Thursday, May 24, 2018

MOUNDS, a Guest Blog

dontravis.com blog post #286

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday got a host of hits, but few comments. Stop sending me mixed messages, guys. Let me know what you’re thinking.

Not too long ago, I posted a guest blog by Donald T. Morgan, an excerpt from his unpublished novel, Old Sassy Pants. Today, he’s giving me another one, the opening to another novel called Mounds. Let him know how you like his work.

*****
MOUNDS

By Donald T. Morgan

Courtesy of Pixabay
PROLOGUE

Malcolm County, Southeastern Oklahoma

She lay sprawled beneath him on a frayed horse blanket in the gloomy hayloft. There had been no greeting, no posturing, nothing except a harsh entry followed by a sweaty, steamy explosion. He aimed to hurt. But she was a match for him, meeting his thrusts, absorbing his anger, and frustrating attempts to reduce the assignation to the level of just another roll in the hay.
“Bitch!” He dragged the word across the breadth of his orgasm.
“Bastard.” A self-satisfied smirk hid in her breathy drawl; his had carried nothing but longing and suppressed fury. She sighed, already drawing breath more easily than he, and ran scarlet-tipped fingers through the pale flame of a candle lit to watch him labor over her. “I do like the way yawl screw.”
“Not… make love?”
“Wouldn’t wanna mess up a good thing by calling it wrong.” She laughed low in her throat at the way he vainly fought to keep his eyes off her shadowed curves.
A snarl tore out of him, ending in a sobbing shudder. “I oughta kill you. Someday, I will.” Without another word, he threw on his clothes and left, moving stealthily through the moonless Oklahoma night.
She lingered on the rough, scratchy blanket, allowing his aura of carnal fury to dissipate. Caressing her violated flesh, she inhaled the heady redolence of the barn: manure, urine, and the earthy aroma of the big animals in the stalls below, masked by the woody hay, her own fragrance, and his stimulating musk.
The thick, humid air crackled with the charged atoms of an approaching thunderstorm, although she preferred to believe it was the lingering essence of the most exciting man she had ever known. Drowsily, she mused over her conquest.
Dangerous? Of course, it was. That’s what made it so wonderful.




CHAPTER 1

Figuring his daddy was about ready to emerge from a two-day hangover, Derek Monsum came in from the fields early and found Carlton working on Red Rover beneath the huge oak in the front yard. A good sign. His father wouldn’t take a wrench to the old Chevy pickup unless his hand was reasonably steady. That pile of bolts and faded red sheet metal was their only means of transportation.
“Can I talk to you a minute?” Private code for “Are you up to listening?”
Carlton adjusted the crutch under his arm to compensate for the right leg he’d lost in the Panama invasion. “Sure. Trying to tune this balky carburetor, but it’s a touchy piece of work. Fields look pretty good, Derek.”
“Thanks.” He took heart at his father’s grammar. Carlton’s drawl got heavy and his English went careless when he was under the influence. “Did you hear the news on the radio last night?”
His father pulled his head out of the truck’s innards. A trace of alcohol rode the heavier oil and grease fumes rising from the motor. “What news?” 
“Oklahoma University’s gonna excavate the mounds. Some fellow by the name of Dr. Henry Ericksen’s gonna lead a team from the Anthropology Department down here this summer.”
A flash of pain twisted his father’s features. “Oh, God, I’m sorry. I know that was your dream.”
“That’s okay. It was bound to happen one of these days. I’ll never be an archaeologist, anyway.”
He regretted the words the moment they came out of his mouth. Carlton looked as if he’d been slapped. But it was true—that ambition died when he quit school to take care of the farm after Bowie ran off. His brother had put up with Daddy’s new wife for two years, but Cassie was always on him. Derek was too young back then to understand things he could see plain as day now he was a grown man.
Ashamed of his thoughts, he cleared his throat. “What I was thinking was, maybe I can take a job at the dig. It’d just be labor work, but I could make a little money and get some practical experience, too. You know, see how they do things. At least be a little part of it.”
Carlton hid back inside the motor cavity. “Could be.”
“I’ve got the disking and fertilizing done. I’ll start seeding tomorrow. That won’t take long.” He scraped the ragged edge of a peeling rust spot on the raised hood with his thumbnail. “After that, it’ll be an easy time for a spell.”
“One your old man can handle.” The voice from the motor well held a wretchedness that drove Derek a step backwards.
“Shoot, you’re ten times the farmer I am. You could—”
“Don’t patronize me. I know what I am. What you’re asking is if I’ll stay off the booze for the summer. Well, you gotta ask straight out.”
Derek almost lost heart at the misery in his father’s tone, but he scratched the brown mole on his upper lip—his stress barometer, his mama used to call it—and held his ground. “Yes, sir, that’s what I’m asking. Will you keep it under control for a few weeks so I can try for a job with the dig crew?”
Carlton’s shoulders sagged as he pulled out from under the hood again to face his younger son. “I’ll keep a lid on things. You go see if you can get a job. The extra dollars will come in handy.”
“They probably won’t pay much.”
“Whatever it is, it’ll be welcome.” Carlton put his head down again, signaling the conversation was over.

