Tag Archives: authors

Author C. S. Boyack Offers Freebies!

Author C. S. Boyack will be pushing his Hat stories during the month of October. These stories have a Halloween vibe, which fits well with the month. He will be doing a volume per week, and two of them will have free days.

THE HAT

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BLURB:

Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

The Hat will be FREE from October 5 – 7.

THE BALLAD OF MRS. MOLONY

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BLURB:

Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exists? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene.

The Ballad of Mrs. Molony will be FREE from October 19 – 21.

The entire push will involve a Tuesday and Thursday blog tour, with a push of the free volumes by Fussy Librarian

Rave On (A Short Story)

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Ten minutes till.

The clock beside my mattress flings every spent second into my lap, nudging me so much closer to whatever is about to happen. Mom can’t be bothered with it; she’s passed out in the next room, oblivious to my escape into night. And even though I’m certain I’ll be home long before sunlight splits the dark, my body still bristles with something akin to static electricity, a tight anxiety over knowing I’ll surely be found out. And it really doesn’t matter; I’ve been caught before.

Shadows engorged with blackness lurk like thugs in the corners of our backyard; delicate dew blankets the grass like the blood of others foolish enough to go before me.

Blood.

That’s what it’s really all about, isn’t it?

Life?

My mind sports with competing scenarios of what I hope might happen and what I pray will not—Lord knows I don’t need any more lectures regarding proper behavior for a young lady.

Five minutes till.

What if they don’t show? Suppose this is all just a well-played joke, with me as its shiny white butt?

But this is Molly we’re talking about—faithful Molly.

Mom’s old sneakers swallow my feet in a comforting fit. The back door whines protest against my departure. Nobody steps forward to quash my moment. I’m all alone.

A lustful breeze plays peekaboo with my nightshirt and soothes my heat. I’m bare underneath. That’s the part that excites me most: knowing the only thing standing between me and the real world is a thin scrap of white cotton.

The street out front offers neither light nor sound, as if nothing decent dares occupy such a miserable piece of earth but Donnington Trailer Park and the white-trash misfits it spawns. That’s what kids at school call me: white trash. That, and Icky Nicky.

My given name is Nicole—Nicole Lynn Robishawl. I can’t quite peg the origins of a name like Robishawl, but I’d bet a hundred bucks its roots lie buried someplace in Europe—the far northern part. I own a headful of blond tangles and uncomplicated blue eyes to prove that theory. And there’s another of those curious little oddities assholes around here like to whisper about when they’re certain I’m not listening: Mom and Dad are both dark-haired and dark-eyed.

Two minutes till.

I reach the crumbling sidewalk and crouch low beside a naked mess of annuals meant to spruce up the front of our trailer. A word like hatred doesn’t begin to tell of my feelings for a shithole like Donnington. We aren’t even supposed to be here, Mom and me. Dad promised to take us in, giving me back my old room, if only there’d be no more drinking. But mom prefers vodka to a husband.

Lightning spatters a silvery web across the sky right above Lincoln High School, and my silent prayer for a direct hit goes unanswered. Dull rumbles chase the flashes, but even thunder can’t match the wicked growl of Tommy Mizvinski’s engine.

He’s early!

A full sixty seconds early!

My frantic dash launches me recklessly toward the corner at the end of my street. Tommy won’t wait. If I’m not there under that lonely streetlight, forget about it. No rave for me.

I’m there before he is, though, quick enough to spy that single headlight slicing open the night—our night. Sweat jogs the course of my spine. My heart swears an oath to knock a hole through my middle. I’ve waited all month to have this moment.

Tommy’s door yawns wide; his lanky body leans forward, offering me the back seat. “Get in, Sped,” he huffs. “They won’t wait around if we’re late.”

Sped. That’s short for special ed. Tommy’s the only one who calls me that—even though I’ve never ridden the short bus.

The lure of this moment sucks me in, puts me close to Molly. Our bodies bump in the darkened back seat, tossing up loose sparks of anxiety. Nervous giggles supply our greetings.

I’m the one who suggested we go to this thing. Faithful Molly, she even tried to talk me out of it. And truth be told, I’d have laid odds on her just staying home. But here she sits, dressed like me—only her nightshirt is pink. I hate pink.

Dale Harvitz rides shotgun. That lazy eye of his gets all hung up on me the entire trip—as if I’d even consider the likes of him. Dale is the true sped in this car, not me. But he’s also Tommy’s best friend, which makes him more welcome on this ride than me, so I won’t call him a sped to his zit-covered face.

Still, I’m the one who set this up. “Where are your pajamas?” I ask.

Jeans and T-shirts, that’s what both boys are sporting.

Dale’s the defensive one. “Fuck that noise,” he spits. “I’m not wearing pajamas to a rave.”

I produce the flier, wave it in his pizza face. “That’s the theme. It says so right here.”

“They won’t turn us away, Nicole,” Dale argues. “They hold raves to make money. I’ve got my twenty bucks.”

Tommy has his say, lays down his own law. It’s me and Molly that has him spooked—our ages, that is. “Just don’t go acting like a pair of babies,” he tells us, “and they’ll probably let you two inside.”

Dale lights a Marlboro and eyes Moll and me like he’s starving and we’re medium-rare fresh-off-the-grill. You can just tell his mind is stuck in the muck and sinking fast. “Got twenty bucks says they’re both still bald,” he wagers.

