Book Review: “I’ve Always Loved Women” by Rhani D’Chae @rhanidchae #NewRelease #Short Story #RRBC #RWISA

Hello and welcome to my book review of the latest release by Author Rhani D’Chae.

BOOK REVIEW COVER Ive Always Loved Women by Rhani Dchae

Meet the author …

IMAGE RHANI D'CHAE

Rhani D’Chae is a visually disabled writer who was born and raised in Tacoma, WA. Because of her failing eyesight, she no longer reads as much as she used to, but she does enjoy falling into the worlds created by other Indie authors as often as her vision will allow. Shadow of the Drill is her first published novel, and is the first in a series that revolves around an unrepentant enforcer and the violent life that he leads.

She enjoys chatting with readers and fellow writers via Social Media sites, and loves getting comments and other input from those who have read her work. She is on Facebook, and also on Twitter, @rhanidchae. Also, if you have the time, please stop by her blog: rhanidchae.wordpress.com.

BOOK REVIEW COVER Ive Always Loved Women by Rhani Dchae

BOOK BLURB:

Danny’s life is changed when he begins a relationship with Kat, a woman trapped in an unhealthy marriage. When she decides to give her marriage another try, Danny realizes that his mission in life is to save women like her from the men who abuse them.

My Review: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Short, Sharp and decidedly deadly.

If you love nothing better than a short riveting read be sure to take a look at this latest offering by talented author Rhani D’Chae.

This author’s work always dares to take the reader into unexplored territory, this short story is no exception. As always Author Rhani D’Chae steps into the psyche of her characters, her depiction of the thought processes of women that fall victim to domestic abuse is insightful and sadly accurate.

The characters of both Kat and Danny are well developed, and as with all her books the climax when it comes packs one hell of a punch.

I recommend this short read as a great way to spend 30 minutes of your time.

***

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I’ve Always Loved Women on Amazon.com

Amazon Author Page for Rhani D’Chae

Author Rhani D’Chae on Twitter

Thanks for joining me here today. I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

#BlackFriday #ShortStory “Just Lucky … I Guess.” #RRBC #IARTG

BLACK FRIDAY BANNER JUST LUCKY I GUESS

I do hope you enjoy my contribution to your Black Friday reading enjoyment.

 

Black Friday short story.

“Just Lucky, I Guess.”

Gabriel Christopher had always been considered lucky, both by his many friends and even those not disposed to like him at all. A few folks had commented and even gasped in amazement each time he pulled yet another rabbit from the bottom of his seemingly bottomless hat.

It had been that way since he was born

His devoted mother unhesitant in telling anyone within listening distance that the odds against her son Gabriel surviving his traumatic early arrival on earth were astronomical.

Another child too ill to play the lead in the school play? Too bad. Guess who was the understudy? Yup … that was Gabriel.

His friends clung to him at every social occasion, for it was always Gabriel that found a cab on those nights after a game or a concert when no cabs were to be had. Rain or shine, if they were with good old Gabriel, they knew they would always find a way to get home.

His looks alone would have drawn the women to him. His ability to provide them with Sir Galahad style safety was just another fringe benefit.

It was always Gabriel who somehow managed to get the great seats when the venues for major sporting events or a farewell performance for a world famous entertainer were meant to be sold-out.

Want a seat in a restaurant that’s booked solid for months in advance? Gabriel was your go to guy.

Gabriel had never acknowledged the ‘damn but you’re lucky’ thing, at least not publicly.

He preferred to think of himself as merely observant of everything important to him. Those observations prompted all of his actions.

He’d never needed to strive to be the best he could be, for that lucky star people said he’d been born under kept right on shining down on him throughout his life. Why work yourself to death for something, when not making any effort at all garnered you the same results?

He’d stopped thinking about it much at all in the past couple of years. Life had settled itself into a comfortable pattern. He was content.

Therein lay the heart of his problem. That craved for contentment had nudged him into a world both predictable and unrelentingly boring.

It was April now. Spring had arrived and reawakened what little spirit he still possessed.

He needed a change.

He mulled it over for a few days, weighing his options. Gabriel decided that quitting his job would be stupid, and he was far from stupid … not by his reckoning. He checked in with his boss, and as luck would have it, he had ample leave time accrued to take a long overdue vacation.

He rarely found anything that he wanted or needed enough to warrant him spending his savings. It had been years since he’d purchased his home. He had only his mother to be concerned about while he was traveling, and she was newly remarried and no longer appeared to be in such need of his undivided attention.

Gabriel knew he could easily afford another overseas trip. He’d traveled throughout Europe and even to Australia in those years when spring breaks really meant something.

***

He opened the laptop and began looking for a close location that wouldn’t need days of traveling to reach the destination.

He smiled with anticipation as he made his choice.

A short road trip would take him to Orlando Florida, where he could easily make the direct flight to San Juan in Puerto Rico. He used his phone app and found some great deals on both flights and accommodation. He wasn’t surprised.

Gabriel had traveled widely. But not usually this close to home. Now was the time.

The direct flight to San Juan would take only two and a half hours.

He confirmed his flight times and departure details; handed in his leave application at work, which was immediately approved, and counted down the days.

It was now Monday, and his excitement was building. He would fly out on Friday.

He made the road trip the day before, and spent the night of April 12th, in the Orlando Holliday Inn.

He happily drank the contents of the mini-bar and rang through to room service, ordering a bottle of his favorite scotch, and a meal of Lobster and salad.

He deemed the expense worthwhile and fell into bed late, both well sated and alcohol saturated.

***

Gabriel awoke the next morning and took long minutes to remember where he was and what he was doing there.

“Oh, shit!” He glanced at his phone. “Shit, shit, shit!” He’d been too drunk to set his alarm.

He scrambled from the bed and crossed to the window. The rain came in blinding sheets and the palm trees outside were blown about wildly in the ferocity of the wind.

His flight was due to leave in a less than an hour, and he knew security would be a nightmare to get through. “Damn it!” He haphazardly threw on some clothes, not giving a damn about fashion. He tried to book a cab. The response to his call when he’d finally been connected was that in this storm the cabs were all taken, with bookings piling up ahead of him.

He checked in with the airline, the weather was abating and the flight paths were clearing. The flight had been delayed but only for an estimated thirty minutes.

“Damn it to hell.” Gabriel grabbed his backpack and headed downstairs. He may just be lucky enough to flag down a cab. Anything was better than sitting around.

It had taken him twenty minutes, until in frustration he had walked out in the middle of the busy road and stopped the first cab he spotted.

The driver had the off-duty sign flipped up. He was clearly unavailable and unimpressed by the drenched guy with the backpack now standing in front of his cab and blocking his path.  Until Gabriel Christopher pulled out the Benjamin Franklin. “It’s yours. Just get me to the airport.” That hundred bucks sure changed the attitude.

“Anything you say, buddy.” said the driver, smiling at the man now sitting restlessly and drenching his back seat.

