In the Meanwhile… Look at these darn kittens!

Well, I am back from the New England territories. I would love to tell you I have locked myself in my study and am relentlessly pounding out intriguing tales but…

Just look at these kittens! Who can think straight [much less dark and mysterious] when surrounded by all this adorable fuzzy cuteness.

So, in the meanwhile… look at these darn kittens!

If you have read Cloud Wrangler (Book 4 in the Clan Destiny series) Frieda may come to mind — if not I won’t spoil the ending for you. 😉

Between the Rage & Grace Chapter 15 (Fridays Free For- All)

Three women, three very different backgrounds and the roads that all lead to one place, somewhere Between the Rage and Grace.

Inside a small hospital, in a rural Texas town there is a peculiar camaraderie evolving.  Clara O’Bromley (fresh out of college) is assigned to ICU, which is no small feat. She has her supervisor, Linda Latrull to thank for that, and for placing her under the direction of a foul-mouthed debutante named Maggie Turner. Maggie is happy to take the young nurse under her wing until she learns that Clara can read more than EKG’s. Clara herself is unaware of this ability until she sees into the past; a past Maggie and Linda both have gone to great lengths to hide.

Chapter 15

CLAN DESTINY BOOK JANNA HILL (800x1280)“Clara Bell!” Mr. O’Bromley roared as his daughter strolled into the hostelry, “Give your dear old dad a hug.” He grabbed Clara before she could get her lab coat off.
“Hey Daddy.” She said, pecking him on the cheek, “Where’s Mama?”
“I should’ve known it weren’t me you come to see.” He frowned and then winked, “Your ma is out back. Have a seat and I’ll holler at her.”

Clara helped herself to a coffee and warm raisin danish before taking a seat in the corner booth. She had barely settled in and creamed her coffee when Mrs. O’Bromley came shuffling across the dining room. Clara stood to hug her mother and after a quick embrace Mrs. O’Bromley said, “Sit back down. I know you got something on your mind when you pick this seat.”
“Oh really? Clara sneered in jest.
“You know it’s the truth so don’t play coy with me child, she said sliding in to the opposing seat, “You just missed Jimbo.”
“Aww. Did he eat a good breakfast?”
“You know he did, there ain’t a thing wrong with that man’s appetite. But I believe he worries a bit too much about you.” Mrs. O’Bromley said with a raised brow.
“I’ve been having some crazy dreams Mama or nightmares really. And lately visions pop in my head; sometimes it’s like looking on at a thing and other times it feels like I’m the one doing the thing.”
“Go on.”
“Well I’ve heard you talk about clairvoyants most of my life and I was just wondering… do you think I’m one?”
“I don’t know. A better question is what do you think?”
“I’m at a loss — that’s why I came to you.” Clara said picking the raisins from her pastry.
“Let’s see…. have you ever known the future before it came to pass?”
“No, I don’t think I’ve seen the future… maybe the past.”
“Can you read my mind? Right now, can you read my mind?”
Clara strained for a few seconds and said, “You’re thinking you need to put a roast on for the lunch crowd?”
“That was a guess Clara! You know my routine. Try again.”
They both sat quietly for over a minute, maybe two until the frustrated Clara said,
“Nothing. I don’t see anything. So what now?”
“I’m not an expert Clara; I don’t know how the mind works. I do know there are folks that can and I’m not talking about some circus clown that’s good at reading peoples body language or personality.”
“Like you saying I’d marry Jim?”
“Yep. But anything I see comes random and I don’t call myself a clairvoyant. Tell me more about these visions and dreams and when it was they happened.”
Clara spent the next hour telling her mother about the nightmare with the dying patient and Maggie. The vision she had of Maggie’s brutal beating and the trance like state where she told Maggie it was her husband who beat her as well as a few other things that had been happening.
“You have some sort of gift, but I don’t know what it is or what to call it.” Mrs. O’Bromley said tapping her finger to her chin.
“I wouldn’t call it a gift Mama. What good does it do me or anyone else to see things after the fact? Or things that I can’t do anything to change? Maybe it’s a curse.”
“Don’t you doubt God and all his nature!” Her mother scolded, “Ain’t up to us to decide what we get and when — just figure out how to use it. Didn’t you say that patient told you to tell somebody something? Something about Omaha?”
“Olam-ha-ba.” Clara laughed, “I tried to look it up to see what it meant but it’s not in the dictionary. You think she wanted me to tell them to go to Omaha?”
“Better not say that, they’re liable to believe you and make the trip for nothing.”
Clara and Mrs. O’Bromley laughed heartily.
“Yeah.” Clara spit between gasps of humor “I can see me calling her daughter and saying, ‘your mom came to me after she died and said she wants you to go to Omaha’.”
“Ask her if I can go too.” Mrs. O’Bromley snorted, “I’ve never been to Nebraska.”
The women were in hysterics when they saw Mr. O’Bromley standing stone faced at the head of the table.
“What’s the matter Daddy?” Clara asked trying to appear more solemn. Mrs. O’Bromley was cooing a loud ahhh and wiping her eyes with the tail of her apron.
“You girls having fun are you?”
They both nodded and started to giggle again.
“And at the expense of a dead woman’s dying wish, no doubt. Shame on the both of ya!”
The stout gray-haired Irishman stood over the women shaking his head in slow motion, from side to side with each turn implying another shame on you.
“I’m sorry Dad.” Clara did feel slightly ashamed and soberly replied, “I hadn’t considered it like that. Honestly. I apologize.”
“It was inconsiderate but `taint me ya ought to be apologizing to, you best deliver that poor soul’s message to her family at first chance.” Turning to look at his wife Mr. O’Bromley sighed with disappointment, “And you Mary O’Bromley… knowing the gifts of spirit ye yourself possess and all but mocking with your jokes of Omaha and bustin’ at the seams.”
Clara almost lost her composure again but his stern tone kept it in check as he glanced at her then back to continue the rebuke of her mother, “Did you ever tell little Clara why you named her such?”
Clara looked puzzled turning to Mrs. O’Bromley, who was indicating no with a vigorous shake of her head.
“Weren’t any need to tell her before. I thought it were just a vain vision.”
“What do you mean?” Clara inquired looking back and forth at the two fixed in a staring contest of sorts.
“Your mother,” Mr. O’Bromley said, “seen herself having a pale eyed girl even when the doctor told her she weren’t able to bear children. She had a faulty womb ya know. Not only that but she also proclaimed the babe would have the gift of seeing. That’s what started her on the way of always talking about clairvoyants. She believed it so much she named you Clara three years `fore you were ever born.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that Mama?”
“Never had the opportunity or reason ‘fore now. I told you I have no idea what to call it or how to use it. Sometimes it’s best to keep ones mouth shut!” she said staring straight at her husband.
“What do you think about it Daddy?” Clara asked, looking to her father for direction.
“I think you should welcome it Clara Bell.” He said, softly smiling down on his daughter, “Take it for what it is- no more, no less.” He paused making Clara believe the next words would be filled with insight and she waited assiduously for him to continue, “And if you don’t know what to do with it…” he drew the pause further until his audience was captivated and announced, “Take it to Omaha.”
Laughter erupted as the old man slapped his knee with delight.

