Book Review: “Memoir of a Mad Woman” by Vashti Quiroz-Vega @VashtiQV #RRBC #IARTG #writingcommunity

Book Cover Memoir of a Mad Woman

Hello and welcome to my book review of “Memoir of a Mad Woman” By Vashti Quiroz-Vega.

Meet Vashti!

Vashti bio pic

Vashti Quiroz-Vega is a writer of Fantasy, Horror, and Thriller. Since she was a kid she’s always had a passion for writing and telling stories. It has always been easier for her to express her thoughts on paper.

She enjoys reading almost as much as she loves to write. Some of her favorite authors are Stephen King, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin.

She enjoys making people feel an array of emotions with her writing. She likes her audience to laugh one moment, cry the next and clench their jaws after that.

When she isn’t building extraordinary worlds and fleshing out fascinating characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband JC and her Pomeranian Scribbles who is also her writing buddy.

Book Cover Memoir of a Mad Woman

BLURB.

A novelette from the award-winning author of The Fall of Lilith and Son of the Serpent, Vashti Quiroz-Vega.

Who can explain how madness begins?

This is the story of Emma. Reared by a religious fanatic, orphaned at a young age and sent to a mental institution and an orphanage. Molested and betrayed by the people who should be watching over her…

Who can say that madness has no logic?

During a fight, Emma’s best friend punched her in the abdomen. Since then, Emma has believed there’s something damaged inside of her.

Every month… she bleeds.
She tries to fight it all her life, but the pain and the blood return twenty-eight days later… and the cycle begins again.

But Emma, even in her madness, knows how to take care of herself.
She knows how to make things right…

You may not agree…
But, who can reason with insanity?

Read this tragic but fascinating tale and traverse the labyrinthine passages of madness.

My Review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Uncompromisingly brutal and utterly riveting.

In this uncompromisingly brutal novella, author Vashti Quiroz-Vega takes you on a jagged and painful journey. Many authors stop short when it comes to writing scenes of brutality, they tend to hint at the violence and not follow through. Not this author.

She gives us all the tools to explore the depths of Emma’s damaged mind. In order for the vengeance Emma undertakes to make sense, the horrendous acts perpetrated on her helpless body and soul allowed us an insight and an understanding into her motivation.

This author shows a deep empathy in her characterizations. An enviable understanding of the demons that drive us.

An insightful look into the darker side of humanity. Emma’s betrayal was absolute … so was her revenge.

The characterizations are superb, and well developed. The visual imagery is acute.

If you’re looking for a riveting and thought provoking read don’t miss this one.

Find the author;

The Writer Next Door website.

On TWITTER 

Purchase this book on Amazon.com

Thanks so much for stopping by.

 

 

It’s #ReleaseDay “Whatever It Takes” the new #Psychological #Thriller by S.Burke is #NowAvailable #RRBC #RWISA #IARTG

Whatever It Takes NOW AVAILABLE BANNER by EEVA

Hello everyone and welcome to the Release Day for my latest Psychological Thriller “Whatever It Takes”.

Whatever it Takes Book Cover for all posts.

BLURB:

James Kincaid had it all.

He’d made it to the ‘A’ list in Hollywood, a town that prized and idolized winners above all else. Three golden statuettes currently graced the mantle of his Los Angeles mansion. Next year’s Oscars held the sweet promise of more.

Then life began exacting a price that no man could be expected to pay as the people he cared about began dying and dying badly.

He couldn’t move on with his life or the dream without knowing why.

Andi O’Connor is the woman he’d hired to do ‘whatever it takes’ to find him the answers.

Could this disenchanted, street-hardened, ex-homicide cop uncover the truth without adding to the growing list of those already sacrificed on the altar of one besotted human’s insanity?

From Hollywood to New York, the body count continues to rise. Time is not on their side.’

#

Today I’m celebrating the release of Whatever It Takes by introducing you to Andi O’Connor.

I had such a marvelous time creating Andi.  She was both a challenge and a joy to breathe life into.

