Juliette’s Book Club: Goin’ Extinct Too – Apocalypse A Go-Go!

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Goin’ Extinct Too – Apocalypse A Go-Go!

How could the world end? The possibilities are endless:
A global pandemic (obviously), aliens, evil politicians, zombies in one form or another, or even … rogue sex robots? (wait-what?) are just a few of the ideas we came up with.
WPaD’s second volume of apocalyptic tales will shock, entertain, and tug at your heart strings. A must-have for any fan of dystopian fiction.

When we began work on our second apocalyptic anthology in early 2019, long before the world had ever heard of COVID-19, we never would have dreamed that toilet paper and hand sanitizer would become symbols of the apocalypse.

The pandemic pushed our release to a later date than anticipated. We assumed readers had more important things on their minds and might not be in the mood for apocalyptic fiction at that time. The lockdown allowed our writers more time to write, resulting in a larger collection of stories than originally anticipated. The backdrop of the pandemic colored the mood of some of the pieces, as you will see. We think of this book as the Extra-Big Bonus Pandemic Edition, written in a reality stranger than fiction.

Stay safe, wash your hands, and may your quarantine dreams be sweet ones.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman, and the Authors of WPaD

Available now in digital format. Paperback version will be available July 2020.

 

 

A THANK YOU in advance for reading my blog and Goin’ Extinct Too. If you enjoyed this book (or even if you didn’t), please take a moment to leave a review on Amazon to let other readers know what you thought of it.

WPaD is the acronym for Writers, Poets and Deviants.

We are a diverse group of writers from around the world who share a love of writing and a taste for the unusual.

Other Books by WPaD:

  • Weirder Tales: An Omnibus of Odd Ditties
  • Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe: WPaD Science Fiction
  • Creepies: Twisted Tales From Beneath the Bed
  • Creepies 2: Things That go Bump in the Closet
  • Creepies 3: Nightmares on Deviant Street
  • Goin’ Extinct: Tales From the Edge of Oblivion
  • Dragons and Dreams: A Fantasy Anthology
  • Passion’s Prisms: Tales of Love and Romance
  • Tinsel Tales 2: Holiday Hootenanny
  • Tinsel Tales: A Holiday Treasury
  • Nocturnal Desires: Erotic Tales for the Sensual Soul

WPaD books are available worldwide in paperback and ebook. For more information, please visit our website: http://wpad.weebly.com/ Find WPaD Publications on Facebook for updates on our upcoming projects Or follow @wpadpublication on Twitter.

Meet the Authors

Cover art by Jason Kemp

Short Story Sunday: Goji and the Angel

Diana Author Photo

Diana Garcia

Goji and the Angel

By Diana Garcia

 

Angel Rodriguez did not like it one bit.  She was stuck.  She heard a click as she turned the key and pumped the gas pedal, but nothing happened. So, here she was in the middle of the desert, in the middle of the night.

She sure as hell was not going out there in the dark to look for help. Her cell phone was dead so she would not go out until morning to look for other hikers.

Just go to sleep,she thought.

The the cacophony of night noises made it hard. It was the usual desert sounds she heard late at night but in the comfort of her own bed. Out here, it was different. Packs of passing and yipping howling coyotes, things slithering in the dirt right outside the car, and black shadows flying low and shrieking past her car windows. The Arizona desert was teeming with active night denizens and the hot wind did not dissipate, nor give reprieve, with the setting of the sun. Even with the windows rolled halfway down Angel found it hard to breathe. Sweat dripped into her eyes every time she attempted to close them.

Angel fanned herself with a piece of cardboard as she lay low in the back seat of her car. She gazed out of the rear windshield. The obsidian panorama contributed to her fearful thoughts. Not even stars to calm her terror and anxiety. Where the hell were the stars?Where the fuck is the moon?Oh, there it was, a thin slivered sickle of grayish glow off in the distance peeked out as dark clouds moved on to be replaced by other dark clouds, like a broken neon sign with burnt out bulbs.

Speaking out loud to no one Angel said,

“Okay, that’s enough Angel. Close your eyes and think of good things, shhhhh.”

The calming mantra worked for about two minutes. Now she had to go pee.

“Oh fuck. Do I piss my pants or should I go outside?”

Angel opened the door and slid out of the car to urinate. There was no other choice. She was squatting while with one hand she held her jeans and panties out of the stream’s way, and with the other hand she firmly held onto the door handle. Touching the car gave her a sense of security.

The day before, Angel had been driving in the desolate desert searching for a hidden treasure mapped out on butcher paper given to her by an old injured prospector she and her fellow rescue workers were bringing down the Superstition Mountains. Yes, there were still people searching for the lost Dutchman’s gold in this day and age.  Angel was in the EMT truck setting up the IV for the dehydrated old man who moaned in pain with his eyes closed. He suddenly grabbed her arm and said,

“In my front pocket, dear”

“What did you say, sir?”

“In my front pocket. Get the map.” His tone was urgent but his ragged breathing made him hard to understand. He took long pauses between each word.

Angel reached into the man’s pocket and pulled out a bundle wrapped in faded blue checked cloth and said, “This? You want this, sir?”

The old man held a firm grip on her arm and whispered,

“The fucking gold is NOT in the Superstitions. I buried it about fifteen miles east of here. That’s the map,” he said as he looked at the bundle in Angel’s hand.

“But sir, I don’t want this. Why don’t I put it in your backpack for safe keeping, okay? For when you get out of the hospital.”

“No, dear. You don’t understand, I’m dying. I have lung cancer. I thought I was being followed so I backtracked after burying the gold and took the Peralta Trail back into the mountain to throw the buggers off. I was being followed. I know it.” Angel held the back of his head as he coughed blood into a handful of tissues she held to his mouth.

After he stopped coughing, Angel asked in order to appease the distressed man, “So you want me to use the map and get your gold and bring it to you?”

She was an Arizona native and stories about the Lost Dutchman Mine and treasure was the stuff of campfire storytelling lore, nothing more than that.

The man calmed down, released his hold on Angel’s arm, looked into her eyes and said, “No dear, I want you to get the gold and use it for you and your family. Do big things with it. You saved me from getting killed. I’d rather a good person have it than those buggers,” whispered the man as he closed his eyes.

“But sir, I can’t do that. This is your property. Please. You’ll be fine. You’re just dehydrated. We’ll get you taken care of and you’ll be fine.”

“No. Listen, I’ve been moving that gold around in different parts for sixty years. My grandpa and great grandpa did the same before me. We kept the legend alive. Do you hear me? I was a doctor back in my day. My wife and sons are now long dead. I’m dying. I just can’t keep this up anymore. Please don’t tell anyone. Just let the legend live.”

Angel looked at the man’s pale blue eyes and saw truth and loss there. She nodded and zipped the bundle in her work jacket and continued working on the man as they were driven away into town.

_______

Angel had hiked down a steep crevasse. An avid mountain climber and hiker, Angel was no stranger to the harsh and scorching landscape that was the Arizona desert. She had told her friends and family that she needed some time off and was going camping and hiking on her own. This was not unusual for Angel so her family and friends thought nothing of her little weekend escape and was told to be careful. Angel had decided that looking for the gold using the old man’s map would be something fun and was looking forward to her “escape” from work and the routine stuff that comes with living in the busy city of Phoenix. However, during her drive east of the Superstition Mountains she had been questioning if she was nuts.

The map was clear and concise and Angel figured the old man had been in the military and it was evidence that he was a seasoned hiker and map maker. It was a well-made topographical map with coordinates which illustrated elevation and contour lines of hills, various landforms, and crevasses. It was an expert depiction of the ground relief, terrain, and even the flow of creeks and animal or human trails. Angel was athletic enough that she did not foresee any problem with locating a hidden treasure. She contemplated about what she would do with the gold, if indeed there was any. She wondered what it would feel like to be out of debt, especially her college loans.

The old man had died the next morning at Banner Goldfield Medical Center. He refused to speak with anyone, except Angel. She held his hand as he took his last breath. She felt a deep sadness. She had never lost anyone close to her but had seen many people and children die in her work. Angel had been a rescue EMT for 8 years and had many rescue stories, some devastating and with only a few happy outcomes. She lectured at schools and community colleges regarding desert search and rescue, and how to recognize, treat and avoid heat exhaustion.

Angel hurt for the old guy because she never even asked his name. He had died without any identification. When the rescue team found him, they just called him the “old guy.”

Once back in civilization she would make sure the first thing to do would be to trade in her old car for a new off-road vehicle.

________________

Now it was midnight and she was peeing in the desert.

As Angel pulled up her pants, she heard a loud THUD. She felt the car jump with the weight of whatever landed on the car. She yelped and jumped away, but it was so dark and her eyes had adjusted about as good as they were going to adjust. Regardless, she was blinded by dark shadows.