Call it a natural reflex, that way my knees squeeze together. He’ll never know what’s what where those sorts of things are concerned.

Tommy, though—he finds me in the rearview, holds my gaze the way I wish he’d hold my hand, before returning to the road ahead. “Thing like that doesn’t concern me,” is all he says of the matter.

But then he finds me again and goes back to his law. “Either of you girls get pinched,” he orders, “don’t you dare mention my name. Cops raid these things all the time. If they snatch you, tell ’em you snuck out on your own, let ’em take you home.”

I have no intention of getting caught. I’ve waited too long for a night like this one. If we are among the chosen, well, then it’s meant to be; it’s already been tossed up to fate. That’s called providence or something. Anyway, Tommy’s been to half a dozen raves, and none of those were ever raided.

Tommy’s one-eyed Cutlass angles hard onto the shoulder, finds that service road leading away from Summitt Highway. You never drive directly to a rave; there’s a proper etiquette involved. Besides, they won’t let you in if you just show up. Not even for a hundred dollars.

The designated pickup point calls to mind a crop circle at the center of Hatcher Field. A lonely pair of white minivans promise travel to other worlds.

It’s the swirling crowd that yanks at my attention, puts me up on the little secret nobody else in the car has deciphered just yet.

“Let us out,” I demand, kicking at the back of Tommy’s seat. It’s mostly guys doing all that swirling, which means girls are the priority to board those vans. And if Tommy catches on, none of us are going.

Pizza-face Dale pops his door open.

Moll and I spill into the night like twist-cap wine from an overturned Dixie cup. We bolt toward the closest van and ignore Tommy’s orders to wait for him and Dale. But they’re not coming along with us—at least not on this trip. Any fool with eyes can read a scene like the one we’ve tumbled into. Moll and I—we’ll be welcomed on this go-round. And a ride home, well, what did that matter at this moment?

A black guy spies us, waves us over; he lures me and Moll into a void between those white minivans. I recognize him from school, though I doubt if I could come up with a name to match his face if given a dozen guesses.

Dark eyes roll over Molly first, then me. A grin parts his lips, shows off teeth like fine white porcelain. “Freshmen, huh?” he asks.

Neither Moll nor I acknowledge his question; we both offer him our twenty dollars instead.

“Awful eager, ain’t you?” he asks, drifting between us like lazy smoke. “Suppose it ain’t money gonna get you on one of them rides? How bad you wanna go?”

I hear Molly’s voice before words have a chance to form on my own tongue. “Whatever it takes,” she promises.

That’s not the Molly I know.

The Molly I know is far too shy to undress even in front of her own shadow.

That dark gaze of his attaches itself to me. “How about you, Robishawl?” he wonders. “How far are you willing to go?”

Hesitation nearly steals my words—but only for a moment. “I’m with Molly,” I inform him. Just leave it open, let him interpret the meaning.

His grin softens into a familiar thing—almost friendly. “Go on and get in line for communion,” he says.

Communion?

I’m not even Catholic.

And neither is Molly.

The black guy snatches our money, straps red bracelets around our right wrists, and warns against us taking them off for any reason at all. “That’s the only thing gonna get you inside once you get there.”

This is the part I love most about raves: all that secrecy, the feeling of being someone special, a chosen one.

Moll and I join a small congregation behind those vans, out of sight of Tommy and Dale and every other guy getting left back tonight.

“Kneel for the rites,” orders a skinny white guy sporting stringy black hair down to his shoulders.

The grass, wet with dew, is cool beneath my knees. My head tips back, my mouth falls open, awaiting the chemical sacraments about to be administered.

“Ecstasy,” says our high priest, placing a tablet on my tongue.

I swallow before I can chicken out.

Moll swallows too.

Midnight’s moon splits the clouds just for a moment; it’s large and swollen, shiny as a new dime.

Molly’s lips brush against my ear. “Are you gonna, you know . . . ?” she whispers. Bubblegum-sweetened breath warms my neck.

“I have to do it,” I assure her. “I’m gone past due.”

“We can’t have that,” she says, snatching hold on my hand, yanking me into the van.

*      *      *

The pull of freedom lures us an hour south of town, out where the old Piven Industrial Park crouches low among tangled weeds and ancient willows long past weeping, forgotten by all but a few hundred ravers.

The van door slides a wide yawn and, like an overfed bulimic, vomits us in front of the warehouse. Familiarity like a scent fills my head. I know some of them, these other girls; upper-class types, mostly; the very sort who’d normally call me Icky Nicky.

But not tonight.

Tonight, everybody’s equal.

Molly’s the eager one. Those small hands of hers clasp my shoulders from behind; she gives me a push inside the oversized building, into a swirl of underdressed boys and girls bumping and rubbing against a thumping beat intent on recalibrating my heart’s natural rhythm.

Lights of yellow and red, blue and green, flash from above like stalking nymphs bent on finding us out.

I pull Molly closer. “Find the water station,” I yell over the din. “Keep hydrated.”

That smile of hers—that’s what makes her Molly. “You picked one already?” she hollers, her small body becoming entangled with that steady beat.

A nod bobbles my head; I leave her there at the edge of a makeshift dance floor alive with hope and boys.

Molly likes boys.

