Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Counterfeit Dom First Chapter

It's been since August that I have let this space go quiet. I'm sorry for that. It is not for lack of news just a lack of energy. I spend it all on writing the books that I'm trying to get out and doing the chores and little duties that keep the day to day going.

To make it up, I'm posting the promised first chapter of the newest Drury Jamison book. This is not a Detective Eleanor Silver book or related to Safe Words in any way. It is a mystery though and covers a bit about the journey through a BDSM world. I really hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 1

The whip that flashed across the stage cracked like a lighting strike. The sound was sharp as hate and as startling as profanity in church. If the audience was not already silent before the sound, they would have been after.

Another flash of leather and another snapping strike. Many in the audience jumped but they didn’t make a sound. The amazing thing was, the man against whom the whip was being trained made no sound either. Just a few minutes before, he had been introduced as Devon. After he smiled at the audience he had removed his shirt and stepped up to be shackled to two crossed beams on a pallet. The beams, called a St. Andrew’s cross, resembled a large X. The man, chained to it with his back exposed to the audience, looked like a tragedy waiting to happen.

His back was red and crossed all over with the tracks of other strikes. First there had been the belt-like, leather striker. Then he had been flogged with a nine tail whip. Then the long, flashing, single tail that cracked with threat.

Between the impacts of hard leather on soft skin there had been another kind of contact. The woman wielding the whips had touched the man freely and possessively. She had pressed her lips and breasts to his back. On occasion she had asked loudly if he would do as she told him.

The answer, always, “Yes, Ma’am,” spoken by Devon, in a clear, even joyous voice, disturbed some in the audience as much as the sound of the whips striking him. Earlier, the woman had made him lick her boots and kneel at her feet quietly as she spoke. She had used him to show off the whips and a few other things that had delighted some and, as always, shocked many.

She drew back her arm and let the leather fly again. Again it cracked. Again. Again. Finally in a flurry of five ripping strikes of leather lighting she finished. She knew how much they loved and feared the whip.

It was theatrics though. All of it was theatrical, done for effect and to provoke, but that last part of the demonstration was complete illusion. Devon had not been touched. The single tail, braided, bull skin whip would have sliced to the bone if it had made contact with that kind of velocity. The other strikes, those from the flat leather striker and nine tail—those were real. As were the paddle slaps she had begun the demo with. It was fun. It was a lot of fun and sexy to do such things with an audience, many of whom were not completely comfortable with the interplay of a dominant and submissive in a bondage/flogging scene. Theatrics though, the sound, the genuine reaction of Devon, showing it all as a loving and playful expression, was what she was here for.

“Trust,” Said Seneca Graves, as she stepped away from Devon, still chained on the cross. “That is the element that everything comes down to in this world.” She coiled the whip and set it on the table beside the full assortment of other strikers, whips, floggers, and paddles. At the other end of the table were a selection of restraints in leather, metal, and high tech looking black plastic and nylon. Between the whips and bonds, an orderly array of toys was arranged about a large pink phallus, standing proud in the middle of the display.

 She walked downstage taking full advantage of the light and her proximity to the audience. Her hips were liquid smooth in their movements accentuated by the tight, black, textured silk skirt that terminated just below the knee. The heels she wore, glossy red and high as a Texas oil derrick ticked on the floor. They set a steady time like a slow back beat that made each step important and telegraphed the shifting of her hips. Above, swaying in gentle counter point, were her breasts. It would have been an easy choice to strap them up and push them out to show the deep valley of cleavage under her white silk top. Instead, Seneca, always aware of the power of movement, chose a bra of filmy and sheer spandex with an underwire. Everything was kept where it should be but there was still almost nothing between her and the rest of the world. Let them look she always said. Make them look, was what she always meant.

Downstage center she stopped.

“A lot of people will tell you it’s about power. You hear words like dominance and submission, power exchange, discipline—it seems natural. It’s false reasoning based on the assumption that there is a unidirectional flow of desire from the Dominant to the submissive. The truth is, these are relationships, just as strong, as meaningful, and messy as any other in your life.”

As she spoke she scanned the audience. The size was a surprise. Not long ago her talks were given to thirty or fifty people. Once, she had spoken to a group of only three women and an eighty year old man. The auditorium she looked out over was full. Despite the size, it was still the usual assortment for a conference crowd, practitioners, observers, students, wannabes, and the ever growing troop of haters. There were two kinds of these. The first, and easiest to deal with, were men, bondage lifestyle veterans, who found themselves for the first time, the establishment in opposition to Seneca’s brand of feminism and to the ideas in her latest book, Counterfeit Dominance.

The other group was more difficult. They were politically and personally conservative UWP’s—uptight white people. Those that seemed to think any lifestyle choice other than roast beef and mashed potatoes on Tuesday night and missionary sex on Saturdays, was wrong. There were always some UWP’s around but it was so much worse after publishing Counterfeit Dominance. In the book, she had also claimed that many male oriented dominance tropes, from military uniforms and swagger, from warfare itself down to professional sports, even rape culture, were a form of misdirected sexual display. No one had really cared, or even paid attention for that matter, until she had ended up on television. First she said publicly, in an interview on ESPN, of all places, that those displays had more effect, culturally, as homoeroticism. In football, she had said, pads accentuate the male form while skin tight clothing reveals it, then men wallow together in ritualistic activity that is both hyper aggressive and sexualized while at the same time absurdly homophobic. After that, on a late night talk show that featured both a Superbowl champion and a conservative presidential contender, she told the gleeful host that sexual displays of dominance, ultimately give power to the person to whom the display is directed. When the candidate and the footballer tried ganging up on her, Seneca calmly offered to hold the ruler if they really wanted to, get the measure of things.”

After weeks of publicity, people who had never read her book, or any book of psychology and sexuality, were loudly denouncing her and ideas they didn’t really understand. The positive thing was that it filled the halls for her talks on BDSM, sexuality, and culture. The very negative thing was that it filled them with the wrong kind of people—those who already knew their answers and had no interest in any others.

“This,” she said gesturing back to the table with the leather and toys. “Is what you all think about when we talk about BDSM and the roles of Dominant and submissive.” There was a titter through the audience that confirmed today’s crowd had many wannabes but she loved the curiosity seekers. Those minds could transform and grow. A movement off stage caught her eye. Seneca took a quick look and saw that it was Mark. He was one of a pair of rent-a-cops that the event organizer had hired. One white and one black man, just like a PC television show. They were a new addition to her appearance, brought on when the controversy around her reached the point of death threats. Never mind that in America today, publically saying climate change is a concern, or that evolution was more than a simple theory, could earn anyone death threats. Still, more than most people Seneca understood the power of passions out of control.

“But these things are not bondage. Gun freedom advocates are fond of saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Think of that here. Ropes don’t bind people, people bind people. And, like I said a moment ago, it comes back around to trust. Forget the toys and the accoutrements. It’s people. You would be foolish to use these things on someone with whom you would not share more common intimacies. I hear horror stories everyday of someone posting an ad on a classified site, or social networking, meeting a stranger to be bound. I’m here to tell you, that is not BDSM. It may not even be sane.”

