Sunday, August 31, 2008

Who Is Fiorella, that All Her Swains Commend Her?

Fiorella is a nom de plume
Closely related to Lillian Bloom,
Unrelated to Stephanie Plum,
Who is more adventuresome.
"Little Plum Flower" is Fio's name,
Writing cutely is her game.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin Sinks John McCain's Ship

John McCain is even more out of touch than his seven-plus homes indicated. I cannot believe he thinks Hillary's supporters have remained loyal just because she is female.

Wake up, John! Hillary's supporters have remained loyal because she is an intelligent, articulate, experienced woman of a certain age who has paid her dues, just as we all have. Sarah Palin pales in comparison. For all I know, Sarah may be articulate and intelligent, but her experience is minimal, and pay her dues she has not. She's just too damn young--ten years younger than your wife, John. I bet you noticed that!

I'm glad a woman was able to become governor of Alaska. I'm happy for all the strides young women in America have been able to make in the past twenty years, but, John, these women built their successes on our backs, women in their fifties and sixties and seventies who braved exclusionary sexist barriers in all aspects of American life. Is it any wonder then that we want a piece of the pie, that we want to see one of our own as president? Is it any wonder that we see Sarah Palin as a Jilly-come-lately opportunist?

John, John--if ever you had a chance to swing my vote, you just lost it in spades.

Friday, August 29, 2008

La Fiorella detras del Mito

I write Fiorella early in the morning, sometimes before breakfast, sometimes after. Fio is my overflow valve for all the things I wake up thinking about--which often surprise even me.

Fio is fun. She eases me into my more serious writing, the stuff I do professionally, the stuff which I hate to start because I know it will take me over, the stuff which I'll become so totally engrossed in that I won't even know what time it is till Husband comes through the door asking about plans for supper.

I like Fio. She's younger and more rambunctious than I am. Fio's a good-time gal who says exactly what she thinks while I tend to be more melancholy and anxious. I can't just toss off my worries with a cute poem or a clever quip. No, no--my specialty is fretting everything to the bone.

And this information was my overflow for this morning.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

You Live in the Texas Hill Country If . . .

1) You've seen a roadrunner streak down the top rail of your chainlink fence.

2) Your local grocery store carries deer and rabbit repellent.

3) You can't make it to work if the dry creek at the bottom of your property floods.

4) You know darn well a platform in a tree isn't a kid's playhouse.

5) Jehovah's Witnesses do not walk, but drive, to your house.

6) All five vehicles in front of you on the road are pick-ups.

7) Whitetails shelter in your carport when it rains.

8) You can't dig down further than five inches without hitting limestone.

9) Within ten miles, you can shop at Wolf Ranch, buy a car at Auto Ranch, browse bestsellers at Lazy Rocking W Books and Gifts, or attend Sunday services at the Cowboy Church.

10) You are fortunate enough to have the inspiration to write lists like this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Strange Appetites

From where I sit, I have a good view of the peach-protecting pyramid on our kitchen island. The foundation of the pyramid is a plastic popcorn bowl in which nestle three freestone peaches. The bowl is topped with an upside down pizza pan, on which sits a glass bowl containing five smaller peaches, with clingy insides. On top of that bowl is a protective cutting board.

Wendy Dog is also looking at the pyramid--because she loves peaches. We discovered that information one morning last week when we woke up to four missing peaches, a trail of peach pits on the den floor, and a very satisfied looking Weimeraner.

I don't know why we didn't anticipate her appetite. After all, she eats everything that isn't tied down. Husband once fed her mustard to try to make her vomit something or other she had eaten which we had read was lethal. You guessed it: not only did she show no ill effects from the original ingestion, but she absolutely adored the mustard.

She also eats soap when she can get access to it, for which reason we keep all bathroom doors closed.

Probably her all-time favorites, though, are Kleenexes, which make for an interesting back-yard clean-up. She doesn't eat paper towels as much as she used to, but then she is seven years old now and her gastrointestinal tract probably isn't working as well as it once did.

