Tag Archives: Jan Sikes

Welcome to the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RWISA – Jan Sikes @rijanjks

She Dances With a Memory by Jan Sikes

SHE DANCES WITH A MEMORY

 

JAN SIKES

 

Gertrude McNabb placed a gnarled hand on her arthritic back as she bent over to take a chocolate cake from the oven. She inhaled the sweet aroma and put it on a rack to cool.

A black-and-white photograph of a dark-haired man with twinkling eyes sat nearby on the cabinet. “This is for you, Hiram. I didn’t forget it was your birthday. It’s your favorite. I’ll always remember how your face would light up when I baked this special recipe for you.”

Gertrude picked up the framed snapshot, held it against her heart, and shuffled into the living room.

“We might as well make use of the time while I wait for your cake to cool. Then I’ll frost it with your favorite French vanilla icing. The kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids are all going to be here in a couple of hours, and it will be nothing but pure chaos,” she said.

The mahogany stereo cabinet from the 1960s occupied the same spot in the living room that it had since the day Hiram McNabb brought it home as a Christmas surprise. They’d spent many happy days and nights listening to record albums.  Hiram never tried to hide the fact that he adored Rosemary Clooney. But, not Gertrude. For her, it was ol’ Blue Eyes himself that got her blood going.

Oh, the wonderful and countless hours they’d waltzed away across the living room floor to the beautiful music that wafted out of those state-of-the-art stereo speakers.

She adjusted her glasses and thumbed through a stack of record albums. It seemed to take forever nowadays to do even the simplest task. She pulled out a favorite and held it up in front of the photo she’d perched on the coffee table. “Since it’s your birthday, my dear, and such a special occasion, how about Nat King Cole?”

Her fingers, once nimble and efficient, struggled to remove the round disc from its package.

“Remember how this one caught my eye in the record store, but we didn’t buy it?” She chuckled. “And then you brought it home the very next day.” She blew out a sigh.

Once she had the disk secured on the turntable, she took the pins from her silver hair, and it tumbled down her back.

She clicked on the stereo and waited until the tiny red light turned green, then gently placed the needle onto the black groove.

Then with a great flourish, she picked up the photo and held her arms out for her imaginary dance partner.

Even though she hardly moved from the spot where she stood, with her eyes closed, she was transported back in time, back to days of youth when it had been impossible to imagine ever growing old.

“It was fascination, I know, seeing you alone with the moonlight above,” Nat King Cole sang.

A smile graced her lips.

She whispered, “Hiram Edward McNabb, you swept me off my feet the first time I saw you. You were so handsome in your Army uniform. I’ll never forget that night at the county fair. My older brother and sister took me, and since they wanted to stick around for the dance, I got to stay with them.”

She paused and steadied herself.

“You asked me to dance and didn’t let me sit down one time the whole night.” She giggled. “From then on, I knew we were meant to be together. I’d always hated my name, and you agreed that Gertrude sounded like an old lady, so you called me by my middle name. I was your Rose.”

Memories swirled around in her mind. Sweet remembrances of laughter, of falling in love and of daring to live the fullest life imaginable flew by the way scenes from a movie might do.

No, they hadn’t been wealthy, but Hiram made a decent living for them, and they always had what they needed. However, it was his steadfast love for her, for life, and the music they embraced that kept her excited and happy for over sixty years.

As impossible as it seemed, he’d now been gone over two years. Never a day passed that she didn’t carry on a conversation with him. It started with a good morning greeting and ended with a good night declaration of love.

Sometimes, she could swear that he answered her.

The needle reached the end of the record. She set the photo back down and focused her attention on choosing another album.

“Rosie.”

She turned around. “Hiram?”

No one was there. Then she heard it again. Was she going daft?

“Well, I’ve certainly let my imagination get the best of me. I guess that’s what happens to old ladies when they’re alone too long.”

As she reached for her favorite Frank Sinatra album, a hand brushed against hers.

Now she was sure she was losing what little bit of sensibility she had left.

When she was a child, her relatives shared stories about spirit visits from beyond the veil. To her, it was nothing more than hogwash and products of overactive imaginations. After all, what did old folks know?

As hard as it was to admit, she might have been wrong about that, and a little hasty to judge. Perhaps Hiram had shown up to celebrate his birthday.