Gesturing backward with a hand whose gleaming red nails matched the shoes and lipstick, she pointed again to the man on the cross. “Devon there, has given, through trust, his consent to allow me to treat him as I see fit. That is a responsibility that I am compelled to live up to. It is the interplay between trust and responsibility that gives both of us a power in the relationship. Yes, he has power. Forget the images of dark dungeons where someone is imprisoned and flogged. That’s brutality. Not Dominance.”

From the audience, there was a humph of derision. It came from a thick cluster of leather clad men. In the middle of them, Seneca could just make out one face with a slack jaw grin like a joker on heavy downers. Her gaze locked with his for an instant and in that time he communicated a sense of hatred and black loathing that went beyond anything inspired by the recent publicity. He reached and ran his fingers under his unshaved chin in a movement so deliberate that that it could have only been intentional. Was it a hanging motion or a throat cutting motion though? Seneca couldn’t tell. What she could tell was that the crazies were out.

For a few minutes more she spoke. The man in the audience was no longer in view. There was no telling if he had moved or if she had lost him in the glare and the milling faces. It didn’t matter, she told herself. She was glad to be rid of him. After the applause, she released Devon from the cross but not before she slipped a hand in front of him and squeezed the erection through his pants.

“Better get that thing settled down,” she whispered. “Or don’t. It never hurts to raise a few eyebrows. I need you to get a shirt on though, then go out front and make sure everything is set up there. After that come back here and put everything away.”

Devon nodded and went to put on his shirt which he left untucked.

Seneca remained back stage. She always took a few minutes to rest and relax while Devon headed to the next room to check out the small riser on which she would be signing books and answering some audience questions.

“You don’t look convinced,” she said to Mark as she walked over to the guard.

“What do I know?” He answered. “You and me,” he pointed back and forth from his chest to hers with a thick finger. “We’re in different worlds.”

Seneca smiled. “You’d be surprised how close all the worlds are. My world, yours, the president’s, a preacher’s, or a rodeo clown, they can all be bridged with a handshake.”

“Maybe so. But my bridge leads pretty much to my wife and she is not as open minded as me.”

“Open minded as you?” The question came from Delray Adam, the second of the security guards. He was crossing the stage behind the curtains. “The only thing open about you is your mouth when dinner’s served.”

“How about you then?” Seneca asked Delray. “What do you think about all this?”

“I think you’re dead on,” he said without hesitating. “I think it’s just people. Everything else is just a way to get other people closer or keep them back.”

“You do listen.”

“Miz Adam may not have raised the smartest boy, but she brought him up to listen. And to keep his judgements to himself.” He winked as a genuine grin spread over his dark face.

Seneca upped the volume behind her smile and noticed his eyes flit to her chest once she began to turn to Mark. When her gaze came around to him, Mark’s eyes were flitting up from her backside.

Men. Predictable and wonderful.

“You could learn something from him,” she said to Mark tilting her head back to his partner. “He’s a wise man.”

“Oh, he’s something alright,” Mark responded.

Seneca laughed again as she turn away from both men walking toward the stage stairs. She let her behind sway for a moment before stopping to put each thumb under the broad black waspie belt that cinched her waist. She leveraged the belt away and squirmed under it for a moment giving herself a deeper breath of air and playing with the men she knew were watching. When she started walking again she asked, “Coming, guys?”

“Just about,” Mark said so quietly she never would have heard if she wasn’t listening for it.

The event was held as a part of a larger lifestyle gathering that had taken over the convention center. To get to the lobby atrium where the signing was being held, they had to walk through a long space packed with vendors of gear, clothing, books, and videos. As they passed, people shouted Seneca’s name trying to call her over to get an endorsement or just to be seen with her. She was embraced and selfied by leather men and body paint girls. Her shoes were kissed by men who insisted on kneeling to her. Seneca took it all in stride and with a smile. Attention was like a warm drug shot right into an artery. It felt good. It was wonderful to know as well that she had something to do with the numbers here and opening up to new ideas. She believed in tolerance and was gratified for any chance to spread the word and good will.

At one booth she stopped to admire a flock of women, wearing only tiny panties and strategic rope bonds, suspended from a steel pole structure. When she stepped into the center and posed with the women for pictures other people pushed in. After a couple of flashes more joined in on both sides of the cameras. People pressed in tighter laughing and saying her name, some trying to shake her hand or press their face to hers. Large digital cameras and cell phones popped white strobes and red focusing dots tracked her body.

Fun started to close in and darken with the crush of people. The hanging girls lost their smiles first. They were helpless in the mass. Two of them were gagged and their faces began to show the first tinges of panic.

“Okay,” Seneca said in a half shout that barely pierced the din. “Be careful!” She shouted. A new group, party boys there to gawk and fantasize, came around a corner and saw the fun they were missing. As they joined, pushing and prying their way into the throng, Seneca shouted again. This time she called for Mark and Delray.

They had already begun pushing aside the new comers crowing the front of the mass. When Seneca shouted for them, they worked in greater earnest to clear a path for her.

For Seneca Graves, the hot squirming pile of humanity suddenly became a cold and isolated place. Hands, rough and forceful, grabbed at her from behind. One pulled up the back of her skirt and forced itself up to grab the soft skin at her inner thigh. The fingers were like clammy snakes touching and reaching for the secret places of her body. One finger curled under the fabric of her panties and pulled. She could feel rather than hear them rip.

At the same time as the one hand invaded her skirt another, reached around her waist. It was connected to a strong arm coiled with tattoos that were as roughhewn and hateful as the embrace.

Seneca opened her mouth to scream. She turned her head to look. Both actions were cut off by the press of a face behind her ear and the voice it carried. There was no other sound in the world. Seneca could see the people and their mouths forming words or laughter. She could see Mark and Delray, pulling at people and the read the shouts on their lips but the only words she heard were the whispers of the mouth in her hair.

“You fucking bitch,” it said. Then the left hand at her waist reached up and cupped her breast. The fingers dug like blunt knives in her skin searching for the nipple. When the found it, they twisted savagely. The hand between her legs jerked at her panties, ripping them further and pulling them to the side over one cheek of her ass before reaching deeper to stroke at the bare skin Seneca had waxed bare only the night before.

“Hairless, cunt,” the voice whispered. The words were like hammers. “You don’t know fuck all about being dominant. But you’re gonna damn well learn to get on your knees. Feminist is just a word for a whore that ain’t been fucked right yet.”

Then, in a sudden shock of noise, the hands and the voice were gone. All movement in the pile has ceased and everyone was looking at her in stunned surprise. Seneca heard her own voice, shrill and raging, scream, “Stop it! Stop it! Stop! Get the fuck off of me!”

At about the same time, Mark and Delray shoved the last couple of hangers-on aside and reached Seneca. Around the corner came running more security guards and the people on the floor and crowding around began to wander off, once again laughing. Seneca looked around for the man with the hands and the hate. It was as though he had been a ghost who faded into the mists of night.

