Archive | February 2016

First Love – Part 29

First Love coverJose organizes a search party. Clayton is allowed to go along because he speaks Spanish and doesn’t look particularly white. Also: We flash back to Claire and how she spent her day.

She carried some cash in her pocket and more in her sock. Dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt, she thought she would blend into the population. She hadn’t counted on the fact that 99 percent of the people in town were dark skinned and dark haired. Her blonde hair shown in the afternoon sun like neon.

People eyed her skeptically, some predatorily. Claire barely noticed. She was too intent upon finding someone with the merchandise she wanted to purchase. She hoped that pot would be enough to get Maddie busted. She didn’t have the cash to buy anything else. She was pretty sure drug dealers wouldn’t take a personal check.

Eventually, some young women approached her on the street. They said they could put her in touch with a guy who would sell her what she wanted. Claire went with them to a big building on the outskirts of town. Men sat around outside smoking and drinking. More women were there, draped languidly over the men. They gave Claire an evil, appraising glance, looking away as if she weren’t important.

The leader of the little pack who had picked up Claire, tapped on a door at the top of some rickety stairs. “Got someone to see you,” she said in Spanish.

“Who?”

“Dunno. Some puta—says she’s from out of town. She wants some weed.”

“Show her in,” the man said in English. “So, you wanna score some ganja,” he said when Claire walked in.

“No, I want some marijuana cigarettes,” Claire replied. She didn’t like the way the man looked at her, as if she were something good to eat.

“Oooh, cigarrillos de marihuana,” he chuckled. “Sure, baby. I can get you a few of those. But first, you come spend some time with me.” He patted the couch next to him.

He was a big man, tall and muscularly built. He was covered in tattoos, some of which looked homemade. He wore an earring in his left ear. It was a single silver hoop. There was an ugly glint in his eye.

“I really just want the stuff,” Claire said. “I need to get back before they miss me.”

“You in my place, you play by my rules,” the man said. He gestured to some of the men.

Claire was surrounded. Rather than risk making a break for it, she sat beside the drug dealer. He put an arm around her, pulling her to him, licking her neck and cheek. Claire recoiled, but he held her fast. She couldn’t move. Her instinct was to slap him, but that seemed ill advised. Instead, she sat quietly, wondering what would happen next.

One of the women brought in some glasses and a bottle on a tray. The man poured a drink, handing it to Claire. She took a sip, but it burned her throat, making her eyes water. He tried to get her to take another sip with some salt and lemon, but she refused. She asked for ice tea, which was brought to her. It didn’t taste quite right, but Claire was so thirsty, she drank it all.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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Most Excellent X

ABC ChallengeI’m always looking for ways to expand my vocabulary. I did an Alphabet Challenge in April 2015, which gave me a good reason to go looking for new words. I don’t know a lot of X words, apart from Xylophone, X-Ray and Xanadu. Xenon and Xenophobic also are ensconced in my vocabulary. However, I wanted to extend it, so I explored Collins Dictionary and did a little excavating.

I recently watched a silly show on Netflix. One of the characters was named Xanthippe. I found it interesting to read that Xanthippe was the name of Socrates’ sharp tongued, spiteful, harping wife. They writers had obviously chosen this name for a reason, because the character was all of that and more.

I discovered, in my explorations, that xylophagous is an adjective pertaining to certain insects, crustaceans, etc feeding on or living within wood. With xylo as the root of the word, I wasn’t particularly surprised to find that xylobalsamum is the name of the dried, fragrant wood of the Balsamodendron gileadense that produces resin known as Balm of Gilead. And just as logical that xoanon is the name of a primitive image of a god, carved, especially originally, in wood, and supposed to have fallen from heaven.

If that weren’t enough, the x-factor, a noun (informal) an unknown or unexplained element that makes something more interesting or valuable, the excellent climax of this exciting article, we come to the last X entry in the Collins Dictionary. I didn’t know that a xyster is a surgical instrument for scraping bone; surgical rasp or file. To be honest, I never thought about it having a name. I’m not surprised such an instrument exists, as I’m sure it’s extremely important.

