Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Old Man Across the Street (Part 1 of 2 Parts) blog post #512

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Thanks to Don Morgan for his guest post last week. We had plenty of hits, but few comments.

 This week, I’d like to do a short story I’ve written in two parts. Here we go with Part 1:



I’d been in my middle forties when Joseph Nelson Armitage was born. Middle forties—the best time of my life. A successful architect, closet gay, good looking, and full of life. The years before that had been spent struggling to find my place, but by the time my forties arrived… so had I. Success, money, and an endless stable of young hunks eager for what I could teach them. I just didn’t always teach them what they thought I would.

Joseph—who immediately became Joey to everyone who knew him—was the first-born son of the stuffed shirt who lived across the street. Louise, Joey’s mom, was class and charm and sincerity all wrapped up in a single blanket, but dad Dorian always seemed to be stepping off on his right foot when everyone else was on his left. He could be charming, but only when he made the effort. Even so, he was a good provider and decent father, even though he treated Louise as an afterthought.

Let’s be clear. I’m not a pederast, but Joey caught my eye early on. I remember him as a wholesome youngster, eager and curious and forthright in his approach to life. He always seemed more handsome and energetic than his playmates. I often cogitated on what he would look like as he developed. And as each stage of his life arrived, he matched or exceeded my expectations.

When he was ten, he came across the street to ask if he could take care of my lawn. As I was often in their home at parties or for dinner, he was comfortable approaching me. But had I been a total stranger, he likely would have been just as open about his intent. Of course, after checking with Louise, I accepted his offer. And something a bit deeper than just being neighbors was born.

This got a nudge when Dorian walked out on his family one day. Louise was heartbroken and clearly taken by surprise. Joey was crushed. Outraged at the sudden abandonment, I stepped into the breech and provided support. Dorian had simply vanished, along with the family’s savings and investments. The first thing I did was hire a private investigator, who promptly uncovered a liaison with a much younger woman that had been going on for a year or more. The investigator uncovered the fact that Dorian had quit his job as a supermarket manager, accepted a similar position in Idaho, and moved on with his doxy. Unwilling to leave it at that, I hired an attorney for Louise who was successful in prying alimony and child support out of the bastard. Louise also recovered a healthy portion of their family savings and investment portfolio.

I remember fondly the day she came across the street, Joey trailing along behind her, to clasp me about the shoulders and kiss my cheek. “Warren Ohlson, I don’t know what Joey and I would have done if you hadn’t been there for us. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

Joey awkwardly put one arm around his mother’s waist and the other around mine. “Me too, Mr. O.”

Satisfied that she and Joey would be all right, at least financially, I ceased to butt into their affairs and tended to my own.


By now, I was into my mid-fifties, which were quite different from the gay forties. I continued to prosper, but the stream of young men had turned into a trickle, and then finally merely the occasional.

That was when I realized Joey had made this transition easier for me. Not sexually, of course, but his need for a male figure in his life, and his obvious liking—nay, I daresay fondness for me—brought a different type of relief. He wanted to learn chess, so I taught him. One of his friends liked to play bridge, so I imparted what I knew of that card game. I taught him to throw a ball, bowl, play tennis, all the things a father should teach his child. But more’s the pity, he was not my son.

I consoled him after he got into his first fist fight and gave him some boxing pointers. His mother embarrassed him by trying to have the “sex talk,” and he came across the street to get some things clearer in his mind. Joey was developing beautifully in mind, body, and spirit, and the attention he demanded of me in pursuit of his emergence had ceased to be a blessing and was now taking a toll…because Joey was not my child. It would have been easier if he had been because nature imbues the male with a natural abhorrence for lusting after his own progeny. I had no such protection. I often literally ached when the boy went home in the evening.

They say that time can be a healer. It can also be an unmitigated bastard. The older Joey got, the slower I became. During his junior year in high school, my partners and I sold our firm to a larger architectural business, and I opted to retire. At sixty-two years of age, I was financially secure and could do almost anything I wanted. Even move to Florida or Hawaii or wherever else the snowbirds retired to. But it was a lost cause. I’d sit on my front porch shuffling through leaflets extolling the virtues of this place or that and look up to see Joey tossing burners with a school friend, and my heart would fill up my chest. Soon, old man. Soon he’d graduate and go away to school, and then you can sell everything and flee to some retirement home to while away your remaining years. I sighed, realizing he would have to walk away from me. I could never do that to him, even though he had other interests now. His friends, and his girlfriends, and his sports, and his approaching manhood demanded more time now, leaving less for “Mr. O.”