In Chapter 1 we first meet Andi. After much soul searching she has tendered her resignation as head of crack Homicide Investigation Team with the NYPD.

Say Hello to Andi the morning after her farewell celebration.

 

Chapter 2.

Andi grabbed her ringing iPhone and smiled as her best friend Keiko’s number came up. She tried not to give away how hungover she was as she answered. “G’mornin, sunshine.”

“Sunshine is it? How’re you shaping up this mornin’?”

“I’d like to say great, but, it’s not pretty. Just how much did we drink last night?”

“You don’t want to know, trust me.”

“I vaguely recall a couple of the guys pouring me into a cab. Did I do anything I should have been arrested for?”

“Not unless murdering karaoke is now a capital offense. That was some farewell, girlfriend.”

“Oh, God. Really? Karaoke?”

“Well, the guys actually voted for pole dancing. I figured karaoke might be easier to live down.”

“It didn’t end well, did it?”

Keiko spluttered, “Last I saw, two of the uniformed guys went searching for duct tape.”

Andi laughed before she remembered how fragile her head was. “Oh, hell. You know I actually caught myself getting into work mode just before you rang. Then reality kicked back in.”

“You need to get away for a while, Andi. Get your head sorted.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do. You know I’m gonna miss it. Well, some of it.”

“Have you thought through your options? You could always use that Harvard degree, girlfriend.”

“Oh hell, Keiko, I know. I need to give that a lot of thought. I always have that as an option whatever I decide to do now.  I just don’t know which direction I’m headed in yet.”

“Whatever you decide to do, you know they’ll welcome you back here with open arms.”

“Thanks, hon, but I can’t see me ever doing that. I’m not good at traveling backward.” Andi closed off discussion on that topic, “Anyways, are you on shift today?”

“No, thank God. My stomach couldn’t handle a homicide scene at the moment.”

“That’s what you get for being so good at your job.”

“Anybody can read a camera image, Andi.”

“Not everybody can find the things you find in those images. I wish I had that skill.”

“Yeah, and I’d love to head a team the way you do. Did. So let’s just admire each other’s brilliance and get on with it.”

Andi laughed, “I’m already missing you, smart-ass.”

“We’ll catch up next week. Doug’s back in town on Thursday, but that’s the only night I won’t be free for a couple of hours.”

“I’ll give you a call.”

“Okay, hon. I’ll talk to you then.”

###

Thanks so much for stopping by to help me celebrate my release day. I hope you enjoyed this very brief glimpse into Andi O’Connor.

Contact the author.

Whatever It Takes Now On AMAZON for $0.99

Twitter:   @pursoot

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/StaceyandSuzie

Blog/Website:

Welcome to the World of Suzanne Burke

 

 

#BlogTour “Just Her Poetry: Seasons of a Soul” by D.L. Finn @dlfinnauthor #RRBC #RWISA #NewRelease #poetry.

I’m delighted to share in the excitement of this New Release by author D.L Finn. This is her first release of a book of her poetry. “Just Her Poetry: Seasons of a Soul” Please make her welcome.

BLOG TOUR DLFINN BOOK COVER JUST HER POETRYJust Her Poetry Cover (2).jpgThank you, Suzanne, for having me on your blog to celebrate the release of my first poetry book, “Just Her Poetry Seasons of a Soul.”

Finn Facts:

  1. I have a tittering laugh that my older grandkids find amusing.
  2. I’m a cat person who has dogs.

BLOG TOUR DLFINN BOOK COVER JUST HER POETRYJust Her Poetry Cover (2)

Blurb:

Take a journey with D.L. Finn as she blends her love of nature with her deepest emotions. Sit with her on the forest floor observing its tranquil beauty, or stroll along the ocean’s shore admiring the vastness of its horizon. Here in these peaceful moments you’ll be able to experience her thoughts and feelings in the light—and in the darkness. This is a thought-provoking collection of poetry that invites the reader into all the seasons of a soul.

