Lucky YOU!

Hi, friends,

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been M.I.A. lately, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about you…  It’s just that the day job has me burning the candle at both ends and the middle at the moment.

However, despite my hectic schedule, I couldn’t resist sharing the coolest deal with you!  My friend (and yours), Craig Boyack, has done it again!  Yes, he’s published a collection of short stories and micro-fiction entitled The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack.”

The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack

(And not to break my arm patting myself on the back, but, yes, I did design the cover from scratch!  I’ll blog more about that as soon as I’m back to Bloggyville full time.)

Now, the really cool thing is not only that Craig’s stories are so awesome, but so is the price!  Just click that Amazon link above, and you’ll get a dozen or so stories for only 99¢!  Yes, you read right… Twelve different stories by a talented writer will cost less than one dollar!  That means that each story costs only 8¼¢!  And if it takes you sixteen and a half minutes to read each story, that means you’re paying only a half a cent per minute for pure entertainment pleasure!

If you have small children, you know that even a Little Golden Book can cost upward of $7 these days, and I promise every one of Craig’s stories are much better than The Little Engine That Could.

So what are you waiting for?  Hurry on over to Amazon and snag a copy of “The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack” before Craig realizes he’s priced these too low!  I’ll see ya soon!


Visionary (Part Two)

It’s time for the second part of yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.  Hold on to your seats…

*     *     *

Part Two of Three
By: Rachel Carrera

Early the following morning, Claire whimpered in her sleep.  “Nooo!”  She bolted up and gasped loudly.

Van stepped out of the bathroom with shaving cream on his face.  “Good morning, sleepyhead.  What’s wrong?”

Tears glistened in Claire’s eyes.  “Oh, it was horrible!  I had a dream that Billy got hurt.  He fell out of a tree and broke his left arm.  Oh, I hope Howard Stevens’ tree fort isn’t very high.  Van, you don’t think—”

He wiped the shaving cream off with a towel and made his way to the bed.  “Honey, I think Billy’s just fine.  The Stevenses would have called if there was a problem.  Besides he’ll be home before nine so we can eat breakfast and get to the furniture store for the lamp sale.”

Her body still quaked as she stood and hugged him.  “Alright.  I know you’re right.  It’s just that–”

“Darling, let’s not start this dream business again.  You saw what happened with Susie last night.  Now, please, let it go.  Let’s have a good day together.”

She sighed and forced a smile.  “I’m sorry.  I’ll go start breakfast.”

A short time later, when the front door opened, Claire ran to greet Billy and hugged him tightly.

Billy winced.  “Mom, you’re smothering me!”

Tears poured down her cheeks.  “Oh, let me look at you.  I’m just so glad you’re alright.”

Van stepped into the foyer and tousled his son’s hair.  “Of course he’s alright; aren’t ya, Champ?”

Billy furrowed his brow.  “Why wouldn’t I be alright?  Mom, you’re acting crazy.”

She smiled through her tears.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just that I had another dream, and, well… I’m just so happy to see you!”  She hugged him again and kissed his cheeks.

Billy grimaced and wiped the side of his face.  “Eww!  Mom, come on!”

Van chuckled.  “Son, go put your BB gun and your suitcase up in your room, and tell your sister breakfast is ready.”

As Billy hustled upstairs, Claire said, “Be sure to wash your hands!”

When the family ate, Billy swirled his waffle in syrup and asked, “So, Mom, what was that dream about?”

Susie raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips as she eyed her mother.

Claire took a deep breath and blushed.  “Oh, I guess it was just nothing.  I dreamed that you fell out of a tree and broke your left arm.  I was just certain that you fell out of Howard’s tree fort last night.”

Billy chuckled.  “Mom, Howard’s tree fort isn’t even this tall.”  He gestured to his chest.  “It’s on the lowest branch of that old oak tree.  His mom was too scared to let his dad build it any higher.  There’s no way I could fall out of that.”

Van laughed, and Susie cracked a smile.  She picked up a bowl of blueberries and handed them to Claire.  “Mother, I’m sorry about the way I acted last evening.  I was simply horrid, and you must have hated me.”

Claire blushed.  “Of course I could never hate you, Darling.”

Van straightened his tie and smiled.  “So, is everyone ready to go help your mother pick out a new floor lamp?”

*     *     *

That night, Claire woke twice following dreams of Billy breaking his arm.  Too terrified to sleep after the second event, she tiptoed to the living room and read, praying morning would come soon.

A short time later, Van yawned as he wandered into the living room and sat next to her.  “Claire, you really need to get a handle on these dreams.  Maybe Dr. Steadman can come over after church and prescribe you a sleeping pill.”

She waved her hand.  “No, I don’t want to bother him.  His daughter’s in town visiting, and besides, we’re going up to Hallinger’s Falls.  We’ve already promised the kids.”

He rested his arm around her shoulders.  “Was it the same dream?”

She snuggled into his chest.  “Yes.  Billy falls out of a tree and breaks his left arm.”

“Hon, he already told you Howard’s tree fort isn’t four feet off the ground.  Nothing’s going to happen to him.  Now, why don’t you go pack us a picnic basket, and get breakfast ready, and I’ll go wake the kids.”  He stood and extended his hand.

She took his hand and stood.  “Alright.  Do you want scrambled or poached?”

“Poached.  And, Hon, please don’t mention this to the kids.  There’s no reason to keep calling attention to these silly dreams.”

She took a deep breath and forced a smile.  “Yes, dear.”

*     *     *

After church, Claire tried not to yawn on the drive to Hallinger’s Falls.  She simulated a happy façade as the family sang “My Darling Clementine” and “I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad.”  When they arrived, she forced a smile as she unpacked the picnic basket.

After everyone ate their potato salad and fried chicken, the kids went exploring, and Claire and Van held hands as they walked along the river’s edge.  “It’s really beautiful out here, isn’t it?” he asked.

She nodded and stifled a yawn.  “It sure is.  Honey, I’m really sorry about this week with all my dreams.  I guess I was just being silly.”

