has worn numerous hats. He’s been a furniture salesman, a dresser, a costumer, an actor/waiter, a rabble-rouser, a poet and most recently a writer. He loves words and stringing them together, he loves sex and sexy men, and he writes relationship fiction that reminds you–it’s never too late for love. And he has lived his tagline. He married his husband on Halloween, at the age of forty-nine, and they are the loving parents of an adorable cat named Molly.
“I am a housewife, and I’m happily married. I am a little ashamed that we are sitting here having to explain to you, Officer Marin, what just happened.” Diane looks across the busy police station, her eyes landing first on her husband Jeremy, who managed to look up at the same time. She melted when his beautiful smile grew, his charcoal grey eyes twinkled, her smile matched his, and they both glanced across the room at the Brazilian man, waiting his turn.
“Yes, I’ll go over it one more time. It was not a break in; it was not…” Diane bit her bottom lip, already plump from having been bitten so many times tonight, and mostly not even by her teeth. She wondered when Jerry had become such a biter, and a small chuckle came out of her mouth as she continued.
Her eyes darted between the men, one she’d known for years, and the other had just entered her front door hours ago. Two sensual, seductive, sexual hours ago. Diane sighed thinking of those first moments when she’d entered the room, and then she had to pull a white linen hankie from her purse, to bring up to her forehead. Her voice shook as she said the words the patient policewoman had been transcribing. “I’d just gotten home, a few minutes when I’d noticed my neighbor looking out her curtains. I’d seen the phone pressed to her ear, and I did not think anything of it. I placed my key in the lock, but the door swung open.” She brought the hankie to her chest and felt her heart beating a mile a minute.
I had given Katrina specific instructions, for Cinnamon Twist to enter the house and surprise my husband in the bedroom. I wanted to walk in on them, to watch and then join in. I understood that it was risky, but I assured her that my husband would be thrilled. He had convinced me.
“I will tell you once more; this was not a break-in. Yes, Dorcas saw Adan enter our home, but…” Diane leaned in, looked Officer Marin up and down. Her brown eyes, the peach lipstick that was simply simple on her pale face. The tiny freckles that dotted her face blended in with the blush on her cheeks. Diane had sworn herself to secrecy. She’d promised not to reveal anything about the cookies. “Adan and my husband had arranged to get together to…”
She was interrupted by a loud expletive from the officer talking to Jeremy. Diane looked up, lost in what she was about to say and saw Jerry shrug and smile.
Officer Marin shouted, “Hey. Chuck, could you please be more professional?”
“Sorry, Jennifer… but, oh man!” Chuck whistled and looked over his shoulder at Diane and then across the room at Adan.
“Mrs. Miller, if you will continue?” Officer Marin shook her head and sighed, bored by this break-in investigation.
Diane cleared her throat, remembering the outburst, the shrugging and continued. “As I was saying, actually, I wasn’t honest that last time.” She blinked and chuckled as she realized she was about, to be honest.
“About which part?” Officer Marin looked over the paper, down through the scribbled lines.
“The part about my husband arranging to meet with Adan. It was my doing, I arranged it. I had run into Adan at the supermarket. Can you believe it? We reached for the same melon; his hand brushed over mine. And he stole it out from under my hand. He held it aloft, testing its heft and looking deep into my eyes, he… he… asked if mine were as firm.” Diane’s eyes glazed, her heart beating and she focused on Jennifer’s lips as she wrote the last word and Diane noticed the subtle flick of her tongue along the dry flesh.
Their eyes met, and Officer Marin looked at the Brazilian, then back to Diane as she leaned forward. “Not a break-in, an overzealous neighbor who didn’t know, who imagined a mass murder, not a sexual encounter?” Her breath came in short gasps. She breathed out a few more times and made some notes.
“Yes, a sexual encounter, between three adults, all aware of what was going to transpire,” Diane spoke precisely, and just as breathlessly. “I had told Adan when my husband would be home and to enter the house a few minutes after him, and he would find the door unlocked and just to enter.” Diane saw Jennifer’s head tilt to the side. “Yes, my husband was aware of the arrangement. It was not a murder for hire plot, and it was not a break in, it was exactly what your mind is making it out to be.” Diane took a few deep breaths, remembering the way Adan’s tongue traveled the length of them, starting with Jeremy’s knees, sliding over to hers and then back again, teasing, licking, tasting… Diane pressed her knees together, and she felt a little weakened, her left hand gripping the hankie, her right reaching out to the desk, landing close to Jennifer’s where she’d placed her hand just above the paper.
