Did I mention I love San Francisco for just this type of cultural enlightenment?
Fatropolis, where life as a fat person is a positive experience! Life is good!
Did I mention I love San Francisco for just this type of cultural enlightenment?
Fatropolis, where life as a fat person is a positive experience! Life is good!
In A Life Interrupted: Living with Brain Injury Louise Mathewson has written a small book of poems that resonate profoundly. The poems tell the story of reclaiming her life. She has brought back these words from a time of silence that followed a tremendous trauma caused by a serious auto accident.
The whole post is at:
Image of Camryn Manheim from Curvy Her
"Are you okay?" Since she was now doing the prison visits to her boyfriend, Maxine's daughter had abandoned the rainbow hair for a platinum blond look with dark roots. She saw me staring into the storage room, and came out of her apartment. "What is it, mice? You'd think that good-for-nothing cat would—" Her words trailed off in a gasp. She stood next to me, and stared.
"Close it! Close it! Lock the door. We've got to call the police." She kicked the door closed, and I locked it, and followed her back to her apartment. I was too shocked to say a word. Not that Hope would have heard me. "It's him." She said, pacing back and forth. "I told her she was crazy to let him stay there."
I went to Hope's phone, and pulled the fresh business card Gonick had given me out of my pocket. Groucho's cage had been installed in one corner of the small front room. He craned his white-masked green-feathered head sideways to fix me with a glare from beady black eyes. As I walked past to get to the phone, he spread iridescent green wings wide in alarm.
While I was talking to the man who answered the phone in Homicide, Groucho let loose a shriek so deafening that the man asked if I was in any immediate danger. "No, it's a somebody's pet macaw. But I do need to talk to Gonick, tell him it's about the ice axe."
Hope paced back and forth muttering to herself. I had never seen her so agitated. I wondered if Gonick had even had time to get down to Police Headquarters with Griff. After I hung up the phone I meditated briefly about my little talk with Gonick about searching Nina's apartment. I put a call in to the local lawyer Ambrose had suggested. I got her answering machine. I looked at my watch. It was 6:30.
"It's that slimy creature that's living with Mom," Hope said heatedly. "He's killed before you know."
There will be free book prizes and surprises!
Now, here's the weekendly excerpt from At Large, soon to be published for the first time in ebook form by Pearlsong Press, Josephine Fuller discovers the body of Francesca Etheridge, the woman who broke up her marriage. The police grill Jo about an ice, missing from the murder victim's climbing gear. Back in her apartment Jo decides to put her nervous energy to work:
Finding Francesca like that had riled me up so that I couldn't sit still. It was impossible to return to sorting things. I decided to take some of the boxes of Nina's things down to the basement and bring up some of my things that had been sitting patiently for years waiting for me to settle down. A little heavy lifting would probably calm my nerves, or at the very least exhaust me so I could collapse.
The storage room occupied the end of the building, and took some space away from Mulligan's apartment and Maxine's daughter Hope's apartment which faced it across the hall. As I came down the stairs into the basement, I could hear Groucho, the macaw, warming up with some preparatory shrill cries. It must be intolerable when he let loose a major shriek in Hope's small, windowless apartment.
I put the boxes down and opened the storage room door, feeling around for the string that would turn on the overhead light bulb. The room was crowded with some furniture that Nina had stored there. A table and three stacked chairs pressed up against the stacks of boxes that held all my earthly possessions. Nina had kindly stored them for me, at first when I was following Griff around the world and lately since I'd been traveling on the job for Mrs. Madrone.
An oddly angled shadow sprang into view when the light bulb went on. I realized with a sinking feeling at the pit of my stomach what it was. The cardboard packing box just inside my door had my name in black felt marker with the word "BOOKS" below it. An ice axe, its leather harness trailing, was embedded in the front of the box right below the label, its claw end half buried in the corrugated cardboard, and a thin layer of dried blood coating the edges of the point of penetration.
"He is such a kidder," Maxine said with a chuckle, not exactly a girlish giggle, but her voice was normally so husky that I guess it counted as a giggle. I gazed at her in astonishment. If I hadn't just seen it, I could never have imagined Maxine allowing that kind of threat-in-joke's-clothing about her beloved and fragile, if totally cantankerous, Groucho.
