Do the work and Don’t Forget to Breathe!

I haven’t been active on WordPress for a while.  After I published my book back in April (#ahavenamdistperdition), the ball, as they say, has been slowly rolling.  I often find myself briefly tangled in a small conundrum.  The book is written, the book is published and now…. Ahhh, I can breathe and just create more fiction.

If only it were that simple.  It isn’t.  The truth is, no matter how tempting one’s laurels are or how comfortable resting on them may be, none of us can afford to do so.

Being a self-published author means that I am the writer, editor, publisher, agent, fundraiser, event planner, etc, etc, etc….  (Did anyone catch the reference to “The King and I???”, anyway, I digress).  At one point, I thought that the entire process of writing was ‘doing the work’, but for me, the work comes after the story is written.

And I have not been visiting my WordPress site, because I have been trying to ‘do the work’ on other fronts; not only by putting my work out there, but by putting me, my face, out there, too.

I had my first book reading back in September, and it was a wonderful experience.  It is gratifying to get feedback from those outside of your immediate life circle.

So, in the spirit of ‘doing the work’, I am going to spend a little more time on WordPress.  I’m hoping to post at least once a week.  I think on some level I got a little discouraged; not knowing exactly how to proceed; but I’ve got it figured out now.  Just keep ‘doing the work’ and figuring out other ways to ‘do the work’ and I can’t go wrong.

By now, you might be thinking, “What the hell does she mean… ‘doing the work’?”  Well, nothing good is going to happen by doing nothing.  One had to research the best way to accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish, for me, it is marketing my novel and writings.  Then you have to vet that research and discern what is best for you.  Sometimes tips will work, sometimes they won’t.  Then you have to try out what you’ve narrowed down and see what happens.  If it works, great, it not; try again.  Take another avenue.  And if it does work… try again and still try another avenue.  And remember to breathe.  Don’t get bogged down and in layers of minutia.  If you feel the waters getting murky, step back and breathe until you can resume your course.  I think that is what I had to do by taking an extended time away from WordPress; I was taking a breather.

The succinct message that I want you all to gleam from this rambling is that I am back on WordPress.  I am ‘doing the work’ and last, but not least, don’t forget to breathe.

Hmmm… breathe.   I think I’ve mentioned that one before!

 

https://www.amazon.com/Haven-Amidst-Perdition-Sidra-Owens/dp/147878668X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494604537&sr=8-1&keywords=a+haven+amidst+perdition

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-haven-amidst-perdition-sidra-owens/1126303853?ean=9781478786689

https://outskirtspress.com/sidraowens

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-haven-amidst-perdition

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sidra_Owens_A_Haven_Amidst_Perdition?id=ATk1DwAAQBAJ

Check out my blog and website at: https://sidraowens.wordpress.com

As well as my youtube channel: The Wicked Orchard –https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGP5RkKX2lVw9ggeO-r0MAA/videos

and some of my commentaries on Comparative Reasoning

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The Month of Eclipse-ia

The solar eclipse took place on August 21st of this year, and as far as that cosmic event was concerned; it was both eventful and uneventful.  I was able to view a total eclipse from the only vantage point available, since I was in Chapel Hill.  Handfuls of people stood outside my work building, looking up at the sun, viewing the eclipse, with some good hearted people sharing their eclipse glasses with those who didn’t have any.  A coworker of mine warned, as she departed for the day, that we should all look out for everyone else on the road, on the drive home.  Everyone is crazy, but the eclipse has made folks a special kind of crazy.

Depositing this in the back of my mind, I ended my shift and drove home.  Despite the fact that I was tired with no desire to go back out into traffic, there were still errands to run; the inevitable trip to walmart that we all take at least twice a week, so that we can all have our time and our cash sucked into oblivion.  Walmart disdain aside, we travelled our normal route, my family and I to get there, and while sitting at a dead stop, at a red light, waiting to turn left; a car on the far side of the wide and extremely busy intersection, ran the light at a moderate speed.  It was funny, for lack of a better term, because I saw the car coming.  I saw it veer, as though it were intentionally aiming right for us.  I just knew that the vehicle would realize its egregious error and correct itself, but it didn’t.  The car hit us at no more than 20 miles per hour, maybe even less.  We were fortunately, uninjured; shaken up, angry, scared, but alive and well.  The vehicle was still functional at that moment, not even aware that it was nearing its end.  As my hands began to shake, and the dismay at the incident took root immediately afterward; I had to watch, seemingly in slow motion, as the other car backed up, veered around us and sped off down the road.  I would’ve felt better if they had paused to give us the finger, but no, we got none of that.  No care, no assistance, no admittance, no apology, nothing.  We had two very polite and helpful witnesses, but no license plate.  We had a description of the vehicle, but the police didn’t arrive for another hour.  The brakes just barely brought the vehicle to a stop, as we moved it off of the road, all of the coolant leaked out, along with many other vital fluids.

In NC, if no one gets the plate in a hit and run, and no one is injured, then you have to eat it.  And that is what we did.  We had to eat it.  We had to eat the fact that even though, we could very well be getting spied on through our webcams by the NSA, there were no cameras at the intersection where the accident occurred.  We had to eat the fact that a tow that would normally cost 40 or 50 bucks, cost 165 since the police called for the tow.  We had to eat 35 a day storage fee, we had to eat a 70 dollar tow back to our home.  We had to eat the fact that paying for all this was eating into our food money.  Now how ironic is that.

Then there has to be the search for another car; having to most likely, acquire another bill.  Having to deal with loan applications and credit scores, and institutions telling you that your situation may be dire, but we cannot help you to keep it from getting worse.  Having to inconvenience others…  That may be the most unsettling part.

On the flip side of that, this entire ordeal has reacquainted me with my good fortune.  I am a believer in astrological signs, and I have read many times over the years, that Sagittarius’ are lucky.  In all of my immaturity, I would always think to myself, “Luck?  What the hell are they talking about?  I haven’t won the lottery or nothing like that.”  But in the past two years, I have looked back on my life and realized many instances where I was very fortunate.  Lucky.  Thankful that things had gone safely one way and not dangerously another.  My fortune allowed me to continue to get to work every day, without concern or having to explain to the supervisor my “situation.”  I was able to get food and supplies for my family whenever I needed it and not made to feel as though I was a burden.  I was even given access to another vehicle for a very short time, and in driving it, my luck rained upon me again, when a dry rotted tire blew only a minute from home, after I just turned off of the highway, allowing me to safely navigate the monstrous V-8 home without harm or incident.

This month my partner finally began to see the monetary benefits of all of his hard work, putting himself out there despite fears and doubts.  People signed up to come to my first book reading at far greater numbers than I had anticipated, google contacted me and now my novel is up on google play books and I got a couple a more sales to boot.

But on the other hand, my sciatica acted up so bad that standing still was excruciating, and I ate something, drank something or inhaled something that made my top lip swell with an allergic reaction.  So for a week I scratched the inside of it with my teeth, while slathering it with vaseline until it thankfully began to rebound.  And on top of that, our daughter caught a cold that she bounced back from in three days, while her father and I linger, with he even sicker than myself, but luckily my voice has cleared just in time for Saturday’s reading.

I found a car.  A car I wanted.  Not just something to get around.  It had a price decent enough, but still, another bill.  My propensity toward luckiness allowed me to be able to get this vehicle, even though I would need assistance; with the assistance seeming to be gladly offered; for future repercussions, we must stay tuned.

And despite a more than generous donation so that I would have books for my event, and despite ordering them in what I thought was a timely fashion, the books have not arrived.  Hell, that haven’t even shipped yet.  Messages went unreturned, chats unanswered, except to say your ticket has been resolved, we will email you with your order status, only to never do so.  I did finally speak to a person but she could not answer the questions of whether my books had been printed.  And even after two failed transfers, at least eight consecutive phone calls and two desperate messages, I am no closer to knowing their status.

Suffice it to say, it has been a more than interesting month.  The hills and valleys have been momentous, and the Sidra of ten years ago would have shed many a tear by now, but… tears don’t move you forward, especially when living means that life happens.  And I’m certainly not giving up on that.  Some things you have to get through, and smile as much as you can during while learning simultaneously.  I was stressed about the books last night, but that has passed.  We found more clues to the ailments that plague my partner, bittersweet, but answers are answers; and our daughter got into the run club that she’s wanted to get into for a year.  I promised she would.  Mission accomplished, thanks very much to my fortune.  I am fortunate and it cannot be measured in dollar signs.  All in all, I can say that this month has been unique, and I can’t label much more than that, because it just wouldn’t be descriptive enough.

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

-And don’t forget to check out Comparative Reasoning here on wordpress for written commentary on a whole hosts of topics.

-If you’d rather listen than read, definitely check out Comparative Reasoning on youtube, where you’ll hear of earful of social, economic and political commentary.

My Debut Novel is also available for purchase:

 

The Way It Is, The Way It Should Be

Occasionally, when you read my blog posts and definitely, if you listen to discussions between Sedrik Cannady and myself on Comparative Reasoning, you hear many of the same themes repeated, over and over. Some might call it repetitious rhetoric or perfunctory propaganda, democratic and republican corporatists mainly, but it’s none of that. It’s all the truth. The country would be better, the world would be better, if the people would simply be better. The thought that improving the circumstances for the many will improve them for the few seems to be speedily getting lost. It’s as if, universally, selfish assholes are on running some unseen race and the first to destroy society globally wins. Maybe they think they’ll be rewarded in heaven… Shit, no matter what you believe whether it’s pearly gates opening for you, nirvana, re-incarnation or nothing at all, ill deeds will never reap positive rewards.
 
That’s particularly why I like writing fiction. Because the necessary justice required to make all the crookeds straight, is at my fingertips. My domain, the facebook page, my youtube page and the landscape that is my imagination, is not a realm of questionable ambiguity, of forced morals or rhetorical conversations about how to solve problems that no one really wants to solve.
 
In the wicked orchard, wrongs are punished, swiftly. And the haves may get over on the have nots, but they will not do it for long. And… judgement does not come via conversations, discussions, debates, elections or back room deals. Resolutions in the wicked orchard are far more direct, far more finite and always satisfying.
 
Take a listen to Comparative Reasoning (on Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCe3xsp_I7DwrTP-MoBJaa9w/videos) to get a view of how things are; all the unfortunate truthes that assault us everyday.
 
And then, take a listen to The Wicked Orchard (on Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGP5RkKX2lVw9ggeO-r0MAA/videos) to get a dose of how it should be.

Got Empathy???

Empathy.

Do you have it? Do you know what it is? I’m willing to wager that maybe 80% of the American populous don’t know or care to know for that matter.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share feelings. It’s the ability to step outside yourself and understand what some else I’d going through.

Humans are not born with empathy. We are naturally born selfish; it relates back to instinctual self-preservation. If you want to survive, you have to think of self. But in a society where interaction with others is needed, empathy is needed as well. So it must be taught by parents, grandparents, teachers and eventually peers.
Unfortunately, our society, in this country, is not centered around aiding or understanding our fellow man. We are all suffering under the thumb of the corporate controlled Congress; who would have us all believe that the minorities, the immigrants and the terrorists are to blame for your lot in life. Meanwhile, they subjugate us with their morals, turning us into cogs in the machine rather than citizens.
The key to this country is simple. Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. The Golden rule. Empathy. It’s so simple. But it will take the further crumbling of our republic into eventual revolt and bloodshed, before empathy will re-root itself in our society.

How many of us will have to flee our home for unknown refuges, like so many others all around the world? A dark scenario, I know, but highly probable when you examine the road we are travelling.

So…

Got empathy???

My First Review!

I know to some this may be a small milestone, but for me, this is another step in a long journey and dream that is slowly coming true.

I have spoken to the person, who left the review, and the thing that is more gratifying than a sale, is the fact that they really enjoyed my novel. They loved the characters and went along for the ride that I created.

 

#ahavenamidstperdition
#thewickedorchard
#newnovel
#newauthor
#africanamericanauthor
#selfpublished
#writers
#fiction
#stories
#literaryfiction
#womensfiction

Updates

Necessity is the mother of invention.

That is an understatement.

When I realized that I could write letters, send queries, beg and plead to literary agents and publishers alike, to read my work, or I could self-publish and spend that energy promoting my already published work, I underestimated the number of roadblocks that I would be encountering.

They are numerous.  The time where people were eager to take a chance on an unknown are fading if not gone.  Personally, you’d think an independent bookstore; a bookstore who is fighting the good fight against franchised mega-conglomerates, would be the first to throw their hat into the ring and give a self-published author a shot.  But much to my dismay, most are not.  Not all but most.

So, it is my job to not only be, author, editor, and self-publisher; I must also put on the hat of event planner.

I am planning a book reading, with music and a book signing at the end.  I am excited and will be updating progressively, as it nears.

I am also open to suggestions.  I know that there are a lot of writers, poets and storytellers out there, and if any of you have any ideas or suggestions regarding self-promotion, I would deeply appreciate it.

I have also published my new novel on Kobo.  Now it is available for purchase on Kobo as well for you avid e-readers.  I’ll be placing that link along with the others links for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Outskirts Press.

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https://www.amazon.com/Haven-Amidst-Perdition-Sidra-Owens/dp/147878668X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494604537&sr=8-1&keywords=a+haven+amidst+perdition

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-haven-amidst-perdition-sidra-owens/1126303853?ean=9781478786689

https://outskirtspress.com/sidraowens

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-haven-amidst-perdition

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

-And don’t forget to check out Comparative Reasoning here on wordpress for written commentary on a whole hosts of topics.

-If you’d rather listen than read, definitely check out Comparative Reasoning on youtube, where you’ll hear of earful of social, economic and political commentary.

Life Lived Well

-It is not our differences that xenophobes fear, but our similarities, which truly gives them pause.

S. Owens

There are a lot of people suffering around the world, because of xenophobia. We all know that this heading breaks down into racism, sexism, homophobia and let us not forget; my religion is better than you religion. But usually the driving force behind these bigoted points of view are elitism. The thought that I’m better than you just because. I think all of this is born of man ingrained fear of death, and the fear of what comes after, that drives the few to step on the neck of the many. All in pursuit of the key to their mortality. Regardless of when we die, and regardless of what uncertainties lie there after, if we can express love and care for one another, then it will always be a life well lived.

Happy Father’s Day Everyone!

On Mother’s Day, I promised I would do a post for Father’s Day.  I try hard to keep my promises.

Parenting is hard.  Any parent knows this.  Any child who grows up to one day be a parent, realizes this.  Mothers and fathers share hardships, but they also have hardship unique to their stations, in life, as a mother or a father.

Fatherhood is hard.  Fatherhood is hard, because inherently, especially in the US, being male can be hard.  The expectations placed on males to be a “man” in this society can work against what it takes to be a good father.

Parenting in general requires the right balance of sternness and gentility, and I can tell you from experience that that is a hard tight rope to cross.  But the “stigma” of being a man in America says you should be hard, tough, take no one’s shit, and let nothing get to you, ever.  I know that many are working to change this, but that sentiment is sadly woven into the fabric of this country.

To me, it seems hard to be a loving, nurturing father and be a hard as nails “man” at the same time.  This stigma of what a man should be relates directly to how boys are treated, as they are raised.  Girls are treated delicately, little princesses to be catered to, but boys, they are supposed to take a licking and keep on ticking, no matter what.  No matter what the licking is; whether, emotional, social, physical, mental.  Damn man, that’s too much to ask of anyone.  Men are not supposed to be vulnerable; they’re not supposed to feel pain, it’s viewed as weakness, softness, feminine.  All that is bullshit.

I hope to have a son one day, so that my mate and I can raise him differently.  So that he can decide what kind of man he will be, and thus, what kind of father he will be, if he ever decides to be one.

My time with my own father was brief.  My parents divorced when I was young and he died not too many years later.  My memories are few; many good, most not so good.  If he had not had to deal with the struggles of being a “man”, as defined by society, maybe things would have been different.

Fathers’ are humans, just like mothers.  But they do not get heavily doted on, or get the cute crafts for father’s day.  And deep down, in their heart of hearts, most fathers’ would absolutely love them.  I know my mate does.

Fatherhood is hard.  It requires a firm hand and a soft touch.  Unfortunately, many boys who become men, fully receive the firm hand but never the soft touch and therefore, they never master it.  I ask that for all those who read this, for all those who are able to reach out and embrace their own fathers, give them that soft touch and I believe that you will receive it in return.

Happy Father’s Day everyone.

 

A Haven Amidst Perdition – New Novel

In the 1940s, tv was not a common thing, especially if you were poor and black in the deep South. When you could no longer go to school, your options are limited. Even had to keep house from sun up to sundown. Her only escapes were the few remaining books, teenage curiosity and a little music in her heart.

As circumstances unfold, day time curiosities become after sundown realities; teaching her that the night time is always the right time; and the consequences that follow will lead to life beginning, spirits broken and futures stolen.

My debut novel, “A Haven Amidst Perdition.” Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Outskirts Press.

Available in ebook and paperback.

https://www.amazon.com/Haven-Amidst-Perdition-Sidra-Owens/dp/147878668X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494604537&sr=8-1&keywords=a+haven+amidst+perdition

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-haven-amidst-perdition-sidra-owens/1126303853?ean=9781478786689

https://outskirtspress.com/sidraowens

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

First chapter as read by myself available on YouTube: keyword search – A Haven Amidst Perdition

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

-And don’t forget to check out Comparative Reasoning here on wordpress for written commentary on a whole hosts of topics.

-If you’d rather listen than read, definitely check out Comparative Reasoning on youtube, where you’ll hear of earful of social, economic and political commentary.

 

 

#ahavenamidstperdition
#thewickedorchard
#sidraowens
#comparativereasoning
#thenighttimeistherighttime

Invisible Shades of Brown

Before I begin, I want to preface this by saying that I am speaking from my own point of view and my own observations.  There will be many who agree with what I point out, and some that will not.  But that is how conversations work. Opposing ideas provide an opportunity for growth.  If we all agreed with each other on everything, then that would most likely mean that we are not individuals, but carbon copies of a very faded original.