I believe I’ve had enough of X today. Perhaps another time I’ll be more interested in extolling the excellent exigencies of X, but until then I’ll relax, enhance my Xi and plan my trip to Xochimilco (noun) a town in central Mexico, on Lake Xochimilco: noted for its floating gardens. Pop: 364 647 (2000).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Love – Part 28

First Love coverDeeply concerned about Claire, Craig calls Jose. He, Gabe and Luis arrive along with most of the boys from the group, as well as the men of the church. Two boys tell them that Claire had approached them, asking for drugs to plant on Maddie. They make it clear that they didn’t do it.

“Did you say anything else? Tell her where to go?” Jose asked.

“No, sir. We didn’t even tell her where not to go, if you get my meaning.”

“Understood. Okay, we go in pairs and we start beating on doors. I don’t wanna call the police. Some of these people are our friends. We talk to friends and family first,” Jose advised. “Nobody goes alone, we clear?”

“Yes, Reverend Joe,” they chorused.

“I want to go,” Craig insisted.

“I dunno, man. You’re not a familiar face. These people are violent and clannish. They gonna think you’re a cop being all white,” Jose replied. “You don’t speak Spanish.”

“I do,” Maddie said. “Could I go? I’m not threatening to anyone.” She smiled, looking like a little girl.

“Which is all the more reason why you shouldn’t go,” Gabe stated flatly. “I don’t think it’s a good idea, Dad.”

“I agree. I’m sorry, folks. This is our home, our people.” He shook his head. “We’ll find her.”

Craig reluctantly agreed. Clayton cleared his throat, stepping forward. “Could I go? I’m fluent in Spanish and I kinda look the part.” He smiled, dark brown eyes dancing in his tanned face. “My mom is from Peru. These aren’t my people, exactly, but—I don’t even like Claire, but there should be a familiar face when you find her.”

Jose and Gabe exchanged a look and nodded. “He can come,” Jose said. “You got balls, kid.”

“More than brains,” Clayton said with a chuckle.

The men divided into teams. Clayton went with Gabe and Luis. The others watched them drive off into the town, their tail lights fading in the dark. Unable to sleep, they gathered in the kitchen. Leslie made a pot of coffee and hauled another cake out of the refrigerator.

“It was going to be for lunch tomorrow, but I think we need it now,” he stated. “I can always make another.”

Those who drank coffee, imbibed. Those who didn’t enjoyed the icy cold milk from the dispenser—and tried not to think.

***

Claire was in a state. Angry and peevish, she decided to go looking for drugs to plant on Maddie. She had the notion that if she could defame her character enough, everyone would believe that Claire was the innocent party and let her stay. It was important to stay and be center of attention. She was always the center of attention. All the boys always wanted her, flirted with her, did nice things for her.

Maddie suddenly sprouts a chest and no one has a thing to do with me. Not anymore!

When it became apparent that no one was going to check on her, she found a way out of the building. It was easy. The place was huge and rambling. She found an exit and slipped out.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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It’s Tirgearr Publishing’s Birthday Celebration!

red river radio logoTo listen to the show live or the podcast later, click here.

Every year, Dellani and Christina help Tirgearr Publishing celebrate their birthday. This year, we’ve got got a great lineup up with Kemberlee Shortland, publisher and author of Murder in Mornington, Irish Pride Series, Rhythm of My Heart and many more. We are also joined by Sue Coletta, author of Marred. M. Pepper Langlinais, author of The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller. And Tegon Maus, author of The Eve Project Series, Bob and My Grandfather’s Pants, among others.

First Love – Part 27

First Love coverAfter a delicious dinner, the teens are gathered in the den and realize that Claire may be missing. Jane tells everyone that Claire’s family life is not what it seems.

“That doesn’t excuse her behavior,” Patti flared. “My folks expect me to behave well too, but I don’t go around pouring pee on other girls. That was the worst.”

