Thursday, September 20, 2018

Don Travis: PIQUANT

Don Travis: PIQUANT: dontravis.com blog post #303     Courtesy of PxHere Free Prints “Larry and Laura” is popular according to page hits, but not many ...

PIQUANT


dontravis.com blog post #303
  
Courtesy of PxHere Free Prints
“Larry and Laura” is popular according to page hits, but not many of you contacted me with comments. Let’s try another short one this week.

*****
PIQUANT
          Sometimes vocabulary—you know, words—can get you into trouble.
          Let me tell you what I mean. My name is Wylie, and I’m about as different from the other kids in my class as my name is from Robert or John. I guess you could say, I’m confused. Sometimes I see Helen Hagen practicing with the other cheerleaders and I get all steamy from looking at her curves and long blonde hair. You know, feeling weird down there and ashamed someone will see and hoping she does. Okay, that’s the way it’s supposed to be, so what’s the problem?
          The problem is Robby Belson, who’s the team quarterback and as pretty as Helen is… except in a different way. And he’s as curvy as she is, too… but still in a different sort of way. But my insides treat them the same. I get syrupy and weak-kneed and stutter and embarrassed around either one of them.
          I’m not on the team, but I run the snack bar at the school’s field, so I’m around both the team and the cheerleaders a lot. Worse, I have classes with the two of them. And to top things off, I do better in the classes than either one. Especially, in the English class. That’s where I got in trouble.
           Miss Hardesty was talking to us about vocabulary. How everyone needs a better one. How to build one. As usual, she picked on me to make her point.
          “Wylie, describe Helen in one word.”
          “Beautiful.” I’m sure I blushed a little, but she merely smiled.
          “Come now, you can do better than that. You have a great vocabulary. Use it.”
          “Lovely, alluring, glamorous.” My mouth got started and wouldn’t stop. “Exquisite, radiant—”
          “Excellent,” she interrupted. “Now describe Robby in one word.”
          “Piquant,” I blurted without thinking.
          Someone from the back of the room spoke into the sudden hush. “Doesn’t that mean hot and spicy?”
          Ears flaming, cheeks scarlet, I nodded my head. “Y-yes.”
          Thank goodness, Miss Hardesty moved on to others to make her points. I sat for the rest of the class with my head down, not daring to look at anyone.
          I walked home alone feeling as low as a wad of gum on a shoe sole. Everyone stared at my back as I passed by, or at least I was convinced of that.
          I followed my usual pattern of grabbing a glass of milk and a cookie to settle down at the kitchen table to do my homework. I always finished it before my folks got home. Dad was a carpenter and mom worked at a day care center.
          Finished with my lessons, I was considering splurging on another cookie when the phone rang. My spirits soared through the roof on hearing the voice on the other end.
          “Wanna go for a Coke?”

*****
Okay, so who do you think called? Helen? Robby? Miss Hardesty? Your imagination can fill in the answer… and take you down the road a bit farther.

My latest book, The Lovely Pines, is now out. Please get a copy and give me feedback on the novel. Some Amazon reviews would also help.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to the Lovely Pines:



Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019, and The Voxlightner Scandal is coming along.

See you next week.

Don

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


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Don Travis: ZYNDI ZUE

Don Travis: ZYNDI ZUE: dontravis.com blog post #302 Once again, funny. “Larry and Laura” got a ton of page views… very few comments. Go figure. Here’s...

ZYNDI ZUE


dontravis.com blog post #302

Once again, funny. “Larry and Laura” got a ton of page views… very few comments. Go figure.

Here’s some more nonsense for this week.