Culturally and socially, there have been an assortment of complaints about the lack of African-American imagery in media.  When compared to the vast array of televisions shows and movies produced in the United States on a yearly basis, anyone would be hard pressed to find two handfuls of African-American characters, who are not side notes; who represent an authority figure or who carries the entire program on their shoulders.

Some might say, well, there’s Scandal and a few others that are holding strong, what’s the fuss about?

The fuss is… That it is 2017, and some believe that the banner of equality between the races should be flying much higher than it is.  In truth, the quest for unity, despite, gender, creed or color, seems to be getting lost among the weeds.  We are more divided than we ever have been and the crevice between us is steadily expanding.

At this point, everyone is riddled with distrust, on the border of loathing, and no one is willing to take a risk; not politically, not socially; not culturally; not even for mindless entertainment.

Let me give a tiny speck of my background to express what I mean.  I love to read.  I have loved to read since the fifth grade, when I spent 4.25 on my very own paperback; a Nancy Drew mystery.  From that point forward, I consumed anything that caught my interest and it never mattered who the author was or what they looked like.  I have evolved to the point where I write books, not just read them, and I still read books the same way.  Most authors are going to write from their own point of view, pulling from their own backgrounds and experiences, which is understandable.  But they also have the power to search, research, imagine and conjure up things way beyond their scope and our collective realities.  Unfortunately readers are not always that diverse.  They will read the fantastical as long as the hero and villains are something they have never seen before, or if they look just like them.

That leaves 12.5% of this country in quite the conundrum.  They are open to explore and enjoy anything produced by the majority, but that patronage is not reciprocated.  Even though, African-American authors, artists, and film makers are creating from their own points of view, the sheer fact that they are representing and expressing the many facets of the black experience, means that they will be immediately alienated by the majority, no matter how universal the content may be.

 

For some, they may not be consciously aware of what they are doing; preferring to use personal tastes as a scapegoat.

Example:  Those types of books are just not my cup of tea.

Truth:  They’ve never ever even given “those” types of books a fair chance.

Example:  A bookstore lists in their criteria that any self-published book must be vetted to insure that it is suited towards their clientele.

Truth:  Bookstores are about discovery.  Put the book out there and let your clientele discern was is and is not suited for them.

 

Where does that leave us?  It is difficult enough to be picked up by a traditional publishing house; and then if you choose to bear the burden and publish it yourself, you are derided for it, and if your happen to be in that 12.5%, then you are relatively invisible.   A wealth of creativity bound and cloistered due to unconscious fear of the other.  We are all more alike that anyone realizes; one must take a chance and see what comes of it.

There once was a time that African-American’s could take solace in their local black owned bookstore; to find the gems they otherwise would not discover anywhere else.  But with the expansive horizon of technology and the internet laying ahead of us, brick and mortar businesses like the local black owned bookstore, have become a thing of the past; less than 100 remaining in our fair United States.  Even your non-multinational books store, on the many corners, of many a main street are suffering due to technology, but for some bookstores, this makes them more exclusive rather than more universal.

Sometimes taking a chance on the other is not a bad thing; neither is it wrong, nor a cause for concern; it’s an opportunity for people to pick up a book, view a work of art or sit down to a movie, and realize that there are many lessons to be learned from the experiences of those who are various shades of brown.  Seeing the beauty in our differences will reveal the truths of our sameness.

For those who are like myself and value a good story because of the story, and not the preconceived notion that the characters are just like me; I applaud you and I appreciate your love of the long held tradition of storytelling.  Share it, teach it, pass it forward.

No matter what color I am, or what color my characters are, I write for everyone, and I want all the world to enjoy my stories and feel as deeply for my characters as I do.

 

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

-And don’t forget to check out Comparative Reasoning here on wordpress for written commentary on a whole hosts of topics.

-If you’d rather listen than read, definitely check out Comparative Reasoning on youtube, where you’ll hear of earful of social, economic and political commentary.

 

Please take the opportunity to check out my debut novel, A Haven Amidst Perdition.   It is available at the links below:

https://www.amazon.com/Haven-Amidst-Perdition-Sidra-Owens/dp/147878668X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494604537&sr=8-1&keywords=a+haven+amidst+perdition

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-haven-amidst-perdition-sidra-owens/1126303853?ean=9781478786689

https://outskirtspress.com/sidraowens

Mother’s Day… Re-imagined.

For most of you, and for your parents and your grandparents, mother’s day has always been around.  It’s not a religious holiday or a pagan holiday, and it started out with the best of intentions.  One woman wanted to pay homage to one mother, he own mother, hence the spelling, mother’s day, not mothers day.  But of course, like many things in this country and society, it was bastardized and wrapped in pretty packages, covered in flowers, cards and trips to golden coral.

If you want to know the sad truth behind it, check out this link:

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/happy-mother-day-cruel-history-innocent-holiday-article-1.3160422

But this all leads to a conversation that I have had with my boyfriend many times; when it comes to holidays, there is no rule or law that says we have to celebrate for the reason that it was initiated, or for the reason that it is currently known for.

This may seem silly and naïve to some, but I think you can remake and re-imagine any holiday the way you see fit, as long as it make you happy and doesn’t harm anyone else.

There are greek and roman festivals thought to be in celebration of mothers, like mother’s day; and they have been celebrated for thousands of years.

I guess what I am trying to say is, do not give in to the commercialism, but instead, revel in the spirit of the day.  Yes, it can be a day of thanks, but more than that, it can be a day of quiet reflection.  A time for children of a cognitive age to reflect on the all the times mom made them happy, made them sad, lifted them up, disciplined them, and comforted their broken hearts.  Not all mothers are ideal, and not all mothers are cut out for parenting, but I think optimistically, 90% of mothers do the best they can, especially since we are operating without a net.

The relationship between mother and child, son or daughter, is not an easy one.  It will always be a direct clash between independence and guidance.  Hopefully, on days like this, we children can stop a moment and say, I understand what you’ve been getting at mom, and I know that you tried.

Anyway, I’m rambling.  Of course, I’m a mom and a child, with powerful and intricate dynamics on both sides of the coin; dynamics that I can never explain in words; the emotions are just too numerous and run to deep.

So for all of you, who can hold your mom in your arms, and for all of those, who can only hold her in your memories, Happy Mother’s Day.  May a smile and a tear warm your heart today.

 

PS:  Don’t feel left out daddies.  Believe me, I will give you your due on Father’s Day.  I think that would be fair.

 

 

Introducing “A Haven Amidst Perdition.”

For those of you who follow my blog, first of all, let me say thank you for doing so.  And second of all, you ‘may’ have noticed that I have not been posting as much as I once did.  I have given explanations and occasional update informing you all that I was in the process of publishing my first book.  In comparison to some many other heartfelt ventures, this one has proceeded fairly smoothly.  There were four tedious rounds of editing, even though, I have read and edited this novel countless times, much to my dismay.  And after few, brief internal struggles and some out of pocket expense, my first novel has been published and is available for purchase.

Presenting “A Haven Amidst Perdition.”

A Haven Amidst Perdition

I am so thankful to all those who have supported me through words and deeds (donations).  But more than that, I have encountered so many who appreciate my writing and have been pushing for this, maybe for far longer than I have.  Thanks Sedrik for all of your suggestions, and listening and re-listening to me tell this tale to you, over and over again. (Yes, the repetition of that statement is on purpose.)

For all of you, who have enjoyed reading my prose and my points of view on various topics, I hope that you may find it in your heart (and your wallet) to take the time to indulge in this read, and grow to love the characters as much as I do.

Of course, it is available via Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, as well as Outskirts Press, and these links will be listed below for your convenience.

And once again, thank you to all for your kind words and encouragement!

https://www.amazon.com/Haven-Amidst-Perdition-Sidra-Owens/dp/147878668X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494604537&sr=8-1&keywords=a+haven+amidst+perdition

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-haven-amidst-perdition-sidra-owens/1126303853?ean=9781478786689

https://outskirtspress.com/sidraowens

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

-And don’t forget to check out Comparative Reasoning here on wordpress for written commentary on a whole hosts of topics.

-If you’d rather listen than read, definitely check out Comparative Reasoning on youtube, where you’ll hear of earful of social, economic and political commentary.

 

Breathe

Days pass, one at a time.

Steps are taken, one at a time.

Breaths inhaled, one at a time.

Why must thoughts come in battalions?

Why must we be overrun with the desire for frivolities that drive us to distraction?

Feverish wants consume our days and seep into our nightly dreams.

What joy could be had if a thought were like a breath?

A source of rejuvenation.

Full and complete.  Nourishing.

Revitalizing.

Instead of scooping out an endless cavernous hole of ambitions unfulfilled.

Each thought taken like each breath.

Explored from beginning to end, complete in its entirety.

We can close the gate of cognition;

Allowing the battalion to enter single file;

One day at a time;

One step at a time;

One breath at a time.

 

 

Breathe

Days pass, one at a time.

Steps are taken, one at a time.

Breaths inhaled, one at a time.

Why must thoughts come in battalions?

Why must we be overrun with the desire for frivolities that drive us to distraction?

Feverish wants consume our days and seep into our nightly dreams.

What joy could be had if a thought were like a breath?

A source of rejuvenation.

Full and complete.  Nourishing.

Revitalizing.

Instead of scooping out an endless cavernous hole of ambitions unfulfilled.

Each thought taken like each breath.

Explored from beginning to end, complete in its entirety.

We can close the gate of cognition;

Allowing the battalion to enter single file;

One day at a time;

One step at a time;

One breath at a time.

 

 

We Are All Animals!

We Are All Animals!

Humans, as a whole, like to think that they are one step above every other species on the planet.  Or many more steps than that to be honest.  And that just isn’t true.  We are animals, like frogs, dogs, cats, bats and the millions of other creatures that exist on this planet.

For my first point, all animals in the animal kingdom are prone deception.  I was discussing this point with my mate yesterday.  Our daughter is in the stage of life, where she has figured out that lying may get her out of trouble or it may get her what she wants.  Much to our benefit, she is bad at lying, so it easy to catch her and keep her accountable for her behavior and decisions.  This stage of life is true of all children, and I very much believe that it is up to parents to instill, honesty and accountability, so that there are not a bunch of lying ass adults running around in 10-20 years.

Another example of animal dishonesty is the Cuckoo Bird.  They are brood parasites.  They find another bird’s nest, full of eggs and lays its own egg in it.  So that when the nests owner returns it hatches its own eggs and the cuckoo’s egg.  When the Cuckoo egg hatches, the bird is usually significantly larger and taking up all of the resources from the other baby birds, who are where they are supposed to be.

There are other bird species, where the female will accept a slew of gifts, during mating season, from male birds that she knows she won’t give a shot, too.  But why not get free food from everyone and mate with the only stud bird flying around.

Lions and other predators have to creep, sneakily to ambush, warthogs or gazelles or any other prey animals.

And prey animals will alert other prey animals to the activity of predators, infringing on another common rule of life, which is to mind one’s own business.

The point that I am finally coming around to is that unfortunately dishonesty and deception is just par for the course for us Earthlings, but fighting against that, is the one thing that makes humans stand out from the rest of the animal kingdom.  It doesn’t make us better, but it does put us in a place where it does not have to be a dog eat dog world.

Follow the golden rule! (Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you; for those of you who don’t know it.

Be honest.  Be accountable.  Set the example for those around you and may your nest be filled with all of your own eggs in return.

 

Welcome Spring!

Welcome Spring!

If you can see the image above, you may agree that it epitomizes the transition from winter to spring, or at least it used to.  This transition is far muddier than it used to be due to climate change.  For the entirety of the winter, our temperatures have been fluctuating from fall temps to spring temps to bitter cold and cycling randomly since before the arrival of winter.

So, in the context of the image above, the rabbit would get close to leaping into the vernal warmth and joy of the coming season, but lady spring would yawn, blink her eyes a little and then doze back off into sleep.

Since the ‘official’ start of a calendar spring kicked ofk yesterday, maybe she’ll snap awake and stretch out her arms, bringing bees, birds, beauty, pollen and storms, with as much wonder and suffering as one season can muster.

This time of year is also another opportunity to implement change.  It has been just over three months since the change of the new year, and maybe your resolutions have failed.  If you are not want to believe that change can come any day, then you can view spring as that next opportunity to do it better for the rest of the year.

Here’s to blooming, beauty and change!

 

 

Naysaying: An Affliction Concerning Rightness and Validation

We are a society of naysayers.  We are likely to shoot down an idea, no matter how great it is, simply because the idea was not our own.  Unfortunately, most of us have a strong attachment to being right, and two things can happen as a result. 1. You will say anything to be right.  No matter how ignorant or stupid or degrading, as long as you are lording over someone in your rightness, you are satisfied.  2.  One who may take strong offense when others do not accept their suggestions or their rightness, especially when compared to the accepted rightness of others.  Both fortunately and unfortunately, individuals are individuals.  They mostly likely will not always listen to each other, and if they do, they may listen to the right thing at the wrong time.  Often times, many people fight so hard out of childhood to gain their autonomy, the thought of someone constantly directing them, as a parent would, is akin to forcible de-evolution, and they strongly resist.  And this resistance may not always be cognitive or conscious.  What one must determine, is whether or not someone is forcing their rightness onto you in order to control you or in order to be helpful, and validate themselves.   This second variety is trickier; because with the first kind, if you don’t listen to them, they’ll get mad and then try to control you at a later date, but when it comes to the latter, if you don’t listen, they feel like less of a person and they feel under valued.  The truth is, that person is valued, but often times, people want to navigate their own issues and feel their own validity.  I think it is virtually impossible to validate one’s self and another individual all at the same time.  Someone is going to feel slighted.  Communication is the answer.  (Isn’t it always?) You have to communicate with those that matter around you to navigate the pitfalls of rightness and the twists and turns of validation.  You have to express that just because you to don’t dance like a puppet on a string, when you receive their suggestions, it doesn’t mean that you view them with any less value.  People often have to learn and receive in layers.  And truthfully, sometimes people are not mentally ready to receive information that might be helpful, especially if they are processing their own ideas.  The best thing to do is recognize that you are processing your own ideas, and relay that to the one who is making the suggestion.  And if you are the one offering a suggestion, receive that information, understand it, and give them the time they need to go through their mental processing.  They may come to you needing your help, they may come to you to explain what they have come up with, or, maybe they won’t come to you at all.  I think either way, it can be fine.  It eliminates the sense that someone is trying to control you and cultivates the sense that they are extending potentially helpful advice.

Truthfully, when it comes to raining down your rightness on someone else, it is usually about wanting to feel important.  Life makes you feel out of control and unimportant in so many ways on a daily basis; so it is understandable, sometimes, when people are unwavering and forcibly trying to assert their own importance on the necks of others.

What a dichotomy we are as a society.  All the time, we are told to be an individual, question authority, rebel, revolt, go your own way.  But when it comes to one-on-one interactions, people get riled when others don’t listen to and follow there every utterance.  It gets hard to trust yourself, and when you turn yourself into a drone, floating on the whims of others, you are profoundly looked down upon.

It’s a social, personal and emotional tightrope we all must walk.  I think openness and understanding may be the only way across.

 

Work In Progress

So, for those of you who do follow me, I have not been posting much.  Just here and there.  And there are multiples reasons for that.  First of all, life just happens, and you get caught up in work and home and attending to the needs of those you hold most dear, as well as yourself.  But all that aside, I am currently in the middle the self-publishing process for my very first novel.

I had to go back through it and re-edit, of course, but now I have been working out the details of the book layout and I am super, super excited.  Granted, a lot of this process has been sitting and thinking.

I had to come up with a back cover, which wasn’t too incredibly difficult, and then I had to do a headline for the back cover, which was difficult, especially since I had no idea what that was.  Then there was designing the front cover, finding the right image, and the right color, but the hardest part was the author bio.  Author biographies are always difficult, at least for me, because you have to consider what you want to say about yourself.  Your first thought is…  There’s nothing to say.  Admittedly, this is my first book.  I haven’t won any awards, no writing contests, nothing to pad my literary resume and make someone say, “Hmm, she seems promising.”  I just have stories to tell; characters that are just bursting at the seams to express themselves.  So after days of pondering what I should put in the author bio, discussing it with my made, and swimming through the drowning pool of self-doubt, I decided to use my author bio to brief touch on the source of my inspiration, rather than a bullet point list of accolades (which don’t exist anyway).

I checked so many websites trying to explain what an author bio should be, or what a back cover should be, and honestly, they are all appealing to the wants of a traditional publishing house.  Since I am not going the traditional avenue, I thought, “Screw it.  I’m gonna do what bests fits me and this manuscript.”

As I indicated above, I am super excited.  I think my excitement grows as each step in the process goes by.  I will be making updates until the finished product is available.

I will be doing this repeatedly for a long time, but I want to extend my profound thanks to all of those who have supported me, both in words and in deeds, by donating to my gofundme.  I never would have been able to do any of this without you.

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

-And don’t forget to check out Comparative Reasoning here on wordpress for written commentary on a whole hosts of topics.

-If you’d rather listen than read, definitely check out Comparative Reasoning on youtube, where you’ll hear of earful of social, economic and political commentary.

Happy Everyday Day!

Two Days Removed…

We are two days removed from Valentine’s Day, and the world has returned to the hum drum hustle and bustle that we are always inundated with.

This may not be the most uplifting post.  I am not against Valentine’s Day, I just want to discuss how, for those who are truly in love, Valentine’s Day is unnecessary.

Like most every holiday we celebrate in this country, Valentine’s Day is highly commercialized and seems to only work in favor of females.

