Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Building Your Mythology

Readers, myself included don't like cookie cutter, cardboard cutouts as characters.  If a character is boring or not dysfunctional enough, I'm putting the book down.

As a writer I learned that the more layers a character has, the better your audience receives the character. That character's bio doesn't have to be explained in detail in the book, but it may be something you want to keep in the back of you head as you're writing.

What's their favorite food? What are their hobbies? What was their relationship with their parents? Do they have tattoos? Did they serve in the military? What type of movies do they like? Who's their best friend? Where did they grow up? Do they have money? If so how much?

The answers to all those questions and everything else you can dream up for your character will influence every challenge they have to face, just like what you faced in the past affects who you are today.

For example, our main character in The Body Hunters, Danielle Labouleaux or Danny as she prefers to be called is biracial and grew up in New Orleans where she had a somewhat antagonistic relationship with her parents in her teens and early twenties. She was bullied as a child, not only for being biracial and also for a zipper scar that bisects her chest from heart surgery when she was six. She has a penchant for hot rods, especially her candy apple red Camaro, named Lucille. She loves to cook, which she learned from her Grandmere and she hangs on to friends for dear life because they were few and far between during her childhood. She also has a thing for buff, tattooed bad boys, who are really diamonds in the rough.

This is how we started our main characters and as Danielle's story progressed, we added layers and layers of back story, fleshing her out as a character. Before long we knew what she'd say and how she'd react in any given situation.

The same technique can be used for the universe your characters exist in. It's your universe, you make it up and mold it any way you want to.

Is it post apocalyptic? If so how did it get that way? Who's the President? Is this the future? What happened twenty years ago?

The more believable your story and character are, the more invested your readers become in your story.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Villain Must Pay

There's a lot of injustice in the world. All you have to do is turn on the news and here about someone being victimized. As we all know, sometimes the punishment doesn't fit the crime. How many times have we seen someone get a slap on the wrist for some heinous crime that's left someone badly hurt, emotionally scarred or even dead?

I once read a book that started out promising. It was a good read, up until the end when the antagonist got away with his misdeeds. The two main characters were coerced into letting him get away with a slap on the wrist. I still hold a grudge against that author for that ending. Although it may not realistic when it comes to the real world, people want to see justice rendered, especially when they're invested in a story.

As a writer, it's something I take into consideration. Maybe it's some form of vigilantism, but I personally want the bad guy to suffer and I know our readers feel the same way. Even though the antagonist is nothing but a combination of ones and zeroes in my computer, I want them to get what's coming to them. Sometimes getting carted off to jail won't do it, sometimes the punishment has to be extreme to satisfy the reader. Sometimes for the punishment you have to think outside the box. It's Raven Newcastle's world and she can do what she wants.

If only things in real life were so simple.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Superheroes Aren't Just for Geeks

Last weekend, I went to the theater to see Thor. I grew up with my father reading his Silver Surfer and Spiderman comics, which got me somewhat interested in the genre. Its been decades since I've picked up a comic, probably around the last time I picked up a She-ra doll, but I'm very familiar with the characters. I may not read the comics anymore, but I like to watch them on the big screen.

It being the first week of release of this particular movie, I decided to get my seat early. Sitting there I had a ringside seat as the other film goers found their seat. I was quite surprised to find that probably half or over half of the patrons were women. True, some of them may have randomly picked Thor, but for the most part I think Chris Hemsworth and Idris Elba were the big draw. That would explain the gratuitous shirtless scene in the movie with Thor. That scene definitely wasn't for the fan boys, it was a shout out for the ladies.

Going back over the super hero movies that have been released recently, the common factor is that most of them are attractive men. You've got Chris Evans, Hugh Jackman, and Henry Cavill as leading men. All of them good looking actors playing superheroes, all of them with a female fan base.

I for one have watched just about anything Chris Evans was in, years before he ever played Captain America. I happen to think he's good eye candy. Anyone remember Cellular?

And the buzz with the Man of Steel from the ladies over the summer wasn't about the action scenes, but how well Mr. Cavill looked in that Superman suit. I for one enjoyed the shirtless scenes with the manly facial scruff. ; )

My own mother practically swoons every time The Dark Knight Rises is on TV and she hears Bane's distinctive voice. She was so crushed when I told her he wouldn't be in the next Batman reboot.

The trend even spreads outside of the superhero movie genre. I wasn't interested in The Fast and the Furious until they announced that The Rock would be appearing in Fast Five. As long as he's in the franchise I'll park my butt in the seat for every installment. Though Fast Six should be called The Fast and the Furious: Sexy, Sweaty Bald Men in Tank Tops.

