Archive | May 2015

Snowed – Part 57

snowed cover image for blogSuddenly, the impact of everything hits home with Mike. He realizes that Sarena and his mother were right. He’d taken the wrong woman to bed and he feels as if it’s all his fault. Chester talks him down.

“Then taking the blame for this is rather silly, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “But we could have been over there.”

“But we weren’t. Bizarre as this sounds, Molly’s episode the other night probably saved all our lives. Had she been here, we would have been at your place and then things would have been horribly different. As it is, except for the obvious, everything is alright.”

I nodded, seeing he was right.

“You have renter’s insurance?”

“Yeah. One thing Ma taught me, be prepared. Or maybe that was the Boy Scouts?” I started to laugh.

Chester joined me, clasping me behind the head. “The ladies are worried,” he said quietly. “Perhaps we should join them?”

I nodded. He unfolded his legs, rising quickly. He helped me stand, pulling me up as if I weighed nothing. I finished washing my face and combed my hair with my fingers. I still looked rough, but at least I felt a little better.

Sarena and Ma vied for number one position by the door. Each wanted to be first, but neither wanted to shove the other out of the way. I opened my arms, embracing Ma on the right and Sarena on the left. I gave Ma a kiss on the cheek and Sarena a full throttle, no holds barred kiss right on the mouth.

“Sorry about that,” I murmured when I could speak again.

“Nothing to be sorry for,” she whispered. “I just want to get rid of all these people and go to bed.”

“Me too. I love you.”

“Me too.”

Between Chester and the police officer, the room got cleared out and Sarena and I went next door to Molly’s. Our parents went back to their motel, the neighbors went wherever they were going and Jesse and Cleo shut their door firmly against the rising cold.

Once Sarena and I were alone in Molly’s apartment, I took her in my arms, never wanting to let her go. I kissed her with a wild abandon I had never felt before for any woman in my life. Even Miss Parker, in her disguise as Mystery Date, hadn’t filled me with the passion that Sarena did just by saying my name. I knew I loved her. Even in such a short time, there was a spark, a connection. From the first moment I heard her voice on the phone, I was hooked. I’d fallen deeply in love to a point where I knew I would never climb back out again and I didn’t want to.

Our love making that night went beyond anything we’d done before. I don’t know how long we went, it felt like we never stopped. All I wanted was to be with her all night, holding her body next to mine. Eventually, we fell asleep in a tangle of mangled bedding and didn’t wake up until my cellphone rang. I had to dig it out of my pants pocket, by which time it had stopped.

“Work. Oh, shit!” I had, of course, forgotten to set my alarm.

Sarena tossed the coverlet over me as I sat naked on the floor, calling my boss. “Yeah, it’s Mike. I’m sorry I’m late. . . .”

“We got a situation here,” Bill said abruptly. “What the hell did you do with my bus?”

“Huh? I didn’t do anything to it. Why?”

“It’s gone, missing. What am I supposed to do with all your kids? You’re not here and your bus is gone. What am I supposed to think?”

“I’m home. I overslept. I had a big night.” I rushed to explain as I searched for my clothing. It smelled like wet smoke, but my ass was freezing.

Sarena found me clean underwear and a some jeans as I dug through my duffel for a shirt and sweater. I tried to dress and talk, but couldn’t. Eventually, I put Bill on speaker phone and talked that way.

“So, what about the bus?”

“I think Miss Parker stole it.” I tried to explain my rationale, but Bill interrupted me.

“Wait, wait. Slow down. You think that teacher stole the bus? What the hell for?”

I told him again, more slowly, but he didn’t want to believe me.

“This doesn’t make sense, Mike.”

“I never said it did. Do crazy people make sense, Bill? I mean, seriously.”

“I’m wondering why I’m not getting calls,” he said all of a sudden. “I should be swamped with calls about the bus not coming.”

“Oh, God,” I groaned. “I know where the bus is. I know where Miss Parker is! She’s driving my route, Bill. Oh, dear God, that crazy woman is driving my route!”

“Oh, my God. Holy Christ! I got the call the cops!”

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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I Love Dialogue! from The Ninja Tattoo

I love dialogue doodle bannerTeague and Vivica meet under odd circumstances—he runs into her with the door at Dunkin’ Donuts. Needless to say, she’s not very happy until he buys her coffee and flirts unashamedly with her. Soon, they start dating and Teague finds out that her life is full of danger, mostly because her older brother is the head of a dangerous biker gang.