A nameless guy hovers near the door, blue eyes clouded over with that familiar euphoria only a thing like Ecstasy can conjure.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” I tell him, mixing promise with potential.

His fingers find his chest, a gesture meant to convey a Who, me? tone. But words fail the boy’s lips; he’s too far along for conversation.

My hand fits snugly into his. It falls to me to find a private place for us to get through what has to be done. Fine by me; I’ve been this way before, done this sort of thing innumerable times. But there’s never much chase, not like there was when it first started. Back then, well, it was usually the older ones, the perverts, that went for the chase.

“There’s a place around back,” I tell him, pulling the guy into night.

“I wanna touch your hair,” he says, stumbling behind me like a freak on a leash.

Overhead, the spring sky opens wide, clouds flee, leaving us to our shared intimacy.

Beneath the loading docks is where I take the boy, in full view of a witches’ moon—if you’re so inclined to believe in such things.

My lips find his; a sneaky gesture meant only to settle any loose nerves.

Clammy, clumsy hands grope me beneath my nightshirt, finding my body bare and eager—maybe even hungry for such a touch. Had this one been in the car with us to take the bet, he’d have easily taken twenty bucks off Dale.

But tonight isn’t his night.

A quick nip with my incisors opens the skin just below his jaw, exposing the plump jugular. Barely a flinch, is all he offers. Ecstasy makes our moment easy; there’s no room for a fuss.

It’s instinctual, that urge pushing me to rip into that purple vein. His salty rush fills my mouth, stirs a familiar frenzy inside my soul. The boy’s struggles come cheap, a thing most fraudulent. I hold his body tight against the crumbling concrete, draw long and deep on his life until there’s nothing left to take.

They’re beautiful when they fade, so pale and blue, like a years-old rose pressed between the pages of a lost lover’s book of poems.

*      *      *

Molly is bare beneath her nightshirt. I can tell by the way the pink fabric clings to her sweat-dampened body.

That smile of hers ignites a heated rush through my blood no drug could ever challenge.

“Did you drink any water?” I holler, stepping between her and the Asian kid she’s dancing with.

That’s the thing with Ecstasy: it’ll keep a person moving for hours, without a thought toward maintaining hydration.

And Moll, she won’t stop dancing—not even for necessity. “You’ve fed already?” she yells, keeping pace with that relentless beat.

To tell the truth, I hate dancing. But it’s Molly’s urging that has me folding myself in with her and the Asian boy.

Moll’s hand finds mine, yanks me closer. “Can we take him home with us?” she asks, hopeful in this bold change of plans.

He’s not bad to look at, I suppose—if you’re into that sort of thing.

My head tips a subtle nod. “Gonna have to be quiet, though; can’t wake my mom.”

Yeah, Molly likes boys.

And so do I, I guess.

Just in a different sort of way.

© 2012 Beem Weeks

This story, along with 19 others, is available in Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories. Find it at all online booksellers.

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My First (and Only) Tropical Storm

I’m a Michigander, born and raised. I’m used to cold winter months where the temperatures dip well below zero and the snow piles up by the foot. Summers in these northern climes can reach one-hundred degrees—though that’s not often. The point is, I’m used to weather extremes. But nothing the Great Lakes state has to offer could prepare me for my Florida experience.

I relocated to Ft. Myers back in June of 1988. I’d needed a change of scenery, a new beginning, whatever you want to call it. A girl broke my heart—or I broke hers—and so the long trek from mid-Michigan to south Florida seemed the best remedy to soothe lost love.Hurricane-Hermine-Anclote-River-832x400

I had family there. My father, step-mother, and younger brother had made the move a year earlier. The journey made perfect sense to my 21-year-old mind.

Finding employment came easy. My father, having retired from General Motors, held a supervisor’s position in a concrete pipe factory. Ft. Myers in the late 1980s was transitioning from cow town to booming metropolis. This expansion called for lots of concrete pipes for sewer systems and water drainage. I operated a forklift, taking pipes off the production line, loading them onto big rig trucks to be shipped to destinations all across south Florida.

Flood Damaged HomeThe differences between Florida and Michigan are stark and immediate. Where Michigan is gray, cold, and snowy at Christmas, Ft. Myers offered 75 degrees and sunshine. In Michigan, we’ll see rain a few days each month. Grass and vegetation will often die and turn a brittle brown under the dry summer heat. But Ft. Myers sees rain pretty much every day—sometimes several times a day—which keeps the scenery green and lush. There were even moments where the sun would be shining and the rain would be falling at the same time. We don’t get that too often in Michigan.

Another thing we don’t get in Michigan is the tropical storm. These massive storm systems are the precursor to hurricanes. In late 1988, I experienced my first—and only—tropical storm. Called Keith, this storm system dumped rain upon southwest Florida in amounts I’m sure Noah himself could certainly appreciate. Powerful winds whipped through the area, ripping roofs off many structures.

I remember working in the factory yard that day beneath a light but steady rain. Yellow rubber rain slicks covered me from head to toe—and still I found myself soaked to the bone. Late in the day the rain picked up strength, pelting me in the face, causing me to put on safety glasses to protect my eyes. I worked until ten o’clock that night, doing a job that normally had me clocking out around six o’clock. It would be past midnight by the time I arrived home.

