In #Gratitude for the 400th Review of my #Memoir “Empty Chairs” It is #Free From Oct 8th, till Oct 12th. #RRBC #IARTG #WritingCommunity.

 

Hello and welcome.

How does it feel when the reviews of your work click over to 400 on Amazon.com?

Now there’s a question I never believed I’d ask myself! My first reaction was stunned. I sat here looking at that number and shaking my head in amazement. Then this tough old girl had a damned good cry.

Why?

Because these people I may never meet in person, made the time in their lives to read of my journey. Then they sat and shared their feelings in a review, and many of them gave me a glimpse into their own journeys. I count myself forever grateful to them. I have been inspired by so many of them as they shared their wisdom.

There are so many marvelous people that have stepped forward and offered their unrelenting support on my writing journey. Many of them are fellow members of #RRBC Rave Reviews Book Club.

I’d like to share a review with you that continues to make me smile through grateful tears. My dear friend and fellow author Gwen Plano made this wonderful clip.

In celebration of the 400th Review, I have listed “Empty Chairs” FREE From October 8th thru October 12th.

Again, my warmest thanks for your kindness and support.

A #Paranormal Short story to celebrate #Halloween “The Sceptic” #RRBC #WritingCommunity @IARTG

 

Halloween scary for post!

Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining me as I share this little sojourn into the realms of the Paranormal. Have a marvelous Halloween, my friends. 🎃

 

The Sceptic.

By

Suzanne Burke 2019.

The set was frantic with activity as always when only two hours out from a live broadcast. The host of the popular documentary series ‘The Sceptic” sat looking over the script that had been meticulously vetted by the station’s army of lawyers. The station could afford the cost of a defamation suit, but not the resultant publicity. One defamation suit had given them a huge ratings boost, but more than that could do the exact opposite.  Show host Harrison Taylor was warned again to stick with the script as much a possible in a live interview situation.

Director Cindy Rasmussen wasn’t looking forward to the discussion she needed to have with the star of the show. She approached him just as the makeup artist finished readying him for the telecast.

Cindy Rasmussen gave the girl a smile and walked into his dressing-room. “Harrison, we need to talk.”

“Can’t it wait till after the broadcast, Cindy? You know I like to prepare myself quietly before we go on air.”

“No. It can’t wait, and you must have been expecting this conversation. You’ve seen the current ratings. You know the network will cancel the show if those ratings don’t improve significantly. This live to air program needs to be riveting! Your future here depends on it.”

“How the fuck can it be riveting when I’m restricted in what I can say?”

“Screw the lawyers! By the time any defamation suit comes to trial, the show will be back on top again.”

“So, are you saying that I can stop pussyfooting around and let this charlatan take his chances with me uncensored?”

The director laughed, “Go for it, but watch the language. No x rated stuff, are you good with that?”

“I’ll keep it in mind.”

“Good.” The woman checked her iPhone. “We need to head out soon.”

“I’m ready.”

***

The cameras were ready to roll, and forty-nine-year-old Harrison Taylor straightened his tie and turned on his blazing smile, giving his huge audience exactly what they expected of the popular host of the must-watch Documentary series; The Sceptic. Harrison Taylor was purported to have debunked more charlatans than anyone now living. Or so said all his press-releases.

He watched and waited and timed his entrance perfectly as always. The cameras focused on his face.

“Good evening, Ladies and Gentleman. In celebration of Halloween and in the spirit of finding and debunking yet another fraud playing on the misery of others, I’m bringing you something special, tonight. I’m going on air live with self-proclaimed Psychic Medium, Sheldon Cain. I’ll introduce you in a moment. Mr. Cain has given his consent to have his premises checked thoroughly for any devices known to assist alleged Psychic mediums with the myriad of deceptions they use to dupe others. That has been done to my satisfaction. Now let’s join the man. I have never met or interacted with Mr. Cain previously.”

The camera panned to a closeup of Sheldon Cain. He had a face the camera loved, chiseled features, good looking and unexpected. He extended his hand,  “Please, Mr. Taylor be seated. May I call you Harrison?”

“Go right ahead.”

Harrison took a long slow look at the room, it was a little shabby and lined with overflowing bookcases. There were two easy chairs separated by a wooden coffee table. Sheldon Cain watched him and then asked, “ I’m having a drink would you care for one?”

“Drink?”

“Hmm, I believe I’ll have bourbon. And you’ll have Scotch, ‘Glenfiddich 12-year-old single-malt, yes?”