*****
ZYNDI ZUE

          Prissy Pullman eyed her best friend across the malt shop’s checkered tablecloth, disbelief clouding her eyes. “You can’t do this!”
          “Already did,” said Cynthia Sue Breedwell, teasing her recently dyed red, orange, and blue hair through long fingers tipped with ebony nails. “Also got a nose piercing, and put three earbobs in each lobe yesterday. The tats will come later. By the way, call me Zyndi Zue from now on.”
          Prissy eyed her friend’s hair critically. “Red and orange?”
          “And Blue.”
           “Ugh.!
           “You’ll get used to it. I already have.”
           “That’s because you don’t look in the mirror all day while I have to watch you for hours.”
          Zyndi Zue regarded her through magenta accented eyes. “You don’t have to, you know.”
          Prissy’s’ gasp drew the attention of half a dozen staring spectators. “Cynthia! I—”
          “Zyndi. If you want to remain my friend, I’m Zyndi Zue.”
          Prissy pulled a frown. “Do I have to?”
          “You hafta. That’s how I’ll tell friends from foes.”
          “You don’t have any foes.”
          “Not before I dyed my hair. Now we’ll see.”
          Prissy couldn’t argue with that, so she returned to wailing. “But you’ll never get any boyfriends. Not looking like that.”
           Zyndi shrugged. “Who needs ‘em?”
           “You do. I do. We all do.”
          “That’s what they want us to think. Besides, they’ll come.”
          Prissy’s nose caught a sharp odor. “Ugh, what’s that smell?”
          “Brut.”
          “Brut? That’s a man’s aftershave. It… it smells okay on them, but on you? Why are you doing this?”
          “I’m resigning from the world and telling it to go screw itself.”
          “What do your folks think?”
          “I’ll tell you when my mother stops fainting every time she sees me.”
          “What about Frank?”
           Frank had been Cynthia’s boyfriend since forever. Prissy always believed nothing could ever come between them. But blue and red and orange hair might just do it.
          Zyndi waved dismissively. “Who cares? He’s history, anyway.”
          “No! When?”
          “Last week. He thought we ought to broaden our horizons, live life a little.” Zyndi Zue framed her face with both hands. “So I took him at his word.”
           Prissy compressed her lips for a moment before speaking. “I’m not sure he meant this.”
           “Who cares what he meant. He doesn’t fit the new me, anyway.”
           Despite herself, Prissy blurted: “Who does?”
           “Maybe nobody, but who cares?”
           Prissy returned to what was important to her. “Have you thought this through, Cynthia… uh, Zyndi? There isn’t a boy in our whole school who’ll have anything to do with a girl who walks around lit up like a neon.”
           Zyndi fluttered lashes heavy with mascara. “This is a big town. There are other boys besides the duds in our school.”
          “But how will you meet them?”
           Zyndi shrugged her as yet untattooed shoulders. “Who knows, but it can’t be that hard.”
          “I’m not sure—”
          A deep masculine voice interrupted Prissy. “Well, hellooo, mama!”
          They looked up to see a well-shaped young man with spiked pink hair and a ring in his nose. Black and green ink snaked up his tanned arms and disappeared beneath the sleeve of his T-shirt.
          “I’ve not seen you before?” he continued, staring at Zyndi.
          “I’ve not been before,” she countered. “Not until yesterday.”
          “I’m Zhak. You need orienting?”
          “Big time.”
          Zhak held out a hand. Zyndi took it, stood, and fluttered the fingers of her unencumbered hand at her friend. “See you later.”
          Prissy sat with her mouth hanging open as the two disappeared through the malt shop door. At length, she shook her head and blinked.
          Wonder how I'd look in cherry and gold?

*****
Did you see anyone you recognized? Your younger self, perhaps?

Don’t forget that The Lovely Pines is now out. Please get a copy of the book and give me feedback.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to the Lovely Pines, which (as noted) was released on August 28:



Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019. I’m  hard at work on the first draft of The Voxlightner Scandal.

See you next week.

Don

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


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Don Travis: LARRY AND LAURA

Don Travis: LARRY AND LAURA: dontravis.com blog post #301     Courtesy of Pixabay.com Funny how things go. Sometimes I get a lot of page views and a few comm...

LARRY AND LAURA


dontravis.com blog post #301
  
Courtesy of Pixabay.com
Funny how things go. Sometimes I get a lot of page views and a few comments or a few views and lots of comments. “Walls” prompted a number of both.

Here’s some more short fiction for this week.