She heard a WHOOSH and felt the pressure of a blast of air like giant bird wings flapping. She crouched low where she had been standing and yelled out into the darkness, “What the hell!”

The car’s rear tires bounced off the ground and then another THUD landed directly in front of her. It had kicked up dirt and rocks. Angel choked and coughed in panic.

“Calm down” said a deep voice, then again soothingly, “Calm down.”

Angel stood and reached out like a blind woman, “Who’s there? I can’t see.”

“Here drink some water and wash your face.  I got this water bottle out of your car” said the voice.

“Um-Okay.” she said as she felt the water bottle pressing into her hand and did as she was told.

“Can you see me now?” said the voice.

Angel looked hard and couldn’t believe the shadowy outline of what stood before her. She closed her eyes and opened them again.

“You’re a giant,” she whispered. “Oh my gawd.” She gazed upward at a being that appeared to be over eight feet tall.

“I won’t hurt you,” it said.

“Are those w-wings?”

The creature’s yellow eyes glowed like starshine and a visceral light emanated from them.

“What the fuck are you?”

“I am stuff of legends, dear.”

Huge clawed hands touched muscular thighs as the thing bent low so they could look at each other face to face.

“Listen, I won’t hurt you. I’m bending so you can see my face. Horrific, I know, but I’m good.”

Angel covered her mouth with both hands as she gazed at the creature before her. His look was penetrating and made her feel as if he could see into her soul. It was a hypnotic pull. She felt the urge to scream in terror and to run into the darkness.

She willed herself to stay calm and to speak.

“You resemble the gargoyles of Notre Dame.” Said Angel as she gulped for air. “I saw statues of you when I traveled abroad.”

A deep throated laughter emanated from the creature. It sent a chill up her spine. She felt every little hair on her arms and neck stand on end.

“I’m not from France. Don’t mean to scare you.”

“Then, who are you? What are you? You speak good English.”

“My name is Goji. Pleased to meet you. And you are?”

“Hi, I’m Angel,” she whispered as he straightened up to full height.

“Ahhhhh, a glorious angel stands before me.”

The gargoyle regally bowed his head and said,

“Why are you out here in the middle of the night where dangerous creatures abound?”

“Do you mind if I grab my camping chair from the back. I need to sit. I’m shaking so hard that I don’t think I can stand much longer.”

“Please do.”

Angel walked to the back of the SUV and lifted the hatch and pulled out two camping chairs.

She offered one of them to the gargoyle, he said,

“Oh no dear, I’ll break it. You sit. I will lean against your car, if you don’t mind?”

Angel sat in the cloth chair, glad to be off her feet. She was still shaking, but not from being cold. Even so, she was intrigued and wondered if she was dreaming.

“Am I dreaming?” She said out loud not expecting an answer.

“No, I saw you were stranded and wondered if you would seek help or if other humans would find you. I’ve been watching from afar.”

Angel was speechless, so he continued, “I flew down because earlier I smelled a mountain lion nearby and felt I needed to protect you.”

“After all, that is what we gargoyles do.” He made air quotes at his use of the word gargoyle. “We protect.”

Goji leaned against the SUV with one ankle crossing his other as he stood. His muscular arms and hands reached back as he nonchalantly leaned into the car.

There was an awkward silence. Angel stared at the monstrous thing before her. His face was apelike but his ears were long and the top point of each curved forward. Unlike an ape, there was no hair on his face or body. The legs were long and muscular. They looked like photos she’d seen in her ex-boyfriend’s bodybuilding magazines. Goji had high cheekbones and the enormous almond shaped yellow eyes gave his chiseled face an Asian look. His lips were full and out of his mouth jutted curved tusks, like a wild boar.

Angel asked, “Where are you from? Have you always been here in this desert?”

“I was born long ago in the sedge lands of Kemet, what you would call Egypt.”

Angel nodded, and said, “Was it an insult to call you a gargoyle?”

“No, I laughed because that word means ‘throat’ or ‘gullet’ relegating my kind as stone water spouts. It just makes me laugh.”

“I’m sorry. That is funny. I suppose the stone gargoyles served their purpose. Then, what are you?”

“We are ancients. As I said, my kind originated in the riverbanks of Kemet long before humankind appeared. You may just call me Goji.”

“How did you learn to speak English?”

“Long ago. I also speak Akkadian, Sumerian, Cappadocian, Arabic, French, actually, many languages. I’ve been around for millennia so I’ve picked up a few things, like languages.”

“Millenia? Wow. Why are you here, in the desert? Angel spread her arms out to signify the area.

“I’ve always loved the desert. This Arizona desert reminds me of home, far way, but it makes me reminiscent. Frankly, humanity tires me with their wars and pollution and the noise. Ugh. I hate all the noise you humans make.” He made his large pointy ears flap to accentuate that noise bothers him.

Angel laughed at his flapping ears. She felt more at ease.

The soft glow of a new dawn peeked gingerly from the far mountains and a warm breeze blew through the surrounding scrub and acacia trees. Angel walked to her open front passenger door and asked Goji if he wanted a bottle of water. He motioned his head no and watched her reach in for a new bottle from the open ice chest on the front seat.

She sat back down and asked, “So, what do your kind eat and drink?”

“Oh, I drink creek water and I like meat, lots of meat: rats, deer, and I occasionally like to scare up a mountain lion. That’s how I found you. I was keeping watch.”

Angel looked at his tusks in wonderment and felt chilled all over again.

“Do you often appear to humans?”

“Hardly ever. But I once had an enlightening conversation with the bishop of Rouen who spread lies about me and told his people that he killed me by holding his mighty crucifix at me. He was a pervert who manipulated the Merovingian stock, but I won’t get into that.”

Angel laughed and said, “You’re funny. Thanks for not tearing me to shreds with your tusks and those scary claws.”

Goji looked at his hands and smiled.

“So, what are you doing broken down in the middle of nowhere?”

Angel raised her eyebrows and said, “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Try me.”

“Well, me and my crew, Um, I work for an emergency response team, S-A-R, Search and Rescue, and my crew was dispatched to rescue this old guy from the Superstition Mountains the other day and he gave me a map when I was treating him for dehydration.” Feeling a little embarrassed, she paused.

“Go on.”

“Well, long story short, we did the emergency search and rescue. I treated the very dehydrated old man. He gave me a map and told me it would show me where he hid a treasure. The gold from the Lost Dutchman Mine. He said he and his family have been moving it and hiding it for years, his father and great-grandfather, etc.” Angel looked at her hands, “He died the next day at the hospital.”

“So, Old Kellerman died.”

Surprised at Goji’s statement, Angel asked,

“You knew the old guy? I didn’t know his name. He said he was a doctor.”

“Yes, Dr. Kellerman. Poor man died. Sad.” Goji looked down and shook his head.

Angel whispered, “I’m sorry. He told me he was dying of lung cancer.”

“Kellerman was supposed to meet me at a designated spot three days ago but he never made it. Now I know why. Pardon me.”

Angel watched Goji walk a few feet away as he looked up towards the orange glow of the awakening sun. He turned and walked back towards her. His enormous wings stretched out then fanned in. Angel choked on her water when she saw the wingspan and pretended to cough.

She said, “I’m sorry I gave you the bad news. I felt really sorry for him. He had no I.D. on him when we brought him in. He wouldn’t talk with anyone except me.”

“Kellerman was my only friend. His father was also a friend. So was his grandfather and great-grandfather.”

“I’m so sorry Mr. Goji”

“Just Goji. Thanks.”

“I helped the family hide a vast treasure and have been helping them do this for a very long time. I am the guardian of that treasure.” When Angel did not respond he continued,

“The Kellerman’s were originally prospectors who found a huge vein here in the southwest. They later became mining magnates. Some of their offspring went on to be politicians, lawyers, and doctors. Good people. The Kellermans enjoyed the old stories that a German immigrant by the name of Jacob Waltz found the gold. Waltz was a boastful drunken braggart and the Kellermans never corrected the rumors.”

“So, everything the old man told me is true?”

“Yes. Do you have the map? Can I see it?”

Angel got the flashlight and map from her glovebox and handed both to Goji.

He unfolded the map on the hood of the car, then fumbled with the flashlight.

Angel grabbed it from him and pressed the button. She shined the light on Goji to get a better look at him.

“Wow,” she said, “You look fearsome but somehow I’m not afraid of you any longer.”

Goji grabbed the flashlight from her in embarrassment.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to stare. That was rude.”

“That’s okay, I just don’t want to scare you with my beauty. No worries,” he said with a smile.

He pointed to the map with a clawed finger, “See that?”

Angel looked at the map where his clawed finger pointed at a drawing in the corner at the edge.

“I didn’t remember seeing that. It’s a winged creature. It’s a drawing of you on top of a mountain.”

“Kellerman was a good artist. He was always drawing pictures of me when he was a kid. Yes, this is Kellerman’s map.