“Mrs. Miller, are you alright, you look faint… Oh…” She balled the police report and tossed it in the can beside her desk. “Chuck, let’s let the Millers go.” She motioned with her hands. “This wasn’t what Dorcas Grant assumed. Toss that report in the trash. The two,” she looked over her shoulder and nodded to the sexy, blue-eyed Brazilian. “The three of you are free to go.”
As Diane slowly, shakily rose from the seat. Jennifer leaned in. “Just once?”
Diane grinned and shook her head. “Not if I can help it.”
“Next time, have him arrive with one of you or knock on the door?” She chuckled.
As the threesome left the building, Jennifer reached into the can and pulled out the paper, and she ripped off the top with Diane Miller’s phone number.
To be continued 4/8
Rain rattles against the high windows, and in the distance heavy thunder rolls. But I pay it no mind. Tonight I’m sworn to vengeance.
This night, I have paper. Graphs and diagrams are all laid out before me. I have their work schedules, pictures of their cars and smiling faces, and I wonder if they were ever this happy with me in their lives.
Lucy was always so worried what other people would think if they saw Ethan and me out doing things together – like they might think that two old school friends were still buddies? I asked her once. But she couldn’t get past the fact that back at the house, the three of us shared a bed. She agreed to our three-ways so she could have us, but every time I tried to explain that it was perfectly natural to love more than one person, she’d tilt her head like my old hound dog. I half expected her tongue to slide out of her mouth and drip all over the floor.
To my right, I see the altar Mama used all those years ago. Walking to it, I find myself making an offering of a couple of bracelets and some found-object wire pieces I’d made recently for Ethan, forgetting that he didn’t live with me any more. I sit there, rocking in place, remembering the chants my Mama used to sing as Fathers and I would carve things out of hard, old stone and soft, new wood. Some of the ancient words come back to my lips and tears drip down my face.
A tap-tapping brings me out of my reverie. I look over my shoulder and freeze.
Outside the high basement window crouches a bird, or a man…? I’m not sure which. There are feathers and leaves and a muddy grey beard, shouting at me. The tapping grows louder and more insistent. I shake my head, frozen in place, noticing his rugged, chiseled features, that strong nose, that black red-streaked hair, and the feathers, so many feathers surrounding his face.
He’s screaming at me, but I can barely hear the words. He’s motioning for me to open the window, but I’m lost in those midnight blue eyes.
The sound of glass breaking brings me to my feet. “What are you doing?” we shout at the same time. Then he’s reaching down to grab at me. I scramble away, shaking my head.
“You need to get out! A storm’s coming and this place won’t be safe for you! I vowed to protect you, and Mama Glenn will have my hide if you’re found floating in this basement! Now come out here, or let me in.”
I hear the words, but I can’t believe it. I haven’t heard her name in years.
I am still thinking Mama Glenn – or did I dream it? when water begins pouring through the broken window. “Come on,” he yells. “It’s going to flood!”
I shake away the thought, and shout back, “You broke my window! Of course the basement’s going to flood!” I glare up at him. “What are you, stupid?”
“Get that ladder over there and come up this way. Your house is already flooding, and you can’t come up the stairs.”
I glance at the door – water is seeping under it.
Suddenly, doing what he says seems like a really good idea. I look around wildly and see the old willow ladder Fathers had made the year he died. “Fathers had it in a book. He told me to make it this year. Why? It was told, son. Sometimes, you just do what is told. You’ll learn someday.”
I reach for the ladder, lean it into the waterfall pouring through the window, and start to climb. As I get closer, I see that the man has a mantle of black feathers around his neck. “Guard your eyes,” he orders, and without thinking, I turn away and raise my arm to shield my face. More glass breaks, and when I look up again he’s cleared the window frame. “OK, come on!”
Getting through is harder than it looks. He didn’t get all the glass, and I leave skin behind. As he drags me to my feet in shin-deep water, I get a better look at him.
