Monday, June 30, 2008
Myself I told him if something ever happened again, I was gone. it did and I was. There is a feeling of empowerment.
It sucks and being alone after 8 years is tough, but I know I had to stick to my guns and I am just too old and wise for that crap now.
Join a divorce group! There are a few good ones on Yahoo groups and talking to other men and women going through the same thing, and sometimes much, much worse really helps. I thank God I didn't have half the problems they had.
If you have kids or not can make a difference. Divorce can be very hard on kids but you look at them and realize you got the best of your spouse,
Remember you are not a failure,
You should be excited for your future and try to tell yourself that everyday.
Whoever said if you get right over it you didn't love your spouse. That is plain bullcrap. If you get right over it, you did the right thing, and you love YOURSELF!
You learn a lot about yourself going through a divorce.
You realize you aren't mourning the loss of your husband or wife, but the loss of the good parts of your marriage.
Getting rid of any and all photos he was in helped a LOT. Getting him off my myspace and deleting his friends and family from any of your groups, email lists, address books, etc, really helps you get by.
Do not snoop! Don't go to places they hang out online or in real life. Just take a deep breath and let it go, It's for the best. Stop monitoring who they talk to on the net and driving by their house, It is not healthy and will only hurt your feelings.
Get out of the house as often as possible. Try new things. Turn new leafs. Explore the person you could have been all those years but were bogged down in a bad relationship. Cut all unnecessary contact. Don't turn to alcohol and drugs, don't drink and dial or email, just stop all contact.
It makes a huge difference. Life is different now. Turn to your divorce support group. You will love it.
Most importantly--realize--divorce happens to many people. You are not the only one. This too shall pass. You will get over this one day. You have to focus on the positive and when you catch yourself looking back, ask God for help. Even if you aren't religious I promise you--God will help you out, either by showing you that it could have been so much worse, or that you can be much stronger than you may have thought.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
The commercials are making me agitated.. I catch myself singing it all the time. However, I suppose that is the point. LOL
Sunday, April 13, 2008
She lost all her money, and it was considerable, to this question. Do you think you are a good person?
Her parents were nodding, her father said something fatherly to which she answered; yes I think through everything I am a good person.
An episode of Boston Legal was on the other night. Allan was doing his closing statement about this case where a woman ended up dead after one of these reality TV shows.
He said, "Parading psychologically damaged people on national television in the interest of making money, is just wrong."
I don't watch The Moment of Truth anymore.
Thanks James Spader, I may not think about you naked anymore, but a babe in your soul you will always be.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat
metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and
flings your soda across the room, splattering it against that
freshly-stained heirloom piece you were drying.
WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under
the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and
hard-earned guitar callouses from fingers in about the time it takes you
to say, 'Yeouw....'
ELECTRIC HAND DRILL: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes
until you die of old age, or for perforating something behind and beyond
the original intended target object.
SKIL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.
PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of
BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor
touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs. Caution: Avoid using for
HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built for frustration
enhancement. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable
motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal
your future becomes.
VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt
heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer
intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
WELDING GLOVES: Heavy duty leather gloves used to prolong the conduction
of intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable
objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside
the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.
WHITWORTH SOCKETS: Once used for working on older British cars and
motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2
socket you've been searching for the last 45 minutes.
TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood
projectiles for testing wall integrity.
HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after
you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly
under the bumper.
EIGHT-FOOT LONG YELLOW PINE 4X4: Used for levering an automobile upward
off of a trapped hydraulic jack handle.
TWEEZERS: A tool for removing wood splinters and wire wheel wires.
E-Z OUT BOLT AND STUD EXTRACTOR: A tool ten times harder than any known
drill bit that snaps neatly off in bolt holes thereby ending any possible
RADIAL ARM SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops
to scare neophytes into choosing another line of work.
TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of
everything you forgot to disconnect.
CRAFTSMAN 1/2 x 24-INCH SCREWDRIVER: A very large pry bar that
inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end
opposite the handle.
AVIATION METAL SNIPS: See hacksaw.
TROUBLE LIGHT: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a
drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, 'the sunshine vitamin,'
which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside,
its main purpose is to consume 40- watt light bulbs at about the same rate
that 105mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours
of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is
somewhat misleading. The accessory socket within the base, has been
permanently rendered useless, unless requiring a source of 117vac power to
shock the mechanic
PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids,
opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt;
but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw
STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to
convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws.
AIR COMPRESSOR: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning
power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that
travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact gun that grips rusty bolts
which were last over tightened 40 years ago by someone at VW, and
off their heads. Also used to quickly snap off lug nuts.
PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket
you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.
HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.
HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is
used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent
to the object we are trying to hit.
MECHANIC'S KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard
cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents
such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector
magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful
for slicing work clothes, but only while in use. It is also useful for
removing large chunks of human flesh from the user's hands.
DAMMIT TOOL: (I have lot's of these) Any handy tool that you grab and
throw across the garage while yelling 'DAMMIT' at the top of your lungs.
It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need after a really
she needs help to file her taxes.
The accountant says, 'Before we begin, I'll need to ask you a fewquestions.'
He gets her name, address, social security number, etc. And then asks, 'What
is your occupation?'
'I'm a prostitute,' she says.
The H & R Block accountant is somewhat taken aback and says, 'No, No, No, that
won't work. Let's try to rephrase that.'
The woman says, 'OK, I'm a high-end call girl.'
'No, that still won't work. Try again.'
They both think for a minute; then the woman says, 'I'm a chicken farmer.'
The accountant asks, 'What does chicken farming have to do with being a
'Well, I raised a thousand little peckers last year.'
'Chicken Farmer it is. '
Sunday, April 6, 2008
First, I would like to say I am a free thinker. I have no vested interest in any of these companies. Though I do own stock, I own stock in many companies and therefore leave the brain$childs to do my bidding. I don't run a publishing house, or a press, or have a chit load of friends and/colleagues pushing me into spouting off their opinions as my own, without thought to all who may hear my words. I am only a lowly writer and I often refer to myself as an author in progress.
I have read everything available to me in the search engines about this matter. I know who is posting what. As a free person I can make my own assumptions as to why, all the while confident that I have educated myself intelligently about the matter.
Therefore, until there is an update, I'm going to stop commenting on this because its pointless trying to get through to people, once everything has been presented to them in clear form. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and it is certainly not my mission to change their minds, but I feel responsible to explain why I have arrived at my own. Though it may be an unpopular opinion, it is not less worthy of attention.
Please read the whole thing only if you are remotely interested in another perspective. I certainly do not want to waste anyone's time who is just looking for a debate.
Think people; where are you getting your information from. Everything has a source and some sources have their own interests, as they should, at heart.
Many questions are addressed on this forum I have provided the link below. Please read the whole five pages of the thread before posting more questions here, as I suspect this subject might be getting tiresome to some being that there is no new material having transpired.
That being said... I found this, which is the most intelligent perspective on the whole thing here.
Not that you aren't all bright and shiny intelligent people, this is just the most "big picture" kind of perspective I have seen and share her sentiments. I do not know her personally, and have not spoken with her, though I do hope to remedy this posthaste. I do know she publishes RPG related items, on a very small scale, and is a horror writer herself, as well as a free thinker. I am using her post because quite simply, I couldn't have said it better myself, literally. LOL
Re: Amazon PoD Take-Over?
I'm going to try to address a few points that I have been drilling into people at some other forums.
1. Amazon is not obligated to list POD titles as "in stock." Because they aren't in stock. POD titles are printed as they are ordered. In the past, they have listed them as in stock, with the understanding that the POD service would immediately print and ship. However, smaller services (and even LSI on occasion) have not followed through on this. When a package arrives late, Amazon is the one that gets the heat from the customer, not the POD printer.
2. Amazon is NOT deleting POD title listings. They aren't even saying they aren't available. Non-Booksurge books are still being listed on Amazon. However, the ADD TO SHOPPING CART button is being replaced with SEE ALL BUYING OPTIONS. Amazon has a huge pool of third party booksellers that sell through there system. The books can still be bought on the Amazon site. The only difference to a customer is that the books no longer qualify for free shipping.
