Real Life Inspires – Cloud Wrangler (Fridays Free-for-all)

cloud wrangler

Q: Is any of your fiction true? Do you write about real life?

A: Well yes and no. For example a visit to Rockford Illinois for my granddaughter’s graduation inspired the following scene which takes place somewhere in the historical Lake-Peterson House.

Our dog Leia was the inspiration for the physical description of Gus and that is her on the cover.

Leia as Gus (1024x714)

There is some truth in the fiction I write. I will leave it up to the reader to decide where that truth lies.

 

Chapter Twenty Five

Mary paced the empty hallway on the third floor of the ancient house. She counted fifteen steps from one lamp to the next and wondered if the people below could hear her. The dark corridor seemed to grow shorter with each lap along with her patience. She considered unlocking her mind so she could tap into the thoughts of those around her but intuition advised against it. Occasionally she paused to listen at the door; each time she found the words indecipherable and returned to pacing until a gentle creak caused her to stop.

“You may go in now.” A flat voice announced as the heavy door gave way. Sunbeams flooded the hallway and Mary squinted at the figure in front of her; at the starched white cap and unwieldy dress which were as outdated as the house.

“Thank you.” Mary stepped forward and warmly squeezed the woman’s shoulders. Her affections were met with a rigid withdrawal but not before she could catch a glimpse of the nurse’s frontal imaginings.  As her eyes adjusted to the light she could better see the nurse’s features; her round face as stiff as her attire looked like a plate cemented between the pinned head covering and cinched collar.

“Thank you.” Mary reiterated with less affection as she slid past the nurse and closed the door behind her.

The floorboards groaned as Mary hobbled across the oversized space toward a single bed in the corner. Jim glanced up, forced a smile and promptly turned his attention back to his wife.

“How are y’all?” Mary anxiously inquired as she cast an eye over the new parents.

“We… we’re all fine.” Clara mumbled, straining to open her eyes.

“Where are the babies?” Mary asked, glancing suspiciously around the bare room.

“One of the nurses took them over to the hospital – said they had to be examined – tests and shots – routine stuff.” Jim explained as if trying to assure himself.  “They will bring them back as soon as they’re finished… as soon as they make sure they’re both in good health.” His voice trailed as he tenderly bathed Clara’s pale face.

“That makes sense.” Mary tried to sound convincing but the smell of sweat and panic made it difficult. She lifted Clara’s moist flaccid hand and asked, “How are you sweetie?”

“I can’t…”  Clara whispered, gasping between words, “can’t … hear… Frieda.”

“Don’t worry love.” Jim paused briefly to blot his own forehead and neck before sweeping the salty cloth across his wife’s.

“Mama?” Clara’s eyes fluttered.

“Something is wrong!” The vision appeared as red paint flowing over a white canvas and Mary yanked the sheet back. Doc! Mary opened the vault of her subconscious, honed her thoughts on the old doctor and yelled.  Doc! Hurry! Her brain was inundated with voices and images as the internal walls fell away; the extrasensory chaos proved to be too much and she collapsed on the floor.

__

When Mary came to she could see the doctor standing over Clara, pressing and massaging her abdomen. A bottle of clear liquid hung at the head of the bed and a pile of blood stained sheets littered the floor around them.

“She’ll be okay now. We just have to let the medicine do its work and keep the fundus firm.”  He spoke in a casual manner. “Fetch me another bag of special blend Gus and be careful not to puncture this one.”  The white shepherd sprinted to the door, his claws creating a rapid rhythmic tap against the wooden floor as he ran.

“Do you think he will speak to me?” Jim stood in the same spot, still sponging his wife’s face as he spoke but the scent of panic had lessened.

“Maybe.” The doctor replied suppressing any signs of optimism yet Mary could see the previous conversation between Doc and Gus.  She grinned as she raised herself to a standing position. The shepherd would soon have a new home.

“I guess the sight of all that blood got to you. Are you okay now?” Jim asked without taking his eyes off of Clara.

“I guess so.” Mary laughed, rubbing the small lump on her head. “Our girl definitely looks a lot better.” She said, running her fingers across Clara’s rosy complexion. “What happened? Why did she bleed so much?”

