Thursday, August 10, 2023

Tricky (Part 1 of 3 Parts) blog post #613

Image Courtesy of Freepik


Enough about AI. Apparently no one is bothered about it outside of me and the actors and writers who’re on strike.

 At any rate, here’s my latest story (no help from AI—and damned little from DTI). Hope you enjoy it.




My name’s Drufus (that’s a whole ’nother story) Lane. Don’t worry. Everyone knows me as Dru, a recently widowed, twenty-seven-year-old, former techie who hit it big. Sold a patent to a Silicon Valley firm for a whopping sum plus royalties, which meant I no longer slogged away my life at a desk answering to someone else’s cocked finger or arched eyebrow.

My wife Marianne and I had done anything and everything we wanted… except have children. We came up dry in that department, despite spending copious amounts on tests and treatments. The fault, apparently, lay with me, not her. Despite that giant vacuum in our life, we had a reasonably good marriage. In fact, you might say we were on top of the world.

That came to an abrupt and tragic end two months ago when I stopped to fill up my Caddy Escalade at a self-service gas station in a suburb of Los Angeles. While I was inside paying the bill and picking up a couple of bottles of iced tea, a gunfight broke out between two rival gangs that chanced to meet up at that station. With one car on either side of my vehicle, many—make that most—of the shots ended up piercing my Caddy… and taking my Marianne’s life.

After endless interviews with the police, the district attorney’s office, medics, and the press, I found myself totally lost and reached out to my best friend, a civil engineer named Bill Ganderston who lived in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Bill’s firm had posted him to Japan for a six-month stint, so I could only pour out my anguish over the telephone. He offered to cut short his stay, but I refused to let him make such a sacrifice. So I tried coping on my own, but that didn’t work out well. Finally, my sister heard the desperation in my voice and insisted I join her and her husband in Albuquerque… at least for a brief period.

I had no intention of taking up residence with Bonnie and Chuck—my younger sister and her husband—but they were good for me in the interim. Their two children were of an age that I found enchanting. The boy young enough to want to play horsey holding onto my bouncing crossed leg, and the girl old enough to ask tactless but interesting questions about her Uncle Dru.

I vividly recall the first time I set eyes on Alene and Sam Drake, the next-door neighbors Bonnie spoke so highly of. A couple of days after my arrival, she answered the doorbell and ushered in a stunning brunette with a magnificent smile and intriguing green eyes.

“Oh, Alene,” Bonnie gushed, “I’m so glad you could come over. I want you to meet my big brother. Dru, this is my next-door neighbor, Alene Drake. She’s a grad student at the University about to get her Masters in child philosophy or something like that. Alene… Dru.”

That sunburst smile brightened even more as the vision reached out a hand. I took it and sensed the warmness went beyond the mere human temperature.

“Please to meet you, Alene. Been looking forward to it since you’re all Bonnie can talk about.”

Aleen colored slightly and dimpled. “Heard a few things about you too… most of them complementary.”

“You know you can only believe about fifty percent of what she says, don’t you?”

My brother-in-law Chuck entered the room. “Where’s Sam? Isn’t he coming over?”

Alene moved past me toward the living room. “He’s taking some brownies out of the oven. Said we all needed a snack. He’ll be along in a minute.”

We took seats, and I gave this enchanting creature a little more attention than I probably should have, given her husband would pop through the door at any moment bearing sweets and good cheer. That latter probably wouldn’t last long if my thoughts hung all over my face.

Sure enough, the doorbell rang, and Chuck answered, walking back into the room a moment later followed by a young man who nearly knocked me loose from my sanity. I looked back and forth between the newcomer and Alene. They weren’t husband and wife; they were twins. Now my sister’s insistence that I meet Alene made more sense. She was already match-making, even though my wife had only been gone something short of three months.

I rose as Chuck introduced us. Nothing more than “Dru, Sam. Sam, Dru.”

Sam’s handshake was every bit as warm as his sister’s. “Heard a lot about you, Dru. Good to finally meet you.”

“Same. I got a little of Alene’s background, but not yours.”

“Huh? Oh. I’m also at the U. Getting my Masters in finance.” He lifted his hand, fingers a millimeter apart. “This far from the Masters.” He moved the fingers farther apart. “Once I get past the thesis.”

“In?” I asked.

“International finance.”

He was dark-haired, like his sister, but his green eyes were more opal. By that, I mean, an iridescence to them his sister’s lacked. In taking brother and sister in, each had what he or she needed in the eye department. They were identical, exactly alike except Alene was thoroughly and totally feminine, while Sam employed the same features in a completely masculine way.

There was something I didn’t tell you earlier. Remember, I characterized my marriage as “reasonably good. Actually, it was good… except for a couple of times a year. Bill would come down from San Francisco for a few days once or twice a year. And we… well, we got together, just as we had on occasion from way back in our college years.

Don’t get me wrong. Sex with Marianne was great. Fourth of July fireworks great. But Bill? Well, like a special anniversary of the Fourth… like the 200th or some such. Can’t tell you why. That’s just the way it was. No one suspected a thing… except for Marianne. I don’t know how she knew, but she always regarded Bill as a threat. She’d have nothing to do with him and resented the time I devoted to his visits. But there it was. I got something from each of them. Something precious. If I’d had to choose between them, I honestly don’t know what I’d have done.

And now, sitting in my sister’s living room, looking back and forth from twin to twin, I sensed a situation arising. Didn’t know exactly what it’d be yet. But I knew one thing for sure. Unless I headed back to California, things would turn tricky.


Sounds to me like Dru’s reached a mid-life crisis at the ripe old age of twenty-seven. Have you ever experienced such a powerful impact upon a first meeting? I have, and found myself confused.

 How will Dru handle things? Run off with his tail between his legs or stay and try to sort out his feelings? We only have two more installments to find out.

 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:

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Twitter: @dontravis3

See you next Thursday.



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

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