“Yes. So, you’ve mastered google, congratulations. No ice, thanks.”

The man gave him a small smile as he handed him the glass and seated himself comfortably opposite.

He reached over and picked up a packet of cigarettes from the coffee table, extracted one for himself and held the packet of Marlboro across to the interviewer. He smiled at the look on his guest’s face. “Did I get the brand right?”

“I was a smoker. But, I gave up years ago.”

The man inhaled deeply and sniffed as he responded and leaned toward the show host, “Realy? Forgive me if I’m blunt. I only smoke very occasionally, and you Harrison, you appear to still smoke heavily. Heavy smokers carry an odor that smells like overfull ashtrays.”

Harrison was visibly offended and tried to mask it, without success, much to the delight of the show’s Director. “I find that comment offensive, Mr. Cain.” He finished his scotch and waited for an apology.

But the man merely gave a small shrug. “I could lie of course if that’s what you would prefer. Do you want me to lie?”

Those watching on drew a deep breath and waited for Harrison to explode. He barely kept a lid on it and responded coldly, “I prefer the truth, no matter what the situation.”

“Ah, perfect. No matter what works for me. Shall we continue? I’ll simply sit here in silence for a while to gain a feeling, a pathway to find your connections to another place at another time if such a pathway has intersected with yours.”

“And then?”

“Relax, Harrison. Help yourself to another whiskey if you’d care to. I’ll speak to you in a few moments.”

Harrison poured a double measure of the good scotch and finished it as he watched Sheldon Cain’s face compose and his features relax and hoped like hell the camera was getting that look. The man seemed to be in some sort of trance, but his blue eyes remained open.

One minute passed and then another and the television host was growing impatient. He needed a ratings winner, and this was moving too damned slow. He poured another shot of whiskey.

The man spoke suddenly. “How did you earn the nickname of Abe?”

Harrison hoped like hell he’d masked his surprise as he responded, “What? I, that is, um, it was my Grandfather’s name and apparently I look just like him. So, the family called me young Abe, or Abel for a while”

“Indeed. Does the name Mike Morgan sound familiar to you?

“Yes.”

“You ran a feature on him for your show. The man was brutalized on every media outlet because of your attack on his credibility. You did that expose based on supposition only. Nothing could be proven against this man. He lost his career, his income, his home and finally his family and his sanity. His attempt at a defamation suit was poorly represented, and the Lawyers from your Network had it quashed inside two days. Mike Morgan took his own life seven weeks later. How did that make you feel?”

“I sent the family my condolences.”

“No, I asked how did that make you feel?

“Feel? The man made his own choices.”

“So, no regret?”

“None.”

“I see. It’s odd, but I can find no spiritual connection to another living human being in the energy you’re transmitting.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Why do you believe that your mother betrayed you?”

“What? How could you kn …?” He felt himself shudder, “Jesus.”

“Tell me about her betrayal. Your mother’s name was Elizabeth. A pretty name for a pretty woman.”

Harrison felt sick, “How could you know that? Those records aren’t available.”

“How indeed? Now, about her betrayal. Tell me about that.”

Harrison hadn’t intended to answer the question, he was ready to deny it. He heard his own voice respond, “She left us. I was ten years old. It was a couple of days out from Halloween and my mom ran off with some guy. She promised she’d be back for me and my brother, but she never came back. She never made contact with me or my kid brother again. My dad never got over it.”

Sheldon Cain fell silent for a long drawn out moment, “She didn’t betray you.  She died. She and the man she left the house with were killed in a car wreck. The vehicle exploded on impact with the rocks below when they hurtled off a cliff face in San Francisco. The two people in the vehicle were incinerated. They were unable to be identified. They are still listed as John and Jane Doe. You need to have the San Francisco police check their records for 11.58 p.m. on October 31st, 1980.”

“Oh, my God. How? Tell me, how can you possibly know these things?”

“Tell me again why you are here?”

“I intend to expose you as a fraud.”

“Go right ahead.”

“I’m not sure how you did this. How could you possibly know that my mother is dead?”

“Are you not grateful to know you weren’t betrayed.”

“Grateful? She still would be alive if she hadn’t run off like that!”

“Your bitterness clothes your life in dark shadows, Harrison. What would you say to her if you could see her?”

“I’d tell her I hate her!”

“Do you want to see her again? Do you want the chance to say that to her face to face?”

“Yes.”

“I can arrange it.”

“What? How? When?” His words tumbled over themselves in fear and a latent excitement.