Joey’s eighteenth birthday and graduation from high school came almost on the same day, so naturally, he had a party. I considered gifting him with a new car, but he was perfectly happy with the Camero he’d bought with money from his landscaping jobs. I realized that every time he got in that car, he experienced the thrill of having achieved a major acquisition he’d paid for on his own. So instead, I gave him a holiday trip to Jamaica for him and his mother. As I drove home from taking them to the airport, it hit me that the day I’d been dreading was upon me. The beginning of the end. Joey would be back in a week, but soon thereafter, he’d be leaving for college. I’d no longer be able to sit on my porch and vicariously participate in his life by watching his comings and goings. I had never felt so empty in my entire life.


Joey surprised us all. Instead of enrolling in college, he joined the army. “Let them pay for my education,” he declared when both Louise and I braced him on his decision. Hard to argue with, but we tried anyway. His mother went emotional; I turned practical.

“Son,” I declared, hoping I sounded wise to those young ears. “If you get your education before enrolling in the military, you’ll likely end up in Officer’s Candidate School. And if that’s not what you want, you’ll end up as a clerk. Back when I was in the army, clerks ran the military. I know. I was one of them.”

But he spurned my advice. “I don’t want to be a clerk. I want to be in the line. Face the enemy. Defend my country.”

“Joey, without clerks, there wouldn’t be an organized force facing the enemy. And if that’s what you want, become an officer. Be in charge of those men.”

He shrugged. “Maybe in time I’ll earn my way there.”

And with that statement, that tall, handsome youth showed me who he really was, the man he would become.

And then everything happened overnight. It didn’t, of course, but that’s the way it seemed. He enlisted without his mother or me with him, but I drove all of us to the enlistment office on the day he reported for duty. Louise cried on my shoulder as the bus drove away with all the new enlistees, and I leaked a few tears into her hair. It almost seemed surreal as I—or more like it, my body double—drove us home. I was glad when Louise stumbled across the street to cry on her own. The empty shell that was me needed some alone time too.


Do you remember how it feels to see something that’s so precious to you slip away, to have to let go and allow someone you treasure make his or her way through life… without you? Then I guess you understand Mr. O’s emotional state.

 Tell me what you think.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

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

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

More of Donald T. Morgan’s MIASMA (A Guest Post) blog post #511

 Good hits on “Blank Slate,” but few comments. Sorry if I didn’t stimulate your imaginations as much as I thought I would. Ah well, on to another week.

 And this week, in response to some requests, I’m giving Donald T. Morgan’s upcoming novel Miasma another airing.  You can look up the two earlier guest posts to bring yourself up to date, but essentially, here’s were we are. Miasma Elderberry is a ten-year-old Colored girl in Horseshoe Bend, Oklahoma who loves to sing. To relieve anxiety on her way from Colored Town to downtown, she sings gospels, attracting the attention of Horace Parsley, a White retired jeweler who lives on a house on the hill. He calls her over and tells her how much he appreciates her singing, giving her a green canvas satchel to carry the heavy Wards catalogue she has, and in honor of her recent birthday, a pin has has fashioned in the form of two musical notes, one gold; the other silver, each with a row of diamond chips and small emeralds. He claims every girl should have something with her birthstone one it. She demurs, but he insists. Conflicted, she goes on home. This chapter picks up when her mother, Willa, comes home from her work as a domestic. The Tizzie mentioned later is Miasma lifelong best friend.



By Donald T. Morgan

Chapter 3

 Mama had a fit. “Yawl look me in the eye and tell me you didn’t steal this here pin!” Her mother hadn’t paid any attention to the book bag.

“Honest, he just give it to me. Said he appreciated my singing. Told me to sing every time I wore it.”

Willa Elderberry’s eyes narrowed. “He take you in his house?”

“No, ma’am. I stood at the fence line while he went and got them.”