Jane nodded. “I tried to talk her out of it. She wouldn’t listen.”

“We all did,” Beverly said. “Claire’s just got some problems.”

“She’s just mean,” Denise added. She was always the quiet one, hardly saying a thing. To have her speak so adamantly, was a surprise. “She calls me fat and she told me she was the most popular girl in school because she’s naturally blonde. She said I can’t ever be truly popular with brown hair.”

“We really shouldn’t talk about her,” Daniel said.

“Why? She’d talk about us!” Patti said.

“I know, but it’s bringing me down. I’d rather talk about music or books or—I dunno—How about them Yankees?”

They went up to bed around 10:00. Claire wasn’t anywhere. Worried, the teenagers asked the adults if they’d seen her.

“She ate lunch up here,” Polly said. “There’s her dishes. She couldn’t even bother to take them downstairs.”

“I haven’t spoken to her,” Leslie added. “I tried to get her to come help with dinner, but she wouldn’t have any of it. Just as well, she probably would have peed in the sauce.” He seemed completely unconcerned.

Jane sighed, closing her eyes. “I think I know what she’s doing. She talked to some of the guys last night—not Luis and Gabe—a couple of the older boys. She said she liked to party and wondered if they could hook her up with some—stuff.”

“Stuff?” Craig glared at her. “Drugs.”

Jane nodded. “I didn’t think she was serious, but after we went to bed, that’s all she talked about. She wanted to get some stuff to plant on Maddie to get her in trouble. I’m so sorry.” Jane turned to Maddie. “I wouldn’t have let her do it. I promise. She goes too far sometimes.”

“She was pissed because the guys told her no,” Denise piped up.

“You think she might have gone looking on her own?” Craig asked.

“Knowing Claire, yeah,” Beverly said. “She’s stupid.”

“And arrogant to think that bad things happen to everyone else,” Craig said. He ran downstairs to the nearest phone.

They heard his voice when the other party answered. “Jose, it’s Craig. I think we may have a really big problem.”

Less than 10 minutes later, Jose, Gabe, Luis and a dozen other men showed up at the church. Among them were the two older boys Jane had seen talking to Claire. They were upfront about the conversation. Blushing, they confessed that she had offered sex if they would do what she wanted.

“Man, it was tempting,” the older one said. “But she’s only seventeen.” He shook his head. “Not only that, I knew Reverend Joe would kill me if I even thought about it.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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First Love – Part 26

First Love coverAfter a long, hot day of work, Jose surprises them with an outdoor shower—with a firehose. Though cold, it does the trick to help get the mud and sweat off them.

When the hose down was complete, they were cleaner, though chilly and dripping. Laughing, all the girls shook their hair so the water droplets sprayed Luis and Gabe. The two boys beat a hasty retreat from the gaggle of dripping women. Giggling so hard they could barely stand, the five girls clung together for support. With Claire out of the picture, the others weren’t so uptight and nasty. They’d actually been friendly all day.

The teenagers took their short showers and changed clothing for the evening. At six o’clock sharp, they lined up for dinner and trooped to the kitchen to eat. There were two picnic tables down the center of the large, long room. Each was covered with a tablecloth and adorned with flowers. The kitchen smelled amazing. Noses twitched at the pleasing odors of spices and garlic.

After a short blessing, Leslie cut huge slabs of lasagna and served them with the help of Polly and Caroline. Bowls of salad and bottles of homemade dressing passed around with everyone helping themselves. Thick chucks of garlic bread followed the salad. Everyone ate until they were nearly sick. Polly, Caroline and Leslie cleaned up, loading the three dishwashers in the kitchen. The rest of the group wandered into the game room, collapsing on the chairs, sofas and floor.

“That was so good,” Brad groaned. “I ate enough to last me a week.” He burped.

“Anyone have room for dessert?” Leslie asked as he walked in the room. He carried a cake, slathered with white frosting and covered in coconut.