"Josephine Fuller, meet Dick Slattery," she said fondly, running her fingers along his muscular forearm. I murmured hello, still wondering at Maxine's new incarnation as sixty-going-on sixteen. The guy had a certain muscular resemblance to Popeye the Sailor, although I'd eat a can of spinach on the spot if he turned out to be a hard-working, good-natured type. Dick Slattery was not tall. Maxine was short, and his chin dug into her shoulder. His hair was brown, shot with gray and thinning. His face was carved down to a leanness that reminded me of a coyote, maybe it was the predatory yellow eyes. Maxine would be the rabbit in that scenario. Maxine looked totally dazed and blissful. If she was a rabbit, she was a happy rabbit.
I turned to go as Slattery pulled Maxine back in the door. He reached across her to pull the door closed, but as he did, he looked at me one more time and winked. I shook myself, realizing I was standing on the stairwell like—well, like a hypnotized small mammal. Not good. The guy gave me an anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach that was the opposite of erotic.
Groucho, at least is safe, Maxine...not so much.
Maxine answered the door. She was a short, full-breasted woman in her sixties with wildly cut gray hair. Today she wore a mauve sweat suit and hoop earrings.
"Hi, Jo. You're back early."
"I finished up. Thought I'd come home. Where's the bird? He's awfully quiet. Is he okay?" Groucho, her green Military Macaw had a shriek that could be heard blocks away and he usually made some sort of preparatory shrieks when he saw that Maxine's attention was focused into the hallway, rather than on him where it properly belonged.
I blinked in surprise when a face popped up behind her shoulder. A man squeezed up behind Maxine and wrapped his arm around her substantial middle so that her breasts flowed over his forearm, nearly but not quite covering the crude tattoo that snaked up from his wrist to curl around his elbow. Without meaning to, I took a step backward into the hall.
"I've been threatening to put him on a spit for dinner, but Maxine won't let me. Her daughter took him down to her place, the noise was driving me apeshit," the man said with a gravelly voice. "Don't worry—Bird lives!
"Can you believe I've hooked up with a literate jazz buff?" Maxine said in tones more appropriate for baby talk.
"Hope took in Groucho?" I said in disbelief.
"Oh, she was glad to take him." Maxine's new friend grinned broadly. "She hustled that cage outta here in ten minutes flat, once I told her I liked him a lot and I'd like him even better fried with biscuits and gravy."
I turned back to confront the polished stairs leading up into the townhouse. I took out my cell phone. The top autodial button was programmed for 911. I didn't press the button though. Instead, I kept it in my hand as I cautiously went up the stairs. Confronting me at the top of the stairway was a larger-than-life, beautifully framed print of a color photograph of Francesca. It dominated the entry. It was clearly Griff's work, and he had done her justice. It showed her hanging from a wall of sapphire ice, supported by two ice axes and the crampons attached to her boots. Her hair had been shorter in that picture, and the hood of her parka had fallen back a little to show a spiky halo around her determined face. The sun that illuminated the blue ice reflected in her blue eyes. She looked great. It was easy to see why Griff had fallen for her. She looked like a snow goddess—the petite version.
At the top of the stairs I saw a series of huge prints of Griff's pictures hanging along the back wall. Every one showed Francesca in climbing gear. From the massive peaks in the background, I guessed that these were taken during the early days of their relationship in Nepal.
The condo had high ceilings and hardwood floors. The cathedral effect was heightened by the sparse furniture, which gave the place a cavernous empty quality. The place seemed deserted except for the persistent buzz of a fly. The main room was blocked from view as you rounded the top of the stairs by a glass cabinet that must have been seven feet tall, filled with sports trophies and climbing memorabilia.
I went around the trophy display, and tripped over a black leather case that had been unceremoniously dropped at the edge. I went down sprawling on the hardwood floor, cursing myself for awkwardness. I lay for a second, assessing any damage, cringing in expectation of laughter and expecting to look up and see the petite and athletic Francesca sneering at my huge awkward self, complaining that I had scuffed the waxed floor.
Instead, cautiously getting to my feet, I saw a long oak table with a new canvas tarp half pulled off it, and what appeared to be a dummy, submerged in a welter of climber's gear—harnesses and rope, caribiners, crampons, pitons. I had never climbed a day in my life but I'd watched enough people pack and unpack their gear to easily commit it to memory. I didn't see any ice axes, although I saw the harness with the holster from which most climbers hung a couple of axes with their claw-like heads for climbing ice, the way Francesca had in that huge photo.