“You need to hurry!”

“No sweat, buddy. It’s only six miles. I’ll have you there in no time.”

“Yeah, well, no time is about all I have left. Step on it would you.”

The driver smiled again. “Sure thing.”

The cab made it to around a mile out from the Airport, before the traffic snarl forced it to come to an infinitely slow-moving crawl. The crawl finally ended in a traffic jam that stopped them and everyone else cold.

“I’ll get out here!” Gabriel exited the cab and was almost run down by a motorbike weaving its way through the traffic.

“Jesus!” The cab driver called out from the window. “Be careful, man. You almost wore that bike!”

“Yeah! But I didn’t.”

Gabriel started running. If the flight had been delayed by just a few minutes he could still make it.

He ran into the terminal. He had eight minutes to get through security and hand in his boarding pass.

Security was working at full speed, trying to clear the backlog of people without jeopardizing safety.

Gabriel was cleared quickly, he could see the departure gate not far ahead. His focus was fixed totally on that point.

He didn’t see the toddler stagger across his path sturdily pushing some wheeled toy … until he tripped over the small body and came crashing down in a heap on the floor.

Gabriel’s head bounced with a sickening smack on the tiles, and the parents of the little boy were frantically checking on their son’s wellbeing. The stranger lay at their feet, out cold and unmoving.

Other passengers came hurrying over to assist.

Gabriel came around and looked up into the face of the paramedic that gazed down with concern into his pale face.

“Take it easy.  You gave your head a damned good crack. Can you tell me your name?”

Gabriel was a little groggy, and he could feel the beginning of a headache making its presence felt.

“Uh … yes, Yes … my name is Gabriel Christopher.”

“How’s your vision, buddy?” The light was shone into Gabriel’s protesting eyes.

“It’s … okay. Yeah, yeah … I’m okay. Thanks.”

“We’re gonna need to take you to the hospital. You were out cold for a couple of minutes. An x-ray will show if you have any damage that needs treating.”

“What time is it?”

The paramedic checked his watch. “It’s gone three.”

“Fuck! I missed my flight.”

The paramedic was more concerned about assisting his patient onto a gurney. “Can’t help back luck, buddy.”

Gabriel Christopher was stunned at this crazy turn that his luck had taken. This type of thing just didn’t happen to him.

***

He was finally released from the hospital hours later once the test results had come back satisfactorily. He had a mild concussion and would have a headache for a day or two. He listened to the instructions and gave his word that he’d return immediately if any other symptoms should arise.

He managed to get another room back at the Holiday Inn.

Too weary now to be bothered with making fresh plans, he poured himself a stiff drink, threw on some boxer shorts and lay back on the king sized bed to watch the large screen television.

He flicked through the channels until the ‘breaking news’ headline came up.

He sat uncomprehending the significance of the news flash for a brief moment.

The attractive newsreader looked appropriately sad “Flight 1313 from Orlando to San Juan had disappeared from radar over the area known as ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ Air and sea searches are underway. No wreckage has yet been sighted.”

Gabriel Christopher’s phone began buzzing.

He took the call from his mother. She was hysterical with relief as she registered the sound of his voice. “Oh my God, my Gabriel. It’s Friday the thirteenth! Are you safe? I’m so glad you decided to take another flight, son.”

The enormity of the situation hit him hard as he listened to the sound of worry in her voice begin to diminish.

“Momma! I was meant to be on that plane. I missed it.”

“Of course you did, Gabriel. You have been blessed since birth.”

“Blessed, Momma? Maybe so … maybe so … Or I could be just lucky, I guess.”

He spent a further ten minutes reassuring her that he would stay indoors until after midnight.

He lay back and attempted to close his eyes, but dark thoughts of what the folks on that plane must have felt when it went down made his efforts at sleeping futile.

He thought about the strange incidents that had combined forces and caused him to miss that flight. He shivered.

The space around him felt wrong, it was suddenly crowded with the sounds of screaming helpless people.

He scrambled from the bed, hurriedly dressed,and headed downstairs and outside. Sucking in deep breaths of the spring air to help calm him. Gabriel began walking without checking direction … his usual keen sense of observation and acute awareness of his surroundings now gone, his feet moved with a purpose of their own that he appeared to have no control over.

He flicked a look at his watch. It was eleven forty-five pm. He shuddered as he acknowledged that this dreadful day was not yet over.

A building in the next block drew his eyes to the radiant glow of light emanating from within it.

He walked towards it without knowing why he did so.

He climbed the stairs and made his way into the warmth of the interior.

The light welcomed and encompassed him.

He moved slowly towards the statue of Christ.

A voice deep and rich permeated his senses. He was vibrating to the sound and the sensations as they echoed through his brain and pierced his soul.

“It is time, Gabriel. Welcome home.”

The church bells rang out the hour of midnight.

*

 

 

 

 

#NewContest “What is the Gender of this Author?” Submit a #ShortStory of 500 hundred words or less … in ANY genre.

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You all know by now just how much pleasure I get from supporting my fellow authors.

It’s been quite a while since I came up with a contest here, and I do hope this one proves to be both challenging and entertaining.

I think it will be interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is discovering just how diversely readers interpret what they read.

Just how perceptive are you?

So … what is this contest about?

The contest works in two parts.

 PART 1. I need authors to contribute a previously unpublished short story of 500 words or less in any genre of their choice.  Please include the title … and for my information and judging purposes only your name and indentifying gender.

Your short story will only be identified to the readers by a number allocated by myself. Your gender will not be revealed until after all votes have been counted.

In the subject line please write, “Submission for What is the Gender of this Author?”

SUBMISSIONS To be sent to me at suzieb4burke@hotmail.com

The author who has the least number of people correctly guessing their gender will have a featured article here on my blog, of any work of their choosing, the week immediately after the votes are calculated.

I only need three submissions each week to make the vote viable.

PART 2. Join in the voting process! If you haven’t contributed a story that week, please join in the fun and the challenge of identifying the gender that his author identifies as.

I will conduct a POLL to make voting easily accessible.

Those of you who wish to caste a vote will have a full week to read the entries and vote after the submissions go live.
 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts, folks!

#Short Story “Why can’t we be friends?” How do we explain prejudice to young children?” #RRBC @pursoot

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How do we explain prejudice to young children? How sad it is that that question even needs to be asked. This is a short story I have written to share with my young grandson.

Meet Casper and His Best Friend Charlie.

BLOG CASPER AND CHARLIE TUMMY.jpg

“Charlie, why are they saying I have to go away? What does away mean, Charlie?”

“Well, Casper, away, um—away, is someplace where I can’t be with you. I’m not too sure about the why—but I think maybe they are a little, afraid.”

“What are they afraid of, Charlie?”

“Well, I think maybe they’re scared because we’re sort of …  different?”

“I don’t understand. What does different, mean?”