On Tuesday, I was in Walmart, shopping for school supplies, fully aware that it was Valentine’s Day, but not truly caring.  And almost as if they were coming in via conveyor belt, I saw one older guy after another scanning the Valentine’s aisle, searching for flowers, candy and stuffed animals.  Poor fellas.  I’m sure there were tons of other things they could have been doing, but if they don’t put out the money for this day (and some have to put out a lot of money), they’ll never hear the end of it.

In my humble opinion, the truth is that if you show your affection every day, then Valentine’s Day won’t have to mean so much.  Don’t get me wrong.  You don’t have to buy your woman flowers and candy every day.  I would never condemn Earth’s men to that fate.  What I am talking about, are the little things.  The little things are often what makes life worth living. For example, I love ice.  I would rather eat a cup of ice than drink a soda, drink juice, drink anything for that matter.  So we go through a lot of ice at my house.  And furthermore, we have to manually fill the ice trays and sometimes I forget to perform this task.  A little thing that brings me joy, is when my man fills these trays without my asking; and even if I do ask, the fact that he does it for me, makes me happy.

Now I’m sure many of you are thinking, “Ice??”  She must be a cheap date.  And to that I say, Ha Ha Ha.  Very funny.  Anyway.  It’s all about dismissing false pretenses, and getting to the root of what makes you and your significant other happy.  If you like buying gifts for your girl or guy, and don’t feel obligated to do so just because you engage in coitus on a regular basis, then have it.  Do what you enjoy.  But if your driving force is, if I don’t get them something, they’ll never shut up, it may be time for some re-evaluation.  (Hmm, that may be too harsh…)  It may be time to talk about what’s truly important… (Yeah, that’s better.)

A long time ago, I asked my boyfriend’s mother, what she and her husband were doing for Valentine’s Day, and she said nothing.  At a certain point, you just don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.  Being a teenager at the time, I thought that sounded terrible.  But now that I am more than two decades removed from the questions, with a house and a child with that same boyfriend; it’s best to focus on the things that count.  I don’t care whether or not he bought me flowers, I care that he was the first person to change our daughter’s diaper, when I was post-op and couldn’t even stand on my own;  or making hot tea for me, when the cold winter air sends me into a coughing fit.

Valentine’s Day is one day a year.  For that reason, it shouldn’t mean more, it should mean less.  Show your love and gratitude every day and that way, you won’t have any regrets.

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

-And don’t forget to check out Comparative Reasoning here on wordpress for written commentary on a whole hosts of topics.

-If you’d rather listen than read, definitely check out Comparative Reasoning on youtube, where you’ll hear of earful of social, economic and political commentary.

 

Mother Hens and the Chronically Ill

 

Not every female capable of reproducing has maternal instincts and on the flip side of that, there are some females who can and will mother too much.  I like to call those women, Mother Hens.

A mother hen is a woman, who, once those maternal instincts kick in, they are full bore, all or nothing.  They will care for you no matter what.  They will feed you, dress you, clothe you, provide for you, and care for you when you’re sick or healthy (preventative care).  Having a mother hen is a wonderful thing.  It’s all warm and fuzzy and you feel like someone understands what you’re going through.  That can be especially beneficial for someone who is chronically ill.  If you are sick, it’s good to have someone who understands that you’re not faking; that you are going through something real and tangible; and they don’t down you for not being able to participate in regular, every day activities.

But there is a limit.

Mother Hen-ness, for lack of a better term, can be smothering, intrusive and downright annoying at the wrong time, or from the wrong person.  We all know that mothers can give too much, especially after their children are grown, but I suspect that adult chronically ill children are hard to relinquish, when you have cared for them for so long.

But what I am talking about is if that mother hen is not your mother, but your significant other, man or woman.  Their devoted need to care for you, and to aid you, like a child or an invalid, can repel the intimate, physical side of a relationship, especially if that physical side is often affected by the chronic illness.  At this point all sorts of emotions can enter the picture; guilt, helplessness, resentment, fear, abandonment, and this from both the ill and their caretaker.  Openness and communication are the only way to combat this; openness about one’s physical state, their mental state and one’s emotional state.  Let the mother hen know that at times, they don’t need a caretaker, they need a companion and a lover, and that they’ll be notified when those times are.  There should be no lies about feelings, no lies about whether one can continue once intimacy has begun and no guilt about having to stop midway.  Things happen.  Be adult about it and understand, the mere attempt is enough to make one feel loved and appreciated for more than their illness.  And sick or well, all any of us wants is to be loved and appreciated.  Openness and communication is the best way to make that happen in a healthy relationship, even if one of the participants is not.

Next Leg of the Journey

It’s Monday morning and we are just over half way through the first month of the new year.  Time flies, as we all know and learn the older we get.  I haven’t been posting as much, because I finally finished my fifth book, and I have been spending a good deal of my writing and posting time, editing it.  With the editing complete, and the title chosen and firmly in place, it is time to place my focus back on my very first completed manuscript.

Back in mid-2016, I started a Gofundme so that I could self-publish my first book.  During that time, I have received a lot of generous support, donations and well wishes from co-workers, old friends and loved ones; and now, after reaching my Gofundme goal, I am ready to begin the self-publishing process.  I want to give my profound thanks to all those who have and are supporting me throughout this process and cheering on, as this journey proceeds.

I was advised by my significant other to give, my first manuscript another read through for continuity and editing purpose, and although I am eager to continue research, and begin work on my next story, I am going to heed his advice and give the first manuscript another read.  With this being said, my posting may not be as frequent as it once was, but sometimes when you begin a new leg of a journey, it requires all of your focus until you hit your stride.

In the meantime, I thank all those who check up on my blog to see what I am up to, and I will still be posting and commenting on those that I follow, as well as others that may sudden strike my fancy.  And of course, you never know, if the mood hits just right, I might be busting at the seams with something to say.  One never can tell.

Why So Quiet??

It’s been quiet in the Wicked Orchard.  Why? Pray tell.  Since you asked so nicely I will tell you.  Not only is it the holiday season, but I also very recently celebrated a birthday, and on top of all of that, I was on vacation from work.  I only take one actual vacation a year, so I wanted to relax and spend as much time with my family as I could.  And I did.  Unfortunately, my vacation is over. I am well rested, but I would much rather be at home, amusing myself with my daughter, while playing games, watching videos and talking to my boyfriend about any and everything under the sun.

I gave myself a birthday gift, before my vacation, and finished my fifth book.  In doing so, it allowed my brain to take a rest, but the closer I got to returning to work, the more my brain began to storm about my next project.  I will be begin the editing process shortly for my latest, nameless, manuscript, and along with that, I will begin researching for my next book.

Christmas has passed and I hope that it was lovely for all of you who celebrated it and for those that didn’t; I hope that your days have been filled with all of the joy and cheer that we should have every day of the year.  Sorry for the excessive rhymes.

The Backlash Before Christmas – Short Story

It’s recess time, and all the first graders are led out onto a playground, where they are turned loose by their handlers.  As the shrieks of temporary merriment erupt from every eager child, five gather together underneath the little house that is connected to the slide.  All sitting with their legs crossed, they stare at each other with their hands, cradled in their laps.

“Ok.”  One little pig tailed girl speaks up.  “What do we got?

“My baby brother started sneezing with snot coming out of his nose.  So I rubbed my hands on his face, while mom was in the kitchen.”  A brown boy with glasses says.

“My grandmother said she got the crud.  Don’t know what that is, but we held hands and sang songs after she blew her nose.”  A little red-head with freckles relays.

“My big sister’s been coughing and coughing.  She got a sore throat.  I just stood in her room while she was coughing and stared at her until she yelled for me to get out.  She hates that.”  A little blond boy says, as he sniffs and wipes his nose across his bare arm.

“Everyone is sniffling and wiping their noses on my bus.  I just traded pencils with everybody.”  A dark skinned girl with black braids adds.  “What about you?”

“I touched the teacher’s grading pen.”  The pig tail girl answers.

“Wow, she’s really sick today.  You’re really going for it.”  The red head remarks.

“Are we sure we wanna do this?  I mean, we’re gonna get sick, too?”  The brown kid with glasses asks.

“Did you lose your candy?”  The pig tailed girl asks, with a frown.

“Yeah.”  He answers.

“What about the rest of ya?”  She asks the gathering.  “Didn’t you lose your candy?”

“Yeah.”  The blond kid says sadly, with his eyes cast downward.

“They threw away mine.”  The girl with braids says.

“See!  That’s what I’m talking about.  Parent’s hiding our candy, throwing it away or even worse than that, eating it themselves.  Just so we can’t have it.  Just cuz we want to eat it all.  It ain’t fair.”  The pig tailed girl exclaims.  “Didn’t you work hard for your candy?”

“Yeah.”  The boy with glasses says.  “We walked all over this big neighborhood for three hours.  I was tired and my feet hurt, but I got two big bags full.  But…  I ain’t seen them bags in weeks.”

“I wore a furry cat costume.  And it was hot and I sweated.  But that didn’t make me stop trick or treating.”  The girl with braids says.  “But it’s gone in the trash now.”

“My mask was so itchy. I had to take it off and then no one knew what character I was.”  The red head recounts.  “I earned mine too.”

“Parents and teachers tell us if ya earn it, then that’s good, but they took it all away.  So…  This is what they get.”  The pig tailed girl says with a nod.

“Yeah, but we’re gonna get sick too!”  The brown kid with glasses reminds them.

“I’m already sick.”  The blond kid says matter-of-factly.

“Listen up.  We’ll get sick but we’ll be better in a week, maybe two weeks.  Plenty of time until Christmas.  They’ll start to be better by then and in the meantime, those of us who know our candy is still in the house, can slowly get some when they’re weak.”  The pigtailed girl outlines.

“Yeah.” The red head adds.  “Adults always get weak and don’t wanna be bothered when they’re sick.  Long as you’re quiet, you can get whatcha want.”

“That’s right.”  The blond says.

“But they threw my candy away.”  The girl with braids chimes in.

“We’ll give you some ours.  Or save some Christmas candy for you, so it’ll be fair.  Everyone in?”  The pig tailed girl asks.

Hearing the question and feeling the moment of truth, everyone nods their agreement to go forward with the plan.  After that, each child pulls their hands from the nook formed by their crossed legs and holds them out to the side, exposing their scabby palms, their marker covered fingertips and their dirt-impacted fingernails.  Next, they each interlock hands forming a circle of commitment, making sure to grind them together.  Then, they start shaking each other’s hand across from each other, until every bacteria and virus covered paw has been grasped and shaken by another.  Taking it one step further, the pig tailed girl takes her infested hands and rubs them up and down over her face, closing her eyes, but making sure to swipes them over her lips.  Equally inspired, the rest of the children follow suit until they hear the shrill voice of one of their handlers call out to them from ten feet away.

“What’re you kids doing under there?!”

“Nothing!”

All the children reply in unison, as if compelled by some telepathic cognition.  Immediately, all five children scramble from beneath the little house and begin playing with the other kids; and all of the adults are none the wiser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patience. I Shall Return.

I have not made a new post in more than a week.  I miss posting on a regular basis, but it seems that my mind has been deeply occupied with the impending finish of my current manuscript.  I am at the end.  I am sure of that.  But constructing it so that it succinctly pulls together threads that I have been weaving over these many months, is proving to be an immense task.  It only let’s me know that the story needs to percolate more in mind.

I think this lack of creativity is due in part that I am sick.  I have had a significant cold since before thanksgiving and it is taking its time, running its course.  Once it subsides, and if my daughter could give her father and I a reprieve and maybe not bring home any more viruses from school, I think I will be back in full swing creatively and posting regularly again.  Please be patient with me.

In COWS We Trust!

I am a city girl.  Not a big city girl, no.  I would not be comfortable in a place like New York City.  I’m a city girl from the south.  But I have no experience on a farm either.  I have never fed chickens, rode horses or fed cows.  With all that being said, I wanna spend a brief few moments, speaking about the latter.  Cows.  I like cows a lot.  And granted, most of them have a less than stellar existence among us humans, used to produce our food, milk and clothing; I think that without even trying, cows are one of the most facially expressive animals around.

Cow

For example, you don’t see anything on this face…  I’m willing to suspect.  But I see first and foremost…

–“What the hell are you looking at?”

Next, I see…

–“Now, what the fuck do you want?”

And lastly…

–“Take a picture, it’ll last longer.”

cute cows expression of highdefinition picture

Then there are the happy or maybe even cute cow pictures.  We all know that whenever an animal sticks their nose or snout directly into the camera, it’s incredibly adorable.  And eve with as cute as it is, you still get a sense of…

–“I don’t need your approval.”

Or

–“I don’t have to pay for my leather.”

And of course…

–“Yeah, I’m just a cow.  But you’re still not looking away.”

Ok, so I know what you’re thinking.  Every emotion that you’re putting to these expressions is either disgruntled or arrogant.  And that makes it all the funnier.  No one thinks about a cow not giving us humans the time of day, but why not?  Aren’t they entitled to be like, “Fuck ya’ll.  I want out of this one-sided relationship.”

cows 03 hd picture

On the other hand, some are hams…  beef…  Ya all, know what I mean.  Looks like she’s posing.  She’s ready for her close up.  We don’t know if the photographer worked hard to get this pic or they merely said, show me your inner cuteness and the cow delivered.

Needless to say, I am a fan of cows, and all of their many expressions;  any commercials using cows humanely, like the Chick-fil-A commercials and billboards (although I do not support the company) or the California Happy Cow Commercials, which I find so hilarious are alright with me.  Seeing that they have been a centerpiece of human existence for a long time, keeping us fed and clothed and catching hell for it in the process, they will eternally deserve their place in the sun, and they are entitled to have an attitude all they want.  They’ve earned it.

Strength and Good Deeds.

So shines a good deed in a weary world.

-Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971).

I think that it is safe to say that many of us are weary.  Both politically and socially, the last year has left many of us drained, disillusioned and just plain tired.  The US government, justice system, and political machine lack transparency, decency, morals or sense of justice for anyone who happens to be some shade of brown or female; not to mention poor, underemployed or disabled.

With all of this being said, what is most important is how we, as people, treat each other.  There is so much fear and uncertainty about the future of our rights and freedoms; and whether or not they will still exist after inauguration day 2017; we need to be able to lean on each other for support and understanding as the edges of reason continue to blur out of focus.  All of us sensical, reasonable people living in the world cannot afford to apathetic or indifferent to ills of our fellow man, just because their color, sex or religion is not our own.

We need to be able to look on each other with kindness and understand that we should judge each other on our individual merits, judge each other based on our deeds, and cast all knee-jerk xenophobia aside.  We need good deeds to shine now more than ever.  We are all we’ve got.

50 Followers! Thank you all so much!!

It seems that this past weekend, my simple blog attained 50 followers, and then lapsed into 52.  I am so humbled and appreciative that so many have taken an interest in what I have to say, as well as liking the stories I write and the little bit of poetry that I produce.

I want to give you all my profound thanks for taking the time to visit my blog, and for lending your encouragement as well.

Thank you!

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

Hips Part Three – Short Story

The school year is over, and summer has begun quickly, hot and heavy.  Nikols spends every day at home, lucky that he does not have to find a part-time summer job to make ends meet.  Susan’s promotion to partner has their finances intact.  Her office is finished, complete with a high-back leather office chair, a Persian rug, window treatments and a fresh coat of paint.  The mint green paint that she and Nikols had chosen for their nursery color is nowhere to be seen, and usually neither is Susan.  The warmth of her body next to him at night use to bring arousal and pleasant dreams, but now, Nikols only wishes that she would be quiet when she comes to bed.

At 9:47 am, the rain has just stopped and a thin, mist is rising from the grass and pavement.  The clouds are retreating to the east and the sun has eagerly taken the stage.  With his wife gone, and all of his school suits dirty, Nikols gathers them haphazardly, and heads out for the day. The morning is beautiful.  All of the professional people are tucked snugly in their cubicles, and the streets belong to the gardeners, the stay-at-home mothers and the many children who are free for the next three months.  When Nikols arrives at the dry cleaners, he notices a city bus has come to a stop on the curb.  As it disembarks, he exits his car, coughing as the ozone-depleting exhaust overcomes him.  Suits in hand, he crosses the street and must wait as a few others enter in order to utilize the laundry mat adjoined to the cleaners.  Seizing his opportunity, Nikols grabs the handle, and nearly enters, when he sees a cinnamon-skinned female approaching in his peripheral vision.  She is carrying a large basket, but instead of holding it in the front of her body, like a sack of potatoes, she has it nestled firmly on her right hip.  Overwhelmed by a nearly forgotten sense of chivalry, he steps aside and opens the door for her.  Using the same dismissive courtesy that is common between strangers, he remarks, “There ya go.”  And the woman swiftly flashes a brilliant smile, and says, “Thank you.”

He is stunned by her voice; it is thick with an accent that reminds him of a distant, tropical island.  Her lips are full and reflective, shiny from a sheer gloss; and her large, dark brown eyes seem to regard and dismiss him with a single gaze. Once he is able to collect himself, the sweet scent of vanilla mixed with an unidentifiable aroma fills his nose and all of Nikols’ college-educated logic dissipates, like the morning rain surrendering to the heat.  The aroma overpowers the scent of laundry detergent and the harsh odor of chemicals, blurring the edges of reason and reality.  The muscles in his right arm mechanically tense to prevent the suits from cascading to the floor, and finally he steps inside, watching as she lowers the heavy basket to the ground.  Stepping lazily forward, he only sees the back of her.  She is fully covered; none of her bronze-toned skin is exposed.  She is clad in a simple, white t-shirt and yellow capri pants, but as she makes her way to the change machine in the rear of the room, the natural sway of her rounded hips, like the arc of a pendulum, lures him like a game fish to a baited hook on the open sea.

The suits are meaningless.  He considers discarding them, but then his clumsy entrance would look even more foolish.  Instead, Nikols quickly finds the dry cleaning counter, giving over the garments in exchange for a ticket.

“How do you want these?”  The clerk asks.

Still looking mostly behind him, Nikols says, “Just clean.”

