Saturday, August 27, 2011
Here's an excerpt from Chapter Two in which Leigh McRae has just learned that a friend from the horse club was arrested for murder. Leigh and her cousin Sammi have gone over to the friend's house to bring so food for the woman's husband. But they've discovered he's not alone. The victim's wife is with him and it doesn't look like the pair have been playing chess.
Sammi beat me to the car and yanked open the passenger side door. She turned to glare in the direction of the house. “I have half a mind to take back what’s left of my chocolate cake. Okay, so they’re both in shock, and from what little we know it looks like Candy did off Richard. But they don’t have to be so blatant about their relationship while the poor woman rots in jail.”
“Samantha Hollister, I’m perplexed by your attitude. Aren’t you the one who’s always telling people to read self-help books and stop judging others?”
“Cut it out. You thought the same thing I did.” She tossed her purse on the floor of the car and made a growling sound deep in her throat.
“Yeah, I did,” I admitted. I paused with my hand on my car door and stared in the direction of the stable. My mental machinery hummed, telling me there was more than one way to help the Lowells.
“As far as I’m concerned, babe, the only self-help book those two need is something called Cooling Off, For Dummies. And Francine could benefit from a course in how to tame her inner bitch. Let’s get going. I’m hot, tired, and I still have to pick up Jeeves at Maggie’s.” Jeeves was Sammi’s Old English Sheepdog. Sammi took him to Maggie’s for regular grooming sessions to keep his coat under control.
“In a minute.” I felt my brow furrow and knew I was risking the permanent wrinkles all the face cream ads warned me about. “Mark doesn’t know much about horses. It wouldn’t be neighborly of me to race off into the sunset without checking to see that Candy’s mare is okay. After all, the poor horse did witness a murder today.”
Sammi put her hands to her head and pretended to rip clumps of her hair out of her scalp. “You are too much. So now you’re using the mare’s supposed trauma as an excuse to scope out the murder scene.”
“I’m just saying.”
“I’ll bet you are. But what’s the rule about you getting involved in murder cases? Tell me, babe, what’s the rule?”
“It’s not exactly a rule, it’s more of a helpful guideline. Besides, seeing to a traumatized horse is not the same as getting involved.” I shot her a smile meant to convince her I was simply looking out for the mare. My initial reluctance to drive over to the Lowell place had turned into a wicked case of curious.
“I ought to hog tie you and throw you in the trunk. Unfortunately, I know you won’t shut up until I give in. But you owe me one.”
Sunday, August 21, 2011
|Pier at Charleston's Folly Beach|
The door opened wider, enough for me to fit myself in the narrow space between the frame and the door edge. I slid inside and watched as he pushed the door shut, redid the lock and poked the chain into its slot. I glanced around, glad it wasn’t me living at the budget motel. The room smelled of mildew and old food wrappers. The rug was so worn I couldn’t be sure there was actually a rug or if I was just looking at random fibers glued to the concrete. The bedspread—ragged, mouse colored, stained—hung crookedly off the side of the bed. Motel issue lamp, phone, and nightstand completed the decor. No sign of a TV, though there was a broken piece of plastic that might have once been part of a TV stand bolted to the floor.
Philip held out his hand like a kid expecting me to slap a chocolate bar onto his palm on Halloween Night. “What are you waiting for?”
I scowled. “You’re not going to get money from my mother or from anyone else in my family.” My voice trembled ever so slightly. Not what I’d hoped for, but I was doing okay, already feeling an adrenaline rush. “I know all about wife number—whatever. Could be twenty for all I know. The new one in a hotel across the river. I’m sure she’d love to teach you a lesson. I’m sure she’d love to know you’re already married to Lurlene, who is no doubt sharpening her knife back in Arkansas at this very moment. In fact, I’m sure Lurlene is wondering when you’re coming home. I have her number and I will call her right now if you don’t stop harassing my mother. What I really ought to do is call the police, but out of respect for Mama’s feelings, I’m going to hold off on that.”
Patty would have been proud of me. The voice tremble had melted away to be replaced by the authoritative tone of someone in charge of a situation--a police officer or even a judge.
Philip’s face twisted into a reptilian sneer. I wanted to slap some respect into him.
“I’m not afraid of a bunch of stupid women. I happen to know that Regina, the stupid cow, would jump off the nearest bridge before she’d let me tell her new sweetheart about her past. Her reputation means the world to her, and that’s as good as money in my pocket.”
Sunday, August 7, 2011
I wrote a novel, Jobless Recovery, and published in 2005. By 201009 many of the things I wrote about in the book had come true. I updated the book and republished in 2010. It doesn't take a psychic to predict an economic collapse in a country run by politicians who have sold their people out to corporate sponsors. I just didn't expect it to happen this fast.
Excerpt from the book. Dave Griffin has just lost his computer programming job to cheaper imported labor and has decided to call Washington and complain:
All the staffers responded as if reading from the same script and they spouted the same meaningless phrases, "education is the answer" and "trade creates jobs."
The pigeons had gone away disappointed, and Dave’s jaw had clamped into an unhealthy tightness by the time he got around to calling the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“What education? How exactly does trade create jobs when all the trade is only flowing one way?” He realized his voice did not sound like the calm, cool, Dave-in-command he’d wanted to project and instead had grown whiny and maybe a little desperate.
“The cash for clunkers program and the economic stimulus will create jobs,” said another phone voice in soothing tones.
“But I don’t have a clunker and the corporations getting all the stimulus money aren’t hiring. They aren’t even loaning money to people. I don’t want a handout, I want a job.”
“You simply don’t understand how the system works.” A disdainful snort sounded over the line. “Since workers have their retirement money in the stock market, anything companies do to increase profits is good for workers even if they lose their jobs.”
“What did you just say?” His voice cracked like that of a teenager. “That’s insane.”
“Sir-er,” the nasal voice said, making sir into a two-syllable word, “contact your local Employment Security Commission.”
Dave sighed. He’d exhausted all his options. If there was a book called The New Economy for the Completely Clueless, he hadn’t read it. But all evidence indicated no one in Washington had either.
He felt as if he’d been smacked in the teeth by robots spouting government double-talk. He tried to imagine a scenario where the fast-talking salesman who’d sold him the Behemoth had tried to woo him with statements such as, "Celebrate diversity and wage compression in your vehicle. Let no car be left behind in the race to global sourcing. The new free trade in vehicles—and clunkers--will spur economic growth through increased auto production and new low interest rates to stimulate consumer confidence. So don’t worry about downsizing, rightsizing, and offshoring of your current model. Education is the key to safe driving. Just call this toll-free number for training and the free health care plan for your car."
He’d have peeled out of the Spectrum Motors lot like a scalded cat. Why, then, had he not reacted when his own government dealt the equivalent of that speech to the American people, not once, but many times over? As long as the trucks kept bringing goods to stock the shelves of the discount marts and the Foodarama, like everyone else, he’d allowed himself to become practically comatose.
As an afterthought, he dialed the toll-free training number given him by U.S. Department of Labor Comment Line. The number connected him to a recruiting office for the United States Army.