Excerpt from THE EMOTIONS: Those Feelings

WHIRLWIND

It entered my life like a storm…

Blowing everything familiar away from me.

I clung to the numbness it left behind.

It holds me above the weight of evil

That tries to drown me in its darkness.

I gasp to fill my lungs in this whirlwind

That swirls life around me hitting me with debris.

I’ve stopped ducking the pain, coming to expect it.

My normal life is ripped away from me, cruelly.

My comforts—gone

My emotions—grim

My distrust—growing

I swirl in this whirlwind brought to me like a present…

All I can do is survive this whirlwind of illness.

Amazon Purchase Link

RWISA PROFILE DENISE FINN

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

D.L. Finn blog

 

Thanks so much for joining in the excitement today. Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.

Welcome to “THE BUTTON” Blog Tour! @dlfinnAuthor #4WillsPub #RWISA #RRBC

Hello and welcome to “The Button” Blog Tour. Today, I’m delighted to be hosting talented author D.L Finn.

BOOK BLOG PROMO COVER THE BUTTON

RWISA PROFILE DENISE FINN

Meet The Author:

D.L. Finn is an independent California local, who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks and cedars, her creativity was cradled until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to her readers to join her.

BOOK BLOG PROMO COVER THE BUTTON

Blurb:

Lynn Hill left a difficult childhood behind when she turned eighteen. The 1980s were going to be the beginning of a great life. Then what started as an ordinary evening out with her best friend, Stacy, turns into a nightmare. Lynn hears warnings: “Go!” “Leave!” Believing she is hearing things after partying too much, she goes back for one more drink before going home. That decision sets off a chain of events that nothing could have prepared her for. While humans and not-so-human beings are attempting to either help or harm her, Lynn risks everything to find the only person she trusts, Stacy. Who can help her? The stepbrother who shows up right when she needs him or the attractive, helpful bartender who gives her his phone number? Lynn must learn to trust again. Her survival depends on it in this paranormal thriller.

***

The Button Characters:

Was I as wild as Lynn and Stacy “back in the day”? That’s an interesting question. I suppose it depends on how you define the word “wild” and the time frame. 1980 was the year when I moved into my first apartment, but I was married in 1983. So, there were only a couple of years where I could tap into my limited knowledge and research to the story.

I might have a friend or two wondering if I’d bring that up. The good thing about that is we are the only ones that know whether I did or did not.

Lynn Hill is a survivor. She grew up in an abusive household. She lost hope at 14-years-old and tried to take her life, but she had angels watching over her. Now she’s a rebel with a button, a determination to take care of herself, and unsure whether she believes in love. I’m sure there’s a bit of me hidden in Lynn, the survivor. We were both hairdressers, too.

Kent Stuart works as a bartender. Lynn is immediately attracted to him, even with his goofy quotes, but he seems interested in her best friend, Stacy. Later when they meet again outside, Lynn decides she’s misjudged him and accepts the offered phone number. Lynn is unaware that there’s another side to him and another job.

Stacy Kelly has been Lynn’s best friend since they were kids. They’re roommates and like sisters. She’s a beautiful blond that’s full of herself but very loyal to Lynn. She’s the only person Lynn completely trusts. When Stacy goes missing, Lynn will do whatever it takes to find her.

Warren Stone is Lynn’s stepbrother. Newly released from prison he reaches out to Lynn when she needs someone the most. He declares he’s changed from his time in jail. Warren declares he wants to make up for not being there for her in the past. They both share the same abusive childhood, and she wants to trust him.

The Angels: Zelina, “This Second Chance” is training the angel Thomas, who’s had issues in the past. Zelina brought Thomas along when she spoke to Lynn in her coma. Zelina and Thomas are keeping an eye on Lynn until she needs them.

Dian the evildwel has a hold of someone near Lynn. She thrives and feeds off fear. Her current host satisfies all her needs, but she desires Lynn’s death.

The battle begins…will Lynn survive?