Teague was worried. The man sounded mean, hard. The tone of Vivica’s voice still bothered him. Lying in bed, he got a sudden case of the creeps. He made another circuit of the house, peeping out the edge of the drapes in the living room. With the room dark behind him, the moon reflecting off the water, he thought he saw a person lurking in the shadow of the dock. As he watched, a lighter flared, barely illuminating the figure. It was a man with a shaved head. Teague couldn’t see details from his room. He had the impression that the man was solidly built.

The idea of calling the police flickered through his mind, but he dismissed it. Instead, he got dressed in dark jeans and a black T-shirt. He got his survival knife, attaching it to his gun belt. Next, he got his Glock 22 out of the locked cabinet. He had a license to carry a concealed weapon. That went in a holster opposite the knife. As prepared as he could be, he put on his military boots and left the house by the side door that opened off the utility room. It was concealed by an arched trellis covered in bougainvillea and nearly invisible from the street. Chances were, if someone was watching the front, they were also at the back and the door facing the side street. He doubted they knew that this other side door existed. He’d lived in the house nearly a week before noticing it himself. Leaving it unlocked, he eased through the trellis, the thorns on the bougainvillea grabbing at his clothing and uncovered skin.

Ignoring the stinging wounds, he moved like a shadow through the overgrown side yard down to the street. He knew he’d be exposed crossing the street, but the nearest light was almost a block away. There were deep shadows from the thick water oaks that surrounded his house and the one next door.

Becoming part of the night, he took a circuitous route to the dock next to his, coming at the man from the right rear. His knife was out and across the unprotected throat before the other man knew he was there. Left hand held the knife, right clasped his neck in an unyielding hold.

“Who the fuck are you and why are you watching my house?” His voice a menacing whisper.

The man didn’t move, but Teague felt him tense. He was going to try to get away. The knife blade turned slightly, catching the glimmer of moonlight along the razor sharp edge. It was the only part of the knife that shone. The rest of the blade was a dark, matte finish. An assassin’s knife and Teague knew how to use it.

“Give me a reason,” Teague growled.cropped-the-ninja-tattoo-by-dellani-oakes-200.jpg

The man relaxed. “I’ve got friends,” he murmured.

“I’m sure you do. But you’ll be dead before they can take me out. Keep that firmly in mind. Now talk.”

“Doing what I’m told,” he grunted as Teague’s grip on his neck tightened. “I don’t know.”

He hyperventilated as Teague’s forearm put pressure on his windpipe.

“Swear ta God—I don’t—know!” He gasped as he collapsed on the ground. He wasn’t dead, just unconscious.

Teague went through his pockets looking for identification. He had a driver’s license on him. Teague couldn’t see it clearly in the half light, but caught part of the address. He wasn’t a local. Memorizing the face and as much of the name and address as he could, he put it back. He wondered where the other men were. Had they seen him? Doubtful, or he’d be surrounded.

He took his concealed route back across the street, making his way to his neighbor’s yard. He was up and over the high wooden fence in one smooth movement. Landing lightly on the soft turf behind his garage, he took another watcher by surprise. This one had the time to make a faint noise of alarm before Teague knocked him out.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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A Little White Lie – Part 12

Sci-Fi and Fantasy by Dellani

white lie coverThe team has been assembled. Now, it’s show time.

Aurialonus made demands again, gesticulating wildly, roaring in anger. Mediators tried to clarify his stipulations, but no one could figure out what he wanted. Time was running out.

The team was as ready as it could be, given the fact their monkey, Emory, had yet to join them. Penny was briefed on his part and had put in long hours with simulation climbs, but nothing compared to the real thing.

“What if he doesn’t show?” Ben asked Wil worriedly.

“Then we use Penny. Won’t have any choice.”

A commotion in the adjoining room erupted suddenly and Wil heard Ray’s distinctive bellow. Rushing through the doorway, Ben and Wil saw the men surrounding another man he didn’t know.

The man was just over five feet tall, slightly built and wiry. His dark hair was close cropped and his bright blue eyes were…

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Snowed – Part 56

snowed cover image for blogWhile they are chatting, Jaqwan tells them the identity of Mystery Date, none other than the young teacher, Anisette Parker. Mike, who had only ever seen her in the long dresses with her hair pulled back, hadn’t recognized her.

