Grady’s Childhood Inspiration

Cowboy profile artGrady did Western art.  The way she explained it – her childhood hero was Clint Eastwood.  She was entranced with his imagery on the screen and the “cowboy motif,” based on his example.  “I used to walk around chewing the end of a beef jerky stick, like the outlaw, Josie Wales, and his cigarillo.  I ate beans right from the skillet with a wooden spoon, wore button down shirts and threadbare trousers, and Jack scolded me more than once for smudging dirt on my face to achieve that rough shaven look.”

“So you were a cross-dresser before you knew you were gay?”  I joked.

“Hush your mouth!” she teased, “All kids play around with costumes and characters.  I just couldn’t get over the walk, you know?  I didn’t think of that stance or walk as manly.  I was just fascinated to walk as if all life fulfilling chi originated and radiated from a bulge in my crotch,” she giggled.

“I am not going to ask.” I said.

“It’s probably best you don’t.”

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What I’m Reading and Why, v3

Writers have to read.  It’s not a chore.   Chef’s taste food; athletes watch footage of other athletes; cars get waxed.

The Story of Ireland: A History of the Irish People

by Neil Hegarty

A project I’m working on requires that I become a connoisseur of Irish history and society.  As someone who has always loved the lore and mystical nature of the average stories of Ireland that are tossed around somewhat casually, I am beginning to be in true awe of how for granted the world (and especially the United States) seems to have taken this island of people.

I had always had this idea that Celtic culture and religion had begun there.  In reality the island served as the perfect geographical location to collect all of the good aspects of historic European culture and (mostly) repel all of the negative aspects.  Who can resist the story of how cattle barons got rich and thus became Irish nobility off the backs of traders supplying the Roman army with their tons of leather?  Suffice to say that Vikings and Normans, while certainly ancient invaders, also became settlers and, along with the trend, melding with Irish-ness and further shaping the culture.  Talk about a melting pot!

I’m further enjoying the overlap this book has to the BBC produced, 5 segment special on Irish history hosted by the author.  I can read more of the book and then watch the segment covering those bits on YouTube and viola! it stays in there.

I’m careful about relying on one source for my information.  While this book and the corresponding documentary collection are very comprehensive and informative, I will also seek other sources for my information.  Bottom line here is – if you are Irish American, or even if you are not, there is much to be loved about an island nation that formed from our best qualities as humans and actually SAVED civilization as we know it through it’s academia and careful recording of history while the rest of Europe was burning heretics and killing knowledge.

 

Foundation

by Isaac Asimov

I’m a science fiction fan.  Bradbury and Asimov are not foreign to me.  So how did I miss this?  I came across an estate sale recently where the deceased was obviously more of a sci-fi fan than I.  There were complete series of Orson Scott Card, and alas, all the series of Asimov.  The Robots were all there.  I bought them all.  Even the set of Fantastic Voyage books made an appearance.  I bought them too.  Now, I was aware of the Foundation trilogy, but for whatever reason, had never cracked it open.  What I didn’t realize was that he was enticed to write three additional books in the series later in his life.  So I got to work trying to figure out what order the books were in to make sure I didn’t miss getting one of the pieces.  This is where the trouble started.

foundation bookThere were actually one book to each story present but for the price of 50 cents per paperback, I could get the one book that housed the initial trilogy all-in-one for just that.  Duh.  Except … the cover of this one (unlike the cover graphic I have snagged for this article) listed the trilogy contrary to the order I understood from the other books.  It listed them as:  Foundation, Second Foundation, and Foundation and Empire.  As you can see from the graphic to the right, the actual order is different.  Without internet to research my treasure trove, I scratched my head and made my purchase.

I couldn’t wait and started reading Foundation as soon as I got in the truck.  Thanks my lovely driver!  It wasn’t until I got home and researched that I discovered that he wrote the three follow up books out of order and was floored, once again, by his skill and capacity.  I gave the idea of reading them in actual chronological order a very brief consideration, but decided to stick to the order they were written.

Aside from the sheer enjoyment, I’m reading Foundation because I want to study one of the great masters of world building, to learn how he imagined and threaded together contrived history married with cutting edge science truthes into the magic of science fiction where, indeed, the reader becomes so enmeshed that they could easily live there themselves.