“Um, different is … like, you are small … and I am bigger.”

“Oh … I still don’t understand. We’re buddies, aren’t we?”

“Yes … we sure are; we’re the bestest of buddies. But Casper you will get a whole lot bigger.”

“Bigger? Like … um, like my daddy is bigger?”

“Yes—like your daddy is bigger, that is different.”

“But, Charlie, you will just gets bigger—like I do. Won’t you?”

“Well—no … I don’t think so, I think I’m already as big as I can get.”

“Charlie, I don’t understand. Why … why are they afraid of that? Do they think I will squish you—when I sit on your tummy?”

“Weeell—maybe you might squish me just a little bit.”

“So—um, we can fix that, Charlie. You can sit on my tummy—cause you won’t squish me when me I’m big like daddy.”

“I …I … Well I’m not so not sure that would be okay.”

“Why, Charlie? I, don’t get it.”

“Well, maybe … maybe it’s, ’cause … um, we are different in some other ways.”

“Okay … so we make the different stuff go away, and we make everything the same.”

“I don’t think we can do that, Casper!”

“I don’t understand.  You are my friend; you make me laugh, and you let me sleep on your tummy. Why are they afraid of that?”

“Maybe the same stuff is just not as scary as the different stuff is.”

“Charlie, I’m sorry—but I still don’t understand it. What can be so … different?”

“Well—maybe it’s  ’cause I eat green stuff … an you eat, um … meat stuff.”

“Oh, okay—I see. Um … no I don’t. Why is that scary?”

“Well, maybe they think, maybe they think—um—that you might wanna eat me.”

“Oh—you make me laugh, and laugh, Charlie, you’re so funny.”

“I wasn’t doing the funny-funny, thing, small one.”

“You means they really … really think that I would eat you?”

“I think so, Casper”

“Do they eat meat, Charlie?”

“Yep, at least I think some of ‘em do.”

“Do they eat … do they eat their friends, Charlie?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Then I don’t understand it. If they don’t eat their friends, what is different? Why are they silly-scared that I would eat you?”

“I’m just not sure, Casper.”

“So—what else is so different, Charlie?”

“Well, I look different than you do.”

“Do—all their friends look just like they do?”

“No, I don’t think so. But maybe—maybe, they only have friends who are all the same. So no one can be silly-scared of being more different.”

“I still don’t understand it—Can I only have friends that are exactly the same as I am?”

“I think maybe … yes, Casper.”

“I don’t like that … I think that’s so silly-silly. Charlie, how else are we different?”

“Well—mmm—I’m not sure?”

“I can’t think of differents—but I can thinks of sames.

“What sames cans you think of, Casper?”

“Well, Charlie, if you get hurt, you cry, and go tell your momma … just like I do. Don’t you?”

“Yes, I do.”

“And if you cut yourself you’ve got that red blood stuff that comes out all icky … just like I do. Don’t you?”

“Well … yes, Casper, yes I do.”

“So, more sames—than differents—hey, Charlie?”

“Differents, are more scary for them, Casper.”

“Why don’t they just close their eyes … ’cause then, well, then they wouldn’t see, the differents?”

“Casper … that’s a good idea … but, I dont think it would work.”

“Why, Charlie?”

“’Cause—um—they would have to keep their eyes shuts all of the time … and that would silly-scary them even more?”

“Cause … they would falls off cliffs or something, Charlie?”

“Uh—huh, that would be bad, Casper.”

“Charlie? Will the sun still wake up over the trees, if we be friends?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Will it still go to sleep, behind the big hills, if we be friends?”

“I think so.”

“Will we still have a mommy and daddy, Charlie?”

“Yes, Casper.”

“Will we still have other friends, Charlie?”

“Charlie …  Will … we still have other friends?”

“I … just don’t know about that for sure, Casper.”

“Oh—that is too, too sad, Charlie. It be water in my eyes sad. ‘Cause I like my other friends too.”

“I know, little buddy.  It makes me crying sad too.”

“Charlie, I’m silly-scared now—what do we do?”

“I don’t know exactly, Casper. I am thinkin’ about it very hard.”

“Charlie, I don’t want to be your unfriend. Maybe we can run away, someplace where they do not care about those differents things … where they just care about the sameness. Do you think we can, Charlie? Where is a place we can go?”

“I have never, ever heard of a place likes that, Casper.”

“Never … ever?”

“Not ever, Casper.”

“Charlie? Charlie … you think maybe we can find one, if we look, and look … and look some more?”

“We can try. Are you sure you want to go looking and looking?”

“I am surely-sure, Charlie. I thinks if we look long and look real hard … we’ll maybe find us a place, a place where the sames are more special than than differents.”

“Casper, my little buddy, when did you get to be so smart?”

“When I decided to be your friend, Charlie.”

“Charlie?”

“Uh—huh, Casper?’

“Charlie, why is the sky up?”

“That’s a whole other conversation, Casper.”

 

***

I plan on continuing using Charlie and Casper in future stories I write for my dear little Jacob. They will hopefully mature as he does. I do hope you enjoyed this one. Thanks so much for stopping by.

 

 

Cover Reveal & Book Excerpt #RRBC Writers’ Conference & Book Expo 2017. Suzanne Burke AUTHOR BOOTH. “MIND-SHAFT” #Paranormal #Anthology #RRBC #IARTG #IAN1 #KU #RRBC_ORG

 

RRBC WRITERS CONFERENCE BLOG PROMO DAILYHello and welcome! I’m both excited and delighted today! The Rave Reviews Book Club Writers’ Conference & Book Expo is finally here!  It promises to be an exciting time.Thanks for stopping by.  I can also be found here and at my Author Booth on the WC & BE site Author Booth RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB WRITERS’ CONFERENCE & BOOK EXPO as I reveal the cover of the newly edited edition of MIND-SHAFT. My Paranormal Anthology.

Mind – Shaft is an eclectic Anthology of Paranormal short stories in the paranormal sub genres of #Thriller #Suspense #Romance #Supernatural & #Horror.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

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Suzanne Burke resides with her daughter and grandson in a small country town located hundreds of miles to the west of her previous home in Sydney Australia.

Suzanne had long wanted to write, life interrupted and she didn’t begin her journey into the world of writing until she was in her early fifties.

Suzanne has written her memoirs under the author name of Stacey Danson, both her non-fiction books have ranked in the top 100 paid in Kindle on Amazon. “Empty Chairs” and “Faint Echoes of Laughter” continue to earn wonderful reviews.

Suzanne writes her powerful Thrillers “Acts Beyond Redemption” and “Acts of Betrayal” and her new Paranormal anthology “Mind-Shaft” as S. Burke.


 I’m delighted to share my latest book as I present my first adventure into the world of the Paranormal. I have included below a Complete short story from the Anthology for your reading pleasure.