*****

If I had to guess, I’d say this is a story about a young man trying to recapture faded ambitions. Knowing Donald, I’d also say the novel holds some mystery. By the way, he’s writing about the country we both came from. In real life, it was McCurtain County, Oklahoma, centered around a little town nine miles from Arkansas and thirty miles from Texas. I know it well.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

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


The next book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, The Lovely Pines is scheduled for release on August 28 of this year. Abaddon’s Locusts follows on January 22, 2019.

See you next week.

Don

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


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

dontravis.com blog post #285

Apparently quite a few of you like Pedro the Dragon as much as BJ Vinson does. Got quite a few hits. For those of you who are writers, it is a good exercise to take a scene (one of yours or someone else's) and rewrite it from another point of view. Try it.

Today, let’s have an offering that comes in well below 1,000 words. Let me know how you like it.

*****
                                        
  MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, AND FRIDAY

          I left the chapel following Charles Farrelson’s memorial service somewhat spiritually fractured. Chuck, thirty years my senior, had been both father figure and lover for the past five years. For at least 250 of the last 260 Wednesdays, he’d filled my afternoons with good food, sharp wit, and loving caresses. Yet the sorrow tugging at my heartstrings felt selfish. It seemed more centered on what was taken from me, rather than his life being snatched from him.
          Feeling the need for nourishment, sustenance… something. I walked past the cars in the parking lot and struck out for the Famous Four Flavors ice cream shop across the street. A tall hunky guy I’d noticed at the service entered before me. I’d picked up on him not only because he was so handsome but also because he was Chuck’s son Drake.
          Restraining the impulse to introduce myself, I fell in line behind him wondering how he’d feel about meeting his father’s gay lover. Once he collected his chocolate shake, I ordered a strawberry. Keeping my eyes straight ahead, I walked toward a nearby table until a deep baritone brought me to a halt.
          “I noticed you at the service.” Drake indicated a chair. “Join me?”
          When I was settled, he offered a handshake. “Hi, I’m Drake Barstow.”
          I grasped his hand and frowned. “N-not Drake Farrelson?”
         His eyebrows reached for his dark hairline. “No. Why would you think that?”
          “I’ve seen you before. Last December, I saw you and Chuck leaving Dillards. I asked him later, and he said you were his son.”
          His astonished look morphed into glee. “That old dog! Now let me guess. You’re not Carl, Chuck’s nephew. You see, I saw you with him once, too, at the University bookstore.
          “I’m Carl, all right. But I’m not his nephew. I was… uh, a friend.”
          “Yeah, a friend. What was your day?”
          “My day?”
          “When did you meet him? Was it on a special day of the week?”
          “Well… yes. We got together for lunch or something every Wednesday.”
          “Yeah, or something. I was Friday. That’s the day we got together for… something.”
          “You… you mean you and Chuck…?”
          “That’s exactly what I mean.”
          “For how long?”
          “Ten years. I was eighteen when I met him. Got together with him every Friday after that except when one of us was out of town. And that wasn’t often, I can tell you.” He arched an eyebrow at me. “How long for you?”
          “Five years. I was eighteen, too.”
          “Apparently, that’s the age when we first grab his attention. But he was loyal, in his own way, I guess you could say. Outside of Chuck, what do you do?”
          I felt my cheeks burn. “No one. It was just—”
          “Sorry, that’s not what I meant. What do you do to keep a roof over your head?”
          “I’m a commercial artist. You?”
          “Photographer. And I’ll bet you’ve got as many intimate drawings as I have photographs.”
          My cheeks really flamed then. “Uh, a few.”
          “Yeah, I’ve got some scorchers, too.” His attention strayed from me to the front door of the shop. “Hang on, I think we’re about to meet Monday.”
          I looked where his gaze was centered and saw the other individual who’d caught my attention at the memorial service. Impossibly young and blond, the kid was really cute.
          “What makes you think—”
          “Well, he’s not Chuck’s son or nephew, and probably not even a cousin. But he was at the service. What are the odds?”
          We both watched the kid’s coltish, self-conscious carriage as he ordered a coke and then turned to glance uncertainly over the room. His eyes stopped on us before moving on.
          “Have a chair,” Drake said.
          With only a moment’s hesitation, the kid sat.
          We identified ourselves and watched the newcomer’s reaction. His blue eyes skittered back and forth between us as he sank into a chair at the table.
          “Confused?” Drake asked.
          “Uh….”
          “Well, I’m not Chuck’s son, and Carl’s not his nephew. Now let me make a couple of guesses about you. You’re what? About twenty or twenty-one?”
          “Twenty.”
          “Your name’s Jake and you met Carl about two years ago.
          The kid seemed flustered. “That’s right. How did you know?”
          “I saw you with Carl once at the Kimo. He told me your name later.”
          "You saw us?"
          "Bound to happen sooner or later," I said. "Albuquerque's not that big of a town."
          Jake looked as if he was about to bolt.
          “It’s okay,” Drake said. You’re among brethren.”
          “What do you mean?”
          “What I mean is I’m Friday, Carl’s Wednesday, and I’ll bet you’re Monday.”
          “I don’t know what you—”
          “Come on, don’t play coy. You met Chuck for lunch and playtime every Monday, right?”
          “I met him, yes, but—”
          “Butt being the operative word. You got it on with him. We all did.
          Now it was Jake’s turn to send his eyebrows northward. “You mean…?”
          “Yep. That’s exactly what I mean. Old Chuck got his jollies every Monday, Wednesday, and  Friday with us. Who knows, we might be why his heart failed. Hell, he wasn’t even fifty-five yet.”
          That comment sat on the table for a moment while we all digested it. Then Drake took charge again.
          "Now what we have to do is figure out the situation. You know” he turned pedantic. “Let not what Chuck sowed be put asunder!”
          Jake and I blinked back at him for a moment before smiling.
          “How do you know we’re compatible?” I asked.
          Drake winked. “I’d bet on it.”
          After raising a silent toast to our dear departed Chuck, we put our heads together and started working out our Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

