TIME by Calvin Davis

clockWhere does it go? Time. From where does it come? Time. This visitor lurking in the shadows of night and moving with the lightness of feathers in morning. And always when it comes, it opens its ledger and pours over the figures therein. After doing so, it demands the latest payment of your lifetime installment plan. And when you make the last payment, you receive a receipt stamped “Final payment made. You owe no more. You are no more.”

Time. When is my final payment due? And yours? Banks often give extensions on loans. Time never does. Not one of its borrowers has ever been in default.  Not one.

Calvin Davis is also the author of THE PHANTM LADY OF PARIS. plopfront-148x223

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Don’t Kill the Messenger

TruthNow don’t get angry with me just because I’m about to tell you the truth. I know, I know, the truth hurts, but sometimes we have to face it. Now I am just going to be honest with you, and if the truth hurts, remember I’m just the messenger.

White houseJeffersonThis truth business all came about because a friend, well OK, an acquaintance really, had just returned from D.C. and was rhapsodize about all the monuments and I thought, “Yeah, that’s a city of nothing but liars and monuments and all the monuments are to liars.”

Arlington

UnknownI realize that may not be a very nice thing to say, so I’ll mitigate it somewhat by saying there may be a monument to someone other than a liar like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and some of those little monuments in Arlington.

Aside from that slight possibility; in all likelihood the greater the liar, the larger the monument, because almost every monument is to a “gone from here” politician and everyone knows there is not a more accomplished liar than a politician. Continue reading

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You Talk, I’ll Listen; Vice Versa; Repeat, by Carole Howard

I’ve been thinking about an idea for Congress. True, it will take them longer to get anything done. Then again, maybe they’ll actually get something done.

It has to do with communication skills, about which I used to conduct corporate seminars. One seminar was devoted to listening or, as we in the biz called it, active listening – different from hearing. One of the ‘active listening’ techniques was to paraphrase the other person, particularly if that other person said something with an emotional overlay.

For example, “You’re saying you’re frustrated because I don’t give clear instructions and then I get impatient with you if you don’t do it the way I want? Is that it?”

Sometimes people would think it was too technique-y. “The other guy already knows what he said, why do I need to say it again?” I can understand feeling silly when you repeat another’s point of view. (See? I’m doing it.) But most people agreed that when they were the person being actively listened to and then paraphrased, it felt great.

Not surprising, because the simple truth is that everyone wants to be understood. (This is not my own idea. Lots of people have said the same thing. Freud. Buddha. Oprah.) Not necessarily agreed with, but understood. There’s a difference. There’s a certain very important person in my life to whom I’ve pointed this out many times. Lovingly, of course. But I digress.

One of the exercises I used in that program was particularly interesting, and here’s where Congress comes in.

I’d pair people up. They’d choose a controversial issue to discuss (from a list I provided), ideally one on which they disagreed. Person A – let’s call her Alicia – would have 1-2 minutes to talk about her views on the subject. (If it weren’t an exercise with rules, Person B, here called Bernard, would be thinking, while Alicia was talking, about how wrong she was.  And he’d be planning what he would say as soon as it was his turn. Or even before.)

body-20parts-20clip-20art-1194986541442028018ear_-_body_part_nicu_buc_01.svg.medBut in this exercise, when Alicia was done speaking, Bernard could not say what he thought about the topic until he’d restated in his own words, to Alicia’s satisfaction, his understanding of what she’d just said.

For example: “You said that, even though you think guns cause much too much violence in our country, the fact that the constitution says we’re allowed to have them means we just have to put up with them. Or change the constitution. Is that it?”  If Bernard didn’t get it right, Alicia had the opportunity to clarify.  Then Bernard would re-state.

Then they’d switch roles: Bernard would express his point of view:  “Actually, the Second Amendment to the constitution says nothing about private access to firearms, but only protects the citizens’ right to keep and bear arms when they’re serving in a state militia.”  Then Alicia would re-state Bernard’s argument to his satisfaction.

It didn’t make them agree with each other. That wasn’t the point. But knowing they’d have to recapitulate the other’s point of view made them really listen to each other instead of biding their time until they got to explain their own “correct” point of view.

It was eye-opening. (Ear-opening?) Like I said, being understood is powerful. Why don’t you try it and see? Let us know how it goes and, of course, we’ll listen to every word you say.