Here we go! COVER REVEAL! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

My thanks to Cover Creator Eeva Lancaster: EEVA LANCASTER on TWITTER

Mind-Shaft Kindle Cover HIGH DEFINITION

BLURB:

An Anthology of Paranormal short stories. An eclectic and exciting mix of Thriller, Romance, Supernatural, Horror and terrifying Suspense.

Sisterly Love. … Paranormal Horror. After the tragic murder/suicide of her parents, Pippa, at just Nineteen-years of age, finds herself taking on the full responsibility for raising her fifteen-year-old sister, Emma. Emma is … more than just a little different. The body count is increasing. Nothing and no one is as they seem.

Halloween Homecoming …Paranormal Supernatural. A Halloween party is the perfect venue for serving justice on the menu. Leighton Caulfield and his Lawyer are about to get their just desserts. In a way that nobody is prepared for.

A Place So Cold …Paranormal Suspense. Children are missing! Time is running out. Can the stranger from Australia lead the rescuers to them in time?

Spin … Paranormal Thriller Doctor Cameron Christopher is concerned that his patient Holly Daniels is caught in a downward spiral into complex Dissociative Disorder. Using Hypnotherapy he takes her back to explore when the nightmares began. Nothing in his experience as a Psychiatrist prepared him for what lay dormant … and waiting.

The Director’s Cut …  Paranormal Romance beyond time. Award-winning Director, Christopher Manning is searching for far more than a location for his next blockbuster. The emptiness that has permeated his entire life is crying out for resolution. Join him as he seeks the answers.

Mind-Shaft … Paranormal Supernatural Victoria Denton served revenge swiftly and without mercy. Her future happiness seems assured. If only the past would remain where it should.

To celebrate my cover release this eBook is available FREE from today (October 22nd) until OCTOBER 26th inclusive. Simply click the Amazon Link at the end of this post!

I have included a Complete short story from the Anthology for your reading pleasure.

The Paranormal Thriller short.

SPIN

By

Suzanne Burke.

 From “MIND-SHAFT” A Paranormal Anthology.    

Jenny Rivers looked over with concern at the woman sitting hunched in the corner of the waiting room. Her worry increased as Holly Daniels began rocking to and fro with her arms wrapped tightly around her slim body. Holly had been muttering something unintelligible to herself for a while now, and Jenny wanted to offer her some form of comfort.

“Holly. Doctor Christopher won’t be long, now. You arrived a little early for your session today. Can I get you a glass of water, or perhaps a magazine to read?”

Jenny wasn’t certain if the agitated woman had even heard her, as the muttering continued, now higher in pitch. It was a disconcerting sound. Jenny had worked here a very long time and was accustomed to witnessing unusual behavior. But, Holly had been deteriorating steadily over the past few weeks, enough to have Doctor Christopher reschedule his appointment times to fit her in again this morning.

Jenny was relieved when her boss completed his current session, she smiled up at Dan Jefferson as he left the Doctor’s room and busied herself setting his next appointment time.

She knew it wouldn’t be long before the Doctor buzzed and asked her to send in his next patient. She could count on the man being on time, he never allowed his sessions to go beyond their allocated hour.

Her intercom lit up, and the doctor’s deep voice requested that she send in the next patient.

“Holly, Doctor Christopher will see you now.” She spoke loud enough to be heard above the ranting.

The woman didn’t respond.

Jenny hesitated before leaving her desk, she wasn’t meant to interact with the clients apart from a greeting and making further appointments.

But the woman in the corner was clearly unable to hear her. Jenny approached her and coughed loudly to gain her attention.

The look in Holly Daniels eyes caused her to take a step back. She was unaccustomed to this patient being anything less than cooperative. “Holly? Holly?”

The woman shook her head as if in denial, then responded … “Holly? Yes … Yes, I’m Holly. I’m Holly … aren’t I?”

“Yes, you’re Holly, dear. The Doctor will see you now.”

The painfully slim woman stood then, and keeping her arms wrapped tightly around herself she walked unsteadily across the room and into the Psychiatrist’s office.

Jennifer resumed her seat, and in a moment unusual in her recent experience, she checked that the silent alarm indicating that security was immediately required was clearly switched on. She hoped fervently that there would be no need to use it. Something about Holly’s behavior had made her usual, calm and unruffled self, feel more than a little jumpy this morning.

Doctor Cameron Christopher checked his watch as his patient entered the room, automatically setting the timer to buzz discretely when her session came to an end.

He masked his shock at her appearance, but not his concern. It had only been five days since they’d last spoken and his patient appeared to have aged years in that short time frame.

Forty-three-year-old, Holly Daniels had been experiencing night terrors and this continued deterioration was very concerning. He’d consulted several colleagues, and after lengthy discussions had made the decision to use hypnotherapy to attempt to get to the crux of the problem that was making this woman so visibly ill. His concern was that it may not work at all, each client responded differently to hypnotherapy and it was quite possible that his patient may not be receptive.

He hesitated to increase her medication, it hadn’t assisted her so far, and increasing the dosages would only continue to mask the rapidly escalating signs of complex dissociative disorder.

“Come on in, Holly.” He indicated the high backed chair next to his desk.  Sit down, please, Holly, please, be comfortable, I’ll be with you in a moment.

“Comfortable? Yes, I can do that. Is it safe here?”

“Yes, Holly it is a safe, my dear. You have nothing to be concerned about I assure you.”

The woman shook her head as if only just becoming aware of where she was now sitting. “Doc? I’m in trouble here. I don’t understand what’s happening to me. I’m afraid all the time. Can you stop it?” She looked carefully around the room. “Do you want me to lie down on the couch?”

“No, Holly, we don’t work that way, do we? Unless you’d feel more relaxed that way, my dear. You must do what makes you feel the most at ease. Hypnotism is nothing to be afraid of. Do you recall we discussed the process last week when you were here? Let me just check my notes. These nightmares of yours have been recurring for several weeks now. They appear to have increased in frequency. What we’ll do together is take you slowly back to when they first began, to see if we can’t isolate an incident in your recent past that may have caused your subconscious to respond in this way. They are occurring how often now?

“They are happening every night now … I can’t sleep, I’m so afraid that I’ll have it again”. Her voice was shaking.

“Is it always the identical dream, Holly? With each one being exactly the same, or does it vary?”

“It’s getting worse. Maybe, ‘cause I’m so damned tired, Doc. I feel cold all the time and when I wake up, I’m freezing. Hell, Doc … it’s summer … I just shouldn’t feel so achingly cold.”

“Your physician can find no identifiable ailment causing those chills, Holly. Let’s assume for now that these dreams are the cause, and get them under control for you, shall we, hmm?”

His patient didn’t respond.

Doctor Christopher noted her appearance; she had paled visibly in the few minutes since she’d entered his office. He decided to press on. “Do you recognize anything or anyone in the dream, Holly?”