She didn’t bother to ask Mark or Delray if they had seen him, she was sure they would say no. She was sure also, even the other people pressed against her would have noticed nothing.

“Are you alright?” Mark asked putting a hand on her shoulder. He took it away when she flinched.

“I’m fine,” she answered. “Do you have a knife?”

“I do,” Delray pulled a tactical knife from his pocket and flipped the blade open with his thumb.

“Cut these girls down. Mark, take the gags off those two.”

“Just a minute,” a man said. He was the rope master who, until that point had been grinning and happy to have the activity around his booth. “You can’t do that. I spent a lot of time on those knots and bindings. You’re not going to just cut them off.”

“Your charges were in danger and now they’re afraid. You need to take care of them.”

“Nobody’s hurt,” he said with a creeping petulance to his voice. “But those knots—”

“Shut the fuck up,” Delray said with a sweep of his hand on a support rope.

The girl fell gently into Mark’s arms. He whispered to and held the frightened girl as his partner sliced through the knots.

“What the hell is this,” Delray asked.

“This is shibari, Japanese rope tying,” the rope master said.

“If you’re going to do something as dangerous as this you need to know more about what you’re doing,” Seneca said. “Shibari is not correct. That’s just like saying knot tying. You could be talking about fishing lures or tying up the dog. Kinbaku is bondage tying.”

Who gives a fuck?” The rope master whined. “This is my business.”

“Well you suck at it,” Seneca said then pointed at the center girl still suspended. “Get her next,” she said. “Her hands and joints are red and swelling. How long have you had her in that inverted shrimp tie? You should have tied the ankles to the chest harness not the neck for a long suspension. These were originally for torture you know. There’s a reason for that.”

“You’re an asshole, Dave,” the first free girl, said to the rope master as she sat on the floor and rubbed her joints.

“Yeah,” Delray said as he cut the next girl down. “You’re an asshole, Dave.”

“Whatever,” Dave said as he wandered into his booth and began tossing out the girl’s clothes.

“Why do people do this? Mark asked as he lowered another girl to the floor.

Seneca was not watching them. She was scanning the pushed back crowd and faces that passed on the floor. “It looks sexy,” she said as she picked through men one by one. “It can feel sexy as hell if the rope master knows what he’s doing. Not just being tied up and vulnerable, that’s a part of it for some, but being a part of a living piece of art that is beautiful inside and out. That can be…” For an instant, a face flashed through a gap of people. Seneca felt the eyes on her like a small violation, an echo of something greater. Then it was gone. “It can be something… transcendent in a way. Beauty, sensation, giving and possession.” She gave up on the crowd and turned to the men cutting through the knots. “It’s meaningless without trust though.”

When the girls were all released from their bonds and dressing, Seneca and her guards finally left them. They didn’t go without a final picture that they made Dave take though.

Before leaving the main floor Seneca stopped at a restroom. She pushed open the door and looked around before she asked, “Do me a favor, guys? Don’t let anyone in. I need to pull myself together.”

Inside, she stood before a mirror and looked into her own eyes. She breathed, slowly and deeply finding a center and the balance that went with it before really looking at herself. Make-up was alright. Hair, would serve. She didn’t have her purse or anything to fix it so it would have to do. Finally she took a hard look at her clothing. The top was pulled up a bit and bunching out over the top of the waspie. She tucked it in and buttoned the top one button higher. When she looked again at herself flattening the wrinkles in her pencil skirt she noticed the button. It had been an unconscious action—defensive. She took it back, opening the button. After that she ran her hands again over her hips feeling the skirt and the clothing underneath.

With a quick tug at the hem she uncovered her knees and thighs up to the tops of her stockings and the lace covered clasps of the garter belt. Reaching under she pulled and shimmied out of her torn panties and tossed them in the trash. She felt better no longer having them against her skin.

Three minutes later Seneca was walking into the book signing with a confident smile on her face. It was pleasing to see though, the calm and orderly line of people. It was long too, always good. When the stepped up onto the small riser and pulled out her chair, the line bubbled with applause. She waved and smiled then gestured for the first person to come up.

“Can you sign it to, Andi?” The young woman asked handing over the newly purchased book. “With an I.”

“Is that you?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Seneca smiled warmly. The girl was small, and pretty with big brown eyes. Girl-next-door sexy. “What brings you here today?”

“You,” the girl said. Then she leaned in close, and took a conspiratorial glance around. “And curiosity. A lot of curiosity.”

On the front endpaper of the book, Seneca wrote—


You have such an adventure waiting. I envy you.

Seneca Graves

As she handed the signed book over the happy rumble of voices in the room was replaced by the crack of a whip and the scream of a woman. In single movements people turned to and stepped away from the sounds. The steps became a rush of feet as the scene that produced the sound was revealed.

On the tile floor was a naked girl kneeling in a full submissive, kiss-the-floor pose with her arms fully extended. Seneca noticed immediately that the girl was an amateur. Her ass was raised too high and her back was arched downward rather than flat. Worst of all, her head was up so she could peek over her arms to watch the action or anticipate the next strike. On her back was the reddening streak of the whip’s contact. On her face was a look of joy.

The whip flashed and cracked again, this time not nearly as loudly. Most of the effect of the strike was taken by the floor beside the girl. Still she writhed and quivered under the contact. The man using the whip was standing between Seneca and his target but she didn’t have to see his face to recognize the man who’d had his hands on her.

When he turned though, it was still a shock. He was the same man she had noticed in the audience earlier. The fact that he’d been stalking her was made even clearer when he raised his free hand to his face and took a long breath from the panties he held. They were the same black panties he’d torn and Seneca had discarded.

Mark was the first one to move. He rushed at the man who swept the whip around his head and flicked it at Mark’s face. It caught him across the left eye running from the brow down to the cheek.

“Stop it!” Seneca screamed as Mark fell to the floor clutching his face.

“Oh, you think you’re in charge again?” The man with the whip asked.

Out of the corner of her eye Seneca could see Delray beginning a slow creep around the man to try and take him from behind. The man saw him as well. He lowered the hand with her panties and pulled at the handle of a long knife sheathed in his pants making sure she saw it. “Don’t do it Delray,” she said. “Call the police.”

“Call who you want,” the man snapped back. “I’ll be gone by the time they get here.

“What do you want?”

“I want to teach you.”

“Teach me what?” Seneca stepped from behind the table and off the riser to come closer. She walked slowly but steadily toward the man keeping her gaze tethered to his.

“Everything a bitch should know.”

“What’s that?”

He drew back the whip and struck it again across the back of the prostrate girl. “Place,” he said. Then added, “And posture.”

“How are you going to teach me that?”

He swung the whip around his head a couple of times and flicked it in Seneca’s direction but failed to get the crack from the tip. In anger he lashed out at the girl again tracking her back and hips with red ribbons.

“Get on your knees,” he said to Seneca.