He kissed the side of her head.  “Oh, Darlin’, your silliness is one of the things I love about you.  But I hate that you’re losing sleep and worrying yourself and the kids.  If you could just allow yourself to relax…”

As they came upon a few trees, Claire gasped loudly when she saw Billy balancing on a high limb with his back to them.  “Billy!” she shreiked.  “Get down from there now!”

Billy jerked his head around, and as he did, he lost his balance and fell to the ground.  “Oww!  Oww, my arm!”  He clutched his left arm as he curled up in a ball.  His lip quivered as his parents raced to him.

*     *     *

Two hours later, the emergency room doctor wiped his hands on a white hand towel as he approached the family.  “Mr. and Mrs. Keene, Billy’s going to be just fine.  It’s a clean break.  He’ll be in a cast for a few weeks, but otherwise, he’s just a little bruised.  My nurse is cleaning the plaster off him, then he’ll be ready to go.”

Claire let out a loud sigh of relief.  “Thank goodness!”

Susie’s eyes grew large.  “Mother, it’s just like in your dream.  Billy did fall out of a tree and break his left arm.  The only difference was it wasn’t Howard’s tree.”

Claire furrowed her brow.  “Actually, I didn’t know if it was Howard’s tree or not in my dream.  I just assumed since he was playing in Howard’s tree fort—”

Van rolled his eyes.  “Would you two cut it out!  Now, listen, I don’t want any talk of these silly dreams once Billy gets back.  Hon, I don’t mean to cast blame, but if you wouldn’t have startled him, he probably wouldn’t have fallen.”

Claire’s jaw dropped open.  “Are you saying this was my fault?”

“I’m not blaming anyone.  It was an accident.  I’m just saying that—”

Billy’s face beamed as he ran down the corridor to his folks.  “Mom, Dad, look at this cool cast!  I can’t wait to have all the guys sign it!”

Claire cut her eyes sideways at Van, then forced a smile and hugged her son.  “I’m just glad you’re okay, Sweetie.”  She planted a kiss on his cheek.

Billy grimaced and wiped his face.  “Aww, Mom!  Not in public!”

*     *     *

Stay tuned…  Tomorrow brings the conclusion to Visionary

Let’s talk:  Have you ever believed someone who claimed they experienced a vision?  Do you have a favorite picnic spot in your area?

Visionary (Part One)

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  This time, today’s story is even longer than usual, so I’ll be dividing it into three parts.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

*     *     *

Part One of Three
By: Rachel Carrera

Claire gasped as she bolted up, then rubbed her eyes as she looked around the dark room and tried to gather her bearings.  Van’s soft snoring next to her assured her that she was home in bed.  It was only a dream.  She rubbed her arms until the goosebumps disappeared, then snuggled next to her husband as she willed herself to fall back asleep.

The following morning, Claire yawned as she scooped scrambled eggs and bacon onto four plates.  “Billy, Susie, breakfast is ready.”

The kids came running downstairs, and Van straightened his tie then set his fedora on the table as he snatched a piece of bacon.  “Good morning, Darlin’.  Did you sleep well?”  He kissed Claire’s cheek then sat at the head of the table.

Billy and Susie scrambled to get in their chairs as Claire untied her apron and handed Van the newspaper.  “Not really.  How about you?”

Van opened the paper without responding then raised his eyebrows.  “Oh, King George died.  It looks like England’s got a new queen.”

Susie yelped.  “Oww!  Mother, Billy hit me with his yoyo!”

Claire brought the plates to the table and said, “Billy, you know we don’t bring toys to the table.  And what are you wearing?  You can’t wear dungarees to school.  After you eat, you need to march upstairs and change into your corduroy slacks.”

“Aww, Mom!”

Van raised an eyebrow.  “Don’t sass your mother, son.  So, what’s everyone got planned for the weekend?  I need to take your mother shopping for a new lamp Saturday, and I thought we might drive up to Hallinger’s Falls for a picnic after church Sunday.”  He lit a cigarette then bit into a buttery slice of toast.

Billy wiped his milk mustache with the back of his arm and grinned.  “Howard Stevens’ dad just built him a tree fort, and they asked if I could spend the night Friday.  I’m gonna take my BB gun, and we’re gonna play Davy Crockett.”

Van smiled.  “Of course you can, son.  What about you, Princess?”

Susie smiled and smoothed her pinafore.  “Donald Fredericks asked me to the Valentine’s Dance Friday night.  I was hoping Mother would help me let down the hem of my red dress.”

Claire tensed, and the color drained from her face.  She dropped her fork to the floor with a loud ting.  Her eyes grew large, and the tendons in her neck protruded.  “I… uh… oh, Susie, I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

Van picked up the utensil.  “Billy, get your mother a clean fork.  What’s wrong, dear?  You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Claire’s hands shook, and tears welled in her eyes.  “I… well… I had a dream last night, and, well, I just don’t think Susie should go to the dance.”

Susie frowned.  “What?  But, Mother!  You know I’ve been waiting all year for Donald to ask me out.”

Van patted Susie’s hand.  “Claire, a dream?  Really?  What kind of dream?”

Claire bit her lip and blushed as she averted his gaze.  “I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had a dream that Donald would ask Susie out.  She was in her red dress the night of their date, and he telephoned to cancel.  It broke her heart.  Oh, Van, we can’t risk having him hurt her like that!”

Susie’s jaw dropped open.  “What?  Mother, I’ll have you know that Donald’s a very nice boy!  He’d never do such a horrid thing!”

Claire knitted her brow.  “Susie, you were in tears, and you couldn’t be consoled.  I just don’t think—”

Van chuckled and patted Claire’s arm.  “Now, Darling, I have to agree with Susie.  Relying on a dream is a little farfetched.  Besides, my firm is trying to get the Fredericks account, so I don’t want to make old Jimbo angry if my daughter doesn’t accept his son’s invitation to the dance.”  He looked at Susie.  “Of course you can go, Princess.  Now, you and Billy had better get on upstairs and brush your teeth before you’re late for school.”

Susie stood and kissed Van’s cheek.  “Yes, Daddy.  Thank you.”  She and Billy rushed upstairs with a loud clamor.

Claire hung her head and rubbed her temples as Van stood.  He rubbed her shoulder then grabbed his fedora as he said, “Don’t be such a mother hen.  Susie’ll be just fine.”  He kissed her cheek, then took his briefcase and left.