She also likes to lick my hands a lot--not Husband's, but mine. I think I must retain cooking oils better, or maybe she just thinks I'm dirtier and is taking over the maternal role.

But all in all, she's a peach of a dog, so I shouldn't complain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fiorella Rants against Progress

As far as I'm concerned, progress can stop right now. Not medical progress, of course; I do want to feel better, look better, and live longer. No, I'm talking about entertainment and communication.

Actually, as far as entertainment goes, I'd like to reverse progress a little. The I-Max can go; looking at people's faces magnified Lord knows how many times on the silver screen is frightening, and, even for the dewiest starlet, not very pretty. I'm not fond of huge TVs either; television should be a discreet, servile resident of the den or family room, not the star of the great room.

And I want movies to feature people, not special effects.

And I want the remote controls reduced to one simple mechanism again, one that I can easily operate. Currently we have five.

Now to communication. I think we're overdoing the communication revolution. Okay, I have e-mail and I use a cell phone, and I write on a blog, and I'll probably be setting up a website soon. But I think Face Book, MySpace, etc., are going too far. And I abhor text messaging, I-pods, Blackberries, Kindle, and everything else of that ilk. Why not just wire ourselves into virtual life and be done with it? Besides, I'm tired of learning how to operate new electronic devices, only to have them replaced by something newer the next year.

My heavens, a geriatric rant! Amazing from someone just forty-three years old!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Math-free Zone

Happy an-ni-vers-ar-y
To my husband Chris and me--
It's forty-six years in harmony,
Though Fiorella's just forty-three.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Soulmates in Stone

When I was a child, I loved to collect pretty stones from the gravel drive--red and black... brown... gray--I saw them all as jewels fit for a king. My mother saw them as part of driveway and made me put them back.

Now, fifty years later, I have a gravel driveway again, and whenever I walk down it to the mailbox at the road, I keep my eyes trained on the ground, looking for pretty stones. My specialty now is flint, but I also pick up red and black... brown... gray, if I like them. And my husband lets me display them on a special shelf in the den. But, of course, he has to, because he collects stones too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fraud Alert!

Fiorella is so excited that she hasn't even read the newspaper yet! Husband's credit card was rejected at the gas station so Fio called the credit card company and learned there was an alert on the card because of some suspicious recent purchase attempts. Fio checked these out with Husband, who confirmed that he had not attempted to buy paintball supplies on line yesterday.

Anyway, all is now well. The old cards are canceled and new ones will be issued, which will be a big hassle since Fio had the old number half memorized. But, what the hey, Fio is just grateful that Capitol One spotted the fraud attempt before someone bought the Taj Mahal on her nickel.

Although she is still wondering what Husband intended to do with the paintball supplies.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fiorella, the Kitchen Appliance

Fiorella's brain is like a toaster. She mulls over a problem during the day, goes to sleep at night, and the answer pops up the next morning. It's like magic.

In fact, given a decent night's sleep, Fiorella wakes up brilliant every morning. Then she leaps out of bed and writes down her brilliant ideas before she forgets them. Fio has tons of little scraps of paper with brilliant ideas on them scattered around the house. In fact, they often serve as leaping off points for her blogs.

Okay, now maybe some of the ideas don't seem so brilliant after breakfast, and maybe after lunch she can't figure out what some of them were, but, for the most part, her toaster serves her well. Obviously Fio's brain works better when she is asleep than when she is awake.

Maybe Fiorella is onto something here. Does everybody's brain work like this? Or maybe Fio just wants to justify snoozing late every morning.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Playing to Win

Fio wrote this several years ago and hopes you enjoy it.

I was not born to be a football mother, but I did my best to become one. I attended every one of my fourteen-year-old son’s freshman football games and yelled when the other mothers did. In fact, due to a congenital bellow, I became quite an asset to the maternal cheering squad.