“You know, the pin and the book bag.”

“Y’all ain’t lying to me, is you, Miasma Elderberry?”

“No ma’am, I don’t lie.” Her voice took on an edge. “And I don’t steal, neither.” Her mother’s face flushed, making Miasma figure she’d been too sassy.

“Well, we gonna see about that.” Willa snatched the jewelry from Miasma’s hand and started out the door.

“Mama, don’t. Please don’t.”

“Come on. I wanna see what your Mista Ace has to say about this.”

Her mother clutched her hand all the way up the hill, dragging Miasma along. They halted alongside the house while Willa scanned the fence. “He don’t have no back gate?”

Miasma shook her head. “No, ma’am. We ought not bother—”

“Don’t y’all say bother to me. I gonna talk to the man and see what he’s up to. Now you hush up.” Willa marched through the front gate with Miasma in tow and stalked around to the rear of the house.

“What if he ain’t home?” Miasma said, a hopeful note in her voice.

“Then we’ll just come back.”

But Mr. Ace answered Willa’s sharp rap on the screen door, looking a bit startled at finding an angry Black woman in his face.

“Well, hello, Miasma. This must be—”

“Her mother,” Willa finished his sentence for him and thrust the pin in his face. “Take this back and don’t go givin’ her nothing else.”

Mr. Ace waved her hand away. “Why? It’s a reward to the child for the pleasure of hearing her sing as she passes my house.”

“That’s something she does natural. She don’t need no reward.”

“Come now, Mrs. Elderberry—”

“Willa,” her mother said.

“Willa. Everyone I know earns a reward for something she does well. Some people earn a living using such talents. I won’t accept the brooch, Willa. You can leave it on the porch or give it to the next person you see on the street, but if you do, I’ll be disappointed… and so will the child. The gift carries no obligation, just my gratitude. You have a very talented young lady there.”

Her mother’s voice lost its hardness. “Y’all don’t need nobody to clean your place, does you? I do a right good job at it.”

“I’m afraid not. Bertha Mills comes in on Mondays, and that’s all the help I need. Do you know Mrs. Mills?”

“Sure do. A right nice lady. She comes to my church.”

“She’s been taking care of me for over a year, and I couldn’t possibly drop her without cause.” He cleared his throat. “Mrs. Elderberry… Willa. You have a very special daughter there. She has a fine voice, but she needs training.”

“She gets training. Down at the church. She sings in the choir ever Sunday.”

“And I’m sure she learns a lot. But she deserves more.”

“Can’t afford no more.”

“Then you shouldn’t object to a few gifts occasionally. Perhaps they’ll help.”

Willa said nothing for a long while. She seemed to be scanning the man, looking for something, perhaps. Finally she nodded. “All right, but don’t y’all never try nothing with my little girl.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it. And thank you?”

Her mother’s eyes opened in surprise. “For what?”

“For letting me know Miasma has a mother who cares for her. And next time, you don’t need to come to the back door. Not at my house.”

Willa didn’t seem to know what to say, so Mr. Ace bade them goodbye and closed the door.

Her mother was silent until they were walking back down the hill. “I’ll swear girl, you’re twice-blessed. Ain’t many men—‘specially White men—just give you something.” She fell silent for a few steps. “Anybody else live in that house?”

“Never see nobody but Mista Ace. And sometimes a young fellow. I think he comes to play the piano. I seen him go in the house once, and then the most beautiful music came out of there. Not like at the church, but rolling music.”

Willa’s face puckered. “Rollin’ music?”

“You know, notes like water flowing down a stream. Really pretty. Wish I could sing like that.”

“Well, all right,” Mama said as they entered the house. “Y’all can keep the doodad. But I’m going to wear it tonight when I go back to help out with Miz Willis’s party.”

A jolt ran through Miasma. Jealousy? Resentment? She swallowed it—whatever it was—and nodded. “All right, Mama. But… but i-it’smine, you know.” Something clawed at her stomach as she said the words. They sounded selfish.

“I know, child. But you wear my earbobs sometimes. So y’all can let me wear your stick pin.”

Miasma’s throat dried up at the reproof. And that’s what it was, even if Mama’d made it sound nice.