Angel asked, “He said someone had been following him. Do you think someone knew about the map?”

“Yes, I found two guys lost around the area I was to meet Kellerman. While they were sleeping I found some guns and bottles of booze in their bags. I hid but followed them and heard them talking about killing some old guy. Apparently, they cozied up to Old Kellerman at a bar and while he was drunk he started talking about a lost treasure only he knew where it was hidden. Old Kellerman apparently told them he was to meet someone to help him move the gold. That’s why they were waiting to ambush him.”

Angel asked, “Why would he tell people about it?”

“I don’t think people really ever believed him when he spoke about it. He started drinking a lot after his family died off. I told him never to say anything, but I guess he was rambling and these guys started following him.”

“He seemed pretty scared when we found him. I wonder what happened to those men who had been following him?”

“I broke their necks while they slept at their campsite”

Dumbfounded, Angel just looked at Goji.

“I know. I wouldn’t have killed them but they were talking about killing Old Kellerman. I’ve been friends with the family for over a hundred and fifty years. I was not going to let anything happen to him.”

“I understand, but what did you do with the bodies?”

“I threw their clothes and things in a garbage dumpster in a Gold Canyon housing development and then flew back and laid their bodies in an area where I saw a vulture family nesting.”

“What the fuck?”

“Well, at least it was a humane thing to do. The vulture family had fledglings so the bodies did not go to waste.”

“Oh, okay, I feel better now,” said Angel with a sarcastic tone.

The giant gargoyle ripped the map to shreds.

Angel reached out with her hand but it was too late, “Why did you do that?”

He turned to her and said, “Why do you need the map? I just told you I’m the guardian of the treasure.”

“I, I liked it. I would have kept it as a keepsake.”

“Look Ms. Angel, I have dozens of old maps made by the Kellermans in my cave. I’ll give you the last one he made before this.”

Angel looked up at Goji as the sun rose high over the mountain. His presence among a desert landscape she had always known made her wonder what other things unknown hid among the boulders and rocks surrounding them.

“This is going to sound weird, but have you ever flown a human from one place to another?”

“Yes, once, Old Kellerman when he was a teen. He had asked many times when he was younger but I always refused. It had to be at night. I have always been very careful.” He looked away and closed his eyes for a moment. It was a painful memory of a time past.

“Okay, so, this is weird, no one will believe this, but can you fly me to the nearest gas station?”

“I’m sorry, no,” said the gargoyle.

“What? Why?”

“I mean to say no, not now. When It’s dark I will be happy to fly you near a gas station or closer to civilization.”

Angel muttered to herself, “One more day out here in this heat. My car is too hot. This is crazy.”

“I can, however, fly you nearby.”

Goji pointed to a far mountain spine which spanned the landscape. “I stay in a cave up there. It’s cool away from the sun. Actually, it gets cold. I have food and water if you like?”

Angel, looked up at him, then glanced at the sun which was soon to be high up and the heat would begin baking things like an earthly convection oven.

“Okay, let me get my backpack out of the car.”

She strapped the backpack in front of her body instead of her back as Goji instructed her. He bent and wrapped his huge arms around her small waist and began lifting her. His wings were not like those of a bird, but like those of a bat, a gigantic bat. The heat from his body seared her back and neck and she cried out as they flew away, his tight hold on her while they lifted off made her feel faint. She opened her eyes and looked down. Her car looked like a tiny speck among the landscape of saguaro and mesquite trees. The wavy heat blast of hot winds accompanied their flight as they passed ravens and hawks circling wide and out of their way. He gently lowered her as the beat of wings slowed and the dust settled.

They quietly stood on the steep cliffside looking out at the vibrant colors and hues of greens and browns and shadows that undulated across the panoramic view of the desert. It was breathtaking.

Angel sighed and looked around. “I don’t see a cave.”

“Of course not. It’s hidden.”

Goji effortlessly moved a giant boulder which to Angel had only appeared to be part of the mountain.

He stood before an opening and bowed, “After you.”

Angel wasn’t sure if she should enter the beckoning darkness of what looked like a huge cavern, much of which was the mountain itself. She gingerly entered the cave. They followed a downward path for what seemed like hours. Angel noticed the cooling temperature as they descended. After a time, she was able to see her surroundings as a strange glow appeared around a sharp bend in their path.

Long jagged and pointy russet-gold stalagmites jutted down from the top of the cavernous space high above her. The enormous razor spikes emitted an incandescent bioluminescent glow from bright mosses that hung in between them. It was truly a vision to behold. Angel was an avid hiker and spelunker and relished the idea of spending a lot of time exploring this mountain. With head turned upward she turned in circles and smiled gleefully.

“Wow!” Was all she felt compelled to say. A voice echoed back with another “Wow!” No other words could describe the awe she felt at that moment. A mythical gargoyle, this amazing cavern. What next?

“Watch your step, Ms. Angel,” Said Goji. He pointed down.

“This is bottomless. I would never find you if you fell.”

Angel fell to her knees and peered into a giant pit. With mouth open she turned to look up at Goji.

“Seriously? Bottomless?”

“As far as I have been able to determine. Please step away from there.” He grabbed her arm and helped her up. He steered Angel toward an archway that led into another cave.

“Please have a seat. We have much to discuss.”

The cave was smaller than the cavernous entry. A stream of water trickled nearby. She watched Goji round the large room lighting torches embedded into the rock walls. He grabbed a rope and gently lowered a medieval looking wrought iron round light fixture with hundreds of candles. The sound of the babbling brook echoed as Angel watched Goji patiently light the candles.

He said, “I haven’t lit these in over a century.”

“It’s very beautiful in here,” said Angel as she walked around looking at faded hanging tapestries that belonged in a castle. They looked hauntingly out of place among the jutting red rock walls. The fire’s illuminating glow revealed an ancient petroglyph on the farthest wall in the cave. It depicted a herd of pronghorn antelope that appeared to be running with the flickering shadows of the nearby torchlight, squiggly lines in a row to signify water, dragonflies, and hand imprints with the infinity circle inside the palm. Angel pressed her hand atop one of those hands and kept it there as she imagined who made these wonderous images. Angel had been lost in thought but then turned and found Goji staring at her.

He whispered, “The artwork of an ancient people.” His reverence bespoke that he was equally amazed as she.

Frayed and torn red and blue velvet chairs and couches from another century encircled a fire pit.

“Thank you for trusting me to bring you here,” he said as he sat on an immense block of basalt. “You are the first human I’ve ever brought in here.” He paused. Silence.

Angel suddenly felt nervous. The feeling of being on the precipice of new and unfathomable experiences and emotions did not elude her. She felt special and chosen for a big responsibility. She waited.

“So, I have one request before I bestow my new young,” He paused, took a deep intake of breath, and continued, “and very beautiful new friend with riches beyond belief.”

His yellow eyes bored into Angel. They burned into her soul and she felt shaken but could only stare back at him in fear.

“Are you sure you told no one of the map or what Old Kellerman said to you? I need to be sure.”

“No. I did not mention it to anyone. I felt no one would believe me anyway. My coworkers are jokesters when we’re not working, and since I’m the only female crew member they like to rib me and poke fun, but it’s all in good sport. We get together, but I felt they would make fun of me or make fun of the old guy. I felt really sorry for him. He was so intense.”

“Well then, Ms. Angel, I have a proposition for you. Hear me out.” Goji leaned closer to her and took hold of her hand. It looked small and fragile in his. She noticed his claws were razor sharp, yet, at that moment, her fear dissipated with his warm touch.

“Ms. Angel?”

“Yes?”

“Will you do me the honor of being my friend?”

The pleading intensity with which his almond shaped fiery eyes looked into hers was hopeful, a raw innocence, childlike. It was a simple request, yet it was a plea, a deep longing for a friend. Angel knew this friendship would be the greatest treasure of all. This lonely giant soul needed a friend.

Tears pooled and flowed down her cheeks at the sadness and loneliness this plea exuded. She could not fathom a loneliness that extended centuries.

Angel wiped the tears away and with a smile said,

“I would be truly honored Goji.”

__________

Years passed.

Angel went to medical school and became a respected trauma surgeon. People grew tired of wondering where she would disappear for weeks, sometimes months, at a time. She was so mysterious that they eventually stopped wondering, or worrying, about her disappearances.

Goji and Angel became the best of friends. He relished their discussions about religion, politics, and life in general. He wanted details and the minutia of all the experiences she recounted of her daily life. He was fascinated with technology and the human advancements in science and space travel. Discussions of alien worlds, UFOs, quantum physics, and multiverses, and nanotechnology were his favorite topics of discussion. She brought books, newspapers, and magazines to his cave. His thirst for any and all information was voracious.

The day Angel gave Goji a smartphone they both laughed because she was his only listed contact. She rolled on the floor, laughing uncontrollably, in her office the day she received a selfie from him.