*  *  *

Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, published by Second Wind Publishing.  She’s a good listener, too.

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Fifty Shades of Jim

handcuffs

My female goddess awakened as Jim tickled me down there with an ostrich feather. I chewed my lips as he salaciously cocked his head to the side and rocked his groin upward.

“Holy crap,” I gasped, about to reach my seventh orgasm of the day. Jim stroked his humongous male organ with a riding crop while he slowly tied my ankles to my elbows with his silver necktie, my favorite necktie, the one that always made me gasp – but first he freed my breasts from the restraint of my black lace bra. He made me repeat our safe word: Fiddledeedee, as he ran his hand over my sex. His manhood pushed against my belly and I bit my lip to keep from crying out. His ginormous tool bobbed as he strode to the playroom cabinet where he kept his toys. He made a low primal growl as he inhaled sharply. Yes, he did both things simultaneously.

“Jump down. Turn around. Pick a bale of cotton,” he commanded. I gasped at his words, my insides liquefying. He was about to push me over the brink once more when he slipped a Delta airlines eye mask over my face.

“I want you upside down on the nightstand!” he ordered.

“That’s a little tricky, Jim,” I answered in a hoarse whisper. “I’m kind of tied up right now,” I purred.

“Do you want me to spank you?” he hissed, his breathing labored.

“Yes, yes,” I begged and murmured. A moment later I heard him open a drawer. I sensed him behind me.

“So you want it rough?” he breathed.

“Yes, oh yes!” my female parts moaned.

His erection trailed across my back as he growled, “Do you know how hot you are right now, Wifely?”

WIFELY??!! My building orgasm came to a screeching halt.

Can you tell I’ve been reading Fifty Shades of Grey? Are you wondering why? A paperback copy from Woodbury Library sits on our coffee table and I wonder why myself. The plot is terrible, the characters are two-dimensional. The term inner goddess is used fifty-eight times and someone murmurs one hundred ninety-nine times. Some people see a story about a man who was abused at a young age and a woman trying to free him from his demons; a man who is afraid to love and a woman trying to show him how, as they mend the broken parts of each other. Some people are disturbed by the materialism and feel if you take away the kinky stuff, it’s just another Harlequin Romance. It’s been suggested the book’s focus on a BDSM relationship appeals to a woman’s desire to be dominated. Could women love the book because it shows a man doing all the right things in bed – without having to be asked?

Jim and I – the real Jim, the one who doesn’t own a riding crop but does have a humongous male organ – were in the shower yesterday afternoon. He kind of half-heartedly slathered shampoo around on my head with one hand and washed his face with the other hand. As shampoo lather dribbled down my shoulders, I turned to him and said, “You know, this isn’t how that Christian Grey guy washes hair.”

“Who’s Christian Grey?” he asked as he soaped us up.

“The Fifty Shades of Grey guy,” I said.

“Why, how’s he do it?” Jim asked phlegmatically (EL James isn’t the only one with a thesaurus!).

“Oh, he kinds of holds the woman’s face in his hands, peers into her eyes, acts like he doesn’t even realize she’s naked, and totally concentrates on gently washing her hair with some exotic jasmine shampoo,” I explained.

“You beguile me, Wifely,” Jim said (no, he didn’t) as he held my face in his hands, peered lovingly into my eyes and slipped his fingers into my nostrils (yes, he did). This is my Christian Grey. He doesn’t buy lingerie or send me erotic texts. Actually, his last text consisted of one word: Great. He’s never heard of Manolo Blahnik’s, doesn’t have an Audi R8 Spider, or a helicopter We don’t have red paint on our playroom walls, he doesn’t lavish me with praise, and we don’t own nipple clamps. In November, we celebrated our thirty-second wedding anniversary. My stomach still flutters when he comes home from work and he’s the first person I call with good – or bad – news. He doesn’t try to control me, yet his is the advice I most value. When I wake up in the middle of the night he’s always worked his way over to my side of the bed. He never panics. He never flirts with other women. He’s always believed in me, even when I haven’t believed in myself. He’s a man of honor and integrity. He doesn’t hold my hand in public, but he’s been at my side for the last thirty-two years. He loves me with his actions, not with butt plugs, handcuffs, or words. Last night, when I told him how much I loved him, he said, “Alright.” It is alright and I’d marry him all over again.

Laters, baby.

