Sunday, March 17, 2013

Trying something here

I'm working on a couple of projects at once (of course, I'm crazy), and I thought, for a change, I'd post the first chapter of a YA I'm editing. It's gone through several edits, a serious re-write, and now that it's been sitting a couple of months, I'm hoping to see it with "new" eyes.  This format works perfectly for that goal. I hope.  Tell me what you think, if you wish. Proofreading always welcome.

On another note, who else is waiting breathlessly for Round 3 of Game of Thrones???? I can feel the dragons coming. . . .

This is titled OUT OF NOWHERE.  So far.

Chapter 1


            Death rarely descends on gas stations. I hide out in them for as long as it takes for the creepy feeling I get now and then, more now than then, to disappear. You can fritter away at least an hour, if there’s a convenience store attached.

            The next Sheetz station I saw, I’d pull in.  I hadn’t planned on driving so long.  Slowing down for a flashing light that warned of an upcoming stoplight in a one-stop town, I saw a big chain gas station on my left.  Goody.  Pepsi and Cheetos, my dinner of choice.  Now that I didn’t have doctors and nutritionists giving me hell over my diet, I ate what I wanted.  No matter what I stuffed in my mouth, my bullet wounds hurt. So why not eat what I liked?

            My luck, for once, was having a good run.  Pulling up to the pumps, I dragged my lame leg out the door and tried to stand in one swift movement. No way. I still creaked like an old lady with bad hips and knees.  In a way, I wasn’t far from it, even if I am just seventeen.

            A hell of a lot can happen in one year. Trust me on this one, it’s not all good.

            So I’m pumping away, standing beside the pumps like a responsible citizen, when I notice the kid in the minivan opposite my side.  His dad’s cleaning the windshield, and the kid, a red-headed hell on wheels if I’ve ever seen one, is leaning out the side door, shooting me the bird.  I mean, the kid can’t be older than seven or eight, and he’s sticking out his tongue and jamming his finger at me, and before I can even wonder why, he turns around and moons me.

            Why me, God?  Why?  I’ve asked that question one hell of a lot in the past twelve months, but She’s not handing out answers.  I seriously doubt She will anytime soon, if ever.

            Turning away from the future juvenile delinquent, I check out the scenery, notice the small garage behind the chain gas station, a little brick post office, even a strip of stores that includes, of course, a small Walmart.  Whoopee.  Maybe I’ll head over there and buy something healthy, like ice cream.  A gallon of it.  Milk has lots of good stuff in it. Now, the question is, does ice cream have milk in it anymore, I wonder, as I hear an insect buzz past my ear.

            It’s heading into summer, of course the bees are heading for the open trash can, filled with empty soft drink bottles.  Sidling sideways to get out of the bees’ flight path, I heard a funny sound.  Like someone gargling.  Then there’s another bee dive-bombing my head, and instinctively, I try to bat it away from my face.

            As I turn my head, I wonder why gas is gushing all over the ground.  Stupid van-driver, he’s too busy washing windows to see that the gas cut-off isn’t working.  Leaving my pump, I hurry over to jerk his nozzle out, when the kid who’s been trying to get me riled up falls out the door.  I mean, no hands grabbing the frame, no shouting at someone to help him, he’s just there.  Lying on the gas-soaked concrete with a funny expression on his face, as if he’s totally surprised and not happy about it.

            “Hey kid, don’t do that, it’s not funny.”  More insects by my ears, only this time the van’s windows shatter into tiny round pebbles all around me.  Dropping to the ground, I try to shield the boy from the rain of glass, but he’s not saying anything.  Giving him a little shake, I can’t figure out why the windows have broken and he’s not giving me grief, when I see the color of the ground changing right under the kid.  It’s dark, almost reddish, and I know instantly what it is.

            Blood.  I know it when I see it, now that I’ve got my degree in getting shot.

            “Mister,” I scream, “mister, your kid’s been hurt!  Call 911!”  I would, but I don’t have a cell phone anymore. Anyone I would want to call is dead.  “Hurry!”

            I hesitated for half a second, then threw myself over the prone boy.  Cradling his head in my arms, I look around, praying I won’t see the shooter walking towards us.  My body won’t stop all the bullets, he’ll kill the boy for sure if he gets close enough.

            I can’t see the boy’s father. I see the holes in the van’s side.  These aren’t those stupid fake decals that are supposed to make your car look badder than bad. God help me, they’re real. 

            “Call the police!” I’m yelling, when I see the father’s feet.  They’re heels to the ground, toes skyward, and I know what I’ll find.  Once again, I am too late to help.

            So I lie still, my body hiding as much of the boy’s as I can, and pray it’ll be enough to save us both.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Looking back to the War of Northern Aggression

Since the weather yesterday was spectacular ( i.e., sunny and warm, yay!), we took a break from the back yard re-do and headed for an afternoon at Cold Harbor. The battlefield is covered with trees, unlike its state during that dreadful, bloody three days in July, but you still get a sense of what it must have been like. The earthworks are pretty stellar, and the size of the park gives a hint at the seven mile expanse of both lines, Confederate and Union, as they squared off and blew each other to bits. General Grant said in his memoirs that he always regretted ordering the last charge at Cold Harbor, and given the staggering loss of men, he probably was right.

 I took a short video showing the field, with its current state of forestation, so you can get an idea of the expanse of land those men in blue crossed under withering fire from Confederates with the advantage of better ground.

This place has always felt authentic, as if the battle fought here will never end, and all those dead men have imprinted the ground with their lost lives. Visit it if you're a Civil War buff. It's one battlefield you should go out of your way to walk.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

It's been a while

and I wish I could say the 80 degree weather carried through our entire vacation, but alas, the skies clouded over, the rains came, and with them, a cold front. As you can see from this pix of me entering the crosswalk to get to the track at Daytona, I was wearing a raincoat. What you can't see is the heavy sweater that's underneath.  It didn't really matter, however, since the race was a snooze fest. Literally, we fell asleep in the stands. So much for the new car giving Nascar a boost. How about a Boo instead?

Our cruise from Jacksonville's port took two hours of line shuffling and luggage getting soaked on the dock during the monsoon driving rain while we tried to get on board. A word to the wise: cruise from anywhere but Jacksonville, Florida. The worst port I've ever seen, and I've seen quite a few. I read a ton of books and basically lived on hot tea, I was so cold.

Three books I loved, all YA. Deviant, Misfit, and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Miss P was by far the coolest, but Misfit has a super premise in its heroine, a half human, half demon teenager in a Catholic high school. Deviant is really good for middle grade boys, and I liked the authenticity of the boy's voice.  Aliens and weird private school is bound to work, and it does.

Happy to be home to my own bed and pillow, and my furnace. Yes, snow and sleet has attacked, but at least I'm warm. A big step up from our cruise.