*****

Looks like Carl started something. Nice to see enterprising participants deciding to keep a good thing going, right? By the way, has anything like this happened to you before?

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

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


The next book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, The Lovely Pines is scheduled for release on August 28 of this year. Abaddon’s Locusts follows on January 22, 2019.

See you next week.

Don

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


Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Dragon Named Pedro

dontravis.com blog post #284

Another little piece of short, short fiction this week. I’m particularly interested in the readers’ reaction to this offering.

*****
Maria Fanning, Artist
A DRAGON NAMED PEDRO

          From his high perch, Pedro the Dragon’s lidless eyes seemed fixed on the man in swimming trunks lying on a poolside lounge. Good build, and probably handsome when viewed up close. He knew his owner watched the man as well. The brown nipple Pedro held in the talons of one clawed foot stiffened and puckered, a subtle but sure sign of interest.


          Paul sat in the tall lifeguard’s chair at the North Valley Country Club and watched the man basking in the early morning sun. At this hour, they were the only two individuals at the swimming pool. Even though Paul was new to the club, he knew the man had an interesting history. B. J. Vinson—no one could tell him what the initials stood for—had once been a US Marine and then an Albuquerque Police detective before becoming a private eye. Intriguing.
          But no more so than the man, himself. Strange colored hair… mocha he’d heard it called. Eyes as green as a polished Granny Smith apple. Chiseled features; handsome but not pretty. Lean and athletic. Good, tanned skin without blemish except for one scar on the inside of the left thigh. Scuttlebutt held that was from a gunshot wound Vinson got back when he was a policeman.
          Although aware they were alone, Paul involuntarily glanced around to see if anyone noticed he was taking too much notice of a nearly naked man. Where he came from—Albuquerque’s south valley—interest like that would earn a guy a beating or worse. The thought startled him. Interest like that? Well, he couldn’t deny it. He felt the small tattooed dragon on his left pec squeezing his nipple, making it stand up. And tingle. Pedro often set off so many nerve endings that it became embarrassing for Paul to stand up in polite society.
          To avoid that eventuality, he climbed down from his elevated chair and snared a floating candy wrapper with a telescoping aluminum pole equipped with a leaf net.
          “Kids,” he muttered softly with half an eye on the other man. The aroma of summer roses climbing the club's adobe wall battled the odor of chlorine from the pool, distracting him for a moment.
          Vinson reached for a glass beside the lounge and missed, spilling what appeared to be orange juice.
          Paul dropped the skimmer and picked up the glass, holding it out. “Can I get you another?” Pedro gave a yank on Paul’s nipple when he noticed those fascinating green eyes studying the tiny tattoo.
          “No, thanks. Nothing left but ice cubes, anyway.”
          Pedro about went crazy at the sound of the deep baritone.
          “But I appreciate your offer, uh….”
          “Paul. Paul Barton.”
          “Paul.”
          He noticed the slight hesitation but decided not to enlighten the man. Aware he was a mixture of Hispanic and Anglo blood, he often got that reaction to his last name. But his mother had been the Latina; his father the Anglo. “Anytime,” he muttered as his eyes wandered the man’s lanky form, halting without intention on the purple scar.
          “Bullet wound,” Vinson said.
          “Damn, I’ll bet that hurt.”
          “Like you wouldn’t believe. That’s why I swim early in the morning. Therapy.”
          “Swimming’s the best exercise in the world.” Paul felt his cheeks burn as he revealed himself as a dyed-in-the-wool water bug. He glanced down at his tight trunks. Well, dyed-in-spandex, anyway.
          His cell phone piped “Dixie” on a nearby table. He eyed the other man as he answered the call. Jill Hardwick asked what time he got off work and suggested they go to a movie that evening. He told her “five” and said he had plans. As he finished the call, Vinson tossed him a wave and disappeared into the locker room. Pedro gave a final squeeze to Paul’s nipple, making him wish he could follow the man to the showers.


          By five-thirty, Paul felt foolish hanging around outside the club’s Moorish gate. He’d misread the situation… badly. BJ Vinson, PI, probably hadn’t given him a second thought once he left the club. But Paul had sensed a strong connection with the attractive detective. Wrong.
          Just as he started walking to the employee’s parking lot, a white Impala swung to the curb and stopped. The hunky detective rolled down the window and leaned across the seat. Without exchanging a word, Paul hopped into the passenger’s seat as Pedro did his thing beneath the tight polo shirt. Feeling the need to say something, Paul went trite.
          “Hi, Mr. Vinson.”
          “Call me BJ or Vince. The Vince comes from Vinson.”
          “What do most people call you?”
          “BJ.”
          “Okay, then I’ll call you Vince. At least when nobody’s around.”
          “Where can I drop you?” Vince asked with a smile.
          Paul’s grin almost split his lips. “Wherever you’re going is okay by me.”
          Pedro must have approved because the inky claw squeezed Paul’s tit almost painfully.

*****

Readers of my BJ Vinson Mystery Series will recognize the opening and closing scenes from Chapter 3 of The Zozobra Incident when BJ first meets Paul Barton. But this time, it’s told from Paul’s and Pedro’s viewpoints. The change makes for interesting reading. Let me know what you think.


My mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

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


The next book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, The Lovely Pines is scheduled for release on August 28 of this year. Abaddon’s Locusts follows sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

See you next week.

Don

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

Thursday, May 3, 2018

dontravis.com blog post #283

The Never Forevermore

The post this week is less of a story than an essay on life. Those of you who read my work will recognize that I am a fish out of water… I do not write in the style of this piece. Because I am experimenting, I would appreciate any feedback you care to provide… positive or negative.