*****
LARRY AND LAURA


          Larry hooked one thumb in his brown leather belt and pushed chestnut locks off his forehead with the other. “Funny about love. You ever notice that? Sometimes you gotta plant a seed and water it and hope it grows. That’s the way it was with Luther and Dahlia.”
          Laura thought of the wedding they’d attended an hour or so ago before wandering down the hill for a little solitude. “Shoot, anybody who knew that couple coulda told you how it was with them two years back.” Laura wished he’d notice her new frock.
          “Yeah, but they didn’t face up to it. Not ‘til Luther finally got it in his head that’s the way it was.”
          “Wasn’t all his decision. She had to figure out her end, too.”
          He studied the water oak towering above them. “Nice shade on a hot summer day like this.” He sighed and answered her “Still, nothing happened ‘til he decided the way it was.”
          She cast a blue eye at him. “Just because she got there before he did, doesn’t mean he was the lead ox,” silently adding. Just the ox.
          Larry took no notice of the bite in her voice. “Now with Charlie and Maggie, it just kinda arrived all at once. You know, full bloom.”
          She eyed him again without him taking notice. “Yeah, full bloom.”
          The whole countryside knew Maggie set her cap for Charlie before they got out of high school. Course, Charlie almost didn’t make it out of school. Probably wouldn’t have if he hadn’t played football.
          Larry skipped a stone across the creek and leaned against the bole of the oak. “Most all our friends got hooked up.”
          “Or ran for the hills. Like John and Edgar.”
          “Didn’t exactly run for the hills,” he protested. “John got a job over in Harreltown, and Edgar joined the army.”
          “Same thing.”
          “Maybe so.”
          Laura leaned against the tree beside him and rested her head in the crook of his arm. Would the dolt ever get around to it, or would she have to give him a shove?
          “Creek’s running high. Probably good fishing. Shoulda brought a pole.” He looked down at her. “You got anything to make a hook out of?”
          “Not a thing. We didn’t come here to go fishing.”
          He gave another sigh. “Fishing’s about the most relaxing thing I know.”
          “I don’t doubt that, Not for a minute.”
          Well, that was that. He was off and running in a different direction now. No telling when she’d get him back on the subject. Wait for another wedding? They were running out of marriageable friends.
          He gave her a quick hug. “How… how you think it was for us… honey? You know, the love thing?”
          Despite the joy bubbling in her bosom, she couldn’t resist one more swipe. “Like a mustard seed, Larry. Like a mustard seed.”


*****
A little change of pace from last week, don’t you think? Hope you enjoyed that idyllic slice of life.

Don’t forget that The Lovely Pines came out last week. Hope you’ll get a copy of the book and read it. If so, please give me feedback.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to the Lovely Pines, which (as noted) was released on August 28:



Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019. I’m  hard at work on the first draft of The Voxlightner Scandal.

See you next week.

Don

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



Thursday, August 30, 2018

Don Travis: Walls

Don Travis: Walls: dontravis.com blog post #300 Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons The Lovely Pines was released this past Tuesday, August 28. It’s always...

Walls


dontravis.com blog post #300

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Lovely Pines was released this past Tuesday, August 28. It’s always a good feeling when a fellow has a book published, and this one’s no exception. I do hope you’ll get a copy and read it.

After plugging my book last week, today we’ll return to some short fiction. It’s long for a blog—1,000 words—but stick with it to the end. It might surprise you. Here we go.