3. LSI and most POD services only offer Amazon and other retailers a short discount of 20% or less. When you are offering free shipping to customers, that means you can end up losing money on those sales.
4. If you are working directly with LSI, you have an option to set higher discounts, and make your books returnable. If you do this, your books appear in the LSI system as "traditional" availability. Not as POD titles. If you are a small press that has your books listed like this, Amazon doesn't even KNOW your books are POD, and therefore this whole argument is a mute point.
5. This issue is primarily aimed at the 3rd party POD services like Lulu, Booklocker, etc. Not the individual small press publishers. When you as an author set up a retail title through these services, you have to double the price of your product to set the retail price. However LSI only lists the titles with a "short discount" of 20% or less. You as the author don't get the difference, it is eaten somewhere between your 3rd party service, LSI, and Ingrams.
6 x 9, black and white, 96 pages
I want to set my retail price for this book at $10.59
Manufacturing/printing cost: $3.46
Lulu commission: .37
Calculated royalty: $1.46 (what my profit is on a book sold for $10.59)
TOTAL FIXED PRICE: $5.29
This number is then doubled to set the retail price.
Retail mark-up: $5.30
So Amazon gets a 20% discount or less, off the retail. So Amazon pays $8.48. That leaves $3.19 unaccounted for? Where does that go? LSI/Ingram's pocket.
6. You can use the FREE Createspace service to set up your books with Amazon. You do not have to pay a $50 fee unless you want the pro account, which just gives you better pricing. Booksurge prints these titles, but you do NOT need to buy a Booksurge package. You can continue to use whatever service you want elsewhere.
7. The CS package lets Amazon take a 40% cut (not 48% as is being bantered around...go to the website and read the details). And you actually pay LESS per book.
Same book as noted above
Fixed price for printing: $3.66 (book less than 108 pages)
Amazon discount: $4.24
Now if you actually decide to use the pro plan, your profit looks like this:
Createspace/Amazon (pro plan)
Fixed price: $2.25 (book less than 108 pages)
Amazon 40% of retail=$4.24
Profit: $4.10 to the author
The bottom line is, this is a GOOD THING for niche publishers and self-publishers, because you can deal directly with Amazon without having to pay to use 3rd party services! I've actually been using CS for some time already to handle my Amazon sales, because I make more per sale than if it is handled through LSI.
8. 3rd party POD services ALREADY use multiple different printers. Lulu has two different printers that handle European orders, and a half dozen printers to handle various book orders in the U.S. And Canada. Sending the electronic files to Amazon to handle is no more work for them than sending to LSI or anyone else. The only difference for Lulu or a 3rd party service is that they are paying a bigger discount to Amazon, but at the same time they aren't paying anything to LSI/Ingrams. So if you are a 3rd party service that isn't hiding a lot of fees in that mark-up, its 6 of one, half a dozen of the other as far as you are concerned. If, on the other hand, you are hiding fees or using some "new math" to calculate retail pricing, this eats into the 3rd party service's money.
9. Most of the news sources that are reporting on the story are getting their information from two sources: PublishAmerica and Angela Hoy. If you read the articles, they are almost all circular articles that reference each other. We all know PA doesn't have a good reputation for honesty, so we can throw them out the window. Angela I have a great deal of respect for, but at the same time she owns a 3rd party POD service that charges up front fees to use, and the notion that authors can set up directly with Amazon means some of her customers may not need her any more. So she has a vested interest in the status quo.
Bards and Sages
Publisher of Speculative Fiction and RPGs
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Epetitions have about as much chance of getting anything done as I have of waking up on the moon tomorrow.
They are a form of slacktivism and are a waste of time.
They may however succeed in getting your name and email and other information to spam spiders.
Think about it, if they did work we wouldn't be at war, puppies would all have homes, children wouldn't ever go to bed hungry, and gas would be 50 cents a gallon...
Amazon has many great and overpaid lawyers working for them who expected a lot of outcry about this, and who wouldn't have purchased BookSurge in the first place if they weren't perfectly within their rights to develop and use it as their sole source of POD on their site.
You might succeed in getting them more publicity than they could have ever hoped for...
It's certainly helping my stock...
So before you forward the plight that is the POD market try to think of where its coming from. Are you just pining for little vanity presses that may or may not be out for the author and worried about their own finances?
¸..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:-
((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:- Nicoel Suzanne
Friday, April 4, 2008
For the first time in my life I actually know people who are collecting unemployment. Not for a few weeks until they are into another job, but until it runs out. A lot of people, friends, neighbors, Internet pals, name it. I know many homes in my neighborhood on the Great Lake Erie waterfront are for sale for the last few years, yet do not sell. I know people who are selling them that cannot afford them, and are losing them now. Many neighbors. A scary amount of people in my small life, just south of the big city of Detroit that was hit incredibly hard by the plant layoffs. But this does not effect the auto industry alone. No they gave these people "buy outs" who in turn took their money and moved away, out of this state.
People cannot afford health care on 700 bucks every two weeks. Tell me if your kid wasn't sick that you wouldn't do just about anything to help them? Including burning a hospital down in protest? How far would you go?
What if you weren't alone and there were hundreds if not thousands of you who were sleeping on mattresses I have seen pop up as of late under the freeways overpasses. Regular families who are out of a job and out of a home and too scared to stay in shelters with crack-heads, sleeping under overpasses.
What if you all banded together to publicly display your dissent of the American Government. Some people might call this a riot, but one thing is for sure. During civil unrest gas trucks stop showing up to gas stations. A thinly stretched military finds it impossible to control civil unrest in our larger cities. The cities drain of resources and food, and eventually clean water and the peoples begin spreading out to find the things they need to live, and taking them when found.
Patrols round up people who practically volunteer to be shuttled off to the REX 84 imprison camps that were set up just in case this ever came to be. There they get as many meals a day as they can eat and all the fresh water and bunks they can use. This is used to lure in roving people who refuse to calm themselves and bow to the dangling food and water offered up by the government who led them into false mortgages and the jobless hell that was about to befall them in the first place.
Since the average person goes hungry within a couple of days and can die of thirst the same, how far away are we from this worst case scenario?
Can we really speak as to what we would and would never do in the name of feeding our children from a government who is run by a president who left us high and dry, and the idiots who voted for him knowing full well in his history he had bankrupt 4 companies before the ripe old age of 50?
Do we deserve any different?
It makes you wonder if a blowjob isn't such a bad thing...
Monday, March 31, 2008
That being said...
A lot of people are thinking Amazon is wicked evil for taking over the POD (print on demand) feature off some publishers books and making them only available through BookSurge, an Amazon subsidiary. A lot of people forgot that Barnes & Noble tried to do this years ago and were turned down due to the whole monopoly issue-antitrust-whatever. I think this has changed for one reason. You are going to soon be able to buy a Print On Demand printing machine for the low low cost of 50k give or take, which will sure as we are only paying 50 bucks for a microwave now, going to get cheaper.
Technology, you just can't stop it. You can't really boycott Amazon unless you want to disappear. You can however use their traffic to get people to your site, which is all most of those publishers who sell POD books are actually doing. I did this as a bookseller. For example, if you buy a book from a seller names WhiskeyJunction_Com-you can pretty much put together that its a publisher whose link you might want to check out, no? So you get 50% of your gross taken when someone buys from Amazon, but you can track and now as a publisher, that many people found you through Amazon, and you didn't have to pay a thing for the traffic. (Thanks Amazon?) Which anyone running a business knows is priceless. You would be stupid not to take advantage of Amazon for anything they offer.
I learned this as a small book seller trying to pay the bills while I wrote my own books.
Another horrid thing about Amazon is one-cent-books (OCB's). Home-sellers, that is anyone who can secure books from anywhere and sell them out of their home, can turn a profit on Amazon while avoiding their fees by selling books for one cent. Since media mail (USPS) shipping (and often first class) are 2.13, Amazon charges 3.99 to ship and credits it to your account. With the sale price of one cent--they can't get a percentage from one cent as its less than a cent. So you see a ton of home-sellers with really bad shipping, damaged product, and customer service records making a killing and cutting out Independent Books Stores, because no one else can afford to sell books for one cent, new or used, and still sleep at night with the amount of books it takes to move to turn a profit. If you sell 800 books a day for one cent, and make 35 cents a piece off the shipping, you are doing pretty damn good. So what if 100 of those books has a complaint, your still averaging a great turnover with the majority of your customers not complaining.