*****
Courtesy of Pixels
THE NEVER FOREVERMORE

          “You know I’ll love you forevermore, don’t you?”
          The words, uttered with all the fervor and sincerity of Robert Browning’s devotion to Elizabeth Barrett, rolled glibly off my lips on a broad Key West barchan attended by broad blue waters speckled with small sailing vessels that seemed as forevermore as my declaration but in reality, lapped distant shores and broke over rocky cliffs beyond my sight in green, frothy waves. Her proximity on the huge terrycloth towel spread on warm white quartz sands beaded by feldspar and garnet and littered with cockle and conch and angel wings provoked stirrings that seemed somehow inappropriate to the moment, although natural to the occasion. Feeling my desire, she snuggled closer as the endless swash struggled to reach us, always failing and retreating back into the ocean that spawned it.
          But a honeymoon was not eternal, neither in the moment nor in the abstract. It was the appetizer before the meal, the knish before the brisket, so to speak. Ours lasted well into the second year of our marriage, but a woman exhausted by nursing an infant daughter while simultaneously pursuing a professional career occasionally became waspish with a tongue that owned a sharp barb. Once stung, I grew more defensive and less understanding, fraying the delicate silken thread that held it all together. The second child, a son, proved frail and more demanding, denying us the little time we reserved to ourselves.
          Preferring to merely replace one another on this teeming planet, we dispensed with childbearing after that. A fortunate decision, as those two nearly taxed our patience, energy, and resources to the breaking point. Marcie was gifted, demanding special attention, while a fragile Abel sopped up what was left.
          Ruptures appeared when our daughter attached herself to a slothful, sullen youth, and was supported by my wife. I saw the lout for what he was, but the strain of that relationship for the brief time it lasted nearly rent us apart.
          In his teens, our son recovered his health and discovered his homosexuality, nearly driving his mother to distraction. She fought it, but I knew the inevitable end result and supported him for who he was. That wound required time to repair itself. His mother eventually held her waspish tongue on the subject, but I saw betrayal in her eyes for a long time.
          The years passed, and I forgot the eight words spoken in those halcyon days of youth. Many times, it would have been easier to cleave the marriage than to hold it together. But we somehow managed to darn the silken threads that bound us, at times mending gaping holes in our relationship, but never allowing the precious essence of our liaison to escape. Not too much of it, at any rate.
          Now, with our daughter safely married to a good man and pursuing her career as a concert pianist, and our son a graduated engineer testing his relationship with a new employer, as well as a new lover, we find ourselves face to face once again, as alone as when we started.
          Of late, some of those forgotten words have occasionally begun to reappear in our lexicon, although not as naively spoken as then. We have successfully maneuvered the shoals and now sail a following sea toward newly discovered ports, fully aware there was never the Forevermore we envisioned as a young couple. But perhaps we’ve discovered another sort… one designed specifically for those bearing the scars and bruises of a well-lived life, silver in their hair, and a shuffle in their gait.

*****

Covering someone’s life in something under 700 words seems a little abrupt. Yet, what more needs to be said? Would it strengthen the piece to involve the reader in the narrator’s career, hobbies, and the like? I think not. Let me know what you think.

Please: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

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


The next book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, The Lovely Pines is scheduled for release on August 28 of this year. Abaddon’s Locusts follows sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

See you next week.

Don

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

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Buddha in the Tree

dontravis.com blog post #282

Lots of page views last week, but not much comment on the story. Hope this flash fiction story gets a better reception.