Whatever it was, she would enjoy it and soak up every moment, even if it wasn’t real. She could make it true in her mind.

With Frank Sinatra crooning a love song, she reached again for the photo but instead, chose to leave it sitting and simply held out her wrinkled and trembling arms.

Her feet moved, and she twirled just like she’d done thousands of times before. She threw back her head and laughed. She was twenty again, as Hiram swept her across the big wooden dance floor inside the SPJST Hall.

Song after song played, and still, they danced, they laughed, and they kissed.

Then the record reached an end and she was met with deafening silence. She opened her eyes, surprised to find that she stood in the same spot where she’d been. She truly had been waltzing and twirling with Hiram.

“I’m tired now, my love.” She moved toward her easy chair. “I just need to rest awhile.”

Perhaps one day before long, she’d be waltzing again with her sweetheart for the remainder of eternity. But for now, she had the memories, and she’d continue to dance with them until that day came.

She reached for the photo and pressed it to her heart.

Her eyes drifted shut, and she smiled.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again, for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Jan Sikes RWISA Author Page

Books by Jan Sikes

Jewel by Jan Sikes

Jewel

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VooDoo or Destiny by Jan Sikes

Voodoo or Destiny: You Decide

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A Soldier's Children by Jan Sikes

A Soldier’s Children

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Welcome to the WATCH “#RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour! #RRBC #RRBCWRW – Day 11

PARADISE BELOW

JAN SIKES

Emma Dupont shifted her backpack and lowered her head as she struggled through the crowded street. Panic struck as the sunlight faded.

It would mean sure death to get caught out after dark

“Watch where you’re goin’, you stupid bitch!”

Rough hands shoved her into the edge of speeding traffic. With great effort, she steadied herself, stepped back onto the sidewalk, and quickened her pace.

Making sure no one noticed her, she ducked into an alleyway and banged on the side of a blue dumpster with a series of raps. A camouflaged door slid open.

She tossed her backpack inside then hurried down the metal steps into the arms of a dark-haired man who held her while she sobbed.

“Susan, please bring Emma a cup of tea,” he instructed.

A tall blonde woman hurried away.

“I can’t go back up there again, Donovan. I just can’t.” Emma moaned. “They are no more than savages. Armed soldiers are everywhere, questioning everyone, barely controlling the mobs of hate-filled people. It’s awful.”

She didn’t tell him she’d felt someone watching her as she pushed through the street. The noose was tightening, but she’d die before she’d expose their hiding place.

Donovan rubbed her shoulders. “Don’t think about that right now.”

Susan appeared with a steaming cup and pressed it into Emma’s hands.

“Try to relax,” Donovan tucked a tendril of brown hair behind her ear.

Emma sank down against the cold concrete wall and let the warmth of the tea soothe her ragged nerves She watched while Donovan emptied the contents of the backpack.

When he looked up, his eyes shone. “You did good, love. We almost have enough.”

After the last election, conditions in the US had deteriorated. Humanity had gone crazy. Hate flourished and people killed each other over the slightest disagreement. Satan reigned.

Evil permeated every corner. Small handfuls of people banded together and escaped into underground tunnels determined to live in peace and raise their children.

Fed up with the insanity, Emma didn’t hesitate to join. Her group had one plan.

They had to get to Mexico.

The government’s restriction of money forced them to withdraw small amounts at a time. Emma’s experience of working in banks gave her the ability to gather the funds they needed to escape.

They were almost there, but nine months of living beneath the crazed streets of Dallas had taken its toll, especially on the children. Deprived of vitamin D, they grew lethargic and pale.

Resources, time and patience grew thin.

“I’ve been in communication with others in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. We’re almost ready to make our move,” Donovan said. “But, one mistake will mean death.”

Emma nodded. She didn’t care. The thought of dying didn’t frighten her.

Jasmine tea helped slow her heart rate and settle her nerves.

Donovan dropped beside her. “I never imagined that the ‘Land of the Free’ and the ‘Home of the Brave’ would deteriorate into such a state of evil, and hate.” He blew out a long sigh. “We’ve lost everything.”

Emma placed a hand on his arm. “But, we haven’t given up. And, we’ve kept love in our hearts.”