There were seven of us who sat semi-together at the games. Pat and Jean attended the same church and would spend their Sunday School hour collaborating on blood-curdling spirit signs. Barbara and Frances, whose sons were stars, were our football experts and would tell the rest of us what was going on. Maxine and Gayle and I contributed our presences and a great deal of motherly anxiety.

The whole thing started one day when we repeated to the perky young cheerleader sponsor our sons' complaints that the cheerleaders never showed up for freshman games. She promptly formed us into our own squad then and there and we had such a good time that we kept it up. We were terrific, reviving such oldies but goodies as "two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate" and "all the way that-a-way." Our specialty was the wave, which was little more than a ripple with just seven participants.

We were not universally appreciated. Our sons did not recognize classics when they heard them and thought we were making the cheers up on the spot. We embarrassed them terribly. Finally we realized us that it wasn't the cheers that the boys wanted; it was the cheerleaders, cute little sixteen-year-olds bopping around in mini skirts. But by that time, we were having so much fun that it didn't matter.

Recently, my son had to decide whether or not to sign up for football again next year. He wrote out a list of the reasons to stick with it and the reasons to quit. He had learned a lot about football and liked his coach, but athletics don't run in the family and the year had been tough on him.

He mulled his decision over for several days, then signed on the dotted line. "Mom gets a kick out of the games," he told his father. "I wanted her to be able to enjoy herself again next year."

Somewhere along the line I'm a winner, and so is he.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Trying Again

Fiorella's working hard today
Preparing pages to send away
To a slant-eyed editor out of town
Who she's afraid will turn her down.

Why does Fio continue to try?
To butt her head against an iron sky?
Alexander Pope has said it best:
"Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blest."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Connections Crossed

We set the place, the hour, the date
And unless I know you're gonna be late,
Fifteen minutes is all I wait!
Oops, I'd better scratch this rhyme
'Cause I'm a week ahead of time!

Monday, August 18, 2008


How does Fiorella come up with all that stuff she writes about--every day?

It's life, and Fio has always been compulsively communicative and, as Husband says, easily amused. Yes, the vagaries of life strike her as funny--which is fortunate because she's experienced a lot of them. Her humor, in fact, was probably developed as a coping mechanism, which she doesn't regret; it's better than crying.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hair and There

Fiorella always assumed her hair would turn white as she aged. Instead, it's turned blonde--which Husband said wasn't exactly a surprise. After all, a couple of years after they married, she tried, progressively, blonde, red, and dark brunette. Brunette was a real bummer: she also accidentally dyed one side of her face. After they were settled in and the kids came, Fio didn't have time for any more experimenting so she decided to let the white hairs come. After all, "frosted" hair was stylish.

The only problem was, Fio's hair didn't frost. She has hair like her father, who, at age 94, is finally turning gray. Her brother has a salt and pepper mustache, but not a white hair on his head. Five years ago, when Fio started teaching at a new school, one of the first things she was asked was if she dyed her hair. The person who asked her was only two years older than she, but had beautiful silver-white hair, while Fio was still sporting mousy brown au natural.

But no longer! Fiorella is embarrassingly vain, and soon realized that the darker hair around her face made her look--well--old. So she enlisted the aid of her hairdresser and started getting blonde streaks every couple of months. Not only did it brighten up her face, but it camouflaged what gray was beginning to appear. Asked what his teacher looked like, one of her students described her as a "graying blonde." Little did he know she was actually a "blonding gray."

Fiorella does have concerns about the bleach job, though. Her hair is very fast-growing, and if she waits too long between streakings, a strange horizontal zebra effect occurs. And she worries the bleach might be damaging her hair, or be leaking down into her brain. In fact, Husband is sure of it: this morning she tried to get out of the car to go into Target and couldn't locate the door handle.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Unsound Minds

I fail to understand why people with impaired judgment are allowed to make their own decisions about medical treatment. We protect children from their own immaturity regarding medical treatment: "No, Mommy, I don't want to take the icky medicine" just doesn't cut it. Why then, do we allow people with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia to reject proven medical treatment? I'm not talking about electric shock or lobotomies--I'm referring to pills that can be washed down with water.