*     *     *

Friday after school, Donald drove Susie home and accompanied her inside.  “Hi, Mrs. Keene, I’m Donald.  Susie thought it would be a good idea for me to meet you before the dance tonight.”

Claire forced a smile as she shook his hand.  “Of course, Donald, it’s good to meet you.  Why don’t you and Susie go sit in the living room.  I’ll bring you some cake and lemonade, and we can get to know each other.”

Donald tipped his head.  “Yes, ma’am.  Thank you.”

For the next hour, Claire served Donald six slices of her famous apple crumb cake as she asked him question after question.  As soon as he drove away, Susie scowled and put her hands on her hips.  “Mother, I can’t believe you!  Why’d you have to ask him so many personal questions?  That was so embarrassing!”

Van walked in the front door and hung his hat as Claire said, “Honey, I was just trying to see if his intentions were honorable.  I told you that in my dream he—”

Tears welled in Susie’s eyes.  “Oh, you and that silly dream!  I don’t want to hear another word!”  She spun on her heel, then raced upstairs and slammed the door to her bedroom.

Van shook his head and kissed his wife’s cheek.  “Hon, I told you to leave that dream business alone.  You’re name’s Claire, not Clairvoyant.”

*     *     *

A couple of hours later, Susie emerged downstairs in her red dress with white polka dots and red kitten heels.  “Mother, I can’t find my white cardigan, and can I please borrow your pearls?”

Claire sighed.  “Your cardigan is hanging in the back of your closet, and it’s may I please borrow your pearls.  Yes, you may.  They’re in my jewelry box.  And, Susie?”


Claire bit her lip and looked sideways at Van who set his newspaper in his lap.  She forced a smile.  “Nothing.  It’s nothing.  You look beautiful, Darling.”

“Thanks!”  Susie grinned as she hurried back upstairs.

Van shook his head.  “Claire, don’t say anything.  You’re going to ruin this dance for her.  It was just a dream.”

Claire sighed and nodded.  “Alright.  I understand.”  They both jumped when the phone rang.

“I’ll get it,” Van said as he stood.

As he walked to the kitchen, Claire nervously clutched the arms of her chair.  She struggled to hear but couldn’t make out what he said.  She held her breath as she waited for his return.

Susie ran to the bottom of the stairs just as Van came back.  She grinned, and her dress flared as she spun in a circle.  “Well, how do I look?  Mother, these pearls are simply darling!  I think a bow in my hair would look better, don’t you?”

Van sucked in his lips.  “Princess, I—”

“What is it, Daddy?”

Claire clenched her hands into fists and bit her lip.

Van nodded and hugged Susie.  “Princess, that was Donald’s mother on the phone.  He can’t take you to the dance.”

“What?  Why not?”  Tears welled in Susie’s eyes as Claire stood and approached them.

Van smoothed his daughter’s hair.  “His mom said that he—”

Susie narrowed her eyes and glared at Claire.  “This is your fault, Mother!  You scared him away with all those silly questions this afternoon!  I can’t believe you!  I’ll be the laughingstock of the whole school!”

Claire reached for her daughter’s hand, but Susie jerked away dramatically.  Claire furrowed her brow.  “Susie, I just—”

Van sighed.  “Princess, Mrs. Fredericks said that Donald is sick.  She said the doctor just left their house and said he needed to stay in bed all weekend.  She said he feels horrible about having to cancel.”

Susie’s chest heaved as she sobbed even harder.  “It doesn’t matter!  It’s the biggest dance of the year next to Homecoming and Prom, and now I don’t have a date!  I’ll be a laughingstock!”  She spun on her heel and fled upstairs.  Moments later, her bedroom door slammed.

As Van and Claire headed back to their chairs in the living room, Claire sighed.  “I just knew it would turn out this way.  I just knew he’d cancel—”

Van spun on his heel and scowled.  “What?  Hon, I didn’t want to say anything in front of Susie, but she was right.  You did cause this.”

Claire’s hand flew to her chest.  “What?  But I didn’t do anything.  I—”

“Mrs. Fredericks said that Donald’s in bed because he’s got hives.  She said he’s allergic to apples, but apparently you plied him with half a dozen pieces of your apple crumb cake today, and he was too polite to turn you down.  Darling, you really need to calm down.  Let’s just get through this evening and hope Susie gets over it quickly.”

*     *     *

Be sure to come back tomorrow for the next installment of Visionary

Let’s talk:  Have you ever had a dream that came true?  Do you believe in self-fulfilling prophecies?

On Editing

Tap, tap, tap.  (Tapping my microphone.)  Is this thing on? 

Well, folks, I thought I’d have a nice little Tuesday segment during the summer that all of us writers could participate in and share and enjoy, but I can’t get anyone else to play along.  Don’t YOU want to share some of your editing tips and tricks with us here?  In exchange for your participation, you’ll get a shameless plug for your book(s) as well as a heartfelt thank you from many of my followers.

Too many of you seem to think that you don’t do anything special or you don’t know anything that everyone else doesn’t know.  But that’s not necessarily true.  We all do things a little differently, and we want to hear from YOU.  What do you say?

If you’d like to play along, please email your responses to the following questions to my email address below, and include any photos and/or links of you and your blog and your work so we can purchase it.

  1. Please share one to three tips or tricks that you use when editing your work, how specifically you use them, and why they work for you.
  1. What was your biggest repeated mistake when you first started writing? What’s your weakest point of editing and why?
  1. Have you used any editing methods previously that just didn’t work for you? If so, what were they, and why didn’t they work?
  1. Please tell us something about your current work in progress or your most recent completed work (or both), and tell us where we can purchase your book(s).
  1. If you have any other news to share with us, please feel free to do so now.

Brotherly Love – Part One

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  Because today’s story is a little longer than normal, I’ll be dividing it in two.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

“Brotherly Love”
Part One
By: Rachel A. Carrera

The morning sun shone brilliantly, and the azure sky was clear.  Three boys eagerly crouched around the sewage drain cover as two large, fat frogs climbed over each other.  “Come on!  Go!” the boys shouted.  “Get moving!”  When one of the frogs jumped off of the circular metal onto the road, the boys stood.