In time, Angel created the GOJI Charitable Foundation which helped the poor and sick around the world.  Hospitals and research facilities in the Kellerman name were founded. This was the dream of both Goji and Angel. They worked together on all of these projects. Angel sought Goji’s advice on everything. It was a marriage of sorts.

Their fondness for each other was unspoken and unrequited, yet clearly evident in the amount of time they spent together, in that cavern, or on those long and moonlit night flights they so loved to take together.

Throughout the years, Goji and Angel, planned and arranged meeting at mapped out destinations around the world. They walked among Egyptian and Aztec pyramids on moonless nights. The South American jungles held no fear for Angel as long as she walked with Goji. Angel charted planes to private islands, and there she would wait for Goji to alight on the midnight beaches where they would walk and talk until daylight. A winged preternatural being landing in a foggy landscape was a sight to behold, and it never ceased to fill Angel with heart-pounding awe.

__________

One evening, Angel died in Goji’s arms. It was where she wanted to be. For over sixty-five years they had been dear friends, comrades, and confidants. Later, in a private ceremony, seen only by bats and quiet slithering things, Goji threw a handful of orange and yellow cactus blooms and wildflowers. He watched them float downward, into the bottomless pit, now a sacred sepulcher. A soft echo of a whisper floated upward, then silence. He stood motionless at the edge for hours, like a stone statue on the high parapet of an ancient cathedral.

Not long after that, Goji, an ancient from Kemet, moved the boulder into place to hide the cavern forever and he flew off into an obsidian Arizona night.

 

~ end

 

Gargoyle

 

Diana Garcia is an Arizona native currently residing in Prescott, Arizona. She has a journalism degree from Arizona State University, Walter Cronkrite School; and is a researcher, photojournalist, performance poet and storyteller. Short stories of varying genres are her favorite story telling medium, which have been published, along with her poetry, in a few anthologies. Her writing strongly reflects her strong cultural ties to her indigenous Mexica and Xicano heritage. She is currently researching and writing a historical novel, as well as an anthology of her poetry and short stories.

Note from Juliette:

I love this story so much. Thank you Diana for writing it and letting me share it with my readers. All of her stories are from the heart and will transport you to another time and place.

For more information about Diana and her other works please see the FaceBook link below. Or click here for more information.

“Goji and the Angel” was featured in the WPaD Anthology “Weirder Tales.

Diana is a founding member of WPaD (Writers, Poets, and Deviants) and I am proud and honored to say she is my friend. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

Weird Tales_Diana_11x17 (3)

 

Last Call by R James Turley

Today I’m honored to share a story from my friend, and one of my favorite WordPress bloggers R James Turley.

 

Last Call

by R James Turley 

 

When Suzy Night was introduced on stage, Ron’s mouth dropped open.  She had a walk made for a run-way, and a body that just wouldn’t quit.  Ron knew Kathy was going to hire a new singer, but didn’t know who.  He did now.  Those legs, that long dark hair stretched down her back.  Ron stared at her, wondering what it’d be like to kiss those lushes lips.

“What do you think of our new singer?”  Kathy sat down beside him at the table, two rows from the stage.

“She’s gorgeous,” he poured wine in both of their glasses.  “Where did you find her?”

“She came in on open MIC night, and just started singing,” Kathy lifted her glass toward the stage.

Why couldn’t Ron be here that night?  Then he would’ve met her.  Maybe it’s a good thing he wasn’t.  He might have just made a fool out of himself trying to impress her.

Suzy’s voice was as stunning as she was; soft and smoky.  It carried throughout the room in perfect pitch.  Ron just had to get to know her.  He almost couldn’t stand not being able to touch her now.

He poured another glass of wine for Kathy, “Is she from around here?  How old is she?  Does she have a boyfriend?”

“Easy there, lover boy.  I got the impression she’s seeing somebody,” Kathy sipped her wine.  “Besides, she’s half your age.”

Ron didn’t care at the moment.  He was enjoying fantasizing about him and Suzy.  He wished he could rise up out of that wheelchair, and go on stage to sing with her.  What he wouldn’t give for that.

“You are going to introduce me, aren’t you?”  Ron looked at Kathy with a cryptic smile.

“After she’s done, but get rid of your google eyes.”

“Yes mother,” he laughed.

“Funny,” she said, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.  “You should write comedy.”

In a lot of ways, Ron did think of her as a mother figure.  Kathy was always there for him when he needed her.  She’d helped his mother take care of him when Ron’s father was out of town on business.  And, she helped him get through that rough time when Ron’s parents died three months apart.  Kathy meant a lot to Ron, and he didn’t know what he would do without her.

The scattered Sunday night crowed stood up and applauded after Suzy finished her two songs.  Ron leaned over to tell Kathy something, but she was already headed toward the backstage door.

“She’ll be out in a minute,” Kathy said, sitting back down at the table.  “You want some scotch”

“Please,” Ron nodded.  “Neat.”

“Ah, what is it with you and no ice?”  Kathy waved over the waitress.

“I don’t know,” Ron shrugged his shoulders.  “Never that fond of ice, I guess, plus it waters it down.”

“Hi Kath, how you doing?”  The chipper waitress asked.

“Irene, did you meet Ron?”  She cocked her head toward him.

“Not yet,” she stuck her hand out to shake.  “How you doin?

Taking her hand, “Nice to meet you.”

“Can I have some Ice-water, and Ron would like some Scotch without ice.”

“Scotch neat,” Irene said.  “That’s the way my pappy used to drink it.”

Ron noticed the backstage door open.  Suzy was walking toward the table.  She was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt, with her hair pulled up in two pig tails. If Ron was standing, he would have fallen over her beauty.  She stopped at the table next to his, and hugged the guy sitting there.  Ron felt a spark of jealousy,  then he felt guilty for it.  Why should he be jealous?  He didn’t even know her.

Suzy walked over to the table, with her friend right behind her.  “Hi miss Oden,” she kissed Kathy on the cheek.  “How’d I do?”

“I told you Suzy, call me Kathy,” she got up and hugged Suzy.  “You were fabulous.  Suzy, this is Ron, he’s my business partner.”

“Hi,” she smiled at Ron.  “This is…”

“Danny Alm,” Ron said in amazement.  “You were rookie of the year with Portland.”

“I guess you do know who he is,” Suzy giggled.

Ron shook Danny’s hand, “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“You a basketball fan?”  Danny asked, looking at the wheelchair.

“A huge one.”  Ron tapped his hand on the arm of his wheelchair, “Play too.”

“Sit down,” Kathy said, pulling out a chair.

As the crowd got smaller, and it got closer to closing time, the four of them just sat and talked, and got more acquainted with one another.  Ron was even more impressed with Suzy, how intelligent and well-spoken she was.

At three-AM Suzy finally said, “We have to go.  I have to take Danny to the airport.”

“You’re flying now?”  Kathy asked, in a voice two octaves higher than she normally sounds.

“I’ve got to be back in Portland tomorrow night.  We had today off, so I just came in to see Suzy,” Danny said, getting out of the chair.  “It was nice meeting you guys,” he through a twenty-dollar bill on the table.

“I’ll see you on TV,” Ron said with a chuckle.

Ron waited for Kathy while she helped Irene clean up, and then walked her to her car. He watched her drive off, wheeled around the corner to his two-story apartment building where he lived on the first floor.

Ron didn’t do much of anything, and tried to conserve his energy, on game days. Even though he was reduced to playing about twelve minutes a game, he wanted to be able to leave it all on the court when called on.  The players respected, and looked up to Ron for what he has done for wheelchair basketball. Both on the court and off, Ron has been an ambassador for the game.  He traveled across the country with the U.S.A. Paralympic team showing off his skills, and talking about the game.

Normally Ron’s focus would be totally on the up-coming game, but he couldn’t keep Suzy from his thoughts.  He turned on the news channel to get his mind off Suzy.

A gentle knock at the door caught his attention.  He wheeled over and looked out the peep hole.  He had to look a second time to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. He opened the door to see Suzy, and all her loveliness, standing there.

“I hope you don’t mind.  Kathy told me where you lived.”

“Not at all,” he said in delight, trying to control his emotions.  “Come on in,” inside, Ron was jumping for joy.  “Would you like something to drink?”

“Soda, if you have it,” she smiled.

Ron nodded, offered Suzy a seat and wheeled into the kitchen.  When he came back Suzy was in the recliner that was facing the TV in the living room, her tote bag on the floor beside her.  Ron couldn’t believe Suzy Night was in his apartment. He felt like a school kid.

Suzy watched him wheel toward her with a can of Coke and a glass in his lap, and a bottle of fruit juice nestled between his leg and the side of the chair.  He opened the can, and poured it in the glass for her.