“The fuck?”

“You don’t have any power here,” Seneca told him. “Certainly not over me. I don’t think you really have any over that girl.”

“You don’t, huh?” He threw the whip to the floor and pulled the knife before straddling the back of the girl. With three quick stabs, he pricked the skin of her back drawing bright, crimson flow of blood. The three trickles formed a single line and flowed to the floor.

The girl moaned softly but to Seneca it sounded like something more than pain.

The man laughed.

“That’s enough,” Seneca said.

“It’s enough when I say so.” He put her panties in his other hand and shook them out before touching them to his nose. “Pretty, pretty panties. Not wearing any now are ya? It feel good? Free air on your hairless snatch? Yeah, I know. I could feel it. And I can smell it.” With his knife hand he jerked the girl’s head up by the hair and stuffed the black fabric into her mouth. “Now she can smell you and taste you too. She’d eat your panties, if I told her. Cause she’s my slut, ain’t you girl?”

He rose up from the girl and stepped back. He slapped her ass hard enough to leave a rising red print on the pale skin. “Ain’t that right girl?”

She nodded her head and screamed through the panties in her mouth but she stayed where she was even raising her hips for more rather than moving away. The man obliged, slapping harder even then punching with his closed fist.

“See that?” He asked Seneca. “She does what I tell her. She takes what I give her. You and all your crap about trust. Trust don’t mean shit when you got fear. And it’s about time you learned a little fear.”

“You don’t understand anything, do you?” Seneca responded. “You don’t understand what you’re doing any more than you know what you want.”

“I know I can do anything I want to her.” To punctuate his point he ran the point of the knife across the girl’s bare hip then twisted it, curving into a slashing cut that opened a dark wound. She started to cry through her gag but made no motion to get away.

“Is she drugged?” Seneca asked. “Or did you threaten her?”

When the man didn’t answer she took a step then crouched to pick the discarded whip from the floor. He tensed, gripping his knife tighter.

“Let me tell you what I know. You’re confusing command with coercion and fear with respect. I know a little bit about fear myself.” With an effortless flick Seneca cracked the whip in front of the man’s face. “That’s what you’re feeling right now. Fear.” Again she brought the whip around, this time putting more of her arm into it. The lash cut across his ear cracking like a gunshot.

Outside the building the sounds of sirens faded in getting closer and from both directions on the street.

“Time’s up,” Seneca said. “Time to run.”

The man looked from her to the doors then up the hall. He was ready to run, she was sure. Seneca decided to have the last word. “Maybe you would rather get on your knees.”

His face changed, dropping the indecision. It solidified with purpose as he nodded at Seneca’s words. Then he smiled before he bent and shoved his knife into the girl’s ribs and side three times.

Her screams were genuine and barely muffled by the panties in her mouth.

That was when the man ran.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How Cool Is This?

Forgive me blog gods because I am a poor servant. I get tied up in everything else and forget to come update the blog. Every once in a while someone jostles my elbow and tells me to get back to it.

So much has happened since my last posting-life has actually changed in several ways. There have been more losses and family continues its eternal becoming. People change, grow, leave, all while imprinting tracks on our lives. Sometimes I get pulled into examining the fossils of my own life.

So that's a reason but no excuse. As I always say about this blog-I will try to do better.

News-News-News, there is news.

SAFE WORDS is a Top Pick on The Romance Reviews and the official review is 5 stars. Check it out.

Another bit of news for SAFE WORDS - It is a finalist in two categories for the Golden Flogger Award from the BDSM Writer's Con

There ended up being a name spelling issue but I'm proud none the less.

Aside from SAFE WORDS some of you know that I have a new book, THE END OF SUMMER. The news is that THE END OF SUMMER was a huge surprise to me. I had sent it only to a few publishers bypassing agents and not expecting too much. The book got interest and offers from every publisher. All of them were great to work with and had so much to offer.  Honestly I was torn and wished I had a book for everyone. In the end I had to go with Kensington Publishing for a multi book deal. THE END OF SUMMER and Sheriff's Detective Katrina Williams are to be a series. How cool is that?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

More Things More Important Than Writing-HURDLES

This past month my family lost people important to us. That made me think as those things will do. When I thought I created a post about things that are more important than writing. The thing about writing and life is that writing can pause. You can stop to think, make changes. You can even go back and change what is not working. Life... Well we all know life has its own schedule to keep.

Writing is a poor imitation of life but it is the best one I have. It is what I always turn to--words can be rosary beads for a troubled mind. The sad thing is that writing to set aside the world is rarely good writing, at least for me. So I've been writing and rewriting and changing and wondering about so many things. Some questions are unanswerable by even the best stories.

I'm not a Why Me? person. Things happen. I deal. People that know me know about the infection that got into my brain and changed my life. There is always pain and sometimes worse things. We all have hurdles to get our asses over and that's the thing today. Sometimes, when getting ourselves over we lose sight of the other people and their hurdles.

I write because I have always done it, needed it in some way. More than that, for a long time I made a good living writing scripts for everything you could imagine. That was when I realized that what I was writing was important to some deeper part of me. I had to write MORE. Not quantity but something, more. I wanted to tell the stories that boiled in my brain late at night or that took up a long, silent car ride. MORE. I wanted to write so the people in my life would be proud. I want to write to touch in some way other people.

Writing is both one of my joys and one of my hurdles. I have to do it. It connects me to other people in a way that nothing else will for me. BUT. But I have to be careful that the very connection I seek does not become an insulator.

Things more important than writing--those are the people for whom I write. Family, friends, readers I may never meet. In the last few days I have become aware of a hole in things. A blind spot like the gap between your mirror's view and the turn of your head while driving. There are places through which we cannot write. Broken hurdles we may get over but leave a bit of blood for our passing. One of the people lost last month was a wonderful man but he had a long life full of the things long lives are full of. He is missed but his passing was more natural than tragic. Since then though, his granddaughter, my great niece, took her own life.

I had been close to her when she was a child then the blind spot crept in. She made her own life and choices. She tackled her own hurdles while I tackled mine. I was unaware that she was having troubles. Not completely unaware, more just unaware of the height of her hurdles. I don't flatter myself to imagine that I could have saved her from the darkness at the end of the race. Only that I could have worked harder to see into the blind spot. Maybe I could have lowered one hurdle for one person I care about. Maybe that is as much fantasy as some of the stories I write but it is a thought every bit as important to me as anything I might ever write.

So, while I haven't been writing as hard as I might like lately I console myself with the knowledge that my time right now is being spent trying to lower some hurdles for some other people. I will be back in town soon and back to my routine but I'll be a little more careful about blind spots.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Update on Safe Words

Going To Print-

Just a quick note to let everyone in on some of the latest news about Safe Words. Originally released in e-formats only, it is going into print. Take a look at the wonderful cover art and quote from the generous review on It's About the Book.