“That’s it.  Marcus’ toad won,” Clark said.

Marcus picked up his frog.  “Alriiight!  You owe me a quarter, Jett.”

Jett huffed and dug in his pocket.  He tossed a coin to Marcus and said, “Don’t worry.  I’ll get you back next week.”  He grabbed his frog and stroked its back.

The boys turned their heads when the back screen door opened and Mom yelled, “Jett, it’s time to come in.”

“I’ll be right there.”  Jett thrust his frog to Clark.  “Here.  You can keep this and race Marcus while I’m gone this weekend.”

Clark furrowed his brow.  “Where you going?”

“My dad’s taking us camping up at Cavern Falls.”

Marcus winced.  “Cavern Falls.  Man, that’s lame.”

Jett clicked his tongue.  “No, it’s not.  My dad and I have gone every year since I was six.  We do a lot of fishing, and we explore the caves.  It’s pretty fun.”

“Do you have to take Major?” Marcus asked.

Jett rolled his eyes.  “You mean Major Pain in the Butt?  Not if I have anything to say about it.”

Mom stuck her head out the door again.  “Jett, now!  And bring Major!”

“Okay.”  Jett waved at his friends as he jogged toward the swing set in his side yard.  “See ya.”  When he got to the swing, he picked up a stone and threw it, hitting the knothole in the large oak tree.  “Come on, Major Pain.  Mom says you have to come in.”

Major jumped off his swing and poked out his lower lip.  “Stop calling me that!”  He picked up a stone and threw it toward the oak, but it fell a few yards short.

Jett smirked.  “I’ll stop calling you that when you stop acting like it.”  He threw another stone, hitting the tree trunk, then raced toward the house with Major at his heels.

Mom handed Dad a bag of sandwiches and opened the lid to the cooler, then grinned like a Cheshire cat.  “So, are my three brave hunters ready to go on their Montgomery Men’s Family Outing?”

Major smiled and puffed up his chest.  “I am.  But why can’t you come, Mommy?”

Jett rolled his eyes.  “Because then it wouldn’t be a men’s outing, stupid.”

“I’m not stupid.”

Dad sighed and narrowed his eyes as he emptied a bag of ice into the cooler.  “Boys, cut it out.”

Jett pursed his lips and nudged his brother.  “Why does Major have to come this time?  He’s not old enough yet.”

Major frowned and swung at Jett.  “Yes, I am.  Dad said I could go when I turned six, and I’m six now.”

Jett smirked and held Major’s head at arm’s length.  “Yeah, and I’m twelve.  So, what?”

“Jett, cool it,” Dad said.  “Perhaps you forgot that we only started this tradition to reward you for being such a good big brother when Major was a baby.  If it weren’t for him being born, you wouldn’t even be going.  Now, boys, go use the bathroom and kiss your mom.  It’s time we hit the road.”

A few minutes later, Mom stood next to the trunk of the car and kissed Dad.  “Have fun, guys.”

Dad wiggled the cooler into place then closed the trunk.  He took his keys out of his pocket and opened the driver’s door.  “We will.  Don’t forget, I won’t have any phone reception after we pass Turtle Creek, so if you need me, you’d better call before two o’clock.”

“Okay.  Don’t worry about me.”  Mom leaned in the passenger’s window and kissed Jett’s cheek.

Jett grimaced and wiped his face.  “Come on, Mom!  I’m too old for that.”

She chuckled.  “Okay.  Well, be careful, and please be nice to your brother.  He’s been looking forward to this.”  She touched the black and blue plaid sleeve of Jett’s flannel shirt.  “Don’t you think it’s time to retire this thing already?  It’s getting too tight.”

“No way.  It’s my lucky fishing shirt.  I’m never gonna give it up.”

Major grinned.  “This is my favorite shirt, Mommy.  I like it ‘cause it’s red, and it has a shark.  I bet I’ll catch the biggest fish of anybody with this shirt.”

Mom picked up Major and hugged him tightly to her bosom.  “You’re getting to be such a big boy.  You won’t be my baby much longer.  You have fun and listen to Daddy.”

Dad started the car then tapped his watch.  “They’ll be fine.  Hon, we really need to go.”

Mom buckled Major in the back.  “Alright, guys, have a good time.  I’ll see you Sunday night.”  She stood back and waved as the car pulled out of the driveway.

*     *     *

Let’s talk:  Did you ever pick on your younger siblings when you were kids?  Did you ever make up annoying nicknames for them?  Do you have a lucky article of clothing?

Homeward Bound –Part Two

Today we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.

*     *     *

“Homeward Bound”
Part Two
By: Rachel A. Carrera

When Lloyd arrived at Grand Central Station, he looked as frazzled as he felt.  He eagerly approached the New York Central Railroad counter.  “Hi.  Do you have any tickets left to Chicago tonight?  My flight got canceled, and I have to get home.”

The ticket agent checked at his register and adjusted his glasses.  “We have a couple rooms left.  We have room 343 and room 210.”

Lloyd pulled his wallet out of his coat pocket then hesitated as he remembered the gypsy’s prediction.  “Uh, I’ll take room 343.”

The agent took Lloyd’s money then handed him a ticket and change.  They turned as a woman in a blue suit and a black hat with a small netted veil joined them.  She said breathlessly, “Hello.  I was afraid I’d missed my train.  I’m Ruth Zeilman.”

The agent winced.  “Oh, Miss Zeilman, I didn’t think you were coming.”  He glanced at  his pocket watch.  “We’re about to take off.”  He looked to Lloyd and blushed.  “I’m sorry, sir.  I’m afraid room 343 isn’t available, after all.  You’ll have to take 210.”

A chill traveled up Lloyd’s spine.  “What?  No!  I was here first, and I’ve already paid you.  Let her take 210.”

The woman’s eyes narrowed, and her cheeks flushed.  “I’ll have you know I purchased my ticket last week!”

The agent nodded.  “That’s right, sir.  And hers is a premium room.  She paid extra.”  He offered six dollars to Lloyd.  “Here’s your refund for the difference.”

Lloyd held up his hand and pursed his lips.  “No!  I can’t take room 210.  I’ll pay anything.  I just can’t take that room.”  He reached in his coat pocket for his wallet.