 

 

New Knew New

A new page has been added to the site in response to those that want all the series stories in one, easy to navigate area.  Click the “Series Stories” link in the menu above and enjoy.

Also, today I discovered that I can change the name of the site without conflicting with the web address … thus the title’s spelling has been corrected.  Perhaps many of you didn’t realize … or thought I just couldn’t spell.  While it’s true I’m an “open minded” speller and in my haste to set the site up in 2013 I jumped before checking … I knew for some time that the error had been made.  It was embarrassing to say the least.   I fretted, “Will all the grammar and spelling gurus pass over my site with their noses pinched?”  But alas, it was not so.

Stay tuned for another episode of a writer’s, “What I’m Reading and Why.”

Neighborhood Watch (series) 9

9

Grady had always known me, even though she hadn’t known all the things I’d done. She knew my heart better than I did, as cliche at that sounds. It was Grady that taught me that we aren’t the sum of our actions, or even the sum of our intentions. “We are greater than what we wish we are, and less than what we think we are.” When she said it, I must have made a face. She walked up to me so fast and deliberate, I braced for the inevitable slap to the face I anticipated. Instead, she grabbed me so intensely and kissed me with a passion I’d never felt from her before. “We’ll never fully understand or define God’s love in this lifetime, honey. Don’t knock it. Miracles can’t be explained. He gave me you. He forgives and heals all things. He pumps your heart and breaths life into you every second. Put that in your brain and mull it over until you go crazy. Then give in and let go, my darling.”

I had accepted that Grady was a ferocious Christian about five minutes into our first meeting. It surprised and confused me that such a gorgeous package of anomalies, walking around on two sexy legs and taking an interest in a friendship with me, could exist in the world … could survive in Fingerbone. I would come to understand that she defined the place. Opinionated, self-reliant, bad-asses lived in Fingerbone. Sure, there were a handful of socialite-wannabes, crotchety old coots, rednecks, and a few even fit the description “dregs of society.” But for the most part, townsfolk had two things you could always count on: curiosity and friendliness. Pretty harmless features, attractive even, if you have nothing to hide.

It wasn’t until Grady leaned into me one day at the river, whispered the punchline to a joke she was telling me, and then caressed the laugh-lines she’d created with her hands that I realized. I didn’t have to hide from her. She was one of only two in town that had managed to make me laugh since I’d been there. I enjoyed her company, her smell, her mannerisms, her eyes. But I believed her interest in me strictly sisterly, and had self-talked myself batty not to screw up this great friendship by scaring her. I tried to tame my attraction to her and made no inappropriate advances. So when her adoring fingers silenced my giggle, and her lips traveled to my fading smile, my confusion and cautiousness departed, and I fell.

I fell first in love, and then literally into the river. If you know my past, neither makes any sense. I’m not usually at a loss for grace and balance. It was a huge part of my profession at one point. As for love, you have to understand. What I used to do … it would have been like a librarian who couldn’t read, or a mechanic allergic to grease. But Grady and I, we were clumsy like two new colts loping about on spindly legs. She opened the door to all we could have, and we suddenly figured out we had brought a teacup to a well the size of the ocean. That splash helped connect us for eternity though. Eternity minus a bullet.

Later in her living room, as we were warming up next to her wood burning stove, I asked her what she was thinking when she kissed me. I expected her to say, “I wasn’t,” or something that meant there was still some pondering happening. Instead, she’d reminded me of our first conversation.

“I was thinking about what you said when we first met. ‘People aren’t always what they seem, Ma’am.’ Poetic and ironic. I was looking at the scars on your neck after you asked me about Fred Tanner. When you said that, I looked into your eyes and those words stirred my heart more about you than Fred. I wanted to know what made you tick.”

“I thought you just wanted to preach to me.” This made her laugh and give me a little shove.

“I wanted you to know what make me tick.”

You know the rest. The warmth, the light flickering in her eyes, the words and how they purred softly into my emotional wounds … we didn’t make love that night. We held each other, snuggled while fully clothed, and felt the power we had to heal and protect one another, even in our sleep.