“Who are you? What are you doing here? And…what’s with this getup?” I point at the feathers, glimmering with drops of rain like dew on a leaf.
He laughs and walks me away from the window. “They told you nothing? Oh, Sister… Well, this is going to be tough. I’ll let Mama Glenn tell you herself. Now come on.”
I look over my shoulder. Does he realize I’ll have to leave everything I’ve been planning? Then I realize, Well, what do I have to lose?
What do I have to lose? I can sit here in my misery, or go to jail for murdering my two ex-lovers, who had decided being with each other was far better than ever being with me. Or both.
Or, maybe, I can follow him.
Are they worth drowning for? Is he worth dying for?
Haven’t you already made your choice?
I stand stock-still in the rain and the water, the past and the future warring in my mind.
With them, I always felt so left out, so not wanted. But now I feel wanted. It makes no sense. One minute I’m planning their deaths, the next I’m climbing up a ladder, through a little broken window and into the arms of a bird-man. If I’d wanted to become a murderer, wouldn’t I just stay at the bottom rung?
I follow him.
He wasn’t lying – the storm is furious: rain blowing, wind raging, trees bowing over to the passing of the storm gods. Water clamors all about us, into the lake around our legs and into my face as I look up.
He is taller than I’d first imagined. He towers over me, seven feet or more. I feel small, and weak, and suddenly helpless, like the ten-year-old I had been when I moved into this house.
“I am Sunder, your… uncle, for want of a better word, nephew. Sister didn’t tell you much, so… I’m sorry I’m going to have to do this.”
“Do wha-” I start to say, and then a sharp pain flares and everything goes black.
Awareness returns slowly. It’s hot, so hot, and the back of my head hurts. I drag my eyes open. Except for one corner, the room is dark, smelling of dirt and moss and moisture. I roll over toward that corner, and a fire dancing in red embers in an iron pot-bellied stove reminds me of the one Mama used to sing about. My skin tingles, my head throbs, and I groan while thinking, Sunder? Did he hit me?
The deep chuckle is near my ear. “Yes… because you couldn’t get here otherwise.”
The first time I tasted desire, I was standing in the back corner of the used bookstores on Chartres in New Orleans. That desire was more than I could imagine, it was as though I were in a dream. I saw my hand reach for the bumpy leather binding of the book I had stumbled upon. I felt the soft cordovan binding with the tip of my index finger, sliding along the spine like I would a lover.
I pulled back as though I were burned, but I wanted more. My hand clenched and I licked my dry lips, before biting my bottom lip. The spine was flush with the other books, there wasn’t an edge to grab. If the book wouldn’t come to me, I’d have to go after it. On the left side, I pulled a useless too thick medieval history book, a book on exercise and a hardback copy of Gone with the Wind. The exercise book, I slid on the shelf beneath.
The four fingers of my right hand explored the front cover, bumps, a face, and a… “Ow.” I yanked my hand back to see the blood bubbling out of my middle finger. One step to the right and I glanced the oxblood cover; the shadowy face had two metal teeth in the mouth.
My need was growing and I wanted the book, I pulled three more from the other side of the tome. A biography of a singer that didn’t belong in this section and a civil war book. A voice in my head told me to be calm, not to ask for help or to yell that there is a thing called organization, but even I knew used book stores never excelled at anything close to a system, for all I knew this was the shelf of red books.
The tome remained fixed in its spot, the removal of four or five books on each side would have made even a thick paperback slide over on its pages. This book stood tall and proud. I licked my lips again and leaned in to snap a picture of the cover and then leaned the other way to snap a picture of the back.
I felt hot breath on my neck just as I slid the phone back in my pocket. “Jamie Jones, you are the slowest hunter ever.” His lips were pressed against my left ear, his breath wafted over and smelled of chicory coffee and powdered sugar.
“Ray, no. I… stop, the blood.” Thus, began our adventure together. He always grabbing and me investigating.
I watched as he brought the book close to his face, as his eyes glanced over the book, and he shook his head. “Is this your blood Jamie Jones?” He turned to look at me with disappointment on his face. Or was that fear.
“How was I to know it would have teeth on it?”
“What kind of investigator are you?” He held the spine out to my face. “What does that say?”