This must stop, and I am sure Amazon is sick of losing their percentages due to this little snafu.
Also if you are only paying one cent for a book, why not hop on over to one of the FREE paperback trading sites? How is it legal we cannot "trade" music, but we can trade books? Many writers and reading groups trade books, without giving a thought to the fact that the industry they love is suffering because of it. I am not talking Grisham here of course, who was at one time selling books out of his trunk to survive mind you, but up and comers who might never make it because the profits are not there. All of these things should have monthly fees installed to get some money back to the people who own the rights. It only makes sense if you have a reading group, organize, get fees, and keep the good books coming by at least buying new books, or books from libraries only.
Amazon's Kindle makes it impossible (for now) to trade and share your ebooks, without giving someone your Kindle machine and password. While great publishers like Ellora's Cave, might not be able to afford their own technology, I believe they can share the Kindle technology for a fee. And why shouldn't Amazon get a fee?
Getting free books from your friends and strangers online sounds like a great idea, but in all actuality, your only screwing yourself out of great books that haven't even been written yet.
I believe even if we have to ride the coat tails of the evil wicked empire that might be Amazon in the future, it is a necessary step in the right direction.
Look for Amazon to start suing the living poop out of swapping sites to trade books they printed at BookSurge, and every other publisher hoppin on board with that.
Making literature worth something is never a bad thing, and you will see more authors self publishing and keeping up with the big dogs in profit as well as popularity.
Isn't that what America is all about?
That being said, I moved off my usual writing perch to give him the big couch so he could lay down. Whell... quite simply it sucks on this other couch. It's short and one cushion is flat on one end. You are kind in the way going into the kitchen, not that he's going to be hungry anytime soon (LOL) and the light shines in my eyes. There is no foot stool so I am using a bar chair, and the level just isn't right. One of my really long legs keeps going numb. Also my tummy keeps making noises, but I know I would have been sick already if I got it.
I am thinking he picked something up when taking back beer cans and rubbed his nose or forgot to wash his hands.
We are such fragile creatures inside, are we not?
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Every publisher tells you to run your work by other writers, readers, anyone you can get to give you an opinion. I suspect mainly this is because most people simply suck from the beginning. That's ok, if you think man what a bitch, but depending on how long you have been writing, if you go back and look at some of your earlier works, read them, and don't laugh or at least flush a little red, I will be amazed. The fact is we all grow, learn, and get much, much better as we go. I don't care who you are. But also what they do not tell you, is exposing your work to others gets you used to criticism. They tell you for this reason, do not use your family. I don't use my family for censorship reasons, I would guffaw if I knew they were reading my stuff and the last thing i would want to do is discuss it with them. But, you really should use other people so you can see that there are assholes out there in the world who will bash your work, and its very good for you.
Some writing groups I join even bash my personality, and get very personal. I suspect this is because they are jerks and enjoy putting an outspoken woman in her place, regardless of whether she deserves it or not, but this only makes me smile. People that don't like me, will point out every flaw, whether actual or not, and you get good results.
Anyone who has had an actual living breathing life for more than 20 years, knows that it takes all kinds. And therefore you must get used to criticism, and learning writing 101 from an editor or publisher, is a waste of their time and yours.
So, do not let these people push you around. Remember, they serve a valuable purpose. If you have a lot of work to do, you are going to hear about it. In fact the more annoying you can be and the more buttons you can push...will get you many, many people just dying to line up and read your stuff and tell you what they think about it.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Then to top it off, once you have arrived in the laundry dungeon from hell, there is a 50/50 chance that your trip was for nothing, as the two-count them-two--machines can be occupied. In which case one has to guesstimate the proper amount of time you give a neighbor to get their clothes from the washer to the dryer--should they forget--and you have to decide to remove them yourself. I have only done this once, but it was really uncomfortable removing someone's unmentionables from the washing machine because they had forgotten about the load and I needed to use it. This I believe puts one at great risk to get your clothing tampered with. Most of the people here are very nice, but there are teenagers.
I know when I was a teenager I did a lot of things that I thought were funny, or a good idea at the time, which now would embarrass me. Purple eyeshadow on my upper lids comes to mind.
Needless to say, our bedroom is littered with every possible piece of clothing we have. Laundry has not been in the forefront of our thoughts as of late.
Would this not be best solved by the genius writer who died to keep a running tally of an obituary they have written themselves? To Be Read In Case Of My Untimely Death?
It could be a hyper-drive trip down memory lane, complete with jokes and sexual innuendo. Wouldn't think take a lot of pressure off everyone to say something profound while they are missing your terribly?
What better to be read at your funeral than something you wrote to everyone who was left behind still living.
I have vowed to keep an obituary on my desktop.
There problem solved. I'm a genius.
I have been staying up til 7AM lately and woke at 4PM this evening.
Now Samantha Jones is coming over with her new/old gal pal from days of yor and I am going to be a grouch.
I told her we would meet her up at Skanks, but I don't feel like it. I could go back to bed easily.
Crap, I guess I should make an effort to have a glass of wine and get in the mood. But I don't feel like it.
Sometimes friends are a pain in the ass.
On a page attributed to Woodson, he described his occupation as "mechanic, sorta" and wrote, "Im just a country boy who keeps gettin his heart broken!!! Ive got my heart broken twice in less then a year... i dunno wat to do.... keep gettin my heart broke or stop caring!!! and i dont wanna stop caring.", here, I have to wonder something.
You can find people on Myspace by searching via location. Would it not then be pertinent that police use this to their advantage and seeing this in this poor bastards blog, might have been able to cut this sucker off at Hamburger Pass?
Maybe they do use MySpace, but only to catch people, not to stop them in the first place.
Never edited, this is in a hilarious format and it's fun to read and wince and how much I have learned since then.
If you have any of your old stuff, go read it, it's freakin funny!
A Novel by Nicoel Suzanne
Brownstown MI 48173
All rights reserved. This is the unedited version. (bad grammar abound)
NOTES: Cut to end father-
This one wasn’t quite the same as had been previously described to him. In fact she really wasn’t even close, but she would do. Who knew what lay under the many layers of makeup, and cheap, black clothing that she’d draped herself in. Maybe she was one of those gothic club girls. Addicted to drugs and just turning enough tricks for cab fare and a hard night of partying. This would explain the thick dark rings of eyeliner around her almond shaped eyes that he could just barely make out through his binoculars. He didn’t understand that sort of thing, but as long as they wanted to look like the living dead, he was more than happy to oblige. The way the styles changed just made no sense to him, but clothing wasn’t what he was after, now was it.
He liked to watch them from across the train tracks. It dipped down a bit on the other side where he liked to park. The most anyone would see was half a windshield on the car he’d been forced to purchase recently. In any case, they never seemed to notice what wasn’t directly under the street light in front of them.
The professional girls knew though, they knew good and well, and they stayed the hell away. They dare say nothing to disrupt his harvest, not now. Those whores were just glad it wasn’t them. The police wouldn’t protect them, not adequately, and he wasn’t after them anyway. Just young girls, soft to the touch, just out of virginity, and considered prime stock.
He’d seen that toothless crack whore run her mouth on the news. The one who had seen him before. He made sure she would be the last who dared speak to the police, or anyone for that matter. It had to be something grotesque, enough to scare the living shit out of seasoned whores who’d seen it all. So that is exactly what he did. He pulled her entrails out while she was still alive, made her watch, beg, even put part of one in her mouth, then taped her mouth shut so she couldn’t spit it out again as she choked on her own intestinal juices.
He found her in her usual spot, always the last to leave, sometimes even after the morning light appeared. She said she liked to catch the breakfast crowd. Men were more horny in the morning aren’t they doll, she’d told him when he had asked why she was out so late in the morning.