I read a story in the WSJ this morning about a man named William Bruce, who has paranoid schizophrenia. Two months after he had been released from a mental hospital (against the recommendation of his doctors), he killed his mother. His release was orchestrated by "patient advocates," who coached him on what to say to the doctors, encouraged him to reject treatment, and advised him to refuse consent for his doctors to communicate with his parents. Back home again, William Bruce collected knives in his room, paced the driveway, and whacked Mom in the back of the head with an axe.

Returned to the mental heath facility, he finally started taking an anti-psychotic drug. His mental state has improved enough that he realizes he made the wrong decisions all along the line, but who can blame him? He was--well--crazy, and he should have been cared for and treated with the best medicine has to offer rather than led by the nose by "patient advocates" with their own agendas.

This story hits Fiorella close to home. Youngest nephew is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. His mother never wanted him to take medicine because of the side effects and because, even after he attacked her with the butcher knife, she wasn't sure how to define crazy: "maybe he's the one who is sane and we're all insane," she mused.

But then she also couldn't understand why some girl , since he was so good-looking, hadn't "snapped him up long ago." Fiorella thought it might have something to do with him hearing voices from mailboxes.

Back to the story, Nephew was physically restrained before he could knife his mother, who has since died of natural causes. So now Nephew roams free across Austin, still unmedicated, still hearing voices from mailboxes.

If Aunt Fio had her way, she would have medicated him long ago, forcibly if necessary. He has no good judgment. He is a danger to himself and others. He is a wasted life. He needs help. He needs someone else to make his medication decisions for him.

Friday, August 15, 2008

To Ludd or Not to Ludd

What a fake I am. I have always considered myself to be, as Husband calls me, a closet Luddite, and it is true that I don't know much about operating a vacuum cleaner.

However, I do write a blog, I use a cell phone, and I am addicted to e-mail. Not only that, but I've known all along how our home alarm system works, which Husband didn't know until recently, and I know how to fill out lottery tickets and work the lottery machine, a process which scares Husband to death.

Maybe I'm a selective Luddite. After all, why should I be interested in a vacuum cleaner?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Nursing Home Visit

I visit my father today because it is Thursday.
I identify myself. He smiles once, then goes back to sleep.
I wipe up the saliva that drips from his mouth.
I scrub the dried food off the arms of his wheel chair.
I lay my hand on his and sit silently with him, praying.
I tell him in his good ear that I will return on Sunday.
I wash my hands with soap to prevent catching old age.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Marion's Blizzard

My friend Marion send a touching e-mail about the death of her dog, Blizzard, and I cried, then looked over anxiously at my own dog, Wendy the Weimer. Big dogs don't last long, and Wendy Dog is seven already.

People bond with animals easily, especially dogs. Dogs are so loyal. A former student once told me that people would dump their pets near her rural home and the poor animals would stay in the drop-off area for weeks, growing thinner and thinner, awaiting their masters' return.

And dogs are so forgiving; like battered children, abused canines will still cling to their cruel masters. And dogs are loving; they want to be with people, to cuddle up against them in good times and bad. And dogs want to please; nothing seems to make Wendy happier than successfully interpreting a command to roll over, to sit, to go to her bed.

Marion said not to mourn, that Blizzard's passing was peaceful and she is now in heaven. I can only add that, even if there isn't a heaven for people, there must be one for dogs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fio Confesses

Why does Fio write everyday?
Because Fiorella has lots to say.
Creative and imaginative--
Compulsively communicative.

Sometimes it's swell,
Sometimes it's hell.

You mothers out there, wherever ye be,
Don't let your babies grow up like me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What I Learned in San Francisco

1) Romance writers come in all sizes, shapes, ages and colors. I don't have to hire my beautiful daughter to pretend to be me after all.