“Well … sort of … it kind of looks like a fairground with lights and Ferris wheels that my folks used to take me to when I was a kid. But, Doc, the colors are all blurred together, like a painting that got wet as it was starting to dry. Do you understand? All the colors are running together.”

“How do you feel talking about it?”

“I’m afraid. I’m cold; I’m always cold. It doesn’t make any difference if I sit in front of a heater, my hands are icy and my breathing seems to freeze in the air. And the screaming, the screaming is terrifying. I can hear it no matter whether I’m awake or trying to sleep! I put music on to distract me and leave my lights burning all night long, but it just keeps on … I need you to make it stop, Doc! Please … make it stop. I can’t do anything, I’m so tired all the time, and I keep hearing the same voice over and over again. I don’t know where it’s coming from, but I know it’s not my voice. Over and over again. I hear it even when I’m awake now. It’s frightening me, I don’t seem to be able to make it stop. Maybe I’m going mad, Doc! Am I crazy?”

“No, don’t think of it that way, my dear … it’s simply a nightmare, something in your subconscious may be triggering it … that’s what we will attempt to discover. Are you certain you understand the process, Holly?”

“Yeah … I guess. Like you said last time, you hypnotize me and we find out what these nightmares are all about. Can we just do this please Doc? I want this shit to stop.”

Cameron Christopher pushed a form across the desk to his patient, “Sign the consent form then, Holly, and we’ll get started. “

Holly grabbed the form and the pen, “Where … here?”

“Yes, just where I’ve indicated with a cross, dear” He pointed, “Yes, that’s right.”

The woman signed it and pushed it across the desk. “So, do you dangle a watch or something that I have to look at?”

“No, no, my dear, nothing like that. You just relax and listen to the sound of my voice.

“The sound of my voice will make your body grow heavy, your arms will grow heavier … heavier; you hear nothing else, only the sound of my voice … nothing else, just my voice. Yes, Holly … yes, that’s good, you are so tired. Your arms and legs are growing heavy now. You are completely safe, Holly, just safe and relaxed and comfortable.”

He watched his patient begin to slump in the chair. “Yes, that’s it. Good, Holly, now you can feel your heartbeat slowing. You feel totally relaxed. Totally safe. Heavier …heavier, you are in a state of deep relaxation now. You can hear the sound of my voice, gently now … calm. That’s it, Holly, …yes. That’s it.”

“Where are you now, Holly, can you see?”

“Holly can’t play. She’s been bad.” The doctor flinched and then leaned forward, the voice was not Holly’s, it was a male voice and appeared to be quite young. Cameron Christopher took a deep breath trying to stem his excitement, and then slowly continued the questioning.

“Bad? What did you do, Holly, that was bad?”

“Holly can’t play. She’s been very bad.

“Where is Holly?”

“She’s in the bad place. She didn’t play right, she was bad. Bad, Holly.”

“Where is the bad place?”

“Everybody knows the bad place. You know the bad place. We all know the bad place.”

“What is your name?”

“Names don’t matter! Unless you are bad. Holly was bad.”

“What did Holly do that was bad?”

“You don’t know? You belong with Holly … in the bad place.”

“Tell me about the bad place.”

“Nothing breathes in the bad place. There’s no air. No air… no care … all gone.”

“Are you in the bad place?”

“Stupid, Holly. Stupid, bad, Holly. No air … no care … all gone.”

“Can Holly leave the bad place?”

“Nobody can leave. Nobody can. It’s bad. I’m sad … all gone.”

“You left the bad place … didn’t you?”

“Nobody can! Stupid man! Stupid, bad, man.”

“Why am I bad? What did I do?”

“You made Holly bad. You made Holly try to leave. Stupid man”

“Tell me about the bad place … can you see it from where you are?”

“Everbody can see it. Spinning wheels and candy floss. Lights and noise … and, them.”

“Them?”

“No air. Them. No care…them. All gone …………… Them.”

“What do they look like?”

“Musn’t look! Must not, lookedy-look! Noise and lights and spinning wheels. Bad Holly, to look. Now she stays.”

“What did Holly see? Did she see them?’

Holly… don’t look! Holly don’t! Holllyeeeee. Holly … All gone.”

“Gone where? Where did she go? Can you see?” The Doctor’s once calm voice began to tremble.

“Round and round, round and round … lights and noise … round and round.”

“Is Holly on the spinning thing … going round and round?”

“Holly is spinning! … Spinning away! Spinning with them.”

“Can she come back?”

“Nobody can. Spinning up … round and round. She looked! She lookedy-looked. Bad, Holly!”

“Can she see you?”

“Me?”

“Yes … yes, can she see you?”

“I … I don’t kn … can you see me, Holly? Holllyeeee can you see meeeeee?”

“Did she answer?”

“She’s been bad. Sad. All gone.”

“Can you see her?”

“Mustn’t look. It’s bad, to lookedy-look.”

“Don’t you want to see her?”

“NO! No air… no care … all gone.”

“She needs to come back, now.

“All gone.”

“Holly needs to come back to the safe place, now.”

No … all gone Alllllll gone! Lookedy-look … all gone.”

“She can’t be gone. I’ll help her. I’ll help you too.”

“Help, me?  Too late … all gone.”

“No, no, it’s not too late. The bad place is gone. You can look. See the bad place is gone now.”

“No … it’s here.”

Cameron Christopher took several deep breaths, attempting to calm himself. He needed to regain control. When he spoke again the edge of desperation was more muted.

“Holly …? Holly! Listen to the sound of my voice, dear. You are coming up through the levels of deep relaxation. Listen to my voice as you emerge feeling refreshed and safe. Nice and slow … nice and easy. Listen to the sound of my voice; only my voice. … That’s it. Good, Holly. … Slowly now, you will awaken feeling refreshed and safe on the count of three. One … two … three.”

“Ahh…back with us.” His relief was palpable. He whispered, “Thank God” then continued, “Good, Holly, very good. How do you feel now?”

“Feel?”

The doctor was shattered to still hear the young male voice. Something was wrong here. Something was terribly wrong. “I need you to feel safe now, Holly. It’s time to come back from that memory.”

“Holly dear, are you feeling relaxed?” The doctor’s voice held a last vestige of hope.

“No more Holly; Holly was bad. No air… no care… Holly all gone.”

“Oh, Sweet Jesus … Holly! Holly? Holly?”

***

Jenny Rivers looked at her watch. The next patient was waiting, the current session should have ended by now. She listened intently for a moment, caught unprepared by the agonized screams shattering the silence. She remained rooted to the spot, rendered paralyzed by the sound.

The silent alarm began flashing …

She froze as she entered the room, the stench was unfamiliar and overwhelming, making her gag. It was desperately cold in the room. The screams so loud, she covered her ears to protect them from the sound. She tried to take a deep breath but there was no air, her lungs became depleted.