Groans greeted him, but each of the teenagers took a piece and finished it, declaring it the best coconut cake ever. Leslie smiled, obviously pleased.

“Why did you ever give up running a restaurant,” Clayton asked. “Your food is fantastic!”

“There’s a lot involved,” Leslie replied. “And it’s stressful. I developed some heart issues and couldn’t handle it. I do cater and cook for private parties. I keep my feet in. You can’t just put it aside and tell yourself you’re never going to cook again. It’s who I am.” He smiled. “I don’t expect you kids to understand.”

“No, I get it,” Brad said quietly. “It’s like music. If someone told me I’d never be able to make music again, I think I’d die.”

“I like to write stories,” Denise admitted. “I have to write something every day or I feel wrong inside.”

“Me too,” Maddie confessed. “I write some short stories and I’ve written a lot of poetry.”

“Me too!” Denise’s eyes glowed. “Tell me about some of your stories.

The two of them went off to a corner to talk about writing. The others discussed music, even the mean girls. Claire still hadn’t put in an appearance.

“I guess the Princess couldn’t bother to come down and eat with us peons,” Clayton grumbled.

“She wasn’t upstairs when we got our stuff,” Beverly said.

“I’m a little worried about her,” Jane admitted. “She was really upset about what happened.” She paused, examining the group. “Look, I’m not saying what she did wasn’t wrong, cause it was. But you don’t know what her home life is like. Her folks are really uptight. They expect her to be perfect.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

 

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First Love – Part 25

First Love coverWhile Maddie is getting a shower, the boys take her things, along with Patti’s, to another room. They make an improvised bed for Maddie with bean bag chairs and a sheet. The next day, they have their first lesson in making adobe plaster for the walls of the playhouse.

Jose, with the help of his son and Luis, demonstrated the correct way to make the adobe. They each took up a square of plywood with a short, squat dowel nailed on it. Jose loaded these with adobe plaster and handed them each a flat, rectangular, metal trowel.

“Now we go to the torreón.” They followed him to the building.

With detailed explanation, Jose demonstrated how to apply the plaster to the wall. Their first attempts were laughable, but they got better, especially Maddie and Daniel. Patti and Clayton were good at mixing the adobe to the right consistency, which left the other boys to tote buckets while the rest applied the plaster.

They stopped at noon for a wonderful lunch that was prepared by Leslie, with the help of Polly and Caroline. It didn’t surprise Maddie to find out that he was a retired chef. The sandwiches he’d prepared were fit for a king. He was so delighted with all their compliments, he smiled and blushed.

“Dinner will be even better,” he promised.

Claire hadn’t joined them for lunch and none of the other girls even stopped to ask where she was. Even Jane seemed perfectly content, if not happy, that she wasn’t around.

The day went quickly and they had a sense of accomplishment of a job well done. Working in the heat was exhausting and most of them had gotten too much sun. The five minute showers didn’t seem like enough to get the mud off, so Jose had a suggestion.

“Everyone line up and we’ll do this the old fashioned way,” he said with a grin.

Luis and Gabe seemed to know what was coming. Maddie noticed they didn’t join them. She was just about to ask why when she got a face full of water. Spitting and screeching, she danced around as the water hit her.

“That’s so cold!” she wailed.

Patti stood next to her, stoically still, teeth chattering as the water dripped off her sodden shirt and red hair. The boys tugged off their shirts, dancing around in the water as Jose sprayed them. The other girls seemed so shocked by the experience, they said nothing. After a moment, Patti and Maddie joined the boys as they cavorted in the spray.

“Come on in,” Maddie called to Gabe and Luis.

“No thanks, I’m gonna go home and have a nice, hot shower,” he said with a grin. “And I’m gonna picture this moment,” he murmured to Luis.

His friend tapped knuckles, nodding his enthusiastic agreement. His eyes were on Patti as she danced in the water. There weren’t a lot of redheads around their tiny town. He liked seeing another like himself.

“Oh, Roja,” he murmured. “You are so beautiful.” He smacked his lips and stared.

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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