***

The Button Tour Giveaway:

2- “The Button” Kindle Format

$5 Amazon Gift Card

1-“The Button” Signed Paperback and Book Marker

D.L. Finn’s social media:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Linkedin

Google

Links to purchase:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes & Noble

Thanks so much for stopping by on an exciting day for Author D.L Finn, and a great time to be a reader of Paranormal. Please join in by leaving your comments.

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site.  If you’d like to book your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE.  
Lastly, D.L. is a member of the best book club ever – RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB {#RRBC} and she’s also a member of the very elite, RAVE WRITERS -INT’L SOCIETY OF AUTHORS {RWISA}! If you’re looking for amazing support as an author, or if you simply love books, JOIN US! We’d love to have you!

Book Review: “Vanished” by Mark Bierman @mbiermanauthor #RRBC #IARTG #MustRead #Thriller

BOOK REVIEW COVER VANISHED BY MARK BIERMAN.jpg

Hello and a warm welcome to my latest book review.

BOOK REVIEW: “Vanished” by Mark Bierman.

Meet the author:

BOOK REVIEW PROFILE PIC MARK BIERMAN

Born and raised on a farm near Brockville, Ontario, Mark Bierman’s childhood consisted of chores, riding horses, snowmobile races across open fields, fishing trips to a local lake, and many other outdoor adventures. He is also an avid reader of both fiction and non. Mark enjoys the sport of River Boarding and thrives on adventure.

Transitioning towards adulthood also meant moving from the farm and into large urban areas that introduced this “country boy” to life in the big cities.

Drawing on his many experiences as a private investigator and later a Correctional Officer, Mark combines his unique experiences and imagination to create his stories and characters.

BOOK COVER:

BOOK REVIEW COVER VANISHED BY MARK BIERMAN

 Book Blurb.

Tragedy . . . heartache . . . how much more can Tyler Montgomery and John Webster take? This missions trip, the “healing” one, has only added fresh layers of pain. Construction of an orphanage in Haiti’s northwest . . . yes. But a doomed rescue operation, human traffickers, human anomalies, extreme personal danger . . . risk of death? They hadn’t signed up for those.
Turning their backs on the crisis, however, is unthinkable, it’s just not who they are.

***

 

My REVIEW: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A Riveting insightful and moving reading experience.

Many authors shy away from the dark side of human behavior. Author Mark Bierman tackles it head-on. The breadth and depth of “Vanished” is astounding. The authors characterizations of the central protagonists bring them to life on the page. We as readers can see them, hear them and through the words of this writer we are granted an insight into both their dreams and their pain. Human trafficking will never be eradicated if we continue to close our eyes to its existence.  I salute Mark Bierman for his ability to shine a spotlight on it, while also allowing us to see into the hearts and minds of those that rail against it, and take action to help save a child caught up in the horror.

The pacing is fast, it kept me turning pages, eager to discover the ultimate outcome. The author has drawn widely on his experiences as a private investigator to bring us a book that shines and is resoundingly believable throughout.

If you enjoy a moving, provocative and emotionally charged reading experience then this is an absolute must-read.

CONTACT the AUTHOR:

On TWITTER

Purchase VANISHED on AMAZON.Com

On FACEBOOK

On Goodreads.

 

“The Off Switch” A #Short Story #RRBC @pursoot … From my upcoming #Thriller #Anthology “Closure.”

#rrbc spotlight final blog piccie .masks coming off for acts of betrayal (2)

 

Thank you for joining me as I share a short story from an anthology I’m compiling for release later this year. I’ll be including a minimum of ten short stories all in some way reflective of the title … “Closure”

 

The Off Switch

By Suzanne Burke

From the upcoming anthology “Closure”

I doubt that too many humans don’t experience the need we appear to have and crave. You know the one? That urgent inexplicable flash of emotion that drives us to connect with someone, somewhere, someplace and at some time on this our journey through the unpredictability of life.