After her mother left to help out with Miz Wallis’s party, Miasma turned off all the lights but one so the electric bill wouldn’t be so high. She glanced at her daddy’s picture on the table beside her before settling down with the Geographic. This issue had a map of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, reminding her of the war. Tizzie’s daddy was fighting in it, but he was over on the other side of the world. He’d been in the invasion of Sicily last year. That was a place near Italy; the National Geographic had told her that.

Miasma worried about Tizzie’s daddy sometimes… and Tizzie did all the time. But worrying didn’t bring him back. She toted up all the men from Colored Town who’d gone off to war. Would they be the same when they came back? Everbody left behind had done their part for the war too. Before school let out last month, all the kids and teachers walked for miles collecting scrap metal for the war effort.

An article on Anatolia caught Miasma’s eye, and she discovered it was over in Turkey. Were their men fighting over there too? Anyway, she could tell Miz Loring she’d learned something.

But no matter how engrossing the articles, her mind came back to the pretty pin her mother was wearing. That bothered her some, although she didn’t know why. Maybe because she imagined it falling off Mama’s dress and getting stepped on.

She was asleep with the magazine in her lap when the sound of the door opening woke her. She blinked and swiped her eyes as her mother entered.

“Baby! What y’all doing still up? Oughta be in bed.”

“Fell asleep reading.” Her eyes searched her mother’s bosom. And there the pin was, winking at her in the dim light.

Willa’s hand went to the brooch. “Is that what you was waiting for? To see if I sold your clasp?”

Miasma’s eyes widened. “Never thought that. But… but….”

Her mother laughed, a good, strong belly sound. “Well, I could of. Lotsa times. Just about everybody took on over it. Why, I believe Miz Willis was jealous, and she has lots of fine play-purtys.”

Miasma glowed when she heard that. “Really?”

“Know what I told ‘em? I said my daughter got it for her singing. Fine voice she has.”

Miasma set about cleaning up and getting ready for bed. She didn’t think she was sleepy, but she only looked at the pretty pin twice before she dropped off with it clutched in her hand.


She knew she shouldn’t, but Miasma couldn’t resist putting on the broach the next day as she got ready to go meet Tizzie. While admiring the jewelry in the cracked glass of her mama’s dresser, she noticed something funny. The little diamonds and emeralds looked super, but they made her dress look drab. And it was her favorite pinafore too. The white one with tiny yellow flowers scattered all over it. It was second hand, but it was pretty, until the glittering bauble put it to shame. Still, the jewelry piece remained in place when she skipped out the door and headed down the dirt road.

Tizzie didn’t even try to pretend she didn’t see the pin. She walked right up and ran a finger down the shiny stones. “Where’d you get that?”

Miasma puffed out her chest. “Pretty, ain’t it?”

“Bee-ootiful! Where’d you get it? I know, it’s your mama’s, and she’s letting you wear it. Ha! Or maybe she don’t know. Did that snooty honky woman give it to her or did she steal it?”

Miasma stamped a foot. “It ain’t hers! It’s mine. She didn’t steal it, and I didn’t, neither.”

“Well, it hadda come from somewhere, and you sure don’t got enough money for something like that.”

“Somebody give it to me.”

“Who? Nobody has nothing like that, except maybe Miz Dinkins,” Tizzie said. “They the only ones able to afford it.”

“Wasn’t Miz Dinkins. It was that White man who lives at the top of the hill. He called me over and told me how much he likes my singing. And then he give me this and said to sing every time I wore it.”

Tizzie Dean scrunched her eyes up and curled her lip. “You ain’t singing now.”

“I did when I put it on. He didn’t say sing all the time I had it on.”

“He just give it to you? He didn’t want nothing back?”

Miasma shook her head. “Nope.”

Tizzie’s black eyes took on a calculating look. “You suppose he give me something?”

“Dunno. You go past his house singing for a year, and he might have something.”

“A year?”

“That’s how long I been going past his house singing. A whole year.”

Tizzie lost interest. “Let’s play jacks.”

“We don’t have no jacks.”

Tizzie stuck her nose in the air. “Do now. My mama bought me some yesterday.”

Miasma knew Miz Dean got some money every month from the government because Tizzie’s father was in the army. “Okay. Where?”