“My Latin is rusty, but I think it says Pro studiis hominum, Ray.”
“Right and what I remember from class… its Human tastes?”
“The Tastes of Men.” I said biting my bottom lip.
“Well, it got a taste of you my friend. Maybe it won’t be anything serious.”
“I’m keeping a tally and that’s the tenth lie you’ve told me, Ray.”
His laughter echoed around the bookstore. “Theodore said the book was from the 1800’s, I can’t imagine it being too dangerous.”
“Eleventh.” I pulled out the notebook where I listed what Theodore Wattingham told us about the books he had been seeking. This had the same binding that he’d requested, but the name isn’t one of the eight he listed. “This isn’t on the list, maybe it’s just a journal.”
His heavy hand dropped on my shoulder and that laughter echoed around me once more. “My dear Jamie Jones, you are an optimist. This could just as well be a chef’s grimoire or a witches Book of Shadows.”
“Are you going to open it or just make me beg?” I looked up into his eyes, a look I soon regretted.
This time there was no laughter, but his lips turned up into a grin, his head tilted and he winked. Then he reached across the cover to pull open the front board. The creak reminded me of a long-closed door, or floor board on a much-used stairwell. My eyes copied his as we squinted at the sound.
I glimpsed the cover page, it was hand written in a dark brown ink. “At least it’s not written in blood, it’s brown.” I pointed.
His sigh was one of the things I hated most about him, it contained a sense of superiority. “Did you not learn anything at school?”
“What do you mean, I graduated with honors.”
“But, did you just memorize things or did you study them and ingest them?” He looked down on the page and he nodded a quick jump of his head. “This is dried blood, it dries into a deep dark brown, sometimes if it’s very old it turns black.”
“Ray, I want to say twelfth, that can’t be blood. Maybe it’s chocolate.” I laughed a laugh that even I didn’t believe. That’s the twelfth lie you’ve told yourself Jamie Jones.
“It is blood and below the title page, it’s written in English, poorly spelled English. That what meester Tayler eatz.”
“Still doesn’t mean anything, the teeth on the book could just be an embellishment.”
“Now, Jamie Jones you are lying to yourself.”
“There aren’t vampires, any more than there are ghosts.” I laughed and nudged his finger with my own. “Ow. A Paper cut?”
“This book wants you. That’s two tastes, maybe it’s thirst is slaked?” He smirked.
“No such thing. Twelfth.”
The book didn’t contain recipes, it contained names, dates, times and locations. The pages were decorated like a well-traveled journal, with drawings of things perhaps seen, or places found. Page one had a couple French names. With gold leafed roses and leaves. I was lying to myself when I said the dates had to be faked.
Martinus fili Rheci 1239 Siting near the fountain
Theobald de Brecons 1244 Repairing the wall
Page three had German names with drawings of a castle
Ulrich Bader 1497 Butchering the animals
Wolfgang Fogler 1497 Stoking the fires
Gabriell Pess 1497 Farmer
I turned away.
“Don’t you want to see more Jamie Jones?”
“No… yes, how many pages are there in the book?”
“It looks to be only about twenty pages of writing; all the other pages just have pictures or other artwork. In the middle there are words cut out of books, pasted with definitions written below.”
Before Jamie could close his eyes, Ray stood before him, look the author learned how to write. Mr. Taylor’s delectables, or what he enjoys late at night.
“Delectables isn’t a word, he didn’t learn.”
“No, you are right, the next page he changed it to the men that Mr. Taylor bites before bed.”
“It doesn’t say that.” I looked into those dark cerulean eyes, pleading.
He nodded his head and turned the pages for me to see.
I grabbed it and the pages turned, I screamed and dropped the book.
“What, what is it Jamie Jones.”
“I saw my name.” I backed up against the books. No one came after my scream, maybe we were too far back in the corner, maybe Mr. Taylor was already here or the unnamed calligrapher of the book.
“You didn’t, this is your thirteenth lie. I’ve been keeping track too, you know.” Ray knelt in front of the book and went through the pages. He gulped and shook his head, feigning a laugh. “It’s not your name it was from the 1950’s and it said James Edward.”
I knelt in front of Ray Drown, placed my quivering hand on his shoulder. “That is my name and that’s your thirteenth lie. Open the book.”