The clerk asks him another question, but Nikols is already walking away.  He has lost sight of her, and is moving to quiet the dull panic growing within him.  After weaving past other woman carrying baskets and children, he spots her closing the lid on the washer and inserting a handful of coins.  As she inserts the final quarter into its slot, and presses the start button, Nikols slides up beside her, leaning on the machine with his elbow propped on it.

“Do these machines take a lot of quarters?” Nikols asks nervously.

The brown-skinned woman does not answer immediately.  She moves her laundry basket so that it sits directly in front of the washer, and faces him with arms folded, quickly sizing him up, before she speaks.

“They take five dollars worth of quarters per load, but luckily I only have one.”  She says politely.

His ears had not deceived him, her thick-island accent was true, and he could feel his legs turn rubbery beneath him.

“Cat got your tongue?” She asks when the silence persists for too long.

“No.  I, uh …am admiring your accent.”

“It surprises me that you can understand me.  Most white people just smile and nod when I speak to them.  But you held the door open for me earlier, so maybe I should not be so surprised by a gentleman.”  She finishes with a smile.

Nikols can feel twenty years melt away from him in an instant.  The warmth growing around his neck and ears tells him that he is blushing, and he wants to run like a kid from a girl that is far too pretty for him to bear.

Pointing a manicured, yet short-nailed finger at him, she says, “Eh-eh, you’re blushing young man.  Doesn’t your wife give you compliments?”

Considering neither the answer nor the question, Nikols answers,

“No,” while sheepishly running his fingers through his hair.

Hands on her hips, she continues.  “The house must not be a home if you’re doing your own laundry.”

“She’s a lawyer, working all the time, and school’s out for the summer. So, I’m taking care of my clothes.”  Nikols confesses naturally.

“The gentleman is a school teacher.  Why don’t you tell me your name young man?”  She asks while gingerly moving her hair off her shoulder, so that it drapes down her back.

“Nikols.  My name is Nikols.”

Extending her hand, she says, “And I am Ceillia.”

Nikols takes her hand and gives it a strong shake, but his grip slackens, as the softness of her skin enters his pores.  The scent that captured him earlier is washing over him in waves, and he is taking in every detail of her; her high cheekbones and dark brown eyes.  She wears little make-up, allowing her skin to glow much like the young girls he teaches year after year, before they succumb to the need to look older.  On closer inspection, her dark, long hair is locked into hundreds of even ropes, pulled back into a thick braid, decorated with tiny yellow flowers.  She looks strong in a way one acquires by living, not by working out and her hips could support the weight of nations.  Much like the women his former roommate Kelly, would have dated.

Their conversation continues as naturally as it began. All the while, Ceillia is tending to her laundry, drying and then folding it.  Before long, she looks up on the wall, and remarks that its 12 after one, and that the bus would be arriving soon.

“It’s too hot to carry laundry on the bus.  I can give you a ride home.”

With an eyebrow raised, she places a hand on her hip.

“Do you think I trust you, young man?”

“I’m the gentleman, school teacher.  What’s not to trust?”

Instead of outwardly accepting, she instructs Nikols to grab her laundry basket, who eagerly obliges.  They have some difficulty finding the car, because although he should be leading the way, he would rather walk behind her, taking in all of her various curves.  His desire for such shapeliness is novel and exotic.  He feels like a young child, who has seen a bike for the very first time.  The drive to her home is a simple one.  She lives very close to the school where he teaches, and he even sees some of his former students along the way.  Her home is modest, smaller than his own but still spacious.  It stands out like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, being the only yellow house on a street littered in white and beige.  She would normally have to walk several blocks from the bus stop, and expresses her appreciation for the ride home.  She automatically invites him without any awkwardness or pretense, and he accepts.

When Cecilia opens the door to her home, he is bombarded by an assortment of fragrances, but the most prominent is the scent that attracted him to her hours earlier.  She is showing him around and he is following her gestures, but he is not really hearing anything, merely experiencing new sights and sounds.  Her home is much different from his.  She has decorated with colors; deep, rich shades of blue, red and yellow.  The home smells of spice and food, foreign to his palate but causing him to salivate nonetheless.  He is instantly comfortable, and after placing her laundry on the floor, she gives him a glass of juice that is spicy and sweet.

“What is this?” Nikols asks, still savoring the new flavor on his tongue.

“Ginger beer.”

Cecilia immediately begins to chuckle as the expression of doubt crosses his face.

“It’s just called beer, but it’s not alcohol.  Do you like it?”

“It’s spicy, but it’s good.” He says while taking another sip. “I’ve never had anything like it before.”

“It’s an old recipe from Trinidad that my grandmother used to make.  She passed it to my mother, who passed it to me.  They are both gone now.  And one day I’ll pass it down to my daughter …or my son.  Many say that men make the best cooks. Are ya hungry young man?  I guess that wife of yours won’t be making lunch for ya either?”  She says resting her hands on her hips.

Plainly, he answers.  “No.  She won’t be.”

With a bright smile spreading across her face, she motions for him to follow, as she walks down a short corridor.

“Then come with me, honey.  Food is almost ready.  Ceillia’s gonna feed ya.”

As though being controlled by a puppeteer, Nikols follows his host down the hall, watching the rhythm of her movements more than listening to her words.  When he returns home later, it is well after dark and it looks as if no one is there.  He glances at the dashboard clock, which reads 9:21pm. Nikols had spent the entire day with Cecilia, talking and getting to know her.  Out of respect for his wife, he had journeyed home to find that there was no one to come home to.  He had lived, quietly and simply for half of a day and learned more about himself than he had known throughout his entire marriage.  Grasping his wedding ring with his right hand, he tugs on it until it slips off and he drops it in the ashtray.  Then, he puts the car in reverse and follows the breadcrumbs back home.

When she opens the door Cecilia does not seem surprised to see him, nor is she surprised when he grabs her by the hips and pulls her close to him.  All that she says is that some things are just natural.  Foregoing more conversation, Nikols kisses her urgently, as though he might catch the words before they have fallen completely from her lips.  He does not stay with her the entire night.  Responsibly, he returns to his house, hoping to find his wife, waiting for him, angry that he has returned home so late.  Instead, she is sleeping soundly, resting comfortably in the center of their bed.  With the fragrance of his infidelity still radiating from his skin, he looks at himself in the bedroom mirror, just noticing the clock turning 3:42 am, and finally feels no disappointment at what he sees.  After a long shower, he falls heavily asleep on the downstairs couch, accompanied only by pleasant dreams.

The next morning, there are no questions of his whereabouts.  Nor are there questions a month after.  Nikols hears snatches of his wife’s career successes in passing, but no longer asks.  As his daily visitations with Cecilia extend later into the passing nights, his responsible need to return home diminishes, like the dew each morning that he awakens with her.  Before the school year begins, he wakes up with her when she is overwhelmed by morning sickness.  And once school begins, he

schedules his week around her doctor’s visits.  All of the doors before him lie open, but there is only one left to close behind him.  When Susan walks into his classroom, after the final bell, Nikols is surprised, but relieved all at once.

“Nothing has changed around here.” Susan says matter-of-factly.

“Things rarely do in schools.”  He answers.

“Has the year started off well?”

With a genuine smile, dancing at the corners of his mouth, Nikols says, “Maybe not as great as your year, but off to a good start.”

“I’ve been winning cases.  And I came home to celebrate one day and you weren’t there.  Nothing was there.  I went to make some dinner, guessing you would get home around nine, but the cupboard was bare.  And you didn’t come home.”

“I’m not as predictable as I once was, Susan. You can’t count on me anymore.”  He says while closing his briefcase, clinching his jaw in response to her sudden interest.

“You look good.  Fitter than before.  That looks like a new suit.  It‘s a brighter color than you‘d normally wear.  You’ve been eating well at least. Somewhere …Haven’t you?”

Irritated, he slams his fist down on the desk.  “Don’t question me, Susan.  I’ve gotta go.  So come out with it.  What do you want?”

“I’m your wife.  You can spare me a minute of your precious time.”  She spits, waving her hand at the clock on the wall over his head.  Instantly, she begins to wipe at her eyes with the back of her hand.  Although, he can feel their history compelling him to comfort her, their reality encourages him to think better of it.

“I know that I’m too driven.  And I put my career first, but…”

Interrupting her, Nikols says, “None of that matters anymore.”

“Was it the night I made partner?  That night I came home drunk.  I’m sorry I should’ve called you…”

“You did what you wanted to do.  But it wasn’t that.  It wasn’t the missed appointments, or the late nights, Susan.”  He explains, while releasing a

calming breath.

With her eyes widening hopefully, Susan crosses the room, standing in front of him.

“Then we can fix what we’ve squandered.”

“I haven’t squandered anything.  But if you have to know, you lost me when you chose walnut colored wood over mint green for your new office.  You have money and recognition, all that you wanted, but I never got what I wanted from you.”  Side stepping, Nikols walks to the door and waits.  “I have to go, Susan.”

“So this is it?”

“Yes.”

“I can fight this.  I can drag you into court for years.” She says through tears.

“Then it will be no different than our marriage.  One sided.  I don’t want anything from you. I don’t even want to hate you.  I just want it to be over; so that I can continue the new life I’ve started.”

Slowly, Susan begins to weep.  Sorrowful sobs sweep over her slim

form, likening her to a brittle leaf shivering in the autumn wind. Although touched by her emotions, they do little to move him.  After several sniffs, she wipes her face on the back of her hand, and joins him at the door.

“We did have some good times.”

“A few.”  He regards pleasantly.  “A few.”

They leave the room together and walk in silence, until they reach the main steps of the building, where they part ways.  Neither of them speaks, or watches the departure of the other. Once inside his car, he starts the ignition, glancing at the clock on the dashboard.  It is 2:18pm, and Ceillia’s appointment isn’t until three o’clock.  There is plenty of time.

When Nikols pulls up to the house, the driveway is vacant and a “For Sale” sign is slightly swaying in the breeze.  With the divorce proceedings underway, it is time to retrieve the last of his belongings.  After nearly an hour of loading clothing and keepsakes, Nikols grabs an empty box and climbs the stairs.  When he opens the bedroom door, he sneezes uncontrollably.  The air is so stale, that he considers opening a window and then smirks at the foolishness of the thought.  The bed is untouched, as though not even his wife had been sleeping here.  His wife.  That word no longer fits comfortably on his lips or even in his thoughts.   With the late day sunlight temporarily blinding him, as he crosses to the closet, he looks down at the floor, noticing the footprints that he is leaving in the freshly vacuumed carpet.  He feels like a traveler walking into a hotel room, but instead of settling in, he is moving out.

The closet has very little to offer him now.   Most of his belongings are boxed up in his car.  He is only here to retrieve the last of his much-needed suits and box of papers for his classes.  He expected to find a box of his wife’s law books, but they no longer dwell here either.  They have been moved to her new office, the room that would have belonged to their future son or daughter.  The thought is painful.  It hurts like a day old bee sting, not as sharp but still recognizable.  Instantly, he feels silly for feeling any hurt at all.  They have chosen to move on without each other.  Their time together had passed, but being in this room gives Nikols the sense that he is stuck in a time warp where their lives converged and parted in a single instant.  So much of the hope in this terminal relationship was dependent on time.  There was always plenty of time for the both of them, but they were both watching a different clock.  Knowing this is both a relief and a blessing, now he can move forward, living joyfully, instead of watching time tick away in despair.

With his suit jackets stuffed into the last box, Nikols closes the closet door with his foot, and scans the room one last time.  Immediately, his eyes fall on the alarm clock sitting on the end table, which flashes 12:00 mockingly.  Feeling a swell of annoyance, he crosses the room to where the clock rests, finds the cord snaking from the back of it, and forcefully snatches the plug from the wall.  Instantly, the numbers vanish and Nikols feels that his mockery is finally at an end.  Shifting the box to his right hip, he exits, closing the door firmly behind him.

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

 

Hips Part Two – Short Story

But as his now contented wife slips from their warm embrace, and the clock downstairs signals the beginning of the eleventh hour, he is weary as he steps toward their king-sized bed.

Slowly, Nikols opens his eyes, and has to shield them from the blinding noonday sun.  When his vision slowly returns, he can see Susan standing a few feet in front of him.  Her shorts are just as short as the day he met her, but her face has only slightly matured, having grown more stunning with age.  Her smile is warm and inviting, with lips that have beckoned to him, when she use to writhe beneath him.  With the speed of a snail traversing a muddy garden, Nikols advances and Susan swiftly turns her back and begins to walk away.  Her footsteps echo, resounding painfully in his ears, as he tries to catch up to her.  Yet, before he can clear two feet, she is nearly out of sight.  Off to his right the sound of shrill laughter catches his attention and Nikols can see his college roommate, Kelly, who has maintained his youth, playing gleefully with countless, faceless children.

Overjoyed, he calls out, “Kelly, help me, man.  I can’t catch her.”  “Don’t.”  Kelly calls back to him.  “Faces don’t build a…”  But Kelly is unable to finish.  Two of the faceless children grab his hands, and they run off together, quickly fading from view.  Still struggling, Nikols can feel his heart pounding, as the weight around his feet triples, forcing him to scream out.

When he quiets, Nikols is laying in his bed with the comforter tangled around his feet.  His throat is raw and his head aches, as the alarm obtrusively alerts him that it is 6:30 am.  In one motion, he frees his feet and brings his fist down on the alarm clock, silencing it.  He then calls out for his wife, but receives no answer.  With this being his newly adapted routine, Nikols climbs out of bed, and gets ready for work.  Much like his dream, he has not laid hands on his wife to even kiss her goodbye in several weeks.  He is asleep when she arrives home and she is gone when he awakens.  So when he calls her office, he expects an argument from her, but much to his delight, she agrees to be home by 9:00 pm.

At 8:20 pm, Nikols finds himself standing in the wine section of the grocery store.  He is seemingly in a daze.

“I’m not sure what I should buy?”  He thinks to himself.  “Milk isn’t romantic, but she can’t have wine.  Soda is too casual…..Ah, juice.”          Quickly, he turns and strides speedily to the juice aisle.  He has an anticipatory smile on his face, as he turns the corner and enters aisle six.  Coming to a stop, he scans the shelves, dismissing the various beverages, just as quickly as he reads the label.

“Pineapple juice….Not sweet enough.  Grapefruit juice…. Not sweet at all.  Apple juice, hmmm…. To juvenile.  Grape juice…uhhh, maybe.  Ahhh!  Sparkling white grape juice.  As benign as it is elegant and it’s even corked like champagne.  She’ll like this.”

Grabbing two bottles of the name-brand sparkling grape juice, he goes to the check out, where he places the two bottles on the counter.  Glancing at his watch, he sees that he wasted 10 minutes choosing juice, and curses his indecisiveness. Robotically, he pays for the bubbly and takes the bag from the cashier, hoping the traffic is light on the way home.  Once in the car, he plans his spontaneous attack.

“I’ve already asked if she’ll be home by nine tonight and she guaranteed she would.  She wants lovemaking to be spontaneous, so I haven’t told her that based on her past record tonight will be her most fertile period this month.  She said she wanted sex like it used to be, but that hasn’t happened.  It’s gone from scheduled to none at all.”  Glancing at the plastic grocery bag in the passenger seat, he makes the necessary left turn as he enters the final stretch towards home.  “Maybe I won’t even use the juice. Maybe I’ll sweep her off of her feet as soon as she walks in and take her on the stairs.  Hmm, I read somewhere that rear entry was optimal for conception.”

The prospect of sex after more than a month, especially non-missionary sex causes Nikols’ pants to become tight and uncomfortable. Yet thankfully he pulls into his driveway and parks, while glancing at the digital clock on the dashboard, which reads 8:45 pm. Grabbing the bag, he gets out and sprints towards the home, determined to at least shower before his wife arrives.  After a quick once over, Nikols runs downstairs with wet feet, wrapped only in a towel to retrieve two elegant champagne glasses for the two of them, all the while expecting the front door to open and interrupt his preparations.

It’s 9:05 pm, and the juice has been poured, sending an effervescent mist dissipating into the still air.  The glasses sit on their bedroom dresser, which stands next to the window that Nikols stares out of, as he absently continues to dry his damp hair.  “She’s late, but only a little.  I should put some clothes on.”  He says aloud. “I shouldn’t look too obvious.”

By 9:20 pm, Nikols is fully dressed, and he even decides to take a moment to attend to his hair.  At 9:30, his hair is perfect and he takes his first sip of the sparkling grape juice.  It isn’t long before he consumes his glass of juice and hers, too.  Beginning to pace the floor, he makes his way to the phone and calls her office.  There is no answer, and her cell phone goes immediately to voice mail.  All at once, Nikols anticipation, his lust and his hope sinks to the soles of his expensive shoes, as he swipes the champagne glass off the dresser and trudges downstairs.

When Susan stumbles through the front door, Nikols has been sitting alone in the dark for more than an hour.  As she regains her footing, he quickly gets to his feet, and gestures to approach her, until she begins giggling adolescently.  Susan is wearing her standard business suit, but her shirt is untucked and she is carrying her two-inch heels in her right hand.  There is a slight tilt to her stance, and a single step across the threshold forces her to grab the door banister in order to steady herself.  Propping herself up, she feels around for the light switch, while announcing much too loudly that it’s too dark.  Her lack of balance accompanied with the slur of her words, extinguishes the worry that had grown in Nikols, allowing the choking anger to surge within him.  As the overhead light erupts into life, both Nikols and his wife must squint their eyes, but then they are soon aware of each other.  With a bottle of Hennessey dangling from his fingertips and a champagne glass in the opposite hand, Nikols observes his wife’s stumbling gait, who just barely makes it to the sofa.

After taking several moments, Nikols is able to mutter, “You’re late.”  Watching his wife conform to the sofa, like water to a glass, he bares her wide berth, as he crosses the room to the front door, which she left standing open.

“This is the best day of my life.”  Susan slurs in a drunken daze.

“Oh is it?”  Nikols finds himself saying automatically.  “Why?”