I'm glad to see that film makers are paying attention to what women want when it comes to movies. We don't all want the same predictable rom-com's and period pieces. Sometimes we just want mindless action and a good looking man saving the day. And speaking of the Rock, he was also the only reason I went to see that awful GI Joe sequel and if he's in the next one they can go ahead and take my money right now.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Don't Waste Your Gift!

This week, we're preparing to release the third book in our drama/romance/mystery/paranormal series The Body Hunters. Our book release goes hand in hand with the giddy Christmas Day feeling you get with any great accomplishment. The road has been paved with challenges, both personal and book related for myself, Von and our editor, but this is the payoff.

Writing is what we love. Conjuring up drama and putting our characters through hell is what we were born to do. It took us a while to discover our gifts, but when we found it, it flourished. Sometimes the writing process can be the most frustrating thing in the word, but I wouldn't trade my gift for anything.

If you have a gift or that special talent, use it. No more procrastinating, lying to yourself that you'll get started eventually. If you're a runner, go do that marathon you've always put of running. If you're a chef, what's stopping you from submitting that recipe? Writers, stop killing time going over the same material over and over again. Get that book published.

Don't let anything stop you from fulfilling your dream.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kids Grow Up

I am an adult child of divorce. I was about sixteen when my parents decided to end things. To make a long story short, my father wanted to do what he wanted and my mother wasn't having it.

I watched as my mother, a housewife for eighteen years, pulled out the newspaper the day after he left and went to work the next day. She worked jobs she shouldn't trying to put food on the table.  Recycling plant, cleaning toilets, construction; it didn't matter, if the money was green she took the job. We may have had utilities off from time to time, but there was always food on the table, even though it may not be the gourmet cuisine you wanted. We learned how to make food last on a limited budget and we were never on any public assistance. The struggle bonded us deeply.

Now my father on the other hand was living the life he wanted with no responsibilities to tie him down. He went and married the woman he was seeing while he was married to my mother, about two months after the divorce was final. He went and bought that brand new red Mustang, not the type of car you would expect from someone with three kids. He wouldn't call to check on us, but to brag about where he'd been on his vacation. He couldn't come for his scheduled visits but he made sure we saw his shiny new sports car. He could care less that his kids were hurt, scarred and traumatized, it was all about him.

The same could be said for his parents. We were their only grand children, so on Christmas they doted on us with the huge gift boxes from Hudson's. My grandmother would go all out with the beautiful hand knit sweaters and name brand items for kids. After my parents split, that was it. No Christmas gifts, no birthday wishes, nothing. As we struggled, no one called to see if the kids had shoes, coats, or even food. We were cut off completely, even though they only lived eight minutes away from us.

Now, the time in the hour glass is in our favor. We're stable adults now, no drug use, no illegitimate children, my brother had his growing pains as a young black male growing up in Detroit, but these days he's a workaholic and he's fine. We're as close to Mom as we've ever been.

Mr. Sherman on the other hand is another story. Having worked for Ford since he was eighteen, he makes a nice salary, but you can never tell. His life is a never ending spiral of dysfunction. The divorce from wife number three was final a couple months ago, so I know he's looking for his next flavor of the month. He has no choice but to flit from woman to woman because he has no bond with his children and has to assimilate himself into their family. He's the type who likes to rewrite history, like he was Cliff Huxtable; I have no problem reminding him what a terrible father he was.
Our relationship with him is awkward, like we're operating at two different frequencies. When we talk he makes juvenile jokes, like he doesn't realize we're grown adults now. He doesn't know me. He can't tell you my favorite food or color. He's even clueless about me being a writer, which I plan on keeping that way. Whatever he is, I'm stuck with him.

The 'accessories' are optional. We eventually reconnected with my grandparents a when we learned after about fifteen years when we learned my grandmother was dying of cancer. We visited the hospital a couple times, but I felt the coldness, like I'd wandered into some random stranger's hospital room. How pathetic is it when your own grandparents have to ask if you have any children? After a knockdown drag out debate with my brother and sister, we attended the funeral and started visiting with my widowed grandfather again.

Every week or every other week, we'd visit, go out to dinner or a movie. We even invited him over to dinner a couple times and my sister called him every day. A couple years later, a few of her daily calls went unanswered and he called back when he felt like it. He had a new woman in his life and little by little we could feel that chasm opening up again. My sister trying to be nice tried to give him another shot, but the writing was on the wall for me. Dear old sweet granddad used us as placeholders to keep from being lonely until he found another wife. After that I was done with the Sherman family completely. It's been about two and a half years and I haven't looked back.

Which brings us to the very reason I'm so pissed today. Sunday my father calls with his normal chit chat which results in him holding the phone in silence and me trying to come up with conversation because he doesn't know what to say. Before he ends the call, he tells me to call my grandfather on Tuesday, cause it's his birthday. Huh?