“In the house. I don’t want my new ball gettin’ dirty outside.”


Monday morning, it rained after Miasma’s mother left for work. A spring shower was lots better than the warm summer storms that made a lot of mud but did nothing to relieve the heat. In fact, they made it hotter. Humidity, her fourth-grade teacher had told her. Didn’t make sense, but Miz Holloway didn’t lie, so it must be true. Miasma smiled to herself. Miz Holloway was going to teach the fifth-grade next year, and that was good.

Miasma had to go down to the post office, but she’d wait out the rain. Nothing she could do about the mud, so she went barefoot. No use ruining the one pair of shoes she had. When the clouds looked like they’d quit dumping water all over the place, she took her musical notes—as she’d started calling Mr. Ace’s gift—and clasped it right in the middle of her blouse where she could glance down to see it was still there. After that, she stepped out into the red-brown Oklahoma mud.

Like always, the muck between her toes felt icky, but by the time she started up the hill, she didn’t mind so much. She had a hollow in the stomach when the old man wasn’t nowhere to be seen. But on the return trip, she started belting out “Go Down, Moses” as soon as she spotted him puttering around under the oak tree. A shiver of pleasure rolled down her back as he beckoned to her. The verge beside the fence was grassy, so the caked mud on her soles was almost gone by the time she stood opposite him.

“My, you’re looking pretty today, Miasma. That brooch looks nice on you.”

She glanced at her dirty feet and giggled. “Thank you, sir.”

 “What do you know about that beautiful song you were singing?”

“It’s one of the old hymns,” she said.

“‘Go Down, Moses’ is a slave gospel. Harriet Tubman—do you know who she was?”

“Yes sir. She was a hero.”

“Indeed, she was a great heroine. An escaped slave who started the underground railway to help others to freedom. At the risk of her own life, she sang that song to let slaves know she was in the area.”

“How you know that?” Miasma asked.

“I’m something of a reader. I like to know what went on in the world before I got here.”

“My people was slaves.”

“Yes, your people were slaves. Do you know your family history?”

“Some. Like I know who got brought over in chains. Mama used to tell me stories about him.”

“Ah, oral history. Fascinating. Do you know his name?

“Josiah Elder. He was a Bantu. A brave warrior who got caught in a battle and sold off to the White slavers.”

“Do you know his Bantu name.”

Something clicked in her brain. “Baker or Bakery or something like that.”

Mr. Ace frowned up at the sky. “Hmm, Baker or Bakery. Ah, it was probably Bakari. The Bantu were a proud people.” He glanced at her through greenish eyes with lots of brown in them. “Do you know how old he was when he came over the ocean?”

She shook her head. “Uh-uh, but I know he come over that Trail of Tears in the history books.”

“Interesting. But it’s ‘he came over,’ child.”

“Yes sir, I know.”

“If you know, why do you speak like that?”

“I can conjugate and all that, Mista Ace, but I live where I live.”

He drew back and looked her in the eye. “Very perspicacious, young lady. We all do what we need to do to survive in our own environment, don’t we? But back to your ancestor. If I recall correctly, the Five Civilized Tribes were moved across the Mississippi River by Andrew Jackson between 1830 and 1840. And they brought African slaves with them. That’s how most of the early Negroes came to Oklahoma. Did you know that?”

“No sir.”                                 

“What you’ve revealed tells me something. You have the most beautiful skin tone with a bit of a rosy glow. I’m willing to bet that Bantu slave who came to America over a hundred years ago married an Indian woman. Maybe even from the family that had owned him.”

“Mama says he married a Cherokee. And he was supposed to be a young’un when he done… uh, did it.”

“Fascinating, but you better head on home. The sky looks as if it’s about to open up again.”

Miasma skipped away without thinking of her pin or even of singing. Her head was full of questions about a Black slave called Bakari who magically turned himself into Josiah Elder. But if he was named Elder, where did the “Berry” in her own name come from?”



Do you get the feeling Mista Ace is beginning to open doors for this bright little girl’s mind to explore, to think beyond her small world of Colored Town to Honkey Town and the road in between.