A New Review-

Safe Words just got another great review, 4 stars from reviewer, BookAddict on The Romance Reviews. It is a long and through review I couldn't be more proud of it. Please give it a read and maybe find another favorite book while you're there.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Things More Important Than Writing

I haven't posted in a while. It is a failing of mine whenever I try to be a blogger. I just don't have that much to say outside of the novels I write. When I started to write this post I knew what I wanted to share and why. It should have been easy to just lay it out. It hasn't been mostly because of the title of the post, Things More Important Than Writing kept drawing me astray. That's one of the great problems of writing at my level. There are so many time sucks and distractions, competing needs and guilts that horn in on your time it is easy to think of them as more important. They aren't. Those things are the angry conservative at a political debate, demanding attention by volume rather than merit. When I started writing this post I wandered into distractions when I really wanted to talk about values.

For the most part I write daily. The timing varies and I don't sweat the days when I accomplish little because my system is one of averages. I set monthly and weekly goals that I track with daily word count. I can lose an entire day and keep up my 2000 word a day average for the week by small increases through the rest of the week or one good day of 4000 words. 2000 words is a low but sustainable goal that maintains my pace. I don't hold myself down to that, it's my minimum. By passing it consistently I have room to keep up the average and deal with the time sucks. So my process has shock absorbers built in to deal with the distractions that are not really more important than writing, just more demanding of attention.

Most of the writers I know will tell you that they would write even without pay or readers. Most of us spend a considerable amount of time doing just that. Writing is a part of our personal definition along with family and friends. Oddly enough, it is something we tend to sacrifice for love of those others. That brings me to what's more important than writing- People, Family- Life.

I haven't been writing for a couple of weeks now and it has been upsetting me. I have things to finish and new stories to begin. I actually have readers who have become fans and I love the feeling of connecting to them and I want to give them my writing. That's the dream. The reality is, two deaths in the family, my son-in-law off at boot camp and my daughter and grandson living with me, their car breaking down, all my daughters fighting with their mother, (that's a whole story on it's own) a sister looking at job loss and money, always money. As much as I want to hunker down and write people need me and I can't let that be just a distraction.

We scraped up the money for a plane ticket and I went to Oregon for just a couple of days to say farewell to the husband of my oldest sister. He was a wonderful person and I would not have missed it for the world. There were people there that I see only every several years and these days only for deaths. I met children, great nieces and nephews, second and third cousins. One nephew was married to a woman with a child last time I was there. This time the child was getting ready for high school, my nephew had since divorced, come out, and remarried to his same sex partner. The things you miss.

I took the opportunity to speak about family at the memorial service. I spent time with two of my three sisters. I met family I didn't know I had. Back home I bought groceries and paid bills to keep my grandson warm and fed and happy. There will be another memorial service. There will be more squabbles and hugs to make up. More life and family. These things are more important than the time I spend writing. It's good to be needed. But important or not, writing is my refuge from need. Fore me there is writing, the distractions, and the things more important, but I can't dwell happily in any of them entirely. I've decided the one thing more important than writing is the balance in life that gives me writing while I give time to family.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015



My novels and stories are 100% Damsel In Distress free. It wasn't a conscious choice, something to be avoided. I simply haven't encountered that many damsels in my life. Those I have annoyed me. I'm a big believer in being the solution to your own problems. I have daughters and I've tried to instill that idea in them just as I have always put it into my characters.

That is not to say that my female characters are not feminine or are male characters in dresses. What I hope I accomplish is avoiding those simple characterization boxes that make writing bland. Not all of my female characters are good at solving their own problems but they try. Sometimes they get in their own way. Sometimes they need to be saved. Sometimes they kick ass and take names. The point for me is to make them people first, female second, then the list goes on from there.

Not all of my females are born female. Gender is a huge issue in the lives of some pretty wonderful people and one that is hard to ignore when you are looking for complexity in the world of your novel. In the case of the transgendered people I have written I still go with people first, identified gender second...

When it comes to being saved I aspire to make it plot necessary, or dramatic, never character defining. Peril is a necessary thing in the kinds of books I write. I love mayhem and dangerous situations and seeing how characters react. But if you ever see me use a character as a peril device, someone who simply exists to be rescued by and show off the prowess of the male lead- call me on it.

You may be saying who cares, big deal, or I don't even read your books, why should it matter to me? My point is, writers, even a poor hack like me, along with filmmakers, musicians, even video game developers, create, bit by bit, our culture. It's a responsibility.

I believe that culture is akin to the ocean in which we all live. It undulates and ripples, in places there are currents and zones of interaction and conflict. But there is a burden to it as well. Every negative we rain into that sea is a weight someone has to carry.

There is a huge dialogue going on now about gender roles in video games. I don't know a lot about gaming. I won't say anything about it. Sticking to what I know- what I say and how I say it matters to certain people. And my characters can be weights on the backs of women or can be bubbles under them. I make my choices not because women, or anyone else, need me to save them. I choose what I believe is better writing and because we're all swimming in this ocean together holding hands.

Friday, January 30, 2015

A story and a poem for Goodreaders

Today I'm adding a little story instead of the usual post. It is not edited or polished just something that was supposed to become part of a bigger story but I thought you might like something fun and sexy. Let me know what you think.


I light the candles one by one lingering at each to be sure the flame reaches high and bright into the evening. I had lit a fire in the fireplace earlier so now the room glowed with warmth. There is a large mirror on the floor by the hearth reflecting light and a pile of silk pillows on the rug catching it.

I hear the door from the bath open softly and see your shadow on the wall for just a moment before you kill the electric light in favor of the ancient light of flame. I grab a hand full of spices and dried aromatics from the silver bowl and drop them into the fire. A light sandalwood fills the air mixing with jasmine.

The stage is ready, my tools are ready, and you are ready as you step into the room.
You are beautiful in firelight, the soft glow shimmering on your skin and dancing in your eyes. Your body, fresh from the bath still radiates its heat. Your breasts hang in gentle contur from your chest, swaying with your footfalls in counter point to your hips.

I slip to my knees slowly, awaiting you, turning my face as you move against me so I may lay it on your belly. When my hands reach around your hips, gripping only slightly, I know you can feel them tremble. I press my lips to you and kiss following your shape down to the soft crease that peeks from between your thighs. I had shaved you earlier and now I run my tongue over your bare skin to feel its
perfection. You shudder in response and I close my eyes cherishing your pleasure.

I raise my hands offering them to you as you sink to the floor with me.

“Lay on the pillows,” I say and you do so, keeping your eyes on mine.

As I stand I let my robe fall from me catching it by the collar only just before it drops into a black silk pile on the floor. You can see me now standing over you, my eyes burning with fire and desire. My breath whispers from deep in my chest. Your gaze falls down my body until it comes to dwell on my awakening shaft. Under the weight of your attention it fills with warm blood slowly lengthening, thickening. Each of my furious heart beats pulses into my cock, causing it to redden and reshape itself as an offering to you. Before I harden in earnest I step toward the hearth dragging the silk of my robe between your open thighs and up your body. It glides over you like a breath then it falls quietly to the floor behind your head.