 

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Neighborhood Watch (series) 4

4

My Sony digital recorder“You understand, I have to clear you before I can tell you anything more.  So Tom here will take you into one of the rooms and a couple of us will be in shortly to ask you some questions.”

There was no point in objecting.  He was absolutely right.  Jack knew I had nothing to do with this besides rushing to the child after the assault, and then flagging his vehicle down for help.   But he and his small staff, viewed by other departments as country bumpkins, would have their methods scrutinized more than others.  If he wanted to solve this case and see justice done, he’d have to do everything by-the-book.

I followed the officer into an interrogation room that looked nothing like the television renditions.  A heavy wooden desk, reminiscent of my elementary school days, sat in the middle of the small office setting.  There were empty shelves to the right, and I shuffled sideways between them and edge of the desk to sit in the chair facing the door.  The wall opposite the shelves was covered, from corner to corner, with file cabinets and an even smaller space to squeeze through.  As I sat in the squeaky roller chair, I took a deep breath to chase away the nagging sense of claustrophobia I was feeling.  Across from me, on the “business” side of the desk, a faux leather chair faced me.  Tom brought in a second chair, smaller but of similar style, and placed it next to the other.  He smiled and excused himself.

Ten minutes later, Jack and a detective I didn’t recognize entered and sat down.  I leaned forward, my chair squeaking as I  scooted it back a bit, and planted my forearms on the desk. I noticed their chairs were completely silent as they made themselves comfortable.

The detective placed a tape recorder on the table.  His finger poised on the record button as if preparing to pull a trigger, he focused on me and asked, “You’re familiar with this, yes?  I understand you are a detective.  I’m going to hit record now if you’re cool with that?”  His tone was less about seeking my permission and more about an established protocol.  I nodded and the red light glowed on the little machine.  He stated the date and he and Jack’s name, title, and badge number – never taking his eyes off me.  “Please state slowly and clearly into the recorder your full name, date of birth, address for your home of record, and a phone number where you most commonly be reached.”

“Legal name Molly Malone. Born June 23, 1984.  I live at 271 W 3rd Street, Fingerbone, Idaho.  Cell Phone number 409-435-3242.”  The detective wrote down the information as I spoke, even though he was recording it.  It was a common interrogation practice.  I knew he would start by asking some questions I’d be certain of the answers, and that anyone would be comfortable answering regardless of their guilt or innocence.    They would then observe the subject’s body language and demeanor, the speed of their answer, the direction they looked … and would use these as a baseline for gauging a person’s truthfulness later on in the interview.  If the interrogator was really good, they could identify micro expressions commonly associated with dishonesty, fear, or other aspects that could help answer questions left unspoken.

The detective continued.  “Are you married?”  Interesting.  Not even one minute into my interview and I was already enjoying some observations of my own.  I could tell by the way Jack tensed his jaw for a millisecond that the question made him uncomfortable.  I assumed he was nervous about what the detective’s reaction would be when he got around to what Jack perceived as “outing” me.

“No.”

“Have you ever been married?”

“No.”

“Do you have children?”

“No.”

“Are your parents still alive?”

“Yes.”

“Where do they live?”  He was keeping the introduction to this process simple, asking only one question at a time to give me a false sense of comfort or security.  When he started in on the important questions, he would turn up the heat and throw them at me two or more at a time.  Cranking up the intensity as the interview progressed was classic methodology and this guy wasn’t impressing me with anything innovative.

We progressed through the ages of my folks, the state of our relationship, and to Jack’s pleasant surprise (I’m sure), this guy never asked me about my orientation or whether I’d ever killed anyone.  This guy was not the sharpest tool in the shed.   If I had any part of this thing, I’m certain he would have missed it.  He then followed protocol and had me dictate a timeline of my whereabouts for the past two days up to the present.  He discovered that I didn’t know my neighbors, not by name anyway.  The extent of our “relationship” had been me waving and smiling, according to standard social norms for that region, and getting the cold shoulder from “Ma and Pa Kettle.”