The doctor’s chair and the chair the patient should have been sitting in were spinning so fast that the motion was blurred … a flash of blue-green light momentarily pulsed and encompassed the entire room. The screaming became strangled and distant.  Jenny watched on, gasping for air. Shaking her head in desperate disbelief as the spinning gradually slowed. Both chairs were empty. How could that be? The only exit from Doctor Christopher’s office was the one that would have brought them straight past her desk.

The police were baffled. The videotaped session consisted of spiraling lights on fast forward, and the audiotape gave them answers of sorts, none of which were acceptable by any laws familiar to them.

The secretary had been briefly questioned, but the woman was hysterical, beyond any help they could render.  The paramedics immediately transported her to hospital with sirens blaring, she was in deep shock and her core body temperature had dropped alarmingly. Her oxygen saturation levels were desperately low.

Another patient waiting for his now overdue appointment relayed quite a story. The shaken man spoke of lights flashing and a man and child screaming, he confirmed that he’d seen no one leave Doctor Christopher’s office.

No one at all.

***

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RRBC WC&BE PARTICIPATION BADGE

Thank you for making the time to join me here today! I look forward to responding to your comments and questions.

 

 

 

 

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“Oops!” The crazy stuff I write when I need to cut loose. @pursoot #IARTG #RRBC #BloggersBlast

Oops.

Hello, lovelies! You all know that I write seriously strange stuff when I need to just cut loose for a while…So here I am again, visiting the crazier than usual zone. Uh-huh … Yeah, so here we go!

 

“Oops!”

I guess we all have those moments in life, you know the ones that you are certain to regret as soon as you recall whatever the hell it was that you did! Yeah, those rugged and dark times when you indulge in something legal or otherwise that you just HAD to have. My ‘Oops’ moments were continuing to create havoc.

The room stank. Body odor and cigarettes blended with stale booze.  My stomach was unimpressed that my sense of smell was still working.

I dry retched.  I shut my eyes and tried to remember just where the hell I was.  Hell seemed an appropriate placement, it sure was hot enough.

The memory hung there just beyond reach.  It troubled me somewhat, no matter how drunk I got, I had never blacked out before. It was a stupid thing to do.

The stench in the room increased.  A light came on.  What I saw made me wish myself unconscious again.

The thing sat in a stairwell.  It wasn’t quite a dog.  If it were, it was the ugliest one I had ever seen.

My first thought was, I hope to God this is only a nightmare. I pinched myself hard, and unfortunately, I felt it. The fetid odor of wet fur and old blood encouraged that notion.  My nose didn’t usually intrude itself in my dreams.

I moved, happy that I could do so.  I moved further.  The doglike thing emitted a sound that gurgled up through its throat; it spewed from its mouth, a combined growl and groan combined.  I shivered despite the enfolding humidity of the room.

It was angry and afraid.  Never a good combination in a nightmare that stank.

I shuffled myself backward on my ass.  I felt behind me in the light coming from where the thing sat.  My hands touched something cold and solid; I turned my head slowly to look, not wanting to attract Stinkys’ attention.  The scream I let rip, blew that scenario right out of the cellar.

The carcass had once been a female.  Now it was just a gutted thing crawling in maggots and covered in a congealed mess of intestines.  The genitals were the one remaining identifier.

I had attracted my ugly companion’s attention.  He—she … or it, moved onto a lower stair, the stench wafted over me as it moved.

Staying silent was hardly an option.  I was good with things with four legs as a rule.  Better though if I had a clue as to what I was dealing with.  It appeared to be a combination of an animal and an even uglier animal.

I guess if I looked that scary, I’d be pretty pissed as well.

I was deciding between throwing up or wetting myself, neither option was terribly attractive.

Good old Stinky had moved closer and was now only a couple of feet away.  He wouldn’t need to eat me.  The toxic fumes coming from him would decalcify my spinal column long before his sharp teeth could.  This thing made ‘Jaws’ look like a sardine with attitude.

I weighed up my options, trying not to glance behind me at the last person who made the wrong choice.

The trouble being of course that Stinky may well be the best deal I had.  I hate negativity; I decided to go with the easiest choice.  I stood and remained still.  My knees were shaking.  This didn’t assist in portraying myself as a solid “Terminator” type.  Stinky had a set of wedding tackle hanging between his legs.  It, was a he.

Stinky dropped to the floor.  He sat there making hideous sounds, his saliva pooling into a sticky mess in front of him.

So far so good, he had been conned by my immense physical presence.  Then again, he may just be tired from all that eating human beings stuff he’d indulged in.

I tried for the soft approach, hunkering down and talking in a calm controlled manner as I extended my hand, “So, Stinky, how’re they hangin’?”

“Rumplefargl.”

“Whoa—the old ‘Rumplefargl’ huh?  Tough break, Stink. Hey, buddy, I understand.  Us guys have gotta stick together, which given the amount of saliva you’re making, is a distinct possibility.”

I sat down completely, wanting, of course, to make him more comfortable. Plus my knees had turned to marshmallow and simply wouldn’t hold me up any longer.

Good ol’ Stinky must have figured I was cool. He put what passed for his head on his front paws, and looked up at me gently with eyes only ‘Stephen King’ could invent.

“Rumplefargl?”

I had to be careful how I responded to this one.  Suppose he was asking permission to turn me into a maggot-ridden mess like my other cellmate. Or worse yet, it could be a marriage proposal.

I gave it some thought, and then went for the psychological approach, “So with all this ‘Rumplfargl’ going on, Stink, when do you get a chance to just have time out alone? You know, just hangin’ out with the other things from hell and shootin’ the breeze and each other?”

He appeared to consider my question.  He stood and hurried over to the stairwell, “Rumplfargl.”

I followed him. Hell … why not?  I doubted whatever was up the stairs could be as disgusting as where I was.

I was so terrifyingly wrong.

I tried shutting the door again as a chorus of “Rumplfargl” greeted me.

“Oops!”

OOPS BABY

 

 

 

 

 

‘Human Disinterest’ Part 3. “Aftermath” The story ends. From my upcoming Anthology ‘Front-Line Heroes.’ #RRBC

Front line-heroes HUMAN DISINTEREST PIC

My latest work in progress is an anthology of stories dedicated to the bravery of men and woman worldwide. ALL those that silently and without fanfare hold down the Front Lines. ALL the front lines. On the streets of any town, anywhere, you’ll find them, The Policeman, Paramedics, Firefighters, Nurses and Doctors and all their support personnel. Those on the battle-fronts in foreign lands, and those on the battle-fronts of streets peopled with others that have slipped through the cracks and crevices of the world we now live in. The many brave souls that endure the lasting, life changing flashbacks, and battle each and every day with the nightmare that is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

These are their stories.

If you missed PARTS 1 and 2 of HUMAN DISINTEREST here is the link.

 

PART THREE : OF HUMAN DISINTEREST

AFTERMATH.

 

Melisa Doyle was incapable of speech for quite some time. The film crew finished up, said their goodbyes, and headed back to the studio. The laughter they normally shared after a shoot was absent. Melisa had the distinct feeling that they’d be having more than their usual amount of after work drinks this night.