Today I had a missed call from my father and I know what he wants. If I didn't know what he wanted, the text with my grandfather's phone number is a clue.

I'm not calling him. Call me cold, callous, heartless, whatever, I'm done with these people. I'm not a toy you can take out of the box and play with whenever some one feels the need. My grandfather has kicked us to the curb twice; once as children and once again as adults, after we gave him a second chance. This isn't the Oprah show where the long lost relative is hiding behind the curtain. Fake isn't in me, so I'm not doing the loving granddaughter routine, pretending every thing is fine and make him feel better. I don't think so.

People need to know that kids aren't stupid. They may be little and defenseless and can't do anything when you break promises or break their hearts. But they grow up. Be careful what you throw away.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Femme Fatale

Enjoy this short story!

The leggy blond sauntered down the long staircase one carefully measured step at a time. Angelique Leone the iconic bombshell with the curvaceous silhouette and come hither pout that adorned many soldiers walls, was in her third day of shooting.  She was headlining in her second motion picture for Sandstone pictures of a four movie deal contract. The studio had pumped a ton of money into the flick and even more money into her glamorization makeover.  Angelique Leone’s name on her birth certificate which was stashed discreetly away in her father’s safe in Texas, was Jane Lenny; not exactly a top billing box office name.

She arrived in Hollywood at twenty years of age with ten dollars in her pocket and a prayer to land any kind of studio contract until a friend in the business revealed to her the real game. It was a hard lesson and one Jane wasn’t happy to learn. Crying alone in her small rundown apartment after losing her virginity to a fat balding casting director on the proverbial casting couch, she contemplated suicide. Returning home would only garner her shame for her actions.

The call came that evening just moments before she was ready to swallow a handful of pills with the joyous news of a studio contract. Apparently the casting director liked her ‘audition’ and recommended her for a small role in a new movie. If the camera agreed with her she would be considered for a larger role in the next one.  The meeting she had with the movie’s director the next morning would change her life forever, 1940 was going to be her year.  The first thing he did was give her a new name, a name that would soon be synonymous with sultry sensuality and unbridled sex, a name that went before a team of studio execs to be decided upon and a name she was not allowed to have a choice in deciding.

“Cut!” the grumpy red faced director Ronald Sizemore yelled. “Damn it! Who’s to dumb fuck that put this stupid plant at the bottom of the stairs? Get it out of here.” He kicked the fake potted plants over. “Everybody take five!”

Angelique threw her hands up in the air and marched down the stairs. “How many times are we going to do this? My feet are tired!” She flipped her long platinum blond hair from her shoulders.

The 6’2” stoutly director glared at her. “You’ll do it as many times as I want you to. Don’t forget your place!”

Her place was becoming one of more influence thanks to her overnight meteoric rise in celebrity and he knew it. He hated the idea that this shy little Texan girl was learning how to wrestle control in a male dominated industry.

“I’m going to lie down. I’ll be in my dressing room alone.” She emphasized loudly.

“Lay off the pills today.” He barked back. His brown eyes angrily dared her to disobey.

She turned on her heel sashaying off the set and into the early afternoon sun. Donning her sunglasses she made her way across the studio lot and hopped on a golf cart heading to her private oasis, the dressing room she demanded without hesitation as her star power started to shine. It was a dangerous game of wills and she knew it. The studio machine had the power to make or break her if she didn’t play her cards right, a heady position for a twenty two year old who gained a lifetime of wisdom in the eighteen months since that fateful audition.

Her dressing room was decorated in all pinks, every shade available was represented. From the deep pink special ordered carpeting to the bubblegum lampshades. She hated pink. Angelique was simply sticking it to the studio for what she considered rape by the fat, nasty smelling casting director. The temporary dressing room cost about as much as a new car to redecorate. Ironically the more she misbehaved the more her star power grew.

The public loved her. Young ladies longed to be her. Men self fulfilled their sexual fantasies against the backdrop of her half naked pinups. The attention her small role in that first movie garnered her was a Hollywood dream.  A well placed one liner catch phrase with fantastic lighting of her pouty full lips and she became America’s new sweetheart. It had even taken the studio execs by surprise. No one was more surprised than the demanding narcissistic director Ronald Sizemore who had hoped she would be another young girl in his stable of bevy beauties he could call upon for licentious scenery and behind the scenes sex. He assumed she was an innocent kitten he could use and abuse till she was washed up.

Angelique proved to be tougher than she looked given in part to her hard scrabble upbringing in the vast expanse of her father’s Texas ranch.  Not to mention his liberal use of a belt for discipline. Her brothers fared worse under his tutelage of hard farm work and beatings, both boys leaving his tyranny as soon as they came of age. She was the only one left at home when his second wife also made an escape. Frightened to stay knowing she would be an easy target for his drunken anger, she boarded a bus and headed to L.A. with a promise of fame and easy fortune.

