Thursday, November 16, 2017

Johnny Liu Loves Cindy Sue

The piece of flash fiction I’ve written for today is a bit longer than usual. Enjoy:

*****
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
JOHNNY LIU LOVES CINDY SUE
By Don Travis

Johnny Liu
Loves Cindy Sue
And Cindy Sue
Loves him, too.


          John Raymond Liu remembered the day he carved that sentiment into a bald spot on the old oak. Providence, itself, must have cleared the rough bark from that particular spot precisely big enough for a signpost to hold his proclamation, their juvenile whims. Dreams.
          He pulled his Burberry cashmere overcoat tighter around his stocky frame before removing one suede glove to touch the weathered lettering with a bare forefinger. A sensation fully as sharp and tingling as when he’d first taken his Swiss Army knife to the tree some forty-odd years ago surged through him. His heart soared like a nestling eagle taking to the air for the first time to kiss soft-faced clouds and ride brilliant sunbeams before crashing to ground, as if he’d missed his landing.
          Uncharacteristically weak, John leaned against the trunk and let his cheek warm the letters forming her name. Cindy Sue. A tear leaked out of one eye, making him glad he’d left his driver in town and maneuvered the Mercedes Maybach the eight miles to the old Lintner farm himself.
          Fighting the emptiness of grief and the roiling of misery, he slipped to the ground with his back against the bole—caring not a whit that the left leg of his Balenciago suit pants rested in a small puddle of mud—and allowed his mind to wander back as he sought to recapture their youth, their love…their essence.


          He met her when they were both fifteen at a school-sponsored sock hop. He’d been aware of her ever since his family moved to this small farm town, but as the only Orientals in the county—in the state, for all he knew—they were outsiders. Personally confident but socially shy, he’d never mustered the courage to speak to her or cultivate a friendship. Mary Sue Lintner belonged to what amounted to aristocracy in Okartex, Oklahoma, someone beyond his station. Yet whenever he was in class with her, he went to extra lengths to demonstrate his mental acuity, thereby raising the grade point average and driving the football jocks crazy. He taxed his lungs to the maximum by straining to excel in races—fifty and hundred-yard dashes, the only sports activity he indulged—when she was in the crowd of spectators.
          At that dance—the dance—he’d shucked his penny loafers along with everyone else before walking onto the gymnasium floor. He’d worn his best socks, thick and furry, so as not to embarrass himself, but he noticed many had worn heels, some with threadbare patches little more than outright holes. An occasional toe poked out here and there. Perhaps he should have dug out a pair of worn socks so as not to remind everyone that the Lius were among the few affluent families in town. The Palace Cleaners and Self-Service Laundromat thrived while others lagged.
         The hop was halfway over, and he hadn’t screwed up the nerve to ask a single girl to dance, when he beheld this blonde vision standing in front of him. Mary Sue Lindner. Beauty personified. The Goddess of Purity and Femininity in human form.
          John’s blood stirred to the beat of ethereal music as he recalled that dance. She molded to him, unafraid that his race, his yellowness, would rub off on her. They moved, hesitantly at first, and then with rhythm and purpose. She whispered in his ear, asking questions, exhibiting curiosity… no interest in him. The vinyl recording of Danny and the Juniors singing "At the Hop" sent other couples bouncing energetically, yet they moved slowly, intimately.
          Casual meetings followed that magic night. Then a date… sort of. He asked her to the annual Harvest Fair… along with several other kids. Then their first real date, to a movie where she’d marveled at stately homes called Tara and Twelve Oaks. He’d boldly promised to build her one someday and then nearly died of mortification at being so presumptuous. But she laughed and switched from an Oklahoma twang to a southern accent to say she’d hold him to that promise.
          Miracle of miracles, they’d stood against the town and their families, even against the prejudices of the time to become an item. A couple. Lovers. And eventually, bride and groom. His father had disinherited him for marrying outside his own race. Hers had done little better, simply cutting off communication for a period of years. But they’d persevered. He’d borrowed capital from an uncle in Taiwan and opened his own shop, spending hours every day seeing that all the clothing entrusted to his care was cleaned properly, snags repaired and buttons replaced gratuitously, going that extra mile to bind customers to him. He became so successful, he bought his father’s business and appropriated the honored title of Palace Cleaners as his own.
          They worked side-by-side for long hours, happy in success and comfortable in marriage. But it required more in order to keep his casual but sincere promise to build Cindy Sue her own Tara. He opened another shop in a nearby town. She handled the original; he, the new one. Two shops became three, and then four. Little Raymond came along, which took some of Cindy’s time away from the business. When Susan arrived, Cindy became a full-time mother.
          Even so, driven by an urge to keep youthful promises and to succeed at something in which he excelled, John opened new businesses, spending countless hours searching out competent, reliable managers and opening additional shops.
          One day, he paused to discover he was no longer Johnny and she wasn’t Cindy Sue. They were Mr. John Raymond Liu and Mrs. Cynthia Susan Lintner Liu. Shocked that the years had stolen by so swiftly, he took stock of his life and realized he’d never built Cindy Sue’s Tara. They had a nice, comfortable home, but it wasn’t a mansion. Other trappings of wealth were there—cars, beautiful clothes, golden and bejeweled trinkets, stocks and bonds stuffed in bank boxes—but there was no mansion.
          When he announced his intention to begin construction, she pulled him to her and kissed his cheek softly. “It’s been a good life, hasn’t it? This round-eyed white girl and her slant-eyed yellow boy made it work, didn’t we?”
          He laughed as she called up some of the vitriol they’d endured early in their union. “We made it work. It’s been wonderful. I just wish I’d spent more time with you and the children.”
          “Maybe you can do that now, instead of taking on a new project.”
          He frowned. “You mean instead of building your Tara?”
          She nodded and gave a faint smile. “I want you, not some brick and wood palace. There’s something I haven’t told you, John. I have this lump in my breast.”