I take up a small tray, black lacquer inlayed with mother of pearl, and bring it to the floor beside you. It contains a cloth of soft white linen, a bottle of shimmering gold toned ink and a broad nib pen.
Kneeling beside you I lean and look into your eyes. I see a world of acceptance and care, desire, affection, passion maybe even a spark of something deeper. I smile softly and you know the smile is for you and of you, a possession of yours just as you own a jewel or your own heartbeat.

I push a strand of hair from your face and lean to kiss you. It is soft and deep and our mouths open to each other happily for a long moment.

Breaking the kiss I throw my leg over your body straddling you over your hips. Taking up the pen I dip it in the ink and tap the excess from the nib. After that small sound the room is silent except for the gentle crackle of the flames behind you.

I look to your eyes a moment then allow my eyes to fall down your body then climb again slowly. Leaning close I begin to write on your chest. The nib is sharp and hard scratching your skin even as it writes. The shimmering ink flows onto you in bold broad strokes requiring frequent refills of the pen. Each movement, each letter bites into you leaving a red-gold trail. The ink seeps into the shallow scratches staining just below the surface and each mark becomes a precious golden tattoo that will linger for days before finally fading.

After long moments the first line is written and I lean back to look at the words. The line follows the contours of your chest and snakes out over your arms. Words shine like a brand. Your chest is roiling with deep breaths. The hundred tiny bites of the pen have begun to inflame you. I notice your hips still moving gently under me even though I have stopped writing. I look to your eyes and see you looking down over your body but you are not looking at the words. Your eyes linger beyond the words and the hardened peaks of your breasts to my firm erection lying against your soft belly.

I lay low over you and kiss your open lips deeply sucking the breath from your mouth. My hips undulate against you stroking my shaft on your skin my testicles falling into the deep valley between your legs. I feel you open your thighs slightly and I fall against your blooming flower.

Again I break the kiss and return to my work slowly inscribing my passion on your skin. The second line falls across the top swelling of your breasts and flows into the soft gap between them. I write faster now the words coming unbidden to my eyes and communicated by gold, blood, blade and fire onto your burnished skin. The third line falls over your nipples and into the dark skin around them. The next writes itself on your ribs, the next, next, and next over your gently moving belly.

I write now with a furious passion moving down over your body lying between your open legs. Sandalwood is replaced by the scent of your rising passion in the room. I pause between lines and rest my lips on the fleshy petals of your flower. You moan softly as I press my tongue to you penetrating into your body and drawing out the liquid of your desire.

Words flow now over your shaved skin and onto the soft mound of Venus inscribing my loving heart onto you. Your body writhes under my touch seeking contact to satisfy the longing my words and pen have etched. Lines fill slowly down your thighs the nib scratching like a tooth on the soft flesh inside the legs.

Finally I finish my words and the branding of your skin and I lay the pen aside. We kiss again with my body suspended over you without touching. Your hands take hold of my burning erection and caress me lovingly. I stay in your grasp as long as I can without giving myself to you completely. I slide down over your body again, this time not writing but blowing gently cool air from my mouth to dry the wet gold of your brand. Following every contour I blow like a greedy wind over you watching your skin pucker and your nipples tighten to little stones.

Moving lower, your hips press up, rising to meet the wind that dries the words. Your legs open to invite the gentle air and I feel your breath catch as mine contacts your most sensitive spots.
We can wait no longer, neither one of us. Your hands reach for me as I crawl up your body. Your hand finds my erection and my mouth finds your mouth. Your fingers pull me guiding me into the depths of you. Slowly, joyously we are joined. Richly entangled in each other we bathe in the heat and sweat we shine in the firelight. Passion rises and overflows the containment of our bodies. You peak first arching your back and pressing your hips to me, crushing my hips in the grip of your thighs. I rise from you, my body at a precise right angle from yours as your grip slackens and your face relaxes. Reaching back I take your feet in my hands and untangle you from me then press them forward opening you fully to me.

My moment comes and I cannot deny the pleasure but I withdraw from you and stroke the wet shaft in my hand until I release. Thick ribbons of my fluid rush onto your body in diminishing pulses. After the orgasm fades, my face and body slackens. We each reach our fingers into the wet tracks of my passion. We have the same idea at the same time spreading the warm fluid over your body rubbing it into the markings on your skin. Now you are fully branded, my seed under your skin, in your blood and sealed with gold.

You look into my eyes and quietly whisper, “Read it to me.”
I smile slightly and run my eyes over your body to the start and begin to read.

Night falls into silent substance as daylight quits the sky
Stars swim into soft focus
Illuminating the faces of ancient dead gods
Fossilized in the sands of forgotten rivers

Out here you are the night
You are the blanket of dreams that covers my eyes
And I am the Earth below

Out here you are the totem of supernatural midnight
Rich wood stained intricately with charcoal, blood and berries
And I am the worshiper below

Like ghosts coming through old mirrors into church
Memories and dreams are smoke behind a comic mask
Like faith and fate

You are the answer to questions
I never dared to ask.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Golden Flogger

Hello again all. It has been such a busy time I haven't been on here to post to you lately. My alter ego just had an e-book released. I got the elements today to review for the paperback release. The same pub is interested in reprinting a novella if I expand it a little. It stands at only 20,000 words, a long short story. They would like it to be at least 30,000.

END OF SUMMER was so close to the end that I had assumed that I would be finished by the end of the month. That was before I decided that the whole development of the story was too rushed with everything happening in about a week's time. It wasn't working. I pulled the whole story apart, cut scenes, reordered some, added new ones. About 6000 words were cut away. About 15,000 were added. All in all it is a smoother story that makes better sense for the characters.

SAFE WORDS was nominated for a Golden Flogger award.

Thank you to my beautiful booster for the nomination. I have learned that SAFE WORDS CAN EXPECT some new reviews soon as well. Wouldn't it be cool if the award was the fun looking flogger pictured? I lost the only good one I had when the house burned a while back. It was purple and well broken in. I'd had it for years. A single tail, it was more of a short whip and could make an intimidating sound. Now I have one the one in my closet. It was a gift. It has feathers. Sigh.

At least if you get this award you can run through the town singing, I've got a golden flogger-

I've been writing at least 2000 words every day but they have been spread over the new book, editing the new release, and expanding the novella. I have notes on the next book in the SAFE WORDS series but not words down. I anticipate that it will be my next project but we'll see. The alter ego has two books out, one with a UK horror publisher that was really excited about the samples. Another with an agent. She is spending a lot of time with the MS that makes me hopeful. She usually rejects within a month. She has had this one 4 months.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Taking Advantage

I've been taken advantage of. I admit it. I've said before that crazy follows me like a shadow but crazy has a little brother it drags with it everywhere. Needy. I have been taken advantage of many times through the years and I know it. I'm not an easy touch and have no problem saying no when I am sure that I'm being played. Sometimes I'm not so sure. I learned that years ago living in LA where panhandling is constant. A young woman who seemed in genuine need to me, but who could have been a junkie asked for some money in a store parking lot. I took a chance and gave what I have. I saw her buy milk and take it to a child waiting in a car. I wished then I had more to give and came to understand that it would be better to be taken for a few dollars in my life than to miss the chance to help.