*****
WALLS

          I loved Leah from the first moment I saw her. That’s not right. She was just pretty the first time. The second time, she was smart and interesting. The third time I fell for her… hard. She later told me it took three months before she reached that conclusion about me.
          “Lyle,” she said. “I wasn’t even sure I liked you the first time we met.”
          That had been at a neighbor’s backyard barbecue party. I tried to be charming and overdid the thing, most likely. She was a thirtyish widow at the time, and I was coming off a torrid, two-year affair with Jacob Flynch.
          In retrospect, I suppose the walls were there from the beginning, but we were too involved in getting to know each other and setting up a household to realize it. Jacob, still a friend, was in my life, but Harold was absent. She instinctively disliked my Jake, and I didn’t know her Harold. It was natural that I was reluctant to talk much about a guy I’d shared a long gay relationship with, but she was just as loath to reveal her dead husband to me.
          A year of enjoying what we had together allowed us to establish the boundaries of what we would and what we would not discuss. Even so, the first symptoms of the malaise racing towards our marriage took shape when she skipped some events attended by Jake and his wife, both of whom remained in our circle of friends.
          Perhaps in retaliation, I asked about her dead spouse, a subject always touchy. When I had listened instead of indulged in talking at social gatherings, a few rumors permeated my consciousness. Overbearing. Violent? If that was all, why couldn’t she talk about it with me? After all, I was an open book to her… except about Jake, of course. Which meant the last two years of my life were off limits.
          “How come you don’t talk about him,” I asked bluntly one day. “Whenever I ask, a wall goes up. Invisible, but as substantial as brick and mortar.”
          “And why won’t you talk about Jacob Flynch?”
          “You don’t like him, that’s why.”
          “Well, you wouldn’t have liked Harold, either.”
          “How do I know? I don’t know who he was.”
          “I did. So take my word for it.”
          Except for the walls around these two subjects, our life was nice… comfortable. I made a good living as an architect; she contributed considerably as an artist. There were years she made more than I did, but those were rare. Gradually, the walls lowered but never disappeared. Anytime I broached the subject of her first husband, they returned, substantial and insurmountable. Whenever I spoke of Harold, she raised Jake.
          “I’ve heard things, you know,” I said one day after a verbal skirmish.
          She stopped me cold with a raised eyebrow and the words “so have I.”
          It’s hard to pursue a legitimate line of inquiry when you have a corker like mine riding your shoulder.
          Everything came to a head the evening of our fifth anniversary. Leah was in a fury as we came home from a party Jake had thrown for us. She slammed out of the car and marched up the stairs to our second-floor bedroom with a spine so stiff it would have done a Marine honor. I’d turned everything upside down with my toast to her. And to this minute, I didn’t know exactly why I’d done it.
          I’d raised my glass and gazed into her eyes as I said, “My most fervent wish, my darling, is that I were your first husband.”
         That sounded terribly romantic—at least to me—until I heard Jake mutter under his breath, “You mean dead?”
          Leah turned to ice right in front of me and everyone else. The party broke up shortly after that. Now I followed her rigid frame up the stairway.
          “What was wrong with my toast?”
          She whirled in the middle of our bedroom. Rage turned her ugly. Her nose and ears flared a dark pink. The splotches on her cheeks were something akin to magenta. Not a good combination beneath her makeup. Anger did something to her perfume, rendering it rancid. “What was wrong with it? You brought him to our anniversary!”
          I wasn’t certain if she meant Harold or Jake.”
          “You’re so set on learning about him?” she snarled. “Well, I’ll tell you about him. He beat me. Not just struck me. He beat me. You want to know why we don’t have children? Because he… he injured me down there. You—”
          “I’m so sorry, Leah. I didn’t—”
          “Don’t ‘I didn’t know’ me. The whole room knew. Ask your boyfriend about him. He knows, and if he does, so do you. And you told them all you’d like to be Harold.”
          “That’s not what I meant. And everyone knows it… except you. Honey, you don’t have to—”
          I dodged a pillow. “Get out! Go downstairs. Go anywhere. Go to your lover boy, for all I care,” she shrieked.
          “Leah, that was over—”
          “Then why is he in our life? You’ve flaunted Jacob Flynch in front of me for five years. Well, I’m sick of it. Go back to him. I don’t care. Go back to him!”
          I’d like to say she was crying at this point, but she wasn’t. Pure spite shone in her eyes. Her carefully pinned and sprayed hair hung limp over one ear.
          I collected my dignity and took the higher road. “I’ll sleep in the downstairs bedroom tonight, and we’ll discuss this rationally in the morning.”
          I turned and walked out of the room. At the head of the stairs, I paused to think. How had Harold died?
          “That’s right,” Leah said. “He fell down the stairs and broke his neck.”
          I whirled. She was right behind me.

*****
Well, what do you think? Should she be called Lethal Leah or Tragic Leah. Or are they mutually exclusive. I know what I think happened and would be pleased to know the conclusion you draw.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it.

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/donald.travis.982
Twitter: @dontravis3

Here are some buy links to the Lovely Pines, which (as noted) was released on August 28:



Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019. I’m still only 70 percent of the way through the first draft of The Voxlightner Scandal. Had some setbacks.

See you next week.