          That had been a year ago. He’d immediately turned his business enterprises over to his son, now an adult with a family of his own, and belatedly devoted himself to his wife. The ensuing months had been almost equal parts euphoria and pain. Of loving and suffering. And then her strength gave out. Exhausted, she succumbed to the cancer that spread beyond the doctor’s capacity to control it. The unselfish part of him welcomed her freedom from pain and suffering, but the Johnny Liu of the old oak on the Lintner farm raged against her fate. Her funeral earlier that day drove him back to this spot where they’d first promised themselves to one another.
          How could he have believed that chasing a Tara was more important than spending time with his Cindy Sue?

*****

I sincerely hope you do not wake up one morning and discover yourself in Johnny’s Gucci loafers. In a sense, we all squander our youth and early adulthood… or so it seems from the second half of your life. At any rate, I wanted to acknowledge the fact that it happens, and perhaps give a caution to others.

Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting. If you feel like it, drop me a line at dontravis21@gmail.com.

Here are some buy links to City of Rocks, my most recent book.


See you next week.

Don


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Who Changed? Me or the Movies, A Repost

Courtesy of Commons Wikimedia
I am running a reprint this week and feel obligated to explain why. This past week, I joined the twentieth century…sort of. I gave up my treasured flip phone and purchased an iPhone 5 SE through Xfinity Mobile. (If you understand how long it took me to understand those last four words, you already know what I’m about to say.)

Never in my lifetime has the simple exchange of one telephone for another caused such pain and angst and loss of productive life. I’m inches away from finishing my next novel, Abaddon’s Locusts, but the entire project fell by the wayside with the acquisition of the iPhone. After one full week, I am able make telephone calls pretty much without error. I can text (something I was never able to master) with only a few kerflaws. Maybe review emails but not answer them.

Imagine my surprise when  I recently woke to the fact that it is approaching midnight on Wednesday night, and I haven’t prepared a post for my blog due Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. So… take refuge in a rerun, right?. The following continues the theme of my total ineptness.

*****
WHO CHANGED…ME OR THE MOVIES?

Unable to find anything of interest on television, I recently resorted watching old movies…
Courtesy of Commons Wikimedia
including three Thin Man flicks on the Turner Classic Movie Channel. I remembered them as marvels of sophisticated comedy based on Dashiell Hammett’s novel. I had always liked William Powell, and Myrna Loy was “Woman” for me when I was growing up.

To my amazement, I only managed to watch one complete film and about ten minutes of the other two before realizing that either someone had futzed around with these classics or else my idea of sophistication… not to mention comedy… had changed. Chasing around after an alcoholic drink no longer filled the bill. And the mystery seemed to solve itself when no one was watching… including William Powell.

However, the activity called up a memory from July 2004 when I was lying in the Albuquerque VA hospital recovering from the prior day’s exploratory Laparotomy, which is a fancy way of saying the surgeon ripped me open from stem to stern and yanked out 20 cms of my jujunium. The only thing I understood about the last part of that sentence was “20.” That’s simple enough, but what the hell is a jejunum? I never knew I had one, much less 20 cms of it. Was there anything left? Would they have to install some kind of pump to handle all my juju juice? But back to my suffering.

Pain-wracked and lethargic, I huddled on my bed imprisoned by raised and barred sides. A a myriad of needles pierced my right arm. One was for a saline drip, another was for something that escapes me, a third held a big gadget that let them take blood samples without sticking a big hypodermic needle in me every time some vampire got hungry and needed a sip of blood. The fourth one, in my opinion, was simply to piss me off.