“Drinks on the house.” He chuckled, knowing there wasn’t a patron on the premises.

Between the Rage & Grace step fiveBetween the Rage & Grace can be purchased at your favorite  e-book retailer  HERE.

Paperback @ Amazon HERE

Here’s a tidbit: The cover was designed from a series of photos I took. I kind of like how it turned out. 🙂

Door Number Four (Fridays Free-for-All) Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Don tugged at the brush and pressed his face in to the opening, completely oblivious to the pricks coming from the thick briars. When the first two numerals were visible, he sneered,
“This is it and there is no one here to stop me.” He steadied the flask against his numbed lower lip and sucked the last drop of Benadryl and bourbon from the stainless steel container. Hurriedly he shoved it back into his rear pocket and resumed his mission.
When he had burrowed out a space big enough to accommodate his shoulders Don Crowley scrambled through to the clearing to the other side.

The land bore no resemblance to his fond memory. He studied the bleached bovine skull that hung before the forgotten alley, the alley that would lead him to the entrance of his dreams.
The door was not near as beautiful as she had once been. The paint was all but gone and so was much of the wood. Termites had loved the timber as well, though not in the same way Don did. The brass appendages were tarnished and blackened, the frame was mildewed and rotting and she looked naked without her gable to shade her from the elements. But her lips were still a bright red.
The man ran his trembling fingers over the smooth rounded lines of cherry color and whispered,
“Hello door number four. I’ve thought about you for a long, long time.” He gently petted the mottled brass before curling his fingers into a fist then paused, “I don’t have to, but it seems only polite.” Holding the cold sticky metal against the tips of his fingers he savored the moment, inhaled deeply, wet his lips then, Clink… clink… clink.
The dull tapping brought tears of joy to his eyes, tears mingled with watery mucous because Don was allergic to mold as well as every other spore and pollen in the universe.

He stood on the cement landing, shaking his head in confusion. Was it the antihistamines and allergens causing him to imagine the voice or did Mr. Levin just invite him in?
Don stared down at the swaying concrete… the old porch had been a pier and beam foundation with a beautiful terrace above… could it be possible he had the wrong house? Looking back up he assured himself it was the right house, but so much had changed. He caressed the painted numerals to calm his fretfulness.
“It’s you… it has always been you.” he said placing his mouth against the deteriorating surface.
Bolstering his courage, he pulled back, stood as straight as he could and wiped the mustiness from his mouth.
Blood? He mused at the crimson wetness in his palm before wiping again. Paint? The iron taste confirmed his first guess and the dripping number revealed its origin. “What the hell?” he stammered bracing himself against the framework of the once glorious mansion.