Of course, I didn’t tell him what I thought of their ridiculous front yard, it’s remnants of “Hee Haw” days gone-by.  Carcasses of sun faded, plastic “Big Wheels,” and long defunct “Sit-n-Spins,” cluttered the scene … along with old tires, cinder blocks, and the quintessential yard-car adorned with blue tarp.  I didn’t mention the various camouflaged clothing items (skivvies included) that were habitually hung on the clothesline for weeks because none of them could cart their lazy asses back out to take them down.

Eventually he hit on what he thought to be the key elements of his interview.  “Can you think of anyone that would want to see them gone or that would want to harm them in any way?”

“As I’ve said, I didn’t know them at all.  I don’t know any of my neighbors except for the people with the game processing business on the corner.  And even with them, I don’t spend time or talk with them much.”

And that was that.  He concluded that I was not a suspect and thanked me for my time.  Asked me to contact them if I have anything further that might help them with the investigation.  Walking out with Jack, I waited until we were out of the earshot of any of the regulars at this station.  “Jack, please tell me he’s not going to do the rest of your interviews in this case.”

“I’ll be handling the case personally; I just couldn’t question you myself after spreading the rumor that you’re helping us with the case and that I called you in.”

“Yeah, about that.  What do you see as the next move?”

“Malone, I only said that to keep you out of danger.  I can’t have someone outside the department messing with this.  Hen and the boys and I will get this thing done.  We’re not the “Barney Fife‘s” some people make us out to be.”

“I know that, Jack.  I don’t think that.  But you need my help.  There’s too few of you and you don’t want to bring these people down here in, if you can help it.  There’d be too many chiefs and the search would go south fast.  You know me; you trust me.  And though you don’t want to admit it, you need someone who can easily skirt the red tape.  You need that kind of speed on this case.  Jack – listen to me dammit.  I can’t tell you what went through my brain when I realized what that dirtbag did to this kid.  I won’t walk away from this, can’t walk away from this, even if you order me to.  I just have to DO something to make it all make sense … to put things back in order in the cosmos or something.”

He started shaking his head halfway through my protestations, as if the act would negate what was spewing at him.  He gripped his jaw, now scraggly with the long day’s growth (we’d been off the hill since the late morning and it was now nearly seven in the evening).  “I’ll think about it.”

“It’s not uncommon for private investigators to consult with police departments from time to time, Jack.  I think – ”

“I said I’ll think about it.  I will.  Now let’s go grab a few pizzas for the team and head back.  I got a long night still ahead.”

“Great.  You can finally fill me in on everything Hen found so far on the way back up.  Don’t look at me like that.  You’re thinking about it – I get it.  In the meantime it can’t hurt for you all to add my perspective on everything … until you are finished thinking about it, that is.”

“Sometimes I wonder what my sister ever saw in you.”

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Neighborhood Watch (series) 3

3

Intravenous IIt felt like someone was pushing ice water through my veins.  In fact, it was pretty close to that.  When I woke I was laid out on a gurney in a hallway.  A saline pack above my head was half empty, its tube draped over my shoulder and running parallel to my arm.  They must have stuck poorly the first time because the back of my hand was sore and I could see the small bruise that had formed when the needle nicked the vein, causing blood to form just under the skin.  The taped gauze where the saline drip entered my arm didn’t cover it entirely.  I knew from my lab tech days in the Army, they’d probably had to poke around to get it set up right.  I was irritated at the prospect of having my hand look like I’d lost track of a hammer while nailing a board for the next few days.

I could see through the double doors to the reception desk.  Jack was talking to a woman with one of those nose piercings that look like a diamond.  I could never understand how people with those things kept from sneezing all the time.  She was nodding and folding a piece of paper he’d handed her.  He turned around to point down the hall and noticed I was awake.  I saw his lips change course to form an “Oh, look,” and he waved and smiled.  His wave morphed into a “number one” as he mouthed “Just one minute,” and I nodded my understanding, then reassessed my hand.

