Ritchie&Phyl (A Celebration of Life) Chapter 2 – Flowers

Persistence is a virtue. Unless it’s stalking.

[[just so you’ll know, I’m not satisfied with this yet and am open to suggestions for improvement. Thanks.]]

Phyl returned to Station House 4 after two weeks on a Bahama beach with nothing but the occasional “Another pink drink, José” to disturb her. One night, okay, she invited that Adonis-tall, blue-eyed, curly haired, broad-chested José to her bungalow but other than that, nothing but peace, tranquility, the gentle lapping of waves and as many Nora Roberts books as she could fit on her Kindle.

It was glorious.

She had not missed The Bunker, which was what everyone on the job called Station House 4. She had not missed the high, reinforced warehouse walls, windowless until the third story, the security, the claustrophobic interior that sorely needed remodeling or at least some paint and new floors, she had not missed her squad car with no interior door handles in back and the close-meshed, heavy-gauge steel caging separating her from whatever perps she’d apprehended or the multitude of now necessary electronics that surveilled her as much if not more than anyone she was questioning.

She stood outside the Officers’ Entrance and hesitated. Her silver ID bracelet weighed her left arm down like a bucket of cement. The entrance’s surveillance camera clicked her presence. Whoever was on desk would recognize her but if she didn’t open the door within fifteen seconds all the auxillairy doors would open and the Host of Heaven would come out, weapons raised and going for bear.

Standard procedure. An officer might be compromised and not willing to admit the bad guys such sacred entrance.

A heavy sigh. Two weeks was not enough. Except she missed Hecate, her gray haired Abysinna-something kitty. Phyl heard a faint mewing from a dumpster one day on patrol, checked and found a freezing ball of fur, eyes not yet open, curled on a soiled pizza box.

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Dancers in the Eye of Chronos

Is there a love so strong it outlives the gods?

Dancers in the Eye of Chronos originally appeared as the “Free Worlds” cover story in August 1994. It’s also the lead story in my Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires anthology and Susan‘s favorite.

Below is the latest version of Dancers (also available on Kindle).

Hope you like and let me know what you think.

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It’s a Man’s World

No man wants to be another’s pet, and love can’t free a slave

 
“Where are you going?”

Susan’s face softened but she looked away.

All the women in the neighborhood were dressed in what we use to all “Easter Sunday” clothes; light dresses, bright, Spring colors of sky blues and yellows and whites, some with flower prints with big roses or tulips or daffodils or morning glories or black-eyed susans and all with long, lush green vines wrapping around them. All of them wearing wide-brimmed sun hats, many with scarves tying their hats around their chins. A few wore sunglasses. All had nice big purses, lots of different colors but most of them white, white cloth gloves covering their hands and all of them in either tasteful heels or flats. Nobody was wearing stilettos or CFMs of any kind.

And they gathered in front of my house.

It started with AnElla. I was walking the dog and she came out of her house in her Easter Sunday finest. I waved and she ignored me, walked back into her house then and came out with all her daughters, her granddaughters, her sisters, even her ailing mother-in-law. They were all standing nice and neat and trim and proper in front of her house.

A few minutes later all the other women in the neighborhood came out of their homes and stood in front of their houses. Mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, they looked around, waved at each other, a few looked at the sky – not a cloud to be seen, by the way. Clear sky, bright sun. Clearest I’d seen it in years, really – and one by one then two by two they moseyed over to my house.

Susan came out dressed like all the rest. Sunday is her day to sleep in. I didn’t even know she had those kinds of clothes anymore.

A bus pulled up. An open air bus, a kind of parade or tourist bus with a roof but no windows. The paintjob matched the women’s dresses; blues and yellows and whites and flowers everywhere. No city markings whatsoever.

Women gathered around the bus. Some got in. Susan stood in line with them.

“Where are you going?”

“Don’t worry. It’s okay. You’ll be fine.”

You’ll be fine?

Here’s the thing about Susan: she can’t lie. She never could. Not to me, anyway.

 
“No, come on. Where are you going?”

Tears welled up in her eyes. She looked away. “It’s okay, Paul. I’ll be back soon.”

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Search – Friday, 28 September 73

A triple murder in 1973 Maine starts a search for evil that ends with a discovery of one’s destiny

 
I mentioned being asked to write some kind of murder mystery/detective/profiler and that I’d been doing just that. The work-in-progress, Search, is fact-based. Here’s the first chapter. Let me know what you think.


Grandfather Wolfe sat in the upper right corner of the auditorium listening to his nephew, Isaac Many Deer, talking to the cenhepé about things they could never understand. He’d come in late and planned on sleeping anyway so he didn’t take off his black AIM jacket or cowboy hat except to wave it at Isaac as he sat down.

He stretched out, legs crossed in front of him, the rough feel of freshly washed Wranglers scratching a little, his fingers gently intertwined and his hands resting across his stomach, his thumbs tapping his red on gray flannel shirt, wondering why college auditorium seats were so unaccommodating to old bones.

He didn’t hear the preacher’s question and half heard Isaac’s answer, “What kind of test did you have in mind?”

Wolfe smiled. That’s it, nephew. Piss them off early and often.

It seemed the preacher mumbled while Isaac spoke plainly, clearly. Perhaps he was more familiar with his nephew’s voice.

Wolfe’s nose twitched. Isaac looked over. “I’m familiar with the Old Testament’s test of a true prophet, yes.”

His nose twitched again.

Wolfe nodded at his nephew. His thumbs drummed a Nowiy’o Pe, a war song, on his shirt. The hairs bristled on the back of his neck. Isaac returned his nod; he felt it, too.

Somebody in the auditorium was hunting.

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Grafton’s Ghost-Child

Even unto the Seventh Generation

 
Grafton turned the knob on his daughter Cloe’s bedroom door so slowly, thankful for the patience that came so naturally to him. The doorknob would sometimes crick and he didn’t want to wake her, just peek in to watch her sleep, make sure she was snug under the covers. Sometimes Amanda would open the window in their daughter’s room to let the night air in and Cloe would curl up into a tight little ball, just her nose exposed and forming a little steam tent.

She was adorable.

His hand turned past the crick, he opened the door slowly. Sure enough, a few icy snowcrystals blew in as he entered and Cloe was beginning her curl into a ball. Like her father, she was patient. It would take about ten minutes before she was done, never waking once. Grafton had watched her do it.

As he entered, Cloe’s Merchant-Ghost looked up. It was sitting in a recliner beside the nightstand next to his daughter’s bed. It was reading a book – Grafton could see it in his hands. It had to be as ancient as the merchant ghost itself – it’s eyes emitting that odd red-yellow light to illuminate the pages. The Merchant-Ghost nodded, its tree-like body and bark-like skin folding as it moved, then went back to its reading.

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