“Thank you,” she said, accepting the glass.  She took a sip and said, “I have something for you.”

“You do,” his voice rose with surprise and excitement.  He opened the bottle of fruit juice, hoping he wasn’t blushing.

She pulled out a manila envelope from her bag, “Danny wanted you to have this.”

“He did?”  He opened the envelope, “Wow!” pulling out an autograph picture of Danny dunking a basketball.  “This is great.  Tell him thank you.”

“He was impressed when you said you played,” she poured the rest of the soda into the glass.  “How long have you played?”

“Since I was a kid, my mom got me into it.  I guess she wanted me to have something to do,” he chuckled and took a drink of juice. He realized that the anniversary of her death is quickly approaching.  Could it be sixteen years?  “I also got a chance to play with the US Paralympic team.”

“Really!” her eyes grew bigger as she gazed into his.  “You played in other countries?”

“A few,” he tossed his empty bottle into the recycle bin.

“How often do you play now?”

“A couple times a week.  I have a game tonight, actually,” he pointed to his game jersey hanging on the bedroom door knob.

Finishing her drink, “I’d like to come and watch sometime.”

He was glad to hear that.  “Come with Kathy sometime, she comes to a lot.”

Looking at her watch, “Thanks for the Coke,” she stood up, “but I got to go.  I have some running around to do before I meet my mother for her birthday.”

“Okay, let me get the door.”  Wheeling over and opening the door, “Thanks for the picture.  Hope you have fun with your mother.”

“Thanks, I will.”  She gave him a friendly hug.  “Good luck tonight.”

He looked into her brown eyes, “I’ll see you at the club,” and watched her walk away.

The team bus came to pick Ron up at five for their game in Tampa at eight.  Ron was one of the last ones to be picked up. His teammates were lost in thought or listening to music.  After Ron got his chair locked in, the coach looked back at him to tell Ron that he was starting tonight.

Ron hasn’t started a game since the last game of last season, and hadn’t been a full time starter for three years.  He had to fight to make the team this year.  He played the game smart, and the coach liked that.  Something must be wrong with Tim, the starting Point Guard.

Kathy and Suzy were in the stands when the team came out of the locker room.  Now Ron was nervous.  He didn’t expect to see Suzy at a game so soon.  Ron missed most of the practice shots he took before the game. He had to calm himself.

He drank some water, and took a deep breath before taking the court for the start of the game.  The tip-off came straight to him, and all his nervousness vanished.  He ran the first play flawlessly, and played like he had been starting all season.  It was Ron’s best game in almost four years with seven points, and twelve assists, in their nineteenth win of the season.

Ron took his gym bag to his room, switched chairs, and wheeled over to Last Call.  Kathy and Suzy were at the bar sharing a bottle of wine at the end of the bar when he came in.  He wheeled up to where the bar was low enough for his wheelchair.  Irene poured a scotch and set it in front of him.

“I heard about tonight, congratulations!”  She bumped her fist against his.  “You want something to eat?

“Just a salad, please,” he said, after sipping his drink.

Kathy picked up the bottle, and her and Suzy walked to the beat of the music toward Ron.  Kathy kissed him on the cheek, and Suzy, from behind him, put her arms around his shoulders. They sat down on either side of him. Ron didn’t know what he was more excited about, the game, or the fact the Suzy saw it.

“Great game Ron,” Kathy said, empting the wine bottle into her glass.  “Where’d that come from?”

Ron shrugged his shoulders, “Don’t know, must’ve been bottled up.”

Ron caught Suzy watching him eat.  He wanted to ask her out, but not in front of Kathy.  He didn’t want to hear her say that it was a bad idea.  Besides, it’s none of her business who he asked out.  She went to the office to check on the beer orders for tomorrow.  Now was his chance.

“Suzy,” he nervously said.  “Would you like to have dinner sometime?”  He took the last bite of his salad.

She grinned ear to ear, nodding her head, and said, “I’d love to.”

“I’m free tomorrow,” she said, looking into his eyes.

“Great! How about around seven?  I’ll cook,” he said, before finishing his drink.

“I’ll be there.”

Ron yelled into the office saying goodbye to Kathy, gave Suzy a hug and wheeled off. Excited about his date tomorrow, he couldn’t sleep.  He wondered what to serve.  Damn, I should’ve asked her.  He finally decided on Chicken Parmesan.   With that settled, he slowly drifted off to sleep.

Suzy arrived a little before seven dressed to kill.  Wearing a short royal blue cocktail dress hugging her body with spaghetti straps on the shoulder, and her hair was pulled up in the back with a white bow.  Ron’s jaw dropped open when he saw her.

“Come on in,” he said, waving her in.  “Make yourself at home.  You want some wine?”

“Yes,” she nodded, and smiled at him.  “Let me help you.”

He wasn’t going to say no, he followed her into the kitchen, enjoying the view.  She got the glasses from the cupboard while he opened the fridge.

“Is white alright?  That’s all I have.”

“Yes. Dinner smells good”

“Thanks. I hope you like chicken parmesan.”

“Yum, I love it,” she said, rubbing her belly.

The dinner started with a fresh garden salad, which Ron ate at least three times a week.  He might not be as fit as he once was, but he was in the habit of eating healthy.

After dinner, they shifted to the couch where the conversation was very nice. Ron talked mostly about his basketball career, and shared some pictures with Suzy.  They talked until almost midnight, and then Suzy got ready to leave.

“I had a nice time,” she said, staring into his eyes.  “I’m glad you asked me.”

Ron was happy to hear that.  “I had fun too,” he gazed back at her.

“Are you coming to the bar tomorrow night,” she opened the door.

“I’ll be over after my game.  We play at home tomorrow so it won’t be that late.”

She kissed him on his cheek, hugged him tightly, and walked out the door.  Ron watched her until she disappeared into to lobby of the building.  He was scolding himself for not taking a chance to kiss her the way he dreamed of doing since the first time he saw her.  It will happen in time, he thought.  I don’t want to push her away.

Ron got to Last Call in time to hear Suzy sing.  He had another good game after his second straight start.  Ron was starting to feel that Suzy was his good luck charm, and he was feeling like he used to on the basketball court.

Looking around the room that was half full, he noticed Kathy sitting with Danny Alm. Danny must have flown in to see Suzy. Ron wheeled over to the table.

“Hey Ron. How was the game?”  Kathy moved a chair out of the way.

“We won,” Ron said, proudly.  “I started again.”

“How’d you do?”  Kathy asked while waving over Irene.

“I had a few points, a couple assists.  I’m getting my game back,” Ron said, locking his chair into place.  He looked at Danny, “Thanks for the picture, I love it!  You fly in for the night?”

“Hi Ron,” Irene said.  “Some scotch?”

“Please,” he smiled at her.

“Coming right up,” Irene turned and headed toward the bar

“We play in Orlando tomorrow so I figured I’d drive down for a few hours,” Danny said, looking at Ron.

Ron saw Suzy come out the back stage door.  Right away he noticed something different, in her face, from last night. Danny stood up from the table, took Suzy in his arms, and kissed her passionately.  Ron felt sick, like someone punched him in the stomach.  He looked at Kathy, told her he’d be back, and wheeled toward the men’s room.

After he splashed some water on his face, he headed back toward the table.  Kathy was waiting for him at the bar.

“Are you alright?”  She handed his drink to him.  “I didn’t know you two had dinner last night.”

“Yes. We had a nice time.  I thought it could lead somewhere.”  Ron took a big gulp of his drink.  “What happened?”

“Danny happened.  They decided to be a couple again, I’m sorry.”

Kathy put her arms around his shoulders, kissed his forehead, and hugged him tightly. Ron asked Kathy to make up an excuse and he left, feeling rejected.  A jubilant night turned into a nightmare.

The next afternoon, still feeling depressed, Ron waited for Kathy to bring him lunch.  He was going to try to eat even though his appetite wasn’t there.  Kathy always knew what to say to make Ron feel better.  But there wasn’t a way to take the pain of a lonely heart away.

A knock at the door interrupted the constant image of Danny kissing Suzy.  He wheeled over and opened the door, not bothering to look through the peep hole.

“Can I come in?”  Suzy stood there with tears in her eyes.

“Sure,” he said, backing up to let her pass.

Even with bloodshot eyes and makeup trickling down her cheeks, she was the most beautiful woman Ron had ever seen.  He hated to see any woman cry, but he’d do anything to make Suzy stop. But, he also wanted answers.

“Why you here, Suzy?”  He mustered up the courage to ask.

“I had to,” she sobbed.

“Had to what?” rubbing his forehead.

“Say yes,” she took a deep breath, and held her left hand out.

Ron opened his eyes wide, “You’re getting married?”

She looked him in the eye, tears watering her cheeks, nose running, and nodded her head. “No one else knows,” she put her head down, staring at the floor, as if she were shameful.