She’d passed out a couple of times but he brought her right back around with smelling salts. He forced her feel all that pain, the price she paid for speaking against him. Then just to top it off he took a Polaroid of her, alive of course so the others had no doubt, and tossed it on top of her body, in her usual area. The picture never made it to the police, and when the body did they had reported that it was a “gang thang”. They’d gotten his message loud and clear, and he enjoyed a peaceful harvest ever since.
The pros didn’t know exactly who he was, or what he drove now, but they sure as hell knew he was out there. Occasionally he would get a respectful nod for a local that got a glimpse of him.
Had the younger girls had any street sense at all they would have been led to wonder why no one was bitching about them working on their turf. But they never did, no one complained and so it kept the endless supply of fresh meat coming. Because after all, it was his turf.
Some weren’t even prostitutes he thought, but simply broke students. Sometimes at the end of the month students run low on cash. Their parents were either tapped out already, or asking them for money was too much of a pain. Open student jobs worth having were always scarce, just the way he liked it.
A lot of the girls had just been introduced to the wonderful world of sex. Oh if the parents who denied their kiddies the extra cash only knew. It was truly amazing what regular young girls would do for some extra spending money. There had been a slew of websites popping up recently that proved this. Men ride around in a van, hustle young women to come on in and give them a blow or worse, then steal the money right out from under them. All the while filming what desperate whores they’d just made themselves into.
He was baffled that girls had committed suicide over the embarrassment of having whored themselves out globally for just a few dollars. First time out on their own and naïve as kittens.
“Tisk tisk,” he said aloud as he imagined the possibilities that lay ahead for him tonight.
But how could the parents be naïve as well, every town that ever held a college also held a darker side. It’s not like they were hidden away completely out of site. No, they were full of drug houses and former student-whores having spun off track for only one quick second. One momentary lapse of judgment was all it took to develop a crack problem, or get addicted to the easy money after such a stressful school schedule. These lowlifes were professionals and if there was one thing they knew, it was how to capitalize on a fine young American co-ed. He paid handsomely for the announcement of another fallen angel. The pimps were eager to take him up on it, most pretty young things wouldn’t last long enough to make them more. Not without constant protection, and when presented with a choice? They didn’t land here doing nothing for a living by taking the road less traveled.
It was actually quite amazing how many people didn’t bother to teach their fucking daughters the truth about sex, disease, and rape. That it wasn’t the end of the world if you experienced either. Which was odd considering how often both of these things actually happened. Especially when sending them off to college.
He heard them talk of fathers would scare daughters by calling them whores for being promiscuous, then to make sure they knew to be careful, and safe. How to look over their shoulders and how to fight back ruthlessly like your life dependent on it, because it usually did. Getting your daughter used to masculine violence was just about the stupidest thing they could have done.
They didn’t know that once a delicate young girl has been called a whore by her daddy, there’s no reason to stop the downward spiral. She may as well start acting like a whore, or at least benefit like one. He could always tell the ones who’d been abused by their fathers. Being degraded by the most important man in their life made them fight less when they were raped, or worse. He supposed he should thank their fathers for this. He even thought of sending pictures of their daughters in their present condition to them with a little thank you note. Just to turn the dagger so to speak, but that would be entirely too much evidence. Oh how he would have loved to see the look on their faces.
Thank you so much for treating your daughter like a little whore and beating her instead of treating her tenderly. You made my job so much easier. She lost the will to fight under your hand, instead of mine.
Very Truly Yours,
Your daughters rapist, torturer, and new daddy
Sexual power was quite intoxicating for young women, and no one bothered to teach them about it. Not school, not their parents, and not even television. It was a sad, beautiful thing how easy some of them got lost in it. With fathers that screamed obscenities at them and beat them, Or mothers that were just glad to have them gone so they could have some alone time to slut it up themselves; they latched onto the first man that gave them the time of day. Like lambs sent out amidst the wolves, as the good book said. Just ripe for the picking, and if there wasn’t any available, well he knew how to make them himself.
He knew how to turn a young woman into a whore just as easily as he could snag one off the street. Someone who’d already had thoughts of packing up and going back home, was an easy mark. Who maybe had gone to bed with an empty stomach for the first time in her life, was easy. Who was lonely, or homesick, or had gained the freshman fifteen pounds and feeling unconfident, was doubly easy. Who wasn’t dealing with the pressures of being on her own and wasn’t keeping a hectic class schedule well, way too easy. All of these could be turned into someone who might just get suckered into a motel room with an understanding older man, who was a good listener and wouldn’t make them do anything they weren’t comfortable with. Just some wine, and a little bit of cash in her hand ahead of time, just because she needed it, he had plenty where that came from, and he understood because he was once a young student himself, he told them.
Sorority girls were off limits however, for four main reasons. One, their sisters tended to keep a close eye on each other and even teach self defense. How to be on the lookout for predators in nice guys clothing was first on their list of lessons. Also it wasn’t unheard of for them to carry weapons or mace, and not be afraid to use them. Their daddy’s would ever pay a professional company to teach the entire house, and remove the natural fear that comes with attacking someone. Two, their fathers were usually prominent society members and would spare no expense in causing him more trouble then their debutante daughters were worth. Three, they were generally spoiled snots, thought they were queens of the universe, and often fought like one, sometimes never giving up or accepting anything but their own iron will. They hadn’t been abused by any man in their lives, and were so genuinely pissed off if treated inappropriately, they would kick you ass. And of course four, the higher up their daddies went the better chance that they knew.
Ah the fine young fools, he thought as he stared at her. So tempting and delicious, so tight and easily torn. He licked his lips and he felt his excitement grow. He loved to pull them apart slowly, feeling every inch of that fine young flesh fight against him. Her skirt was so short he could see her ass cheeks peeking out from underneath it’s lacey hem. Her thighs didn’t touch like a grown woman’s. No, she still had that tautness of virginity about her. That scent of the ultimate freshness not so long ago. He loved to get his fingers inside and wait for them to tell him it hurt, that he was being too rough. Oh sorry darling, he would say, and jab and stretch them again.
His eyes closed and his mouth watered, as he pictured these things. She wasn’t wearing a push-up bra, but had genuine full ripe breasts. The kind when you let them out of their sling you wonder how they ever fit there in the first place. The kind he could squeeze and bite, and tear into. He loved a full pair of breasts on his face, with big nipples that looked as though they were holding on for dear life as if they were already pregnant. And that neck, oh yes a nice fresh milky neck. One where you can see the blood pulsating through their carotid artery.
He used to ask where they came from, where the rats as he called them, found the girls, what their particular story was, but this only caused unbelievable amounts of lying. Better to judge for himself first, then take them or leave them as he found fit. Asking only made the rats assume he was seeking a certain quality. They would have even said this one was a Harvard graduate if they thought that’s what he wanted. In truth, variety was the only quality that had ever been insisted upon.
As the temperature fell inside the car, his breath became steam billowing from his nostrils. He was afraid if he waited much longer the windshield would fog up. He was afraid his vehicle might get noticed for being occupied. If anyone understood steamed up windows, it was the ladies of the night. Sticking around too long was never a good idea. A spooked hooker usually meant a spooked pimp, if they had one, and there was no guarantee he’d gotten through to all of them. Plus most of them were hopeless drug addicts. Ending up dead here would ruin his reputation. Everything he had worked so long and hard for, would be destroyed much too soon.
He had to wait a little longer still. Some people had parked and entered the gas station’s store within eye shot. Although there were no camera’s outside, anyone being able to describe anyone they’d seen when asked could prove detrimental. He couldn’t risk them seeing anything at all. Somehow he had found himself turned into someone who was concerned with what the cops might be thinking.
He smiled as he thought, perhaps he should take this opportunity to relieve himself. Some girls tended to get nervous from a full penis hard on. He didn’t understand why, it meant their job would be easier.
This girl was tiny, which was a bonus for his cause. She wore a pair of Mary Jane’s that looked as though Salvador Dali himself, had gotten a hold of them. She smoked like a she was nervous about something, or perhaps inpatient. Did she have somewhere to be and wanted to make a quick few bucks just as he’d suspected?