Frantic knocking on her dressing room door woke her from her slumber. Wrapping her silk dressing gown around her she opened the door to reveal two LAPD officers.

“Sorry to disturb you ma’am.  We need you to come with us.” The tall uniformed officer said.

“What is the meaning of this?” She demanded.
Officer Brady responded. “Ronald Sizemore is dead. Please get dressed and come with us or we will be forced to take you like this.” The officer looked her up and down lecherously grinning.
She stumbled back and fell into her lounge chair. “Dead? But how?”
“That’s what we want you to tell us.”

The squad car pulled up in front of the station with its siren blaring, someone had already tipped off the newspapers and fan rags as light bulbs flashed incessantly blinding her even with her sunglasses on.  Officer Brady roughly grabbed her arm from the back of the black and white dragging her away from the throng of cameras and reporters calling out her name.

She was seated in a hard wooden chair in a lonely room, her silk scarf still wrapped around her head and neck. She pulled a cigarette and holder from her purse. “Can I please get a light?” She yelled, aware that they were watching her from behind the two way mirror. Detective Jarden entered with his lighter in hand. Sitting himself across from her he lit her cigarette as she crossed her legs allowing her skirt to rise up enough to tantalize him. It didn’t go unnoticed.
“Am I under arrest?” she asked.
“No.” he replied.
“Do I need a lawyer?”
“Depends, did you shoot him?” He licked his lips as she adjusted the hem on her knee.
She raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow at him. “Up until now I didn’t even know how he died, how could have I shot him?”
Detective Jarden snickered pushing an ashtray her way. “You were seen having words with Mr. Sizemore before he died and it’s been rumored you had a beef with him. Do you own a gun Ms. Leone?”
“Of course, a single girl has to protect herself in this big bad city, but that doesn’t make me a killer.”
“You’re right, but what about the argument? You had words with him and then disappeared.” He lit his own cigarette and placed his fedora on the table next to his notebook.
“Ronald was a hard man to work for detective. He made many questionable demands and berated the staff constantly, doesn’t mean I wanted him dead. He had enough enemies for that.”
“But he is dead. Can you account for your whereabouts after one o’clock?”
Angelique sighed. She knew where this was headed. She had verbally threatened to shoot Ronald if he ever touched her again several weeks before. He didn’t like to be told no so he had punched her in the face daring her to complain, promising to ruin her if she didn’t comply with his demands. The bruises took days to disappear putting the movie shoot seriously behind schedule. The studio attributed it to the press as Ms. Leone’s ongoing bought with the flu.
“I was in my dressing room napping.” She advised curtly.
Sitting back in his chair unbuttoning his suit coat, Detective Jarden gave her a sly smile. “Napping? Was there anyone with you?”
She glowered in contempt. “No, I was alone the whole time.”
“Too bad, no one to corroborate your story.”  He said tapping his ash in the tray.

“You also have no proof it was me. I know my rights detective, I demand you let me leave.”

Detective Jarden snapped his fingers and the two officers who brought her in appeared. “Take Ms. Leone home please.” He told them. “I’ll be in touch.” He said as she walked away.

Angelique took her constantly ringing phone off the hook, dressed herself in a silk floral nightgown and poured herself a drink. It had gone as planned. That jackass would never force himself on her again. The back alley abortion he had forced her to have that nearly killed her was listed as another bout of illness by the studio. Her son had laid in pieces on a crude table next to the coat hanger used to destroy him and she vowed then to kill the man who did this to her.  She held the evening’s paper in her hands reading the headline. ANGELIQUE LEONE QUESTIONED IN DIRECTORS DEATH! Even bad publicity was good publicity.

She closed her eyes reliving her day. He had appeared in her dressing room ready for another romp. The whole scene on the set of overturned flowers and anger at the staff to call a break was planned by him so he could get her alone. They had done this dance before and she knew her steps well, he had seen to that with his repeated threats and punishments. He showed up to her dressing room fifteen minutes after her departure as to not arouse suspicion. Three knocks on the door was his signal it was him. She opened the door holding a handkerchief as a sign to the unseen men hovering around the corner hallway. George and John Lenny, her older brothers, gagged and bound Ronald dragging him to a waiting car behind her dressing room taking him back to the empty set. The always punctual catering truck took care of any set crew that lingered behind. The studio paid free food was always a sure fire guarantee to draw a crowd.

Her brothers had slipped him in the back entrance unnoticed amid the props and various scenery's. Unbinding their victim and removing his gag, she gave him only one command. “Run.” She said as she raised her hand pulling the trigger.  No one would have paid attention to the shot thanks to the noisy western they were filming in the next sound stage. Her aim was as good as any man’s her father had made sure of that. It was after all a necessary skill if you lived on a Texas ranch.