It was there in the same script.
James Edward Jones 2018 Looking at books in New Orleans
What is WIPpet Wednesday?
WIPpet Wednesday is a blog hop where authors share from their current works in progress – expertly organised/hosted by Emily Witt – and the excerpt has to relate to the date in some way. For links to other fabulous authors’ WIPpets, visit: http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=355404
It’s 28th September, 2016, so I’m going with 28 sparagraphs from Chapter Nine of the one true book I’ve got to finish one day. This is a favorite part. It was originally written in 2012. So, it’s not been edited at all. This is from a WIP called The Archivist.
After all this time, I wonder what it was that made me feel so responsible for Seamus’s death. I accused myself of being the one who would be dead, because it’s my fault that I wasn’t driving. He took the wheel because he wanted to be safe, and yet the man who plowed into us didn’t care. I think back to that night and remember walking to the drivers side door, and feeling Seamus pull me back out and walk me to the passenger side. Pull the seat belt across my body and leave a kiss on my lips.
We were talking about going to the opera for Christmas instead of spending time with my sister who had just moved to town. We were kid fighting about how wrong it was to leave her out in the cold, I think I was in the middle of saying, “We’ll kidnap her from that ghastly restau…omph.” Then I just remember the crashing sound of metal and glass. If I pinpoint the moment it happened, I can literally hear Seamus’s blood splash against my face as my own head smashed into the crackling sound of glass splintering around my ear. I can hear the minute sound of my bones snapping as I’m slammed into the doorframe.
I’m certain it will remain with me forever. I can’t forget about that time with him, around him. I think at one point I licked the blood and tears that had mixed on my face, so I’m certain I have him in my blood stream. And I’ve almost forgotten every place I’d been between his burial and meeting Hutch. I’d thought it had only been three months and yet I find out nearly three years had passed.
I went through the motions, if it hadn’t been for Mora and Michael who were there for me, they had notes and pictures and memories for me. Because I was truly not being aware of my surroundings, not keeping anything inside. I’d go and make a face with people, but the experience would hit my mind that had become a steel sieve.
It wasn’t until I ran into Hutch that I came to my senses. He was a combination of the man before me and the man on the wall. Something about Hutch excited me. Made me feel the way I’d felt the first time I’d been with Donny, and like the first days with Seamus. I didn’t want to fuck this up. And, maybe all he wants is a buddy to go to baseball games with. I mean, maybe I’m putting too much into the situation, he didn’t come out and say he was gay. He just invited me to meet him at a Giants game.
I didn’t know the first thing about baseball, I’ve never really been a sports kind of guy, not even a watcher most times. I’ll admit to getting hot at seeing a guy in a tight football uniform or hoping that the tight short shorts of a soccer player might ride up to reveal some of his ass or balls. And, I’m know I’m not the only one online who looks for sports porn, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how a lot of the gay straights are doing it. Getting by with jerking off to their favorite sports god.
So, why I said yes to the baseball game I’ll never be quite sure, other than the fact that I wanted to see this guy again. There was something about his half grown in beard, or the glasses or the way he ran his hands through his hair. His lips were a plus, they were so kissable it’s the only word that comes to mind. Also, there’s something about his eyes that remind me of His eyes, not the color, but the bridge of his nose, the space between the eyes. I want to see him again to make sure it’s not just my imagination or my yearning to find Him. Even though I found Him on a mural off a sidewalk, found Him and I wasn’t even looking. Which is why I think Hutch is such a catch.
I excused his new phone for not contacting me sooner, and when he called I wasn’t expecting it so much. So, when he asked about the Giants game, my mouth automatically said yes. I’m in jeans, an oxford shirt, a grey and orange sweater because it’s the closest thing I have to the home team colors. It was a thrift store buy, when I raced down to find something to wear. I’ve got my penny loafers with pennies in them. I feel really out of place, like some one told me that the place to find books and artwork was in this gigantic stadium where they sell peanuts and beer.
I stepped out of the cab, paid and turned around to the loudest and craziest group of people I’d ever seen. They were in Giants shirts, pants, and shorts. They had G’s painted on their faces and chests. There were women sporting G tattoos on their backs, necks and shoulders. There were huge families and a couple grandma’s and grandpa’s. Lots of men with men and lots of women with women. I couldn’t tell who was gay and who was straight and I think for the first time in a long time it didn’t matter.