2) Colleen Thompson and Terry McLaughlin are wonderful people--kind, helpful, and encouraging to newbies.

3) There is no one right way to pitch, but enthusiasm and charm help.

4) Jim McCarthy and Chris Keeslar, the two young, handsome men with whom I had ten-minute assignations, are very nice. In fact, from what I hear, all the agents and editors were nice--but I scored the two hotties.

5) The five elements are fire, earth, air, water, and Jade Lee.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Ratty Gora Strikes Again

Several years ago, Husband and I loaded up the kids and took off for two weeks in Great Britain. Before we left, we dutifully perused travel lit and made reservations for a place called Rava Gora, a moderately-priced small hotel which was well-rated by a travel expert.

Alas, the Rava Gora, hereinafter referred to as the Ratty Gora, was not up to our American expectations. We had five single beds in one room, a bathroom down the hall, and no screens on our windows, through which flocks of flies circulated after sating themselves on the garbage cans directly below. The bedspreads were not just--well--ratty, but a couple had stains on them that looked suspiciously liked blood. The door lock was a hook and eye dealie, like on Grandma's screen door. I sat up all night as my family slept, alert to any intruders who might try to slit American throats in the dark.

The next morning we moved to the Kensington Hilton. So much for local color.

As you know, husband and I traveled to San Francisco at the end of July so I could attend the RWA conference. Back in May, we had prepared for the trip by making reservations at a small "boutique" hotel called The Cartwright, which, by July, had changed its name to The Larkspur. We received confirmation on May 17 and again just a few days before the date appointed for us to arrive in Frisco.

The flight had been long, and we were tired. The hour was late. But there was no room at the inn. The Larkspur had sold our room out from under us, apparently to the two men in line in front of us who announced they "weren't queers," but would take the deluxe room with the kingsize bed. Husband and I got shuttled off to what was supposedly the only room left in the hotel, a room someone had died in, if one judged by the smell. It was awful--small, crowded with rickety furniture painted mud brown. The two single beds had some sort of plastic lining in the sheets and pillow cases. The woodwork sported heavy layers of white paint over decades of grime. The recent renovations meant gaps between the mismatched bathroom tile filled by great gobs of unsmoothed spackling. The sink was propped up underneath by an unpainted board. The door didn't quite fit its jamb and light gapped on both sides and the bottom. Yes, it was the American Ratty Gora.

We moved into the JW Marriott the next day.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Fiorella Ponders A Medical Career

Fiorella has been thinking--always a dangerous enterprise--that maybe instead of becoming a scholar, she should have become a physician. And maybe it isn't too late. She could go into pathology. After all, having watched a lot of television's Dr. G, she knows how to make the Y-cut, and she already owns a pair of hedge clippers. Also, when Fio was in college, she had no problem cutting open a fetal pig, then skipping back to her dorm to eat a hearty supper. To her, dead things were just--well--dead.

Or maybe she could go for plastic surgery, which also has been all over television--recently re-edited to omit Dr. Jan Adams of the commanding presence, mellifluous voice, and bad publicity. One thing I can tell you, though: Fiorella would never do a breast augmentation! Fio is sick and tired of anorexic bleached blondes who get D-cup inserts and end up looking like sticks with a pair of melons attached to their chests. She is afraid a good wind will overbalance them and they'll land on their frontal cushions and deflate them.

No, Fio would like to do good, like separating conjoined twins, removing 180 lb. tumors, repairing broken faces, diagnosing rare illnesses, and saving the world.

Alas, Fio chose to be a scholar and a writer. But maybe she can make you laugh, and laughter also can save the world.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Early Bird Specials

Do you ever think of dinosaurs when:

1) You hear a canary sing or a parrot talk?

2) You watch rival hummingbirds duke it out over the sugar water feeder?

3) You scramble eggs for breakfast, or dye them for Easter?

4) You pick up supper at Col. Sander's drive-thru?