*****
Courtesy of Max Pixel
THE BUDDHA IN THE TREE

          Herbert sat as still and quiet as a meditating Buddha on the topmost perch of his damaged cat tree, his yellow eyes moving back and forth between the two men standing over what had been his human. She now lay motionless on the floor, a halo of blood matting her splayed hair. Herbert blinked. She was no longer the human who tended and loved him, although he did not know how he came to that conclusion.
          “Damn, Sarge,” one of the men said. The shiny badge affixed to his belt caught lamplight and reflected it at Herbert. “Look at those tracks. Have rats been eating on her?”
          The other man, older than the speaker, motioned toward the cat tree. “Nah. That’s the cat’s paw prints. He came down to investigate. Name’s Herbert, according to the neighbor who found the vic.”
          Herbert’s ears twitched at the sound of his name.
          “Jesus!” the first man said. ‘It’s alive. I thought it was a stuffed toy.”
          “He’s real enough. Probably the only witness to the murder.”
          “You think so?”
          Sarge stroked his chin. “Way I figure it, that cat was sitting right up there on the tree while the perp killed the girl. Then the guy spotted the cat and took a swipe at him with the bat he used to murder the woman. See how the top of the tree’s broke off.”
          “But the cat got away, huh?”
          “Herbert’s sprier or luckier than his owner.”
          “Too bad he can’t talk.”
          Others came inside the apartment and tromped all over Dolly’s carpet. Dolly had been his best friend before she became that thing on the floor. One of the humans held an object to his eyes that clicked and made light flashes.
          Then Herbert heard a voice from outside the open door that make the hair on his back ruffle.
          “What’s going on here? I need to get inside.”
          A soft voice similar to his Dolly’s answered. “Sorry, sir. But I can’t let you in.”
          “This is my girlfriend’s place. I need to see her right now!”
          Herbert half rose and made a small sound.
          Sarge stared at him. “Well now, maybe the cat can talk.” He turned and stepped to the door and blocked the entrance. “I’m Sergeant Doyle. What’s your name, sir?”
          “William Peeler.”
          “And what is your relationship to Dolly Hardiman?”
          “Like I said, I’m her boyfriend. What’s going on here?”
          “There’s been an incident, and I’m afraid your friend is dead,” Sarge explained.
          “Dolly’s dead?”
          “We believe it’s Miss Hardiman, but she’s not been formally identified, as yet. Do you think you could identify her for us?”
          “Of course.”
          “Are you sure. There’s a body in there. Will that disturb you?”
          “Is it Dolly?’
          “Why don’t you step in and tell us.”
          Herbert watched as Sarge move aside and turned to stare at the cat tree as a man moved into the room. Immediately, Herbert stood on stiff legs, bowed his back, and hissed out a snarl.
          Sarge and his companion closed on the young man who had just entered.
          “Mr. Peeler, you need to come down to the station with us.”
          “What? Why?”
          “You’ve just been ID’d.”
          “By who?”
          “By the Buddha in the tree.” 

*****

I’m not a cat person, but I have a friend who is. And I totally believe her cat would spring into action in case disaster befell her.

Let me renew my plea: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you would like to drop me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

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


The next book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, The Lovely Pines is scheduled for release on August 28 of this year. Abaddon’s Locusts follows sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

See you next week.

Don

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


Thursday, April 19, 2018

On Becoming Invisible

dontravis.com blog post #281

Thanks for indulging me last week. That’s all the wallowing in self-pity until next year… I promise.

This week, let’s go back to flash fiction.
*****
Courtesy of Pixabay
ON BECOMING INVISIBLE
For eight years, it was just Mar and Bar, or Mars Bar to some. Blond-headed, green-eyed Barkley was Bar, and black-haired, brown-eyed me was Mario. Thick as thieves, we hung out, backed one another’s plays, made a great horseshoe tossing team, and occasionally got on one another’s nerves.