The bullet landed squarely in the back of Ronald’s head and exited out the front taking half his skull with it. Her brothers stealthily slipped her back to her dressing room and in mere minutes were driving out of town with the fired pistol. 

“Ms. Leone, Ms. Leone, how does it feel to be cleared of all murder charges?” the hapless reporter pestered her on her way to the red carpet premiere of her new movie ‘Femme Fatale’.
She stopped and turned in her red dress designed just for her movie premiere placing her hand on her ample hip with a big toothy smile. “Darlings, was there ever any doubt!”

Friday, November 8, 2013

What Happened to the Holidays?

When I think back to the family holiday celebrations when I was a child growing up in the 80's, I remember the family gathering at my grandmother's house. The food would be set around the dining room table and the desserts on her buffet. Mom and Aunt Pat would see what needed to be done in the kitchen. It wasn't yet known if Aunt Pam would be making a guest appearance, even though she literally lived right around the corner. My grandmother would have every thing covered in that cheap plastic wrap she used to buy, the food barely covered. We'd hold hands to bless the food, one random adult selected to say the prayer. Everyone would say Amen and we'd commence to making plates.

It was a guessing game as far as the meats, pick one at your own risk. Grandpa was a hunter, so you were subject to get raccoon, rabbit, or even goat on your plate. I remember the Christmas where my Uncle Phillip, jockeying for position to get closer to the bowl of chitlin's knocks over several of my Grandmother's house plants, spilling dirt every where. It's thirty years later and he still can't live that one down.

Now we wouldn't eat at the dining room table, so everyone would take their paper plates out to the living room. God forbid if you spilled any of the red pop on the carpet. After everyone was stuffed, we'd either see what was on the TV or the rest of the evening would be spent catching up on family events. Aunt Pam would show up with her family, right after the dishes were washed and all the clean up work was done. ; )

These holiday celebrations from years past live on only in old photographs. The kids are adults now, some with kids of their own. Uncle Junior, my mother's baby brother has been sleeping in his grave since 1999, Grandpa followed a few years later, and this year Grandma joined them in eternity. My parents have been divorced for years, Aunt Pat is still up in Grand Rapids, and Aunt Pam and one of her daughters are hours away in St. Louis. Life happened between then and now, which is why those holidays spent together are so precious.

Those are times that we can never get, which is why I don't understand people nowadays. Instead of spending the holidays with their loved ones, they'd rather spend it in a tent outside a store, waiting to buy some item they don't really need. When did Thanksgiving or the other holidays become so twisted? With today's society and everybody focused on me, me, me, and what I need, they forget the real meaning. Worse yet, their shopping habits affect the poor people who work at these stores.

My mother works for a retail giant, the head of her office which is vital to the running of the store. We can't spend the holiday together because she works Thanksgiving morning and then has to report to work at midnight the same evening to be ready for Black Friday. Now our holiday dinner has to scheduled before or after the actual holiday because some executive who's having his holiday meal catered by the help decides they can make a lot of money on Thanksgiving. All so somebody's kid can have that nice new tablet or laptop, which truth be told is last year's model anyway. It's something you might want to consider if  you decide to venture out on Thanksgiving to shop.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Body Hunters: Dirty Secrets, Naked Truth Excerpt- Alistair Brogan's Murder

Enjoy a sneak peek at the first chapter in the third book in The Body Hunters series.

Alistair Brogan’s eyelids cracked open a little after one in the morning. Through sheer stubbornness he continued to lay there, willing himself to fall back to sleep. After nearly an hour of watching the digital digits on his alarm clock mark the passing time, Alistair gave it up. At the moment sleep wasn’t going to allow him to escape the mess of his creation.

He forced himself to sit up. He ran a hand through his tousled grey hair, which stood straight up like muddy icicles.  The space in the king size bed beside him was empty; a few blond hairs on the pillow the only trace of the high priced call girl with whom he’d spent part of the evening.  Obviously his meter had run out and she’d gone off in pursuit of the next paying client.

Alistair winced as the soles of his feet touched the frigid bedroom floor, the wood cut from some rare tree from the Amazon.  He slipped into a pair of handcrafted silk slippers, monogrammed with his initials.  He was considering not even bothering with a shower, until his own body funk assailed him. 

Alistair shuffled to the bathroom with its heated tile floors, his worries heavy on his shoulders.  He gazed at his nude form in the bathroom mirror.  He didn’t look too bad for a chap well beyond the half century mark.  His eye sight had been corrected with laser surgery so he no longer required the grandfatherly glasses he used to wear.  His hair was expertly cut by a stylist known to have clipped the hairs of U.S. Presidents and heads of state.  His fingers pinched his waist, finding no trace of the love handles that had plagued him for years, his belly flat and taut like a fashion model half his age.  His unforgiving personal trainer had seen to that and the man’s exorbitant fee had been money well spent. 

