and she wiped at the moisture around her neck. Her gaze landed on the walk where a pigeon balanced awkwardly. Emily noticed a piece of paper tied with a red band around its leg. She picked up the bird, cradling it on her lap and unfolded the paper.

‘GREETINGS FROM ALCATRAZ’ please reply with date, location and name. Inmate-#1103.

“Wow! My goodness, that’s quite a trip.” The downy soft creature nestled in the palm of her hand. Carefully, she rolled across the walk and placed the bird in a wooden flower box hanging on the side of the garage. The bird rested a couple of days and was soon eager to be off. Emily tied a returning note to his leg, but doubted she’d ever see the bird again. At any rate, he carried her name and address.

Several weeks passed before a letter arrived in the mail postmarked Alcatraz, Calif. Her hands trembled as opened the envelope.

‘Dear Miss Emily,
San Antonio, Texas! I looked up your state in our library director. The home of the Alamo, imagine that! I’ve learned of the brave men such as Davy Crockett and Col James Bowie. I try to picture the stony ground, the dry and dusty graves of great men which mark the history of San Antonio.

I’m spending life in this prison they call the Rock. It’s not so bad. Through the help of my birds and people like you, I am able to visit many different places and for awhile…be free.
Sincerely, Robert

In the months to come Robert shared interesting stories about his life on the Rock, and of his many colorful inmates; men her mother would never dream existed. Men like Al Capone and George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly.

‘Dear Miss Emily,
I have been on this island now for fourteen years. Most of those years have been spent in an area called D block. Yesterday I received a letter from Carson City, Nevada. It contained a silver nugget, which I am forwarding to you. I was thrilled as you can imagine. And yet none of the letters have come to mean as much to mean as the ones I receive from you.
Yours truly,

Emily felt compelled to speak freely about her feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. She told him how she lacked the nerve to stand up to her mother and choose her own destiny.

Dear Robert,
I am glad you continue to send the birds, how I love greeting them. Thank you for the silver nugget. I had it mounted on a chain and wear it around my neck.
Always, Emily
Emily named the birds. There was Al, and Gunner, and a smaller pale one she named Whitey. But her favorite was the handsome gray dove she called Birdie, after the Birdman himself.

Emily discovered a feeling of contentment, an acceptance of who she was and it felt good. She hadn’t heard from Lawrence in several months. Perhaps it was time she wrote to him as well and released him from his commitment.

Until fate stepped in once more.

Dearest Emily,
I have just returned from the infirmary. The very thing that has given my life meaning has come to an end. I'm being transferred to a medical facility in Springfield, Mo. I can’t say that I will be able to continue writing, though nothing pains me more.
I shall remain yours eternally,
That was the last letter Emily ever received.

It was a cold and dreary November day when Emily rolled her chair smoothly down the ramp, and stopped next to the pond. She drew her sweater tightly around her and gazed off toward the cloudy, gray skies.

Her mother called, “Come in, dear. They’re swearing in Mr. Johnson.” The screen door slapped shut as she darted back into the house.

But Emily’s eyes were on the horizon, far in the distance and the tiny specks, growing larger as they drew nearer, wings flapping, their shrill calls piercing the air. Emily recognized Al and Gunner, along with many others she had come to know.

She knew without a doubt her Birdman was dead. No longer held captive by the confining bars that made up Alcatraz, his spirit alive and soaring on the wings of many. Emily reached into the bag of birdseed and began to liberally sprinkle the ground. She would care for the birds, and like him, she would find contentment in whatever lie before her. And experience life on the wings of love.

Her wheels rolled across the newspaper lying in the grass where it had been tossed only that morning. The bold headline proclaimed a nation’s grief at the death of its leader. Millions joined together in disbelief and sorrow. Scrawled in a section near the bottom read the death announcement, Birdman of Alcatraz, the reporter claimed…free at last.