Jake Caldwell shrugged off the raw-edged sadness. He’d read about that need and smiled each time he witnessed it occur around him everywhere he went. He simply didn’t share that craving. He hungered for isolation now. His memory too overburdened with all his failures to connect. He’d tried all of it. Oh, he understood the logic of his species needing to feel part of something they perceived as greater and more knowing than themselves. They grasped desperately at the magic wand of belonging and clung to it long after the spell had been cast and had faded into oblivion.

Jake didn’t believe in magic.

He believed in only what he could see, touch, hear and smell. The peripheral flashes of humanity’s need had touched his life once. So long ago that is was now merely a whisper in his mind and one he refused to allow volume. He’d flicked his off switch as soon as he discovered he had one. He had been young then. It was a brief space in time when he’d still clung to the vague hope that anything he did would echo through time and instill his memory with someone. Jake now felt he deserved to be remembered for all the other things he’d managed to accomplish.

***

He watched his target carefully.

The young woman climbed from the taxi in heavy rain. She grabbed a bag from the trunk. gave a brief nod of thanks to the driver, then climbed the stairs to her second-floor apartment two steps at a time.

He was denied a clear visual confirmation that it was indeed her, as she’d crouched low in her concealing hoodie and entered the apartment without facing him long enough for him to access his facial recognition technology. He had so many available techniques now at his finger-tips to be certain that he had the right target. There were many times when he’d bemoaned that fact, as he’d enjoyed every moment of the hunt. Now … now it was just way too damned easy. The challenge had lessened and along with it his pleasure in an achievement hard won.

Today … it was just a job. It paid for his addictions and his recoveries. The cycle hadn’t paused.

Jake pulled his thoughts back to the present and waited. The sky grew darker and the storm shattered the oppressive silence and shifted the air in an attitude of waiting for the latent violence to cut loose.

He loved storms. He admired their fury and unrepentant volatility. This he understood. This he admired.

He took a brief moment to read his scheduled targets parameters again. He liked to be certain. Mistakes in his line of work would see him terminated. He understood and accepted that. It added to the excitement to know he could die at his first mistake.

Sandra Bartholomew was an attractive woman. A woman that others would follow with their eyes registering lust.

Jake happily acknowledged that. She’d be long accustomed to being watched. One more set of eyes wouldn’t flag her a warning.

She was around twenty-seven. Younger than most of his targets. In fact, this was the first in memory to be younger than his own thirty-year life span.

She had a crowning glory of gold curls that tweaked at his memory a little.

But her line of work ensured she was often featured in the press. That was where the memory was located,  he was certain of it.

He recalled feeling a vague admiration for her at some stage in the last few years. This woman was unafraid to take a stance against corruption. He admired it as much as he knew it was a pointless journey.

***

Night fell rapidly and he watched the lights in her apartment illuminate the area beyond.

At 9.00 P.M she exited and locked the door behind her. The leather jacket she wore would conceal for many that she was carrying a weapon. Unless of course, you knew what to look for. He reached into the waistband of his jeans and felt the reassuring comfort of his Beretta. There was no clear line of site available for him to utilize his rifle. He watched her clamber into the black SUV with assured movements. This woman moved sparingly, each step measured and assured.  A twinge of something distracted him and he forced his mind back to his current assignment with irritation.

He followed her out and into the flow of traffic, making certain that he remained at least three cars behind her. She swung into the parking lot of a bar down on East Broadway. He scanned the area and noted the numbers of CCTV camera’s recording every moment and movement.

Jake smiled at the challenge. He’d need to take her down elsewhere. For now, he’d watch on from inside the bar.

He spotted her sitting at a corner table. She sat alone yet her demeanor indicated she was waiting for someone to join her. He watched the barmen take her order and return with a bottle of red wine and two glasses.

She gazed around with vague disinterest etched into her carefully concealed countenance. This was a player worthy of his undivided attention. He felt a thrill that had been absent for a very long while.

He ordered a double shot of Jack Daniels and swirled it in the ice that accompanied it three times before drinking. Funny how old habits linger without us being aware of them.