“She’s some sort of religious freak,” Cynthia said. “She borrowed that dress from my sister and Maddie did her makeup. She had no idea Ani was gong to go so crazy on you. If she’d known, she never would have done it. She really liked you, Mike.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, wanting to hide myself in a cold, dark place. “I didn’t know she liked me.”

“Maddie’s not the type to strut it,” David said. “But she kind of hoped you’d notice her at the party. She thought she was doing pretty well until Ani got involved.”

“She was,” I admitted. “I could’ve taken her home instead.”

“Why didn’t you?” Cynthia wasn’t mad, just curious.

“I don’t know. Something happened and all of a sudden, she wasn’t there. I was pretty drunk. I can’t believe I lost control of myself like that though. That’s totally unlike me. Even drunk. . . .”

“I think ‘at bitch drugged you, man,” Tim said. “I was watching you and all of a sudden you started acting all hot and horny like you were going to do her right there on Molly’s couch. You had your hands all over both of them. They helped you get your gifts home and you stayed with the brunette. Maddie come back screaming how she was gonna kill her and went home to throw her shit out in the snow.”

“We convinced her to pack it,” David explained. “But the lease is in Maddie’s name, so she was in her rights to toss Ani out.”

“Looks like I have an apology to make,” I said quietly.

Sarena took my hand, holding it close to her cheek. The police arrived shortly after that and I had to tell my sordid tale all over again so the officer could get it down. Jaqwan and the others identified Anisette Parker as the woman I’d taken home that night. I could feel my mother’s eyes on me and I felt dirty. I wanted to bathe for a week to get the stench of embarrassment off my body.

“Do any of you know where she’s staying?” The officer asked.

No one had a clue. All we could give him was the name of the school she worked at.

“And the hospital,” I said. “She had some women she carpooled with. One of them might know.”

“Do you know their names?”

“No, but they may know at the hospital. She works evenings on weekends.”

“I’ll get right on it. Thanks, Mr. Reuben. Sorry about your loss, sir.”

“Just find the crazy bitch before she does something else,” I said.

I could hardly swallow. I wanted to throw up all of a sudden. Six people could have died, and it was all my fault. Because I couldn’t control myself, took the wrong woman to bed, all this had happened. I gagged. Running to the bathroom, I slammed the door almost in Sarena’s face. I dry heaved over the toilet for several minutes, wishing I could puke. I’d feel better if I could.

There was pounding on the door. Several people spoke at once, but finally one voice drowned them all out. It was a calm voice, gentle, deep.

“Mike.” It was Chester. He never called me Mike. “Let me in, son. Let’s talk about this.”

I reached up, turning the lock. He came in, blocking the doorway when others tried to follow him. Holding up his hand, he pushed them back without touching them.

“It’s okay,” I heard him say softly. “I’ve got it. It’s okay.” He sat down on the floor next to me, legs crossed. “This is not your fault,” he said quietly.

“If I hadn’t. . . .”

He held up his hand, putting a halt to my babbling. He closed the toilet and damped a washcloth at the sink. Sitting next to me on the floor, he mopped my face.

“The girl is obviously unbalanced, obsessed. You aren’t responsible for her reaction. Did you do anything at all to encourage that girl?”

“You mean other than fuck her repeatedly?”

“I meant before that.” He reddened somewhat and I realized my language had offended him.

“No, sir.”

He nodded as if that was the answer he was after. “I didn’t think so. Did you ever give her any indication, before that night, that you wanted to be with her in a sexual way?”

“Honestly, Chester, I barely knew the girl existed. I mean, except in the general sense. She never looked like that. She’s mousy with long skirts and collars up to here,” I put my hand under my chin. “We’ve spoken on field trips, chatted about the kids. . . . But nothing ever to indicate that I wanted her. I try to be very professional on the job. I don’t use it as my own personal dating service. It’s just a goddamn school bus!”

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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Snowed – Part 55

snowed cover image for blogOne of the firefighters tells Mike that the gas water heater next door had been purposely rigged to blow up. He and Sarena both have near panic attacks when they realize they could have been killed. Amazingly, it’s Ma who stays calm. Their neighbors come over to Jesse’s to check on them.

“You didn’t see anyone, did you? Someone sneaking around?” I asked.

“No. I was gonna grill tonight, but it got too cold, so we fixed steaks inside. But that other place the gas shouldn’t even of been on. I mean, it’s been empty for months.” Jaqwan told him.