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I’m Not a Hipster, I Swear – Chelsea Bolt

For whatever reason in today’s society, hipsters are looked down upon. I mean, I guess that group of people has a similar social stigma to that of the hippies in the 1960s, but I can’t really see that because hipsters have not really shaken up society, they just kind of bother those average people who uphold society’s norms (also known as basics). The premise of this post is not to hate on hipsters, but I just want to emphasize the fact that I am not one, even though I exhibit signs of hipsterism.

What are hipsters? Glad you asked. Hipsters are people who try their darndest to keep from conforming to mainstream culture. They have been known to only listen to music created by artists that do not play on the radio; in fact they only listen to music on vinyl or another form of outdated technology. Perhaps that hipster style crosses over to their clothing choice as well. Oversized glasses, flannel/plaid shirts, or any other articles of clothing found at the local thrift store may be draped across their bodies. If the above description is not clear enough, picture how your grandparents dress and act, but picture them as a twenty year olds with an edgy hairstyle.

Confession time: I indulge in some of the hipster ways. In fact, there are quite a few practices I have picked up that at face value may make me seem very hipster. I own and use a film camera from the 1980s, but I only use it because I like the nostalgia of hearing the film winding sound and the camera actually takes better pictures than my iPhone. I also listen to many artists that do not play on the radio, but in all fairness, bluegrass is not frequently played on the radio (Mumford & Sons do not count). I also do prefer buying a CD instead of purchasing an album on iTunes, because I like to party like it’s 1997. Besides, I also enjoy the sweet tunes of Ellie Goulding and can belt out every tune from any Disney animated film as well so I’m not totally a music snob. Okay, I’ll admit, I love flannel and plaid.  It is warm, fuzzy, and it makes me feel like a lady lumberjack, but this is not a recent development friends, I’ve been wearing flannel and plaid since 5th grade. I can’t help it that I grew up in a town that praised the antics of Bo and Luke Duke. I swear, I’m not a hipster.

Chelsea Bolt is a Second Wind author of the young adult novel Moonshine. For more information check out these sites: 

https://theonlybolt.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chelsea-Bolt/689158317846614

https://twitter.com/theonlybolt

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Babel Redux by Robert Romaniello

My fortune cookie said “You are a lover of words, some day you will write a book.”

I’ve always thought about it, but never followed through on that childhood dream, but all it took was just that little nudge to make me wonder if I had what it took.  I had no experience in writing, although I had taken Linguistics and Diction classes in college (ostensibly to see if I could shake my thick Brooklyn accent), but I did love words, and was always fascinated by language, both written and spoken.  But could I write? Did I have the skills to tell a story, or did I even have a story to tell?

Before I retired, I was fortunate enough to have traveled to enough of the world to pick up a smattering of foreign languages, and while I was toying with the idea of a book in my future, thanks to the tug of inspiration I owed to that fortune cookie, the fascination with language has never left me.

Growing up in New York, I was exposed to a number of languages, such as Yiddish, German, and Italian.  After all, if America is the melting pot of the world, New York is the melting pot of America.

Nothing will give you an appreciation for language faster than traveling to a foreign country.  We take our day to day communication for granted, and then we find that we are the foreigners.  Consider that most European countries are the size of American states, it is kind of like needing to learn a second language when going from New York to New Jersey.

I remember as young man sitting on a secluded beach at sunset on the Greek island of Crete, with young backpackers from all over Europe and North America.  And as the wine was being passed, and conversation flowed someone said “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone spoke the same language?” to which someone else replied “It sure would be great if everybody spoke Italian, pointing out one of Man’s most enduring Achilles’ heels: Pride.  After all, which language is the most worthy of being the Universal Language, if there ever is one? Would you give up English?  It’s a very timely question in the US of the 21st Century

Just the idea that I can sit here and write something that is now being read and understood by you, is something of a miracle to me.  And although we in America assume that we will always be understood, that’s not always the case, even among native speakers of the same language.  For example, if I said “Coming around, what do I really mean?  There are a number of possibilities.  I could mean that a man was unconscious, but now he’s coming around.  It could mean that I invited someone over at 10:00 pm, and now that it’s almost 10, he should be coming around; or I could mean that my best friend never agrees with me on anything, but I think he’s finally coming around.  I’ve met people from the hills of Kentucky, and from the countryside of Scotland, and I didn’t understand a word they said.  How many times have you heard someone speak and didn’t understand at all, until you finally realize that they were speaking English all along?