The woman waved her hands.  “Forget it.  I’ll take the other room.  I just want to get on board before the train leaves without us.”

The conductor leaned out of the caboose.  “All aboard!”

Lloyd blushed, and the muscles in his neck tensed.  “Thanks.”  He took the money from the agent and offered it to Ruth.  As they reached the platform, he removed his fedora and gestured for her to go up first.  “My name’s Lloyd Hartley.  I know I must sound crazy, but I really appreciate you trading rooms with me.  Maybe I can buy you a drink to show my gratitude?”

They boarded the train and gave the conductor their tickets.  Ruth smiled sweetly.  “It’s no problem.  I’d be happy to take you up on your offer.  Why don’t we meet in the club car in about thirty minutes?  I’d like to go to my room first and freshen up a bit.”

*     *     *

A half hour later, Lloyd was seated in the club car when Ruth entered.  She’d changed into a deep emerald dress that enhanced her auburn hair and sultry eyes.  Lloyd stood and smiled.  “What’s your pleasure?”

She sat beside him and crossed her long, lean legs.  “Gin and tonic, please.”

He held up his finger.  “Barkeep, two gin and tonics.”  He turned to her and forced himself to look up from her buxom breasts.  “So, are you visiting Chicago, or do you call it home?”

The bartender brought their drinks.

Ruth smiled seductively as she took her glass and licked the swizzle stick.  “Thanks.  I live in New York, but I grew up in Chicago.  I’m going home to visit my mother.”

As she twirled her swizzle stick in her drink, Lloyd noticed her gold ring was in the shape of a serpent with two ruby eyes.  His body tensed, and his heart thumped loudly.  The red-eyed snake!  He shot out of his seat.  “No!  Noooo!”  He threw his glass to the ground, and it shattered.  The color drained from his face as he raced out of the club car.

Ruth gasped and jumped to her feet.  “Lloyd!  Mr. Hartley!”  She set down her drink and chased after him.

As Lloyd turned the corner, he practically ran into the door with 210 in large brass numerals.  His throat tightened and threatened to suffocate him.  He turned and saw Ruth approaching.  He gasped for air.  “No!  Get away from me!”  He rushed down the narrow corridor until he reached the wall.  He looked over his shoulder and saw her at his heels.  “Noooo!”  His eyes squeezed shut as he grabbed blindly at the emergency cable.  As the train screeched to a halt, the metal wheels grinded on the track and made a piercing sound in the otherwise quiet night air.  Lloyd fell forward and hit his head on the wall.

*     *     *

Nearly a half hour later, Lloyd’s eyes fluttered open.  He was lying in the dome lounge, and a bright light shone in his eyes.  Ruth towered over him with a small smile on her lips.  Something red covered her hands.  It’s blood!  He gasped and made a gurgling noise as he attempted to sit up.

A man gently grabbed Lloyd’s shoulder.  “Just lie back and relax, Mr. Hartley.  I’m Dr. Milton, and I’ve given you a mild sedative.  That’s quite a bump on the head you’ve got there.  I’m afraid I had to give you stitches.  You’re just lucky that Miss Zeilman here is such a skilled surgical nurse.”

Ruth wiped her hands on a towel.  “You’re going to be just fine, Mr. Hartley.  We all owe you our thanks.  How’d you know to pull the emergency cord?”

Lloyd’s head spun as he attempted to focus on Ruth’s hands.  “What?  What are you talking about?”

She tossed the bloody towel aside and grabbed his shoulder.  “There was damage to the tracks on the bridge about ten yards ahead of where we stopped.  If you wouldn’t have pulled the cord when you did, the train would’ve derailed, and we would’ve plummeted into the river below…”


Time to talk:  Have you ever ridden on a train?  Have you ever been afraid of someone as soon as you met them with no particular reason?

Homeward Bound –Part One

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  Because today’s story is a little longer than normal, I’ll be dividing it in two.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

*     *     *

“Homeward Bound”
Part One
By: Rachel A. Carrera

The bumper to bumper traffic screeched to a halt as fine raindrops misted the windshield and the sounds of car horns flooded the night.  Lloyd looked at his watch and frowned.  “I’ll never make my flight at this rate.  Can’t you go any faster?”

The cab driver flipped on the windshield wipers and blew a puff of cigar smoke.  “I’m doing the best I can, mac.  City traffic’s a nightmare…  So, what do you think about Truman getting reelected?”

Lloyd sighed and slumped in the back seat.  “I think it’s a good thing.  I just didn’t feel that Dewey had it in him.  I know he’s your governor, but I just didn’t think the White House was the place for him.  Truman really stepped up to bat after we lost F.D.R., and I think he should have the opportunity to stay in Washington as long as he can.  Are you sure there’s not a side road you can take that will get us there any faster?”

“Like I told you, I’m doing the best I can.  Idlewild’s only been open a few months, and traffic’s murder.  So, what brings you to New York?”

“I’m a salesman.  I sell Hoovers.  You don’t need a vacuum, do ya?”

The driver chuckled.  “Not today, thanks.  Oh, it looks like we’re moving now.  So, where you headed?”

Lloyd anxiously leaned forward against the front seat and straightened his fedora.  “Chicago.  My company’s based there, and I live in the outskirts.  I was out here meeting with some bigwigs in PanAm about buying a bunch of our machines.”  As they approached the airport terminal, he frowned.  “What’s the commotion over there?”

The driver snuffed out his cigar and rolled his eyes.  “That’s a bunch of gypsies.  We’ve been seeing more and more of them since the war.  Usually they stay in the suburbs, but since Idlewild opened, some of them hang out here to panhandle.”  He pulled by the curb and turned in his seat.  “Alright, mac, that’ll be a buck sixty.”

Lloyd handed him two dollars and opened his door.  “Thanks.  Keep the change.”  He grabbed his suitcase and briefcase, then slammed the door.  As he headed inside, a woman approached him.

Her long, colorful skirt rustled, and a dozen necklaces around her neck jangled as she walked.  The green scarf tied around her head added to her mysterious appearance.  She smiled a crooked smile and spoke with a thick accent and raspy voice.  “Hello.  I tell your fortune?”