Today I took a break. Actually my grandson, who lives with me, was being loud so I had to get out of the house. I returned a library book and picked up a couple of new books then went to McDonald's to drink iced tea and read. I ended up getting two chicken sandwiches and reading longer. A man came in not dressed for the cold. He was deaf and tried talking to a few people that moved him on. I knew what was coming.

It is my experience that genuine need shows through. Panhandlers are generally practiced at their pitch. People in sudden need have no background in asking strangers for help. I had no cash so I took him up to the counter and ordered some food. While there he kept pointing to the double quarter-pounder value meal and holding up two fingers. I go to McDonalds because it is all I can afford and I can't afford the big value meals. I pointed to the dollar menu. He pointed to a picture of fries and held up his hands one over the other and opened them wide. Large. I held up two fingers close together. Small.

In the end he didn't get what he wanted but I was not left with the feeling of having walked out on someone in need. I still spend more on him that I have on myself in quite a while and there is the risk that I was taken advantage of. Still, every once in a while I do it and know for sure.

End of the Year Routine

I seem to do it every year. I start writing a book I'm excited about in fall with the hopes that hard work and the drive to finish will get me to the end before the year is out. It never happens. Too much gets going on and my momentum is sucked away by family and events.

This year I started THE END OF SUMMER at the beginning of October. The Sunday before Thanksgiving I totaled a word count of 14,000 for the week. The week of, maybe a thousand. The week after the same. Writing is like a work out habit for me. As long as I do it and remain in the routine everything is fine. Once you break the routine it is so hard to get going again. Add to that the idea from everyone around you that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want to. It's not like a real job to them because I don't go off to an office and no one but me cares if I show up.

Well, just like every year, the season of time suck and momentum kill is past. I am back to work and finding it a hard transition. Over the last few days I have muddled through some work on END OF SUMMER. I have created a new version and broken open a chapter to add a new scene that both added more complexity to the complications and put more time into the main character's romantic progression. It was something bothering me. Katrina and Nelson were drawn to each other from their first encounter, It worked. I was feeling their chemistry and I let that drive the progression into intimacy. It was unrealistic for Katrina and it showed as her feelings developed. So I went and gave her a step-away moment. I'm happy with it so far.

I'm happy also with the settled time and return to routine that promises to bring this book to an end. I have heard other writers talk about enjoying the ride of their characters in the story. I don't. I want the end and I enjoy the looking back. From the moment that I begin a new story I am impatient to finish. Now at 66,200 words I am eager to get to the end. The only real problem is that I had been shooting for under 80,000 words. Story and characters are telling me to forget that target they want a little more room. I'm not so close to the end as I thought.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

END OF SUMMER - The first chapter

I'm posting the first chapter of my work in progress, THE END OF SUMMER. The book is a mystery/suspense novel about a damaged woman, a Sheriff's Detective in the Ozarks, finding brutal killers and defending the love she thought she would never have. A warning though, Katrina William's story does not start in a good place. It begins with the damage that shapes the rest of life. Let me know what you think.


I felt like it was the end of summer. Not that there was a hint of green or the creeping red-oranges of leaves turning. In Iraq everything was brownish. Not even a good, earthy brown. Instead, everything within my view was a uniform, wasted, dun color. It was easy to imagine the creator ending up here on the seventh day. Out of energy and out of ideas after spending his palate in the joy of painting the rest of the world. This spit of earth, the dirty asshole of creation we called the Triangle of Death, didn’t even rate a decent brown.

I had been in country for eight months. I had been First Lieutenant, Katrina Williams, Military Police, attached to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division for a little over a year. Pride and love had brought me here. Proud to be American and just as proud to have come from a military family, I was in love with what the ROTC at Southwest Missouri State University had shown me about my country’s military. I fell in love with the thought of the woman I would become serving my nation. I wanted to echo the men my father and my uncle were and add my own tone to the family history. Iraq bled that all out of me. Just like it was bleeding my color out into the dust. Bright red draining into shit brown.

It was the impending weight of change that made me feel like the end of summer. As a girl, back home in the Ozarks, the summers seemed to last forever. It wasn’t until the final days, carried over even into a new school year, when the air cooled and the oaks rusted that I could feel them ending. Their endings were like the descent of ice ages, the shift of epochs. That was exactly how I felt bleeding into the dirt. The difference was that I felt an impending death rather than transition. The terminus of an epoch. In Iraq though, nothing was as clear as that. It was death; but it wasn’t.

Lying on my back, I wished I could see blue sky but not here. The air was hazed with dust so used up it became a part of the sky. There was no more of the earth in it. Grit like bad memories and regret hanging over an entire nation. I coughed hard and it hurt. A bubbly thickness slithered up my throat. Using my tongue and what breath I had, I got the slimy mass up to my lips. I just didn’t have it in me to spit. Instead, I turned my head to the side and let the bloody phlegm slide down my cheek.
Dying is hard.
Wind, hot and cradling the homeland sand so many factions were willing to kill over, ran over the wall I was hidden behind. It eddied there, slowing and swirling and then dumping the dirt on my naked skin. A slow motion burial. Even the land here hated naked women.
I stayed there, without moving but slipping in and out of consciousness for a long time. It seemed long anyway. I dreamed. Dreamed or remembered so well they seemed like perfect dreams of—everything.