“Because I made partner!”  She exclaims, though her voice has grown more sluggish.

“Congratulations.”

Before Nikols can finish giving his false kudos, he can hear the telltale snore of a drunken sleep.  Glancing at his wedding ring, which gleams too brightly in the light from the ceiling fan, Nikols gulps the remainder of the liquor in his glass and overhead pitches the elegant stemware through the open door, where it shatters on the stone walkway.  Grabbing the door, he slams it closed and makes a steady ascent up the stairs to their bedroom, alone.

In the morning, Nikols awakens to the sound of a loud thud, followed by the sound of his wife’s voice.  When he exits his bedroom, he is surprised to see two men dressed in beige work coveralls, maneuvering a walnut-colored wood desk into a doorway, that is nearly too narrow for it.  Susan quickly comes up the stairs behind them, berating them for being late and potentially damaging her expensive new desk.  Once they are inside the room, Susan exits and immediately spots Nikols, closing the distance between them.

“Honey, did the movers wake you?  And I’m sure they’ll still be expecting a tip.”  Susan says.

Unsure of how he should respond, Nikols simply nods, while sleepily rubbing his eyes, before being compelled to say, “Congratulations.”

With a bright smile and a polite hug, she says, “Thank you, honey.  I’m sorry I got home so late last night, but I didn’t know they were throwing me a party.  I see you hadn’t made dinner or anything.  What’d I miss?”

“Nothing.  New desk?”  He asks while nodding towards the room where the desk now resides.

“Yeah.  I can get more work done, if I have an office here.  So I’m turning the spare room into one.”

Before Nikols can speak, Susan darts back to the top of the stairs to heap criticisms on a second set of movers carrying a bookshelf to the second floor.  Confident that her warnings will keep the furniture safe, Susan turns to go back to her husband only to find him standing inches from her, wearing a confused expression.

“But Susan …I thought we were saving that room for a nursery?”

Minutely rolling her eyes, Susan says, “We are, but that’ll be in a while.  We can always change it later.”

Nikols can see himself lunge at her, taking her by the shoulders and shaking her until the woman he married returned to him, but instead, he settles back on his heels and sniffs the air several times, recoiling with distaste.

“What is that scent?”

Eyes brightening, Susan says, “It’s a new fragrance.  It’s called Ambition.”  Tossing her hair over her shoulder, she returns to the threshold of her new office, and loudly asks, “Do you like it?”

Turning his back on her, Nikols mutters, “No.”

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

The Black Cat Blue Sea Award

I always deeply appreciate it when someone decides to follow my blog, and I can’t tell you how it feel to be nominated for an award.  I was nominated for the Black Cat Blue Sea Award and I am more than honored.  I just hope I do this post correctly.

The Black Cat Blue Sea Award is given to those bloggers who strive to write for everybody, and no matter how many viewers they get, make an impact on reader. This award is an expression of gratitude to the nominee. It should be awarded to anybody that you choose deserve it and it doesn’t mean that they must have hundreds of followers and likes.

This describes me perfectly because I do not have a lot of followers but I still do my best to put my best foot forward and provide positivity and realism through my posts, as well as a good story  every now and then.

I was nominated for this amazing award by PoojaG; and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for noticing what I do and for being moved to acknowledge it.

The Rules

1. Anybody nominated can nominate eight bloggers.

2. The nominee has to answer three questions asked by the nominator.

3. Questions should  be inoffensive and you can ask any three questions to your  nominations.

Questions that I was asked are:

  • Whose responsibility it is to make sure that tomorrow… universal love would sustain instead of hatred and ego & what are the possible steps that could be taken?  I think that it is the responsibility of every sentient being to insure that universal love between all people wins out over hatred and ego.  We are all in this together, on this one planet trying to co-exist.  Our basic desires no matter our age, race, gender or financial status are all the same: to live happily, to enjoy family, to live from day to day without suffering and experience joy.  The best steps to take to insure this are to educate ourselves and those generations that come behind us.  The golden rule, do unto to others as you would have them do unto you, should be the basic governing principle of life, but it has been lost, because many of us are self-absorbed.  We are born selfish to survive, but empathy for family, then friends and then strangers has to be taught early if we are going to survive the the storm of negativity and pain we all face everyday.
  • Do you believe in the audacity of hope as I do…despite all adversities ??  I love the use of the word audacity.  It is so typically used in its negative context, but yes, I do believe in the audacity of hope despite all adversities.  Sometimes, it can be a tall order to be eternally hopeful no matter what comes your way, but that is to be human.  We are imperfect and our faith in humanity and ourselves will be tested and shaken on a daily basis, and sometimes we may buckle.  But what is important, is not the misstep, but the step forward that brings you back to your feet and facing the future.
  • Do you agree that practicality is just another manifestation of our so called value system. Please elaborate with one illustration if possible …  I think being impractical is a tool or a weapon used by society to subjugate others for their own gain.  If people, corporations, politicians, were more practical they would not make some of the decisions that benefits themselves rather than everyone as a whole.  In theory, the passing of stronger crime legislation makes sense in order to reduce crime and make people safe.  But the actual execution of stiffer sentencing for petty crimes, mandatory minimum sentencing and the lack of rehabilitation in the US Prison system has been a disaster.  Families have been broken up and destroyed, children grow up without parents; the incarcerated have no hope, which leads them to further wrong doing and then they are used by the state for free slave labor. Practicality is a necessary part of our social value systems that is being ignored; and that occurs mostly because our social value system is breaking down.  In order to save both, we must teach understanding, empathy and humanity.

 

I hope that answered all of the questions without excessive rambling, but these questions seem to tease at issues that I feel passionately about.

Here are my questions:

  1.  How has blogging expanded your ability to express yourself?
  2.  Do you find that your online, social interactions with people are far different than those you experience on a day to day basis, face to face?  If so, how are they different?
  3. Do you feel that the collective small positive actions of a large group of people can significantly affect or even counter a large negative act by one person?

 

Ok, now it’s time for my own nominees.

Congratulations, you guys!

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories

And don’t forget to like, share or follow anything that struck your fancy!

Cleaning House – Short Story

I have a barbecue sandwich before lying down.  I know it might fuck with my bowels, but when ya got IBS everything fucks with your bowels, so I say fuck it.  I get one of those extra large surplus hamburger buns and fill it with slightly spicy, grilled, smoky pulled Boston butt.  I add coleslaw and sweet pickles with mustard on the bottom piece of bread.  It’s good.  Since that last bout of bronchitis I’ve been having trouble tasting some things, but all of the flavor comes through with this sandwich.

With a full belly and the rest of the family already asleep; I finally lay down on the futon and after a little effort getting comfortable, I fall asleep.

Little did I know that the barbecue would affect my mind, not my bowels.

I open my eyes and I‘m standing in front of my old elementary school.  I’m full grown and everything appears so small.  The doors are rusted and falling off of the hinges, and it makes it easy for me enter.  The walls are coated with years of thick dust and stained with dirt, while the paint slowly peels away from the dry wall.  Long defunct bulletin boards sit unused while old rusted miniature desks are strewn about the hallways.  It smells dank and old and sad; laced with pain and plain evil.  As I blink a couple of times, I can see the ghost of children past moving through the halls in single files, led by a teacher now decrepit or long dead.  Second by second, the apparitions manifest in to solid entities, laughing and yelling, some cavorting together, others subsisting alone.

Then I see me.  I see me being led by the hand by my mother, the standard harbinger of my pain; pulling me out of my class.  The class I hated but the only one I’d known that year.

I know where I’m going.  I know where she’s taking me.  The land of the lost.  The land of misfit toys.  Where ‘problem’ kids are sent to rot and be forgotten.  I know where I’m going.  The label, the stigma, despite its falsehood.  Despite that huge lie that it is.  The retarded class.  That’s where I’m going.  That’s where I’m going.  It hangs above my head, even now.  It hangs above my heart, even now.  Coloring my every thought and aspiration, even though it is a lie.  A lie whose truth can never be told enough.

“Are we going home mom?” The little me asks.

“I’m taking you to a new class for smarter kids.”  She answers.

“Don’t believe her!”  I yell.  “She’s lying to you, like she always does!  Don’t believe her!”

Suddenly I can feel the weight in my hand.  My hand wasn’t so heavy before, but it weighed so much, yet so little.  Things had slowed by then.  I could see us walking away, little me and mom, but so slowly.  When I look at my hand I see the gun, the dark metal, the slight glint from an unknown light source.  I don’t like guns, never have, but this feels comfortable in my hand.  Necessary.  I raise it naturally, as if I’d done it a million times before and I level it at my mother’s back.  Can I do this?  She is the only mother I’ve ever known.  But her betrayal, that painful betrayal seems everlasting.  How will I ever get up from under it?  And she has never paid.  Never paid like I paid.  Paid for a debt I didn’t owe.  I pull the trigger and it is smooth and easy. Easy.  The bullet flies through the air in an instant, striking her in the back of neck, instantly taking her down.  Faster than a wildebeest in the Serengeti.  She falls flat with an unnatural thud.  A mere twitch before stillness, but I know…  I know that her every sin was etched on that bullet, like it is etched on my tortured soul and when it struck her she knew.  She knew the whys of my pain.  She knew the whys of my rage and it cradled her through the expulsion of her final breathe.

Little me stands looking at me as I am.  No fear, not even confusion.

“She lied.  Didn’t she?”  The little me asks.

“Yeah.  Just like always.”  I answer.

When I look to my right, I see the class I was taken from.  I step inside and see the teacher and the students of 35 years past, all frozen in time, learning their grammar school lesson.  I see the teacher who did not respect my ills, who believed the bully over the bullied.  I see the girl who took my toys and began this downward spiral in to faux retardation because it was easier to assume lies rather than question for truth.  My arm rises smoothly again, naturally.  I deliver a slug to her temple.  She does not see it coming, but like my mother, her sins are etched as well and she knows.  The class stops and stares frozen and I deliver another slug to the bully, the girl; whose says they’re sugar and spice and everything nice.

When I step back into the hall, I can feel tiny fingers loop through my left hand and I can see little me; holding on tightly.  Calm and unalarmed.  He looks up at me, the same sad brown eyes that have stared back at me for 40 years.

“Did you save me?”  The little me asks.

“I did.” I answer.

“Will things be different?”  The little me asks.

“They’ll be better.  We can make things better now.”  I answer.

My hand is light again.  I look down and the gun is gone.  We walk together to the dilapidated exit and step into the dreamy outdoors.  No cars.  No people.  No wind.  No sound.

“Will you take care of me now?”  The little me asks.

“Now I can.  Now I can take care of us both.”

Mom brought pain and now she’s gone.  School brought pain.  Teachers brought pain.  Bullies brought pain.  And as we move into the school yard, distant ethereal images of my middle and high schools slowly fade from view.  Fade from existence.  The future is wiped and nothing is set.  The disgrace undone and the lie unfulfilled.  The label of shame, of diminishment, slowly fades from my heart; slowly fades from my mind.

“We can start over now.”  I say.

When I suddenly awaken I expect to be alone.  My covers are drenched, but the water pooling in my eyes isn’t sweat.  They are tears, flowing hot and fresh.  My head hurts but inside I feel light.  I can still feel the light touch of small fingers in my hand, but when I look, they are not the fingers of little me.  They belong to my daughter, who is lightly gripping my hand and staring at me in the dark.

“What’s wrong, daddy?”  She asks.

“Nothing baby.  Why are you out of bed?”  I ask her.

“I gotta pee.  Can you take me to pee?”  She asks.

“Yeah, baby.”  I answer.

I get up.  And take my daughter to pee, tears and sweat still running down my face.  My head hurts but I feel free.

As my daughter rubs her eyes, while sitting on the toilet, I look around and nothing has changed.  It’s my house, my daughter, my bathroom, but I feel different.  I feel better.

As she wipes herself and flushes the toilet, she grabs my fingers and we walk back to her bed.  She lies down and I tuck her in, wrapping her up.

“Goodnight daddy.”  She says.

“Goodnight baby.”  I say.

As she drifts back off to sleep, I realize… I saved myself.  Through my pain, through my rage and with a solid, handful of violence.  I saved myself.

Finally.  I saved myself like I wished so many would have or could have…

Finally, I saved myself… And as I stand over her in the dark, I know now that finally, I can take care of us both.

 

Written By:  Sidra D. Owens

Date:  October 30, 2016

 

All Hallow’s Xenophobia

Halloween was yesterday and I took my six year old out to one of the large, wealthier neighborhoods.  No one trick or treats on my street.  It’s dark and riddled with construction.  Anyway, this year the cherished candy lollapalooza occurred on a weekday, a Monday, a school night, so candy acquisition had to be done early and fast so that littler ones can get to bed.  So, we set off.  Her in her fuzzy cat costume and blue pumpkin bucket and me, still a little unsure about whether or not we were too early.  As we moved further down the lane, we begin to hear other children and the tell tale shrieks of joy and sugar.  Satisfied, we soldiered on and eventually ran into a miniature Kylo Ren and his father, hitting up the same houses that we were.  As the two kids began to talk, our two small groups merged to continue this trick or treating journey.  And it went well.  The father of Kylo and myself introduced ourselves, shook hands, and talked leisurely about Halloween being on a school night and having to get all that we could before it was time for bed.

As we approached the end of the lane, we could see far more children, parents and decorations, as one home in particular was putting the finishing touches on a haunted house run out of the garage.  As we continued forward, a little guy dressed like someone from Halo approaches the children and asks them if they want candy. Of course, they say yes and they follow him to his front door, where they are halted by the little Halo guy’s father.  Within moments, he is asking if they can go trick or treating with us and dad says yes.

Here is where it gets interesting to me.  Halo guy’s father walks up to Kylo’s father and introduces himself, and they shake hands.  Now, when Halo guy’s father briefly locks eyes with me, I consider introducing myself, but upon viewing my immediate dismissal by him, I decided against it.  From that point forward, it was as if I did not exist.  The two dads fell few steps behind discussing their lives, their families, their separations, dating, and the important messages found in church, along with having the ability to go on sabbatical from one of their jobs.  All the while, rather than make an ass of myself trying to talk to them, I continued in what I was there for; keeping my kid safe while she has fun trick or treating; reminding her not to walk through anyone’s grass or to not go to homes where the lights were not on.  By the end, I am telling my child and their children, which homes they have already been to and how far we are going before we turn and go back.

In the end the two boys were too scared to go to the haunted house once it was operational.  By that point, Kylo’s father called me by name, and announced it was nice to meet me, and which point, I did the same, while Halo guy’s father continued on back towards his own house, as if I did not exist and had not been looking out for his kid.

My girl, of course, was ready to step into the haunted house and though brief, we had fun laughing and screaming and being scared.  She had no idea, just as little Kylo Ren and Halo Guy had no idea of the putrid air of xenophobia that had been swirling around the entire encounter.  The children saw no differences, and I’m glad that they didn’t.  But I ask you my fair and intelligent readers, what was the main difference between these two dads and me??

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories.

 

Hips – Part One

Emerging onto the front steps of the high school, Nikols shifts his briefcase from his left hand to his right, as he briefly scans the main yard for any lingering students.  Eager as he is to get home, he cannot completely turn off the educator in him.  As his eyes fall on two of the schools’ regular truants, he opens his mouth to motivate them to go home, when he takes notice to what their eyes are focused on;  a fresh young blond, not quite 18.  Her hair hangs limply down her back, while her too-short crop-top clings to her ample breasts and her too-tight low-riders hug her slim hips.  Passing by them, she exaggerates her gait, attempting to flaunt her still developing curves, visually regarding them with disdain, as she physically beckons them nearer.  Registering the female’s figure with an adolescent-like interest, Nikols has to smile, as a set of similar curves sashays across his mind.

Nikols and his roommate Kelly stood outside the dining hall after their last class, when Susan walked past them for the third time.  Her Daisy Dukes made him hunger for much more than dining hall cuisine, and he could feel her every step in the pit of his stomach.  As he dragged his fingers through his slightly damp hair and gathered his courage, Kelly nudged him strongly in the ribs.

“I wouldn’t trust her.”  He said simply.

“What’re you talking about?  She’s beautiful.”  Nikols told him.  “What do you know?  Your taste in women is terrible.”

“Why, because I like my women to have hips?  Hips you can trust.”  Kelly said, dismissively.

“You’re full of shit, Kelly. You like your women fat.”  He retorted, as Susan tossed her hair back over her shoulder.

“No, I’m serious.  Look at her; she’s parading back and forth in front of you.  Working so hard to show off.  If she had hips, she wouldn’t have to work so hard.  She’s trying to sucker you in. That let’s you know it’s gonna be hell, once you get it.  But a woman with actual hips doesn’t have to flaunt ’em.  They move naturally, like a pendulum.  Always right on time.”

With a wave of his hand, Nikols dismissed Kelly’s warning, as was customary and shifted his attention back to Susan, only taking a brief moment to whisper over his shoulder at him.

“Who cares about hips? That face is enough.  I’ll never get bored with that.”

“Faces don’t build a…”

He had moved too far away to hear Kelly’s words.  Nikols was already introducing himself before his roommate could finish his thought.  From behind, he could hear him yell out, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”  He ignored him as he did most of the time, but as the memory begins to fade, the grandfather clock downstairs chimes announcing the ten o’clock hour, and Nikols begins to wonder what was the last thing that Kelly had said.

Standing in the darkened bedroom, Nikols sighs heavily as he hears the distant sound of a car door closing.  Walking to the window, he very carefully separates the sheer curtain and discerns the form of his wife, as she attempts to make a quick, yet quiet approach to the home.

“She’s hoping that I am asleep.” He says aloud to no one.

Glancing at the digital clock, Nikols grinds his teeth, when it turns 10:45 pm.  He waits for several minutes, listening to his wife ascend the stairs.  Estimating that she will be opening the bedroom door soon, he crosses the room and flips on the light switch, just as it opens.  Startled, his wife releases a quick cry, as Nikols looks at her with narrowed eyes and a furrowed brow.