Keith_1988_rainfallAll through the night the wind howled its threats against our house, promising to remove roof and siding with barely a thought. Rain spilled from thick, dark clouds that swirled across the sky like menacing gods. The power abandoned us sometime during the night, leaving us to candlelight and a battery-operated radio.

By first light the following morning the worst of the storm had passed. We were expected to report to work, just like any other day. Seems unless it’s a full-fledged hurricane, it doesn’t count for much with the boss man. But our entire neighborhood was under water. In our backyard, we had a boat canal. Across the street flowed the Caloosahatchee River. These two entities rose together, flooding the area, leaving houses—ours included—stranded like dozens of islands. And still, we were ordered to work—though the boss man had given us a few hours to make the thirty minute drive.

We survived. We even made it into work just before noon. Nobody else at the plant lived on the river, so flooding didn’t hinder their travels, which made me and my father the only ones who were late that morning.

I’ve since moved back to Michigan. I missed those familiar sights and the people with whom I grew up. But I still have a head full of memories of the nearly two years I called Ft. Myers home. I intend to one day return to south Florida—if only for a visit—just to see the changes that thirty-odd years can lay on a city and its sights. And every year, right during hurricane season, when the storms begin their march toward dry land, I break out my story of Keith and the night I survived my first—and only—tropical storm.

Book Signing Featuring Fresh Ink Group Author B. A. Johnson

Today I am sharing a post written by Fresh Ink Group author B. A. Johnson. She shares details of her recent successful book signing.

Sassy Discovers the AME Church

Noted children’s literature author, Beverly Cleary, said, “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf write it.” Barbara Johnson was looking for a children’s book that narrated the history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in language children could understand. She did not find that book, so she wrote it. Sassy Discovers the AME Church details the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in a story narrative that children can read and understand for themselves.

Book Signing, MeSassy seeks information about the AME church from her “Big Momma” who has been an AME all her life. She and Big Momma begin the journey of learning everything there is about AME history in preparation for Children’s Church. Along the way, Sassy learns why everyone is so proud to be AME.

Sassy, her brother Franklin, and their friends encounter issues kids deal with daily, such as bullying, inclusion, death, grief, and forgiveness. They along with other AME members must deal with the deaths of nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. No other story has been written from the children’s perspective regarding the deaths at Emanuel AME Church. Sassy and her friends share their feelings for the first time.

The book launch party for Sassy Discovers the AME Church was held on Saturday, May 1, 2021 on the grounds of historic, St. John AME Church. Church members, family and friends came out to purchase an autographed copy of the book and take a photo with the author. Everyone was excited to receive a copy of the book with a picture of St. John AME Church on the cover. All expressed great interest in reading the history of the church from a child’s perspective.Book Signing, Owens - Copy

Barbara Johnson is a retired educator and a lifelong member of historic, St. John African Methodist Episcopal Church in Huntsville, Alabama. She writes under the pen name, B. A. Johnson.

Sassy Discovers the AME Church is published by The Fresh Ink Group. Books may be purchased online at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and BooksAMillion.com.

Book Signing, Malone Book Signing, Tami Book Signing, Vazquez Family Book Signing, PKW

Who is My Neighbor?

Sure, the title of is a line from a parable Jesus used in teaching his disciples a lesson in treating even strangers with dignity and respect. But this blog piece isn’t really a religious lesson. It’s just an observation.

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In today’s world, do we really know who our neighbors are? I’m not talking about the strange guy up the street, the one who talks to himself while sweeping the front walk. I’m talking about those people we cross paths with every day while going about our lives. You know the ones, like the little old lady in front of you in the grocery store check-out; or the young man walking along the side of the road, heading to who knows where. With the popularity of internet sites like Facebook and Twitter, we can connect with people all over the world. We can log on and learn that Reggie in West London ate crab cakes for dinner tonight, Tanya is Los Angeles broke up with her long-time boyfriend, and Danny in Sydney recently had his first novel published. We friend them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and make a connection on LinkedIn, but we never really meet these wonderful people.

And what of that little old lady in the checkout line in front of us? Chances are we won’t get beyond a polite smile or an insincere “Have a nice day.” The young man walking along the side of the road? We’ll ignore him—he might be dangerous.

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Don’t misunderstand me. I believe social media is vital to those of us looking to promote our work while building an audience. It’s a great way to meet interesting people in corners of the world we’re not likely to ever visit in person. But the cost of this technology seems to have had a negative effect on how we treat the people around us. We don’t have an instant profile to pull up telling us that the young man walking along the side of the road is a father on his way to work so he can support his wife/girlfriend and their newborn baby; or that his car no longer runs so he has to make that 5 mile trek both ways each day. We couldn’t possibly know the little old lady in front of us in the checkout line is struggling to make ends meet since her husband of 56 years passed away last fall. Without that profile, we won’t bother finding this out the way we as social human beings once did—before the internet.taxi

One of my favorite episodes of the classic American television show Taxi has character Elaine Nardo receiving an invitation to a high-class party. She needs an escort. The obvious choice would be her co-worker and friend Alex Rieger. He’s a level-headed guy, understands proper behavior and good manners in these situations. But, for reasons I’ve forgotten, Alex is unable to attend with Elaine. So, after failing to secure a proper substitute, Elaine finds herself saddled with Jim Ignatowski, played brilliantly by Christopher Lloyd. Jim had once been a bright and near-genius young man—until LSD trips during college left him slow and somewhat addled. The Reverend Jim (he was ordained through a mail-order school) was prone to goofy observations and embarrassing behavior at times.