Her arms were crossed in front of her, holding herself tightly against the onset of wicked fall winds. This made those glorious large breasts bulge out, just for him. Her mouth was full and those lips looked as though they’d been very much enjoyed by the various boys she’d been talked into pleasing. Surely those lips on anything of theirs would send them over the edge. Just as they were sending him now.
She looked up to the sky as the last of the season’s insects caused the street light to flicker. Her throat was magnificent, and he couldn’t help but explode thinking about his hands tightly around it, squeezing the life from her while he was deep inside of her. Then letting go just long enough for her to gain some strength back and thank him for being so merciful with those big, grateful almond shaped eyes.
Oh how he loved to play with them like that. He loved to make them beg for their lives. To feel them squeeze around his penis as they fought for every breath of air. He imagined heaven must be something just like this. Full of anticipation, which he loved almost as much as the act.
But he had to be careful. He’d gotten a deadly serious warning and must obey at all costs. He would have to contain the monster for a while longer. Somehow he must fight it back and be more of himself... If he knew who that was anymore. If he was even able to separate the man from the monster at all. If he didn’t have secrets to keep, but as it was there was a way of doing things that could not be gotten around. Not yet anyway, soon, but not yet.
Let the Games Begin
A gentle clanging of an alarm clock filled the bedroom. She had purposely padded the mallet in order to get just the right amount of clang. Suzanne was not one who needed extreme rousing, just enough to gently wake her. It was sharp on another crisp morning of fall semester. She rolled over having been disturbed out of her usual fantastically romantic dreams. A slender hand reached over a vintage nightstand that had purposely been painted to look as though it was chipping and aged. Finally reaching where the golden clock gave warning, she turned it off.
A red satin sleep mask slid up over her forehead exposing her lovely classic facial features. Butterflies began to tickle her insides as realities of fall classes came to mind. Was everything in place? Did she forget anything from the night before? Running her last hour list through her head, she stepped into the shower.
It was always the same exact routine. First her hair, shampooed twice, then her face and body. With the last of the lilac lather, she always shaved her legs. Not her entire leg just to the knee. Always careful not to make the baby-soft thigh hair coarse, just as her mother had warned her, so many years ago. She was right as usual, just as her mother Polly had always been. She’d met a few girls here and there that didn’t obey these simple rules of shaving. Now their hair was like steel wool, but what was the point in telling them now?
It had broken Suzanne’s heart when her mother had died so suddenly. Something had changed deep inside her, since Polly Scott had passed away. Suzanne had lost some of herself along with her mother, but still these little lessons stayed with her through the two years since her death.
The glints of blonde stayed smooth and unnoticeable on her smooth, unyielding thighs. She stopped for a moment to judge what was left of a fading summer tan. After letting out a long sigh of concession to the coming of fall, she figured it had looked nice while it lasted, then proceeded back to her task.
Her thoughts turned to her husband Bill Morgan, as she tapped the razor and turned off the water. It had been almost a year since they engaged in any sort of sexual activity.
Sexual activity, she thought, that was about as warm and innovative as it had felt. Like something scientific, a duty perhaps. He had lost his interest in her long before she had with him. Well that wasn’t exactly true now was it, she reasoned with her own milk chocolate, brown eyes in the mirror.
She knew she had settled with him for the sake of settling. She was just hoping to be done with the annoyance of dating after Polly’s death. The hardships, ok not hardships, but all the particulars of prettying yourself up, not too sluttish, not too conservative. Going out to the right places, where decent single men displayed themselves like fine cuts of meat. Making sure not to go somewhere you would be overwhelmed by either students or drunks. Having to worry about how much wine to drink was a pain in the ass, or not to drink at all for that matter. Hell, being sure you were in the kind of place you did not have to keep and eye on your drink. Those date rapist came out of the woodwork it seemed. A few low brow looks might even come your way if the place was too hip or happening. She supposed university faculty weren’t supposed to have fun.
Making an ass out of ones self, anywhere students might frequent could prove disastrous. Although it increased your campus popularity, it was never a good idea for faculty members to party with students. These things just never ended well, and always ended.
It was not as simple as before her career as a professor. Before she could see a man she liked, start a conversation, have some wine, then take him back to her place or his, and do what she pleased. Things had gotten much more complicated now. Her professional appearance must continue to maintain. God forbid she be called The Slutty Professor. That would be mortifying, funny, but mortifying.
Then there was making sure you were interesting enough, or up on current events a plenty, in order to carry on conversation when the subjects arose. Yes, dating was exhausting, even for a woman as lovely as she was.
She wanted to be comfortable, and alas, that is exactly what she got, with William Morgan author, extraordinaire.
Now, she thought, they were more relieved then anything when the other was not around. No longer did they share a bedroom for false reasons of practicality. She snored quite loudly, and he threw elbows in his sleep. Sometimes she needed the TV or a good book in order to unwind, and the light from the TV or reading lamp kept Bill from falling asleep.
The truth was there were no longer any good reasons to occupy the same bedroom. Before, no late night TV show or book could have kept him from making love to his new wife. Bill was barely home when she was anymore. For this, she was sadly grateful, but it had been seriously bothering her that she was in her sexual prime, and sexually void at the same time. She had not planned to miss the weight of a man on top of her, or beside her, or… She didn’t have time to think about this now. There was no point in getting herself emotionally worked up before class. Sometimes she could not help but breakdown at how truly sad and desolate life had become. Yes, now was not the time to get thinking about how lonely she was. Showing up with a red puffy face was not professional.
Suzanne wrung out her long blonde hair, getting every-last drop of water to fall into the sink. Grabbing it tightly she twirled it around her hand and rolled it up into a bun. Suzanne thought this much more appropriate for class. As always, she was careful not to give the wrong idea.
She was a professor now. An important woman, with responsibilities, and young people, that looked up to her. Of course she was young herself barely in her thirties, but she was their teacher and teachers wore their hair in buns. Bill used to love her hair in a tight bun. Why was she thinking about him again?
He had become a clandestine drinker from the once a famous novelist she’d married. His drinking became more and more apparent as he struggled with his latest work. But who did he think he was kidding? It had been weeks since he had actually worked on it. Did he think she was unaware of his nightly routine? He would sit in his office and wait until he was sure she wouldn’t notice him slipping out of the house. She was sure of it, sure that this was his exact routine. Truth be told she never did notice, but on occasion would wake up to find him gone. His laptop left open with instant messages from eager young campus girls clamoring for his attention just as she had done herself a year before.
Suzanne had met Bill while at her previous job as a social worker. She started out in her mothers footsteps. Wanting to help and change the world. Well the world was not changing. Five years of crack houses, battered women, abused children and she’d had enough. Bill Morgan came into the police station one day; she never did find out for what. In hindsight that might have been a good idea. He’d asked her out when she’d had a pretty rotten day. After her standard no answer, he had convinced her that it was only dinner, and what harm could it do?
Ha, what harm indeed. He was very charming, and despite pleads from her pal detective Rinaldy, she went out with him on a date. He was smooth, and interesting. He played on the fact that her major in college had been literature. That is until just before her second year when she changed it to social science. This made her very glad of her decision to keep her mothers last name. She did not want to be a Morgan and was glad she wasn’t. She hadn’t kept her mothers job field, but at least she had kept her name.
Suzanne didn’t really expect Bill to be successful again, it didn’t bother her. She could live without his attentions, and the only thing that pissed her off really was that he must think her stupid. Insulting her intelligence over the short months they’d been married, had made her spiteful. Yet, it was hardly worth the effort to confront him. Now the last thing she wanted was his presence in her bedroom. Yes, it wasn’t his body weight on top of her she missed. It was just the weight itself. A nice heavy warm body that smelled liked a man and filled her like a man.
Better to have her privacy and her own room then have to bed with Bill again. Which would have been the result if she was to win the argument. She was quite a good debater if she did say so herself. No, better to keep quiet and let him think he oblivious and content.
She couldn’t help but wish he would run out and find a cocktail waitress or a flight attendant, like in the movies or TV. It was better then the young female students she suspected he was entertaining.