“Suzy,” he said, coming from the kitchen with a can of Coke and a box of tissues. “Explain this to me.”

She blew her nose and took a sip of soda, “My mother said I had to or she would disown me,” Suzy whispered.

“I don’t get it Suz. Why would your mother say that?”

“I don’t know, but she always makes good on her threats.”  She looked at her watch, stood up, and said, “I have to go. We’re going to see Danny play tonight.”

He watched her walk out the door, and maybe, out of his life.  Over before it started.  Was she telling me everything?  He had a sneaky suspicion she wasn’t, but why?

A knock on the door startled him.  “It’s me,” Kathy said, letting herself in.  “I brought hoagies.”

“Set them on the table,” Ron said, sounding serious.

“What’s wrong?”  She looked at Ron with her eyes as big as saucers.

He couldn’t hide anything from her.  “Suzy was just here.”

“Why?”

“I’m not sure I got the whole story, but she told me her and Danny are getting married.”

Kathy looked up from the table with a shocked look on her face, “When did this happen?”

“I guess yesterday before she went to the bar,” he said, wheeling over to the table. “She said nobody knew, and that she had too.”

“Had too? Why?”

“Or her mother would disown her.  I don’t know?”  Ron cut his sandwich in half, “She didn’t seem real happy about it, crying the whole time she was here.”

Kathy swallowed the piece of hoagie, “Now that you mention it, Suzy did seem a little distracted last night.  And she kept rambling on about how happy she was.”

“Maybe she was trying to convince herself,” Ron wheeled into the kitchen for two bottled waters.  Coming out of the kitchen he added, “She went over to Orlando tonight to see Danny play.”

“I know,” Kathy took the water from his hand.  “Her and her mother are staying over, they’ll be back tomorrow afternoon.”

Ron didn’t feel like going to the bar that night, and stayed home, no matter how much Kathy tried to talk him into going.  Every time he would’ve looked on stage he’d be reminded that Suzy was in Orlando watching her future husband play basketball.  He couldn’t take the pain.  He spent the night reading a spy novel.  His new found hobby, temporary as it might be.

The next afternoon Ron got a phone call from Kathy asking him to come over to the bar to talk.  He figured it was going to be a business conversation.  Irene was already there setting up for that evening.  Kathy came out from the office and they sat at a table next to the bar.  Irene joined them.

“I think we may know why Suzy agreed to marry Danny,” Kathy said, looking at Ron. She looked at Irene and said, “Tell him what you told me.”

Irene stared into Ron’s eyes, “I heard them arguing a couple of days ago when he was here. They were outside the ladies room. It wasn’t busy yet, and I guess they thought no one would hear.  But I heard him say if she didn’t marry him, that he was going to hurt her mother.”

Ron felt a twinge of rage build up inside of him that if he stood up, he could walk. He looked at Kathy, “We have to talk to her mother.  See if she knows why they got engaged.”

Kathy’s gaze shifted between Ron and Irene.  “I think she’s coming to hear Suzy sing tonight.  I’ll make up an excuse to take to her in the office, see what I can find out.”

Ron went back to Last Call before it opened for the evening.  He wanted to be there when Kathy talked to Suzy’s mother, Grace.  He was at the bar talking with Irene when Suzy and Grace walked in.  Kathy quickly came out of the office to great them. Suzy went backstage right away, she was the first act that night.  Grace followed Kathy into the office.  Kathy put her hands in front of her so Ron could see them as to say stay there.

Ron made his way to an empty table closer to the stage.  Not close enough to where Suzy would be able to see him from the stage. Kathy and Grace joined him after about half-hour.

“This is my business partner, Ron,” Kathy said, as her and Grace sat down.

“So you’re Ron,” Grace shook his hand.  “Suzy went on and on about you the other day.”

Ron smiled at her, “It’s very nice to meet you.  Did you enjoy your birthday?”

“Thank you, yes.  We had a lovely lunch,” she gazed into his eyes.  “I hear you play basketball, and done some traveling.”

“He’s played all over Europe,” Kathy said, raising her eyebrows toward Ron.

“That’s wonderful,” Grace put her hand on top of his resting on the table.

“Did you have a good time at the game last night?”  He took a sip of Scotch.

She sat back in her chair, “I went more for Suzy.”  She folded her arms and added, “I don’t really care for that Danny. He may seem all nice and sweet, but he thinks he’s God’s gift to the world.”

Kathy sat up in her seat, “Why do you say that?”

“He thinks he’s entitled to everything.  He’s so sure he’s going to marry Suzy,” she leaned forward.  “She has told him they’re only friends so many times I lost count,” she waved her hand toward the floor and stood up. “Excuse me, where’s the ladies room?”

“Around the bar,” Kathy pointed towards the restrooms.  “You want a drink?”

“Screwdriver, please,” she said, before turning toward the restrooms.

Ron raised his eyebrows, “She doesn’t know.  What did you talk about in the office?”

“Nothing, just small talk,” she said, motioning at Irene to come over.  “Talked mostly about how Suzy always loved to sing.”

“If she doesn’t know then why the hell would Suzy say her mother would disown her?”  Ron angrily said, and gulped the rest of his Scotch.  “Should we tell her?”

“No,” Kathy shook her head.  “Let me talk to Suzy.  Find out what’s going on.”

Suzy came out of the back stage door and sat with Ron after the show.  She wasn’t her usual bubbly self after a performance. Ron had more drinks than he normally had, but was still in control.  Grace had been gone for over an hour, and Kathy was in the office doing paper work. Ron had enough Scotch in him to ask Suzy about her engagement.  He figured he better put some alcohol into her if he wanted some answers.

“Ron,” she said, on her third screwdriver loaded heavily with Vodka.  “Even though I haven’t know you long, I wish Danny was more like you.”

“How do you mean?”  He asked, resting his chin on his fist.

“Well,” she set her empty glass on the table.  “You’re so sweet, and don’t seem demanding like Danny is sometimes.”

“Demanding how?”  He set back and folded his arms.

“He just is.  He didn’t really ask me.  He just said let’s get married,” she took a deep breath.

Ron put his hand on top of hers and wrapped his fingers around hers.  “Why’d you agree?”

“Because,” she swallowed. “I didn’t want him to get my mother in trouble,” she said as clearly as she could.  “She has a little bit of a gambling problem.”

Ron noticed Kathy walking toward the table, “How’d Danny find out?”

Shrugging her shoulders, “I don’t know,” Suzy slurred.

“You don’t look like you can drive home,” Kathy rubbed Suzy’s back.  “Come on, I have an extra bed.”

“Okay,” Suzy nodded.  “I have to pee first.”

Kathy watched her walk out of sight, turned toward Ron, “What did you do?”

Ron put his arms out to the side, “What?  I got her to talk.”

“What’d she say?”

“That Danny threatened her mother,” he saw Suzy come around the corner and nodded toward her.  “I’ll fill you in later if she doesn’t.”

Lying in bed, that night, Ron got madder the more he thought about what Danny was doing. He was also relieved Suzy didn’t really want to marry him.  He needed to find out how Danny found out about Grace.  If possible, without Danny knowing.

The phone woke Ron just after noon.  He didn’t fall asleep until around six in the morning.  Thinking about how he could help Suzy wouldn’t let him sleep.  He opened his unfocused eyes and searched with his hand until he found the phone.

He hung up the receiver.  He almost forgot about the game tonight.  His coach called to tell him that Tim would be out the rest of the season, and Ron would be starting the rest of the year.  He was wavering all year about retiring from basketball after the season. Now he was having second thoughts, especially after the last two games.

After a quick shower and something to eat, he called Kathy to remind her about his game. He also wanted to find out if Suzy said anything more to her.

She had taken Suzy home and was at the club, and asked Ron to come over.

“What’s up?” he said, wheeling into Kathy’s office.

She looked up from reading the newspaper, “I know someone up in Holiday, his name is Bill, who owns a strip club.  He also runs a gambling ring.  How big, I don’t know.  I’ve got a message for him to call me back”

“A lot of sleazy clubs up there, I’m sure some have gambling ties.”

“I know,” she said, as she came around the desk.  “But you never know, he could be the one, or someone he knows.  You want some coffee?”

“Always can use coffee,” he flashed silly grin.

She chuckled as she walked out of the office.  “Where you play tonight?” she said walking back in.

“St Pete,” taking a mug from her.  “I’m starting the rest of the year.”

She looked at him like a proud mother would and clinked her mug against his, “That must feel good?”

He bashfully smiled, “Yeah.”

Ron got to the club a little before twelve, not long after Kathy.  Right before he was to be picked up she called to say she was going to the game.  Their third win in a row, and forth in the last five games.  Ron couldn’t remember the last time he felt so comfortable on the court.

“You looked good out there,” Kathy said, as Ron wheeled in.

