Monday, January 30, 2017

Back on the Air with a short story called “Phoebe”

On January 3, my site went off the air because Google said I failed to renew. Renew? Who knew? I received no requests or warnings, so I blundered blithely on until they pulled the plug. Getting reinstated wasn’t easy, I can tell you. I had to call on St. Larry (whom regular readers have met before) to perform his magic. It took until today, Jan 30 for him to get the reinstatement.

At any rate, I hope not too many people have given up on me and will find the site again. So here we go with another short story.

Phoebe… what a savage name. It rolls off the tongue and evokes images of a rad curvy Greek titan with lustrous blonde hair and sky blue eyes. One of Saturn’s moons got dubbed with that name. You know, after her. Of course, Phoebe’s also a longhorn beetle, but I don’t ever mention that.
A name shared by poets and musicians, actresses and artists, playwrights and screenwriters, Phoebe also served as the given name of the first female U. S. Marshal in America. I know. I looked it up in my Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
The Phoebe in my life wasn’t up to those standards… yet. Of course, we’re still in high school so she has some growing to do. Okay, she’s a little vanilla, but she’ll develop into her name. Then too, she’s a brunette with brown eyes, but they’re nice brown eyes. Can’t quite claim she’s voluptuous. Still, I can look down the road and picture how she’ll be… when she gets there. Yeah, my Phoebe will do just fine.
Except she’s not really my Phoebe. We’ve been buds for years. Sat beside one another in more classes than I can count. Been to the same fleekin' parties together. But not … together. I sus she thinks on me like fam. That was going to change. Today. I asked her to meet me in the park after school and snuck out of my last class a little early to swing by the drug store for two strawberry milkshakes. That’s her dime… you know, favorite.
By the time I entered the park, she already sat at a picnic table reading and scratching the back of her head. Probably chilling on a romance novel. Bad. Nobody around.
Phoebe closed the book, which turned out to be our geometry text, and accepted the milkshake I offered. She took a big slug before speaking. “What’s up?”
“Does something have to be up?” I dissembled. This was harder than I imagined. We’d exchanged thousands of words—maybe millions—but none like the ones I wanted to say.
She blinked. “Not every day you ask me to meet you in the park. You need help with one of your classes?” She took another deep draw on the straw.
I smiled and shook my head. My egghead Phoebe. She set the grading curve in her classes so high the jocks bleeped her. But I managed to keep up. “Nope. Acing my classes.”
She plopped the book down on the concrete table and crossed her hands on top of the text. They were kinda broad and stubby. Another sign she’d fill out when her day came. “Okay, what?” she asked.
“We haven’t collected any down time together lately.”
“We studied for the biology test for two hours not more’n three days ago.” She raised her hands and slapped them back down on the book. “And we test quizzed one another on geometry yesterday. What else do you want?”
“Well. You know, some personal time.”
“Personal time? Since when do we need personal time, Boris Whiznant?” She stopped talking, and I endured a piercing stare from those brown orbs. “Are you getting funny ideas?”
I slipped off the table where I’d been perched and took the bench opposite her. “Funny ideas?”
“We’ve known each other since the fifth grade. We’re buddies. Pals. Study freaks. You gonna mess that all up?”
“H-how?” I stammered.
“OMG, you are! By getting mushy, that’s how.”
“I don’t want to be pals. Buddies. I want—” I had to stop and gulp air “—to go out with you.”
“Go out with me?” Her big mouth dropped open. I thought for a minute she was going to kek. “You mean like hashtag BF, GF?”
I reared back and said it like a man. “Yeah, exactly like that. I want you to be my girlfriend.”
I could have taken it if she had keked—you know laughed aloud. Instead, she threw dark shade at me like I was something gross lying on the table, got to her feet, and collected her textbook, pausing long enough to slurp down the rest of the shake. “I can’t even.”
“How come, Phoebe? Lay it one me.”
She shrugged her wide shoulders, another reason why she’d be—
“How do you chill with someone named Boris? Boris for crying out loud. You can’t make a cute pet handle out of Boris. You can call John, Johnny. Tim, Timmie. But Borie is boring. Borisee sounds like a German lake. Can’t shorten it. Bor is a wild pig. Can’t use the second syllable, either. Is is a part of the verb ‘to be.’ And Isie? Yuk!” She made a rude sound through her nose. “I just can’t.” She edged out from between the concrete bench and table, finished the dregs of her milkshake, and walked away.
I stood and yelled after her. “You can’t go out with me because of my name? Because of my name?”
I plopped back down on the hard concrete and rested my head in my hands. Unbelievable. Just because of my name. How shallow can you get?