“It had been rented,” I said. “They were supposed to move in soon. The power, gas, everything, got turned on a couple days ago.”

“Da-yam,” Jaqwan said softly. “They gonna be pissed.”

I was glad I’d picked up renter’s insurance, but I wasn’t sure how much of my possessions would be covered. I had nothing but a few clothes and my shaving kit. I started to laugh. I couldn’t help it. It meant nothing, the fact the new tenants couldn’t move in as planned. They’d get their money back, find a new place.

“Dammit,” I fussed. “I just bought an entire new box of condoms and left ’em in the dresser drawer.”

Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. Everything I owned was gone and I was moaning about a box of condoms? It finally struck them that I was making a joke. It took a moment, but soon they were all laughing with me. The guys thumped me on the back or chucked me on the shoulders.

“I’s gonna say, man. I’ll front you a couple,” Jaqwan said with a smirk. “Fine lady like this by your side. . . . Mm mm mm. . . .” He introduced himself to Sarena. “So, this what you substituted for that teacher?”

“What are you talking about?”

“That girl, at your party. She’s that teacher, isn’t she? The pretty, quiet one. Used to room with Cynthia’s sister. . . .”

He paused as all eyes in the room turned to him in confusion. I think my mouth dropped open, but I can’t be sure. None of us knew what to say.

“Y’all’re all lookin’ at me like I’m flat crazy.”

“What teacher, Jaqwan?”

“That one that’s always pulling you in on field trips, specially requesting you an shit. You didn’t know that was her? You blind?”

“I guess? Drunk off my ass. She was here? At my party?”

“Yeah, she come with Cynthia’s sister.”

“Which is Cynthia’s sister?”

“The six foot blonde babe that was kissing all over you until Miss Thang drug you of to fu. . . . Umm. . . for an assignation,” he said after a quick look at my mother.

“Was she the roommate? Your sister’s roommate?” I asked Cynthia.

“Yeah. Madelyn got pissed she did that and threw her out on her ass the next day. Maddie’s had the hots for you for months, but you wouldn’t give her a second glance.”

“Shit!” I sat heavily on the arm of Sarena’s chair. “God, it all makes sense now! She told me at the hospital she’d lost her apartment.”

That took a long explanation. By the time I was done, the firefighter was talking on his radio to the police dispatcher to send over a squad car.

“Do you have any pictures of this woman?” he asked.

“Molly’s camera!” I ran next door. The camera was on the coffee table. I took it back to the cop and started flipping through the pictures.

I passed the one with the women kissing me, hoping for a better shot. I found it a few frames later. After cutting the cake, each of the women fed me a piece of cake. Anisette Parker was standing next to me in a very abbreviated dress and I was licking icing off her fingers. She was smiling directly at the camera. I hardly recognized her as the mousey teacher who always wore modest long skirts and high collars. The dress was a micro-mini, black tube that fit like a second skin. Her breasts were round and firm, nearly out the top of the dress. Her long legs were shapely, curvaceous in the high heeled black strapless shoes. I could feel my body reacting to her like it had that night.

“I’m an idiot,” I said. “I never even recognized her.”

“I wouldn’t have either,” Jaqwan said. “Except Madelyn was furious with her and started yelling about it after the party broke up. She was packing the bitch’s stuff while you got your freak on.”

I reddened, turning away from my mother and Sarena. I was mortified, humiliated. I couldn’t believe I was so blind drunk that I didn’t recognize her. But all the other times I’d ever seen her, she was in those funny dresses with her hair all slicked back.

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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My Photos

I love taking pictures. It’s been years since I did much other than family snapshots, but I still try to make them special. I love interesting light and find myself applying composition rules automatically. Below are a few of my photos from years past. I have promised to go out and get some new ones next week. In the meantime, enjoy!