“You need to tell me something first.”

“Ask me.”

“Why did you take all that money from the people who really do make a huge living from this profession? It runs into many hundreds of thousands of dollars that you keep in a numbered account in Switzerland. Was it on the proviso that you never attempted to debunk them on your show? You guaranteed it would never happen. Are you a fraud, Harrison?”

Harrison stood suddenly, and screamed, “Jesus Christ! Cut the live feed! Do it now!”

The Director held up her hand and spoke into her mouthpiece, “Keep the fucking cameras rolling. This is dynamite!”

A message came back into Harrison’s earpiece a moment later. “Sorry, Harrison. It went out live to air.”

The frantic man stood and looked down at his tormentor, “You’ve just ruined me! You’ve wrecked my career.”

Sheldon Cain stood and smiled at his guest. “I enjoyed every moment of it.”

The camera finally stopped recording the events, and the crew turned away unwilling to face the star of the show. The director was already on the telephone with the head of the network and Harrison heard her delighted response to the call. “Thanks so much! Of course I’m delighted. The response should be enormous.”

A large ornate wall clock ticked over, to 11.50 p.m.

The television host staggered a little as he stormed from the premises, regretting the heavy intake of Scotch as he sat behind the steering wheel of his car. His fury awakened anew and he revved the engine and sped out of the street. He drove like a man possessed with a need to escape, for five minutes. He fumbled in his suit coat for his hidden cigarettes and lit one. He dropped the lit smoke and on reflex bent down to retrieve it from the floor, and the vehicle continued at speed. As the clock hit 11.56 p. m he sped through a red light and was hit head-on by a garbage disposal truck. His vehicle exploded and he was incinerated at precisely 11.58 p.m.

As midnight rang out he and his mother were reunited after thirty-nine years apart. He could spend eternity telling her just how much he hated her.

***

 The tall good looking man gazed around him well satisfied with his night’s work.

He walked outside into the cool air of the early November morning and breathed it in deeply, savoring the taste. He’d store it in memory to play over with pleasure until Halloween dawned again next year. The air where he existed except for one brief sojourn back here once a year was always hellishly hot.

Abel was dead once again. Cain’s deep laughter echoed through the morning. Smoking had finally killed the man. Cain loved Halloween.

#

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Old Habits Die Hard” A short-story from my upcoming Anthology. #RRBC #IARTG #WritingCommunity #WritersCommunity

Old Habits image

Hello and welcome to “Old Habits Die Hard” a new short story from my upcoming anthology “Glimpses Across the Barricades”

 

Old Habits Die Hard

From the upcoming collection: Glimpses Across the Barricades

By

Suzanne Burke 2019.

 

Cassie sucked in a deep lungful of nicotine and waited for the coughing to start. She shook her head in acknowledgment of her own weakness and abject stupidity, coughed as expected and finished the cigarette. She grinned at herself. Old habits die hard.

The thought caught her unprepared. Were they all simply old habits? Did she cling to things so desperately only because they were familiar? Was it a comfort to know ahead of time how each would respond in any given situation? If that knowledge gave us the tools to avoid the more painful outcomes, did that automatically presume that we’d use that wisdom?

Cassie was irritated with herself for even asking the questions.

She looked across at her iPhone for answers, already knowing she’d find none waiting.

When had he become just another old habit to cling to?

Cassie drew in a shaky breath as the memory of their last conversation played out vividly in her mind.

The 5th anniversary of their sad farewell was tomorrow. They’d been friends long before they became lovers. Their lives had collided the first time three decades earlier. Each acknowledging the chemistry that lit up a room whenever they were both present. They both smiled at each other and refused to allow that fire to burn. Life moved on and so did they.

Then twelve years ago fate had flung them together again.  What had been intended as a casual fling, a one-night stand, had become a passionate affair that neither of them had attempted to prevent from spiralling out of control.

She smiled briefly as a sweeter image tugged at her thoughts. The first weekend they’d run from reality, they’d danced on a rickety old pier in the rain. It was foolishly romantic and memorably perfect, and so was he. She could hear the music they’d played. “Nights in White Satin” by The Moody Blues had echoed out across the deep water of the bay. They’d made slow sweet love in an old fishing shed, and watched on in shared wonder as a violent summer storm came sweeping up from the south. It played out a symphony with shattering crescendo’s and their lovemaking met and matched its passion.

Cassie reached for the safety of the present moment and whispered into the darkness, “Stop it. Don’t do this. Think about something else.”