5) You fill up your tank with gas?

And do you ever wonder what the future of homo sapiens will be?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Race

I stumble, I falter, I fall

Before the race is done;

My heart, my joy, my life is in

The glory of the run.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Trail of Blood (2)

Jeremy opened his door and looked at Tally. “You stay here. I’m gonna check the car.” He carefully moved his legs and stood up by the car, then fell to his knees in the slippery mud. Hauling himself up on the door handle, he coughed again, and braced himself against the cold, wet metal. “Jeez, Tally, I think I’ve done something to my ribs.”

On the roadway above, another vehicle screeched to a stop. Tally tensed. It was the battered black pickup that had chased them all the way from Phillipsburg. Highlighted by the heavy quarter moon, three men stumbled from the cab, followed by a clatter of empty beer cans. The driver was big, not tall but muscular, with a rolling gut that stretched his T-shirt to the limit. He was followed by a second man, small, skinny, bearded. Then moonlight caught the shaved head of a third man as he came around from the passenger side.

Their combined anger hit Tally like an invisible wave. She had become extra-sensitive to people’s emotions lately, which she didn’t especially like. It was like having a hive of buzzing bees in her brain.

"Hey, boy! Not so smart now, are you, boy?" the driver taunted, grinning down at Jeremy from the roadside above. “Wanna shoot me the finger again?”

Tally was inside Jeremy’s brain now as he swallowed hard and decided to stand his ground. Not his choice of saviors, he was thinking, but surely they would realize that the game was over now. He supported himself with his left hand on the car door, squared his Polo-clad shoulders, and stood as straight as his aching ribs would allow.

"Look, man, I've had an accident! I'm sorry I flipped you off back there, but we need help! It's a long way to town!" Then he paused and enunciated carefully in his most reasonable senior-class-president tones: "I’m Jeremy Marek."

Those three magic words had tamed a lot of bears in Jeremy's life, Tally knew, but not these three. Their anger was at the point of rage, and Jeremy was the target for the night.

And the story goes on--

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Trail of Blood

Eileen Nicholas is our guest blogger, and she is contributing the first few pages of her vampire detective novel, Trail of Blood.

The speeding Camaro lost it on the rain-slick blacktop. They were going to crash, Tally realized--no time to brace herself or even scream.

Bam! The car ricocheted off the wall of blasted rock toward the right side of the road, and Tally’s head whipped backwards, then forwards into the windshield. Jeremy twisted desperately at the wheel, but the car had a mind of its own, plunging toward the soggy bottom of the wide ditch to the left. Thorn bushes and pine saplings snagged at the muscle car’s undercarriage and whipped its windows.

Tally’s head snapped backwards again as they continued halfway up the other side of the embankment. Finally the car reached the end of its momentum and stopped, rolling slowly back to nestle itself at the bottom of the incline.

Waaaalk like an Egyptiaaaan-- The stereo was still on, and the mis-angled headlights cut odd, jagged shadows through the tree branches. Wiper blades beat like drumsticks on the crazed windshield three inches in front of Tally’s face. She breathed deeply and looked across at her boyfriend. "You okay?”

"Yeah, I think so.” He coughed a couple of times, turned off the ignition, and experimented carefully with moving his head from side to side. “You?"

“I’m cool.” Tally hurt all over, but she wasn’t bleeding anywhere she could see. Crossing herself—up, down, right, left--she murmured thanks to Blessed Jesus and the Ever-Virgin Mary. This must be her lucky day, she thought, although all her days seemed to have been lucky lately, ever since she had been in the hospital last year.

She closed her eyes for a long second and felt her body restoring itself. Her mind was clear now, and her headache was going-going-gone. Looking out the window, she realized the rain had let up completely, a small blessing now that she and Jeremy were going to have to hike all the way back to Minetown in the dark. She hoped it wouldn’t take too long. She had to get home quickly because she was suddenly more hungry than ever, and the only thing she seemed to be able to keep down these days was Grandma’s oxblood soup.