I went a little closer, puzzled. Mountaineers are usually very particular about their gear. After all, their lives depend on it. Someone had scattered Francesca's stacks of pitons like matchsticks. Her ropes were tangled into a spider's nest, hanging half off the table.
This was a cruel joke surely. I went a little closer, my steps echoing on the hardwood. The tarp had been partially pulled off the gleaming oak table. The climbing gear made a disorderly still life.
My stomach lurched when I realized that the totally still figure at the center of the disorder was no dummy. Francesca Etheridge, a rope around her neck, her red face distorted, lay among her gear, one of her ice axes planted in the soft base of her throat. The bloodied rips and tears in her thermal undershirt showed where she had been hacked before dying. She was clearly lifeless. The blood long clotted. Twisted where she had fallen like a broken doll, her arms were trapped by the ropes and frozen at an awkward angle, not by cold but by death.
Thank you to everyone who spread the news of the giveaway! I hope that some new readers will check out the other Josephine Fuller mysteries. The 3rd book in the series to be reissued soon is At Large--here’s another sample:
Josephine Fuller discovers that the Francesca Etheridge, the woman who broke up her marriage is accusing one of the Women’s Job Skill Center temps of stealing her laptop.
I didn't admit to myself until I parked across the street that I was going to try to contact her. Francesca's building bore a stylized logo of a killer whale and the words Orca Harbor I hadn't seen her since that morning when she was pasted up against Griff in the hotel lobby in Kathmandu.
I couldn't very well pretend to be someone else because she might easily remember me from the time we met briefly in Nepal—even though there was also the possibility that she wouldn't recognize me if I wasn't sitting next to Griff and wearing a wedding ring.
My memory was that she had examined me with some calculation, as she might have considered a steep but not insurmountable stretch of glacial ice. Then she set her sights, with a total lack of pretense, on Griff. Standing on the doorstep, I toyed with an opening line such as, "Remember me? You stole my husband. And speaking of theft, what's all this about a missing laptop?"
It never occurred to me that Francesca might refuse to see me until I buzzed the number labeled Etheridge, and got no answer. Of course, she could be out. I felt a flush of embarrassment wondering if Griff might answer the door. That was when I noticed that the door was slightly open, which was highly unwise in a city the size of Seattle. I was reaching out to push it inward, when it was yanked open, and I was literally shouldered out of the way by a tall blond woman who left the door wide open.
She paused at the bottom of the stairs long enough to turn back and call out, "Don't go in there! Call the cops, she's dead!" she turned and ran across the street.
Here’s a taste of Large Target in seven paragraphs from a scene where Josephine, escaping from an ambush with a spiderweb crack in her rental car windshield has tracked the kidnappers to their lair. She discovers that the admiral has escaped her captors but he’s worried that she might be with the kidnappers. She reminds him that they met when she threw a drink on him at a party.
"I'm sorry, you'll have to be more specific."
"At your son Dwight's place last week. You were rude and abusive and I threw a drink on you."
"If you can't give me more than that to go on, I'll never remember. Can we talk somewhere else? I don't want to get locked up back up in that warehouse when the others get back."
“I just gave them the money. Didn't they let you go?"
"They did not. The skinny kid cuffed me to a loose table leg. I just got out a little while ago. I was going to walk out of here but when I saw you, I thought I could hitch a ride or with a car like that you might have a cell phone. That was before I saw your lovely windshield."
I was heading back toward the last place I had seen a service station, figuring they would have a phone. As we passed the street with the warehouse on it I looked down it just in time to see the van come hurtling into the intersection and plow into my right front bumper with a horrific crunching sound.
It spun us nearly a hundred and eighty degrees. The admiral and I both saw that he was backing up to have another run at the car. With a remarkable display of unity, we scrambled out the driver and passenger doors and began to run along the chain-link fence away from the van, which had backed up and was now swerving around the now-crippled rental car to follow us.
"Is that anything like 'the check is in the mail'? 'The divorce is in the works'?"
"You can't know what hard work that is," Ted said. "It's backbreaking labor to convince Francesca to let go of anything she once controlled. Speaking of which, she's still with Griff. Did you know that?"
"I made it a point not to know."