We played baseball. Just like in old movies with kids turning a lot into a diamond. No one does that anymore but we did. My grandfather played minor league ball years ago and I had a cousin who was a Cardinals fan. Everyone was a Cardinals fan, so I loved the Royals. When the games were over, and it was hotter than the batter’s box when I was pitching—I had a wild arm—my father would take me to the river. Later when we had cars, I was drawn there every summer to swim and swing from the ropes. We floated on old, patched inner tubes and teased boys. That was where I learned to drink beer. My father would take me fishing on the river. My grandfather would take me on the lakes. I used the same cane pole my father had when granddad taught him about fishing. Both of the men used to say to the girl who complained about not catching anything, “It’s not about the catching, it’s about the fishing.” I don’t think I ever understood until a good portion of my blood was spilled on the dirt of a world that hated me.
My head spun back to the moment and back to Iraq. If I was going to die I would have done it already, I figured. At least my body. That physical part of me would live on. Changed with the ice-age changes of the world. That other part of me, the girl who loved summer… I think she was already dead. Death and transition.
It was a huge effort to roll to my side and when I did I saw the stain of my blood. It was already mixed with the dirt, surrendering its color. Everything becoming something less than brown. I wondered about the rest of my color, the auburn of my hair, it turned redder in the sunlight, the pale green of my eyes, and the almost-peach toned spray of freckles that trickled from my nose to the tops of my breasts. Was it going too? All that color, all that life—wasted here.
The worst wound was in my back, below the shoulder blade. The knife had been thrust straight down and hard. There was no telling how bad it was, but it was bad. I had been left for dead after all. Or at least to die. And I’d been left with no weapons. My ACU’s had been cut and stripped away. If soldiers had found me dead, they would assume I was abducted and raped by insurgents. If insurgents found me they would assume another faction was responsible. If I was found alive by any insurgent, I would be raped some more and condemned to die for the sins of being female and American.
The men who had raped me first, who had killed the girl that loved summer, were Americans too. Hating women crosses all borders and faiths. Something all the boys could agree on. They thought they were careful, but I knew who they were. I had seen their hands.
Another gust rippled over the wall dumping a handful of grave dirt over me.
It took a while but I finally rolled completely over and rose to my hands and knees. Every part of me was shaking with the effort. My head throbbed a golden flash of spinning pain and then I vomited.
The word was part of the catalog I began writing in my mind. An inventory was needed to assess chances and options. Concussion. Hole in my back. My rib might be broken.
When my gut seemed ready, I opened my eyes again. The puddle of puke under my face had lost its color to the Iraqi dust making a dark, molted mud. Careful not to put my hands in the mess, I backed away. That was when I felt the cuts in my back side. I remembered the Captain slapping and cutting my ass with the knife as he sodomized me. When he bucked up against me moaning with his release he had stabbed, thrusting the blade deep into my right buttock.
The effort of turning my head back to look, only made the world spin again.  Let my head sag so I could down the length of my body. More blood and more cuts. Both of my breasts were tracked with bruises, black finger marks on pale skin. The right one though, had a long gash starting high on my chest and running under the soft flesh causing it to hang lower and at an impossible angle. On my left, the nipple was sliced and twisted.
Scars. So many scars.
The freckles, that had been a part of my identity since I knew to think of myself as separate from my mother, were faded out.
I’m becoming the color of bone.

There was another laceration in the pubic hair, a violent, jagged gash, and a bare strip where the darker red curls had been stripped away.

The Lieutenant’s souvenir.

Blood was flowing, a fresh rush over the sticky, semi-dry coating between my legs. The fresh fluid cut a new path that trickled right down dead white thighs with dark galaxies of bruising. Most of the blood seemed to be coming from my vagina. I recalled the Lieutenant punching between my legs several times before he shoved his fist inside. That ring raking me. Afterward, he said he wanted a lock of hair, like a lover might. He used the Ka-Bar to cut away the strip. With one hand he pulled the hairs tight. With the other, the one with the ring, he cut.
Both of the men had rings. Different years and different designs but the rings came from the same school. They had the good sense not to wear them during patrols but around base the rings were always on display. Everyone knew those rings.
Everything hurts.
I cried. For a short time or a long one I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was a short time that only seemed equal to all the time I had lived so far. I stayed there on my hands and knees because it hurt too much to move, and I cried. It poured from my frothy lungs, a quiet, keening wail that sounded almost like a meadow lark but there was no answering call.
They were supposed to be on my side. My people. I’ll never know how anyone can survive feeling as alone as I did then. When the tears and the pitiful wailing dried up I was left with just the silence. Eventually even the silence was too great a weight to bear. I started gathering clothes and doing what I could to cover myself. The only thing worse than being raped and left naked behind some mud wall and shack in Iraq, was being found naked in any condition by the local faithful. A naked woman in this part of the world was a whore and whores got no sympathy.
My bra was cut in two and my fatigue shirt was just gone. The T-Shirt was there. More brown. I found my panties down by my feet but someone, the Lieutenant, I assumed, had ejaculated in them. I wouldn’t put those on for anything. I could reach my pants but only found one boot. It didn’t matter; I had to get moving.
The clothes went on slowly. When I pulled the shirt over my head I almost screamed. Fresh blood streaked the cotton.
More color stolen.
It took another five minutes to get pants on.
When I stood, my head lurched again and the guts followed. There was no fighting it. I draped my body over the low wall and puked in hard spasms. Gold star bursts patterned my vision. I smelled bile and copper.
I don’t remember rising again. Nor did I remember walking from the wall. There is a gap in time and place that left me staggering toward a road but away from the village in the distance. If I was any near where I thought I was, there would be a traffic check point in about three kilometers. It could have just as well as been a million. Before I made it a hundred yards down the road, a white dot appeared on the horizon. A vehicle.
If it isn’t green it isn’t safe.
There was a depression in the dirt alongside the road that was almost deep enough to pass for a ditch. It was mostly bare dirt but here and there were bits of trash. No cover.
No choice. I dropped into the dirt. When I hit, something popped in my chest. It was physical and audible and started a cascade of wrenching pain. A doctor told me later a nick in my lung must have torn through. Air was escaping into the chest cavity at the same time that blood was running into the lung. Each breath was a loud, gasping rattle that brought in little air and almost as much dust.
The white pickup truck slowed on shrieking brakes, and then wheeled around after passing. They had seen me. I had seen them. It was a small truck, but it carried three men up front and six in the back. All were armed.
Even over the old engine and bad brakes, even over my own ragged breathing, I could hear the excited shouts of the men.
Summer’s over.
I said goodbye, in quiet thoughts, to my mother and father. Everyone who had ever done me harm, I forgave, except the men who had put where I was. Then I waited for the real death.
One man jumped down from the truck bed and the others stayed behind shouting. I couldn’t tell if the shouts were instruction or encouragement. The bolt on an AK47 was pulled. All the shouting stopped.
I’m not ready.
The shouting started up again but it was different in tone and urgency. The man with the AK ran back to the truck. He sprayed a wash of rounds at me without aiming as the truck left the road and took off across open ground.
A moment later, I watched as a column of Humvees stopped short of my position. A squad of men piled out and formed a perimeter. A sergeant I had never seen before, stalked up to me with his weapon at the ready. He looked close and long before calling back, “We need a medic and a litter up here.”


A New Year

It is a new year with the same old problems. Busy holidays, family, cars breaking down, and the laptop crashing. Problems, problems, problems. They are always there lurking and waiting for a chance to bring us down. The funny thing is that they have no power. They are like illusions that we invest with the power to control us. I'm not saying that they are not real just that we don't have to let them control how we see the world.

Easier said... I know. I'm a huge offender, I get angry in my way and cuss at machines and Mistress Fortunada when I know that things just happen with no fault to anyone. I'm better with people. I'll vent on an inanimate object like no one's business. If there is a hell for people who treat Ford f150's badly, I'm on my way. But people get hurt feelings and sad eyes and I don't like to be the jerk so...

There is no real point to this just my observation that I allow my world to turn on the whims of worn out computers and broken spark plugs too often. Often too, I laugh at myself for an idiot doing so. Taking my own advice I am aware of how I react and admit to letting the problems define moment I do not let them define my life.

That being said I have put a troublesome holiday season behind me and am, even now, rubbing a little dirt into the wounds and getting back to the business of being me. That means back to the routine of writing. Starting next week.