To fully comprehend my situation, there are a couple of things you need to know about me. First, I am needle-phobic. Point a needle at me and my skin cells become so tense a nurse must make at least two... and more often three… tries before striking the desired vein. Add to that the fact that I have an extremely low tolerance for pain. By way of example, there have been times when I equated waste elimination with the pain of childbirth. My wife tried to disabuse me of that, but she had no idea of the agony I was enduring at the time.

And finally, there’s my relationship with blood. Blood is just fine when it stays where it’s supposed to be, snug in some vein or artery and properly covered by a thick layer of epidermis. I can remember people speculating on why veins (even the word makes me queasy) appear blue when they are filled with bl… uh, that red stuff. I never cared to learn the answer. Veins can choose any color they want so long as they remain leak-proof.

Of course, when it comes right down to it, blood isn’t as bad as needles or the pain of sutures or the other stuff because while I have an unpleasant moment or two upon its appearance, that is generally followed by a more or less instantaneous nap. And even if the sight of the thick, oozing stuff doesn’t render me totally unconscious, at the very least I’m in that never-never land where I don’t really give a crap.

Courtesy of Commons Wikimedia
But enough of that. Back to the experience I was about to reveal. A day or so after my life-threatening surgery, I was lying back in my bed bored to tears, suffering quietly and heroically with my blood safely coursing through its proper channels… when suddenly, something captured my attention. My total attention. A great big bubble of air detached itself from the saline bottle and plopped into my drip-line.

That’s where the old movies kicked in. How many times have we watched a sinister film character make his (it’s almost always a he) way into some sleeping innocent’s room to inject air into the patient’s IV and then sneak out without being seen? Shortly thereafter film pandemonium breaks out. An ominous screeching of monitors. A horrified nurse screaming as if she’d never seen a hospital emergency before. Raucous Codes Blue or Red or Dead.

Anyway, as I watched this humungous blob of air lazily make its way down the line, my initial reaction was calm curiosity. That didn’t last long. I was watching Death approach. I didn’t have time for calm. I sat up… which diverted me momentarily from my panic… and fumbled for the call button. Couldn’t find it. Should I yell and disturb the poor sap in the other bed? Jerk the needle out of my arm? Oh, crap no! That would hurt. So I calmed down and took matters into my own hands. I very deliberately flicked the hose to break up the bubble.

I succeeded. That ominous thing exploded into a thousand tiny fragments that wouldn’t harm a fly. I slumped back, weak but proud. I had done what the U. S. Army had taught me to do. Take decisive action. I clearly remembered from back then that every time I recovered from a swoon, I’d been able to staunch the flow of that strawberry colored stuff gushing from a splinter in the finger or a scrape on the knee.

Then I took another look at the IV. A funny thing was happening. As the cloud of tiny air pockets drifted down the line, they started to collect. Just a few at first. One joined with another to make a bigger bubble. Then others melded with that one. Good Lord! It was going to end up bigger than ever.

I closed my eyes and awaited the arrival of Fate. How long would it take to kill me after entering my bloodstream? Was this a vein or an artery. A vein. That meant it would go directly to my heart. Wouldn’t have to go through my toes and fingers before reaching the Grand Old Pump. Arm to heart. Splat! Would it hurt much? Damn those old movies, anyway. I wouldn’t have known what was coming had it not been for them.

As the re-formed pocket of air… seemingly much larger now… finally disappeared from sight, I closed my eyes and tried to compose a prayer. Better to go out that way, wasn’t it? But all I could think of was “don’t let it hurt!”

I woke up an hour or so later when the nurse came in to take a blood sample. I was tempted to let her know about eluding the tentacles of Fate, but decided Gary Cooper would have kept his escape from Death to himself. So that’s what I did.

*****

If you quit reading halfway through that, I don’t blame you. On the other hand, if you quit reading, how is it that I wouldn’t blame you for doing so? One of life’s conundrums, I suppose. As I said in the original piece, this may remind you of some of your own brushes with death… but I seriously doubt yours were as perilous as mine.

The following information provides my contact information and DSP Publications links:

Don Travis Email: dontravis21@gmail.com
Blog: dontravis.com
Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3


As always, thank for being a reader.

Don

New blogs are posted at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


New Posts are published at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

THE LOVELY PINES

Artist: Maria Fanning
This week, I’d like to remind readers that the fifth book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series will be The Lovely Pines. I have not been advised by DSP Publications as to an actual release date, probably sometime in mid-2018. (Good Lord! That’s right around the corner, isn’t it?)

As usual, the setting of the novel is New Mexico. Most of the action centers around Albuquerque and a small, fictional town called Valle Plácido located just east of Placitas on the slopes of Sandia Peak. However, a few chapters take us to Las Cruces and Carlsbad in the southern and southeastern part of the state. BJ, our intrepid private eye—uh, make that confidential investigator—looks into a break-in at a winery in Plácido called the Lovely Pines and quickly discovers it is something more than mere mischief. It could be that the intruder was being stalked. But why does this all take place around a remote winery? Then dead bodies begin to show up, and BJ finds his own life threatened.