Susan and several others gathered around. “With trust in God and help from the angels who watch over us, we’ll survive,” she said. “We’re the future of humanity. We are the Lightworkers.”

They formed a circle and joined hands. In a melodic voice, a woman with straight black hair sang, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound…”

Voices blended sweetly, and an essence of light filled the dank tunnel.

###

Melchizedek bowed his head overcome with the beauty and faith of the small group. He called Nemamiah and Charmaine to his side.

“It is almost time. We must rally everyone to watch over and help them. Please meet with the Ashtar Command and give them a report.”

Nemamiah folded his wings and nodded. Charmaine smiled and opened her wings to take flight.

“It is done.”

###

Emma barely survived her last venture above ground. When three hoodlums grabbed her and dragged her into a deserted alleyway, she fought hard, but they stuffed a dirty rag in her mouth and kicked her with the sharp toes of their boots.

From their sneers and insinuations, she knew they intended to take more than the contents in her backpack. She silently prayed.

The moment her attackers dumped the money out of her backpack, a flock of Ravens descended from nowhere, flapping their wings and pecking at their heads and eyes until they ran screaming from the alley.

Emma was sure they’d attack her next, but to her surprise, the birds hovered around her while she picked up the money, then flew above her while she ran for safety.

She shook her head when Donovan questioned her bruises and told him the angels had protected her.

Wheels were in motion. They would soon be away from the nightmare.

Donovan gathered the group for final instructions. “Travel light. Anything you don’t need, leave it. We have two vans, but there’s limited room.”

While the rest did the same, Emma gathered her belongings. She wouldn’t take more than she could carry on her back. She stared at a photo before tucking it into a zippered pocket. That life was gone. All she had left was her faith, strong will, and this family determined to live in peace.

By the time the twelve adults and four children were ready, the first shy rays from the sun graced the sky. It would be a long day.

They piled into the vans in an orderly manner. Donovan would drive one vehicle, and Michael the other.

Emma got into Donavon’s van. They’d grown close over the months of their confinement. She wouldn’t call it romance, but pure love. She’d grown to love all these gentle souls. Together, they would build a new life in paradise.

They slapped magnetic signs on the sides of the vans that read, “Hollow Road Baptist Church” and crawled through early morning traffic toward I-35 south.

They hit a roadblock a few miles outside Dallas.

“Remember what we rehearsed,” said Donovan as he pulled over.

Several of the group placed Bibles on their laps. Emma held her breath.

Armed soldiers approached. “Papers,” one soldier barked, “and state your destination.”

“Camp Zephyr, sir, for a retreat.”  Donovan handed him papers.

Soldiers surrounded both vans and peered through the windows. Emma was sure they could hear her heart pounding. She forced a smile.

Donovan stared straight ahead.

After what seemed like forever, the soldier passed the papers back through the window. “You can go. But, stay on the main roads. There are crazies around.” He motioned them on.

Donovan nodded and pulled away. “Emma, pull up GPS and find a back route, then tell Michael what we’re doing.”

The route took them through miles of open pasture and small Texas towns. Finally, their headlights pierced the darkness and lit up a rusted VW van shell.

Donovan pulled to a stop. “Everyone stays put until we know it’s safe.”

He jumped out. He and Michael hurried toward the VW, looking in all directions.

Emma chewed her fingernails and stared out the window. Nothing could go wrong now. They were so close.

Donovan had explained that a Coyote would escort them through the tunnel into Matamoros, where they would find papers and transportation.

When the men turned and waved, the group grabbed their belongings and exited the vans. One-by-one, they climbed down rickety wooden steps into a damp tunnel. Flashlights reflected off dirt walls supported by boards and rocks.

Painted on one board, “Paradise Below” promised a long awaited redemption. The narrow tunnel forced them to walk single-file, and some taller men had to hunch over.

But, discomfort didn’t matter.

In an hour, they emerged onto a deserted side street in Matamoros where a dilapidated bus waited.

Without a word, the group filed onto the bus. The driver closed the door and ground the gears into forward motion.

Emma sat beside Donovan and reached for his hand. “We’re going to make it.”

He sighed and leaned back against the seat. “We are.”

