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!

~Rachel

Visionary (Part Two)

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

*     *     *

“Visionary”
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…

*     *     *

“Visionary”
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?”

“Yes?”

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…”

THE END

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?