Don

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


Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Lovely Pines


dontravis.com blog post #299
  
Artist, Maria Fanning
People apparently liked MoonPie Davis. He got a lot of page views and a few comments from readers. I really enjoy hearing from you because it lets me know how I’m doing .

I know we had a recent post on The Lovely Pines, but the book’s release date is Tuesday the 28th, so can’t resist the urge. This is the fourth book in the BJ Vinson series, and I chose to make the setting of the novel north of Albuquerque in the wine country. Many people don’t know that New Mexico was one of the earliest wine-producing regions in North America. Nor is it common knowledge that the town of Bernalillo fifteen miles north of Albuquerque was originally established around a thousand years ago as an Anasazi settlement. It was abandoned when the Spanish arrived and made it a military encampment. Placitas, a small (but pricey) settlement west of Bernalillo On the slopes of Sandia Mountain was also originally settled by the ancient ones. Of course, if you read my book, you’ll be introduced to those facts.

I had to do a little research for this one because, you see, I don’t drink. About twice a year I’ll have a glass of red wine with a meal, but I have no “nose” for wines. I can’t tell the difference between a good one and a mediocre one.

The scene I’ve chosen below comes at the end of Chapter 2. BJ is making his first trip to the Lovely Pines Winery and Vineyard at Valle Plácido just east of Placitas. He’s been engaged to investigate a senseless break-in at the winery during which a hasp was pried off to gain admission, but nothing was taken nor was there vandalism. It’s a background scene, not an action scene. When it opens, BJ is talking to James Bledsong, a transplanted Californian, who is both vigneron (responsible for cultivating the vineyard) and viticulturist (in charge of the health and well-being of the fields). I hope it gives you a feeling of the book.