It is a miracle that people understand each other at all.  When you consider differences in language, dialect, regionalisms, and accent, as well as influences like the differences in the language of Science, Technology, Medicine, Business, the colloquially spoken language used with family and friends, and the language of the civil affairs (courts, DMV, Congress, etc.).

And all languages evolve, reflecting the society of the native speakers of a particular language.  The Midwestern American English spoken in this country today barely resembles the one spoken in Shakespeare’s time.  And Old English is not recognizable as our native tongue at all.  With English having been subject to an onslaught of influences down the ages from German, Greek, Latin, French, and borrowings from many others, ours would be completely unrecognizable, to the British ear of the Twelfth Century.

There are some 6,000 languages spoken throughout the world today, some with billions of speakers, and some struggling for existence, with only a few thousand native speakers; languages as diverse and far-flung as Spanish and Guugu Ymithirr, and as different as Aramaic and Kuuk Thayorre.

With such a seeming mess on our hands, we seem to find ways of understanding each other.  Or do we?  Wouldn’t it be the supreme irony if, years from now, our descendants find that all wars were ultimately caused by “a failure to communicate”?

Just in case you’re wondering, my fortune cookie was right.  I did write that book.  I am proud to report that Marble Mountain Memoirs was published by Second Wind Publishing of Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 2012.

I’m Glad you stuck around through my ruminations about language.  Idle ramblings?  Random babbling? More to Come…

***

 Marble Mountain Memoirs is Robert Romaniello’s maiden sojourn into the world of Semiautobiographical War novels.

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The Secret in Whitetail Lake 9th Installment

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department found two bodies in an old vehicle recovered from an area lake, opening up a decades old cold case. And meantime, the sheriff has gone missing. This picks up where the last entry left off.

Chapter 5

“Thanks,” Smoke told me when we were back in his car. “This whole thing is kind of hitting me, now that we’re talking to Toby’s and Wendy’s folks. I don’t think I could have handled it as well as you did.”

“You’re welcome. And I’m sure your professionalism would have guided you through the visit, as it has time and time again. And giving them each a hug was a nice touch, Smoke. It showed them that you care.”

“Yeah, there are a lot of people who think a case is a case for us. They forget we are the deliverers of bad news all too often.”

All too often. “When did Doctor Patrick think she’d have the skeletal remains reconstructed, and the exam completed?”

“She didn’t give a time. I was thinking it’d be at least a day or two, from what she indicated. She and her team said with them being fairly intact before they removed them from the car it wouldn’t be all that difficult. But if a more pressing case comes in, they could be put on hold.” He took a glance at his watch. “We have about forty minutes ‘til sunset. Let’s pay a visit to Harry Gimler, the guy that showed up at the scene today. I would think we’d have no problem getting permission to take a hike down his hill to the lake.”

“Which house is his?”

“I didn’t think to check. In the interest of time, why don’t we have communications look him up?”

“I’ll do that. What’s his first name again?”

“Harry. Lives on Burlington. One of the three houses on the dead end overlooking the lake.”

It took communications officer Randy about fifteen seconds to discover that Harry Gimler house number was 1503. Smoke drove up and parked on the circular drive in front of his home a few minutes later. It was in the middle, an upscale home flanked on either side by equally expensive ones. All were well-kept, including the grounds, from what we could see.

“Now these guys know how to keep up with the Joneses,” Smoke said.

We got out and made our way up the brick walkway to the house. There was a security camera eye and intercom two feet above the doorbell. I rang the bell prepared to identify myself before anything else would happen. Instead Harry Gimler himself opened the door, looking a little worse for the wear, or three sheets to the wind, as Smoke would say. The smell of an alcoholic beverage emanated from his person, and lazy eyelids confirmed that.

“Come in, deputies. I have to confess I started the cocktail hour a little early. All things considered, this has been a difficult day.”

“Truth be told, no one wants a discovery like that on your property.”

“No, you don’t.” He took a step back. “Come in, please.”

“Actually, we’re on a bit of a race against time here. We were hoping to get permission to take a walk down to the lake from your place.”

“Oh. Well, that would be fine. I’ll go with you.” He shifted to steady himself.

Smoke shook his head. “That’s not necessary. We’re just going to do a quick look-see, try to do some calculations, and then we’ll get out of your hair.”