A personal shopper made sure that his walk in closet was overflowing with fine garments and shoes that befitted a man of his wealth and stature.  A fleet of fine automobiles filled the garage of his mansion, while a handful of servants waited on his every beck and call.  When Alistair talked, people paid attention.  Everywhere he went people knew him and wanted to be around him.  To the outside world Alistair Brogan was the picture of power and influence, but why did he feel so hollow inside?

When Alistair looked at himself in the mirror all he saw was staring back at him was the face of a con man and a thief.  Alistair Brogan, CEO of Capital Securities Associates or C.S.A. was guilty of running a Ponzi scheme.  He’d duped corporations, charities, middle class workers, and little old ladies out of billions of dollars.  Over the years, he kept telling himself that he’d go on the straight and narrow and clean up the mess he’d started, but as the years went by he only got deeper and deeper in the tar pit of his own making. 

Just a few months ago, Alistair had developed a plan that would allow him to pay off all his investors back in full. The plan would take time to pay off, precious time he no longer had. Unfortunately, there was no more sand in his hour glass and two weeks ago the whole house of cards came crashing down.

A legion of FBI agents in their windbreakers descended on C.S.A.’s headquarters in Savannah in search of a paper trail.  The SEC had been investigating him for years and finally had gathered enough evidence for a warrant.  Like buzzards swooping down on a carcass, the media was all over the story.  Cameras and microphones were shoved into the faces of clueless C.S.A. employees and Alistair’s equally clueless friends and family.

Alistair was exiled from his circle of friends as soon as the news broke.  He’d gone from a VIP to the most hated man in America in mere days.  His victims now paraded outside the gate of his mansion with their torches and pitchforks, calling for the head of the monster.  His former friends treated him like he was poisonous, avoiding any contact with him.  Alistair felt like he didn’t have an ally in the world.

The arraignment was mercifully quick and his hot shot lawyer was able to get Alistair released on bond and put on house arrest.  Thankfully he was able to avoid wearing one of those awful tethers, since the lawyer negotiated the surrender of his passports.  Alistair was now confined to his luxurious seven bed room, Savannah, Georgia mansion.  With the house empty since he fired his staff, the mansion was even more like a prison.  Save for the occasional call girl, Alistair was in solitary confinement with no other human contact.

As he stood in the shower letting the steaming jets of nearly scalding water work over his exhausted muscles, Alistair reminisced over his past transgressions and his pitiful existence. 

He’d never been much of a husband or father. He knew now that he was never worthy of his first wife, his one true love, Cindy Good.  She was truly a saint who’d put up with his lying and cheating for years, but even saints have their limitations.  She’d taken their children and had been living happily ever after for years.

Wife number two was a conniving temptress who was only after his money.  She’d abandoned him as soon as she’d gotten word of the charges against him and the possibility of losing everything of which she’d grown accustomed.

The disappointment in his eldest son’s face whenever he looked at him was enough to kill him. It was a wonder that Alistair Jr. didn’t change his name to avoid all association with his fallen father. Luckily he was spared the judgment of his daughter who lived in Europe with her husband and children. It was one thing to be a bad father, another to be publicly branded a crook.

How ironic that the one child he could truly lean on at this time was his problem child, his youngest son Carl, by his second wife.  It was Carl, the former drug addict, who comforted Alistair with words of wisdom and encouragement. While he was never charged with anything as serious as running a Ponzi scheme, Carl had seen the inside of a jail cell on several occasions in his relatively short life and knew what they were up against.

Ceasing the ruminations on his children and turning off the punishing spray of water using the digital touch screen panel, Alistair stepped out of the glass enclosed shower.  The scent of his musky imported body wash and shampoo lingered on his skin.  Donning just his silk bathrobe, he headed downstairs, taking in the things he’d accumulated over the years.

As he passed the baby grand piano in the living room, he reminisced on the items he’d acquired.  There was the antique Persian rug he’d acquired in Morocco, the antique vase from Malaysia, a collection of hand blown glass ornaments from Italy.  These items he cherished would soon be auctioned to the highest bidder to cover the losses that his clientele had suffered because of his schemes.  His bank accounts were already frozen and it was only a matter of time before his property was seized.

His breath caught in his throat as if he could feel the walls of justice closing in on him.  His lawyer insisted on pleading not guilty, but Alistair knew that his days were numbered.  He was guilty as sin and he was going to spend the rest of his earthly existence and part of the afterlife in a federal prison.