Her head shook off the thought of embarrassment that was sure to follow him getting caught. What shame this would bring to her career. Suzanne’s attempts to reason with him were never fruitful. Always he would say his behavior was just the healthy-norm for a writer. Well she was a writer too and it wasn’t healthy for her. Cheating like a crazed animal with anything that had two tits and a couple of legs was not normal.
How long would this drag on? Eventually she would have to make the decision to leave him. This downward spiral he was on would embarrass the university board where they both held tenure. Surely, after a major crisis he would be ousted and Suzanne would be politely handed severance on her way out the door.
“We are terribly sorry Ms. Scott, we’re going to have to end your tenure here at the university. This is just a formality now, we’re sure you understand it is what is best for the school.” She was sure the speech would go something like that.
His infidelity no longer bothered her as much as it did when first discovered. She had thought they were happy as newlyweds. Trusting him to only flirt and to always come home, she was devastated at her miscalculations. She had thought to call the police to check if they had seen him, but reporting a professor that was somewhat a local celebrity missing would have been more trouble then it was worth. Always more trouble then it was worth.
Bill was a terrible liar. He made her look like an overly worried wife to the friends they had in common. Always telling them he was in the garage the whole time and she hadn’t thought to check there when she called them all looking for him.
His excuses ranged from not wanting to drive home drunk and staying the night at work, alone. To having a flat tire and deciding not to bother roadside service and sleep in the front seat. Sometimes after running into an old friend who always remained nameless. Uh yeah, ok Bill, sure thing.
Suzanne knew he was full of shit, but it wasn’t until she actually paid a detective, her best friend Romey recommended, that she had the proof. A manila envelope containing graphic photographs remained under her mattress where she had placed it the day it was given to her. She slept on it always conscious of its presence. As if a reminder never to forget that she had put her trust foolishly into a man. A man she was not in love with.
Loneliness had plagued her in the beginning, but she had her work, which was more then enough to pay the bills, and afford the things she enjoyed. Mainly she collected rare novels, and manuscripts. How she loved these great works, as well as hunting for them. The hunt, the search was half the fun. Stopping at a garage sale and finding impeccable first editions just sitting out on a table or in a dusty box, simply thrilled her.
Collector’s editions, rare with fine leather spines sprawled to the ceiling that gleamed out at her as she lay in her candle lit bedroom late at night. Alone, and as close to bliss as she could be considering her circumstances.
Curled up in various silk gowns or fluffy afghans, just as she did when she was a girl. She had always had a thing for fine fabrics, soft to the touch, and never itchy. Silks and wools, and fine Egyptian cottons, were among her favorites. She would read into the wee hours of the morning. Literature was always there for her, always eager to take her away from her decaying marriage.
Sure, divorce was an option, but who was to say the next guy wouldn’t do the same, why rock the boat so to speak, she’d thought.
Bill wasn’t violent and was revered at the parties she was so often required to attend. It was debatable which would be worse. Being a divorcee, or having to explain why she was. Having to lie and make up some unfortunate elaborate story that didn’t make her seem like a career digging bitch who was cheated on by her almost famous husband every chance he got.
Having written three highly regarded novels, William Morgan had an illustrious career and was a hit at the university’s various functions. He ate up every bit of the attention and had usually been a charming husband. Then the groping began, Bill would drink a bit too much scotch, and start rubbing or touching women, her colleagues, at the functions. She was mortified. After he shit on her pride divorce was seeming more attractive and not such a big hassle after all.
Next he began not showing to the events. Suzanne begun having to make excuses for him. He was busy working on his novel and making great progress; usually shut them up. They were always eager for his next great work. A great work that Suzanne was sure would never come. And as sure as summer’s end the questions about his whereabouts would return.
Being an associate professor she was required to attend the various parties that were thrown in honor of any little accomplishment of any faculty member, student, or alumni. She had to keep up on the latest-new-best-thing everyone was talking about. Speed reading through current events with ease, came in real handy. For this she often joked that the speed reading class she’d taken was the most useful thus far.
Someone would always drink too much wine, and attempt to debate the finer points of whatever they had overheard someone raving about, and more then likely didn’t read themselves. Suzanne prided herself on her debating skills. Surpassed only by her love of the written word, nothing pleased her more then putting some snide imbecile in their place with such panache they never realized they had been thoroughly insulted.
This semester, to save face, Bill had asked for a fill-in professor. This so he could “dedicate” himself to his manuscript. Well, Dean Sanctus ate the story right up. He said that Bill could dedicate himself to finishing his novel, that it would be god for the university to have another best seller on the payroll. The dean was a down to earth kind of guy, but in all actuality he was probably tired of Bill’s excuses why he couldn’t be interrupted to head a lecture one day, and was right in the middle of research to be able to appear.
Bill would now be required to maintain a schedule of only four appearances per month, even less then before. After all, with any success of their professors also came new fame, which always brought new money. If there was one language the dean spoke fluently, it was money. The replacement wasn’t a problem since there were always standby lecturers hoping for the chance to get their foot in the door.
Suzanne wasn’t a literary snob as most of her colleagues at the university were. No, secretly she wrote romantic novels and various works of fiction under the pseudonym Rebecca Monroe. Not even her husband was aware of this little arcane fact. Just her very closest friend, Romey.
The extra income gave her a secure feeling she hadn’t really had before. It was secret, it was hers, and no one could take it away. She put most of the proceeds in a small offshore account, for a day when maybe she would decided she had just about had enough.
Hopefully that was how it would all go down anyway. More then likely however, she would be asked to leave the university after Bill’s infidelity, to one student or another, was found out.
She would leave him the house because she imagined he would have run through his small fortune from advances on his previous novels. Although she loved the old house dearly, it hadn’t been hers in the beginning. However, this was subject to change if he ever dared become rude, mean, or blatant about his social flaws.
Suzanne fantasized she would buy a small place in the tropics. Perhaps a little beach bungalow, complete with mosquito netting, and an umbrella chaise lounge in the sand. A nice afternoon breeze would cool things off as she would sip and iced tea and dream of her next novel. Surely, she would have to move away if ever discovered a Lit. Professor was moonlighting as a romance novelist, even if she was just an associate yet.
This secret seemed to balance Bill’s, and somehow make her feel better that he was not the only one with dirty little secrets.
Her clothes were set out neatly on a vintage oak dressing table from the night before. Always conservative, always careful to never show to much cleavage or curve. After all most of the students were barely adults. Occasionally there were some in their late twenties or early thirties trying to better their education, but that was rare.
Frequent checks of the clock kept her routine moving right along. She switched off the TV that had been announcing another missing prostitute from a familiar city nearby; religiously every fifteen minutes. Sweeping a final glance through the master suite, she grabbed her black two and a half inch Jimmy Choo’s and shut the door behind her to keep out Bill’s cigar smoke.
The strong French roast was ready to pour when she came downstairs. Having a coffee maker with a timer was one of her husband’s better ideas, even if it was to excuse him from having to get up with her anymore to make it. Their morning ritual was just one of the first marital agreements to falter.
In the beginning Bill would rise first, showering and meeting her downstairs with a cup of coffee in hand, and something interesting from the morning paper to discuss. Today it appeared as though he had yet another late night, two in a row now, and was nowhere in sight.
Sometimes he would make it in just before Suzanne came downstairs. When this was the case he would deliberately bring fresh muffins or scones home with him. At least he wasn’t rude about it if she had to play along.
A old antique mirror hung by the door for a convenient quick face check. After gulping down the last cup, she slipped on some sensible shoes, tucked her laptop into her bag, and she was out the door. Apparently, there were not going to be any scones on this morning, Asshole.
Brisk morning air titillated her nostrils freeing her lungs of the stale cigar smoke that seemed to linger for days regardless of Bill’s absence. Stopping for a moment to preen dead flowers from a variety mums in the front garden, she took a last look at the grand Victorian that stood before her.
The charming old house sat situated just off campus, on one of the largest yards in the area. There was not another house for at least a hundred feet. Just enough room for large flower gardens on each side, with a few tomato plants of course. This was almost the very last Victorian home that had yet to be converted. Most flipped into student housing or studio apartments, long ago. Because of its historical billing, no one could buy the lots on either side of it. The property had to remain intact, just as it was almost two hundred years ago.