“Oh god, you scared me.  Why are you standing in the dark?”  She asks him.

“You’re late.”  He says simply.  He is happy to see her, but trying desperately to hold on to his anger.

“I know I am, honey.  I’m sorry.  I had to finish up at work.”  She says while crossing the room to the bed.

“We both have things to finish at work.  But you promised me that you’d be home by 9:00 pm.  We made plans, Susan.”  He reminds her.

“I know we did.  And we can still carry them out.  Just give me a few minutes.”  She requests.

With a submissive nod, Nikols watches as Susan takes off her pumps and begins shrugging out of her suit jacket.  Relaxing her feet by making small fists on the plush carpet, she unzips the side of her skirt and must pause in order to yawn.  Instantly, the shreds of Nikols’ patience gives over to fury.  Sternly, with the slightest hint of venom in his voice, Nikols says, “No, Susan.  You can’t do this again.”

“Do what?” She says, with a sigh.  “I’m fine.  It’s just a yawn.”  She continues dismissively.

“That’s what I thought the last two times.  You can’t do this to me again, Susan.  It’s not fair.  You promised me you’d be ready this time.”

Yawning again, she says, “I am ready.  Just give me a minute.  Stop overreacting.”

Clenching his jaw, Nikols balls his fist and quickly slams it against the bedroom wall, startling her once again.

“What the hell has gotten in to you!?”  Susan yells at him.

“I’m tired of you breaking your promise to me.  You said we’d try.  I’m doing everything on my end.  You were supposed to be home at 9:00.  You said that was the optimal time for possible conception.  How can you do this to us?  You fucking promised!”  Nikols shouts back at her.

“It’s not too late, damn it!  Just let me fucking shower first!”

“No!  Because as soon as you come out, you’ll be too tired to make love.  And we’ll be forced to wait for the next optimal time.  Which could be weeks!”

Rubbing his hands over his head, Nikols grips his hair tightly, before taking a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself.

“Susan, you promised me that we would try.  You said you wanted a child, too.  But you haven’t been acting like it.  I don’t understand.”

In a few brief seconds, he crosses the room and lightly places his hands on her petite shoulders, looking down into her brown eyes.  His anger nearly drifts away, as he takes in her beauty and he can feel the dismay ebb from him.

“I know that your career is important.  Mine is too.  But we said that we would do what it took to make this happen. I thought we were together on this.”  He says softly to her.

“I know that’s what I said.  But …We don’t even enjoy lovemaking anymore.  It’s scheduled and a chore.  We have to do it.  And that makes me … It makes it …” Susan quiets without finishing.  He can nearly finish the sentence for her.  He knows that she will not say more in order to avoid hurting him any further, and his heart begins to ache for the both them.

“I do enjoy making love to you.  I’ve never stopped.  So you must be saying that you don’t enjoy it anymore.”  Nikols says with his voice just barely above a whisper.  Vocalizing this possibility causes him to nearly choke on the lump forming in his throat, but his hope is rekindled at his wife’s negative reaction to these words.  She shakes her head and wraps her arms around him, holding him close to her.

“I didn’t say that.”  She admits. “What I mean is …sex between us was spontaneous.  We used to make love anywhere.  It could be dirty and fulfilling.  Maybe we would have an orgasm.  Maybe we wouldn’t, but it was always fine.  Ya know?  But now, there’s too much pressure.  We don’t even talk dirty anymore.  If you don’t finish then you feel like less than a man, and if I don’t, you think I don’t want you.  And then we spend the next week trying to mend fences.  I don’t want it like this anymore.”

Sniffing her hair, Nikols wraps his arms around her and holds her closely.  He is torn.  She promised that she would not react this way.  The doctor said that trying to conceive may be stressful and taxing.  But she said she could do it, she agreed to try.  Now she wants to go back to what wasn’t working before.  Squeezing her firmly, he grinds his teeth and squeezes his eyes shut, thankful that she cannot see his struggle, his pain.

With a calm, nearly joyful tone, Nikols says, “Alright, let’s take away the pressure.  Let’s not worry about needles or schedules, and just be together when it feels right.  The way it used to be.”  He finishes passively.

“Really?” She asks.

“Yes. Really.  Let’s …just sleep now.  And start fresh tomorrow.”  Nikols relents.

“Ok.” Susan says happily, as she gives him a final squeeze. “This will be better for the both of us.”

“You’re right, honey.  It will.”

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories. For this particular piece, check out the link, coming right…..now.

 

The Planets Can Kiss My Butt!

I have been thinking for a while that my planets are out of alignment.  In truth, I don’t delve that deeply into my individual motivations, but having that thought run across my mind so much in conjunction with the things going on in my life, I decided to look it up.  And it turns out, I was right.  Saturn needs to get the hell out of Sagittarius because it’s jacking me up.  I’ve been trying to maintain my grip on the wheel of my growth and self-evolution and Saturn highjacked it.  I open my eyes and I’m headed off of a bridge and plummeting into the Milky Way.

But now I know.  Now, I can stop letting life live me and live life.  Retake control and continue shaping the me I want to be.  As many of you well know, doing that is tough.  You have to fight work, environment, society, laziness and genetics; especially genetics.  Slipping into old, bad habits or traditions can leave you comfortably ignorant, and unfortunately, that is a major problem with our society and the world.

Don’t be comfortably ignorant.  Stay grounded on this planet and don’t let other planets fuck up your evolution.  Move forward with your mind open and eyes aware.  Stay positive.  Negativity will kill us before anything else will.

The Genre Box

My last post about my recent rejection from a literary agent had me a bit dismayed.  Not severely.  I mean I’m not ready to hang up my keyboard and forget this whole writing thing.  Not even close.  But I think I figured out why this agent could like what I wrote but not be able to work with it.  And… my realization still leaves me rather vexed.  Let me break it down for you.

So, in my limited experience, literary agents only want to read works that fit their genre.  And that’s fine.  They can read whatever they wanna read.  They can represent whatever they wanna represent.  But personally, I have found that I have never been able to classify my work that way.  I can’t come out and say, “I write erotica,” because that wouldn’t be true.  My writing has lots of erotic elements, but it doesn’t stop there.  I’m not a one trick pony.  Some of my works would fit in women’s lit, historical, romance, urban (I hate that designation); but you see what I’m getting at.  My work can’t fit perfectly into any one genre.

Then, that got me thinking.  Hmmm.  So… so far, every agent and publisher who would even accept and unsolicited manuscript, have tucked themselves neatly into a little box.  A box of romance or mystery or sci-fi or horror, but a box nonetheless.  And these boxes have rules, criteria or a formula that a piece must follow, if they are going to get a second look.  So if you write something, no matter how magnificent it may be, if it does not fit in the box they are hiding in, you will be soundly rejected.  That pisses me off.

No.  This is not sour grapes or being a sore loser.  People lose every day; I’m part of people and I’m used to it.  But I’m pissed off because it means that no one is willing to take a risk.  No one is willing to say, this isn’t what I am programmed to read and pass forward, but it’s worth seeing how far it may go.  And I’m not just talking about what I’m writing, but anyone whose work doesn’t fit into the cookie cutters of traditional publishing.  Not guts, no glory.  No risk, no reward.  Those catch phrases don’t just apply to football or rugby.  They apply to all facets of life.

Instead of classifying my work under any specific genre, I will begin by saying that it falls under literary fiction.  I’m sure that may become more specific, as time progresses, but that is where I’d place it for now.  With this in mind, not only will I continue to move towards self-publishing but I will also continue to look for those agents and/or publishers who may take an interest in a story that does not stay within the lines.

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories.

A Pleased Rejection

Let me begin this post by saying that I am trying to be a published writer, not just a writer.  Whether I self-publish or I am somehow recruited by traditional publisher; that is my goal.  I found a literary agent, who was taking queries from unrepresented writers, and my manuscript seemed to fit the agent’s genre of interest, so I thought, what the hell, and I submitted a query.

Fast forward, one month later.  Granted, I was expecting it to take three to six months so imagine my surprise when the response popped up in my email.  And yes, it was a rejection, but the agent took the time to say that they really enjoyed it and saw the potential in my writing.  And despite liking it, they weren’t sure how to place the project, so they opted not to pursue it any further…. Here is where I take issue.

This is not a love story or some poetic gesture.  So the adage that if you love something let it go and if it returns, it’s yours; that shit don’t work in this case.  If the agent plain out just didn’t like it, then cool, I get that.  But I don’t get ‘I really enjoyed it, but don’t see a place for it’.  That don’t sit right with me.

Since I was given no additional information, it can be deduced that because it doesn’t fit into a particular pre-made box, then it isn’t acceptable.  But who gives a damn about pre-made boxes?  Those don’t do you any good unless its moving day.  If you like something, why not throw the entire weight of your convictions behind it?  Don’t treat it like a crush.  Say you like it and then linger on without any kind of action at all until it’s too late and the object of your desire has moved on to someone who actually said something.

This post/rant spills over into submission guidelines, too.  I will admit I like to put sex in my writing.  Not sex for sex’ sake; I’m not writing porn, but often times sexual contact can drive the story.  And I like to use that.  People are animals and one of the primary ways in which they communicate is sexually.  That is the truth and don’t let the family values nut jobs make you think differently.  But I digress.  Anyway, when you read the guidelines for romance or erotica submissions, they want happily ever afters or plots where the eventual love interests hate each other at first before falling desperately in love.  All I would need now is to plaster the latest incarnation of Fabio on the cover and I’d be in business, right?  Wrong.  What happened to wanting to read a great story?  A story where unconventional characters find themselves in less than traditional situations.  I don’t write in such a way where the entire story is dominated by an on again/off again love hate relationship that grows against all odds.  If people want that, they can just look up any of the hundreds of romance novels or romantic comedies that have been released over the years.  But real life is about strife and pain; overcoming it and sometimes succumbing to it.  Is it too unheard of that people may want to be engaged in a story that invokes the entire gambit of human emotions?  Not only love and arousal, but hate, disdain, sorrow, pain, remorse, revenge;  all those basic guttural emotions that make us, as people, who we are.

Despite my dismay, my resolve has not been shaken in the slightest.  I will continue to write and I will continue to seek the best ways to share my stories with the world.  I’m not looking for a happily-ever-after, I want a life-goes-on ending to this tale, because life continuing is what makes life worth living.  At least, I think so.

 

 

-If you have enjoyed my commentary or my short stories, then please check out my youtube channel, The Wicked Orchard; where you can listen to me read my short stories.

 

 

Bringing Stories To The World

“I want to live!”

“I want to live!”

Overly dramatic??  Maybe.  But as each day passes that exclamation rings louder and louder in my head.  See, I’m a writer.  I have never been published unfortunately; but my goal of becoming published, whether traditionally or untraditionally has not faltered.

Everyday this exclamation cycles through my mind.  No, it is not the early signs of mental break.  They are my characters.  I have four fully completed manuscripts; all full of characters who are ready to replay their story over and over again for whoever is willing to crack the binding, or load a web page and read it.

I long for the day when everyone will have the opportunity to love my characters, as much as I do; or to hate them for that matter.  So until that day arrives I will continue to strive to publish what I have completed and to continue to improve my craft so that I can create more universes for us all to lose ourselves in.

I have an active Gofundme Campaign so that I can self-publish my first novel.  Any donations or assistance would be welcome and appreciated.  For those of you who are wondering, “I’m not sure if I want give my money to this.  What if her writing is awful?”  That would be a fair query, and no one should dive into to anything without doing the research.  I have all of my short stories posted on my website under Completed Short Fiction.  Please take a look and see if you enjoy what I have to offer. Now, if you are one of the millions of us, who doesn’t have a lot time to read, I am also reading my own short stories and posting the audio up on youtube on The Wicked Orchard .  This way you can load the entire playlist for Quittin’ Time, my first short story, and listen while you’re driving to work, doing the dishes or on your way to sleep.  If my style of writing doesn’t appeal to you, I completely understand, but if you do enjoy it, consider donating, or at least share with anyone you think might be interested.  More than raising money, I want people to enjoy my stories. I want to invoke all of the emotions that have laced in every word.  I want to make people feel and hopefully make them think, too.

 

Quittin’ Time Part Four-Short Story

(YouTube)  Part 4

7:00pm.   When the alarm clock goes off at seven, the evening commences as usual, with Eli silencing the alarm with his fist, just as Vera puts his coffee down on the night stand.  Slowly sitting up, he leers at his wife, who shuffles about the room with her head down, picking up his discarded pillow, as she progresses to the bathroom.  When his mug is empty, Eli enters the bathroom to take his already prepared shower, shooting a glance at Vera, who stands in the rear of the room with her head lowered.  Once clean, he emerges from the bathroom to a freshly cleaned and pressed uniform, with a pair of immaculate boots and a brand new pair of laces.

Walking into the kitchen, Eli finds a plate filled with three barbecue pork chops, a pile of steak fries and a heaping of macaroni and cheese.  Each portion is piping hot with steam rising into the room’s atmosphere.  Taking his seat, he has to choose between a soda and beer for his beverage, which brings a smile to his lips, despite his sour demeanor.  Glancing around the room, he notices that his wife is nowhere to be found, while sipping his beer and stuffing a fry into his mouth.

With the meal complete, he grabs his lunch bag and strolls to the door, where his wife is standing, holding his car keys and work identification badge.  Looking at the top of her head, he takes his items and sucks his teeth.  “If you behave like this all the time, we wouldn’t have problems.  Remember that.”  Eli says coldly.  “I will.  Vera says softly.

After he leaves, Vera remains in the same spot until she can hear the car speed off down the street.  Flipping her hair back, Vera stares at the closed front door with a smirk on her lips.  Unfastening her house coat, she strides naked through the living room and into the kitchen, where she retrieves several bottles of wine from the refrigerator.  Next, she walks to a dark doorway in the back of the kitchen, which leads to the basement door.  Opening it, she descends a dim staircase, leading to the iron bar clad bedroom that is once again lit by a multitude of candles.  Meeting her half way, the lummox smiles, as he gently takes the wine from her.  “You look even more beautiful than you did last night, mistress.  Is today the day?”  The lummox asks humbly.  “Is everything prepared?”  She asks.  “Yes, mistress.  Come.  Your bath has been drawn.  You must be exquisite for this last night.”
12:55am.   Eli walks to his locker and places his lunch bag inside, while glancing around the locker room for Randy, but he is nowhere in sight.  “Hey!  Has anybody seen Randy?”  Eli asks to no one in particular.  “No.”  Someone calls out.  “Didn’t even call in.  He’s got one more night of that and that’s it.”  “Pussy must be better than it looked.”  Eli mumbles to himself.  “I’ll find out soon.  That’s for damn sure.”
4:30am  Once again, Eli finds himself standing in line with several other men, waiting for the Lummox to open the massive door.  He glances around, hoping to catch a glimpse of Randy, but after just a few seconds, he gives up and continues to stare straight ahead along with everyone else.  The temperature this early morning is low, and he can see his own breathe dissipating before him, but he cannot feel a bit of the cold.  His stomach is topsy-turvy with butterflies and he is finding it increasingly more difficult to keep still.  When the first bead of runs down the side of his brow, the heavy iron door slowly opens and he can just barely see the dim candlelight within.  As each man files into the open door, Eli nervously clenches his hand around the one hundred dollar bill that he has ready.  When he reaches the lummox, he takes Eli’s money and quietly whisper to him.  “Once inside, step to the right and wait for me to fetch you.”  Smiling despite his deep desire to look unaffected, Eli follows his given instructions, and waits while all of the other unlucky spectators take their positions in front of the iron bars.  The candlelight can be seen but the bed and the surrounding area is still concealed by the black curtain that ended the performance the night before.  It looked strangely like a continuation of the previous evening’s activities.  Eli half expects for the curtain to lift and for Randy to still be lying in the same spot on the silken bed, with the mystery seductress still planted on his cock.  As the last man files past him, a heavy metallic thud thunders behind him, forcing his heart to quicken its pace.  But when the weighty, hot hand of the lummox drops onto his shoulder, Eli visibly jumps several inches off of the floor.  Gripping him strongly, the lummox pushes him forward until they come to their own black curtain.  When the large handed man releases him, he is deeply relieved, but still reluctant, since he cannot see anything in front of him.  Just then, the same soft music from the previous night begins to play and Eli can suddenly hear the sound of 20 eager men all gasping at once.  “Welcome. I am glad that you are all here to join me once again.  I am most appreciative of your patronage.  I can hear that you all are a little stunned.  We are starting off a little differently tonight.  As usual, a request was made last night, and that is why I am here as I am.  The requester is not among you, but waiting to join me.  So, why not join me now?”

Suddenly, the heavy hand is back on Eli’s shoulder, strongly pushing him through the black curtain.  When he emerges, he can see that the entire room is lit like before and all of the spectators are in the same place.  The only difference is that the mystery woman is lying on the silken bed, completely naked except for the mask over her eyes.  Her wrists are chained to the head board of the bed, and her legs are parted, with long, satin purple sashes tied from her ankles to the bed posts.  “What is your name?”  “Eli.”  “You asserted yourself last night while making your request.  I heard you above all others.”  “I hoped that you would.”  “Is this what you wanted, Eli?”  “Fuck, yes.”  “Then come to me.”  She beckons.  “Come and fulfill your desires.

Ignoring the envious groans of the spectators, Eli moves towards the bed, while unfastening his belt.  After unbuttoning and unzipping his pants, he pulls out his erection, gripping it strongly, as he climbs up onto the bed.  Once between her legs, he grips each of them behind the knees and spreads them fully, while looking down at her well groomed labia.  Licking his lips, he grabs his cock, lowers down and steadily enters her.  With each progressive inch, the exhibitionist groans, as if partaking in the most sinful dessert.  Licking her glossy-coated lips, she slowly raises her hips to meet the pelvic advances of her temporary lover.  Just before his erection vanishes inside her completely, he forcefully jams it into her cervix, gaining an audible yelp and grimace from the seductress beneath him.  “Is that why you wanted me this way, Eli, to hurt me?”  She asks softly.  “I think you are too used to be being in control.  I’m gonna give ya some cock the way a bitch is supposed to take it.”