Trying to shake off the stress, Alistair arrived at the room containing his indoor pool.  The combination of the chlorine and the heated water made the room hot and the air hard to breathe.  Shrugging out of his robe, he stepped into the warm waters.  He swam laps around the pool until his arms and legs felt like they’d been injected with lead.  The dull pain helped to lower his anxiety level.

“Nice day for a swim, huh?”  A masked figure dressed in black emerged from the shadows, a gun gleaming in its hand.

“Wh-who are you?”  In near panic, Alistair quickly cinched the robe around his waist.

The intruder never answered, letting the sound of the gunshot speak for him. A jet of red black blood sprayed like a fountain from Alistair’s perfectly tanned neck.  He fell to his knees, his hands around his own throat, desperately attempting to stop the bleeding as his life flowed through his fingers.  Alistair’s voice was replaced by thick garbled static, the blood in his throat nearly gagging him. 

The dark figure stood less than a foot from Alistair’s crouching form and pulled the trigger again.  Grey matter and blood spatter made a mess of the white tile.   Alistair collapsed in a heap.   Death overrode any modesty as his robe fell open, leaving his naked body fully exposed.  The intruder fired two more rounds into Alistair’s skull before kicking the dead man into the pool.

A murky red cloud surrounded Alistair as he floated on top of the water like an overfed goldfish.  Satisfied with their handiwork, the intruder fled the room, carefully avoiding the blood on the floor.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Susan Tepes-Ghost Therapist