Harry was obviously disappointed.

“Mr. Gimler, did you build your house?” Smoke lifted his hand.

“Well I had it built, yes.”

“How long ago was that?”

“Almost twenty years ago.”

“Did you have the old farmhouse torn down, or was it the property owner who did that before you bought the land?”

Gimler nodded. “I did. Actually, my grandfather owned the farmstead. He was in the nursing home a long time. I always loved the area and was happy when he finally decided to sell. It was in tough shape, so instead of trying to restore it, I had it torn down. Same with the barn. It was slowly collapsing and dangerous. I used some of the wood though, as paneling in my den. It’s rustic and reminds me of the fun I had here when we visited here when I was a kid.”

“You’re not from around here?” I asked.

“No, I grew up in Swift County, outside of Benson, about a hundred miles. I’d help Grandpa on the farm in the summers when I got older. Got to know a few of the farm kids around here.”

“All right, we might chat about that another time, but we need to get a move on tonight. Thanks for the info, Mr.—”

“Harry. Mister makes me sound old. We must be about the same age, right Detective?”

Smoke nodded. “Pretty close. We’ll be in touch.” He pulled a card from his breast pocket and handed it to Gimler. “Feel free to call with any questions or concerns. And our crime lab team will likely need to check the area to determine certain details they’ll need for their report, take measurements, et cetera.”

Harry’s lips turned downward. The alcohol was taking more of a hold on him, evidenced when he grabbed onto the door jamb for support.

“Will you be all right?” I asked.

He blinked hard. “Yes. I might just go to bed early.” He closed the door and I followed Smoke around the house to the back yard.

Harry had a massive multi-level deck system that was surrounded by patio stones on the lawn level. “Wow,” I said quietly.

“You talking about the view?”

“That too. Wow. Can you imagine what it would be like drinking your morning coffee on the deck overlooking the lake?”

“It is breathtaking. Especially if you’re afraid of heights.”

I smiled and repressed a chuckle.

“I didn’t want to get into the party days at the farm here with Gimler. The one time I was here, I guess at the time I didn’t think much about who owned the place. But when I think about it now, I can’t imagine the old man opening it up to a bunch of underage drinking partygoers,” Smoke said.

“That is a discussion we need to have with Mr. Gimler on another day. Much earlier in the day. Before the cocktail hour.”

“You got that right.” Smoke walked around, studying the ground. “Okay, if the farmhouse was about on the same spot as Harry’s house is currently sitting, I’d say the barn was close to where the neighbor’s house sits.” He waved his hand at the house to the south of Harry’s. “Let’s hike down to the lake.”

The soles of my boots had a little tread on them, but not enough for a good grip going down such a steep hill, dampened by the recently melted snow. I slid a short ways. “Behind you,” I called in time for Smoke to turn around and act as a protective shield as I plowed into his chest.

“We should have stopped by your house for your hiking boots,” he said as his arms closed around me and held me firmly.

As much as I liked being right where I was, anyone, including Harry Gimler, may be watching and wondering what was going on. “Thanks. Maybe I should wait here.”

“Nah, come on. Hold my hand.”

“Aren’t you worried what the Joneses will think?”

“No. I’m doing what I can to keep my partner safe, and they can think what they want.”

Smoke grabbed onto my hand and we cautiously made our way halfway to the lake where the mowed lawn ended then we stopped. “Are you steady enough so you won’t go sliding into the lake on me?”

“I think so.” I dug my feet into the ground for the best possible hold.

Smoke let go of my hand and turned to look back at the house. “It’s steep all right. But say Toby and Wendy got into his car, and Toby had had a few beers and got mixed up, turned the car the wrong way then there was no stopping it on this grade of decline. On the other hand, if he had applied the brakes, it might have taken some effort, but with a crank of the wheel, it seems he could have avoided plunging into the lake.”

“Maybe he passed out and the car rolled down by itself.”

“Poor Wendy.” Smoke shook his head. “In any case, there should have been the tire marks they created, or somebody who heard something.”

“Scanning through the files, no one seemed to know much of anything.”

“Thirty-three years ago when they interviewed everyone, including me, we didn’t know where they’d disappeared to. Now we do. It appears they were at Harry’s grandfather’s farm, and never left. It’s where they’ve been buried all these years.”