She poured another glass and drank it down hurriedly with an occasional glance around to check out how many hungry eyes were watching.

Jake jolted backward as their eyes made contact. “What the fuck?” He caught himself mutter as he looked hurriedly away.

The woman’s looked heralded recognition and Jake needed to move, and move fast.

He stood, swirled his drink three more times before finishing the contents and walked out of the bar without glancing once in her direction.

He hurried across to his car, climbed in and headed out of the area as fast as the night traffic would allow.

He drove for what seemed endless miles before he’d centered himself enough to park off the road in a secluded area many miles from the bustle of the city.

“That’s fucking impossible. It can’t be her. She’s dead, you moron. You saw her die.” He exploded aloud into the darkness as a long forgotten and hated memory surfaced despite his efforts to deny it.

Melinda was long dead.

He could see her lying in a pool of blood alongside the woman who had birthed both of them.

He couldn’t unsee her pretty ten-year-old face etched in shock and covered in blood as she lay broken and bleeding in the nightmare that their father’s insanity had unleashed.

The man they’d been afraid of since birth had shot them both. His mother and younger sister lay dead on the floor, and his father was still standing over the bodies muttering the vile last words. Words they thankfully would never hear. He’d placed his gun on the mantle and sat in the blood and brain matter to watch them bleed out.

“You’re mine” he’d screamed. “You can’t belong to anyone else. Not now.”

Jake recalled the look on the man’s face as he had entered the room unseen and reached without thought of consequence and took that gun from the mantelpiece.

“Father” he’d said as he’d opened fire. He didn’t wait for the first responders to arrive. At the tender age of thirteen, he’d known only to run. He’d stopped running eventually and took his need for revenge out on anything that he contracted to take care of.

How could it possibly be his sister? He’d seen her die, hadn’t he?

Jake climbed from the car and sucked in a deep lungful of air. She’d recognized him too. He knew it. He removed his concealed Beretta and lay it on the passenger seat.

His need for answers at last supplanted his need to stay safe and unconnected.

Jake drove back to her apartment, a little surprised to see her car already in the parking lot. He sat in all his uncertainty for a long time before his need to know had him climb from the car.

He felt the hood and it was cold. She’d clearly been back a while. The apartment was dark.

“Jakey! Put your hands on the bonnet and stay absolutely still. Don’t make me shoot you, big brother.”

“Sweet Jesus, Melinda. How? I saw you die. I saw you both die.”

“No, Jakey. Momma died. The paramedics got me to the hospital fast enough to revive me.”

“Oh, no. Oh, no … I didn’t know. I would have stayed. Please believe that.”

He heard her deep sigh and felt her uncertainty. “Why didn’t you check?”

“I don’t really know. I can only remember the blood and him kneeling there muttering his vile farewells. All I could do was make him as dead as I thought you both were. So, I shot him.”

You shot him?”

“Uh-huh. Yes, I did.”

“Then why was the weapon found in his hand?”

“Oh, Meli, I put it there. I wanted him to only ever be thought of as a coward. Too afraid to accept the consequences of what he’d done. I couldn’t grant him the option of being considered insane and misunderstood.”

He heard her breathe out a shuddering sigh of understanding.”Jakey, oh my, Jakey. Don’t you see? You carry it too … that gene that separates you from the rest of humanity.”

Jake nodded and his face revealed his final understanding. He reached for a gun that was no longer there and the deputy district attorney from New York fired her weapon.

Jake died where he stood.

It would take years for his sister to come to grips with the fact that he’d welcomed that bullet. His weapon had been disgarded in the vehicle. He’d been unarmed and deliberatly so.

That final acceptance was the only comfort she had as she’d moved through the ranks of law enforcement.

The price of closure came at great cost.

She paid the price and moved forward.

***

Jake Caldwell’s grave was isolated and the only visitor came late at night.

She placed no flowers there. But knowing that his poor damaged soul was finally at rest gave her a measure of comfort.