Without waiting for a response from his host, Eli begins to aggressively thrust into her, gaining a restrained grunt with each movement.  She attempts to straighten her legs and twist away, but this only riles him, driving him to use even more force.  With the tone of the atmosphere changing, the spectators continue to watch with their jaws agape.  Even when the lummox offers each of them a glass of wine; they accept them mechanically and gulp them down, without taking a moment to glance at what they had consumed.  Within a few minutes the spastic rhythm of release takes over Eli, causing him to grunt through his ejaculation, while grinding his still throbbing erection deep inside her. Looking down at her with an expression of satisfaction and contempt, Eli can see the remnants of tears at the bottom of her mask.  Sneering, he firmly grips her around the neck with both hands and begins recklessly thrusting into her again.  Grabbing his wrists, the mystery woman begins to gasp for air and violently kick her feet; when a sound resembling heavy sacks dropping all at once seems to rise up behind him.  Pausing, Eli looks over his shoulder and can see that every single man, who was witnessing this performance, is lying, seemingly unconscious on the floor; awkwardly clustered at the iron bars.

Suddenly, he can hear an all too familiar voice coming from the lips of the mystery woman.  “It’s just you and me now.”  Looking down at her, he loosens his grip on her throat, takes a hold of the mask and snatches it off his host’s face, revealing the youthful and unmarred face of his obedient wife, Vera.  “Ve-Vera?”  Eli stammers in disbelief.  “Welcome home, Eli.”  Before Eli can move an inch, he is quickly snatched into a full nelson submission maneuver.  Glancing quickly to the left and right, he cannot see who is holding him, but can only assume that it is the lummox, who man-handled him earlier.  He tries to wiggle and strain to free himself, but the big man’s hold on him is unrelenting.  “What the fuck is going on, you bitch?”  Eli spits at her.  Sitting up, Vera easily pulls the shackles free from the headboard with a piercing snap.  After yanking each cuff from her wrists, she rubs each of them comfortingly, before leaning forward and untying each of her ankles.  “You know, you are the sorriest sort of man.  You could not even be civil when a woman is giving you exactly what you requested.”  “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking too?”  Eli yells enraged.

He tries to lunge at her forgetting that he is securely bound; but when the lummox seizes up on his arms sending hot tendrils of pain through each shoulder, Eli quickly deflates.  “This…  This is what you’ve been doing with my new rec room?”  Eli asks weakly.  “No.  This is what I have been doing with my basement.  I hope you do not think that your job kept this home afloat all of these years.  With your incessant gambling, you never brought home more than a couple a hundred a week.  But living in delusion is easy for the weak of heart.”  Vera says while climbing off of the bed.  Once the identified seductress is out of the way, the lummox slams Eli onto his back on the bed, and fastens a new set of shackles to each of his wrists, leaving his legs unbound.   Taking his leave, Vera moves to the foot of the bed, where she stands fully naked before him.  Despite his imprisonment, he stares at her with a mix of lust and disgust.  Angry eyes leer at her, as his erection re-surges.  “I chose you well.”  Vera says plainly.  “Chose me?  I saved you from being a lonely old bitch.  You need me to take care of you.”  Eli boasts arrogantly.  “But you are so wrong.  I could feel you coming before you ever laid eyes on me.   I could feel your weakness.  Your feebleness.  Your desire to feel joy at the expense of others.  Your need to abuse because… I don’t know… because maybe your father or mother neglected you, abused you or even better, loved you as well as you loved me.  You see my kind needs that.”  “What do you mean your kind?  Lying cunts?  Is that the kind you mean?” Eli asks.  “No Eli.”  She answers with a sigh.  “Don’t you like how I look?  My soft, smooth, taut skin.  This luscious, curvaceous body.  I can see you still desire it.  I must admit, I would not have this if not for you.  When you met me, I was aged and a little tired.  My reserves were nearly spent and I was looking for a new reservoir and you were perfect. You see, Eli, I feed off of wretched souls full of negative emotions.  And you are a perfect vessel for both.  I have not found a reservoir as vast as you in nearly two centuries.  Every time, you hit me; every time you punished me for your short comings, or spoke ill toward me, it fueled me. It fed me.  And these many years, Eli, you have fed me well.  Lesser meals like Randy were good for a spiritual snack, but finally…  Finally Eli, you will be my main course.  I have never enjoyed you completely, less I would devour you too soon, and it would not last.  But all these years of suffering under your boot…  All of this accumulated needless wraith will provide me with a youthful appearance, far longer than any other lover that I have ever had and for that…  I thank you.”  Pulling strongly at the chains, with a slight quiver in his voice, Eli says, “You’re fucking crazy.”  “You want to believe that, but you are actually frightened.  It’s a trade-off.  I suffer a few years of pain and indignity for decades of beauty and prosperity.”  “What about them?”  He says, motioning towards the unconscious men by the bars.  “They don’t have enough venom to be palatable.  They were horny and lonely.  I have just put them out of the misery.  No more spectators, no need.  You are the last.”  She finishes.

With his eyes darting quickly around the room searching for an escape, Vera mounts the foot of the bed and starts slowly climbing up Eli’s body.   Despite his fear, his erection does not diminish, and before he can twist his body to evade her, he can feel her internal warmth enshrouding him.  “You were never this good in bed.”  Eli groans.  “You didn’t deserve it.  But I was good enough for you to marry and that’s all I needed.  Just relax Eli; you’re my husband, let me please you one last time.”

As Eli resumes his futile struggle to free himself, Vera delicately runs her hands over the work shirt that she has washed and pressed so many times.  Almost lovingly, she gently runs her fingertip over each translucent button, just before grabbing it firmly and snatching it off. Within a minute, each button has been cast aside and the shirt falls open soundlessly, exposing Eli’s bare chest, which is rising and falling rapidly.  With his eyes darting from left to right, he sucks in his breathe as Vera lays her hands lightly upon his chest.  Expecting excruciating pain, Eli involuntarily flinches, but slowly calms, when no attack ensues.  Taking a deep breath of her own, she begins to slowly roll her hips backward, stroking his erection and gripping him firmly with her interior, whenever their bodies meet. With the tension in his bound arms ebbing away, Vera softly begins to moan, as a very palpable heat begins radiating from her and washing over him in waves.  “If you had been this good of a lay all of these years, I coulda been nicer to you.”  Eli confesses between breathes.  “No, you couldn’t Eli.  You’ll lie to yourself.  You’ll lie to me.  But I can feel the truth.  It’s right under the surface.”

Almost immediately, Eli can feel a tightness seizing around his chest, stealing his breathe from him.  Eyes beginning to bulge, the tension returns to his entire body, defining each muscular cord. “V-vera… My heart… I …”  Moving over him more vigorously, Vera answers, “Yes, Eli.  Yes.  Your heart.  That has always been your problem.  It’s the darkest part of you.  And it’s the part I’m going to take.”  With the organ in question becoming tachycardic, Eli pulls violently at the chain, using all of his energy to resist and scream in protest, but he is unable to find his voice.  Placing both hands on either side of his face, she grips him painfully, and rocks back and forth riding him forcefully, as his convulsion sends jolt of pleasure spreading through her pelvis.  Leaning over him, she stares deep into his eyes, and captures his taught and trembling lips in a kiss.  The pleasure drawn from the softness of her lips supersedes the silky warmth he feels inside her and despite his fear; he returns the kiss, just as the seed of regret begins to take root.  Just as wispy wishes of wanting to wrap his arms around her dance around the edges of his consciousness, the pain he had feared takes hold of him, and he begins to scream into the open mouth of his life draining spouse. With ejaculation imminent, Eli begins to blubber incoherently and instead of life producing semen flowing into her womb, his body begins to expel its own life force, through his arteries, out of his lungs and into her waiting gaping maw.   The deep pelvic spasms that would normally propel ejaculate now propel a sickly green mist, both viscous and ethereal, into the body of his wife, giving Eli the most powerful and most finite orgasm of his shortened life.

Even though his screams had ceased, and his eyes were fixed and dilated, Eli’s body continues to convulse, because of Vera‘s fiercely working gluteus sucking every last sign of life from his withering body.  By the time every synapse had dispersed and every ounce of hydration dissipated, all that is left of Eli is a mummified husk, with his once prominent erection having desiccated and withdrawn from Vera all on its own.
In one swift motion, Vera sits up and dismounts from her dead husband, landing on her feet with a light thud.  Ignoring the corpse on the bed, she begins examining the skin of her hands and arms.  She pinches the top layer of skin, watching as it snaps back completely. She presses the finger pads of her index finger and thumb together, smiling as the capillaries refill so quickly that it is nearly undetectable.  Walking to a mirror, she looks closely at her naked body, front, side and rear.  Her body has no blemishes, no scars and no cellulite.  Every line of her body is smooth, firm enough to portray youth, yet soft enough to inspire lust.  Satisfied with the results, she turns around just in time for the lummox to enter carrying a glass of wine.  “All is complete, my lady?”  The lummox asks her.  “Yes, all is complete.”  She answers.  “The young wench is approaching.”  The lummox relays.

Before Vera can respond, a young dark haired girl walks in, obnoxiously chewing a wad of pink bubble gum and carrying a cloth sack in her hand.  “Would you please get rid of the gum.”  Vera demands.  Spitting it out and sticking it behind her ear, the girl apologizes.  “I’m sorry ma’am.  I retrieved all of the wallets as you instructed.  Oh My God, look at you!  You look so young!  Is that what you were talking about?  Is that what you can do?”  “Yes, child.  It is.  And God had nothing to do with this.  Give him the identification and you can keep all the money they carried.”  “What are we gonna do with all of the bodies?”  The young girl asks.  “They will burn with the house.  Anyone who lives here will be drenched in Eli’s evil deeds.  Better to scorch the earth and allow someone else to begin fresh and new.”  Vera explains.  With a genuine smile, Vera walks over to the young girl.  She reaches behind her ear and removes the gum that was stuck there and hands it to the lummox, just before brushing loose strand of hair behind the same ear.  “In this world dear child, fresh and new is what’s important.  Haven’t you come to learn that?”  Vera asks her.  Nodding she says, “Yes … That is why my father started molesting me.  He said I was young and tight; so different than my mother before she died.  And Eli would say things like that.  He’d say I was stupid, but that made my young pussy willing.”  “You only gain anything in this world if you are young, taut, fresh and new, with the brains and deceit to back it up.  Would it not be better to be the one taking from others rather than the one being taken?”  Vera asks her.  Looking down at the wad of money that she has been gripping tightly, she quickly stuffs it into her shallow pocket, while reaching into her back pocket, pulling out a pack of bright pink bubble gum.  At the same time, the lummox hands Vera a glass that is only a quarter filled with fragrant red wine.  Next, the obedient servant hands her a large, yet ornate pearl handled knife.  Quickly, she slices herself across the wrist of the hand holding the glass, and before a single drop of blood can drip, she positions her open vein over the stemware and the dark crimson liquid begins to drain into it, doubling its volume.  Relinquishing the knife, Vera runs her tongue across the wound, causing it to seal up and mend, as if her skin had never been pieced.  Swirling the wine glass and peering into the young girl’s astonished eyes, she extends the delicate glassware towards the young girl.  “It is time to leave all exploitation behind.”  Vera proposes.  With little hesitation, the dark haired girl throws her pack of gum to the floor and snatches the wine glass from her new mentor, chugging its contents.  Once empty, she hands it back and strongly hiccups, before her knees buckle and her body cascades to the floor like a satin sheet.  Smiling down at the unconscious young girl, Vera tosses the glass over her shoulder, where it shatters against the headboard, showering shards of sparkling crystal over the dearly departed Eli.  After scattering the empty wallets back over the dead men behind the bars, the lummox lifts Vera’s unconscious ward into his arms and exits through the darkened doorway.  Outside, on the deserted, dilapidated street, the young girl slowly awakens, lying on the back seat of a car.  She can feel the smooth, warm interior underneath her rear, and speedily realizes that her clothing has been removed.  Looking down at herself, she notices that even though she is naked, she does not feel as if she has been pawed at; and there is no pain or bruising as evidence of an unconscious violation.  On the contrary, she feels strong and more at ease in her own skin.  She cups her breasts, that are a full cup size larger than they were before, and her feet no longer stand out like boats at the ends of her legs.  Looking out of the heavily tented window, she can see Vera standing outside of the car, draped in a cloak and smoking a cigar.  The house that Vera had called home is a blaze, with flames reaching high into the night sky.  Opening the car door, the young girl steps out, joining Vera in her quiet contemplation.  “The cops’ll be here soon.” She remarks quietly.  “We have time.  Time enough for you to say a final goodbye.”  Vera replies. As if by magic, the lummox is standing before her, holding a mummified carcass in his arms.  Staring at the sunken, drawn face, she tilts her head to the side, much like a confused puppy.  “Even after all this time, I thought some feeling of remorse or regret would be here.  But it’s not.  I can’t even fake it.  Goodbye, Denny.  I am not your daughter anymore.”  Receiving a nod from his mistress, the lummox turns towards the flaming house and launches the near weightless corpse at the porch, in an impressive show of strength.  After that, he takes a cloak that was draped over his shoulder and wraps it around the newly developed young girl.  Next, he opens the door to the rear of the car, and after flicking the cigar at the house, Vera steps inside, followed by her new companion.  When the door closes, Vera says, “You must choose a new name for yourself, my child.  You are nearly grown now.”  After a few moments of thought, the young girl says, “Circe.  My name will be Circe.”  “How fitting, my child.  How fitting.”

An ‘E’ for an ‘E’

When we are born, it’s all about us; our needs, our comfort, our sleep.  Human babies have needs and they usually have their needs met by screaming their heads off, when they’re not met.  Most people know this and I have mentioned it in past posts.

As we grow, one of the various roles of our parents is to teach us empathy.  Empathy is defined as the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions.  I have taken the time to include the definition because many people behave as if they have no idea what this word is, what it means or how it is shown….  But I digress.

As we get older, we should learn that our own individual wants and needs are not all that matters in the world.  We are not the center of the universe and all does not revolve around us.  This is how you can learn to show love for you parents and family, and feel sadness for their ills and misfortunes.  This, in turn, leads you to be able to comfort those around you.  These emotions can then extend to people outside your social and familial circle, allowing you to feel the pain of strangers in your own city, your own country and even abroad.

These feelings of empathy can lead one to charity work, wanting to help the disabled, the less fortunate, the sick and the destitute.  It could lead to participation in professions that aid others; doctors, nurses, teachers.

Empathy can lead other to give money out of their pocket, or food out of their kitchen, because sometimes money and food can run out just days before the next pay day.  And rather than let another go hungry, people will give of themselves.  Empathy allows you to identify with the misfortune of others, whether physical, mental, emotional or financial, because you understand that just a single flip of the cosmic coin and you might find yourself in the same position.

Unfortunately, empathy in our society is on the decline, a sharp and fast decline.  It is rapidly being replaced by entitlement.  Entitlement has a couple of definitions, but the one that I am focusing on is, the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.  There is a growing number of people in our society, who identifies with this definition.  It is deeply associated with instant gratification.  As children, we have no real sense of time.  A child asks for a treat and mom says, in 20 minutes.  Two minutes pass, and the child asks for it again.  The child is reminded that 20 minutes hasn’t passed and they need to wait.  Five more minutes pass and the child asks again.  Having no sense of time, they don’t understand having to wait.  The patience of waiting comes over time with proper instruction.

The problem is that teenagers and adults that are well past this stage of development, exhibit the same behavior.  Not because they have no sense of time, but because they want what they want, when they want it and feel that they should not have to wait for anything, just because they’re them.  They think that they are better or special.  They think that their plights, problems and desires come ahead of everyone else’s.  This sense of entitlement leads to a complete and total lack of empathy.  They don’t know what it’s like to be sick without insurance, so the idea of needing public assistance for medical care is ludicrous.  It’s costing them.  They have never been disabled or associated with anyone with disabilities, so they don’t care for programs to help them.  They’ve never been persecuted because of their race, sex or age, so they go so far as to believe that these things never happen, just because it has never happened to them.

Apathy is the bedfellow of entitlement and it is eating away at the conscience of society.  It is a bigger problem than racism, classism, sexism, terrorism and money in the political system.  It is a bigger problem, because if people don’t give a damn about other people, they are liable to do anything to them without remorse.  We see it all the time.  A kid gets drunk, gets in a car and runs over people on the side of the road, killing them.  He gets house arrest and even after a light sentence, he breaks his probation and tries to flee the country.  His life is more important than the lives he took.  A police officer pepper sprays peaceful protesters and ends up suing for emotional trauma.  The supposed Democratic Party sabotages the campaign of one of their own; one who cared for the rights of all people, rich, working and poor, in favor of someone who has the interests of those who already have enough over those who barely have anything.

Empathy has always been a rather ethereal, wispy concept, sometimes slipping right through the fingers, but from time to time in the history of our country, we, as a society, have been able to grip it firmly and lift each other up; but it was never easy.  It took hard work and sacrifice, pain and death.  But now, empathy can’t even be seen floating on the winds.  More often than not, we are every man for themselves and to hell with the rest.

So…

What can we do?

Well, we could just be better, but that takes effort that the apathetic and entitled don’t want to exert.  So, it’s up to us who give a damn, to be mindful and vigilant and take every opportunity to inspire a change in our world; one conversation, one phone call, one post; one vote at a time.  Taking these strides may change things from the smallest interaction between you and a co-worker to the world stage which governs our society.  Close your eyes and for once, picture yourself in someone else’s shoes.  Train yourself, as we should train our children; like we used to train our children, to be patient, understanding and kind.  Bullying children turn into bullying adults; but adults can choose to be better, they just have to want it be better.