 Tell me what you think.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

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

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Blank Slate, A Tale in Two Parts blog post #510


Well, last week, we met two tennis rivals, Pete and Dom. Of course, they’re rivals off the court too. Dom, it appears, has taken Pete’s girl Marisue away from him. Pete, somewhat of a Romeo, doesn’t take this well In part one of the story, they try to settle their differences on the tennis court. It ends in a draw. Then Dom takes Pete by surprise and proposes they ditch their girls and go bar hopping that evening. Pete agrees.


Let’s see what happens next.




Part Two of Two Parts


The rest of Saturday afternoon was uneventful except for his roommate, Mickey, grousing that Pete should have put away Dominic without much trouble. Mickey knew his way around a tennis court, and pointed out a half dozen times Pete had muffed a shot.

A few minutes before eight, Pete parked his Cougar in front of a sand-colored stucco, a typical 1950s New Mexico house converted into a duplex. He punched a doorbell, and a smiling Dom opened the door and invited him inside. Pete instantly turned envious. The living room was bigger than the dorm room he and Mickey shared. Probably a one-bedroom apartment. Did Dom share the bath with the tenant on the other side, or had the place been renovated? Renovated, probably.

Dom was as neat about his home as he was his person. Well used but clean furniture without a speck of dust in sight. Heck, Mickey’s side of the desk they shared at the dorm hadn’t been dusted in a month.

How about a drink before we go?” Dom asked. “Beer or hard stuff?”

“You got bourbon?”


“On the rocks,” Pete said.

Dom drew two heavy glass tumblers from the cupboard. “Two doubles coming up.”

They took seats in the living room after Dom set out coasters on the coffee table.

Halfway through the first drink, Pete realized Dom was an interesting guy. His folks had come up from Mexico and gone into the food business on a dime and a hope. They operated out of the family’s kitchen with his father and Dom and his two brothers going around the neighborhood offering tacos and burritos and tamales to anyone with a buck. Along about Dom’s first year in high school, his father opened a café specializing in Mexican food.

Dom drained the last of his drink. “Have another?”

“Yeah, sure.”

Dom had worked and gone to school every day of his life from age six. It wasn’t until high school he discovered tennis, and from that time on it had been school, work, and tennis.

Pete couldn’t claim anything so… so rigorous. His dad owned the only auto parts store in their little town, so life had been easy. He’d worked in the store from high school onward, but whenever he wanted time off, his old man worked around it. But it did seem like he spent more time chasing girls than Dom did, so how come Dom ended up with Marisue. Now on his third Bourbon rocks, it didn’t seem so important.

Ten o’clock rolled around before either of them mentioned going to the bar, and by that time it didn’t see worth the trouble.  It was easier pouring amber drinks out of that big bottle than getting up and driving to the bar. Like he said, Dom was an interesting guy.


Damn, was Mickey playing one of his jokes? Light played against his closed lids. He growled at his roommate, but it did no good. Holding a hand up against the glaring light, he fought to get his eyes open. The light wasn’t his loony roommate joking with him, it was the sun coming between the open blinds of a window he didn’t recognize. He blinked. Where in the hell was he? Trying to clear his clogged throat, Pete discovered his mouth was dry, lips stuck together. He worked up some saliva before glancing around. Strange bedroom, strange bed… and he was naked. He sat up with a start.

He shook his head, and slowly last night came into focus. Dom’s place. Drinking before going to the bar. No… never made it to the bar. Good lord, how much had he drunk? He shook his head again and almost toppled over on the mattress. Pete scratched his head and tried to remember. But that was all. Just drinking tumbler after tumbler of bourbon rocks. And then… everything was a blank slate.

The door opened, and Dom Duran walked in and gave him a big smile. “Awake now, hun?”

“Guess so, feel too lousy to be asleep.”

Dom laughed.

“W-what happened?”

“You can’t hold your liquor, that’s what. Passed out on me, so I put you to bed.”

Pete lifted the sheet and took another look. Yep, bare-assed naked. “How come I don’t have any clothes on?”

Dom paused in hanging up something in the closet to give him a look. “You don’t remember?”

Pete shook his head.

“Like I said, you can’t hold your liquor. Threw up all over yourself. So I got them off you and threw you in bed. Your duds are in the drier now. Had to run them through the washer twice.

“My shorts too?”

“Shorts, socks, shoes. Everything.”