That night in the hotel lobby was etched in my memory. Ted and I had met a few days earlier, as both he and Griff had assignments from the same travel magazine. As we waited in the lobby, it became clearer with each hour that our respective spouses, scheduled to arrive at any moment, were both not showing up.
We adjourned to the bar, and began comparing notes. We were able to put together a pretty strong case for the suspicion that my husband and his wife were spending the night together. Ted and I had some quantity of time to reflect on the qualities we both expected in a spouse. Loyalty was high on both our lists but the partners we were with didn't seem to feel the same way.
We got along famously. We managed to laugh quite a lot, considering the situation. The Scotch whiskey might have helped.
Ted had cried on my shoulder that night in Kathmandu. No problem, we were consenting adults crying on each other's shoulders. Now I got the sinking feeling that he viewed me as a warm, fuzzy shoulder to lay his head on and indulge in another sympathy session.I was in no mood. I needed to stop that in its tracks.
"So what brings you here, Ted? Are you planning a sex-change operation, and lining up future employment? I hate to tell you, but the pay cut is the most unkindest cut of all."
I came around the desk to shake hands with him, and he pulled me into a big hug. An inch or two over six feet tall and square as a teddy bear, Ted was not quite fat because he was so intensely physically active. I pulled back to take a look at him. Now in his late thirties, he would always be boyish, with a shock of red-brown hair that seemed to fall into his eyes no matter how short it was cut.
Our last conversation had lasted over a dozen hours—the night in Kathmandu when both of our marriages died.
Ted had been married to Francesca Benedict Etheridge, a gifted mountain climber. It had looked as if she might attempt an ascent on Mount Everest. That climb fell through, and she ended up ascending my husband—as he then was. Leaving Ted to entertain me in the lobby of the Everest Vista Hotel which, incidentally being quite a distance away in Nepal, does not have a view of Mt. Everest.
I had been married to Griffin Fuller, world-renowned as a photographer, and well-known (except to his wife) as a philanderer. Teddy had been playing the part of the supportive husband of a climber, helping Francesca field media coverage, and occupying himself by gathering local color in Nepal. He had a gift for mingling with serious trekkers and climbers, who sometimes mistook him for one of their own. But his appearance was deceptive. Teddy dabbled in climbing and a variety of other sports. But in everything he did, he was always looking for a punch line.
"Josephine, I haven't seen you—well, since that infamous night. Is it still Jo Fuller or did you get divorced?"
"Yes to both questions. My maiden name was O'Toole, so I kept Griff's last name in lieu of alimony. What about you and Francesca?"
He shrugged. "It's in the works."
When I double-checked my spelling of Kathmandu I ran across the Bob Seger song on the right side bar. He spelled it the other way, but I could not resist including a link because listening to it made me so happy.
Something about this job skill center wasn't quite right. I needed to find out what it was for Mrs. Madrone, so that my wealthy employer could decide whether to award the place a grant. Maybe I had asked too many questions.
By the time Ted showed up, I was already on Delores Patton's radar. The center director was an African American woman who commanded respect with an attitude that could clean brass at twenty paces. She knew I wasn't your usual do-gooder. She just hadn't decided how to deal with it. Ted's arrival made up her mind, and managed to get me fired from a volunteer job—not as easy as it sounds.
Teddy Etheridge was the first male who had entered the office in the three weeks I had been volunteering there. The center was located in Bremerton, about an hour's ferry ride southwest of Seattle. I'd stayed in town during the week answering phones, helping out and nosing around.
For a split second when Teddy walked in the door I thought he might be a potential employer who had strayed in without an appointment. Not that I'd ever seen an actual employer on the premises. Though they did call from time to time to get cheap labor. then I recognized him. "Teddy!" It was always Ted or Teddy to his friends. Never Theodore, not even on his book covers. He wrote humor books for a living.
When he realized it was me, his bearded face lit up in a huge grin. "Josephine Fuller!"
"Ted Etheridge. The last of the hopeless romantics."
Half a mile away I was amazed to find that no one followed me and there was no other traffic on that deserted road that had once been Route 66. I drove into the small parking lot of a long defunct grocery store, slid the car out of view of the highway, and waited a few minutes until the van I recognized drove past. I wanted to follow it, but instead I turned back to where I had left Zane. I didn't want to do it but I couldn't help it, until I saw the car up ahead and it disappeared in a flash of light followed by the boom of an explosion and flames. That guy sure did like to blow up cars.