“That happens sometimes, especially with twins.” Mary accepted the doctor’s verbal response without debate as he knew she would. The truth of the matter would be kept secret between the two of them for the time being. If Jim learned of the attempted murder he would retaliate and that could put Doc and Gus in a dangerous situation. “Good boy!” the doctor took the pint sized plastic container from the dog’s mouth. “You rub the fundus just like I showed you James.” He said as he quickly inserted a fifty milliliter syringe, filled it with the thick crimson liquid and injected it directly into the intravenous line. He repeated the process nine more times until the bag was empty and the bottle overhead was dry.

“When can I have my babies?” An invigorated Clara sprung up and demanded, “I want Fritz and Frieda right now. If they are not here in five minutes I will go and get them myself.”

“Are you sure you are capable of handling them right now?” Doc asked.

“I am more than capable.” Clara took the salty half-damp cloth, snatched the I.V. from her arm and applied pressure. “I believe I am capable of taking this place down and everyone in my path to get to my children.”

“I believe you.” The old doctor smiled.

“What did you give her?” Jim shook his head and laughed, “An hour ago I was afraid I was losing her – now I’m just afraid of her.”

“You have nothing to fear.” The doctor’s face lit up with a shrewd grin, “As long as you are one of the good guys.”

“I’ll tell my nurse to bring the babies now.”

Within minutes a lovely petit woman entered the room with a bundle in each arm.

“I hear the new mommy is anxious to hold her little ones.”

“Oh yes.” Clara cried, extending her arms.

The nurse carefully placed the infants in their mother’s arms.  Frieda was nestled on the right and Fritz on the left. The twins instinctively turned their face to Clara’s breasts and began rooting and grunting. She in turn lifted her blouse and guided each mouth to an engorged nipple, welcoming the throbbing and stinging as they gulped.

“I have never seen anything so beautiful.” Jim’s voiced cracked as he spoke. “I have never felt so blessed.” He glanced at the others around him. Mary sniffled and held her hand to her mouth, the old doctor nodded and smiled and the white shepherd pawed at the tears streaming down his snout.

Cloud Wrangler is available at your favorite e-book store.

 

Sometimes Truth Is Stranger than Fiction

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago I worked as a nurse. Nurses Janna & Jess.jpg

My daughter (on the left) is a nurse and many of my friends and family are still working in the field of nursing.

I could write forever about the combined experiences of a nursing career. As a matter of fact a few of those experiences fueled scenes in the fictional Clan Destiny series where the main characters (Clara, Linda and Maggie) are nurses. Mary Latrull (another fictional character) likes to pretend she is a nurse and would probably be a good one except –

Oops. I veered off track.

I mention the series now because this is National Nurses Week.

Happy Nurses week comrades, family and friends!

Oh poo, let me ramble off road for a minute and we’ll make this one of Tuesday’s Tell All.

Thinking on the series: when the books stood alone, before they were renamed the Clan Destiny series and before the reviews disappeared from Amazon I had a few comments that the stories were too “far-fetched” and unbelievable.  Yeah, nurses with paranormal abilities. Ha! I’m not sorry, that is why I called it fic-shun.

A handful of people (mostly “nurses”) suggested the medical terminology and/or procedures were incorrect. I know it was wrong but I had to call those to attention. Why? Because I kept “procedural” scenes to a minimum for lay reasons and if practice or terminology has changed that much in the last few years I honestly wanted to know. But nope…

The real thing ‘said nurses’ took issue with was the (occasional) disrespect and unprofessional behavior that I portrayed.  The strange thing is those scenes were all too real. Allow me to share.

Examples:

In book one Maggie curses a bit, insults a doctor and she and Clara have a confrontation, nearly coming to blows while on duty. One ‘said nurse’ says, “#1 no nurse would talk to a doctor like that and #2 Cursing and fighting on duty like hoodlums would never happen.” Truth? It happens. Been there, done that. Nursing is a stressful profession and nurses are human, sometimes we act stupid.