“I know this is hard for you, Smoke.”

He held his hand out for me. “Another time, we might enjoy the colors of the sunset. But tonight it’s reminding us nightfall is upon us.”

I lowered my voice as I took his hand for the uphill climb. “Do you think we should let Harry know we’re leaving?”

“You mean should we check on him?”

“That too.” I raised my eyebrows and grinned.

Smoke spoke at a near whisper. “Nah, let’s leave him be for tonight. It sounds like he was going to retire the bottle for the night. And I want to get that DNA collection into the evidence room so they can get it to the lab first thing in the morning.”

Christine Husom is the author of the Winnebago County Mystery Series. The Secret in Whitetail Lake is the 6th in the series.

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My First Post

Hello wonderful readers,

My name is Lindsay Luterman and I am the author of Mercy’s Sunset.

This is my first time writing anything for this blog.

I am not really sure where to start so I figured I would tell you all a bit about myself:

  • Currently, I am 19 and living in Boulder, Colorado.
  • I have been writing ever since I knew how to spell, and telling stories even before that.
  • I believe that stories are one of the great wonders of the world.
  • I am a yoga teacher and a Reiki master.
  • I self-published a series called the Escape series starting when I was fifteen years old.

When I first came up with the idea for Mercy’s Sunset, I was in the car driving along and the image of a girl running through the rain popped into my head. Instantly, she took on many personalities, holding more than one life. This was not the first time she had lived and it wouldn’t be the last. This is how Mercy’s Sunset came to be.

To checkout more about my books and my work, you can go to lindsayluterman.com

This is just a first post for me, and just a quick explanation for all of the readers as to who I am and what I do.

Peace, Love, Writing

Always follow your dreams!

Lindsay

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Forever a Philanderer Excerpt Two—J. Conrad Guest

The tale continues (mature audience for language and sexual situations)…

Photo courtesy of Craig David Butler

Photo courtesy of Craig David Butler

Dain left work, stopping at Poole’s Tavern in Northville, home of the best fish and chips he’d ever had, to contemplate his next steps.

Several hours later, the fish and chips sat in his stomach like a lump, while the single beer he’d ordered had turned into more than he could recount; but at least he had formulated a plan—what he would come to refer to in the days ahead as The Plan. It was a simple plan. Carrying it out would prove difficult.

Dain glanced at his watch to find that it was after eleven o’clock. He paid his tab and left.

By the time he got home it was nearly 11:30. With the house dark, he wondered as he wandered through the haze of alcohol with The Plan circulating through his thoughts, if he might find a Dear Dain letter on the kitchen table, or worse, on his pillow next to a chocolate mint, telling him that Betty had found someone else and was leaving him, leaving out that she was leaving him for another woman. Dain sighed. So many leavings.

Dain found Betty in bed, lights out sound asleep: at least she’d spared him the humiliation of abandonment, apparently preferring to continue to humiliate him behind his back.

In that moment Dain thought of waking her to make love to her, to try to win her back by reminding her of the one thing her lover could never provide her—a throbbing… His penis—always more grow than show—perked up, hopeful; but then his loathing resurfaced, loathing for her lie of omission, that she’d taken another lover, and that her preference was for one of her own gender. When had she discovered this preference for pussy, or had she always known, marrying Dain to lie to herself, as well as to him, her family, and her colleagues?

Dain cursed himself for asking, as if the answer might make a difference, bring him some measure of solace.

She’d gone to bed without him, without calling him on his cell to find out why he hadn’t come home. For all she knew, Dain was laying in some hospital, comatose, the result of being t-boned by a drunk driver on his way home, while her head had been buried between the thighs of another woman. Maybe that was what she’d hoped, that Dain had abandoned her in death, sparing her the task of telling him that she was leaving him for someone else—the identity and gender of whom she could keep to herself.

Dain felt the fish and chips shift uncomfortably in his colon, like a baseball making its way through his alimentary canal, and thought briefly about spending the night in the guestroom, not because he wanted to spare Betty the potential vocal displeasure of his anus.

Fat chance, he thought. It’s my bed even if I’m no longer sharing it with my wife.

Besides, he didn’t want to tip her off that anything was amiss, that he knew of her cheating. If The Plan succeeded, the slut who was Dain’s wife would never know that she’d been found out. Better still, Dain would never have met her; and best of all, he’d never know the pain he now felt.