“My god. You must think I’m a dork.”

Dom grinned and shrugged, neither confirming nor denying. But after a moment, he said, “In case anyone ever asks you, you’re a pleasant drunk. Very accommodating. Didn’t give me any trouble at all. Did everything I asked.” He turned and strode out the bedroom door, tossing a comment over his shoulder. “There’s a robe you can use on the foot of the bed. I laid out a towel and washcloth and an unused toothbrush so you can clean up.” He left the door open behind him.

What the hell had happened? Pete glanced to the other side of the bed. Someone had obviously slept there. What did did everything I asked mean? Oh, crap, had they…? But nothing felt wrong. He crawled out of bed and headed for the bathroom, no longer sure of his assessment. Everything he had felt achy, itchy, sore, or strange. But that could have been the bourbon.

Half an hour later, he came out of the bathroom squeaky clean and feeling a little bit better… not much but a little. He cinched the robe around his waist and glanced through the open door. Dom was standing at the stove, a spatula in hand, minding his own business.

Pete hesitated. How could he face Dom, not knowing what had happened? Should he be pissed out of his mind because Dom might have got to him last night? Yeah. It had been Dom’s idea to meet at his house before going to the bar. And Dom had poured them drinks. And… and they never made it to the bar.

But… but shouldn’t he hurt if Dom… well, did anything? Depended upon what, Pete guessed. Went down on him? That almost brought a laugh. Good luck with that. Drunk as he was, not much chance that got Dom anywhere. A shiver went down his back and the next thought. Dom could have taken him. From behind or in the mouth. Pete smacked his lips. He’d had a gaah taste when he woke, but hat could also be the booze. And he wasn’t sore back there. Would he be sore? Pete shrugged. Hell, he didn’t know. That was beyond his experience level.

Pete watched Dom from beneath lowered lashes as he shoved the eggs, toast, and bacon on his plate around. If he hadn’t been preoccupied with speculating on last night, he wouldn’t have eaten any of it, but a good part of the breakfast went down his gullet.

Dom acted totally natural. Friendly, talkative, engaging. After an hour of this, Pete decided it was all his imagination. Finally able to concentrate on his hangover, Pete decided it was his paranoia playing tricks on him.

As soon as his clothes were dry, he dressed and took his leave. As he walked down the short sidewalk toward his car, Dom called from the doorway.

“Hey, Pete!”

He turned and watched Dom give a wink.

“We’ll have to do this again… real soon.” With that, Dom closed the door.

Pete’s paranoia returned… in spades. What the hell did that mean?



Wow! Did Dom have his way with Pete or not? If the tennis jock did, wouldn’t Pete have remembered it? If he was just drunk… maybe, maybe not. If he was drugged, then probably not. He's just a blank slate... for now.

At any rate, this could this be the beginning of something… either a love affair or a knock-down-drag-out battle.


Tell me what you think.


Stay safe and stay strong.


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


A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:


My personal links:




Twitter: @dontravis3


See you next Thursday.




New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Blank Slate, A Tale in Two Parts blog post #509

 Photo Courtesy of

Thanks for indulging me in a personal moment last week. I’ll try to get on an even keel today. I’d like to do a two-parter that has to do with a couple of tennis jocks and their rivalry on and off the court, Pete and Dominic by name.

Here we go.



Part One of Two Parts


No skin off his nose. So why was it bothering him so much? He was a reasonably good-looking guy, played a mean game of tennis, rapped with the best of them. Rap, as in talk, not the other kind.

When Pete Marcell looked deep down inside himself, he knew it was because no girlfriend had thrown him over like Marisue did. One day they were copasetic; the next day she informed him she was dumping him for Dominic Duran. Dominic Duran, for cripes sake. She coulda picked someone other than Pete’s rival on the tennis court. That was partly his fault. She’d been at his side a few times as he watched Dom on the court and pointed out this and that about the handsome bastard. Hell, he even introduced the two of them. Didn’t seem likely they hadn’t run into one another on campus, but both of them claimed they hadn’t.