Canaveral National Seashore, New Smyrna  Beach, Florida

Canaveral National Seashore, New Smyrna Beach, Florida © 2015 Dellani Oakes

When we first moved down here, I went to the beach fairly often, in all kinds of weather, and loved taking pictures there. Unfortunately, I can’t handle the sunshine like I used to, but I still have some wonderful shots. Those of you who follow my posts on Second Wind Publishing’s blog will recognize the above picture as the cover for Sea of Destiny.

beach 4

Canaveral National Seashore © 2015 Dellani Oakes

zad beach

Canaveral National Seashore © 2015 Dellani Oakes

These were taken the same day as the first photo. It was chilly that day, sometime during the late fall or winter. I realize that cold is a relative term here in Florida, but it was cold for us, which is why my sons are wearing jackets.

beach weeds

Freaky weeds on the rocks at St. Augustine’s beach. © 2015 Dellani Oakes

I was fortunate, more than once, to accompany my children on field trips with their school classes. The following pictures were taken in St. Augustine on one such trip

beach creatures

Tiny shells near a runout on St. Augustine beach. © 2015 Dellani Oakes

A baby albino alligator at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida

A baby albino alligator at the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida © 2015 Dellani Oakes

All photos and text are the sole property of Dellani Oakes and may not be used without her permission

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Dellani’s Alphabet Challenge Letter B – Bad Fall – An Excerpt

writemindsauthors

ABC ChallengeFrank Atherton is the assistant director at a huge nursing facility in Ohio. He’s having a pretty bad week after a man named Ralph Penwarren arrives. The only good thing to happen all week is meeting Marka Ventimiglia, a new psychiatrist who’s just started working at the facility. They are immediately attracted. Below is their first meeting.

“Be right there!” he called. He dropped his plate in the kitchen sink and went to the door. “What’s he done now?” he asked automatically as he opened it.

It wasn’t Sue or one of the other staff members. An attractive brunette stood there.

“I’m sorry? Who did what?”

“Oh, no one you’d know. Frank Atherton. I just saw you on TV.” He held out his hand after wiping it on his T-shirt.

She smiled. “Marka Ventimiglia. Nice to meet you. I feel really stupid asking, but yours is the only room with…

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I Love Dialogue! from Conduct Unbecoming

I love dialogue doodle bannerTeague McMurtry is a loyal friend. So when Aileen calls asking him to look for their friend, Nadeya, he can’t say no. Nadeya taught him everything he knows about survival. She is dangerous and damaged, having seen her fiancé murdered. She’s spent the last few years tracking down the men who killed him, seeking justice—or, at least, vengeance. When a body turns up on the beach, identical to a man Nadeya said she was looking for, suspicion targets her.

Tired of constantly being on the defensive, Teague intends to confront Quartermain and the others at the condo where they are staying. He and Nadeya head up to Daytona and take a room in the same condo. Once she learns Teague’s plans, Nadeya discourages the direct approach. She knows he can take Quartermain, but the other two are far more dangerous. She and Joel think baiting the bad guys is not only inappropriate, it’s crazy with a side of stupid. Still not liking it, Teague tells them he’s going for a walk on the beach.

Joel rose as his cousin walked by. “I’m going too.”

“I won’t do anything crazy!”

“Yeah, well I want to go for a walk too.”

Teague couldn’t think of a good argument against, so he agreed. They walked down the stairs, heading to the beach.

“He’s right down there,” Teague said with a groan. “Within reach!”

“No.”

“But he’s—”

“No! Dammit, Teague. Don’t make me drop you.”

“Like you even could,” was the disgusted reply.

Joel moved quickly, grabbing Teague’s arm. He tugged, spun and dropped, pulling Teague to his knees. Another move bought his cousin to the ground. Stunned, Teague lay on his belly. After a moment, he tapped out and Joel released him.

“You aren’t Superman,” Joel said.

“So, folks keep tellin’ me.” Teague rolled his head and shoulders rubbing his neck with a hand.

“Did I make my point?”

“Yeah. Shut up.”

Joel’s face fell, discouraged that Teague hadn’t really acknowledged his ability to take him down or taken his warning seriously. Teague noticed his cousin’s mute disappointment.

“I’m sorry. This gets to me. I don’t do waiting well.”

Joel clapped his hand on Teague’s shoulder. “Come on, I’ll buy you a beer.”

They went to the cabana by the pool. Taking stools, they ordered their beers and sipped them thoughtfully.

“We’re going at this sideways,” Joel mused. “You can’t go at them balls out with both barrels. They want that.”

“So, what do we do? I hate waiting. I waited on Mac and damn near got us both killed. They picked the time and place and were far stronger than I anticipated.”

“You didn’t know he was the enemy. This time, we know the players. We are at a home field advantage.”

“I’m not running away again. I won’t do that.”conduct unbecoming FINAL FRONT COVER large

“Not saying you should.”

“Then what?”