The thought of attending this high-class shindig with the likes of Jim proved too much for Elaine, so she lied and told the man she wasn’t going to attend. Jim eventually caught on and, despite having his feelings hurt, suggested Elaine attend alone. In the end, Elaine brought Jim along, having discovered a true fondness for her fellow cab driver.

screen-shot-2015-05-28-at-4-48-13-pmWhen the entertainment fails to show up for the party, Jim volunteers to fill in on the piano. Imagine Elaine’s shock and horror over what is surely to be an embarrassing moment, most likely barring her from future invites.

Jim sits at the piano and immediately begins playing “London Bridge is Falling Down” quite poorly. The room full of snobs begins murmuring complaints. Jim stops playing, says “Oh, the hell with it!” and launches into some beautiful classical playing that soothes the room. He stops again and says, “I must have had mmm music lessons!” before continuing his solo concert.

Elaine worked with the man and had no idea he was so much more than the college dropout with a fried brain. We’re all guilty of this on some level. We know more about the guy on the other side of the world than we know about those in our own neighborhood. While social media might bring the world together, it can also contribute to pushing people apart.

So take the time to get to know those who are closest to you. You’re bound to learn something.

Remaining Ruth: A Short Story

This is a short I wrote back in 2013. It’s about a girl trying to hold tight her grasp on self-identity. This one appears in my first short story collection Slivers of Life.

Remaining Ruth

I heard my mother say, “It could be she’s just that kind of girl.”

I knew she meant me because my father responded, “No daughter of mine will be that kind of girl.”

I’m an only child, so forget any misunderstandings. Besides, just what kind of girl were they debating me to be?

I slipped through the back door, just inside the kitchen, crouched low near the refrigerator, and listened to their talk in the next room. I’m either a lesbian or a drug addict, depending on their deciphering of my mood on any given day.

Okay. True. I do keep my hair cut short and dyed black. I also prefer jeans and T-shirts to dresses and skirts. But that doesn’t make me a lesbian. Of course, there is that other thing…

My father said, “Maybe we should send her to one of those Catholic schools.”

“We’re not Catholic, Fred,” my mother reminded him.

“But they know how to deal with these sorts of things, Miriam.”

What sorts of things? I wondered, angling for a closer peek into the living room. I didn’t need to see, though. My father would be parked in his recliner, newspaper open and held in front of him. My mother, she’d be seated on the sofa, watching the television with the sound turned all the way down.

I’d never get past them. At least not without a hundred questions tossed in my face.

“Maybe we should just leave her be,” my mother offered. “I had my own moody moments at that age.”

A low harrumph, is all my father managed.

As much as I hated the idea of confrontation, I despised even more the notion of hiding out in the kitchen all night.

He’s the one who caught me, came right up out of his recliner as soon as I entered the room. “Let’s see what’s in your pockets, young lady.”

I knew the drill. They’d been doing this since the end of the school year, when I’d been stupid enough to leave a joint in my jacket, where my nosy mother happened upon it.

“I’m not carrying,” I told my father. “I smoked it before I came in.”

“So disrespectful,” my mother lamented. “I never sassed my parents when I was fourteen.”

“Gonna let them nuns straighten you out,” my father threatened, searching the pockets of my jean jacket.

He found nothing incriminating. I’d learned to never carry anything on me—at least not where they’d bother to look.

“Can I go to my room now?” I asked, not really looking for that argument my parents seemed to enjoy so much.

My father gave up a subtle nod I’d have missed if I hadn’t been looking for it.

They took my phone—and my bedroom door.

But I still had the bathroom.

I closed myself inside, pressed the lock. They’d come knocking in a while, demanding to know what all goes on when they can’t see.

They’ll never see what they don’t really want to see, though.

Muffled voices trickled through the floorboards, putting them still in the living room.

My mother’s the one who caught me kissing Megan Vennerhull. That’s where the whole lesbian thing came from. But we were just practicing. Megan pretended I was David Skillsky and I, well, I too imagined Megan was really David Skillsky—I just told her I’d been dreaming of Michael Kranshaw to keep her from freaking out. Megan has been in love with David since the third grade. But so have I.

Can’t tell that to Megan, though.

My fingers worked at the buttons on my jeans; I tugged them off my hips.

My father never used those multi-bladed razors. “One blade is all it takes,” he’d tell the television, whenever one of those commercials touting three blades came on.

I agree. One blade is all it takes.

I twisted the razor’s handle, retrieved the shiny blade from its open mouth.

It’s not a suicide attempt. I’ve never wanted to die. It’s just something I need, something I dream about when moments of stress find in me an easy target.

And I never cut too deep, either; just enough for bleeding.

Just enough for a taste of pain.

They never look at my hips—or my inner thighs. Nobody looks there. Nobody sees or knows.

My mother’s voice disrupted my moment of pleasure. “Are you going to be long in there, honey?”

“Be out in a minute,” I assured her, knowing full-well my father would be beside her in short order, threatening to remove even the bathroom door.

A quick cut just beneath my stomach let go that crimson release.

Better than an orgasm, this.

My father intruded; his meaty fists banged against the door. “I’ll break this son of a bitch down, Ruthie, you don’t open this door!”