I reached up and tightened the clamp, shutting off the drip.  Placing the tube between my teeth and making sure there was no slack in the tube leading to my hand, I gently tugged at one side of the tape.  Peeling it upwards, I anchored a finger just below where the needle ended under my skin.  I pressed down and pulled my hand away from the tube, then pushed the gauze back over the buise and taped it down again.  Getting off the stretcher was a bit more difficult, since someone had failed to lock the wheels when they’d parked me there.  Thankfully, I was able to stay perpendicular to the floor and roll my shirt sleeve back down as I approached the doors.

“… until we figure this case out, just to make sure he stays safe.  And I want a phone call immediately if anyone asks about him or comes to visit, okay?  Hey, what the hell do you think you’re doing?  I said we’d be with you in a minute; what’s the hurry?”

“I know,” I said, “but I feel better and I know a thing or two about phlebotomy.  No sense wasting a nurse or tech’s time to do all that when I can do it myself.”

Jack shook his head in disgust but decided to concede the battle.  “This is Sue Polanski from social services.  She’s going to make sure the boy is cared for and stays protected while we work the case.  Sue, this is Malone; she is the private detective I’ve asked to help that I was telling you about.”  As Sue shifted her focus from Jack to me and extended her hand, his eyes fluttered quickly to mine.  His head bobbed an inconspicuous nod as his eyes narrowed and spoke an urgent message of caution.  It was not necessary.  I had already taken his lead as he spoke the deception, and smiled at Sue with my no-nonsense professional look of confidence.

Sue smiled.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you Malone.  I’m sorry to hear about your little accident, but so glad to see you’re just fine now.”  Texas?  Maybe Oklahoma … I wasn’t sure.  I’m a sucker for Southern accents.  I made a mental note to quell my curiosity another time (perhaps over dinner) about why on earth she would leave warmer climates for the daunting winters up in these parts.

“Thanks.  I hadn’t eaten yet when Jack called and, in the rush, I think I just got a little light headed.  I appreciate the concern.”

With that, Jack grabbed a nurse and lead Sue to where the boy was being treated (the Intensive Care Unit, I assumed).  I signed myself out at the desk and grabbed a bag of chips and a soda from the vending machines.  I had devoured the chips by the time Jack returned and we headed to the station to file paperwork.

“Thanks for playing along back there.  I don’t know if the guy you saw is paying attention or not.  If he thinks there’s a witness, it could put you in trouble.”

“What makes you think he wouldn’t just run faster and get the hell out of Dodge?” I asked.  Kicking a kid like this scum had, it was certainly evil.  But it wasn’t the same kind of crime as taking out your enemies, one-by-one.  It didn’t seem to fit – Jack thinking this guy was that organized.

“Hen called while you were out.  She had to go get a couple of guys to help her process the inside of the trailer.  There’s no one alive inside.”  I studied his face as he turned the ignition.  My neurons still hadn’t pieced together his words when he turned and looked directly at me.  “Share what I’m telling you with NO ONE.  What I’m saying is …” he studied me as he spoke, “… there were three dead bodies inside.”

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Vantage Point

He’d been washing his flatbed trailer full of four-wheelers for over two hours.  The sound of high powered spray on fiberglass was driving her mad.  Besides, it had rained on and off all day long.  What the hell was wrong with this guy?  She leaned out the window, stretched just enough to see around the tree that blocked her view, and donned her best, “Forget to take your meds this morning, Mr?” face.  No effect. Continue reading

Cards

Loneliness Combat Tactics #1

Backstory – I moved to Idaho for a new job after we (my partner M and I) just purchased our new home in Washington state.  Destiny is a bitch sometimes.  M has a couple jobs and since we can’t sell the house for at least a year she is staying, and I’m here in potato and gun country (not to be mistaken for potato-gun country which I believe refers to Florida where my totally handsome but not so bright cousin lives).  I miss M and although I made the terrible error of agreeing to share a rent with a co-worker (I really dislike room mates) I still find ways to be lonely.  So I decided to insert some humor into this predicament and develop some creative ways to battle loneliness. Hence my new series explodes upon the scene!   This weekend my roomy is out of town taking care of some of her leftover out-of-state business.  So I have the place to myself.  SWEET SILENCE.  Love it!  I’m looking around for the not-so-obvious creative things to do in my solitude – here’s one. Continue reading