“Go home. Have a beer. Take your lady to bed.”

“That’s nothing.”

“Exactly.” Joel raised his beer at Teague.

“I don’t get it.”

“Do nothing. Go home. Relax. Let them come to you. No hiding, no running.” He shrugged. “Simple.”

Teague grinned. Taking Joel’s head in both hands, he planted a kiss on his cousin’s brow.

“You’re a genius.” Teague ruffled Joel’s hair.

“Been told that.” He rubbed at his head to smooth his waves back into submission.

“Let’s go home.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Snowed – Part 54

snowed cover image for blogAfter dinner and an improvised concert by Mike, Chester and Sarena, they decide to call it a night. They are gathered on the porch saying goodnight when a strange sound catches Mike’s attention. It came from the apartment next door to his.

There was a flash of light and another, larger one. Chester and I shoved the women roughly back into the apartment just as the place next door blew up! A hug fireball engulfed my place and the apartment next door. The roof of Tim’s place behind was covered in flaming debris. Grabbing my phone, I called 9-1-1, then ran over to Tim’s to see if they were alright.

He and Jaqwan were standing outside, watching their roof catch fire. The trucks got there moments later and the attacked the fire with everything they had. They got Tim’s roof fire out, and tried to contain the blaze from my poor, shattered place so it wouldn’t spread further. My Jeep was a charred mess of twisted metal and glass. As I stood there, watching my life burn, I was glad I’d gotten my guitar out. Most of them, I had left with my mother, but Clarabell was special. She was a gift from my father for my twelfth birthday, just before he died.

I was stunned. I don’t think I said a word to anyone, not even Sarena. She stood by me the whole time, holding my hand, shivering. I think it was her shivering that finally got my attention. I put my arms around her and she buried her face in my chest, weeping. I don’t know what she was crying about, not really. Could have been fear, or sorrow for my loss. I was numb, both from cold and the fact my home was burning to the ground. Just about everything I owned was inside that flaming chaos, including all my birthday presents. Then it struck me, Sarena and I could have been in there and I started shaking too.

Chester saw us a moment before Sarena slipped out of my grasp. He caught her as she fell. He helped her inside and I stumbled in after. Jesse, Ma and Cleo were, wisely, sitting in the living room. Chester helped Sarena to the nearest chair.

“Oh, my God!” She kept saying that over and over like a broken record. “Oh, my God!”

Chester tried to get her attention, but he couldn’t. I tried too, but it was Ma who finally took the matter in hand. She slapped Sarena on the cheek, something her father and I would probably not have resorted to. She didn’t hit her hard, but it stung and it got her attention. Instead of staring into space, she fell on Ma’s shoulder, weeping.

The firefighter in charge came to the door. “Mr. Reuben?”

“Yeah, that’s me.” It took all I had to keep my voice steady. I could barely stand up.

“No one lives in the other apartment, correct?”

“Yeah. I mean, no. You’re correct, no one lives there. Sorry. . . .”

“Quite alright, sir. This isn’t an easy thing to experience.”

“No. No, it’s not.”

“Son, would you like some coffee?” Jesse offered.

“Not right now, thanks,” he replied.

“Just curious, why weren’t you in your place?”

I explained to him about the vandalism with the paintball gun and the brick. Nodding, he took me aside.

“It wasn’t an accident, Mr. Reuben. Someone rigged the gas heater in the other apartment to blow.”

“What? What are you saying? Someone tried to kill us?” I yelled, terrified. “What the hell is going on? We could’ve been next door! Oh, my God!”

I’d like to say that I took it better, but I fell apart. We could have been in my bed, making love, when that went off. We would have been killed, both of us. I would have been dead, and my mother would have been next door watching me burn. Or maybe not. Maybe we all would have been in there, cutting up and having a party when it went.

“Oh! Oh, my God.” I leaned over, gasping.

“Michael,” my mother said sharply. She raised her hand, and I flinched away. “Don’t make me hit you, too.”

“But, Ma, you don’t get it. We could’ve all been there, you, me, Chester, Sarena. . . . Even Jesse and Cleo. We could all be dead!”

“But we’re not,” she added stoically. “By the grace of God, we’re not.”

Moments later, Tim and Jaqwan and their neighbors, David and Cynthia, dropped by to check on us. Jesse greeted them all with hugs and hot coffee.

“Looks like we got us a houseful tonight,” she said. “They can’t stay in their place with no roof.”