He rolled up to the bar.  Irene poured him a Scotch and got him a salad.  Kathy walked up beside him, and he asked, “Did your friend call you back?”

She took a drink of her bottled water and said, “He did, and he doesn’t know her. But something interesting; he knows Tony, the guy who runs a strip joint called The Play Pen.  He handles bets for one Danny Alm.”

“That’s probably how he knows about Grace to,” he said, as he stabbed the last cucumber with his fork.  He bit it off his fork and added, “I’m betting Suzy doesn’t know about him.”

“That would be my guess,” she picked up a bite size pretzel out of the bowl on the bar, and popped it in her mouth.

Ron did some research, the next day, on Danny’s back ground.  He was reprimanded at Florida State for betting on college and NFL football games, but not to the point of being suspended.  Ron wondered if he also bet on basketball and it got covered up.

He started to dial Kathy’s number when he heard a knock and Kathy’s voice, “Ron, you there?”

“Yeah Kath, come on in.”

She walked in the door, gave him a peck on the lips, and said, “I think I found out that Danny bets on basketball.”

“How’d you do that?”

She sat at the table after getting a soda from the fridge, and said, “I went to see Bill to bet on Portland to win their game tonight.  Wouldn’t you know it, Tony was there.  I guess Tony took a shine to me, cause he tried to warn me how they were going lose to the Brooklynn.  Saying he’s got a source from the team saying they’re too tired.  I figured that source has to be Danny.”

Ron looked at her with a boyish grin, raised his eyebrows, “He also bet on football when he was in school.  Ask Suzy when he’s coming into town again.  I’ll confront him about it.”

“I don’t think that’s a real good idea, Ron,” she sat up and put her hands on her hips.”

“Why not?” he mocked her movement.

Resisting a smile, she said, “Cause you don’t know the kind of people he might know. It could be dangerous.”

“Yeah, I know. He put is arms on the table, “But we have to do something.”

“I know,” she got up and put her arms around him.  “I have to go.  I’ll think of something.  You coming later?  Suzy’s singing.”

“I’ll be there,” he held the door open watching her leave.

Ron waited about a half hour, and called Suzy.  Twenty minutes later she was knocking on his door.  He opened the door and his heart skipped a beat.

“Come in,” he said.  She bent down and hugged him.  It was only a day, but it seemed like years since he saw her.  Ron didn’t want to let go of the embrace.

“How you doing?” she said, smoothing his hair.

“I’m good. Come in, sit down,” he motioned toward the couch.  “You want something to drink?”

She shook her head, “I’m good,” and smiled at him.

“I have something to tell you.”  He swallowed hard, “I know how Danny knows about your mother’s problem.”

A confused look came over her face, “How?”

“Because your mom and Danny have the same bookie.  Kathy met him this morning,” he leaned forward in his chair.  “I don’t think he actually threated Grace.  Did you know that Danny Gambled?”

She shook her head, “I had no idea.  Do you know how long?”

“I was checking that earlier and found out he bet on football in college.  It didn’t say if he bet on basketball, but I wonder.”

“If he did, wouldn’t that be, like, cheating?”

“Yes.  We suspect he might be betting on basketball, or cheating now,” he said in a low whisper.

Suzy stood up, let out a deep breath, and walked to the bathroom.  She emerged five minutes later, her eyes glassy.  It was obvious she was crying.  He wanted so much to hold her, but wasn’t sure if he should. He was surprised when she hugged him tightly.

“Thank you for telling me,” she said, gazing into his eyes.  “Are you coming tonight?”

“Honey, wild horses couldn’t keep me away,” he smiled at her.  “What are you going to do?”

“When he calls later I’ll tell him we’re not getting married,” she playfully yanked on his hair.  “If he asks why, I’ll say I found someone else,” she slipped the ring off of her finger. “And if that doesn’t work, I’ll say I know about the gambling.”  She leaned in and gave him a soft kiss on the lips.

Ron got to Last Call before that evenings show.  He wanted a chance to talk to Suzy before it began.  He stopped at the bar to say hi to Kathy and Irene before he continued to a table.  He saw Suzy peek out of the back stage door, and smiled at her.

“Hi,” she motioned with her mouth, walking to the table.

Ron was awe struck.  She was wearing a purple evening gown with just the right amount of glitter to make it shine, and wavy curls in her hair.  “Hi,” he said, studying her up and down.  “You look fantastic.”

She sat down, leaned over and kissed him, “Thank you.  You look wonderful too,” she whispered in his ear as she was hugging him.

“Did you talk to Danny?”

“Yes. We came to an understanding.”

“Which is?”

“He going to leave me alone, and I’m going to keep his little secret,” she smiled, and kissed him hard.

“What the hell did I miss?” Kathy said, standing over them.

“When did you show up,” Ron shockingly said.

“Just in time to see the kiss.”  Kathy put her hands on her hips, and tried to hide a smile, “What is going on?”

“She’s with me, I’m with her,” Ron pointed between him and Suzy, and cackling like a teenager.

Ron made a decision that night.  He was going to play his last five game of the year, and hang up his jersey, no matter how well he was playing, and was going to take more of an interest in Last Call.

~ end

 

Tangled Tales

 

R James Turley started writing poetry in his thirties. Soon after he wrote short stories with a head full of characters. His work has been published by Yahoo! Voices, and the WPaD anthology’s, Creepies 2: Thing that go Bump in the Closet, Strange Adventures in a Deviant Universe, Escape from the Planet of the Deviants, Weirder Tales and Creepies 3.

R James writes from Florida where the sun sets into the Gulf of Mexico.

Bjturley.com

Facebook.com/r.turley.7

https://www.facebook.com/R-James-Turley-339204606093122/?eid=ARADDD3lek3bk_p_8yl0rxzF2sRhQE2uKZbZnEc5JKs1dd4Wq5zbyvfc2_B-pXxkjErwmdEobNRPP1pt

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Come back for more great fiction from other guest writers. I’ll be featuring a variety of short stories from many genres. Seriously folks, these are some of the best fiction writers currently producing work. 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Update: Short Stories

2016-11-10-13-25-09

Short Stories from Vampire Maman aka Tangled Tales

A good portion of the posts on Vampiremaman.com read like short stories, but the list here is of stand alone stories that don’t necessarily follow the tales of my life with my husband, kids and other assorted adventures.

I’ve recently added over twenty-five  additional stories to the Short Story page. You’ll find over one hundred parenting, Gothic romance, humor, urban fantasy, literary fiction, and other of unexpected tangled tales. This isn’t the complete list but it will keep you busy and entertained for a while. Keep checking back for more.

Click here to see the entire 115 story list. Have fun reading old favorites, plus new stories you haven’t read yet. There are also several stories from my author friends. 

Note: This list is more or less stand-alone stories. It does not include Vlad’s Vampire Diary. He has his own page. A few of the Austin and Elizabeth Stories are included (their page will be updated soon.) I’ll also eventually have a Holiday Story page.

Have fun and happy reading. Thanks for dropping by.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Tangled Tales

Short Story Sunday: Stumped

Short Story Sunday

Stumped

 

I just got done removing a stump from the back yard and I’m sitting down to a beer and the game when the doorbell rings.

My wife is out shopping and the kids are off with friends. I’m enjoying a little quiet time, just me and the TV.

I answer the door, and there is a guy about my age standing there. He looks like he just came out of GQ Magazine with a jacket, perfect jeans, wearing shoes that costs as much as my house payment. His features are like an Italian Model or a Movie star, that sort of pretty but manly look that women go nuts over. His hair is perfect, thick and silver. He’s wearing a Rolex Submariner. Nice.

He gave me a pretty serious look then said, “I’m sleeping with your wife.”

All right, I wasn’t expecting that one. He then looked me up and down like he was waiting for me to beat the shit out of him. I’m a big guy. Not big and fat, but 6’4″ with a lot of gym time. I used to play football. This guy wasn’t small but I had a good five inches on him and maybe sixty pounds. He looked like a runner or one of those freaking guys who rides a bike in neon colored spandex shorts.

Honestly I should have beat the shit out of him, but that isn’t my style. I just went numb. Heather and I had been together for 20 years, married 17 of those years. We have two kids and a house and friends and … we were one of those perfect couples. You know, we laugh a lot and say the same thing at the same time. That sort of perfect. We hold hands and … I thought things were fine.

Sure she’d put on some weight and had a hard time dealing with her body image. Sure she was over worked with her job and the kids and with me. Sure she was stressed, but who isn’t? But… this handsome, obviously wealthy guy was standing here telling me that MY WIFE was sleeping with him.

He started talking about passion… her passion. Sure we had passion. That morning I’d almost been late for work because of her passion, our passion. But he got into details of fetish stuff he’d do with her and how he made her scream the way I never could. I had no idea she ever wanted any of that stuff. I sure didn’t want it.