And in between, we’re exposed to some intimate moments between BJ and his hunky soul mate, Paul Barton.

As a history buff, I am sometimes criticized for getting lost in the past of a place to the cost of action. I’ll risk that disparagement again by showing you a trip up the old highway between Albuquerque and Bernalillo and thence to the winery in the scene below. The passage comes at the beginning of Chapter 2 of the book. The Ariel Gonda mentioned is BJ’s client, the owner of the Lovely Pines Vineyard and Winery.

*****

THE LOVELY PINES
          In a bucolic mood, I took the old Highway 85 to Bernalillo about fifteen miles north of Albuquerque. Bernalillo was an interesting town, at least to history buffs like me. The area had been more or less continuously inhabited for probably close to 1,000 years, first as an indigenous Anasazi town and later by the Spaniards when they arrived in the late sixteenth century to claim it as a trading center and military outpost. In one of those odd coincidences, Albuquerque became the governmental center of Bernalillo County, while Bernalillo was the seat of Sandoval County. Go figure. The present day town fathers liked to say their community was the gateway to the Jemez Mountain Range to the west and the Sandias to the east.
          At the north end of town, I hung a right on Highway 550 and crossed over I-25, climbing steadily toward the mountains on what was now a gravel state road. Before long, I passed through another former Anasazi settlement renamed Placitas, which meant Little Town. With its large adobe homes tucked into folds in the foothills or hanging on the slopes, Placitas managed to bring some of the famed Santa Fe style south.
            Shortly after leaving the town limits, I entered an even smaller settlement about whose history I had no knowledge—Valle Plácido. All I knew of the place was that people had grown grapes and made wine here for centuries. New Mexico was one of the earliest wine-making centers in North America.
         As instructed by Ariel Gonda, I turned north on a well-graded gravel driveway and saw the winery about 200 yards ahead of me. My first impression was of a French chateau plopped down in the middle of New Mexico. As I grew nearer, the image was reinforced. I passed over a cattle guard between an impressive black wrought iron gate anchored to solid four-foot stone walls stretching off in both directions. I assumed it enclosed the entire place, or at least the ten acres of the winery. The wall would probably have stopped a tank but provided little protection from stealthy intruders afoot. The vineyard lay to the east.
        Up close the stately house did not seem so forbidding, less of a mysterious manor harboring psychopaths and star-crossed lovers. House, of course, was a misnomer. It was truly a chateau, even though small by European standards. I judged it to be three floors of around 1,500 square feet each. The gray stone of those tall walls wasn’t native rock. A cloudy green patina stained the copper mansard roof. Brown brick framed doors, windows, and the roofline beneath the gables.
         As I swung around to park beside a few other vehicles, some with out-of-state license plates, I caught sight of another solid-looking stone building about a hundred yards behind the chateau. Probably the winery.
      A sign with black lettering mounted on a field of white to the right of the main entryway confirmed this as The Lovely Pines Vineyard and Winery. The placard mirrored a larger billboard I’d seen out on the highway. The effect of the whole layout was stiff and formal. A bit off-putting for my tastes.
        That changed as soon as I walked into the front hallway. High ceilings gave the place an airy feeling, and windows that seemed rather small from the outside admitted bright light to play off eggshell and pale gold walls tastefully hung with good art. I couldn’t be certain from this distance, but some seemed to be old masters. Reproductions, probably. The chocolatier’s kiosk was modern without being jarring. The word Schoggi was prominently displayed, leading me to believe this was Swiss German for chocolate. An attractive woman of about fifty lifted her head from a notepad and smiled as I entered. I clicked the REC button on the small digital voice recorder on my belt as she spoke.
        “Welcome to the Lovely Pines. Please feel free to make yourself at home. Our wine tasting won’t begin for another half hour or so. The entire first floor is given over to our public rooms—the Bistro, a salon for lounging, our gift shop, and, of course, our tasting room.”
          I thanked her for the sales pitch and let her know that Mr. Gonda was expecting me.

*****
Sorry, but--like me--BJ is fascinated by all those historical figures hovering in the background as we pass through towns that were originally aboriginal settlements, superseded by Hispanic and Anglo cultures, each in turn. Nonetheless, he eventually able to focus on the task at hand. Hope you’ll get the book and read it upon release.

The following information provides my contact information and DSP Publications links:

Don Travis Email: dontravis21@gmail.com
Blog: dontravis.com
Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3


As always, thank for being a reader.

Don

New blogs are posted at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

IMBROGLIO IN B-FLAT, MINOR

Last week’s And God Connived… didn’t get many hits, but it provoked some comments to both Facebook and my email. Glad some of you enjoyed it, at any rate. I have to admit, it was a strange way to write a story.