“Can I wash my hands first?” I asked, rinsing the blade before returning it to its proper place of honor.

They weren’t quick enough—not this time, at least. I still owned one secret belonging only to me.

One more day I could still be the Ruth I wanted to be.

© 2013 Beem Weeks

This story, along with 19 others, is available in Slivers of Life: A Collection of Short Stories. Find it at all online booksellers.

When We Were Kids: A Short Story

This is a short story I wrote some years ago. It’s about life and loss and the guilt of being the one who survives a tragic accident. It appears in my short story collection Strange HWY: Short Stories

When We Were Kids

I saw you again today. You were younger than the last time I set eyes on you. It happens that way sometimes. You were mowing the lawn in front of some house I didn’t recognize. I doubt you did either.

It’s the third time in a month that I’ve seen you cutting grass or jogging or playing in that park we hung out at when we were kids. You were always on the baseball diamond—even now. I suppose it has something to do with the uniforms. The colors are always different, but the style hasn’t changed in thirty-odd years.

Dana Rickleman still talks about you whenever I run into her at the Winn-Dixie. Well, she’s not Dana Rickleman these days. Neither is she hot anymore. She married Donnie Soba fifteen years or so ago, had a kid, put on more than a few pounds, and ended up deciding she’s a lesbian. But maybe we already knew that way back when. Remember how she used to say Becky Fordham was enough to turn her?

Speaking of Becky, her younger brother Todd is gone. He went to Iraq during the Gulf War and never came back. He stepped on the wrong spot and left nothing behind but his dog tags. Becky turned into a boozehound after that one. Last I heard she’d been in and out of Burnside Psychiatric Hospital.

The old neighborhood has completely changed. You wouldn’t recognize it now. All those families we knew back then no longer live there. Kids grew up and went off to college, got married, chased careers out of state. Parents became grandparents, got old, retired, moved to Florida, and died. I drove through there a few months ago. Not a familiar face among those I saw. Our old house is long gone. The family that bought it from Mom and Dad, after I moved out, lost it to fire. They rebuilt on the lot, but the house looks nothing like the original. And there are trees where there weren’t any before. Crazy how that works, huh?

I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m rambling. I don’t mean to. I’ve had a lot on my mind since, well, you know. I still struggle with things, Adam. It’s always there in the front part of my mind, where it often blocks out my view of the world around me. I think that’s why Mallory and I got a divorce. She saw those issues, tried to help me, but in the end, she just had to let it all go. It’s not her fault. Even Mom says she’s surprised Mallory didn’t leave me a lot sooner—and you know how Mom was always my biggest cheerleader.

I won’t lie to you. I’ve thought about it more times than I dare count. It’s usually when I’m driving alone, just as the sun dips below the horizon, taking the sky from pink to orange to purple, and that day smacks me in the face all over again, the pain growing only stronger with the passing of time. The way I’d do it, I’d aim my car at some far away tree, mash the gas pedal to the floor, race toward it, and be done. But then I’d hear your annoying voice calling me a selfish little prick—the way you always did when we were kids.

When we were kids. . .

There’s so much hurt wrapped around those four simple words.

When we were kids, we dreamed of playing Major League Baseball for the Atlanta Braves.

When we were kids, the only thing important to us was being able to stay outside for an hour or two after the streetlights came on.

When we were kids, we went everywhere on our bikes—and we never got tired of it.

Speaking of bikes, do you remember that time we decided we were going to be train for the Tour de France? We spent that entire summer riding all over hell’s half acre, thinking that’s all it took to win that stupid race. In your version, you and I would finish in first and second place. Of course, our versions differed as to which finished where. In my head, I was always the victor. And the prize money, well, that was spent a thousand different ways. Always on something foolish or needless—it would always be squandered on selfish desires. Mom would rein us in by taking charge of our fabled earnings. Into the bank, it would have to go. After all, we had college to think about.

I worry about Mom since Dad died. It’s not that I doubt her ability to carry on and live a productive life; she’s done that well enough in the three years since. It’s that profound sadness that envelops her when a birthday or anniversary or an old TV show worm their way into her cocoon, threatening to pull her out before she’s good and ready to deal with life as a changed species. She went out to dinner with Mr. Griffith from the church once—but that felt too much like adultery, essentially killing any notion of date number two. I just don’t want her to be miserable. It’s just her and me now, from our nuclear family. You always hated that term. You used to say it made you think that families could explode, taking entire cities with them. There’d be a mushroom cloud over our town—and it would mostly be Dad.

I miss his yelling about this and that.

Okay. So here’s the thing: I’ve never told anybody about that day. I never even told Mallory—and I told her a ton of major important things. I just can’t seem to make myself speak those words out loud. But I have to. It’s wrecking me, brother.

It was an accident. I swear on it.

I’m the one who locked you in the shed that day.

The day you died.

I did it. It was supposed to be a joke—a prank. I padlocked the door, expecting you to pitch a fit at being locked in. I’d leave you in there for a few minutes, before letting you out. Then you’d sock me in the shoulder and we’d have a laugh about it. But Donnie Soba showed up with a pocketful of firecrackers. I didn’t mean to leave you in the shed. I meant to unlock the door. I got sidetracked.

I didn’t know it could get so hot inside there.

I swear on it, Adam.