Thinner, thinner, blood for dinner.

(Continued tomorrow)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Plastic Dreams

I want to win the lottery
Which I would use responsibly:
Donate to church and charity;
Help out the friends and family;
And buy myself, quite honestly,
Selective plastic surgery.

I know just where it would begin:
Lift the forehead, then the chin--
Erase the bags beneath the eyes,
Lipo out the bulging thighs;
Buy myself a nice lap-band,
And dermabrasion with fine sand.

That's all I need, my dears, you see,
To be myself, quite naturally.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Once Upon A Time (5)

“Oh well. I guess I’ll have to go barefoot,” Cindy said, holding the remaining sandal by its strap. “If anyone locates the stupid thing, just give it to my brother and he’ll send it to me.”

The sliding glass door opened and two teenagers whirlwinds burst into the yard. “Aunt Cindy!”

She turned to Jack. “It’s been nice meeting you, Jack. I wish—“

“Aunt Cindy, look at the favor I got, a real live goldfish!”

The two girls danced around her, crowding out Jack. He backed off a little and watched her examine the girls’ treasures, then herd them gently but firmly toward the hedge. She waved him a quick good-bye just as she disappeared into the ligustrum.

Jack stood there for a few minutes, then walked slowly to the patio and sat down again, feeling very lonely.

Bozo lumbered back across the yard with something sparkly in his mouth, dropped his treasure at Jack’s feet, and looked up at him expectantly.

“Good dog,” Jack said, picking up Cindy’s missing sandal. “In fact, a better dog than you know.”

He cradled the sparkly flip flop in his hands and smiled. He was no Prince Charming, but Cinderella hadn’t seen the last of him.

The End

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Once Upon A Time (4)

“It must have been hard for you.”

Jack shrugged. “It was a lot easier than staying together.”

Cindy looked into the darkness as if into the past. “I’m a widow, no children. My husband was killed by a drunk driver three years ago. Jeff was a highway patrolman.”

“That’s tough.”

“Life is tough.”

She was easy to talk to, Jack thought. He’s like to get to know her better. It was a shame she was leaving tomorrow, when he’d just met her.

There was a sudden commotion in the house, and Jack knew the party was over. Bozo awoke with a sneezing snort, nosed around a little, and trotted off into the far corner of the yard.

Cindy reached down for her sandals. “I guess I’d better go get the girls.”

Jack nodded, still under the spell of the darkness. How could he make time stand still?

“Do you see my other flip flop anywhere?” Cindy knelt in front of the chaise lounge and felt around in the grass.

Jack went down on his haunches beside her but couldn’t see anything. He stood up and moved the lounger, but the sparkly sandal was nowhere in sight.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Once Upon A Time (3)

Jack sat down on a metal chair while Cindy chose the chaise lounge. The big dog immediately ambled over to her.

“Bozo, you’re such a love bunny!” She cooed, bending down to massage the dog’s ears.

“I see you’re well acquainted with the local wildlife.”

“Bozo and I have been great friends this week.” The dog shivered in ecstasy and moved in closer to Cindy. “I’ll miss him.”

“When are you leaving?”

“Early tomorrow morning. My brother and his wife will be back in town late tonight.”

“Oh. I assumed you were a local girl.”

“No, I’ve just taken a week off to help the family.” She kicked off her sparkly flip flops and tucked her legs to the side, half-reclining on the chaise. With a deep sigh, Bozo settled down under the lounger and closed his eyes.

“Did you really have problems with crashers?” she asked.

“Just two boys trying to come in the back, near the gate.”

“Highs school kids?”

“A couple of years younger, more like my son’s age. More a nuisance than anything else. It’s the sort of thing my boy would do too except that, as a cousin, he was invited.”

“Do you have other children?”

“No.” Jack paused. The darkness created an intimacy that allowed him say more than he normally would have. “His mother—his mother and I split up right after he was born. I have complete custody.”