“Uh, no, that’s okay.”  Lloyd checked his watch.  “I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t want to miss my flight.”  He attempted to step around her.

She stepped sideways and blocked his passage.  “For six bits, I tell your fortune.  You no make your flight to Chicago tonight.  You go by train.”

He chuckled and dug in his pocket, then thrust three quarters at her.  “Here you go.  I don’t know how you knew where I was headed, but I’m afraid you’re wrong.  I will be taking my flight.  I’ve got twenty minutes to get out to the tarmac.  Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

She dropped the coins in a change purse and strode swiftly to keep up with him.  “No, you no make your flight.  You take train.  On train, you must stay away from room 210.  That room is bad omen.  When you meet the woman with the red-eyed snake, you beware.  She carries your blood on her hands.  You beware!”

Lloyd narrowed his eyes at her and hurried his gait.  Without replying, he turned a corner and jogged toward the gate.

She stopped walking.  Her voice was ominous as she called after him.  “You beware!”

As he arrived at the gate, he pulled his ticket from his suit pocket and offered it to the stewardess.  “I’d like to check in for my flight to Chicago Municipal.  I was afraid I was going to miss my plane.”  He chuckled nervously and straightened his tie.

The stewardess perused the ticket then returned it.  “I’m sorry, sir, but that flight’s been canceled.  With all this fog tonight, the entire airport’s grounded until morning.”

The hair on Lloyd’s arms stood on end.  “What?  Canceled?  But I have to get home.”

“I’m sorry.  You might consider taking a train.  They’re still running.”

His chest deflated, and his temples started to throb.  “Alright, thanks.”  Thanks for nothing.  He sighed and headed back outside to flag down a cab, going out of his way to avoid the band of gypsies.

*     *     *

Well, that’s all for today, friends.  Be sure to come back tomorrow to see what happens.

Time to talk:  Have you guessed the year in which the story takes place yet?  Have you ever ridden in a taxi?

Like Father, Like Daughter – Part Two

Today, we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.

*     *     *

“Like Father, Like Daughter”
(Part Two)
By: Rachel A. Carrera

Tony took a huge bite of chicken then let out a hearty guffaw, revealing the food in his mouth.  “Yeah, your backward esses looked like snakes.”

Jennifer raised an eyebrow.  I can’t believe how head over heels I was for him, and look at him now.  He eats like an animal.  She shook her head and forced a smile.

Sophia’s angry façade started to ebb.  “Really?”

Jennifer nodded.  “That’s right.  And look here.  This purple paint is from when you two painted your tricycle.”

Sophia grinned.  “Oh, cool!  I remember that!”

Jennifer’s eyes grew large.  “You do?”

Tony puffed up his chest and reached across the table and proudly grabbed Sophia’s wrist.  “Sure she does.  We had a lot of fun with that project, didn’t we, Baby?”

Sophia patted his hand then interlaced her fingers into his.  “We sure did, Daddy.”

Jennifer took a deep breath and searched for a large ding in one the table’s legs.  “See here where this red paint is rubbed in this groove?  That’s where you used to have your dad push you in your wagon from the back, and you’d steer.”

Tony leaned forward and inspected the flawed mark.  “Yeah.  You steered right into the table here.  I always said women shouldn’t drive.”  He laughed loudly and slapped his leg.

Toward the end of the meal, a car pulled into the driveway, and its horn beeped.  Tony looked over his shoulder.  “Oh, that’s my aunt.  I guess she’s done with her shopping.  Well, I’d better get going.  My mom’s house is four hours away, and my aunt doesn’t like to drive during rush hour traffic.”  He stood and grabbed his daughter’s shoulders.  “It’s been great to see you again, Baby.  You’ve grown into a beautiful young woman.  Have your mom drive you up to Grandma’s some time, and we’ll hang out just like we used to, okay?”

Sophia grinned and jumped to her feet.  “Okay, Daddy.  It’s good to see you again, too.  I’m gonna miss you.”  She hugged him tightly, and he twirled her, then she looked at her mother.  “Mom, can I go over to Lindsey’s house?  I wanna tell her all about my dad’s visit and our special table.  This is so cool!”

Jennifer stood and smiled as she patted Sophia’s back.  “Sure.  Just be home in time for dinner.”

“I will.  Thanks.”  Sophia kissed Tony’s cheek then raced next door.

Tony watched her go and waved, then he turned his focus to Jennifer.  “Well, at least my daughter still loves me.  I guess there’s no shot of you giving me another chance, is there?”

Jennifer sighed, and the smile melted from her face.  Her stomach tightened, and she blushed.  “Tony, look, we’ve been through all this before.”

He shook his head and held up his hands.  “I know, I know.  I just had to ask.”  He hugged her and kissed her cheek.  The car in the driveway beeped again, and he turned.  “I’ll be right there.”  He grabbed Jennifer’s hand in both of his.  “Look, if you ever change your mind, you know where to find me.  I’m not that same guy anymore.  Call me, okay?  I wanna set up a time when I can see Sophia again.”  He kissed her cheek once more then her hand, then jogged to the car.  As they pulled away, he waved out the window.

As Jennifer watched him fade into the distance, she hugged herself and took a deep breath.  “Gosh, he’s still such an arrogant jerk!”  She grimaced and wiped her face where he kissed her, then started cleaning up the food.

She wiped the table, and her thoughts drifted back to a decade before.  I can’t believe I was ever stupid enough to be in love with that idiot.  When he wasn’t out robbing liquor stores or screwing around, he was home beating the crap out of me.  I’m surprised Sophia fell for my story about this table.  I guess if she knew the truth, that her dad never even bothered to speak to her except to yell at her to get out of his way, she’d hate him for sure.  She jumped when a car pulled into the driveway.

A man got out of the car and joined her on the patio.  His smiling eyes twinkled as he kissed her cheek.  “Hi, Sweetie.  I see your soiree is over.  How’d it go?”  He tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear.

Her heart fluttered at his touch.  She felt more relaxed than she had in days as she hugged him tightly.  “Oh, Brian, it was perfect!  I can’t believe you thought of marking up an old table just to give Sophia something to believe in.”