Dain slipped out of his clothes and into bed beside the lesbian he never knew; Betty shifted and moaned softly, probably dreaming of her blond lover pushing a vibrating dildo into her: no fuss, no dripping man muss.

Shit, he thought, despising the image that was a fantasy of his own making. Suddenly his marriage had become all about him.

 ℘

Dain woke up spooned against Betty’s backside with an erection the size of Florida. It took him a moment to recall yesterday’s events, the video of Betty with another woman, the hours spent at Poole’s drinking beer after beer to deaden the pain that wouldn’t deaden, and finally, The Plan.

He pushed himself away from Betty, loathing his penis for its desire. It had no conscience or morals. It forgave as easily as a puppy.

Blues-rock guitarist, George Thorogood: “Stand still, honey. I’m gonna lick your legs like a puppy.”

“I don’t think so,” Dain muttered.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” Betty said, rolling over to face him. Dain wondered whether she’d felt his erection wedged between her voluptuously cheeky cheeks.

“Nothing.” Dain despised himself for his lie. Part of him wanted to spill what he knew, confront her with her disloyalty, see the shame on her face, listen to her stammer as she sought to make excuses for her betrayal, even as his penis wanted to spill something of its own. But her knowing that he knew would change nothing.

Eddie Valiant: “Weren’t you the one I caught playing patty-cake with old man Acme?”

Jessica Rabbit: “You didn’t catch me, Mr. Valiant. You were set up to take those pictures.”

Riiight. And then, Has it really been twenty-six years since Who Framed Roger Rabbit hit the silver screen?

She might apologize, assure Dain that she’d break it off with her accomplice in debauchery. But it wouldn’t erase the images indelibly etched in his mind. It wouldn’t change the fact that she’d chosen another lover over him, and likely would’ve continued seeing her if she hadn’t been found out—continued to make a fool of him.

“No,” she’d whisper to her partner, “He doesn’t know, our secret is safe. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” Not calling him by name would make him less real, less a person. Less her husband. “Yes, I’ll see you again Thursday night… I can’t wait to feel your tongue inside me.”

Dain’s colon twitched: last night’s baseball was telling him it wanted to be set free, into the cold, white porcelain yonder.

“What are you going to do with that nightstick of yours?” Betty asked, a hint of what Dain guessed was only wanton seduction, probably to hide her shame, if she were capable of it, or more likely, to further bury her malodorous lie, that she was still performing her wifely duty, as if that made her deceitfulness okay. Maybe she wanted the best of both worlds: that which only Dain could provide, and that which only another woman could give herto touch her in ways that only another woman knew. Dain quickly discounted that theory, since he’d never craved the touch of another man.

But Betty’s lie was greater than Dain’s, greater than and more hurtful than Dain telling her that the new jeans she’d brought home from Macy’s didn’t make her backside look big when in fact they did. He loved her bulbous ass, whether clad in snug fitting denim or naked and jiggling as she padded barefoot to the bathroom for her morning shower. Men are far more visual than women, although several of Dain’s female Facebook friends seemed to contradict that presumption with posts of handsome young men sporting well-defined pectorals and six-pack abs. All of the corresponding comments ooh and ahh over these images. Dain never understood that abs description. He once joked that, upon turning forty—just last year—his six-pack had turned into a twelve-pack, and that he could look forward to a keg when he turned fifty. A six-pack was made of flexible cardboard, while a keg was made of stainless steel or aluminum. But Dain digressed.

Does anyone ever think that they’ll get caught cheating? he considered. Probably not. If they did, they’d likely never commit the heinous act, except in their head. But then there’s Matthew 5:29—“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into Hell.”

Dain tried to recall if he’d ever, since marrying Betty, fantasized or lusted after another woman.

No. Which only made Betty’s sin all the greater, and Dain wasn’t one to judge others. Until now.

Dain swung his legs out of bed, feeling the blood drain from his penis. The pain of having been wronged began to reassert itself. “Nothing,” he said again. “I’ve got to get ready for work.”

Then he left for the bathroom, before Betty could voice her confusion: never before had her husband passed up a chance to make love to her.