Please remember that my fellow Oklahoma author, Mark Wildyr’s Cut Hand is being released by DSP Publications on the 31st of this month—Halloween. I know he would appreciate your buying a copy, or at least taking a look at the novel. It’s available through Amazon and DSP Pubs and the other usual sources.

With that out of the way, let’s get to this week’s offering, a flash fiction story that follows below. Enjoy.

*****
Courtesy of Wikipedia

IMBROGLIO IN B-FLAT, MINOR
Swamped by overwhelming emotions—awe at the beauty of the symphony and a fierce hatred that threatened to get the upper hand—I sat enthralled. I’d spent more than I could afford for front row mezzanine for this world premiere of Imbroglio in B-flat Minor. My seat was odd numbered, so I sat to the left. Not ideal, but on the other hand stage left is where the composer would appear when the accolades came. We would be virtually face-to-face.
The opening Allegro put me in the mind of a Baroque work typified by Bach and Handel. Breathtaking. The second movement, the Adagio, was more classical, ala Mozart or Haydn. The work was difficult to categorize but undoubtedly masterful. Upon the triumphant close of the fourth movement or Rondo, I was on my feet with everyone else in the house, shouting huzzahs at the top of my voice.
But as cries for the composer grew, hatred triumphed over music appreciation. The sight of Josef Wilhelm Streit led center stage by the conductor and concertmaster, was more than I could stand. My face flushed, leaving me overheated. Acid ate at the lining of my stomach. My breath deserted me. I stood like a dolt among the cheering patrons. The tumult dimmed as my hearing started to go. But I still clearly discerned the nauseating stink of the perfume the woman to my left apparently bathed in.
My knees gave way, dumping me back in the seat where I leaned on my ebony cane, glowering at the preening idiot who had stolen my life’s work… my symphony. Imbroglio. I loved that name. So expressive, and after all, what serious work of art is not an intricate and complicated situation.
Eventually, the din subsided and Josef… what an affectation! He was born Joseph William Streit in Brooklyn. Josef made a smirking, simpering speech about how he had labored over his masterpiece. Labored? My brain suffered the mental blisters and callouses earned by writing this magnificent work.
After the mindless adulation abated, members of the audience collected their things and moved to the exits. I reached the stairway quickly, thanks to other patrons making way for the old man relying heavily on his cane for balance and mobility.
Normally, traffic backstage was tightly controlled, but a premiere like this one undoubtedly swamped the gatekeepers. I limped through with a party of others to behold a scene that nearly sent my heart bursting from its confines. That faker…that charlatan Josef Wilhelm Streit rendered pale by the bright lights of television cameras, stood against a cream-colored curtain mouthing words. Words which should have been mine. I came near to barging up and bludgeoning him with my cane, but reason reestablished itself. I turned to leave and noticed the edge of the curtain. Curious, I shuffled down the reverse side of the muslin to where the interview was taking place, Josef’s slender body, clearly haloed by strong camera lights, pressed against the thin curtain. No more than twelve inches behind him, I knew exactly what to do.
Twisting the handle to my cane, I withdrew the thin, needle-like stiletto attached to it. Frantic that the thief would escape my reach, I thrust the slender blade through the curtain and felt it penetrate solid flesh.
Joseph William Streit—he was no longer the exotic Josef to me—fell abruptly silent. Not even a gasp from him. The stage went quiet with only background noises lending reality to the scene. He had not yet fallen to the floor before I restored my cane handle and moved quickly toward an obscure exit. Excited cries of alarm and dismay followed me. My step was no longer that of an octogenarian. In the darkness of the hallway, I tore off my gray wig and the fake beard, hiding them beneath my coat.
Moments later, as my true self, a thirty-five-year-old undiscovered composer keeping body and soul together by masquerading as a university janitor, I joined the throngs of people making their departure from Symphony Hall. The first of the sirens—police or ambulance? —reached my ears as I turned down an alley and walked in near total darkness, contemplating the possibility of being apprehended.
I couldn’t be caught. Not yet. Sherilynn Amagato introduced her latest sonata at this same hall next week. The sonata she had stolen from me. And then there was Peter Henry Niger to be dealt with. He was to play his latest creation, a cello concerto, the following month. Or should I say my latest creation. After all, he’d purloined it from me.
How were these poseurs plucking masterworks from my mind and achieving fame and fortune while I slaved away mopping and waxing floors for scores of self-centered juveniles who had no idea that genius labored among them?
Tapping my cane on the concrete, I hummed a tune, one of my new musical show numbers, as I tripped up the steps to the dorm where I surreptitiously lived in a basement storeroom.

*****
Is it possible this guy is off his rocker? Most likely. I hope you liked the story.

The following information provides my contact information and DSP Publications links:

Don Travis Email: dontravis21@gmail.com
Blog: dontravis.com
Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3


As always, thank for being a reader.