He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head as he ran his hand over the table.  “Yeah, well, I don’t deserve all the credit.  I mean, people abandon all kinds of crap in their storage units.  If the folks who owned this wouldn’t have scratched it up so badly, I could have auctioned it off with the rest of their stuff.”  He picked up the potato salad bowl and kept  his other arm around her as they headed toward the house.

As they approached the back door, her cellphone rang, and she stopped walking.  She looked at the phone, but didn’t recognize the number.  She furrowed her brow.  “Excuse me, Honey.  Hello?”

“Hey, Babe, it’s Tony.  Listen, I wanted to thank you for hanging onto that table for me.  It means a lot for my daughter to know how much we used to do together before I got locked up.”

The color drained from Jennifer’s face, and her jaw dropped open.  “What?”

“Yeah, I’d almost forgotten about some of those stories, but when you showed me the proof, well, I just wish we’d have had a video camera back then.  I’d have loved to have seen when me and Sofia painted her tricycle and when I taught her to write her name.  …What?  …Oh, my aunt says I have to get off her phone.  She pays by the minute.  Anyway, thanks again for keeping our table.  Bye.”

The End

*     *     *

Sometimes, I’m like Alfred Hitchcock… I build you up to expect there will be something chilling about to happen, and the twist is that there isn’t.  I hope you weren’t too disappointed with my red herring.

Time to Talk:  Have you ever known someone with a Swiss cheese memory?  Have you ever known someone who was so susceptible to the power of suggestion that they actually remembered things that never happened?

Like Father, Like Daughter – Part One

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  Because today’s story is a little longer than normal, I’ll be dividing it in two.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

*     *     *

“Like Father, Like Daughter”
(Part One)
By: Rachel A. Carrera

Jennifer felt like a bowling ball sat in her stomach as she stood in the back of her pickup truck and looked around the storage warehouse facility, her green eyes searching for some lost item.  When the man rounded the corner and jogged toward her with a length of narrow rope, her tension ebbed, and she smiled.

The man jumped up on the tailgate then grabbed her arm to steady himself and blushed.  “Sorry I don’t have anything stronger.  This should do it.  It’ll hold, but don’t get crazy going around the corners.”  He tied a table securely against the rear window, then jumped down and extended his hand to her.

Jennifer jumped down and closed the tailgate, then focused her gaze on his name tag.  “Thank you, Brian.  I appreciate your help.”

Brian smiled and tipped his head.  “Are you sure you won’t need any help unloading this thing once you get it home?”

“Nah.  I’m just gonna back right up to my patio and dump it out there.  It can’t possibly get any more dinged up than it already is, and if it does, it’s not like anyone will notice anyway.”  She checked her watch.  “Well, I’d better get going.  Thanks again.”  She fished her keys out of her pocket, then climbed in the driver’s seat and started the truck.

He patted the driver’s door and raised his hand in a motionless wave.  “Alright.  Drive safely.”

As she drove home, she chewed the inside of her lip.  I can’t believe Tony’s getting out of prison today.  These last ten years have flown by.  I hope this table helps Sophia remember some good things about her daddy.  A girl shouldn’t feel as resentful toward her dad as she does.  It could hurt the way she views men in general. 

She pulled into her yard then climbed into the back of the truck.  After she untied the rope, she took her cellphone out of her pocket and dialed her mother’s phone.  “Mom, I’m home.  I got the table.  Can you go ahead and bring Sophia back?  I think Tony should be here any time now.”

She hung up then maneuvered her way behind the table.  She examined the numerous tally marks etched into the wood.  In one set, she ran her finger over the four vertical lines crossed with a single diagonal line then shook her head.  She sighed then winced as she pushed the heavy table over the tailgate.  It made a loud thud as it fell to the ground.

She jumped down, then closed the tailgate and moved the truck to the other side of the yard.  She hurried back to the table and struggled to roll it upright.

“Hey, Babe.  Can I give you a hand with that?” a deep voice said.

Jennifer gasped.  She looked over her shoulder and saw Tony approaching her.  Her knees felt weak, and she willed herself not to swoon.  “Uh, Tony.  Hey.  It’s been a long time.”

The car he rode in backed out of the driveway.  He grinned and easily flipped the table up, then kissed her cheek.  “Too long.  Where do you want this?”

Her hand flew to her cheek where she still felt his kiss linger.  I remember how one of his kisses used to make me simply giddy.  She cleared her throat as she looked him over.  He’d filled out more since she’d last seen him, and had added at least fifteen pounds of muscle.  He was hardly the skinny kid she fell in love with so long ago.  His eyes met hers and snapped her out of her thoughts.  “Oh, uh, I’m just going to put it in the patio here.”

He lifted the table and followed her into the patio.  “This thing sure is beat up.  Where’s the kid?  I thought she was gonna have lunch with me to welcome me home.”

Jennifer forced a smile.  “My mom’s bringing her.  She took her to the mall while I went and got this table.  I thought we could eat out here.”

“What’s so significant about this old thing?  Can’t you afford something new?”  He followed her into the house.  “”Look, I know I owe you a few years’ back child support.  My aunt’s helping me get a job, and as soon as I get on my feet, I can–”

“Tony, no.  It’s okay; we’re fine.”  She grabbed a bucket of potato salad and some fried chicken out of the refrigerator, then handed him a pitcher of iced tea to carry and headed back toward the patio.  “Sophia doesn’t have the best memory.  I just thought this table would help her to remember all the things you used to do with her.  You know, it’s been a long time, and she was barely three when you got locked up.”

He chuckled as he snatched a piece of chicken skin and popped it in his mouth.  “I see.  I guess she inherited my memory, huh?  What’s that you used to call it?”

Jennifer half-smiled.  “Your Swiss cheese memory.”

He snorted.  “Yeah, that’s it.  See, I already forgot!”  He laughed loudly and slapped his leg.

They both turned as a car pulled in the driveway and Sophia stepped out.  She scowled as she shuffled toward the patio.

Jennifer’s mom beeped the horn, then backed out and drove away.

Sophia frowned as she approached her parents, her arms folded tightly against her chest.  “Hey.  What’s this ugly table doing here?”

Jennifer smiled and pulled a chair up, then sat.  “Go ahead and sit down.  Honey, I got this out of storage today to show you just how much your daddy used to do with you before he had to go away.”