Today, Pete was sitting in the bleachers watching Dom duel with the tennis coach. The ball was flying over the net at lightning speed. The coach was no slouch, either. After the game, Pete watched as Dom wiped his face with a towel, stowed his racket in its cover, and then paused to give him a stare. Pete stared right back. He was a little surprised when Dom walked over and stood in front of him.

“You got something to say to me, Pete?” The tone was about halfway between friendly and belligerent.

Pete looked straight into those chocolate mousse eyes for a long moment. “Nah. Just checking out the competition.”

“You can read that a couple of ways,” Dom said. “You talking about on the court or about courting.”

“Funny. Does it matter?”

Dom squinted at something in the distance. “Yeah, it might. Me, I’m not a physical guy.” He threw a thumb over his shoulder toward the deserted tennis court. “If you got a score to settle, let’s do it right over there.”

“Okay by me. I’d rather beat your butt over there than anywhere else.”

“You can try. Tomorrow’s Saturday. No tennis classes. Right here, say nine o’clock?”

“You got it.”

Dom put two fingers to his forehead in a sort of salute. “See you in the morning.”

Pete’s insides seethed as he watched the arrogant prick stride toward the locker room. What did Marisue see in the bastard? He snickered to himself. That was easy. The guy was good looking if you liked the Latin types. And yeah, he was graceful. Had good moves. But crap, so did he. Maybe she liked dark hair better than honey blond. Pete sucked up his resentment and headed to the dorm.


Word of the duel must have gotten out somehow because the bleachers were about half full when he showed up the next morning. Dom probably told all his cronies. Pete had only told his roommate Mickey Styles. Course, Mickey had a mouth on him, so he might have blabbed.

Dom was already there, warming up by hitting easy ones lobbed by one of his friends. As soon as Pete arrived, Mickey stepped forward to be his warmup man. After a few minutes, the two of them were ready.

Dom won the toss and took the first serve. He sent a blazer into the court, but Pete fired it back at him. No ace on the first serve. That was good. It didn’t take long before he knew this would be a long match.  Dom had a strong forehand, and his two-fisted backhand was nothing to sneeze at. They went deuce a dozen times before Dom managed to put away the game.

No sweat. Now it was his time to serve. A lefty, the right court was his best serve. He put a mean curve on the first ball and got an ace. That lifted his morale. Premature. Dom fired back his weaker left court serve to the far left. Pete covered ground and managed to get it across the net, but Dom put it away on the right side before Pete even recovered his balance.

The next serve to the right court didn’t get him an ace. Dom knew about the slice on the ball now and managed to get it back across. Pete took the point, anyway. And that’s the way it went for damned near half an hour until—on an advantage serve—Pete lost the slice and caught Dom out of position. His game.

After four hours in the boiling sun, they each had two sets. Pete was getting tired… and careless. The only saving grace was that Dom was showing stress too. Before serving the first ball on the tiebreaker, Dom lifted his hands and shrugged his shoulders. Pete mustered enough strength to nod acceptance. The match was a draw.

In the shower at the locker room, Pete realized how lucky he was Dom had called the match. He could hardly muster the strength to soap himself, but Dom was rubbing his skin energetically. From beneath lowered eyes, he studied his nemesis’ wiry frame. Slim but muscular. Wide at the shoulder, small at the waist. Legs long enough to get him around the court in a hurry. Ruefully, Pete came to understand some of Marisue’s decision. Dom was not only a good tennis player, he was also a well put together, good-looking guy.

As they dried off before the sinks, Dom turned friendly. After good naturedly poking fun at some of Pete’s boners on the court, he joked about his own mistakes.

Once dressed, they stood in front of the mirrors combing their hair, Dom turned to him. “What say we ditch the girls this evening and hit a bar. I haven’t got high in a coon’s age.”

Pete smiled. “I’ve never figured that out. Does a coon live a long time, or a short time?”

“Damned if I know. But what do you say?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“You got a car?”


“Why don’t you pick me up about eight. We’ll make a night of it.”

“Don’t you live on campus?”

“Naw. Got a pad on Roma, not far from the U.”

“Okay. See you then.” It was his turn to give a two-fingered salute and walk away.


What is Dominic Duran up to? He can’t beat Pete Marsell on the tennis court, so is he plotting some nefarious form of revenge. He sure turned nice all of a sudden. We’ll find out next week.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

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

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

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