“Wake up Donald.” The familiar voice commanded.
“I can’t see you.” Don moaned as he struggled to open his pus-filled eyes, “Where am I?”
“Exactly where you wanted to be.” Came the answer immediately followed by the sound of p’thu-p’thu “Now rub that in.”
“Did you just-” His words were cut short by an icy cloth slammed against his swollen face. It felt like a dozen hands on him, rubbing the warm spit into his eyes, pressing the cold rag to his lips and reaming his nostrils with ointment.
“Shut up!” the voice ordered pressing harder against his mouth, causing him to snort and choke as he inhaled the vapors of the salve.
Don briefly considered fighting the man that stood over him but there was no desire to. Despite the fact that the fellow had spit in his eye, forced a wet rag into his mouth and shoved something up his nose, he felt grateful. Frankly, he could not recall the last time he had felt so good, so calm and never in his life had he felt this strong and healthy. Don submitted and let the smell of tar and green mint carry him away.
When his breathing was slow and steady he felt the once chilled rag lift and the voice commanded him, “Pull yourself together and come on in to the kitchen when you can see straight.”
“Yes Sir Mr. Levin.” Don replied as he sat up and watched the man exit the dim parlor.
Slowly he scraped the thick balm from his face, picked the bits of crushed mint from his teeth and sniffed at the medicinal material.
“What’s in this?” he asked, studying the white cloth with nothing visible other than a few green specks caught in the cotton fibers. “You ought to sell it to one of the pharmaceutical companies.”
Mr. Levin never acknowledged the question or the suggestion but quietly shut the door without looking back.
Donald stood and stretched, marveling at the smoothness of his own skin and the indescribable vigor he felt.
Testing his newfound health he spread his legs, sprang upward and swung his arms over his head. He counted with each clap and two hundred jumping jacks later, his pulse and respirations were unchanged. Though dust covered everything in the area, he was unaffected.
He skipped around the massive room oblivious to any cares until the kettle whistling distracted him and he remembered Mr. Levin was waiting.
“This place is amazing,” he yelled toward the kitchen, “There must be a million dollars’ worth of antiques in this room alone.” Donald waited but the old man gave no response. If he had spoken, the younger man would not have heard as his focus darted to the nineteenth century Bosendorfer standing quietly in the corner. Don migrated to the antique piano and caressed the aged wood before letting his fingers come to rest on the ivory.
“Uh-uh!” The voice playfully warned before he had a chance to strike the key. It was her. Donald turned in every direction but there was no one to be seen. IIII flashed before his eyes and seemed to smile. The red lips over glossy white teeth, the IIII he remembered from his youth. But this smile was a cautious one like a mother gives her child; like the warning that precedes punishment.
“Yes ma’am.” He muttered as he shook the chill from his spine and hurried to the kitchen.

The room was just as he remembered it. Though he had spent only seconds inside before being chased out, the image had been stamped on his brain like a photograph.

“She called you didn’t she?” Mr. Levin asked without looking up.
Don understood the question but avoided answering and watched as the old man rubbed the rim of his cup. “I thought you were just a nosy little brat. Heck, you had snooped inside every house in the county; it weren’t like you were in love.” His voice trailed as he shifted in his seat; “Guess I should have saw it coming. Would you like a cup?”
“You haven’t aged a bit in fifteen years.” Donald answered staring at John Marcus Levin, “How is that possible?”
“I haven’t aged a bit in over fifty years boy, that’s part of it.” He answered dryly, still refusing to make eye contact.
Don watched the hot black tea flow as if in slow motion from the tarnished pot. He could count the drops as they splashed against the walls of the white china cup one at a time and without hurrying. He was totally mesmerized by the collapsing molecules of what was steam a millisecond ago; so much so that when the table shook he nearly fell out of his chair.
“Look! Look at yourself!” Mr. Levin growled banging his fist against the table and pointing toward the silver platter that held the tea set. “Do you like the way you look?”
“I have never looked better.” Don smiled stroking his flawless face and admiring the healthier version of himself. “No puffiness, no hives… I always wanted a smaller nose but yes, I like the way I look.”
“Good.” The old man replied in a softer tone, “Because that is the only face you’ll ever have.”
“Hell you make it sound like bad news when most people would give anything to stop the aging process. Do you know how many billions are made in the cosmetics industry every year? ”
“There’s no way to make you understand, not today anyway.” Mr. Levin sighed, “Not in my life time but in fifty years or so you’ll start to wonder and when the wondering fails to amuse you, you’ll grow weary and you’ll wish…”
Mr. Levin shook his head slowly, his loose flesh rippling with each turn until a bead of moisture broke loose from his cheek. Don studied the tear as it hovered then followed it to the table where it exploded on impact leaving a microscopic rainbow where it landed.
“I’ll wish what?” he asked, gently tilting the man’s face upward.
“You’ll wish you never loved her.”

Get the rest of the story from your favorite e-book store for only 99¢ USD

Tuesday’s Tell-All (Erratic Black Planets)

I (like a gazillion others) watched yesterday’s solar eclipse with great enthusiasm.

I cooed as the shadows dimmed and a cool gray color spread over the landscape. The temperature even dropped a few degrees.

This is nice, I thought as I aimed my Nikon and shot.

eclipse 2017 (1024x683)

I am not really sure what’s in the picture but there is an entire galaxy of erratic black planets orbiting my eyeballs.