Susan Tepes arrived home after a long day of shooting her reality show ‘The Ghost Therapist’.  She hated the name, but for the money they were paying her she could have cared less what they called it.  Flicking on the lights to her spacious L.A. apartment, she realized she was not alone. From the corner of the room a vase flew past her, aimed at her head. It ricocheted off the wall behind her. After having just about all her dishes and vases broken by angry spirits, she only used plastic ones  “Missed me!” She yelled.
A large roar filled the empty space and her body was slammed into the living room wall. His body pinned her with his icy breath chilling her neck sending shivers down her spine. Sometimes being a contact psychic was a harrowing. She could touch the spirits and they could touch her, a fact that many deceased male predators relished and sought out those like her for that reason. The chose not to show himself to her, but she could feel his hands sliding down her body and his engorged ethereal member press into her hips.
“Not today” She said out loud. His growling rang in her ears as he punched her in the stomach.  “Stop it!” She commanded as he knocked to her knees. Reaching blindly at the space in front of her she felt his energy and pulled. A thud reverberated throughout her apartment. “Show yourself now!”
“You don’t tell me what to do! I tell you!” His voice distorted with each word.
Placing her hands on her temples she pushed back on his energy force causing shock waves to reveal his teenaged form to her. He was barely sixteen from the looks of him. “You’re just a kid!” 
“I’m man enough!” He roared back. “Just ask my many girlfriends.” 
Susan walked to her kitchen grabbing a stick of sage from the counter. “You mean the women you raped?”
“They asked for it.”
She continued her questioning, lighting the sage. “How did you die?”
Still leering at her he lifted off the ground and flew forward stopping in mid air as the smoke from the sage hit his ghostly form. “What the fuck is that?” 
She smiled, continuing to wave the smoke in circles around him. “Sage. It will make you tell me the truth and keep you from harming me.”
“Bitch!” He barked.
She ignored the insult. “Tell me your name.”
“Joseph what?”
“Joseph Kirby.” He spat on her.
“That’s gross!” She said wiped the ectoplasm off her face with a towel. She shoved his form over to a chair at her dining table.
“Ghosts don’t need to sit stupid.”
“That’s true but I do. I see you acknowledge you’re a ghost so we are halfway there.”
“Halfway to what?”
“Moving you on Joseph. So first things first, tell me how you died.” She said placing herself across from him at the table.
He materialized fully in front of her. “I shot myself, you wanna see?” He turned and parted his hair to show her the massive exit wound in the back of his head where his skull should have been, bloody brain matter hung out of the hole. “I stuck the pistol right in my mouth and pulled. My brains splattered everywhere, I can imagine my bitch mother having to pick pieces of my skull and brain out of the rug.” He laughed with an evil twinkle in his ghostly eye.
“Hmm. That’s a pretty violent ending, Suicide actually tells me you must have felt guilt over what you’ve done.” She commented.”That will work in your favor.”
His angry stare failed to move her. He waved his hand, slamming her cabinet doors in a telekinetic fit. “Why aren’t you scared?”
“Don’t make me relight this sage.” She said. “Don’t you think I’ve seen this for years? You’re not the first one to come to me. Ask yourself Joseph, why were you drawn to me?”
“I…I don’t know I just found myself here.” His eyes downcast he stopped the door slamming.
“You found yourself here because today is November 1st,  The Day of the Dead and even though you can’t see them, there are five others in this apartment waiting patiently for me to attend to them.”
“There are?” He looked around not seeing any other specters. “You’re lying I don’t see anyone else.”
“You don’t because of your guilt and how you died. Joseph, the loneliness that you feel is part of your punishment to get you to repent. You have to accept your guilt, show remorse and move on.”
“Move on to hell you mean? No!”
Susan removed herself from the table walking towards her bedroom with Joseph following close behind.
“Yeah this is more like it! Time to get busy.” He tried to grab her but felt a shock that sent pain through his energy making him kneel to the floor.
“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you the sage acts as positive energy to your negative energy, it also puts a shield around me. You can’t touch me till it wears off and by then you’ll be long gone.” She smiled and grabbed a large antique book from her nightstand.
“It’s a little late to save me.” He said meekly.
“It’s not for you it’s for your victims. I have to forgive you in their stead then you can move on to the next plane. Joseph don’t you wonder why you didn’t immediately go to hell? Why you are still here?” She returned to the kitchen table opening the large book.
“I guess I didn’t think about it.” He peered over her shoulder. “I thought this was a bible?” 
“It’s a different type of book that’s been in my family for centuries. I have our family bible too don’t worry. ”
“What language is that?”
Susan swatted him away. “Romanian, now sit down.”
He did as he was told. She ran her fingers down the old text page after page until she found the words she was looking for. Reading aloud she recited the foreign words, once she finished they sat in silence for a second.
“What did you say?” He asked.
Susan sighed taking on a pensive look. “I asked the elders to search your victim’s heart to see if they are open to forgiving you.”
“Well? What happens now?”
“We wait, if the answer is yes then you are forgiven, in the meantime I want to read to you from the book of Matthew  passage 6: 14-15 and 1 John 1:9,  the last one I’ll read is Acts 3:19 about repenting which even though your actions say different I can tell you want to. Open your heart to it Joseph and accept the words.”
As she read the passages his ethereal form started to disappear. “What’s happening to me?” His frightened face started to fade.
“It’s okay Joseph, just accept the embrace.”
“Am I going to hell?” He asked in a child like voice.
Smiling sweetly she answered. “No, you’re going to the next plane where you have to finish the lessons you needed to learn here before you cut your life short and accept what you have done. It’s a good place don’t worry, once you finish your lessons you’ll move on to what we call heaven and be ready to accept God’s love and forgiveness.”
“I’m scared.” He whispered as his form was now almost a wisp of smoke.
“I know Joseph, Look in front of you do you see a man?”
“He is an elder and will lead you on your path, trust him he is there to assist you till your ready for heaven. Goodbye Joseph.”
“Thank you.” She faintly heard from afar.
Loud banging rattled her doors jolting her from her chair.
“I know you’re in there you hippie freak, open up!”
Rolling her eyes Susan adjusted her tie dyed bohemian skirt and for fun wrapped a matching scarf around her head in a turban. “Yes Mr. Armstrong” She addressed her heavyset, balding neighbor. “Come for a reading? Let me get my crystal ball.”
“Listen I don’t care if you are the Ghost Doctor….”
“Ghost Therapist.” She corrected.
“I don’t care if you’re the fucking ghost proctologist! I’m warning you for the last time to stop burning that damned weed, it’s stinking up the building!” He yelled, veins road mapping on his forehead.
Susan looked beyond him and nodded. “Your grandmother wants me to tell you to lay off the potato chips and soda. You’re heading for a heart attack.”
He huffed as he walked away. “Tell the old bat to mind her own fucking business.”
Susan rolled her eyes at him and shut her door. Turning to the ethereal crowd in her living room she sighed. “Next.”

It's Secret Santa Time Again!

It happens once a year. You and your coworkers draw names for Secret Santa. Here's a word of advice, be mindful of the person who'll be purchasing that gift for you.

For example, last year Von had the sheer luck of drawing one of our coworkers. Now this young lady didn't ask for a nice fluffy Snuggie or a pair of comfortable slippers. She wanted a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. If you want the book, that's fine, that's your business, your personal business. My question is why would you want to put someone you work with in the awkward position of purchasing a book that's has the stigma of being 'Mommy Porn'? Now you're leaving a coworker with the decision of whether to gift wrap it or just throw it in a paper bag.

Being a Secret Santa is all about the spreading the Christmas Spirit. There's nothing like the joy of picking out the perfect gift for someone you work with and the look of glee as they open their gift. I shouldn't have to be embarrassed going to the store and purchasing an item on your list.  Gift buying shouldn't be a life altering decision. So if the thing on your list requires batteries or has three speeds, unless it's a blender, take it off. Yes, that even includes that paperback copy of Taken by the T-Rex ; ) Please refrain from putting personal items on you wish list. Happy Holiday Season y'all!