A brilliant red sun rose over the ocean, bringing with it a new day, as the bus lumbered to a stop many hours later. Gentle waves lapped the shore and seagulls cawed as they swooped down searching for breakfast.

When the bus door opened, a couple dressed like American tourists greeted each person.

A woman with flaming red hair hugged Emma. “Welcome to Mexico. I’m sure you’re exhausted. We have rooms prepared for each of you.”

“Thank you,” Emma murmured soaking up the tropical scenery.

Paradise! They’d made it. No more hate, no more violence, and no more hiding.

They’d reached Pueblo de Luz, (City of Light).

A band of angels hovered above the group with tears of joy shining in their eyes.

There was hope for humanity.

Hope in these small groups that dared to keep love alive.

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA” WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.

 

We ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

Jan Sikes RWISA Author Page

How would you like to become a RWISA Member so that you’re able to receive this same awesome FREE support? Simply click HERE to make application!

Introducing #RRBC Spotlight Author Jan Sikes!

Greetings! It is my pleasure to share my blog today with the June 2018 Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author. Jan Sikes is not just a fellow author, she is somebody that I am honored to call my friend! Take it away, Jan…

THE CONVICT AND THE ROSE

 The second book in the series was, without a doubt, the hardest to write. This book required extensive research and countless hours spent poring over letters and writings from Rick’s hand. I wanted to get it “right.” And, since I wasn’t personally present for the majority of the prison scenes, I had to rely on stories he’d told me and writings he left behind.

I even called Leavenworth Prison and spoke to the Social Director to confirm some facts about the recording studio Rick built inside.

The other challenge was bouncing back-and-forth between Luke in Prison in Kansas and Darlina in Texas. Keeping the timeline straight brought about more than one re-write.

But, the end result is a book I am proud of, that has garnered thirty-four Five-Star reviews.

 

Here is the back cover blurb:

 

Award-winning Biographical/Fiction sequel to Flowers and Stone. Luke and Darlina find their love severely tested as they struggle to overcome enormous odds.

When Texas veteran musician, Luke Stone, finds himself behind bars with a seventy-five-year sentence, he is filled with hate, anger, and rebelliousness. He’s lost everything that he treasures, including the woman who holds his heart.

How has it come down to this? He’s spent his entire life writing songs and making music, filling dance halls and bars from Texas to California. But, when he refuses to tell the FBI what he knows about certain bank robberies that he possesses knowledge of, they make sure he pays dearly.

Broken and alone, in a prison of her own, Darlina Flowers struggles to find a way to live without the man she loves so completely.

Over the next sixteen years, Luke and Darlina each search for ways to somehow survive the fate life has hurled them into.

In an effort to dull the pain of living with only half a heart, Darlina gets involved in drugs, then follows a guru and tries different relationships, but nothing fills the void.

Several years pass before Luke makes up his mind that prison will not break him. He crawls up from the bottom one tiny step at a time, determined to be and do something worthwhile and discovers artistic talents he never realized he had.

The Convict and the Rose inspires hope and shows how anyone can turn a negative dark situation into a positive one. But more importantly, the story portrays a love that goes beyond earthly confines and proves how persistence and faith come with their own sweet reward.

Join Luke and Darlina as they continue their epic journey with love as their constant North Star and freedom as the driving force.

 

PURCHASE LINK

 

 

CONNECT WITH JAN:

 

 

TWITTER    FACEBOOK    BLOG    WEBSITE    LINKEDIN    PINTEREST     

 

Thank you for taking this RRBC SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR tour with me! See you at the next stop.

 

Watch RWISA Write: Jan Sikes

August is Watch RWISA Write month. Today, we celebrate author Jan Sikes!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Henry Jacobsen ran gnarled fingers through 84 years of living and swatted at a fly that buzzed around his head. The sun warmed his old bones and he turned to face his longtime friend. “You know, Aaron, what the world needs now, is for people to show a little more respect to each other. Back in my day, if I acted or talked disrespectful, I got my hide tanned.”

The wooden boards underneath Aaron’s rocker creaked in syncopated rhythm with his movement. “Yep, Henry. Times are different nowadays.”

Henry timed his chair rhythm with Aaron’s. “Before I came to stay here, I had a house over on Boulder Street. There was a family a few doors down that was always borrowing things from me, but somehow they never remembered to return any of them.”