She spent her years searching for the others that had no such connection. She saught always to find them help if help wasn’t already too late in arriving.

 

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“Why?” A #ShortStory #RRBC #IARTG @pursoot

WHY YES.jpg

 

Thank you for joining me as I share a short story from an anthology I’m compiling for release later this year.

WHY?

By

Suzanne Burke

Cassandra pulled the SUV into the parking lot of the old motel. She killed the motor and sat watching the sheets of rain blow and billow in the world outside the safety of the car’s interior. The storm grew louder and added an electric charge to the environment.  Adding its own shades of darkness and volatility to her mood of uncertainty. It had taken the Private Investigator she’d hired months to track down this location, and now she was hesitant, reluctant to discover the truths that may await her. Would the past be best left undisturbed? Perhaps. Yet the questions would remain forever unasked if she didn’t find the strength to ask them now.

Just why she’d made the choice to try and locate her father had made some sort of sense at the outset of this journey.

The answers she’d hungered to hear for twelve long years may now only be one conversation away. Yet she reminded herself one more time that her father had appeared to have no desire to be found. He’d changed his name several times in the years since she’d last seen him. She needed to prepare herself for the fact that he may not be at all pleased that she was here. He may be in no condition to even recall who she was if his drinking had escalated beyond what it had been in the long months after her mother had died.

She’d watched on, too caught up in her own pain of dealing with a world devoid of the loving and reassuring presence of her darling mother to help her father with his own debilitating grief and his agony of loss. She was thirteen years old when her mother had passed and utterly powerless to give him much measure of comfort beyond being there to reach out for if he’d needed it. He never did.

The military had flown him home when his wife’s illness had deteriorated. He’d been with his wife of twenty-years as she passed. Cassandra recalled her desperate need of his reassuring presence in a world suddenly gone mad. She’d sought comfort from him and found him unwilling or unable to offer it.

He’d started drinking heavily soon after the funeral. She began finding him asleep on the couch or the floor, wherever in the house he’d had the final drink that rendered him unconscious.  There was no extended family to reach out to. He and her mother had both been the only child of only children. There were no siblings around her to help absorb the intensity of that sudden stark and empty aloneness.

She’d begun to flounder and withdraw from her old world. Watching her friends interact within their own tight-knit family groups had simply been too painful to witness.

She’d watched her father dive deeper into any alcohol or substance that would give him the numbness he craved.  Money would be tossed carelessly on the coffee table alongside the perpetually full ashtrays and empty bottles. His bong sat alongside the marihuana he smoked with increasing regularity. The glass-topped coffee table was smudged with the residues of the cocaine now added to the mix.

For over a year their only shared conversations were his slurred questions about the availability of food. He seemed content with what she’d managed to purchase and prepare, although he existed on very little apart from the daily replenishment of alcohol he now had delivered. Refusing anything she offered up as a meal if she dared try and recreate a dish that was her mothers. She’d soon discovered that the easiest way to feed them both was a continual stream of cheap food to go or frozen TV dinners. He needed and wanted a relationship with his drug dealer. He craved no such bond with his only child.

He’d always prided himself on his level of fitness and Cassandra recalled all the times her friends had commented on it. Indulging themselves with a comment here and there about their own father’s lack of the determination it took to work out daily as he had done whenever he came home on leave. It now shattered her to see him asleep in his own vomit amidst the stench that went right along with his unwashed body.

Cassandra’s grades had slumped and she began to fail all her classes. Her lack of attendance at school had drawn further attention. Her father’s failure to respond to repeated requests to see her school counselor hadn’t gone unnoticed. The principal had felt he was left with no option but to express his concerns about her continued well being to Child Services.

The welfare folks had come by and her father was too inebriated at 10 o’clock in the morning to even stand up, much less impress them with his willingness to change the situation. His one expressed desire was for them to get the hell off his property and mind their own damned business.

Two days after their visit he was gone. He’d left five hundred dollars on the kitchen bench. There was no note, no explanation, no nothing.