Hope you recognize some of the current teen slang. It almost left me behind… and I wrote it! At any rate, let me know what you think at

Keep on reading, guys. I always look forward to hearing from you.

See you next week.


Next post will be at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, putting us back on schedule.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

PI Clients Are Not Always Pleasant (A reprint)

 I chose to reprint the following from near the beginning of Chapter 1 of THE BISTI BUSINESS for this week’s post because DSP Publications will be releasing this book before long.

In the scene, BJ is working late one evening when he receives a phone call from an individual looking for his son who—together with his traveling companion Dana Norville—is overdue from a vacation trip to the great state of New Mexico. The passage makes plain that confidential investigators occasionally end up dealing with clients they don’t personally like and, just as in any other profession, come face to face with bigotry on occasions. It also points out that PIs generally prefer to deal with attorneys as clients because lawyers realize what the rest of us do not. PI’s are information gatherers, not detectives who go around solving crimes… except in fiction… such as in THE BISTI BUSINESS, for example. The scene also allows me to highlight some New Mexico history. Enjoy.

Cover by Mary Fanning

“How about Norville?”
“That bastard’s a dyed-in-the-wool pansy, and he’s contaminating my son.”
I bit my tongue at the sophomoric outburst. “For your information, Mr. Alfano, I’m pretty ‘dyed-in-the-wool’ myself. I think you need to call someone else.”
“Now wait a minute.” Anthony Alfano obviously was not accustomed to getting the brush-off. “I know all about you. And except for that—nonsense—you’ve got a good reputation. You can move in both the straight world and the gay world. You’re the one I want. Find my son, Vinson, and send him home to his mother and me.”
“It’s Mr. Vinson.” Might as well set the bigoted SOB straight right at the beginning.
“All right, Mr. Vinson, score one for you. Are you sure you’re gay? You don’t sound it.”
“Does your son?”
“No, but—”
“But in your dreams he’s not twisted, right? How about Norville? Am I looking for a flaming queen?”
“Of course, not. Lando wouldn’t hang out with someone like that. No, I’ve got to admit, looking at Dana Norville, you wouldn’t suspect.”
“Then how can you be certain?”
“I did a quick background check on Norville when the two of them started bumming around together, and the guy was clean. But when they…uh, got close, I took another look and found the man Norville had been shacking up with before he latched onto my son.”
“Very well, Mr. Alfano, I’ll look into the matter. I’ll do it for Orlando and Dana, but you’re going to be footing the bills.”
He promised to have his secretary in California call Hazel tomorrow with the credit card information for my retainer and to provide anything else we requested. I asked him to email color photos of the two men. If they were as close as he believed, there would be a few around somewhere. He also gave me his son’s cell and pager numbers.
After hanging up, I tapped my desk blotter with a gold and onyx letter opener fashioned into a miniature Toledo blade. I sighed aloud. The Alfano case had all the hallmarks of developing into a nightmare. Working for attorneys was easier; they understood the process. Private individuals had a warped idea of what a PI did, which was nothing more or less than gathering information. But I was committed, so I might as well make the best of it.
I returned to the visual meditation of the landscape outside my window. As nature’s glow dimmed, man-made lights came alive: amber lampposts, white fluorescents, flamboyant neons, yellow vehicle headlights reflecting off wet pavement, and far in the distance a tiny spot moving slowly across the sky—one of the aerial trams hauling patrons up Sandia Peak’s rugged western escarpment to the restaurant atop the mountain.
By leaning forward, I caught the faint, rosy underbelly of a western cloudbank, the lingering legacy of a dead sunset. Was that what had drawn Orando and Dana to the Land of Enchantment? Spectacular scenery and surreal sunsets? Or was it our rich heritage of Indian and Hispanic art? The two were history majors, and Albuquerque had a long history. It was approaching its 300th birthday, while Santa Fe and many of the nearby Indian Pueblos had longer lifelines.


The Zozobra Incident was released by DSP this past November. Bisti, along with The City of Rocks will be published in 2017. The novels feature the adventures of BJ Vinson and his partner, Paul Barton.

Keep on reading, guys. I always look forward to hearing from you at

See you next week.


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

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