Don

New blogs are posted at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

And God Connived…



Got lots of page views last week for “The Lothario of Delancey Street. This week’s story is a bit of a change. Hope it strikes a chord with you.

Here it is. Enjoy.

*****
Courtesy of Pixabay
AND GOD CONNIVED…
          “Bobby,” he lisped.
          “Mine’s Wilma.” She dug her tin spade into the sandbox and dumped a load of grit over his blond head.
          “Stop it!” He fought tears, spit dirt, and dug at his eyes with chubby fists. “Why’d you do that?”
          “Wanted to!”

&&&&&

          “My mommy says you mess your pants.”
          “Do not!” he yelped.
          “Do, too!” Wilma came back at him.
          “Do not!”
          “Poopy-head!”
          “Stop it.”
          “Bobby Poopy-head! Bobby Poopy-head!”
          He tuned up but refused to cry.

&&&&&

          “What’re you doing?” Wilma demanded. “Don’t want you walking me to school. I’m meeting my girlfriends.”
          “Not walking you to school. Walking me to school. Can’t help it if you’re filling up the sidewalk.”
          “I wish you’d never moved here. Things used to be better.”
          “Yeah, well, I wish we’d never moved here, too. Not on your street, anyway. Wish you was a boy.”
          Wilma put a finger down her throat and said, “Gag!”
          Bob smiled. He got her that time.

&&&&&

          “Need a ride?”
          She slipped into the passenger seat of his '55 Fairlane. “Thanks, Bob. I’m running late. Couldn’t get my hair to behave this morning.”
          “Looks great to me.”
          “Well, thanks again. We gonna win tonight?
          “Better. The Ravens are the team to beat if we want to go to State.”
          “You’ll do it. You’re a good quarterback. Go get ‘em, Cowboys.”
          His face glowed.

&&&&&

          Bob turned bright red when they put the crown on his head, but his heart swelled when they placed a tiara on Wilma’s and declared them King and Queen of the Prom.
          “First dance? he whispered.
          “And the last,” she murmured.
          It turned out to be all the ones between, as well.

&&&&&

          The phone crackled in his ear until her voice answered. “Hi, babe.”
          “Bob! So glad to hear your voice. I miss you so much.”
          “I’ll be home for spring break soon. And next year you’ll be up here at the U with me.”
          “Have you… met anyone?” Her voice broke.
          “Lots, but not another Wilma. You?”
          “Not another Bobby.”

&&&&&

          “Do you, Robert Preston Katey, take this woman to be your wedded wife?”
          “I do.”
          “Do you, Wilma Patricia Munson, take this man to be your wedded husband?
          And just like that… it was done.
          The honeymoon in summertime Aspen was as nearly perfect as he could imagine.

&&&&&

          The radio crackled, but he faintly heard her voice. Time was precious, and he tried to make the most of it. She and baby Bobby were all right… and that was what mattered. Over the distant thud of mortars and artillery and the occasional rattle of small arms, he assured himself of that. The presence of others in the dugout put a halter on his tongue, but he managed to tell her he loved her… them.
          “And I love you, too. Oh, Bob, when are you coming home?”
          “As soon as we whip these guys into line.” Could she hear the phony jocularity in his voice?
          “Be careful, hon.”
          “Always.”
          Then Bobby Jr. came on the line and sprouted childish gibberish, but it was the most wonderful nonsense in the world.

&&&&&

          On their tenth wedding anniversary, Bob stood, uncomfortable in his tux, and lifted his glass in a toast. ”We had a rocky start in our relationship. She stuck out her tongue at me, and I pulled her hair from the time my family moved into the house beside theirs when I was five. But I believe the Good Lord willed that we be together. No, He connived to overcome our early experiences. But I thank the Lord for being persistent. Here’s to my beautiful wife, Wilma.

&&&&&

          Bob gave that same toast containing the identical prayer of thanks over each of the following forty years. On the forty-first, he delivered the message personally.

*****
Something to think about, right?

The following information provides contact information and the DSP Publications links:

Don Travis Email: dontravis21@gmail.com
Blog: dontravis.com
Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3


As always, thank for being a reader.

Don


New blogs are posted at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Lothario of Delancy Street

Last week, we talked about the book I'm currently working on called ABADDON'S LOCUSTS. Today, I'd like to return to a bit of flash fiction.