But the old home had a secret. It had been used as an important part of the Underground Railroad. She frequently thought of the desperate souls who sought shelter under it’s shapely roof. Once while putting away a case of pinot noir in the basement, Suzanne had found several copies of an old periodical preaching the abolishment of slavery. This was quite a find as it published in the mid 1800’s. Describing the horrors of slavery and advocating its demise.
Poetry and speeches from great minds of those days lay within its bold pages. Loving the written word as she did she painstakingly donated them to the University’s Cultural and
Now the basement was filled with a giant wine rack Bill had built for her when they first married. A sad smile graced her face as she remembered how worked up he would get teaching her about fine wine. They had so enjoyed trying different labels. Somehow it was the last close remembrance of their relationship. The last thing they enjoyed together as a couple. Even though her tasting skill left much to be desired, Bill had explained all the different tastes to her. It was comforting that some people simply were not born with a sharp palette. He made her laugh and he didn’t care that she wasn’t perfect.
She felt the barometer drop as dark clouds filled the sky. Having not thought to check the weather she picked up her pace. A distinct eerie sensation that she wasn’t alone kept poking at her back.
The arts and literature building was across campus and with any luck at all she might make it before the rain. Students seemed to be coming out of the woodwork. Glancing over papers, trying to read them as they walked, they were all hurrying to get somewhere. A rumble of thunder swept over campus as everyone seemed to break into a slow run.
Her stride was disrupted as she recognized the crazy old woman who was something of a campus mascot. Natalie, as she called herself, was rocking back and fourth on the damp grass just off the sidewalk. She called herself Natalie, but when someone else did she would get very upset. It was strange to say the least, but she was clearly a little disturbed.
She was always seen just rocking back and forth, and kept a hat upside down in front of her. People were usually kind enough to toss her spare change or dollars. Even starving students would share whatever they could with the unbalanced old woman. As Suzanne approached she dug in her pocket for a few bucks. Coming up with only a dollar bill and a Starbucks punch card good for a few free latte’s she knelt to drop them in.
“How are you doing today Natalie?”, she politely asked. “Your going to get all wet dear.” Suzanne took the newspaper out from her tote, and put it over the old woman’s head.
“I’m not Natalie,” she grunted without looking up. “Gonna rain, don’t wanna ruin your hair. They don’t like it when you ruin your hair,” Natalie said and she rocked faster.
Suzanne noted that rocking back and fourth was often a sign of insanity. Perhaps she would talk to Romey about some programs Natalie could benefit from. “I’m sorry I’m in a hurry today. Let me know if there is anything I can bring you”, Suzanne said then hustled away.
“The sky is grey,” the woman mumbled.
Who Is That Masked Man?
Mason Yost was the son of a senator. He didn’t ask to be, often tried not to be, but that didn’t change the fact that he was. The Yost’s were a prominent Michigan family. Often entertaining heads of state from all over the world and it wasn’t at all unusual to consider kings or other global royalty, as friends.
Having spent a year tooling around the world trying to find himself, as his father put it, he’d finally bitten the bullet. He was expected to attend law school and join the ranks of the most powerful politicians in the country.
After chasing him down in San Tropez his father, Edgar, had made one thing very clear. He had to get his butt back at the university and put his nose to the grindstone. Mason wasn’t surprised, he knew this had been coming. He and his trusty cousin-sidekick Jake went back to Ann Arbor with their tails between their proverbial legs.
After his first two years at college he hadn’t re-enrolled. Edgar, as Mason called him; never father, was furious. They agreed if he had to get it out of his system it was better now then later. Little did he know Mason had another career in mind all along. Still a sort of public service, but in a more private sector.
The mansion was warm and gently lit as usual. A mammoth fireplace kept things nice and toasty throughout the main rooms and halls. The bite of fall was ever pressing as it dismissed summer from its sunny perch.
Mason liked it a little toasty and preferred to walk around half naked most of the time. He’d been like this since he was a baby. Always running around naked, always going without shoes whenever possible. The calluses on his feet were brutal from the hot sands of the beaches he and Jake frequented to surf. They tore through his satin sheets and did serious damage to his socks. A small price to pay for being free, he thought.
Mason dreamt of leaving Michigan for warmer climates where long sleeve shirts were an option not a necessity. If he couldn’t live in the warmth just yet he would bring the warmth to himself. The entire mansion was decked out in a bizarre array of totem gods, statues and murals of palm laden landscapes. Wherever possible palm trees were been brought in large pots to adorn every corner that would hold their height.
His unusual, if not tacky tastes had been discouraged, but were eventually accepted even as a child. Royal blue velvet drapes hung over ocean teal walls. Marble and exotic African woods adorned the entire manor. Rich tapestries and relics embellished every wall and dark corner of each and every room. The equatorial influence was undeniable. He was fond of the tropics, a little too fond perhaps.
Since he was a very young, Mason’s family had taken elaborate vacations. Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Europe, even South America were included in the Yost family travels. He began collecting trinkets when he was only six years old. From there he graduated to bizarre antiques, which lead him to his passion for rare literature. His library was filled everything from ancient manuscripts, to scrolls, to antediluvian writings from all over the world. Some were easy to secure. Others he had begged, stolen or borrowed from private and ever secret collections.
His family being well connected often entertained rich and important people. Powerful family friends, having heard of his collecting, couldn’t help but brag about their better antiquities, as rich men often did. This would often prove disastrous as relics would mysteriously disappear shortly thereafter.
Instead of hiring a butler his close cousin Jake, who was always around anyway, acted as a butler, cook, and when needed driver. Mostly because Jake was the black sheep of the family and hadn’t been wanted elsewhere, but also because he loved to cook and had a knack for running the household. It was a little strange, but hey it worked for them.
The two got along like brothers and understood each other, often without having to say a word. Jake’s mother was killed in a skiing accident when he was just a kid. Mason battled with Edgar to take Jake into their home instead of sending him to live with their grandmother in Europe.
The two of them had been inseparable ever since. When Mason turned eighteen and bought his own mansion just on the outskirts of town. There was never a question that Jake would live there as well.
“Your clothes are laid out Master Mason”, announced Jake in his usual smartass manner while rolling his wrist as if presenting his service to his Lord. Their sense of humor and facetiousness was just one of many personality traits they shared.
“Don’t make me laugh bro, I’m trying to shave for Christ sakes”, Mason warned while sending a few fake karate kicks in Jake’s direction. Jake played like he took a direct hit to the face and fell back onto the floor playing dead. Then kipped up into a standing position and walked out of the suite laughing. They were always playing around and sparring like this. It wasn’t unusual for things to get broken. A vase here, a window there, sometimes a finger or two if it got in the way.
Most kids took piano lessons. Mason and Jake trained with martial arts masters. Their long lean bodies reflected this undeniably. The two looked very similar as of course they were family, but also had always enjoyed many of the same dare devil activities. With the exception of Mason’s slightly broader shoulders, from afar the two men were almost indistinguishable.
Checking the time on the grandfather clock, Mason headed back into the bathroom to get rolling on his day. He stepped into the shower after checking a rather technologically advanced temperature gauge. The water ran over the ripples of well defined muscle that ran the length of his body. His tan was glorious and deep. His chest and belly hair had been bleached from the suns relentless rays.
He couldn’t believe he was nervous, but heading back to college after all these years away was a bit strange for him. It didn’t matter though, he could play the part. Hell, he could play any part deemed necessary.
As a kid he had attended strict private schools his mother had insisted upon. He and Jake often found themselves in hot water for one reason or another. Often times being expelled for one disastrous prank after another. Mason smiled his half-lip smile, remembering their mischievous childhood. The horrible things they’d do to the girls they had crushes on. He took a minute to laugh then hurried through his shower. He’d always had a problem keeping a schedule. It was a good thing Jake was around for that.
Jake had begun his daily task of getting breakfast together. He loved to cook, he loved to comb the farmers markets for fresh ingredients, and he loved the compliments that always followed. Yes, Jake was one hell of a chef, if he did say so himself, and he often did.