Jenny was talking quietly to Deke, away from the rest of the group now huddled around the fire. Melisa glanced over and saw the woman give Deke a hug. He hugged her back. She watched him raise his hand to the rest and he headed off alone into the darkness beyond the perimeter of light given by the fire.

Melisa stood, and without speaking, she walked across to where Brad was standing in front of the food truck.

“You doing okay, Melisa?” He asked softly.

She didn’t respond.

“Melisa? You okay?” he repeated.

The young woman appeared to hear him then, “I’m okay, Brad. Thanks.”

“It’s never easy, hon. You hear these things out here, and it just doesn’t get any easier, no matter how many times you hear it.” He patted her on the arm. “Coffee’s still hot if you’d like one.”

“Please, yes. Yes, that would be good. Thanks.”

“Come and help yourself to cream and sugar, I’ll get you a cup.” He entered the van and busied himself, to give her a moment longer to pull herself together.

He caught sight of Jenny with Rusty at her side sitting with old Davey Kelso, he saw the old man nod at whatever Jenny had said, and she moved on one-by-one, till she’d spoken with all the folks around the fire, and then she headed back in the direction of the van.

He took the styrofoam cup with the freshly brewed coffee outside and handed it to Melisa Doyle, she accepted it gratefully and was sipping at it when Jenny joined her.

“Brad?” Jenny said, “Any chance of a cup of that hot brew for me as well please, buddy?”

“You got it. You want it black?”

“Yeah. It could be a long night.”

Jenny walked closer to where the reporter stood. “Well now, I think it’s time I called you, Melisa. What do you think?”

The reporter looked at her, “I’d like that … Jenny.”

“Good. Take it a little easy on yourself, you hear. You did a great job back there. Thank you.”

“I just don’t know how you do this, Jenny. How do you deal with all of that pain, day in and day out?”

“We deal with it, because somebody has to. We keep on dealing with it for the same reason. It doesn’t get any easier. But, Melisa there are a great many folks in organizations bigger and smaller than ours that all keep doing it. Simply because somebody has to. Somebody has to care.”

The younger woman shook her head sadly. “How can I have spent my life in cities like this and never really looked at it? I feel so damned stupid, Jenny.”

“It’s not stupidity that makes folks turn a blind-eye, Melisa. It’s self-protection. That isn’t going to change overnight, no matter how good our intentions may be.”

“Will Deke be okay?”

“He’ll be okay, tonight. He needs to be alone with himself for now. I keep a close eye on him, when I can.”

Jenny gave the girl a quick hug. “Are you up for any more, tonight, Melisa?”

“No, I don’t believe I am. Not yet. But I’ll be back. I have a feeling that the network might run with this one alone. I’m heading back to the studio to view the film, I promise you, nobody will edit it. Will Deke want to see it?”

“I’ll ask him. But, somehow I don’t think he’ll want to. Call me tomorrow morning, let me know how it goes with your boss, okay?”

Jenny smiled at her, and continued, “I’ll have Brad give you a lift back. He needs to brief the next shift before they come out, and then he’ll come back and collect the rest of us. You did just fine tonight.”

Melisa nodded and waited for Jenny to talk to Brad, then, when he was ready she climbed back into the van and headed back to her own safe world.

***

Melisa’s hunch had been correct; the network felt that the story was powerful enough to be aired alone.

She rang Jenny early the next morning to check on Deke and to ask if he wanted to see the final print of the show.

“I’m pleased that they reached that decision. I think it’s wise. I spoke to Deke again very late last night; he doesn’t know if he wants to see it. I’ll need to let him make his own choice about that. Maybe the group will come in here to the warehouse when it airs. I can set up a large screen T.V. I doubt they’ll be up for it, but I’ll ask.”

“Thanks, Jenny. I’ve been thinking hard since I left you, is there something I can do, I mean there at Street Angels? Anything at all, I don’t mind what it is?”

“I’m certain there’s a million things you can do, and I’ll be pleased to have you, for whatever time you can spare.”

“Good. I’m available this afternoon. I’ll come over, is that okay?”

“I’ll be here till four. See you then. Oh, Melisa, when will the show go live?”

“They want to do a heavy promo, so at this stage I’d say three weeks. I told them we needed it to air before the onset of winter. Maybe there will be some donations that might help out as a result of it.”

“Yeah, well you never can tell. I’ll chat more a little later.”

“See you then.”

***

Three weeks later.

There were an odd assortment of people gathered in the warehouse. The large screen television was mounted on the wall, and an eclectic mix of donated chairs formed a semi-circle in front of it that night.

Melisa Doyle was seated next to Jenny and Brad. Further around the front-row-semi-circle, sat Kelso and four of the folks that had been gathered around the fire that night.  All the volunteers that weren’t out on the night-shift had come in and prepared food for everyone, and then seated themselves and waited with all the others.

The noise of various conversations quieted suddenly as nine o’clock approached.

“Here we go.” Melisa spoke softly. She watched Brad take Jenny’s hand in his own, wishing she had one like it to hold on to.

Nobody spoke when the show ended. The muffled sounds of people attempting to control the tears that had caught them unprepared was all that echoed around the room.

Jenny recovered faster than most of them, and she stood with a sad, sweet smile on her face. “Who wants coffee?” she asked, already on her way across to the bench where the urn had been set up.

The young voice from the back of the room surprised her, “I’ll have one of those, thanks, Miss. Jenny.” Said Deke.

“Deke! I didn’t see you come in. Come on over and help yourself, there’s food left as well.”

“Thanks, that sounds good to me. I’ll be right there.”

She watched him walk across to Davey Kelso and hand him a handful of cigarettes. The old man took them, and offered the boy an old hand to shake, “You did good, boy. You did good.”

The smile on the boy’s face was unshielded, and for a brief, precious, moment, the others in the room caught a glimpse of what could be, if only this kid caught some breaks.

Outside the southerly wind had turned bitter as the last week of fall drew to its inevitable end.

Melisa came over to Jenny, unable to hide the concern that was etched clearly on her pretty face, “Jenny, we don’t have enough bunks left down in the shelter for all of the folks. It’s too cruel to make them go back outside in that cold.”

“Honey, there are never going to be enough beds. That’s the hell of it. They will make the choices of who stays and who goes back to watch over their turf.”

Melisa just nodded … wishing she didn’t understand the wisdom these folks had, or where it had come from. The last three weeks had ripped the blinkers from her eyes, and she could no longer hide.

It took a couple of hours before all the choices had been made and this group of survivors split up and each headed to a different destination.

Melisa became aware that her cell phone was vibrating in her pocket, suddenly remembering she had switched it to silent when the show had come on.

“Melisa Doyle” she said, her voice vaguely irritated. Most of her friends would never call her so late.