Aaron nodded. “I’ve had it happen to me many times.”

“I pulled into the driveway one day just in time to see the oldest kid unscrewing my water hose. By the time I parked the car and got out, he had it slung over his shoulder.” Henry’s frown deepened. “It’s frustrating when you can’t move like you used to.”

He gazed across the green manicured lawn of the Post Oaks Retirement Center as if viewing some long-ago forgotten scene.

“Well?” Aaron prodded. “What did you do?”

“I hollered at him and asked what in the world he thought he was doing. And you know what he had the nerve to say to me?” Henry screwed up his face.

“Nope.”

“He said that he was taking my water hose so he could wash his motorcycle.”

“Don’t that beat all? Aaron clicked his tongue. “Didn’t even bother to ask you.”

“I saw red. I lit into him like nobody’s business,” he growled. “The nerve. Take a man’s things like they meant nothing.”

Aaron shifted to take the weight off his bad hip. “There was a day when I would’ve jumped a guy for pulling a stunt like that. But those times are over for me. At this point, I’m doin’ good just to make it from the bed to the bathroom without embarrassing myself.”

“Yeah, me too. But, I tell you, I didn’t take it lying down. I told him what a rotten, no good, worthless human being he was and that he’d better put the water hose down or I’d call the cops and turn him in for stealing.”

“What did he do then?”

“He laughed in my face…told me I was too old to use the damn water hose anyway and he needed it.”

“Why, the nerve!”

“I marched myself inside and called the cops. When they came, I gave them a list of everything they had so-called borrowed and said I wanted it all back.”

“Did you get it?”

“Yeah. In pieces. The weed eater was battered and wouldn’t start. My shovel was broken in half. The water hose was split in two pieces. All of it was in shambles. Just no respect. That’s what the world has come to.”

Silence spun a web between the two old-timers who’d seen more than a lifetime of battles.

“I remember when I was in the Army. Nobody ever pilfered in someone else’s belongings. I did two tours overseas, fighting for this country and now I have to wonder what for.” Henry’s voice trembled. “The way folks carry on is a shame. Just no regard for one another.”

Aaron halted the rocker and leaned forward. “You’re right, Henry. The mess things are in is downright disgraceful. Take for instance the presidential election. Now, I can’t say I agree with the candidate who won, but for people to go out and tear stuff up, turn on friends and family who voted for him, and get consumed with hatred is ridiculous. No one is willing to bend.”

“Never saw anything like it,” Henry agreed. “I remember when John F. Kennedy won the election in 1960. People spoke out against him because he was catholic. But, they weren’t filled with the kind of hatred they are today. It pains me to think about what kind of society our grandkids are growing up in. For old geezers like ourselves, it don’t really matter all that much. We’re on our way out.”

“Dinosaurs. Men like us with backbone and decency are disappearing just like those prehistoric creatures did. I’d sure like to see something that would give me hope for the future. Hope for our country.” Aaron’s rheumy eyes glistened.

Henry pushed up from the rocker and stretched. It troubled him more than he could say that his grandchildren were growing up in these unstable times. A tired old man needs salve for his weary soul.

Just as he was about to shuffle inside, he saw his grandson, Micah, bounding across the lawn.

Micah waved. “Hi, Grandpa.”

Henry waved back.

Breathless, Micah reached the two men. “Hey, Gramps, look at this beautiful spring day. How about I bust you out of here and we go fishing?”

Henry chuckled. “That’s the best idea I’ve heard in a long time.” He turned to Aaron and winked. “There’s our hope. This young man knows how to respect his elders.”

With that, he joined his grandson. It didn’t escape his notice that Micah slowed his steps to match his grandfather’s or that he held the door while they went inside.

Respect. That’s what Micah demonstrated.

And, it’s precisely the healing the world now needs.

 

Thank you for supporting this member along the WATCH “RWISA WRITE Showcase Tour today!  We ask that if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, to please visit their Author Page on the RWISA site, where you can find more of their writing, along with their contact and social media links, if they’ve turned you into a fan.  WE ask that you also check out their books in the RWISA or RRBC catalogs.  Thanks, again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!  Don’t forget to click the link below to learn more about this author:

JAN SIKES, RWISA Author Page