Category Archives: fiction

The Long Road Home…

The wind bit into her exposed skin as Dena huddled against her broken down car on the side of the interstate.  Dusk was closing in and she knew it would be dark soon.  How could she have forgotten to charge her phone before starting the drive home for Thanksgiving?

Mom is going to kill me, she thought ruefully, but with no phone and no car, she had no choice but to try to get someone to stop and help her.  Maybe she’d luck out and another kid going home from college would stop and pick her up.  Or maybe a nice truck driver.  They were the ones to help you on the road, her dad always said.

Okay, if no one was coming down the road, she was going to get back inside her car and wait where it was at least a little warmer.  Maybe the OnStar thing would work.  She got in and pressed it again and again, but nothing.  No disembodied voice asking how they could help her.  Her luggage was in the trunk of the little Dodge Dart and maybe she’d get it out and put some more layers of clothes on to try to stay warm.  She didn’t have another coat, but more jeans and socks and a big sweater, at least.

Darkness was rapidly closing in when she heard rumbling sounds behind her.  Peering out the frosted over back window she saw a huge semi bearing down on her.  The noise must have been the truck downshifting as the driver tried to stop after seeing her car.  Too late to get out and make a run for it, she just prayed that the air brakes caught and the massive machine stopped before slamming into her car.  Head down, trying to remember the long ago prayers from when she was a little girl, “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name…”

Oh, thank you, Jesus, the truck swung around her car and pulled onto the shoulder just in front with an awful squeal.  Dena’s heart was still pounding and her mouth was nearly dry, not noticing a tall, broad-shouldered man get out of the cab, a knit cap pulled low over longish brown hair as he stalked toward her car.  She was still in a daze when the loud rapping on her window brought her into the present.

Dena opened the door a crack to peer out and his lips tilted up a little.  “Can I help you with anything, miss?”

“Oh, thank goodness you stopped,” was all she could muster as her eyes filled with tears.

“Yep, seems like good luck all around, doesn’t it?  Come on into my truck and warm up a little and I’ll see what’s going on with your car.”  His big hand tugged on hers a little until she finally got her body to move.  She was almost stiff with the cold and the remnants of  fear from seeing the truck bearing down on her.  And now, relief — or something — was making her light-headed.

“My name is Dena,” she managed as he guided her toward the cab of the truck.  She noticed it was white and had some sort of telephone number and Jones Trucking on the side.

“Nice to meet you, Dena,” he smiled, again with the slight uptilt.  “Most folks call me Jonesy, but my name is Bill.  Now get on in there and warm up a little.”

It seemed like she barely had time to settle back against the luxurious padded seat and feel her toes and fingers start to thaw before he was climbing back up beside her.  Then she felt the truck lurch forward before it moved onto the highway.

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Spatter…

A little something I’m reposting from last year to wish you happy Friday the 13th… Boo!

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The Friday the 13th party had been winding down anyway and the flirty blonde in the short black dress suggested her place, so she and Mike were grabbing their coats from the back bedroom when they heard the sounds of glass breaking and people shouting.  Then the lights went out.  The blonde had opened her mouth but before she could start shrieking he’d pulled her close and shoved her face into his chest to try to muffle a scream.  She’d shoved him away hard like she was afraid and he felt her run past him in the darkness as he slipped and now he wasn’t even sure where she was…
What the hell? Mike could feel the toe of his boot hit something as he stumbled in the darkness to find the light switch. God dammit but his head hurt. He must have hit the back of his head against the footboard of the bed as he fell.  Christ, he hadn’t meant to scare the girl, he just figured if a fight had broken out or something they could just stay in the bedroom till everybody settled down.  He’d only been in Jim and Sara’s apartment a few times so he wasn’t sure he was remembering right, but, yeah, there was the switch to the right of the door.
As the light clicked on, he looked out into the living room and saw spatters of red everywhere, like a paint can had flown from someone’s hand and liquid curved up into the air in slow motion then fell like rain drops in a mesmerizing pattern. Looking more closely, he realized the red was too thin, too dark, had a coppery smell — good Lord, it was blood. Blood everywhere.
Squinting against the bright light, he could make out the pale, shocked faces of Jim and his wife, Sara, and another guy he remembered from the party, Leo maybe — no, Logan, somebody who worked with Jim at the trucking company. They were all staring at him in horror. Then Sara started screaming and screaming and he looked down and there was the blonde in the short black dress, glossy red lips and blue eyes open wide as blood spurted from the slash across her neck and soaked into the light gray carpet…

Bus Stop…

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A repost from last year you might not have read…

Why can’t life be easier?  Why can’t things just work out?  Trisha shook her head sadly as she boarded the bus, glad to be out of the chilly November air and happy to see that a seat was open near her.  She sank down gratefully, pulling her coat in around her and grasping her bag closely on her lap.

The scruffy young man on her right moved his legs together guiltily, apparently realizing he was taking up more than half the seat. “Oh, sorry,” he said in a deeper voice than she’d expected. Trisha glanced up quickly into soft blue gray eyes that really did look apologetic.  She couldn’t help but return his smile. “No problem,” she said. “I’m exhausted, is all, and just glad to find an empty seat.”

“Long day, I’d guess?” That voice of his just rumbled and as her eyes met his again she noticed the wrinkles around the corners of those eyes and the touches of gray in his beard.  Not so young, maybe. “Long week, and its only Wednesday.”