Mason and he agreed long ago that the kitchen was Jake’s domain and Mason could clutter up the other parts of the house with palm tress and tacky god statues as he pleased. To put it simply, Jake was not fond of the royal blue velvet drapes.
Mason and he were both into cars so he didn’t have to worry about the garage so much. But he was always trying to bring odd trinkets into Jake’s kitchen. Jake didn’t care how rare or expensive it was, a painting of a beach landscape and more damned palm trees did not belong in his kitchen.
He was a simple kind of guy. He didn’t care for expensive clothes or cars. Usually he would find one excuse or another to miss important gatherings or holidays.
He preferred his old Trans Am to the town car he would be driving Mason to school in. Parking was practically impossible the first day of class and Mason hated driving in traffic anyway. No, Mason tended to be one of those people you see on the news being taken to jail for road rage. Stupidity easily set off his wolverine temper.
Jake didn’t have any real big ambitions other then being Mason’s sidekick. He just wanted to catch some waves and live an easy comfortable life. He found his calling doing sneaky jobs that were often required to get the Mason’s job done. Jake wasn’t inhibited by the law as Mason was, so the surveillance and sneaking around were up to him. He took right to computers and mastered electronics, often building his own systems to suit whatever the project called for.
He thought Mason was crazy to want to join the FBI. After getting a couple years of college, when the opportunity presented itself. Working for the undercover sector, which would take them all over the world did sound like fun.
At least on the jobs they both really enjoyed the sneaking and thieving, but only as a hobby now, well usually anyway.
It was hard to believe that so many years had passed already. Jake thought they would soon be able to go anywhere, anytime they wanted. The two of them would start a small resort somewhere where Jake could surf til’ his heart was content. That would be a great name for their place. The Heart’s Content, Jake thought as he made a note in his notebook.
As far as politics were concerned, Jake didn’t understand what the big deal was. Running a country was a giant pain in the ass. You were always limited by the law. Saving people and busting bad guys was exhausting, but at least it was fun. Always having to use your wits and knowledge to get yourself out of tight places. Now that was what dreams were made of. That and a sandy beach with teal blue water, not wall paint!
This way there was no constitutional laws to limit Jake, even if there was for Mason. They could stay together, as they always had done, instead of Edgar sending them off in different directions. He felt more at ease when he could watch Mason’s back. That was his job, just as Mason had watched his when Edgar had tried to send him to live with grandma.
He was happy the way things were, so why bother putting your nose to the grindstone for Edgar? There was so many other more exciting adventures to be had. The way Mason told it, there were some things that certain families had an obligation to do. Politics was their family’s duty. Although Mason would never serve on Congress, perhaps secretly saving lives would do.
Someday Jake would throw his job in Edgar’s face. Perhaps his angry old ass would be proud after all. He wouldn’t have a choice. Edgar could not resist the bringing down of this next evil genius empire.
Mason stepped out from the shower. He posed for a minute in the mirror. “Not too shabby for a thirty-three year old man”, he said as he flexed proudly. His brown hair had been bleached from the sun to a light brown with many streaks of gold. Vivid green eyes were flattered nicely by the shinny glints of wet hair. He took a second to flex his buttocks, and after approving wrapped a towel around his head to help dry his shoulder length hair.
Dammed he was supposed to get a trim. Ah well, long hair was more acceptable now and it’s not like Edgar was going to be around today, he laughed.
Jake had put in one of his vapid CD’s he was always trying to get Mason to listen to. This one wasn’t particularly bad though. Mason grabbed a brush and began singing into it. Dancing around the bedroom suite, grinding his hips. Then he jumped up on the bed stepping on the clothes Jake had laid out from the drycleaner. He did a swami dance, feeling kinda swami with the towel on his head. Then throwing his feet out in front he plopped down on the luxurious golden bed spread to begin dressing. There was still so much kid in him.
Clothing was such a pain in his ass, he thought. Although, if he must wear them he preferred silks and fine soft blends. They felt better and less restricting on his flesh.
Jake understood his tastes and had spread out some of his favorites. Black silk dress pants and a nice royal blue silk blend shirt. Royal blue of course being his favorite color, just like the drapes Jake didn’t particularly approve of. He thought a tie might be overdoing it even for his first day of class, but he threw it around his collar anyway.
Heading down the massive staircase the smell of French toast and bacon entranced his nose and hungry tummy. Jake was always good about making meals. Even when they have been abroad he had made sure the makings for a wonderful breakfast were readily available.
If there was one thing that could be said about Jake he was a fantastic cook. Often times he was caught watching the Food Network and jotting things down. Mason made a mental note to look into Jake’s interest in running a little diner for their resort plan when the time was right.
They choked down some breakfast together, because as usual Mason was running late, and made small talk. Cracking jokes at the ridiculous stories that aired on the news channels Mason liked to flip through.
“Why do you have to watch this shit it’s depressing man,” Jake asked for the millionth time as he chewed his toast.
“It’s college. Someone’s always talking about whatever thing just happened and it’s good to keep up on it.” Mason took another bite of his breakfast and swallowed it down with some OJ. “Besides,” he continued, “Some of this shit effects you believe it or not J.”
“If you say so boss,” Jake conceded in his usual smartass way.
Mason picked up his last piece of bacon and chucked it at Jake’s face. This caused the usual antics of a food throwing. Mason stopped for a second, squinting one eye, and posed a question to his cousin. “What’s a good reason for the late transfer?”
“Your school caught on fire?” Jake proposed.
“Uh yeah. I’m thinking no. How bout I missed the freakin cold and just had to move back to
“Or how bout your last school threw you out for wearing too much freakin royal blue?”
Mason glared up from his plate. Jake glared back. The two were locked in a silent stare. Neither looked away. The air was tense. Mason jerked himself trying to make Jake flinch. He refused to give him the satisfaction. Thinking about his food getting cold after the long stare he decided it wasn’t worth the standoff.
“Royal blue is a great color,” Mason instead. “If I can hook her without having to go to class you don’t say another word about royal blue for a year.” Mason dared.
“A month tops.”
“That’s not even worth it.”
“Fine you get what we need out of this class today and I leave royal blue alone for a flippin year.”
“Deal, and dude?”
“You gotta figure out one replacement for fuck. Just pick something. Frack or frick, or friggin, or freakin but pick one.”
“I’m freakin workin on it, damn man.” Jake was pissed, his substitute for fuck search was the remnant of anther lost bet with Mason. The two finished up eating as Mason gathered his things together.
“What ya got planned for the day?” he asked Jake.
“Shit,” Jake said with a lackluster tone, now picking up bacon pieces off the kitchen floor.
“I’ll be done around three the class with Ms. Scott should last about two hours.” Mason glanced at this laptop while deducing what time Jake should pick him up and where. “I only have to make an appearance at another class to make it look good and I’ll be ready get the hell out of there.”
“Yeah, yeah, I might check out that snooty market in Kerrytown and hit the skate park”.
“Cool, keep your cell on,” Mason added.
“Will do bro. I gotta have that second line removed now. Shouldn’t be getting anymore calls for that part of the job.”
Mason looked up from his computer, “Yeah, weird that went so smooth, you are truly a master of disguise dear cousin,” he said in an English accent.
Jake laughed, put a finger over his top lip like a mustache, and took a bow. They headed out the door. Mason got in the back seat of the large black town car.
“This feels weird. I should ride in the front.” Mason decided.
“Nope looks better this way, you’re a rich guy taking some classes for law school. Something along those lines, anyway. You can play with it a little bit, but that is the main idea,” Jake said looking over his shoulder.
“She’s married though you know.” Mason’s voice faded a bit.
“Hey part of the job bro.” Jake turned back around and started the car. “You’re dead sexy she doesn’t have a hope in hell,” he joked.
“Yeah, it’s not looking good for our little blonde vixen is it?”
The two drove down the long winding driveway to the gate. As they approached, it parted like the
A while later the black
“Later bro, behave yourself today,” Mason warned.
“Yeah, yeah yeah”, Jake added as Mason shut the door. He swore for a second he’d seen something that shouldn’t have been there in the rear view mirror. After doing a double take he was satisfied he’d seen nothing at all, and drove off.