It was Dad who found you. He’d called the police after you failed to come inside once the street lights came on. He stomped around the living room, threatening to ground you for a hundred years, every so often yelling your name out into the night. Once Johnny Carson came on, the police were called. They drove the neighborhood, spotlights trained in the dark corners, searching for a wayward boy. I don’t know what it was that made Dad go out to the shed. It didn’t occur to me until he grabbed the key for the lock.

“I killed you, Adam.” There. I said it out loud.

It doesn’t make it easier.

I’m not just a killer. I’m the guy who killed his own brother.

I need to hear your voice, Adam. I need to know your thoughts on my transgression. Where are you? What do you see? What do you know? Have you been watching these thirty-odd years? Is everything I tell you already known?

Have you seen God?

Does He hate me?

Sometimes it’s like coming down with a cold. My body aches, my head throbs, and I can’t bring myself to get out of bed. It’s as if joy ceased to exist when you left. But I know that’s not true. Other people still experience joy and happiness and laughter. I’ve heard it. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. I’ve just never grabbed hold of it for myself—no matter how hard I try.

There really is no need for you to worry. Notions of wrapping my car around a tree are greatly exaggerated. I can’t do that to Mom. Neither can I put myself in front of God before my proper ending. For all I know, I’ll have to continue on well past the century mark, carrying the years as a burden.

Can you put in a word for me—the way you did when we were kids?

But would a simple word really count for anything?

I’m the reason you died, Adam.

Please forgive me.

Please.

Maybe it’s desperation that has me hearing your voice.

“Let it go, twerp.”

It comes audibly to me, as if you’re standing right beside me, speaking it directly into my ear.

My left ear.

“Is that you, Adam?” I ask it aloud, hoping for more.

But there’s nothing else.

“Tell me again—just once more.”

I think of Mom. Of telling her. Of unburdening my soul.

I won’t, though. I cannot.

It’s you I needed to tell.

It was always you.

And tonight, you heard me.

Of that, I am certain.

My burden isn’t gone just yet, but it sure feels lighter.

“Thank you, Adam.”

© 2018 Beem Weeks

This story, along with 18 others, is available in Strange HWY: Short Stories. Find it at all online booksellers.

Crackles of the Heart: Divergent Ink Book 1! A #BookReview

Blurb:

Divergent Ink is the mesh of different frames of thoughts, various interpretations of one core question that yearns for universal expansion. Although the subject matter may change every year, the purpose of the Divergent Ink series will remain the same.

The first book in the Divergent Ink anthology series, “Crackles of the Heart”, centers around the following question: Can the hot, handsome guy fall for the average, awkward woman?

Six Divergent Inks exploring “Crackles of the Heart”. Will there be hearts rejoicing or hearts breaking?

Featuring

Da’Kharta Rising: A five word invitation sets the tone for an afternoon journey. Short, provocative connectivity sizzles “Inside Me”.

Queen of Spades: One look from Her was all it took to put a ladies’ man into early retirement. Yet, the very object of his affection has no clue of his reform. When he opts to take a huge gamble, will his fairy tale end happily ever after or be deemed a “Tale in the Keys of Drastic”?

Adonis Mann: The dark of night can be more than scary, it can be downright intoxicating. When pleasure meets stupefaction, a man with a secret whirls into rapture at the hands of an unknown force. To which end? Will his secret be revealed, or will he revel in the delight it brings? Nothing is as it seems during the wonderment of “Mystical Nights”.

Y. Correa: Steampunk Earth, set in the distant future. When an ambitious city guy meets a carefree country lady, what starts out as a getaway to finish an important project turns into a interesting journey. Steam intersects and hearts collide in “The Steam of Opposites”.

C. Desert Rose: Terah has the misfortune of being given news that puts an expiration date on her life. In her desire to get away from the chaos, she has a chance encounter with the very one that can put the turmoil to rest. Is “Serendipitous Mirth” dumb luck, or preordained destiny?

Synful Desire: Bette is a hard working small town woman with simple pleasures. When visually stunning Jesse comes into the store on what’s normally her day off, her mind accelerates into complex overdrive. In this small town, a lot can happen in seven days. Will one of those events serve to satisfy Bette’s “Seven Days of Stimuli”?

 

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

This collection contains some truly intriguing works by authors who are skilled in the fine art of storytelling. Six writers lent their talents here. They have each taken a core question and answered it in their own unique words.

Though there are different styles at work, there remains a thread that connects each of the tales in this book, like a well-groomed path cutting through a summer wood. I’ve read some of these authors before. I am never disappointed in plots or mechanics or inspiration. Good writers know how to pull the reader in and dazzle.

The stories are provocative, dark, and at times, steamy in their telling—though not in an over-indulgent sort of way. There is an order to the chaos. I honestly couldn’t settle on just one or two as favorites, so I’ll give applause to each of these writers: Da’Kharta Rising, Y. Correa, Adonis Mann, Queen of Spades, C. Desert Rose, and Synful Desire. Cheers for a job well-done, authors!

I am a fan of the short form of fiction. This collection will sit on my shelf along with the others I’ve kept and returned to time after time.

Buy it Here:

A New Offering From Author Y. Correa!

It’s Official Release Day!

What else can we say, but, “It’s the official release day”?

 

 

 

Humanity in Retrograde

 

In this retro-futuristic era, the old look and reproduce as if in the prime of their lives. The babies delivered into this world—sickly, fighting for every second to have a slim chance of survival. To turn this existence on its heels, it requires something … or someone … Special.