“Ah, well, maybe things will be looking up soon.”  How did he manage to look so appealing and sympathetic at the same time?

“Maybe.  I guess.  Sure.” She could feel her cheeks heating. “Sorry, I haven’t any idea, really.  My job was just downsized today.  Such a nice way of saying you’re fired without really saying it.”

“Oh, I am sorry to hear that!  Perhaps I could buy you dinner?” Now he had the grace to look slightly uncomfortable. “Jeez, you must think me an idiot.  My name is Grant Thomas and I’m getting off at the Peterson Avenue stop unless you’d go to dinner with me, in which case we can get off the bus wherever your stop is?”

“Trisha James,” she said extending her hand. “Peterson is my stop, too, and there’s a little Italian restaurant right there on the corner.” “Brunettis,” they said together, laughing.

“So, Trisha James, what do you say?  Join me for a glass of wine and some incredibly good pasta?”

Closing her eyes briefly against all the reasons she shouldn’t trust this rather scruffy looking stranger she’d just met on a city bus, Trisha glanced up into those very kind eyes and decided. “I’d like that, Grant,” she smiled.

“Wonderful and here’s our stop now,” he said, guiding her down the aisle toward the door, nodding to the driver. “Good night, Lillian.”

“Night, Dr. Thomas. See you tomorrow.”

Oh, my, Trisha thought, appearances certainly could be deceiving…

Picture from Pixabay

Summer Cold, Again*…

Summer vacation, it was a blast
Summer cold, it happened so fast
Lack of sleep, not my own bed
Stuffiness, all through my head,

Summer days, sneezing away
But, oh, those drugged Nyquil nights!

Well-a well-a well-a huh
Tell me more, tell me more
Do you cough all the time?
Tell me more, tell me more
Is your nose filled with slime?

Tried to rest, but that didn’t work
Phone calls from telemarketer jerks
My poor throat is feeling so sore
Need more meds from the grocery store

Summer germs, now something’s inflamed
But, oh, those sleepy Nyquil nights!

Well-a well-a well-a huh
Tell me more, tell me more
Do you still feel like crap?
Tell me more, tell me more
Do you still need a nap?

A couple more days and I’ll be all right
I might wash my hair, not look such a fright
Think I might actually be on the mend
And this stupid cold will finally come to an end

Summer days, sneezing away
But, oh, those blissful Nyquil nights!!

*To the tune of Summer Nights from Grease.  I probably would have done an audio recording for you, you know, if it weren’t for my cold…

The Reunion, 12…

 

You can find earlier excerpts from The Reunion here

“Well, who doesn’t love a good game of chase?” he leaned forward and casually picked up one of her hands, running his fingers over hers.  She was aware of how much larger and harder his fingers were, a little roughened from the carpentry work, obviously stronger than hers. Now that she thought about it, everything about him was larger and stronger than she remembered.

###

So,” she said, and the word came out a little huskier than she intended. Brian still toyed with her fingers and she turned her hand over to grasp his.  She cleared her throat and tried again. “So, what was it you got your degree in after all, Brian?  I always thought you’d be a mathematician or scientist or something.”

Brian grinned down at their joined hands.  “Saw me as a mad scientist, did you?  I’m an architect, actually, but designing big commercial buildings was not for me.  I did that for a while, but got tired of the traveling and big cities.  And I’ve picked up plenty of building skills along the way, enough to act as general contractor on building the inn.  I have to admit, I really like being hands on.”

The electricity between them was palpable and Jen was afraid she was reading more than was wise into Brian’s casual remarks.  But when she met his eyes, she could clearly see the teasing warmth. Down, girl, she admonished herself, as she felt the tingle down to her toes.  She needed to keep this easy and uncomplicated.  But, then again, there was something to be said for sexy and sweaty, too!

Brian paid the check and they decided to take a walk down by the riverfront while it was still light out.  There was a beautiful breeze and it was just beginning to turn cool.  Brian grasped her hand again as they walked along in front of the stores and shops.

“I’d like to see our little town build up like this over the years, have a true downtown area that might draw more than just the college kids’ parents.  So I bought the inn as a start, figuring I could live there and run it until I hire someone to take over, especially if I want to keep renovating other places in town.  I don’t know about the old bowling alley or skating rink, but it seems the kids in this area need something to do, too.”

“It seems like you’re doing a beautiful job of restoring the inn from what I’ve seen. I can’t wait for the reunion to see the downstairs all put together.  Part of my job is meeting planning, so I’ve had some experience with pulling venues together and deciding on decorations for events, things like that.”

“Sounds like you like what you’re doing, then?”

“I do like it most of the time, although I admit I’m not sure how I feel about living where I do anymore.  The commute in to the city is long and when the weather is bad, it makes the days incredibly long.  Especially in the winter, I feel like I can go days without seeing daylight!”  And even though she laughed, Brian could see a little bit of sadness in her eyes.

“I know this is asking a lot of you and you’re only here for the reunion, but maybe you’d find the time to go through some catalogs online and help me pick out some things for the inn?  My skills are more geared to picking out wood finishes and flooring, not paint colors and drapes and furniture.”  He’d be willing to take any help he could get from her in that area.

That does sound like fun, kind of like having a new house to decorate!”  Jen beamed.  It seemed Brian really was interested in spending time with her.  This could end up to be a very enjoyable week.  Or longer if the text she’d gotten from her friend at work was true.