J. Conrad Guest, author of: 500 Miles To GoA Retrospect In Death, A World Without Music, Backstop: A Baseball Love Story In Nine InningsJanuary’s Thaw, and One Hot January

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Setting the Scene: The Importance of Location in Fiction by David Pereda

My latest thriller, Twin Powers, was officially released by Second Wind Publishing, at the annual Book’Em event held at the Robeson Community College in Lumberton, North Carolina on February 28th. I was part of a three-person panel titled, Setting the Scene: Backdrops. I had great colleagues on the panel, a smart moderator, and a fantastic group of attendees who asked a number of insightful questions about the subject that I’d like to share with you.

  1. What is the location for Twin Powers, and why did you select that particular location?

There are three key locations in Twin Powers — Havana, Miami, and Dubai. Since about 60 percent of the book takes place in Dubai, I’d say Dubai is the principal location. I chose Dubai for several reasons: one, the villain is an Arab Sheikh from that city; two, my familiarity with Dubai and its surrounding area; and three, current public interest in Dubai. Years ago, I was an expatriate in the Arabian Gulf advising the Qatar General Petroleum Corporation. I traveled frequently to Dubai for business and pleasure, so I know the smells, sights, and sounds of that city quite well. And I’m sure you’re familiar with the number one rule of writing: write about what you know. I know Dubai. As an added bonus, Dubai’s growth during the past decade has been nothing short of exceptional, which made it an exciting location for the story I wanted to tell. Nowadays, Dubai has the tallest building in the world, the greatest airport terminal in the world, and the largest indoor ski slope in the world. And with the publication of Twin Powers, Dubai will now have the biggest villain in the world, too.

  1. What is your favorite scene in Twin Powers, and why?

Three scenes are my favorites: one is the extended rescue scene, when the two key characters, Raymond and Marcela, fight the bad guys and rescue 10-year old Stephanie from a life as the sexual toy of a malevolent sheikh, which takes place on the villain’s yacht; the second takes place on the Gulfstream jet flying the captured Mohamed over Oman in the United Arab Emirates when the tables are turned and the captors become the prisoners; and the third one takes place in Mon’s clinic — the main character’s son, who is also a doctor – when he’s having sex with his girlfriend in one of the examining rooms and the FBI knocks at the door to arrest him for Medicare fraud.

  1. How does the backdrop of your novel factor into the plot?

The backdrop is essential to the plot. Part of the “thriller” aspect of Twin Powers is to throw the two main characters in a life-or-death situation in an exotic setting where they don’t know the language and the culture very well, the only support they have is each other, and they are surrounded by formidable enemies commanded by the arch-villain, Mohamed.

  1. Could your book have been written with another backdrop or setting? Why or why not?

No, I don’t think so. The three main settings are part of the story. The Havana setting is where Stephanie is kidnapped; the Miami setting is where several of the key characters live and work; and the Dubai setting is where the villain lives. No other settings would have fit the story I wanted to tell.

  1. How does the setting add to the mood of your book?

Immensely. Imagine yourself in an Arab country being chased by ruthless thugs intent on killing you while you try desperately to find and rescue your kidnapped 10-yr old daughter before she becomes the sex toy of a psychopathic killer. What’s your mood right now? The first time I traveled to the middle east, the person who was supposed to pick me up at the airport never showed up. When I came out of the baggage area with my suitcases onto the street outside, I was suddenly surrounded by a throng of people dressed in white sheets, yelling at me in Arabic. I didn’t know where I had to go. I didn’t even have a telephone number to call. Imagine how I felt. A little of that same “lost feeling” I tried to convey in Twin Powers through Stephanie, the kidnapped twin, when she escapes her captors but doesn’t know where to go — and ends up being captured again.

  1. What are you working on next?

Right now I’m working on a Young Adult novel in collaboration with my 12-year old daughter, Sophia. It’s part of a series we want to write. We are halfway through the first novel of the series, which is about a 13-year old, non-athletic, nerdy girl who takes up track in order to win a scholarship at the best and most exclusive private school in the county. As usual, as in all my novels,nothing is what it seems to be, and you will be surprised at what ultimately happens.

Here is the Amazon link to Twin Powers, so you can check out the exotic locations: http://www.amazon.com/Twin-Powers-David-Pereda/dp/1630661112/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425253277&sr=1-2&keywords=twin+powers

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David Pereda is the award-winning author of seven novels, dozens of articles and a handful of poems. His latest thriller, Twin Powers, published by Second Wind Publishing in February 2015, has received rave reviews. Visit www.davidpereda.com

 

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