During one of those latter times, Bar invited Wanda in. She was an all-right girl… so far as girls went. She could bat better than I could, but I was a way better pitcher. Before long, Wanda and I began to grate. Bar was the oil that kept us from flaying one another.
By senior year, she’d managed to wedge her way so firmly between us, I wasn’t even certain if Bar knew I was around any longer. I was flipping invisible to my best friend. We’d be doing something together, and things would be almost like old times when she’d show up and claim his attention. Pow. Just like that, I was invisible, man. Invisible.
A couple of months ago, I figured it had become physical between them. Bar never said as much, but he dropped hints. And Wanda became more defensive. I felt like a fifth-wheel and tried pulling away, but Bar wouldn’t let me. I didn’t understand it any better than Wanda did, but when the best friend I’d ever had wouldn’t let go, no way could I stand on my own two legs and do it myself.
Wanda and Bar enrolled in a local college while I was going out of state, so the summer after graduation was heaven with a lot of torture thrown in. After the break was over, I’d be forcibly parted from my best-buddy-for-life. The thought hurt, but at least the invisibility factor would be ended. I’d be on my own forming new friendships. Midway through the summer break, I realized that same concept had finally struck Bar.
I have no idea if his awakening was a factor or not, but shortly after that, things changed. We went to a baseball game together—without Wanda. She was helping her mother shop. Then a friend’s birthday bash rolled around with Wanda nowhere in sight. Not feeling good, apparently. Then came the Friday night Bar stood outside my window and yelled my name until my father woke me and told me to go shut him up.
He was soused. Broken up like I’d never seen him before. I no sooner settled in the passenger’s seat in his car than he stifled a sob.
“It’s over man. She’s gone.”
“What happened?”
“Richard asked her out. When I called her on it, she said she was free to talk to anybody she wanted.”
For two years now, she hadn’t wanted to talk to anyone but Bar. Hell, she didn’t even talk to me, and I was there practically all the time. Of course, Richard was a good-looking fellow and the captain of the baseball team.
“Did she say yes?”
“She did after I let loose on her. They went on a date tonight.” Bar hickuped. “Why did she have to get in between us. We were just two happy-go-lucky guys until she showed up.”
That was something I did have an opinion on. “As I recall, you—”
I almost bit my tongue when he threw his arms around me and buried his head in my shoulder, sobbing as if he’d just received a death sentence.
My heart raced as I clapped a hand to the back of his head and made shushing noises. Secretly, I was elated. Something went wrong, and he turned to me for consolation. “Hey, man. It’ll be okay. She’ll come crying back tomorrow. You’ll see.”
He lifted his head, and his eyes stabbed me through the darkness. “Maybe… maybe I don’t want her back. Maybe I’d like things to be like they were.”
Hope danced through me, prickling my insides. Did he mean it? Maybe he needed me now more than he needed her. Maybe we’d….
Whoa there, Mario Quincy Jones! Where was this going? A couple of years back I’d have liked to… To what? Get it on with Barkley Jelson? Yeah, I would have. Back then we were a couple of curious kids. That would have been innocent experimentation. But now? Now it would carry more meaning. Maybe more than I wanted. He shifted in the seat, tightening his grip on me.
Oh, Lord! What would I do if he made a move on me? Did I want him to? Yes. No. Maybe. From the way my nerve ends tingled and my mouth went dry, I likely hoped he would. But he must have come to his senses. He released me and leaned back in his own seat.
“What am I?” he demanded. “Some blubbering kid. Take it like a man, Barkley. Won’t be the last time you’ll get dumped.”
He turned in his seat and unleashed a smile that picked up the light from the lamppost in the yard. “But I still got my best bud, don’t I? We’re still Mar and Bar, right? The Mars Bar. For the rest of the summer, it’s just you and me. Okay?”
“The way it was meant to be.”
“Amen, bro.”
After planning a trip to the local swimming pool tomorrow, I got out of the car and stood brimming with happiness at having my best friend back, at no longer being invisible. Then as I watched him pull off down the street, I frowned into the night as something else tugged at me. Could it be regret at not taking advantage of a moment that would never come again?