Cassandra sought comfort by telling herself repeatedly that he’d simply gone on another bender. She managed to do that for a few weeks until the phone calls about missed mortgage and credit card payments had begun coming in. The five-hundred dollars kept her fed for quite a while, but she knew it wouldn’t last her much longer.

His buddies had stopped calling by. If no drinks were on offer at the address then they had no desire to be there. The fact that she was a thirteen-year-old girl alone didn’t factor into the equation.

Child services were called in by a concerned neighbor who had noticed her father’s continued absence.  Cassandra had ignored the knocks on the door at first. She’d stayed silent and hidden until the police had arrived and convinced her to open the door.

Cassandra was ultimately placed in a loving and caring foster home. It had taken time and dedication and long months of counseling for her small world to begin again to function. She was lucky and grateful to have them in her life. The abandonment issues she faced as best she could.

It was her upcoming graduation from Harvard that had finally prompted her attempt to locate him.

Knowing that the proud event would be celebrated by her foster family should have been enough. Cassandra acknowledged that and yet knew that somehow she wanted her father to know how well she’d done. It was some half-assed need to prove to the man that she’d managed just fine without him.

She guessed she still wanted and indeed still craved his approval.

Cassandra pulled her thoughts back to the present as she watched a man stagger and lurch his way up the stairs that led to the motel units. He balanced himself up against the rail that bordered the walkway as he fumbled in his pockets. His long grey hair surprised her a little but there was no mistaking her father. She opened the car door and stepped into the rain as the man leaned over the railing and threw up. She shuddered as she watched him open the door to unit 6. Her father’s room.

Even as she walked upstairs she could hear the screams that accompanied her father’s arrival.

She waited till the door had been slammed shut.

She sucked in a deep lungful of air and willed herself to knock on the door.

A woman around her own age answered. She was thin to the point of emaciation and the rolled back sleeves of her dirty blouse showed the dark blue and purple track marks that covered the inside of both arms.

“Who the fuck are you?”

“I’d like to speak to Brad, please.”

“Don’t know no one called Brad. You got the wrong room.”

The man she’d recognized as her father came into view behind the woman and he roughly shoved her out of his way. “Who are you and what do you want?”

Cassandra looked into his face and caught the shock and denial in his expression. “Sweet Lord Jesus you look just like your mother.”

She stood there and waited for more. His eyes filled with an expression she couldn’t quite recognize.

“What are you doing here? What do you want? I’ve got no money to give you.”

“Money?  Dear Lord, is that all you can say? I’m your daughter. I’m not here for any damned money.”

The woman he’d pushed away from the door started screaming. “Did she say she was your daughter? What the fuck? You didn’t say you had a daughter?”

“Shut the fuck up, Kerry. Mind your own business.” He turned and gave her a hard shove and the woman fell backward and landed in a screaming heap on the floor.

He stepped outside and slammed the door behind him.

“If it’s not money you want, why the hell are you here? I got nothin’ to give you.”

Cassandra looked at him without speaking until he could no longer meet her eyes. He moved to turn away.

“You’re quite right. You’ve got nothing to give me. You never did. Thank you for finally helping me understand that. I won’t ever bother you again.”

She had no tears left to shed for the man she’d once believed him to be. He’d died right alongside her mother fifteen years ago. She’s already mourned his loss, now it was time to bury him.

She climbed back in her car and grabbed her cell phone. Craig Bannister answered her call “Hello, sweetheart. Are you okay, did you speak to your father?”

“I’m speaking to the only father I’ll ever need right now.”

She heard the sharp intake of his breath as he responded. “Thank you, sweet girl. I’ve been so proud to be considered your father. Will you be home in time for dinner? I’m cooking your favorite. All the gang will be here.”

“Yes, dad. I’ll be home.”

Cassandra drove out of the parking lot and never looked back.

It was up to her now to lay the past to rest.

She graduated from Harvard with her extended foster family all in proud attendance.

The future waited in all its burgeoning promise. She went forward at last to greet it.

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