When a healthy baby is discovered by Nurse Celestine, she makes it her mission to protect what she believes is a well-kept secret.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the observant Nurse Trudy to put the pieces together to utilize for her personal gain as well as orchestrate Nurse Celestine’s ruin. Can Nurse Celestine succeed in combating the determined Nurse Trudy, or will all that is special be exposed and possibly destroyed? Find out in Reversal.

Babies.

Mere infants … fragile, feeble, sickly and flushed of color, lined the nursery of St. Agnes General Hospital NICU Department. This was nothing new, of course. They were all born that way. Those who made it past their first week of birth were among the blessed.

An almost invisible film of mauve and viridian—a sheath that covered their reality—was the translucent haze that weighed upon all things. It was as though the colors had been embedded into the fabric of the world, tinging everything—no matter what its candescence—in those pigments. The darkest of the dark, and the lightest of the light, all seemed ominous and void of vitality.

Dreary. That was the word that best described this place, these people … these babies.

The atmosphere was inauspicious. Everything seemed afflicted with lifelessness. The hospital, antiquated. Though hundreds of years in the future, the setting felt like a 1950’s time warp. The perimeter of the hospital was as inert as its own appearance—scant trees, barren bushes, leaf and debris covered streets.

The perils that distressed St. Agnes General Hospital was the lack of advanced technologies. It was as though the last ten centuries had never transpired. An entire fragment of time had evidently disappeared leaving behind a woefully dull and mechanically limited world which was forced to operate within its mediocre means.

The hallways of St. Agnes General were long, ominous, and cold. The walls were painted in a tainted light green. The doctors wore perfectly pressed white coats which covered their black business suits. Their hair, slick—brushed back into a tight, shiny do. The nurses donned white nursing uniforms with white hats which had red crosses in the center. Skirts at knee length, taupe pantyhose and white nurse shoes. They looked perfect. In complete contrast to their locality.

 

Beep-beep, beep-beep, beep-beep; first in dots then in dashes. The sound carried a cadence of absolute fear which could give any person goosebumps—that river of icy-hot pimples that ran all over one’s body. Yet the screeching of the monitor’s blaring was far louder than the unhealthy baby that attempted to cry its woes. His voice was as decrepit as his leathery, bony flesh.

Nurse Juliette was an excessively feminine, soft-spoke Asian woman with the tiny frame. Blue-black hair fell to her waist, and Juliette’s spotless face was softly made up.

“Sh, sh, sh. There, there, little one. It’ll all be over soon, I promise. Mommy already knows that you’ll be going to a better place,” whispered Nurse Juliette who was sitting next to his cradle. She gently shook the child’s puny legs. Nurse Juliette’s tone was void of emotion, as though this were an everyday occurrence.

In all actuality, it was.

In complete opposition to the old-looking, ailing child was Nurse Juliette whose stature was strong, young, healthy and … well, perfect. So was the child’s mother and father who both waited for the news of his fate from their hospital room.

And, just as Nurse Juliette swayed the hardly sobbing yet profusely ailing child, the infant took in a sharp lungful and exhaled his last breath.

“Ahh, poor child,” Nurse Juliette concluded, then proceeded to get out of her seat to pick up the phone. “Nurse Celestine? Yes? Good. Please advise the Smithson family that the child has passed.”

“Certainly,” replied the voice on the opposite end. Neither one of the voices even remotely somber.

To learn more about author Y. Correa, visit

www.authorycorrea.com

Day 10 of the Concordant Vibrancy 5 Book Tour: Release Day!

Welcome to Day 10 of the Concordant Vibrancy 5 book tour! Today is Release Day!!!

 

Greetings everyone!

Before we proceed with the official cover reveal and book release of Concordant Vibrancy 5: Extancy, All Authors Publishing House would like to thank our supporters and all of the outstanding authors who have participated in the Concordant Vibrancy collection. The thoughtfulness and creativity put forth on each theme question will mark Concordant Vibrancy’s place as literature that will transcend time.

For information on all things Concordant Vibrancy, please peruse its website: https://www.concordantvibrancy.com

 

 

With a proud and heavy heart, All Authors Publishing House presents the final installment of the Concordant Vibrancy collection, entitled “Extancy”.
Eight exceptional talents intermingle to share their interpretations on the following question: “What intangible elixir is paramount to one’s survival?”
  • C. Desert Rose expands on the elixir of Awareness in her essay “Frequencies Towards Illumination”.
  • Carol Cassada outlines the amount of Strength to tackle the medically unexpected in “Caregiver”.
  • Beem Weeks explores the swiftness of Adaptation in his story “Five Minutes”.
  • Da’Kharta Rising elicits dark humor and strange situations as the ingredients for Felicity in “The Unmasking”.
  • Adonis Mann illuminates the subjectivity of Unity in “Axis … Redefined”.
  • All Optimism needs is a window of opportunity to flourish, as demonstrated in Synful Desire’s tale, “Rome’s Debris”.
  • Evolution is an intangible necessity through the many reincarnations showcased in “The Itinerant” by Queen of Spades.
  • The synergy of the aforementioned elements from Concordant Vibrancy I – IV are given lives of their own through “Soul Searching” by Y. Correa.