She stood then and moved about her apartment, only vaguely aware of straightening things on the mantle that didn’t need straightening, and moving books around in the bookcase that hadn’t required moving.

She walked across to the bar, poured herself a double shot of JD and sat back on her sofa and lit up her bong. The balcony beckoned and she moved into the cool night air and the silence, alternating the hits of good weed and the alcohol and waited for the calm she craved so desperately to envelop her.

Yet the memories continued to invade. She was too stoned to avoid them, and they came at her without pity for her vulnerable state of mind.

Her marriage of thirty years had limped to a final conclusion twelve years earlier. She’d initially clung to the memory of it, allowing her mind to paint much prettier pictures of what had actually happened; she’d clung to it long past its use-by date.

Her lover’s staunch Catholic upbringing prevented his long marriage from taking the same course. He never spoke of it. Cassie never asked the questions. It was so much easier to pretend that their relationship may someday lead to them being together.

The memories flowed now, but not in sequence. The laughter they’d shared echoed through time, and conversations that made sense only to the two of them etched themselves afresh in this place and in this moment.

A jigsaw puzzle with pieces missing. Pieces that she now went in search of.

They’d been fishing and hunting together often. They’d spent so many cold nights sleeping out under the stars, where their shared body warmth sustained them completely. They both loved the sounds of the night. Or the sounds of that long stretch of beach on the hottest summer days on record, swimming just after sunrise, cautiously waiting until the great white sharks had fed in deeper water off the reef. Cassie moaned as the sound of his deep voice surfaced unbidden, “We need to burn this into our memory. So, we can take it out and look at it when the world goes to hell.”

She brushed the moisture from her eyes. She’d never forgotten that moment. He had a way with words that echoed the romance of his soul.

The years had gone by so quickly. She watched and waited, wondering if she’d recognize the end if she saw it coming.

She saw it over five years ago. Phone calls that had begun every new day for years suddenly stopped coming, until they spoke only every couple of weeks. The visits went from a driving need to be together as often as they could steal the time, to a late-night knock on the door heralding a man who had only one need that remained to be met.

Cassie had tried so hard to ignore it, she floundered like a fish out of water on the sands of indecision.

She began wrapping her isolation around her like a comforting shawl.

The knock on her door at 3.30am on a hot summer’s morning had awoken her.

She knew instinctively who it was, and was angry well before she opened that door.

He stood there looking sheepish, then smiled. “Aren’t you gonna ask me to come in?”

Cassie stood aside without speaking and waved him across to the sofa.

He looked surprised as she stood there watching him, “What wrong, hon?”

“When was the last time we spoke?”

He looked away uncomfortably as he answered, “Guess it’s been a few weeks.”

“Try for three months!”

“Shit. Really? I’m sorry.”

“So, why are you here?”

He stood then, “You’re upset. I’ll call you later.”

She touched his arm. “I deserve better than this.”

For the first time in the thirty-plus years that she’d known him his dark hunter’s eyes filled with tears. She barely heard him as he struggled to speak, “Yes, honey. You do.”

She followed him across to the door and he turned and touched her cheek, then tucked a wayward curl behind her ear. He was shaking and his voice wavered as he spoke, “Goodbye, my love.”

Cassie felt the sobs tear through her, and she let them come.

He’d phoned after that, every couple of months and at ungodly hours. She’d register who was calling and declined the calls. The loneliness threatened to overwhelm her at first, she recalled using a telephone box to phone his work number just to hear his deep voice when he answered. She tortured herself like that constantly after they’d ended.

And now, what about now? She grimaced at her own question.

For now, she’d just get herself through the next anniversary.

And just before the alcohol lulled her into sleep on that anniversary morning her iPhone rang.

She was drunk, but not suicidal. She declined to take the call.

*

And for your enjoyment. “Nights In White Satin” by The Moody Blues.

 

#Valentine’sDay #ShortStory “Shall We Dance.” #RRBC #IARTG #Romance

love is ommortal valentines day image

“Shall We Dance”

By

Suzanne Burke.

 

Valentine’s day was looming again and Candace resisted the temptation to rip the month of February from the calendar hanging on her kitchen wall.

She needed no reminder of the celebration. For so many, it heralded a beginning, a step into the future with a love that they were certain would last a lifetime.