Then, as I stood stunned, he talked about her beauty and how smart she was and how I could never ever appreciate her. He said the kids didn’t need her as much anymore, he said she loved him.

I could feel my body start to shake. My world was imploding around me. My throat was tight. I thought I was going to vomit on his expensive shoes. Finally I said something. “Does she know you’re here?”

Mr. GQ glared at me and said, “I’m taking her away to live the life she deserves.”

“Do you love Heather?” I asked. I had to know. I knew the answer but I wanted him to tell me.

His eyes opened as big as dinner plates. “Heather?”

“My wife,” I said.

“Your wife isn’t Allison?”

“Heather.” I grabbed the wedding photo off of the hutch in the front entryway and put it in his face. “Allison lives next door.”

“Uh, sorry. I’m so sorry.”

He didn’t go next door. He just got in his car and drove away. About 20 minutes later the front door opened and I heard a familiar voice, “Honey, I’m home. Did I miss anything?”

“No, just got the stump out and I’m watching the game. Hey, Heather, did I tell you that I think you’re beautiful?”

“Sure. Thanks for getting that stump out. Will you help me with the groceries?”

I follow her outside and she gives me a little smile, the kind she always does when she has something smart to say. “You know, you’re the only man I ever loved.”

I grab a couple of bags. “Good to know. Love you too.”

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Short Story Sunday: Dancing on the Beach

Dancing on the Beach

As told by Dr. Shawna Greene

For three days we watched the human like form sitting motionless near the beach. We decided if it was human it was probably dead because no human could sit for so long in the heat and the cold and the wind the way this one did. More than likely it was garbage someone had dumped. A few people had traveled through over the past few weeks, near the abandoned mining town near the isolated stretches of desert and beach where we’d set up our summer research station in Patagonia.

We’d come to look for dinosaurs (with success, finding eggs and giant bones).

Dave, Blane and I trekked an hour down the hill to the spot where the mysterious lump sat. It was indeed human, wrapped in a blanket, large brimmed hat, dark sunglasses and a scarf covering the face. It almost looked like a modern mummy. The, without notice it moved.

“¿Estás bien?” Dave asked the stranger.

The man unwrapped the scarf from his face and removed his sunglasses. “I’m fine. I speak English too. But thanks for asking.”

He was tall with long chestnut colored hair and sparkling hazel eyes. Of course I noticed.  I couldn’t help it after being out in the wilds for a month with my fellow researchers. My two college aged kids were in summer internships, my ex-husband was off on a honeymoon with a woman 10 years younger than me and I was doing something I loved – discovering the past.

But today, we discovered something quite different and unexpected. His name was Andrew. He was tall (I figured 6’2″) with a quick smile and a musical voice that captured the attention of all when he spoke.

Andrew said he’d been researching folk music, writing songs, savoring the local flavor and hinted at getting over a broken heart. A kindred spirit I thought. Well, I have to admit, my heart had mostly healed after my husband left two years ago – the day after our youngest child graduated from high school.

Had it been anyone else, we would have let him stay, but Andrew was so delightful and charming, and helpful that we let him stay on. His knowledge of just about everything was astounding. In the evenings he would sing songs ranging from Argentinian folk songs to Italian Opera. Everyone on the team did better with Andrew around.

The younger women, especially the graduate students Courtney and Kaitlin were enchanted by Andrew. No surprise there. He’d dote on them without being a predator. Then again the men were enchanted by him to. We all were.

Sometimes Andrew and I would share a glass of wine under the stars and talk of everything under the stars. He didn’t give away much of his personal life. He’d been living in New York and London, but thought of moving back to California where his family was. His first love was Opera, but he was taking notes on a book about how music takes the mind and soul to new places. He was more interested in finding out about us than telling us about himself.

I felt a bond with this appealing and mysterious man. He was so mysterious but I was so comfortable with him, like I’d known him forever.

One evening we walked the beach after dinner, just the two of us. We talked about time and space and he opened up in an unexpected burst.

“Time travel,” Andrew began, “will be possible, a reality, but it will be squandered by idiots who don’t appreciate the past or the possibilities of the future. They will be selfish short-sighted buffoons only interested in entertaining their own shallow minded pursuits and never seeing the power of the invention of the time machine.

And think about this…we are here on Earth with no knowledge of ANY life on other planets, yet we spend time and brain power on theories of what is out there and life in the universe and how the universe started and… what if nobody else is out there.

Or what if someone else is out there and they’ve figured it all out and we’re wrong, or we’ve figured it out and they are wrong. But we don’t know, because while you look for your giant dinosaur bones which seem like they’re from another planet, we ponder if there is life on other planets. And why is it all so random. You might disagree because of your scientific mind and experience with creatures of the past and because of the sheer amount of wonder in your soul…but…oh Shawna, we’re so different you and I.”

I didn’t know what to say. Andrew held out his hands. “Dance with me Shawna. Dance with me under the stars.”

Taking his cool hands in my own I found myself suddenly transfixed, dancing in the dark, with a long haired stranger who indeed was so different from me.

“Close your eyes,” he whispered in my ear. And against all better judgment I closed my eyes only to find myself transported into a ball room, wearing a silk gown the color of roses and sunsets, dancing with a handsome hazel eyed man in tails and white tie. And then I opened my eyes to find myself in cargo shorts and a fleece jacket on a desolate beach on the bottom of the earth.

“What are you?” I asked him that surprised that I didn’t ask who but what.

He laughed and I caught something different in his smile. His teeth. He looked like he had fangs. “I am a genetic wonder and mystery. I am the Velociraptor of the human subspecies.” Then he looked serious. “Shawna, don’t be afraid of what I tell you for I would never harm you. I am a Vampire.”

“Like in the movies?” I stupidly asked.

“No, like the guy standing next to you. Like the guy who came down to the ends of the earth to heal a broken heart and soul, to give up, to write songs and wallow in my misery only to find you.”

“You have fangs.” I had to say it. I just had to.

Andrew gently brushed my face with the back of his hand. “Yes, and I use them. I drink the blood of Regular Humans. I live for a long long long time. I have relatives who are over 1,000 years old. I was born in the 19th century, before the Civil War, during the California Gold Rush. But, I am just part of the natural order of the world, of the universe, and I hope of our two souls.”

“I have to admit you’re scaring me Andrew.”

“And the thought of you being afraid scares me more than anything Shawna. I’ve trusted you enough to tell you what I am. Now let me trust that you will not be afraid or reject my offer of friendship.”

“Will you turn me into a Vampire?” It was fear in my voice now, not hope that he would.

“Only if you want me to. Maybe. It isn’t anything I take lightly. But, but, Shawna, that isn’t what is important here. It is evolution, the very thing you’ve spent years studying, the difference in species and life forms and life forces and life and…” He ran his hands through his hair and closed his eyes then opened them looking right into mine. “And love. It all comes down to love and of course passion. You have that passion. I can see it when you speak of your work, your life, your children. You have what so many can only dream of.”

“You’re a Vampire.” I couldn’t get that out of my head, despite his remarkable words and way of speaking.

“Yes, and I’m cool with it. Are you?”

“I don’t know.”

“I understand.”

“Do you want my blood?”

“I would never harm you Shawna.”

“Have you taken blood from any of the others here?” I thought of my fellow scientists and grad students.

“Yes, but…why do you think they’re so happy all the sudden? Sure I took something from them that I needed but I gave them what they needed. Do you understand? Can you attempt to understand. I mean, really, it isn’t any different than finding a new dinosaur. Isn’t it?”

Then we just looked at each other for the longest time. It was a time that ended up in his cabin on the hill, in the creaky iron bed with the colorful quilts, with his cold body wrapped around my hot human one.

It was still dark when I awoke, brushing my hair out of my eyes. Next to the bed, sitting on a wooden crate was a woman. Her chestnut hair the exact same rich color as Andrew’s.

“I didn’t know he had company but…there is something about you Shawna that makes me glad he bonded with you. He is charming but my son can be exhausting and so emotional at times.”

I had to say I was in shock seeing this beautiful woman who didn’t look more than twenty six years old. “I’ve come to take him home, not away from you, but…what I’m trying to say is that you touched Andrew’s heart and maybe…”

Andrew opened his eyes. “Mom. Have you met Shawna?”

Well, this was awkward.  They packed up and left, but not before they both left me with their contact information. This was weird. Vampires leaving contact information. Then again, it would have been weird for Andrew to just leave without a word. Of course my ex-husband left without so much as a word, but that is another story.

But before he left, he kissed me one more time then whispered in my ear, “I love you.”

The summer and our time in the desert is almost over. I still savor my short time with Andrew and the memory of his voice and his touch.

Will I contact him when I return? I don’t know. We both live in California where there are plenty of beaches to dance on and where the stars shine bright on the night.

Then again…he is a Vampire, or maybe that shouldn’t matter.

 

~ end

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman