Tag Archive | 1976

I Love Dialogue! from Under the Western Sky Chapter 9

I love dialogue doodle bannerUnder the Western Sky is a retro-romantic suspense set in Western Nebraska in 1976. Though somewhat under the radar, there is a great deal of racial tension, partially due to the events that happened at Wounded Knee, South Dakota three years prior.

Bobby and his best friend, Danny, are on opposite sides of the racial barrier. Danny is white and his father has been approached by a white supremacist group. His initiation was to injure, possibly kill, Bobby because he’s dating a white girl. They have a terrible fight and Bobby takes his friend down. The police have arrested Danny and he spent the night in jail.

Bobby woke the next morning to the delicious odors of coffee and bacon. Glancing at the clock, he saw it was well after nine. He couldn’t remember a time when he had slept that late on a Sunday. In fact, he couldn’t remember a time he’d slept that late in the last six years.

His body ached from his encounter with Danny. When he examined himself in the mirror, he saw that his old friend had landed a few good punches on his ribs, leaving angry red welts on his back and chest. How could he have done that without Bobby noticing? He hurt all over and was glad he hadn’t spent the night on the lumpy old couch. His back hitched on him when he bent over to pull up his jeans.

Someone knocked on the door as he zipped his pants. Fumbling with his shirt, he invited them in. He was expecting his mother or maybe Maria, but it was Libby. She was dressed in Maria’s shorts, and a T-shirt with big pink rhinestone lips on the front. Her eyes widened when she saw the bruises on his chest.

“Your mom said to wake you for breakfast,” she said shyly, eyes downcast.

“Thanks.” He pulled her gently inside, closing the door. His lips connected with hers, leaving a spark in their wake. “I’m sorry about last night,” he sighed, holding her face in his hands. “I feel like such a bum.” His fingers traced the curve of her cheek and neck tenderly.

“No, it’s my fault. I should’ve known better.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I love you too much for that.”

They kissed a few more moments until Maria called to them from the hallway. “Rise and shine, Babu! Breakfast!” She tapped on the door, whispering. “Put it back in your pants and get out here before Mom has a piglet!”

Bobby jerked the door open in her face, leaning casually against the frame. “It’s where it belongs, Mia. Just getting a good morning kiss.” He smirked, pinching her cheek.

He still didn’t have his shirt on and Maria winced, sucking in a breath as he passed her.

“Did Danny do that?” She pressed her hand gently on his side.

“Yeah.” He flinched away from her fingers as they probed a particularly sensitive spot. “Fuck, Mia, don’t do that!” he said, more loudly than he intended.

“What’s that language I’m hearing in my house?” his mother called from the kitchen.

“Nothing, Mamá! It was a perfect stranger who said that,” Bobby called from the hallway.

“If he was perfect, he wouldn’t use that kind of…” His mother stood in the living room, a pancake turner in one hand, an oven mitt in the other. When she saw Bobby’s chest, she stopped talking. “Oh, Jesus, Maria!” She crossed herself as she approached him.

Babbling in Spanish, she examined him carefully before leading him back to the kitchen. “Jim, Toby, look! See what that brute did to my baby!”

Toby looked him over with a practiced eye. “I don’t think anything’s broken, but we better take you by the hospital to have x-rays.”

“I’m fine.” Bobby tried to pass off the pain. “Just bruised up.” Shrugging into his shirt, he winced as he pulled it down, gasping as the cloth rasped against his bruises.

“That settles it for me,” Toby said in a no-nonsense voice. “I’m taking you.”Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 500

“Can I at least eat first? I’m starving.”

Toby frowned, not wanting to agree, but not wanting the kid to be hungry.

“A man either needs food or sex after something like that,” Jim said, without thinking.

Bobby shot him an ugly look, which fortunately his mother missed. “Yeah, well, I’ll take that food now, Mom.”

Jim mouthed, “I’m sorry,” to him, winking at Maria as she stifled a giggle.

“Does it hurt as much as it looks?” Grace asked.

“Pretty much, yeah. Hurts to breathe deep. I don’t even remember him doing that to me. I didn’t feel anything at the time.”

“Yeah, you don’t,” Toby said calmly. “It’s an adrenaline thing. You get so pumped, you don’t realize you’re taking almost as much damage as you’re giving. Though in this case, I think you did more.” He winked at Bobby. “You’ll have to show me that trick. I know black belts who can’t do that.”

“I wish I could. I don’t have a clue. It was like I saw in my mind how it was done, but unless you pulled a gun on me, I don’t think I could repeat it.”

“We’ll figure it out.” Jim almost clapped him on the shoulder, but refrained. “Bruce Lee, ki ya!”

Bobby tried to laugh but it hurt. Instead, he held his ribs, groaning.

“That’s it,” Toby said, before they even sat down. “Link is on his way here. I’m taking you to the hospital.”

“I’ll take him, Toby,” Jim offered. “I think the ladies need you here more than me. As soon as Link arrives, we’ll go.”

© 2015 Dellani Oakes

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Under the Western Sky Is HERE!

Under the Western Sky by Dellani Oakes - 200I’m pleased to announce that my newest novel, Under the Western Sky, has just been released from Tirgearr Publishing.

Set in 1976, this retro-romantic suspense is set in a small town in Western Nebraska. Following in the wake of a botched FBI situation in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, the racial tensions in the small town are at an all time high. Bobby Menendez is dating Libby Marshall, a white girl. His best friend, Danny, is also white. Little do any of them know but a white supremacist organization seeks to make Danny and his father members. Can the three of them resist the pressure being put on them?

Below is an excerpt from Under the Western Sky.


       Libby Marshal leaned over the pool table lining up her shot, slender hips twitching to KC and the Sunshine Band. She hummed distractedly as she eyed the table. Bobby Menendez stood behind her enjoying the view. His hands moved forward, tingling to touch her.

“Touch me and die, Roberto Hermida Menendez.”

“Man, how did you know?”

She made her shot, long distance across the felt top, snapping her pool cue, nearly nailing him in the balls when her arm came back.

“Shouldn’t stand so close,” Danny said across the table from her.

“Oh, man, the view!”

Bobby held his hands the width of her hips apart. He bit his lip as she faced him, a frown on her face. Her green eyes flashed at him. With a toss of her short, blonde, curly hair, she moved away from him with a glare. His dark brown eyes followed her, longing in his well tanned face.

“View’s damn good over here, and safer,” Danny grinned.

He’d been looking down her top as she bent over to shoot. He loved the fact that it was 1976 and even in this small, conservative, western Nebraska town, girls were liberated, freeing them from the confines of establishment undergarments. The no bra look was great! And Libby had such perky tits. Bobby could have his dangerous ass view, Danny went for tits every time.

“Boys, behave,” Toni’s father said from his office behind them.

Funny thing how Toni’s old man always had work to do when the boys came over. He would casually follow the four of them down to the pool room in the basement and sit in his work room fiddling with some electrical components while they played pool and listened to music. He didn’t mind them coming over, but they weren’t going to be unchaperoned either.

“Yes, sir,” they chorused.

They stepped back, snapping to attention, not quite saluting. Each with military fathers, it was hard not to when he talked in that tone. Fifteen years as a Marine before a shell shattered his right leg, didn’t go away. Everyone in town called him Captain Cristo. Only the very brave called him Grant.

“Girls, Mom’s got dinner almost ready. Why don’t you hustle up and help her set the table.”

“Yes, sir,” Libby replied, setting down her cue.

“Sure thing, Daddy,” Toni leaned hers against the wall, leaving a blue streak of chalk.

The boys hesitated, unsure how to proceed. They hadn’t been included in that request. Captain Cristo solved that for them by setting aside his work. He stood stiffly, old war wound tightening up on him. He motioned them into his work room, closing the door behind him.

“She may not be my daughter,” he said without preamble. “But you ogle her like that again, or put a hand on her,” he looked right at Bobby. “I’ll break all three of your legs.”

The boys exchanged a look. It took no explanation to know what the captain meant. Hard as nails though he may be, the words, break your balls, would never pass his lips in his wife’s house. He was very specific about language. Nothing stronger than damn passed anyone’s lips under his roof in her house.

“It happens I like you boys, or you wouldn’t be here.” He glanced at Bobby, who shuffled his feet, but met his gaze.

“Thank you, sir,” Bobby mumbled.

“I don’t forget being seventeen. I venture to say, I was as horny and troublesome as you two. If the Marines hadn’t grabbed me when they did, God knows where I’d have ended up.”

“My dad says the same thing about himself,” Danny ventured to interject quietly. “Only he was Army.”

“A Ranger.” Captain Cristo nodded sharply. “Damn fine heritage, boy. Your daddy too, Roberto. He was a great man. He died too soon.” He paused a moment, remembering Navarro Menendez with regret. “Just so we understand one another. Staying to dinner?”

“If Mrs. C. agrees,” Danny looked hopeful.

“When doesn’t she?”

“Honest, we don’t plan it,” Danny explained. “Just the girls call and invite us. It coincides.”

“Not a problem, boys. It’ll be a hard time for sure when I can’t feed a couple extra mouths. Go wash up, Emma will be calling us soon.”

They moved quickly to the small bathroom near the stereo and washed their hands under his supervision. They were drying their hands when his wife called from the kitchen above.

“Honey! Boys, dinner!”

“Coming, dear,” Grant yelled back.

“Wash up!”

“Already done.”

They walked up together, the boys slightly awkward with the captain directly behind them. His eyes seemed to detect any inconsistencies, sifting away until he found the truth of it all.

“Let’s have Bobby over here,” Emma Cristo pointed to a chair next to the windows.

Libby was placing a large bowl of mashed potatoes on the table. She looked up rather dismayed. Danny winked at her and Bobby took his place beside her. Toni and Danny sat opposite the other two teenagers.

“I swear,” Emma said after their blessing. “I may have given birth to one child, but I’m raising a dozen. Not that I mind, I love a big family. I’ve got seven brothers and three sisters,” she told them, not for the first time.

“And I’ve got two of each,” her husband contributed. “But what Toni lacks in siblings, she makes up for in friends.” He ruffled Libby’s hair.

“You might as well adopt her, Dad, she’s here all the time.” Toni grinned, tossing her long dark hair over her shoulder.

She and Libby were such a contrast. She was tall, solidly built, with dark hair and eyes. The Indian blood Toni had showed in her features as well. Libby was shorter and athletically built with short blond curls. She was all Scotch-Irish and looked it.

Bobby and Danny responded quietly as they passed the food around. When they were asked a direct question, they answered, but didn’t initiate conversation themselves. They were very intimidated by Captain Cristo. He was pleasant and generous, but he also had a way of reminding a guy to be on his best behavior around the women.

“Who wants ice cream?” Emma asked as the teenagers cleared the table.

They all said they’d love it. The girls washed dishes and the boys dried. Once the dishes were back in the cupboard, she pulled a half gallon of vanilla out of the freezer and chocolate syrup and peanuts to go on top.

“Mom, since it’s Friday, can Libby spend the night?”

“I expected she would,” Emma replied with a smile. “Mom’s working late again?”

“Yes, until closing.”

Libby’s mother worked serving tables at the local bar. Nearly every night was a late night for a single woman with a child. Between her wages and a small widow’s pension, she barely got by.

“Thanks, Mom.”

Danny cleared his throat quietly. The captain’s dark eyes drifted over to him. He turned a little red around the ears, but continued to speak.

“Bobby and I were wondering if the girls could go to a movie tonight, Captain Cristo?”

“Did you ask the girls first to see if they wanted to go?”

“We thought we should ask you first, sir,” he answered sheepishly.

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Driving with the Top Down

I belong to a small, informal writer’s group which meets every Wednesday.  We have a weekly writing prompt and the one for yesterday was ‘open windows’.  Since spring is in the air, I got to thinking about some of the crazy stuff we did as kids to celebrate spring.  Some of the following is true, some is from my spring fed imagination.  Dellani



It was a lovely, sunny day in early spring of 1976. I gazed out my window with a smile, glad that the air was a balmy 50 degrees, the vast expanse of the west Nebraska sky was blue, the wind was blowing, the snow had melted. Perfect day for a drive!

The Christmas break of 1975 had been pretty grim and gloomy, sporting the worst blizzard in nearly a century. We laughingly called it Bi-Centennial Blizzard and teased one another that we were reenacting Valley Forge as we tromped around town. Cars were iced in, roads impassible, people were going to work on cross country skis. I couldn’t remember a time I had been so cold!

But today it was officially over. The weather man said it was supposed to be warm and sunny all week. Since it was Saturday morning, my friends and I decided to go for a drive. Jeff had a convertible and could be persuaded to go for a long drive given the right incentive of gas money and a Pepsi. Ever the instigator, I gave him a call.

“Jeff, hi!”

“Hi! What’s up?”

“Not a lot. I was thinking it’s such a pretty day, why don’t we get some people and go for a ride.”

“I don’t have any gas.”

“We’ll take a collection and buy some.”

He wiffled and waffled a moment, then agreed. It helped that he liked me. I could usually get what I wanted with very little effort. What I wanted was to go for a ride in his rattletrap old convertible with the top down. The car would now be considered a classic. Back then, it was a dented up old piece of crap Pontiac with faded paint and no air conditioning.

Fifteen minutes later, Jeff pulled up at my house. I said goodbye to my mother and dashed out the door with my jacket, scarf, warm hat and mittens. It might be warm standing in the sun, but riding in a convertible in 50 degree weather got cold!

Jeff’s best friend, Danny, was sitting up front. He got out and gallantly let me slide in the middle. That was another condition. I had to sit next to Jeff. We made three more stops picking up other people to go for a ride. We pooled our money, filled Jeff’s gas tank, bought him a can of Pepsi and took off to the lake about 30 miles away.

Part of the fun of driving with the top down was how many people we managed to fit into that crummy old tank of a car. Three of us up front, four in the back and three who sat on back of the back seat. Once the top was down, it formed sort of a semi-circle of metal and heavy fabric – or maybe it was vinyl. Only the very brave sat there because going sixty down a back country highway in a convertible isn’t the safest thing in the world. If our mothers had only seen us!

Once we got out of the city limits, Jeff shoved his Black Sabbath “Paranoid” tape in the tape deck. He cranked up “Iron Man” and took off. We made the drive to the lake, looped around it and headed back to town. Our celebration of spring was almost complete. The last stop was the Dairy Queen where we all sat down and had a tall, frosty glass of limeade. Nothing like freezing yourself inside and out!

I never will know why the cops didn’t stop us for doing something so dangerous and so incredibly dumb! I guess it was the luck of the insane. That may have been quite a few years ago, but I will never forget driving with the top down.