Sophia furrowed her brow.  “What do you mean?  I don’t remember us doing anything together.”  She narrowed her eyes at Tony and clenched her hands into fists as she sat across from him.

Jennifer passed out the paper plates and dished up the potato salad, then fingered a set of tally marks.  “Look at all these tally marks.  There must be almost a hundred here.  You used to ask your daddy to keep track of how many times he put you on his shoulders and carried you to bed then read you the story of Winnie the Pooh.  Remember how much you loved that book?”

Sophia bit her lip.  “Yeah, I think so.  Eeyore was my favorite, right?”

Jennifer nodded.  “That’s right.”  She cut her eyes to Tony, then looked back at her daughter.  “And look here where he carved your name.  That was how you finally learned to make the letter S.  Before this, you always made them backward.”

*     *     *

Until tomorrow, folks…

Let’s Talk:  Have you ever kept anything in a storage unit?  Have you ever had to move furniture by yourself?

“The Moment of Truth” – Part Two

Today, we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.

Part Two
By: Rachel A. Carrera

One week later…

Kevin kept his arm tightly around Jen’s shoulders as the white casket with marble corners was lowered into the ground.  He wiped his red eyes with his free hand.

Jen stared blankly into the distance.  Her face was serene.

After the service, Pastor Sills shook Kevin’s hand.  “I’m so sorry for your loss, Mr. and Mrs. Young.  Have the police turned up any suspects, yet?”

Kevin shook his head and sniffled.  “No.  Their lab didn’t find any DNA, and Jen’s still catatonic, so she can’t help.  I just checked her out of the hospital this morning.”

The pastor sighed and lowered his voice.  “The doctors couldn’t make her talk?”

“No.  They said she’s in shock, but she’ll eventually snap out of it in her own time.  She’s going to start seeing a psychiatrist next week.  I’ve taken some time off work so I can stay with her.  After my leave is up, I guess I’ll have to hire a nurse.  Neither of us have any family left, ya know.  By the way, I appreciate you coming all the way out here to Dobbin to perform the service.  I knew Jen would want Alisha buried next to her parents.”  Kevin wiped his eyes and forced a smile, then grabbed his wife’s hand and laced his fingers through hers.

“Of course.  I was happy to oblige.  Well, listen, I’m so very sorry for your loss.  I’ll keep you both in my prayers.”

*     *     *

On their way home, Jen stared blankly out the windshield.

Kevin sighed and patted her knee.  “Jen, come on.  Can’t you talk to me?  Baby, please.”


A few minutes later, a loud bang from within the vehicle startled him from his thoughts.  As the car rolled to a stop at a red light, he looked over and saw Jen’s casted arm hit the door of the car again.

Her mouth formed a silent O, and she leaned forward as she glared out the side window.

His eyes grew large.  “What is it, Baby?  What do you see?”

Jen’s breath came quickly.  “That’s him!  That’s the man that killed Alisha!”  She pointed to a man heading into an alley.  Her voice was loud and high pitched with urgency, and tears welled in her eyes.  “That’s him!”

Kevin’s stomach lurched as he hurriedly parallel parked the car.  “Are you sure?  I should call the cops.”  He took his cellphone out of his pocket then saw that the battery was dead.  “Shit!  I’m gonna go talk to him.  Wait right here.”  He jumped out of the car and raced to catch up to the man.

The man stepped out from behind a dumpster, gripping an old pizza box like a long lost treasure.  He wore a shabby, black knitted cap and a threadbare, blue windbreaker.  His crooked smile revealed several broken teeth.  “Hey, buddy, can you spare a couple of bucks?”

Kevin scowled as he noticed the new burgundy and black plaid scarf tied around the man’s neck.  That’s the scarf Jen got me for Christmas!  His eyes narrowed, and his face turned crimson.  “How come you’re asking for a handout when you’re wearing a cashmere scarf?”  His nose twitched at the man’s stench.

The man chuckled.  “You’d be amazed at what people throw away these days.  Some jerk was probably banging his secretary, and she got it for him, and he didn’t want his old lady to find out.  So, how ‘bout it, man?  Can you spare some change?”

Kevin felt fire rise from his chest to his face, and his heart thumped loudly.  He lunged at the man and shoved him against the brick wall with all his might.

The man dropped the pizza box and attempted to push Kevin back.

Adrenaline pumped through Kevin’s veins, and he literally only saw the color red.  “You bastard!”  He effortlessly pulled the scarf tightly around the man’s neck until the man’s face turned blue.

The man made some gurgling noises as he tried to gasp for air.  Then the noises stopped, and his eyes bugged out as his head flopped to the side.  He slumped to the ground as if in slow motion.

Reality slapped Kevin in the face.  Hard.  He gasped and stepped backward, then looked at the scarf still in his hands.  Damn.  What have I done?  He shoved the scarf in his pocket and rushed back to his car.  His hands shook as he pulled onto the road and sped away.  After several silent minutes, he willed himself to remain composed as he asked, “Jen, are you okay?”

Jen stared silently out the window for the next several miles.

Kevin breathed deeply and tried to gather his bearings.  I can’t believe I actually killed a man.  I’ve never even struck another person in my life.  He willed his breath to slow.  I only did what I had to do.  If I would’ve waited for the police, he’d have been long gone.  His teeth chattered as he drove.  “Jen, can’t you talk to me again?  Huh, Baby?”

As they passed the sign that said, “Welcome to Brighton,” the car rolled to a stop at a downtown intersection.  Suddenly, Jen gasped and pointed out the window.  “That’s him!  That’s the man that killed Alisha!”

The well-dressed man walked on the sidewalk toward them then passed the car.  He wore an expensive, black ivy cap and a fitted, blue pea coat.

Kevin’s stomach churned as he looked over his shoulder, and his jaw dropped open.  As he stared out the back passenger’s window, he caught a glimpse of his burgundy and black plaid, cashmere scarf draped across the backseat.  The color drained from his face, and he felt lightheaded as he absentmindedly reached in his pocket and his fingers touched the other scarf.

*     *     *


Time to talk: Would you ever take justice into your own hands?  Have you ever been guilty of mistaking one person for another?