*****
THE LOVELY PINES
“Old man C de Baca was a pretty good viticulturist. He didn’t overplant. He used an eight-foot by five-foot spacing, and that yields around 1,000 vines per acre. We’re stepping it down a little, so the newly planted acreage will average around 1,500 plants. We get about four or five tons of grapes to the acre. We could produce more, but the lower harvest gives us a sweeter fruit. So we do some green harvesting.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Green harvesting?”
“That’s what we call removing some of the immature grape clusters. When these new plants mature, Mr. Gonda will be able to cork eighty thousand bottles a year or more.”
“That much?”
“Oh yeah. And a high percentage of it’ll be good quality wine too.”
“Do you have any ideas about what happened a couple of weeks ago?”
“You mean the break-in? That happened at night, and I’m too far from the winery to have heard anything.” He pointed over his shoulder to the larger of the two buildings at the east end of the field. “That’s my house over there. It’s just me and my wife, Margaret. Maggie, I call her.”
“No children?”
A look of pain crossed his pleasant features. “Late-term miscarriage. Maggie can’t have anymore. Sometimes it weighs her down.”
“I’m sorry. But she’ll compensate. You both will.”
“She already has. She’s active in the Healthy Nation. It’s a group of families in the area that works with local children to keep them out of trouble.”
“Sounds like a good organization. How about your people? What’s the scuttlebutt among them?”
“The guys who work for me, you mean? There are only two of them, Claudio Garcia and Winfield Tso.” He pointed to two men working among the plants some distance away. One figure towered over the other, putting me in mind of the old Mutt and Jeff cartoons. “I guess they figure the deputies were right. Kids, most likely,” Bledsong added.
“I don’t know many kids who’d go to the trouble of prying a hasp off a door to a winery without doing damage beyond throwing some papers around and making off with a single bottle of wine.”
“Yeah, that bothers me too. It’s a puzzler.”
“Any problems like that in the vineyard?”
“The lake’s outside the fence, so kids come swim sometimes. We don’t have a wall like they do around the winery, but our cyclone fence keeps wildlife—including kids—out of the field better than four feet of rock. Anybody and anything can get over the wall over yonder.”
I asked a few more questions before returning to the chateau. On the way I started to change tapes in my little machine before remembering I’d joined the modern world and now used a digital recorder.
Gonda was still at the winery, but Margot showed me the tasting room—which was empty at the moment—where I learned I’d been drinking wine the wrong way for lo these many years. It wasn’t a soda and shouldn’t be imbibed in the same manner. Then she insisted we have a cup of espresso in the Bistro, where I met the cook, a plump lady with an angel face named Nellie Bright. A local girl introduced as Katie served us at a small, intimate table in the corner.
“Are you on board with this?” I asked as soon as we were situated.
“On board? Ah, you mean do I approve? After all these years, your colloquialisms still throw me on occasion.”
I had assumed she was native-born. She spoke with no appreciable accent. “You’re Swiss?”
“Oh yes. I come from Bern. Ariel and I met at the University of Zurich, where I was reading finance and he was taking a degree in oenology.” She noticed my frown and came to the rescue. “That’s the science of winemaking. He also holds a second read… what you call a minor… in finance. We were wed in Valois in June of 1988, shortly before he came to the United States. I followed later. But to answer your question, yes, I am on board, as you say. If the incident worries Ariel, then it worries me as well.”
“Do you have any idea what might be going on? Sometimes wives see things husbands don’t.”
She spread her hands, palms up. “I am at a loss. I can find no explanation for anyone breaking into the winery. Perhaps the sheriff’s office is correct. It was children.”
I asked Margot the same question I put to Bledsong earlier about children breaking in without at least stealing a lot of wine.
She frowned. “Then what could it be?” At that moment I believe the incident became as serious to her as it was to her husband.
Shortly thereafter, I excused myself and wandered back to the winery. Gonda was in his lab, but I didn’t bother him. I merely walked around the place seeing what I could figure out on my own. I found the press and what I was pretty sure was the primary fermentation equipment. I also figured out the secondary fermentation setup, but beyond that I was lost.
The cellar beckoned, and I wandered down the long, silent rows of barrels. The temperature and the high humidity raised chill bumps on my arms. When I reached the area against the rear wall that looked like a campout spot, I paused to consider things.
The two wine bottles—the one disturbed in the rack and the one taken—argued someone gained access to the winery when they were not supposed to. There had been no additional break-ins, and Gonda kept tight control of the keys. That suggested the intruder laid his hands on a duplicate set.
Whoa, now, Vinson. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Do the background checks and see if anything turns up that suggests skullduggery on the part of an employee. After all, they wander in and out of the place all day long. Gonda wasn’t constantly in his lab, so someone could have entered and fussed with the champagne bottle. Likewise, it wouldn’t be too hard to smuggle a bottle from the cellar during work hours.
The only way in and out of the cellar was through the winery, and thence to the outside by means of any one of three exits: the main entry at the front, a smaller portal opening to the east, and a large roll-up door giving out onto a loading dock on the west side. All three doors were sturdy and showed no evidence of damage, no appearance of having been picked. Of course, an expert thief would probably leave no such evidence. Gonda assured me all the locks had been changed after he acquired the business from the C de Bacas.
No, the break-in was not the work of a professional. Professionals did not rip a hasp from the door unless they were doing a smash-and-grab job. And this had not been one of those operations. Stealth. Except for the hasp.
I made a point of shaking hands with each of the three winery workers. Parson Jones was a black man in his early forties. Bascomb Zuniga looked to be a Hispanic barely old enough to work around alcohol. John Hakamora, a Japanese American, said he came out of the south-central New Mexico lettuce fields. Marc Juisson, the nephew, was away on a business trip, so I would meet him later.
It was midafternoon before I collected the payroll records from Margot and promised to have Charlie Weeks contact her to come out to fingerprint everyone. Then, with the champagne bottle still in its protective wrapper, I climbed into my white Impala and headed for Albuquerque. I’d tackle the two vineyard workers later.

*****
Again, I apologize for doing another post on the book so close to an earlier one, but its pending release in five days overrode my common sense..

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. 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 the Lovely Pines, which (as noted) is programmed for release on August 28 (which is coming up fast):



Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019. I’m about 70 percent of the way through the first draft of The Voxlightner Scandal.

See you next week.

Don

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


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Don Travis: MoonPie Davis

Don Travis: MoonPie Davis: dontravis.com blog post #298 Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons I got 93 page views from Japan in one day on last week’s “Holly and the ...

MoonPie Davis

dontravis.com blog post #298

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I got 93 page views from Japan in one day on last week’s “Holly and the Gang.” A couple of times a year, I get a thousand or so hits from Israel. I wonder what prompts folks from a particular country or region to decide to look at my blog. They tell me it’s the keywords I attach to my posts, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out the proper ones to use… except for two or three times a year, apparently.