In book two Mary (as a patient) leaves the hospital against medical advice without signing the proper forms.  Another ‘said nurse’ says, “A patient would not be allowed to leave without signing the necessary documents.” I laughed myself silly. Truth? I have chased more than my share of irate, deranged and determined absconders while pleading with them “just sign this and you can go.” Hospitals, clinics and care centers are not prisons; you cannot hold someone against their will and you cannot make them sign a form to c.y.[own]a. (cover your [own] a**)

In book three Maggie, Linda and Clara laugh (in private) and refer to a patient, Mr. Stenchman, as Mean-as Stinky man or Mean-ass Stinky pants. An offended ‘said nurse’ says, “You should not depict nurses in such an unprofessional and unflattering way.” Truth? Sometimes we are unprofessional and ugly and sometimes the patient is a mean-ass stinky man.

I could rattle on about sordid affairs, fist fights, missing bodies/body parts, resurrections, insurance/benefit/patient abuse, medicare fraud and more but I won’t. Not today.

Yes, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

I may write a true tell-all one day but until then I’ll keep changing the names to protect the guilty, add a little ‘what if’  and focus on the fictitious person – not the true profession.

For all of you nurses [with or without imperfections] keep being the best that you can be. Thanks for shoving your own sh*t aside for 8 to 16 hours a day and caring even when it seems like you don’t.

 Happy Nurses Week!

nightingale pledge (1024x752).jpg

 

 

How’s That Rx Workin’ for Ya?

Promotion Turned Rant

Anyone that’s read my puny little bio knows that I spent my prime working in the medical field as a licensed nurse. One necessary evil in said profession is staying current on medications. I still tend to do that. Old habits die hard. Maybe they don’t die–they just get flaccid and crusty along with our aging bodies but anywho.

Has anyone had to fill a prescription for Doxycycline lately? Were you totally blown away by the price increase? I mean, my lord that drug was approved by the FDA before I started first grade. Seriously it was over 45 years ago. The last time I checked (February 2012) it was $10 for 30 capsules/tabs without insurance. That was 33¢ per dose. Today it is sixty eight bucks for twenty tablets at Wal Mart! Yes, $68. That’s what… $3.40 a dose?Doxycycline (1024x688)

It is a fabulous drug with a wide range of benefits but it is old. Remember once upon a time when the cost of a drug went down after the pharmaceutical company recouped their research costs. So why the heck has this one (and there are others) skyrocketed?

This was the very argument I had with the pharmacist at one of the drug stores I called searching for a better price. Just FYI I was trying to help an uninsured individual get the medication they needed.

The professional behind the counter explained there was apparently a shortage of said drug, maybe a matter of supply and demand. I don’t believe that. The next explanation was that they were possibly losing money, to that I feigned a BS cough.

“You are a writer, right?” he asked. Damn small towns everybody knows your business.

“Right. What does that have to do with price gouging or hoarding if that is the case?” I replied.

“After you have recouped what you think your time and effort is worth on a particular book do you systematically lower the price?”

“A person’s health is not affected one way or another by my practices”. I argued.

“I’m sure their budget is. Why don’t you apply that same philosophy to your business?”

“I have!”

“How’s that prescription workin’ for ya?” By the looks of his crooked little grin I don’t think he believed me.

“It is too early to tell but I will let you know.”

We exchanged the usual pleasantries and I hurried home and got busy just in case he checked my story. It wasn’t a lie really; I (like many Indies) have cut prices before and offered a free title from time to time but has fiction or poetry ever healed bronchitis? Has an antibiotic ever offered a leisurely break from the stresses of reality?

I believe his comparison is ludicrous but a stiff necked redneck with Irish ire tends to take everything as a challenge. Of course we also celebrate the smallest victories. Just this morning I found 75¢ in the dryer. Woo-hoo. I love me some shiny quarters- it’s gonna be a good day.

So anyway I cut prices, made a couple of titles free at Smashwords and I am off to track down the real reason behind the astronomical increase in this drug and then I shall rant elsewhere.

Aside: I have a (paranoid?) suspicion the government is stock piling Doxycycline in the event of germ warfare or an anthrax attack. Maybe the pharmacy should start loading up on e-readers and books. If you can’t afford the medication or cure what ails you by reading you may be up a thick smelly creek without a means of propelling yourself.