*****
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
THE LOTHARIO OF DELANCY STREET


          Markie Pulser adored girls, but he had a problem. His mother and grandmother, two strong, bible-thumping women, raised him for most of his eighteen years. And they instilled in him the very strong—overpowering, really—conviction that individuals of the female persuasion were to be treated with the utmost respect and reverence. This earned him a certain popularity among the girls at school, but it also presented a conundrum. He had not yet figured a way to get a single one of them off the pedestal and into bed. In fact, he was totally flummoxed by the idea that he wanted to do such a dastardly thing.
          This morning as he tripped down the steps of his home at 5555 Delancy Street, nothing was farther from his mind than his obsession with girls. The algebra test looming before him occupied his frontal lobes. He thought he was prepared, but that sneaky Mr. Sean had a way of throwing the class a curve.
          Distracted by the coming exam, he failed to see Suzanne Bowers—no one ever dared call her Suzy—walking down the sidewalk. He caught himself before he barreled into her but tripped over his own feet and lurched forward. Even as he mouthed an apology, one hand close over a part of Suzanne’s torso that was one of her most alluring features. Naturally, his grip squeezed. He’d always wondered if boobs were as soft as they looked. Now he knew. Embarrassed, he snatched his hand away and mumbled a second apology, this one a little incoherent.
          Suzanne halted and gave him an irritated look that turned into a smile. “Well, hello there, Markie. Walk me to school?”
          “Yeah, sure.”
          She took his arm and pulled him close as they strolled down Delancy Street. Somehow he found himself having sodas with her that afternoon and a movie that night. And after the movie, she suggested a drive. In the middle of that drive, Markie plucked that girl right off her pedestal.


          A week later, as he rushed down the hallway to Science class, he zigged when he should have zagged and collided with Coleen Oliver. He put his arms around her to prevent her from falling and noticed how good she felt snuggled right up against him. Rather than turning angry, Coleen smiled and said, “Well, hello there, Markie.” That evening, he had a marvelous time with her in her family’s basement den while her mother was occupied upstairs.


          Naturally, Markie wondered if he wasn’t onto something. Maybe being a klutz wasn’t so bad after all. He didn’t think he got more clumsy on purpose, but a trip over a crack in the sidewalk netted him Jacquie Pickering and a missed dance step at the spring prom resulted in Barbra Brownstone.
          Despite certain misgivings, he began to think of himself as a Lothario. The Lothario of Delancy Street. “Well, hello there, Markie” became a signal of exciting things to come.


          Filled with thoughts of his senior year ending next week, Markie came out of the house and hopped down the steps to the sidewalk. He was vaguely aware of someone in front of him, but Mrs. Winston, who’d lived across the street his whole life, called a greeting. He looked in her direction, waved, and shouted his own “hello.”
          As his attention returned to the sidewalk, the individual in front of him bent over to retrieve something on the cement. He tried to stop; it was too late. He walked straight into the figure. Grabbing the trim hips in front of him to keep the other from falling, he couldn’t help noticing what a good fit they made.
          The other person stood and whirled. The irritation on John Harris Weeks’ face faded. In fact, he smiled. “Well, hello there, Markie.”

          Uh-oh.

*****
Talk about unintended consequences! Wonder how Markie handled it? Let your imagination complete the story.

I hope you enjoyed that little bit of fluff. 

The following information provides contact information and the DSP Publications links:

Don Travis Email: dontravis21@gmail.com
Blog: dontravis.com
Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3


As always, thank for being a reader.

Don


New blogs are posted at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Another Peek at Abaddon’s Locusts

On April 13 and again on August 10, I gave readers a peek at the fifth novel in the BJ Vinson series called Abaddon’s Locusts. After the first post, a couple of people ventured guesses who the youth on the bed in a motel room was. In the second one, I revealed that it was Jazz Penrod, a handsome, happy-go-lucky, half Navajo youth who fully embraced his homosexuality. We first met him in The Bisti Business when he and his half-brother Henry Secatero help BJ solve a case and rescue a young man. I decided to feature Jazz in another novel, and Abaddon is that book.

All of the BJ Vinson books to this point are told from BJ’s viewpoint (viewpoint is a biggie to authors), but I strayed from the norm for this one. In a few chapters, we are in Jazz’s “head” and view things through his eyes. I’d like to give you a snippet of the book from that viewpoint.

The following scene comes at the beginning of Chapter 5. Jazz, seeking a loving and lasting connection, is lured to Albuquerque for a face to face meeting with a young Hispanic named Juan. Things are good, but Juan says they can be better and introduces the naïve young half-breed to crack cocaine. Once Jazz is hooked, he’s turned over to an obviously wealthy white man identified only as Silver Wings because of his hair coloring. Let’s see how Jazz is handling the situation. One thing is clear. He’s not as likable as when we met him in Bisti.