Dozens of other writers share sentences on Sundays --for good time in many genres check them out at six Sunday.
The motor was still running. I kept down but slid back behind the wheel, jammed the car into gear and gunned it, steering sharp right around where Zane lay with the heavy backpack and his parked car. I drove as fast as I could, half looking out the side window to steer and hunching down to look under the spiderweb crack on the windshield.
For more small doses of fun from dozens of other writers in many genres check them out at Six Sunday.
This is nonsense because law is almost as specialized as medicine. Having a trusted lawyer friend defend you in criminal court is like having your friendly neighborhood pediatrician do your brain surgery. Trusting someone doesn’t make him or her competent in every area of the law.
Believing in the client is no substitute for knowing what you’re doing. Criminal law practices in particular are not all in the reference books, so a lawyer who has no experience would have to spend a lot of time on the phone talking to lawyers who did know that branch of the law.
This week I counted links to 170 writers sharing snippets, so for a good time feel free to join the party at Six Sunday,
"Would the admiral's money be enough?" I asked.
Amy turned to me and asked, "Why don't you ask Mrs. Madrone?"
"How did you know I worked for Mrs. Madrone?"
She laughed a little wildly, then put her hand over her mouth."You just told me, Jo."
Dozens of other writers share sentences on Sundays--for good time in many genres check them out at Six Sunday.
"What?" Amy was horrified.
Ivor shook his head and reached out for his beer bottle and upended it, without getting more than the dregs. "Colleen said we don't have the money," he concluded.
I was fascinated and had to ask, "Did Colleen make a counteroffer?"
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“This was on the outside of the windshield, under the wipers,” he said. “I folded it up to keep the kid from seeing it but I guess I should give it to the police, what do you think?"
I looked and did a double take, staring at the spray-painted, stenciled letters on the accordion-folded cardboard over the printed cartoon sun:
$1 MILL FOR ADMIRAL 7 FILES & TAPE / DO NOT CALL POLICE / RAISE $ WAIT
A policeman reading over my shoulder whistled in amazement, "Hey, Gordy, lookit this." Too late not to tell the police.
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Today they were both clad in shorts and T-shirts and clearly hadn't seen Amy and me. "You said he'd been on the scene of abductions," Amber said accusingly.
"I honestly believe he has," Brad said, "but you know that stuff is classified."
"I only just asked about the Bermuda Triangle. He said he'd get right to it and he put his hand up my ski-i-irt," she wailed.
For more fun in six-sentence snippets, check out the authors (186 at last count) sharing work in a wide variety of genres at Six Sunday.
I made a quick circuit of the cottage looking for signs of another victim. There were no obvious signs of struggle or a search effort except in the farthest corner of the bedroom where a Mosler GSA Class 5 Security filing cabinet stood—all four drawers open and empty. I recognized it as identical to the one in my father's home office, part of his ties to the civilian portion of the intelligence community. The Navy might do things a little differently but the admiral's security clearances must be functional.
On the floor in front of the cabinet was a single sheet of paper with Top Secret printed on it in red letters two inches high with a paper clip on it. Nothing was clipped to it.
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Amy gasped and pushed past me to look. "It's not Dad," she said, putting her hand to her mouth. "It's Stewart Meade.
So where was the admiral?
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There was an acrid smell in the air, unidentifiable but strong enough to make my eyes water. We walked across the cool tile floor of the living room past old-fashioned wicker furniture and bamboo blinds. That burning, choking smell was even stronger.
Something was sticking out of the half-open bathroom door. It was a man's foot, lying still, too still.
The Six Sentence Sunday writers for this weekend numbered 177 last time I checked. Lots of snippets and lots of fun at Six Sunday.
"Thinks she can get coy," he brayed, gripping my skirt for purchase and holding out the minicam with the other hand.
"No," I said as I shook the can of soda with a thumb over the hole and aimed it at his eyes. The spray at close range startled him enough to send him back on his rear while I jerked my skirt from his grip.
"Whoa!" the admiral exclaimed, shaking his head and looking around as if he weren't quite sure how he had landed wet-faced and back on the living room floor.
Several guests applauded as I retreated into the kitchen where a woman handed me a dampened dish towel and took my dripping soda can with a smile, "Here, honey," she said, "we all enjoyed that."
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