Quittin’ Time Part Two – Short Story

4:30 am.   Turning off his car, Eli glances to his right, just in time to see Randy emerging from his own car.  Peering through his windshield, he sees that they are in a dilapidated parking lot that should be vacant at any time of day, especially this time of night.  There are several power poles, with no working lights attached to them; and instead of yellow lines outlining each parking space, a multitude of weeds has taken over the job.  Getting out of his car, Eli mechanically sets the alarm, but feels slightly more at ease, since he and Randy are not the only ones risking their vehicles in this abandoned lot.  “So where are we going?  Is it a strip joint?”  Eli asks Randy, who appears to be nearly giddy.  “No, this is better than any skanky strip tease.”  He answers.  “Well, what the fuck is it?”  Eli probes.  “It’s hard to explain.  Ya just gotta see it.”

After checking his watch, he motions for Eli to follow him, as he begins to quickly work his way past other parked cars. When they reach the street, Eli realizes that there are in a loose group with about 10 other men.  “Hey, Randy?  Are we all going to the same place?”  Eli questions, slightly uneasily.  “Yeah, man.  Hey you got c-note?”  “A c-note?  What for?”   “That’s the price of admission.  Don’t bitch man, you dropped a K at the track yesterday.  Just have it ready.”  “Alright, alright.”  Eli says, surrendering to his own curiosity.

For the next five minutes, he and Randy walk in silence, with only his heartbeat and the sounds of rock skittering across the ground as the group of men make their way down the street.  Soon, as if following a collective compass, the group makes a hard left and begins to descend down a darkened passageway that Eli can only assume is a stairwell.  Once at the bottom, they approach a heavy door with an even heavier man standing in front of it.  Having to look up nearly seven inches to meet his eyes, Eli hitches up his pants and throws his shoulders back, as he retrieves the hundred dollars from his wallet.  Once every man has his cash in hand, the heavy door opens with a slight creek and each man enters, making sure to hand the money off to the lummox by the door.

Closely following Randy, Eli attempts to relax, despite the fact that his heart is pounding rapidly in his chest. With no knowledge of what is to come, the sudden change from pitch blackness to candle light is slightly unsettling.  He falls in line beside his escort, as all of the men line up against a large set of cast iron bars.  They are identical to prison bars, except there seems to be no entrance or exit.  Settling into a spot beside Randy, Eli folds his arms, and plasters an expression of disinterest on his face, while he surveys the layout.  On the other side of the bars, there are at least four candelabras, holding four candles each, all fully lit.  The air is heavily scented with an aroma that reminds him of chocolate and sex.  With the familiar sensations of arousal settling in his lower abdomen, Eli cannot help but notice that the men surrounding him have not made a sound since they all entered.  Glancing at some of the faces, he can see the look of desire and expectation that he can only imagine now resides on his face as well.  The far walls are draped with soft lavender fabric that seems to begin at the center of the ceiling, and weaves in arcs across the ceiling until they reach the four corners of the room.  From the center of the wall, a king-sized bed covered in white satin and purple throw pillows, juts out towards them.  On a shelf above the bed, Eli notices not only different bottles of lubricant, but there are at least six different vibrating sexual aids, varying in size and shape.  Hearing a heavy thud, Eli whispers, “What the hell is going on?”  “Shut the fuck up.”  Randy quickly snaps.  “It’s starting.”

A moment later soft music begins to play seemingly coming from all around them.  Hearing a man behind him suck in his breath, Eli’s eyes are lured to the far right corner of the room, as someone emerges from the shadows.  They are covered from head to toe in a hooded satin robe that drags on the floor.  Stepping to the rhythm of the music, the hooded figure slowly begins to sway their hips, while untying the front of the robe.  When the sash is dropped to the floor, the robe teasingly falls open revealing a sand-colored abdomen and very low cut white panties.  In one swift motion, she pulls back the hood, but her eyes are covered in a mask, as if she were attending a masquerade ball.  Then she slips the loose garment off of her shoulders, allowing it to cascade to the floor.  Hearing mild groans from all around him, Eli has to shift his stance, as his eyes fall on her large round breasts.  There are large hoop piercings through each of her nipples, which are round and inviting.  The white panties cling to a pair of wide hips that are connected to a pair of creamy thighs that are pressed firmly together.  There is no space between her legs and the soft mound of her pubis seems to barely be contained by the thin material.

Compared to the snack that Eli had enjoyed earlier in the back of his Crown Victoria, this woman was a four course meal.  The power of his mounting arousal was virtually painful, compelling him to unfold his arms involuntarily and grip the cast iron bars, as though he might pull them apart.  Smoothly, she licks her plush, gloss covered lips and smiles at the gathering.  “Good evening, gentleman.  I am happy to have you join me.”  Her voice is deep.  Maturity seems to swim from her lips, like a whale diving into deep water, pulling you under.  “There are more of you tonight.  It looks like I am growing in popularity.  I am pleased that you all think so much of me.  I thank you for you patronage.  Some of you are new, but you will get the feel of the experience.  Last session, one of you requested that I wear white panties.  Which one of you requested that?”

Seeing movement beside him, Eli looks beside him and sees that Randy has raised his hand.  Slowly, the mostly-nude woman crosses her enclosure and stops directly in front of them.  The heat generated by her short journey towards them sets Eli’s groin ablaze, with his only thought being of plunging deep inside her body.  Licking her lips, she places her left hand on her hip and uses the right one to gently caress the thin material covering her pelvis.  “What’s your name?”  She asks.  “Randy.”  He is just barely able to croak out.  “Randy.  Is this what you want to see Randy?”  She asks him.  “Yes.”  “I fulfilled your request from last session.  So, you know what that means don’t you, Randy?”  Sucking his teeth, he eagerly answers, “Oh-yeah.”  Raising her voice, the woman says, “Lead him inside.”  Watching Randy take a step back, Eli sees the lummox from the door, place a hand on his co-worker’s shoulder and push him through the crowd, where they both disappear into the dark.  A low murmur begins to spread among them until Randy suddenly appears looking bewildered inside the woman’s enclosure.  “Welcome Randy.” Patting the corner of the bed, she says, “Sit down right here.”  Chewing on his lip, Randy obeys, having to adjust his genitals before taking his seat.  Taking a stance in front of him, the woman begins to rub her finger over the silky white panties, watching his eyes settle on her crotch.  “Touch me Randy.”  Obeying her, Randy reaches out, inverts his hand and gently touches the fabric of her panties.  Parting her legs, she takes hold of his wrist and pushes it between her thighs until he is cupping her labia completely.  “Do you like that?  Do you feel the heat?”  Randy does not answer.  Instead, he begins to massage the thick area, compelling the woman to grind her crotch into his hand.  “The rules are…  The chosen only indulges in one act.  You must decide what the act will be.  Decide quickly.”  She demands.  Quickly, Randy begins to unbuckle his belt and unbutton his pants.  In a blink, he is lying back with his erection exposed for the audience to see.  “I want inside those white panties.”  Randy stammers.

Stepping back, the woman hooks her fingers into the thin strap of her panties and slides them over her hips and down her thighs.   After discarding them, she straddles Randy, slowly climbing up his body, and dipping her hips, as she reaches for the shaft of his exposed erection.  Next, she grips it strongly, gaining a groan from her guest.  Raising her hips, she positions his penis for penetration; and as if on cue, all of the men swiftly move to a better vantage point, just as she sinks down over his erection.  The two groan in unison.  Everyone in the group stares at the pair with mouths agape.  Some have pressed their bodies flush against the bars, wishing to phase through the iron in order to get closer. Others grip their erections through their pants, stroking subtly, as to not draw attention to their masturbation.  When she moves her vagina up and down over his shaft, they all can see the glossiness of her secretions on his skin.  With her sexual ministrations increasing in vigor, they all can hear the juicy result of their coupling.

 

With all of the men staring at the scene, as if they are trapped behind the bars, Eli grunts inwardly, as sweat begins to seep from between his fingers and the iron bars.  Envy is oozing from his pores and rolling over him in waves, as she reaches behind her and palms each cheek of her ass, spreading it, so that she can plunge even further onto Randy’s erection. Following this adjustment, Randy involuntarily grips the seductress’ hips, with eyes wide, as she incrementally increases her pace.  With her own eyes beginning to flutter behind their lids, her lips slowly part and saliva trickles from the corner of her mouth and runs down her chin.  “I can feel it Randy.  You are near.  Don’t hold back.  Give it all to me.”  She relays with only a hint of urgency.

Despite his desire to prolong this fantasy encounter, Randy can feel his control dissipate.  When the first pelvic contraction jettisons his ejaculate into her still working vagina, she cries out in ecstasy, with her entire body becoming still and rigid, while only her hips and ass move in a jerking upward motion.  Each powerful contraction of her gluts, forces Randy to release a guttural yelp, as his back arches strongly, bowing his body and raising him up off of the bed.  After many excruciating seconds, he collapses onto the bed, inhaling giant gulps of air, as though he had been held underwater.  Wearing a pleased and caring expression, the woman’s entire body relaxes, as she reaches up and gently caresses Randy’s bewildered face.  “My experienced viewers now realize that tonight’s festivities are at an end.  So now I will take requests.  What would you like to see tomorrow night?”  She asks casually.  Immediately, she in bombarded by an avalanche of erotic requests, but suddenly an exaggerated baritone strikes her ear.  “I want you chained and spread eagle for my pleasure.”  Eli says much deeper than those around.  Smiling, the woman says, “I have chosen the request.  And tomorrow it will be fulfilled.  Thank you for your patronage.”  At that moment a large black curtain lowers, symbolizing the end of the performance, followed by the sound of a heavy metal door scraping the floor, compelling all of the men to exit the room in single file.  Aside from the shuffling of feet, there is no sound, other than aroused silence, which covers them like a shroud and ushers them into the stillness of night.  When Eli reaches his car, he gets in and stares through the windshield at nothing for a long time.  With his prolonged erection, he grimaces, as he unzips his pants, creating some additional space.  “I know she heard me.  I’ll be front and center tomorrow.”  He says aloud to no one.

 

Quittin’ Time Part One – Short Story

7:00 pm.  The clock radio alarm goes off with a tirelessly, intrusive buzzing that pulls Eli out of his deep slumber.  Instinctually, he balls his fist and slams it down on the screaming piece of equipment, silencing it for the moment.  “You really shouldn’t hit the alarm so hard.  You’re liable to break it, and then have to replace it.”  Vera says.

Lifting his pillow, Eli opens one eye and is just able to make out his wife, setting a cup of coffee beside the battered alarm clock.  She then, switches it from snooze to off, before turning on the bed-side lamp.  Giving in to the inevitable, Eli sits up, tossing his pillow to the floor.  After a deep stretch, and a feline-like yawn, he swings his legs to the floor, just as his wife nudges his slippers into place under his feet.  Next, she spoons five teaspoons of sugar into his coffee and stirs it vigorously, before she hands him the cup.  Taking it, Eli begins sipping it, as he watches his wife walk around the bed and pick up the pillow that he carelessly tossed aside.  Placing it on the bed, Vera makes the return trip and walks into the master bathroom.  Moments later, the tell-tale sound of the shower turning on, can be heard.  After a minute, Vera emerges to see her husband standing naked next to his empty cup of coffee.  “Your shower’s ready, honey.  I’ll go downstairs and get your dinner.”

Without offering a reply, Eli passes his wife and enters the bathroom, as she exits.  A half hour later, he exits the bathroom, and walks to the bed, where his work khakis, shirt, socks and underwear are laid out, perfectly ironed and waiting for him.  Swiftly dressing, Eli grabs his shoes from up under the bed, pausing momentarily to finger the mustard stains on his shoe laces.  Later downstairs, upon entering the kitchen, Vera places his plate down, between an expertly arranged place setting.  Sitting down, Eli rubs his hands together, and licks his lips at the T-bone steak, baked potato and side salad.

“I wanted a New York Strip, Vera.”  Eli says nonchalantly.

“There weren’t any at the store.  I even asked the butcher.  None had been delivered honey.”  She explains while pouring his soda over ice.

“Get me a beer.”  “You shouldn’t drink before going to the plant, honey.  It’s dangerous.”  “You don’t have a soda with steak.  Get me a beer.  It complements the beef.”  Eli explains.  “Yes, honey.”

Removing the soda, she goes to the refrigerator and pulls out a Budweisier, and sets it next to his plate.  Cutting into the steak, Eli glances at his wife, and says, “My shoelaces are still dirty.”  Facing him, Vera replies, “Oh, honey!  I’m sorry.  I… I forgot about them.”  Looking at the time, she continues, “There is no way that I could get them clean, before you have to go.”  Swallowing, Eli says, “What will everyone think?  I mean, you’re supposed to be my wife.  You’re supposed to take care of me.  I take care of you.  I don’t think that clean shoelaces are too much to ask for.”  Eyes darting from side to side, she says, “You’re right honey.  You do take care of me.”  Walking to a nearby drawer, she opens it and begins rifling through it.  After nearly a minute of frantic searching, she snatches out a pair of khaki colored shoelaces.  With a quick sprint, she gets to the table and drops down to the floor, while Eli continues to eat his meal.  By the time he has finished, Vera stands and her husband pushes away from the table and looks down at his shoes, with brand new laces.  “That’s better.  That’s worthy of us both.”  Standing, he says, “What are you going to do tonight?”  “I’m almost finished with that blanket that you wanted me to knit for your mother’s birthday.  It’ll take me all night.  But it’ll be beautiful.  She’ll love it.”  She says proudly.  “Good.  Make sure the house is clean when I get home.”  “It will be, honey.  Your lunch is by the door with the keys.  I put the beer in a thermos, like you said.”  She relays to him.

“Alright.”  “Are you going to the track after work?”  Vera asks.  “Yeah.  I blew half of the paycheck this afternoon on a goddamn glue factory.  But I gotta lucky feeling about tomorrow.  I’m gonna bring in a couple thousand.  I just know it.  Then I can get that new flat screen in time for the Super Bowl.”  He boasts while hitching up his pants.  Smiling, Vera says, “That’s great.  I know you’re looking forward to that.  Um, I wanted to start a new knitting project, when I finished your mother’s blanket.  Can I get some new yarn tomorrow?”  “New yarn?  I saw the late notice on the light bill.  Did you pay that?”  “Yes, honey.  I took care of that.  And I can get discount yarn at the thrift shop.”  Vera explains.  “Ok.  Get your yarn.  As long as you keep up with the bills.  When I get that new TV, I wanna make the basement my new rec room, so you’re gonna have to put all that yarn and sewing shit somewhere else.  I’m gonna be late, if we keep gabbin’.  I’m leaving.  See ya tomorrow afternoon.”  Eli concludes.  After a slight pause, Vera steps to her husband and kisses him on the cheek.  Wearing a pleased smile, he pats Vera on her bottom, grabs his keys and lunch, and leaves out of the front door.

12:30 am.   A black Crown Victoria is parked in the very back of the water treatment plant’s expansive parking lot.  The windows are heavily fogged and the entire vehicle is subtly rocking from side to side.  Inside, in the back seat, Eli lies atop of a dark-haired woman, whose feet are locked behind his thighs and her nails are digging into the exposed flesh of his buttocks. Gripping the back of her thighs, he powerfully thrusts into her, causing her head to collide into the handle of the rear driver’s side door.  With each passing moment, his grunts becoming raspier and more labored, until he penetrates her deeply, one final time, forcing her knees to fall towards her head, while his ass clenches from the intense release.

After taking a few moments to recover, Eli withdraws and falls back against the door, as the woman pulls herself into a sitting position.  Lightly rubbing her right hand over her still exposed labia, she reaches toward the driver’s side head rest and grabs gelatinous wad that is stuck to it.  After a brief stretch, the bright pink mound comes unglued and the woman stuffs it into her mouth, where she starts chewing it vigorously.  “I need to get the taste of you outta my mouth.  Why’d you fuck my pussy so hard?” The woman asks.  “You know I only have an hour for lunch.  And I don’t need to be gentle with you.  You like it rough.”  Eli answers.  “Where’s Denny?”  “Oh, daddy’s home sick.  He got stung by a bee and swole up.  He took some Benadryl and he’s been sleeping all day.  How else you think I could get the car and come over here?”  She finishes while fishing her panties off of the floor.

Opening up his lunch bag, Eli asks, “When did you get your license?”  “A couple of days ago.  So you don’t have to come to my house all the time.  We can meet up out here.  This was fun.  What did your wife make you for lunch?”  “The same thing; Chicken salad on rye.”  Pulling out a sandwich bag, he tosses it at her.  “Here, you can have the cookies.”  Eli says.

1:35 am.   Inside the employee locker room, Eli opens his locker and deposits the remainder of his lunch inside.  With only moments before the restart of the night shift, most of his co-workers are finishing up their card games to the anti-melodic sound of toilets flushing in the men’s john.  “Hey Eli?  Ya seen Denny?”  Randy asks, while exiting the toilet.  “N—ah.  Haven’t seen’im.  He must be sick or something.  You know he never misses a shift, or a trip to the track.  I’m feeling lucky tonight.”  “You’re lucky most every night.  Sneakin’ outta here to see a sweet thing.  Com’on, tell me who it is?”  Randy asks.  “No can do.”  Eli boasts while hitching up his pants.  Walking up close to Eli, Randy nearly whispers.  “Hey, I got a bead on something good tonight.  You in?”  “Something better than the track?”  Eli replies, mimicking the whisper.  “You’ll have more fun, and lose far less money.  You game?”  “Hell yeah, Randy.  Let’s do it.”

 

*This is being posted as a companion piece to my new Youtube Channel, The Wicked Orchard; where I read my short stories in a serial format.  Quittin’ Time Part One is the first posted video.  Please do me the honor of stopping by and checking out my channel.  You’ll find the link below

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcXeNP5dTLM