*****

We all have moments like this in our past, don’t we? Moments we let pass and later regret or feel relieved over. Mario told me later that he heard Bar and Wanda got back together during the next semester. That was okay with him. He was forging new friendships and standing on his own two feet.

Please: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you feel like dropping me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

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


The next book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, The Lovely Pines is scheduled for release on August 28 of this year. Abaddon’s Locusts follows sometime in the first quarter of 2019.

See you next week.

Don

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


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Personal Indulgence: My Blue Period Revisited

dontravis.com blog post #280

Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Regular readers of this blog know that I proclaim three months of the year as my “Blue Period:” February 12, the date of my wife’s death; March 13, her birthday; and April 8, our wedding anniversary. I have just passed through this time of mourning and remembrance for the ninth time. Each year, I find these three months get a bit easier.

But once in a while, something comes out of the blue and whacks me in the head… usually all out of proportion to the occurrence. My wife executed one oil painting in her lifetime, and I proudly had it framed and hung it on the wall. It is a still-life of a brown teapot, an orange, and two pears on a table done in the primitive style. There is nothing exceptional about it, except that she is the one who painted it.

Yesterday as I walked past the painting, it reached out and caught my eye, demanded attention. I stopped and examined it—really examined it—for the first time in quite a while. For a moment, it was as if I suffered my loss anew after all this time. It became fresh and pressing and depressing all out of proportion to the time. And I mourned her again.

I have no idea why that happened at that particular time for that specific reason, but perhaps the loss of my younger brother to lung cancer in December had something to do with it. He and his wife had a particularly close and loving relationship, so his widow is having a difficult time coping with her loss. I text her regularly to share my walk down this path with her and to try to assure her it becomes more manageable as time goes by. Perhaps that’s why I got pole-axed by a painting from the past.

Thanks for indulging me.
*****
Please: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. And keep on submitting your work to publishers and agents. You have something to say… so say it.

If you feel like dropping me a line, my personal links follow:

Facebook: Don Travis
Twitter: @dontravis3

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


The next book in the BJ Vinson Mystery Series, The Lovely Pines is scheduled for release on August 28 of this year.

See you next week.

Don

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