I hope the read is interesting.
*****
Courtesy of Pixabay
ABADDON’S LOCUSTS
          “Hey, wake up. Need to ask you something.”
          Jazz roused from a dream as Juan shook him roughly. “Le’ me alone,” he mumbled, seeking to recapture the reverie. Water Sprinkler and some other Navajo Yé’ii had been in it. He grew surly when he realized the details escaped him. Wouldn’t have mattered much if he could recall. He wasn’t raised on the old legends like most guys his age and didn’t understand a damned thing about that side of his blood. Water Sprinkler was the rain god—that much he knew. So likely that meant his parade was going to get rained on. Big time.
          “Man, that crack shit’s taking you over. All you do’s fuck and bitch. Come on, man. Wake up.”
          Jazz pushed himself against the headboard and tried to focus. The sheet fell away to reveal his naked torso. Seemed like he was always naked nowadays. Juan reached out and stroked his pecs. Juan liked to touch him. Jazz had liked it too…once.  Now not so much. He shrugged the hand away. “Leave me alone. I finally got to sleep and you wake me up. I need a pipe, okay?”
          “A shower’s what you need. Silver wings wants to meet you tonight.”
          Jazz’s stomach did a flip-flop. “I don’t like him.”
          “Well, he digs you. Think he’s gonna want you to move in with him.”
          The idea struck Jazz like a crowbar jammed into the gears of an engine. His thinking came to a halt. He needed a pipe. That was the only good thing about Silver Wings. Jazz always got good crack before the man arrived. “Smoke,” he mumbled.
          Juan shoved two photos at him. “Later. Right now, I need you to look at these pics.”
          Jazz struggled to focus as he scanned the photos. They were the same handsome man, one with a shirt, the other without. His stomach cramped and he felt itchy. “Who’s this?”
          “You tell me. He says he knows you. Says you told him about me?”
          “I did?”
          “You know him?”
          Jazz blinked a couple of times and moved one picture back and forth until it became clearer. Struggling to get his mind to work, he rubbed his eyes before taking another look. The guy seemed familiar. But Jazz associated him with someone else. Someone he liked. Admired.
          “Dude lives here in Albuquerque,” he said aloud. “Don’t remember his name.”
          “Does the name Paul mean anything to you?”
          “Yeah. That’s it. Paul.” Jazz had no idea if that was correct, but it was easier to agree with Juan.
          “Paul what?”
          “I dunno. Just Paul.”
          “You tell him about me? Send him my photo?”
          “He says I did, I guess I did,” Jazz mumbled, sliding back beneath the thin covers. His eyes were closed as Juan left the room with a warning they’d have to leave for the meeting with Silver Wings in an hour, but Jazz was struggling to think. Make connections. Paul. Barton! That was his last name. And they’d never exchanged Emails or pictures. He’d only seen the good-looking dude once. In Farmington. In some motel room. Had they got it on? Could be.
          Jazz came upright in the bed as a shadowy figure flitted just out of reach in his head. BJ! BJ’s Paul was talking to Juan? Was the fucker two-timing BJ? His skin crawled as he shook his head. No. No, Paul contacted Juan because… because BJ was looking for him!
          Jazz lay back and battled his emotions. He had ventured out of his comfort zone for the promise of a steady connection. A loving, intelligent, exciting man of his own. Like BJ had with Paul. And it had been wonderful for a while. Everything he’d ever dreamed of. But it all turned to ashes. Pipe ash.
          Why had he let Juanito talk him into smoking the crack? His new life had been wonderful without the crap. But Juanito promised him they’d make things even better. And they had—for a bit. Then it changed. He changed. The world changed. Now he pleasured men in exchange for the pipes. Men? Well, Juanito and Silver Wings. But he knew there would be more men one day. Probably when they took that trip to Mexico Juan talked about.
          His frazzled mind called up the image of BJ. BJ was a detective. He’d find him and drag his ass out of this tangled mess. His heart soared until it nearly burst before abruptly slowing, leaving him woozy. Did he want out? Yeah, it would be good to go home. See his mom and Uncle Riley. Henry. His father. But if BJ got him out, the man he idolized would see what he’d become. His stomach plummeted as an overwhelming sense of shame drove him to bury his head beneath the bedcovers.
          Jazz sobbed and willed his heart to stop. To cease. To spare him anything that lay beyond this moment, this room, this bed. But Coyote refused to throw a rock into Black Water Lake to summon death, so his heart ignored his wishes and thudded against his ribs in a stubborn, determined beat.
*****
Sounds like Jazz is in deep do-do. Can BJ save him before he gets so depraved by sex trafficking and drugs that he is no longer the man he was?

Following the recent release of THE CITY OF ROCKS, I’ve decided to take a greater interest in promoting my books. In pursuit of that, I’d like to build a database of email addresses of my readers. Nothing nefarious, just to let readers know when something significant happens, such as the release of the next novel, THE LOVELY PINES. If you send your address to dontravis21@gmail.com, I will do nothing more with it than to send you timely messages.

The following information provides contact information and the DSP Publications links:

Don Travis Email: dontravis21@gmail.com
Blog: dontravis.com
Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3


As always, thanks for being a reader.

Don


New blogs are posted at 6:00 a.m. each Thursday.