This week we’ll go for a short, short story a little different from last week’s.

*****
MOONPIE DAVIS
          MoonPie Davis… that was what everybody called me, even the grownups—including my parents. I think most folks forgot my real name was Monroe. I pretty much lost that moniker at the swimming pool back when I was ten. When I came out of the water, my swimming trunks—an oversized hand-me-down from my older brother—slipped down over my buttocks. Naturally, everybody in town heard I’d mooned half the population, so I became Moon. That morphed into Moonie. Cynthia Swearingen added the p because I think she was sweet on me at the time… not so much now. But the p remained. Now I was Nickeltown’s MoonPie.
          Nickeltown was about as far back in the sticks as you could get. Heck, we couldn’t even claim to be a one light town, we didn’t have any traffic lights at all. I can only think of two stop signs inside the berg’s limits. Twenty-seven of us kids graduated from high school this past May. Now it was the final summer before going off to college or hunting down a permanent job, and I found it stressful.
          Alfie Summers was my best friend forever. We’d grown up together, gotten in trouble together, jerked off together once, graduated together. He was leaving for school in Texas in a few weeks, and I was going to miss him like crazy.
          Wanda Sparks was my girlfriend. We’d also grown up together and graduated together… and I wished we’d jerked off together—or the equivalent thereof. She was heading to New Mexico for her higher education, also in a few weeks.
          My life was being rent apart. I was heading for Arkansas to college where I didn’t know a soul and where no one understood me the way these two did. I wasted a week mooning around—what did you expect with a name like MoonPie? That was another thing, I’d have to get used to answering to Monroe again.
          As the time to leave for college neared, I reached the conclusion the remaining days didn’t have enough time for both my friends. I would have to make a choice. Alfie was comfortable and interesting and exciting to be around. Wanda was, too. But in a different way. Unfortunately, they didn’t get along with one another well enough for us to buddy around. It only recently dawned on me why this was. They vied for my attention. Made me feel squirrelly when I understood that. Who would fight over MoonPie Davis? These two, I guess. But it was one or the other, that much was clear.
          I took a day off from both of them to figure out my dilemma. It was a miserable day. Like I’d deprived myself of oxygen or something. Worse, it was a harbinger for days to come when neither of them would even be in the same state with me. As the endless day wore on, I tried to decide which one I missed the most. The answer was, both of them. Alfie made me laugh, challenged me at ball and chess and in the swimming pool. Wanda made me feel funny inside. I liked putting my arm around her shoulder in the movie and drawing her close. She smelled good. Felt good.
          When I boiled it down in my mind, it came down to sex. I’d graduated from high school and hadn’t had any yet. Arrested development, some would say, although I’m convinced half the guys who crowed over making it with their girls were bullshitters. If not, then most of the girls in this bible belt town were sluts, and that was hard to swallow.
          Nonetheless, that’s what all this came down to. I preferred Alfie’s company but craved what Wanda guarded. Guarded. That’s exactly what she did. Guarded her virginity. Was she gonna give in and invite me to participate? Not likely. For the rest of the summer, I’d go home at night aching and unfulfilled. Now, on the other hand, I was pretty sure I could talk Alfie out of his pants again. Wasn’t the same, but it was something.
          That made my decision much easier.

*****
Well, did MoonPie make the right decision? Hard to say. One route might be right for some, and the other way might be right for others. That’s what makes the world go round, folks. Hope you enjoyed my musings.

Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. 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 the Lovely Pines, programmed for release on August 28 (which is coming up fast):



Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019. I’m about 60 percent of the way through the first draft of The Voxlightner Scandal.

See you next week.

Don

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


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Holly and the Gang

dontravis.com blog post #296
  
Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures
I received a lot of page views on last week’s post about rain in New Mexico. Most of the hits were from outside the US. For the week, the most viewers came from Ukraine, followed by Russia, China, and Canada. Domestic viewers came in fifth. I thought that was interesting enough to share.

This week, let’s go for a short, short story called “Holly and the Gang.” Hope you like it.