As I walked through the throng of people, I saw him standing looking for me. I assumed, at least. I got close to him and waved. He saw me and reached out to hug me. “I totally thought you’d flake on me. I mean, it’s not everyday a stranger asks a guy out on a date to a baseball game.”
Well there it is, was it a joke? Was it a real date? How do I answer? With something equally obscure or something accurate. I chose to just be me. “Well, I’d never know if it was a date if I didn’t show up.” I smiled,
He laughed, “Well… shall we?” Shall? He’s got manners.
I bowed, “Yes, Sir we shall.” I fell in beside him and we walked a few hundred feet, in a few more minutes we were in the stadium and walking down towards the field. I was shocked to find out that we had seats right behind home plate. When I sat, Hutch leaned over, “you get the best look at their asses from this spot.” Again that grin and those lips I wanted to slid my finger over and then kiss passionately.
It was a whirlwind romance, after the baseball game, I took him to the opera. He confided in me that he didn’t really get it and I did the same with the baseball. We laughed over the lack of culture in both of our lives. One night, he wanted to know if I’d be interested in going away for the weekend, he spoke of renting a car and driving down to Santa Barbara. That’s how I found out he didn’t have a car. I admitted that I had one. He was shocked, and I took him to the garage beneath my loft, where the pristine Metropolitan sat. Hutch was shocked, his hands caressed the fins, the top, the leather seats, the switch that lowered the top.
“Robbery do you mind if we take it on the trip?” Hutch asked.
I smiled and thought of Uncle Nicky and I’m sure he would be happy going where we were headed. During the drive down, I found out that Hutch had a PhD in Anthropology, but gave it all up for time with cars. He repaired cars, and occasionally published a paper or two. He told me that he wasn’t ready to settle down to a tenure track position, wasn’t ready to do the shit that needed to be done to be the success his education put him in contention with.
I told him about Donny, and cried as I explained what happened with Seamus. He tried to console me several times, placing his hand on my knee. And I think that night as we slept, I had never felt so safe in all my life.
He pulled me to him, whispered, “You’re not responsible. I believe you lived so that you could come into my life.”
That’s what I fell asleep to. And like the fear of most gay men, I woke expecting to be holding onto a body pillow, instead of the loving man that woke up in my arms. I smiled and said something silly. Our toes were touching, and I said in a silly, baby voice. “Toes are important.”
He laughed and responded with, “Robbery toes are truly important, do you know why?”
Stunned, it took me a few minutes to respond. “No, why?”
“Because Hutch toes feel safe with Robbery toes.”
And then I pounced him, kissed him and never looked back.
I asked him to move in two weeks later. He showed up with a suitcase at the door. “Is that all you have?”
“Well everything else is in a moving truck downstairs, I don’t think you have the room for all of it.”
“It’s a big loft, I’m sure we can fit it in places around here.” As I was speaking we took the elevator down to the street, he opened the back to reveal tools. Yes tools of all sorts and sizes, there were meters and gauges, there were oils pans and tire irons. There were even a couple of tires back there. “Uh, you are right, there isn’t anywhere inside the loft this will fit.”
I thought about it for a second and realized that I had an entire carport, I led him down the street to the back of the building, entered the code and walked toward the corner where my Metropolitan sat. It was a decent space. Other carports had been enclosed, mine sat empty with just the blue and white car. I had the spot against a brick wall, on the other side of the car was a Mercedes. Shiny, black, new and owned by a shiny man named Stepaneides, who had to bring his two girlfriends to the door so that I wouldn’t jump him in the dark one night. Those were his exact words. I laughed and shook my head, so I’m sure it would be better if we got a contractor to build the walls.
“Lets just out your stuff in this area surrounding the Metro.” He smiled and ran outside to bring the truck in to unload. I tell you this now, I can’t imagine that I fell in love with a man who is a man. Grease under his fingernails man, contact sport man, beer and chips man. I’m most comfortable in chinos, oxford shirts & sweaters and he’d be comfortable in coveralls and nothing else. I’m sorta good with that.