“Melisa, it’s Connie, you might want to put this on speaker for Ms. Thurston to hear. Tell me when that’s done please …

“Jenny! Connie Farrell on speaker for you.”

Jenny nodded and joined her as Brad went off to answer the warehouse phone.

“Go, ahead, Connie, she’s listening.”

“Great! Ms. Thurston, you might need to come over to the studio, we’ll send a car for you. We’ve had to call extra staff in to handle the calls that are coming in. It’s an unprecedented response unlike anything we’ve experienced on anything we’ve ever aired. I need your instructions on where to direct these calls, or instructions on how best to have these folks make the donations they’re offering. I can have a car there in ten-minutes. Can you come in? Please.”

Jenny looked shell-shocked for a brief moment, “Well, I … yes, yes of course. I’ll wait out front, shall I?”

“Wonderful, thank you, Ms. Thurston. Melisa? Can you come in as well?”

“Sure thing, Connie. I’ll see you soon.” She ended the call.

Jenny turned to her, “I wasn’t expecting a reaction, let alone a big one. I … well yeah, let’s just see what happens I guess. I’ll just change my shoes.”

Melisa grinned broadly when she automatically looked down at Jenny’s feet; she wondered how she’d failed to notice the fluffy dinosaur-feet slippers till now, “Your version of ‘Jimmy Choos’, Jenny?”

Jenny’s happier laugh was a pleasure to hear, “I’m all class, aren’t I.”

Melisa grew serious, “Yes, Jenny. Yes you certainly are.”

Jenny turned to Brad, “Can you lock up please, hon?”

He was laughing, “Jenny … the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. I get the feeling we won’t be locking up anytime soon.”

***

Jenny was driven back from the CNN studio at around 3.00 a.m. She climbed out of the warmth of the luxury vehicle and into the icy cold of morning.

She was weary, excited and hopeful all at the same time.

She let herself in made herself a pot of coffee, she knew already that she couldn’t sleep, and besides that, I do love my coffee.

She curled herself under a warm throw on the sofa, her laptop open, to keep responding to the emails that had gone overwhelmingly insane on her account.

The numbers had caught her unprepared, and, as she’d been doing  for hours now, she had to read each one, respond to it, and allocate it to a file labelled by type of donation pledged.

CNN had been putting up info breaks with all the hotline numbers for the donations, and as requested by Jenny Thurston they had asked out-of-state folks to take their food donations, and offers of blankets and sleeping bags to any reputable charity, operating within their own cities and towns.

***

Melisa Doyle arrived at the warehouse at 7.00 a.m, not surprised to find a line of folks already waiting, to either volunteer themselves, or make a personal donation. After all the calls she had taken had slowed down a little, she was too excited to do anything but come here. She knew instinctively that Jenny would already be busy trying to make sense out of the unexpected chaos.

Brad was looking pleased and exhausted, sitting quietly on his own for a well-earned, but very brief break.

He looked at her as she entered, “Welcome to the Land of Oz, Melisa.”

She grinned, immediately visualizing singing Munchkins in her mind.

“So where’s the good witch of the north?” she asked with a giggle.

“Follow the smell of the coffee-beans, honey. I haven’t seen her this happy since … come to think of it, I’ve never seen her this happy.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet! Brad, wait till you hear what calls I’ve been getting! Come on, you’ll want to be there when I tell her.”

Jenny saw them coming and waved them over, her concentration all on the call she was responding to. She ended it and turned to face them. “Melisa, you look like the cat that swallowed the canary. Guilty with pleasure, yet. So … tell me, what’s happening.”

“You know all those big ego’s we spoke of, the celebrities I’ve done shows on … well some of the big names have decided to get together and have a benefit concert. They’ll cover the costs, and all proceeds from ticket sales will come to Street Angels, with the only proviso being that a Trust fund be set up for Deke and kids like him, to pay for any counselling and all their education! Do you believe that? It’s enough to make me believe in miracles again, Jenny. And … and, CNN are planning a telethon with all proceeds donated to be split across all registered charities here and throughout the viewing area.”

“You’re serious aren’t you? I … I don’t know what to say.” And she promptly burst into tears.

***

The calls, emails and letters had only just begun to slow down a week later.

Jenny, Brad and the rest of the volunteer staff had worked in shifts twenty-four-seven, and the imperishable foods had been sorted and handed out.

The blankets that had been delivered from a large bedding manufacturer had gone out with the freshly washed used ones, that the public had given.

They still had a small stockpile waiting for any new folks that had been added to the numbers.

Other charities in the city had also reported a higher than normal donation event since the special had gone to air.

The older folks like Kelso and the very young ones, often with their entire families now homeless, were donated the sleeping bags that would help shield them from the elements.

Deke had managed to stay out of the limelight, keeping close to his group and watching the goings on around him and being pleased at what he was seeing.

Jenny had spoken to him about the funding and the number of people who had offered him a home. He needed time to absorb that. Jenny knew he’d need a great deal of counselling, but the when of it needed to be his choice alone.

The excitement of the past few weeks had left her depleted of energy, but more hopeful than she could recall being for a very long time.

It was after midnight again before she called it a night, and she laughed on finding Brad asleep with his head on his desk in the office.

“Hey, sleepy-head. C’mon, wake up, I’ll fix you a coffee for a change.”

She waited downstairs on the small sofa they’d set up for the volunteers to take a quick nap on, if they got the chance.

Brad wandered across and dropped onto the sofa beside her.

They sipped their coffee’s silently, gathering their own thoughts for a while.

“We won’t lose as many this winter, honey.”

“The best thing of all, is knowing that people do care, Brad. They just needed a little reminder that we all bleed red when we are cut.”

“Yup. Another coffee?”

She flashed her smile at him.

“Always.”

***

 

Melisa finished her shift at Street Angels and had showered and dressed ready for the studio. Jenny had just arrived back in and was ready to start her own day.

Melisa had been hesitating for a couple of weeks before she finally decided to ask Jenny the question that had been hovering in her consciousness since the night of the show.

She approached it cautiously, “Jenny, may I ask you a personal question?”

Jenny looked interested. “Well … sure, I guess. You want to know how much coffee I drink in a day, right?”

Melisa didn’t laugh.

“So, okay. It was a nice deflection though, I thought. What do you need to ask me, honey?”

Melisa took a breath. “You were out here once, weren’t you, on the other side of that fire?”

Jenny hesitated for a long moment “Well now, your instincts have sharpened. Yes, Melisa … I was. A long time ago, now.”

Melisa looked over to where Brad was standing, trying hard to appear like he wasn’t listening. “Jenny … sometimes happiness can be right under our noses, if we only get brave enough to look.”

Jenny followed her gaze, and her skin flushed a flattering pink.

“You could well be right, honey. Maybe I’ve been wearing those blinders as well. But for now I could sure use a coffee. You want one?”

Melisa smiled. “Always, Miss. Jenny.”

***