*****
HOLLY AND THE GANG

          I don’t know why I think of it as Holly and the gang. By rights, it should be Holly’s gang. Gang’s not quite right, either. Can four kids—including Holly—make up a gang? According to some of the neighbors, the answer is yes.
          It started off with me’n Joey Staller some six years back. We were next door neighbors; me eight and him just barely nine. Carlos Hills started hanging around, so we included him even though he lived two streets over from us. Then Holly and her family moved into a house down at the end of the block. At first, we didn’t know what to make of her, but she was such a tomboy it wasn’t long before she fit right in. That’s probably when we earned the reputation as a gang.
          Holly was lots bolder than the rest of us. Except maybe for Joey. He was all for making mischief, but I’d been able to put a halter on him most of the time. But when Holly came along, it was two against one. Carlos always went with the flow.
          First, it was mailboxes. Not stealing, mind you. Just knocking them over and running like hell before someone came out and dusted our britches. Then it was letting air out of tires. Not puncturing them, just deflating them. No harm done, right? Not till old Mr. Harcourt two doors down didn’t know the difference between deflating and a flat and tried to change his tire on a sloping driveway, ending up on his butt when the jack collapsed. Pretty soon, it was like every day was Halloween. Trick or treat time, except we didn’t give our victims any option.
          Of course, we got caught a time or two and earned grounding for a week or a switching… or both. But led by Holly, we didn’t let such temporary setbacks bother us.
          Holly was a buddy, a pal, just like the other guys… until the day I noticed bumps beneath her grass-stained sweatshirt. Joey saw them, too, and spent a lot of time staring at them. Holly wouldn’t go skinny dipping anymore after that. Other things changed, too. Joey, my lifelong pal, started going squirrelly on me. If Holly whispered something in my ear, he’d puff up and demand to know what secret she’d shared, sometimes threatening to flatten my nose for me.
          “Pauly, you tell me what she said, or I’ll bust your chops.”
          “Go ask Holly. If she wants you to know, she’ll tell you.”
          “I’m asking you.”
          Somehow something always seemed to come up to prevent bloodshed. Most of the time what she whispered was something as innocuous as “Someday I’d like to live in California,” or “I saw Harry Knox kiss Eloise Randall.” Nothings. But if she whispered them in my ear, they were just for me, right?
           It got so that I started finding other things to do besides hang out with my buds, but inevitably, Holly would show up at my door with the other two behind her and call me out to go to a show or on a hike or something. I’d usually give in, but something was changing, and I didn’t know why. Heck, if Joey would just go away, everything would be fine again.
          The day that thought hit me between the eyes, I wandered off from the others and sat down with my back against an oak at the edge of the park. What was going on? Joey was my best… my oldest friend. How could I think about him that way?
          For the life of me, I couldn’t say why, but that was the first time I really tried to figure things out. Joey had been at my side forever. He’d saved me from bullies a bunch of times. Now he was one. Why?
          Another bolt from the blue. Holly. It was because of Holly. Those bumps I’d noticed a year ago were grapefruits now… little ones, anyway. But not hard like the fruit. Whenever she leaned in to whisper one of her “secrets” they pressed softly against my arm. OMG! For a guy who was school smart, I must be the dumbest ass in town. Joey was sweet on her. Not like a buddy… like a boyfriend. Geez, I didn’t even think of Holly that way. I sort of liked Margaret Hillcrest. She was a blonde and a girl, not a pal from the neighborhood.
          With my new understanding, I managed to cool things off and go along more or less the way we always had. Until my fourteenth birthday, that is. That evening, when we gathered as usual for some hijinks we hadn’t yet decided, Holly promptly christened my birthday with a kiss.
          That was the day Joey delivered on his long-threatened promise to punch me out.
          That was also the day the gang broke up.

*****
When things are perfect, why do they always have to change? Carefree childhood days morph into adolescent uncertainties and conflict. One of the hardest lessons to learn is that “life goes on.” And the older you get the harder that reality is to accept. I hope this little story reminded you of something in your youth.


Now my mantra: Keep on reading. Keep on writing. 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 the Lovely Pines, which is programmed for release on August 28:



Abaddon’s Locusts is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019. I’m working hard on The Voxlightner Scandal.

See you next week.

Don

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


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