“It’s okay, Jesse. We’re staying across the way with my sister,” Cynthia told her. “She lives on the other side of the pool. Her roommate moved out, so we can use the guest room.”

“You boys need a place? Me and Cleo can bunk.”

“We’re going to my girlfriend’s house,” Jaqwan told her. “We wanted to make sure y’all were okay before we left. We’re all like family around here,” he told the firefighter. “We watch out for each other.”

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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Snowed – Part 53

snowed cover image for blogGabe is thrilled with the offer, since he just lost his job and had no idea what he was going to do. Cleo is delighted to hear that Gabe, Mike and Sarena all want to work for her and Drake. 

“He wants to know when you can start!” She called to us from the kitchen.

“How soon does he want us to start?” I shouted back.

“Yesterday,” she replied.

“I can do that!” I kissed Sarena on the nose. “Well, darling, it looks like we have a new job.”

“He’s flying up tomorrow to put things in motion. He’ll stay to meet Gabe.”

“Well, on that note, I believe it’s time to start some dinner. Fried chicken and all the fixin’s at my house,” Jesse invited casually.

“Are Ma and Chester coming?”

“Yes, sir. He’s agreed to break with tradition and try my food. I promised him down home cookin’ and that’s just what he’ll get. Cleo, we got our work cut out.”

“Can I help?” Sarena asked.

“Y’all come keep us company. I got my own way of doin’ and if I got too many people in my kitchen, I’ll trip over someone. But I’d love you to visit.”

“We can do that,” I agreed.

We spent the next couple of hours at Jesse’s while she and Cleo cooked. Sarena pitched in as needed and I made a beer and wine run in Cleo’s rented car. By the time I got back, Ma and Chester were there.

“You know what we could use, Mikey,” Ma said. “We could use a concert.”

“Beg pardon?”

“You still have your guitar, don’t you?”

“Yes.”

“We need some live entertainment,” she repeated. “Go get tuned up and come play.”

Laughing, I trotted next door to get my guitar. Chester helped me move the rest of Sarena’s luggage over and I grabbed some more clothing from the bedroom. We were going to stay at Molly’s until my place could be assessed and repaired.

I tuned up my guitar, sitting on a chair in the living room. They looked at me expectantly.

I opened with a simple melody, making my mother smile. It was one of her favorite songs. By the time I got to the chorus, she was singing with me. “There were Seven Spanish Angels at the alter of the sun. . . .” I finished the song myself. Ma can’t sing the whole thing without crying.

I followed that with an instrumental piece I’d composed myself. It was much in the style of a classical Spanish guitar piece. I’d never finished it, but tonight I found an ending. Sarena’s eyes glittered happily as she listened to me play.

“I didn’t know you could do that! You play beautifully!”

“Michael, you’re a man of many hidden talents. Let’s see if you know this.” Chester went to Jesse’s piano. Flexing his fingers, he started to play. The tune was familiar, but something I hadn’t heard in awhile. Suddenly, I remembered and started to play with him.

“I don’t know the words,” I said as I followed his lead.

In a clear tenor, he started to sing Africa, but Toto. Surprising choice for a dentist from Manhattan, but a good one nonetheless. Each of us took a turn either playing or humming a tune until the others caught on. As the women set up dinner, Chester and I performed out own little concert with input from the audience.

“Do you know, His Eye is on the Sparrow?” Jesse asked.

We did, and all of us sang it together in harmony. After that was done, we had dinner. Jesse was an amazing cook. I was really impressed. I never had figured out how a woman who couldn’t see could do as much as she did.

While they cleaned up, Chester and I went back to our concert. Sarena whispered something in her father’s ear. He chuckled and started to play. She started to dance and sing a song from the 80s called Twilight Zone. I don’t mean the one used on the TV show, this one was by Golden Earring who also sang, Radar Love.

We finally broke up the party around 10:00. I had to get up early and wanted some time with Sarena before I finally went to sleep. Hugs and kisses all around, we went back to Molly’s. Ma and Chester were heading to the motel. We were standing on the porch saying our goodbyes in the freezing cold, when I heard a funny noise at my place. Well, not specifically my apartment, the one next to me that had been empty the last few months. It sounded like a loud poof.

“Did you hear that?” I asked the others. I started off the porch.

“I did,” Chester said, grabbing for my arm.

© Dellani Oakes 2014

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