For her, it had been both the beginning and the end. Mitch had proposed on that long ago Valentine’s Day. He’d taken her dancing that night. He’d danced her around a room filled with uniformed Marines and as they watched on he’d dropped to his knees in the middle of the dance floor and proposed. They’d all cheered as Candace had given him her answer.

The sad-faced pastor and Lieutenent Colonel Brian Henderson had arrived at her door on February 14th almost a year ago.  Her Mitch wouldn’t be returning from Afghanistan. What followed was now etched forever in her memory. The hushed voices of their friends as they’d rallied around her to offer their understanding support and comfort. The wives who had hurriedly blessed their own lives, grateful that their own men were safe, for now.

Candace had searched everywhere for comfort. The inside of a bottle gave her only a temporary respite from the agony of his absence.

She and her Mitch had refused to discuss the possibility of him dying in the service of his country. That knowledge hovered unspoken on the peripheral of their lives. Giving it life was unthinkable. The future unimaginable without the enduring love they’d shared for almost fifteen precious years.

They’d already mourned and accepted the fact that they couldn’t have children of their own. Mitch had been eager to explore all the other avenues now available to childless couples. It had been her choice to remain childless. For her, Mitch would be the only love she’d ever need in her life. Her decision came back to haunt her now in the desperate solitude of her days and the eternal emptiness of her nights.

The new future danced in her nightmares. She’d stopped drinking when even the oblivion of alcohol had handed her no solace.

There had been no coffin proudly draped with their countries flag. No headstone to dignify his final resting place. A plaque on a wall was all that signified his passing. He was listed M.I.A and presumed dead along with two others from the Seal team he’d led with such utter devotion.

The bodies of his two team members had finally been located and identified. Candace had attended their funerals and wept along with their wives.

After shutting herself away for many months and drawing the increasing concern of her friends she’d finally begun to see a counselor. Yet as much as she’d understood the words he was saying, as much as her intelligence had accepted the innate wisdom of those words, she’d still steadfastly refused to accept the finality of Mitch’s death. How could he be gone when she could still hear his laughter? And on the long nights, as she lay in the darkness she’d smell the scent of his favorite aftershave waft through the room.

She’d reach for him in the darkness and moan his name, then cry for hours at the empty futility of her longing.

Candace dragged her mind back to the present. The sound of her cell phone had interrupted her thoughts several times in the past two days. She’d ignored the calls. Tomorrow was the anniversary.  She knew it would be folks ringing to check on her and offer up their kindness and willingness to help her in any way they could.  She’d hidden away from the repeated knocks on the front door that had been increasing in frequency. She couldn’t deal with the pats on the shoulder and the looks of sadness. Not now. Maybe not ever.

A car pulled up out front and a young Marine slid an envelope under the front door. Her hands shook as she picked it up, it was from the office of Lietenant Colonel Henderson and marked as extremely urgent.

Candace couldn’t bring herself to open it. She knew what it would be. This explained all the calls and the attempts to make contact. It could only be the acknowledgement that Mitch’s body had finally been recovered. Opening that envelope would leave her no choice at all but to believe he was gone.

It must wait till after Valentine’s Day tomorrow.  She gave herself permission to have this one last chance of disbelieving.

Candace sat on the sofa in the gathering darkness, she leaned her head back, closed her eyes and began humming Shall we Dance from the King and I. That was the marvelous music that Mitch had arranged to be played on the happiness fuelled Valentine’s night when he had proposed.

The memories swept her away for hours and she welcomed all of them. The day was beginning to dawn as she fell into a troubled sleep.  Today would be the final day before she was forced by facts to move on with her life.

Candace jumped with shock at the sound of someone pounding on the front door. She flicked a glimpse at her watch, “Jesus!  Hold on. Do you know it’s four o’clock in the morning!” She threw on her bathrobe and hurried across to the windows and pulled back the curtains. A base staff car with flags flying waited outside the house. “What the hell?”

Candace opened the door. The uniformed man stood alone in the semi-darkness. “Yes, Marine?”

“Candy.”

“That isn’t funny.”

“Candy, honey, it’s me.”

Nobody ever called her Candy … only … “Oh my God! Oh my God! Mitch?”

The man stepped into the light shining on the porch from the sitting room.

Mitch stood there holding himself erect with the aid of two canes.

“Darling, oh my darling, I knew it. I knew it. Hold me close before I believe that I’m dreaming again.”

The man leaned his walking aids against the wall and held out his arms. “It will be a little while before we can go dancing again, honey.”

Candy heard the hesitation. “Mitch, my dearest love. We now have forever to practice.”

All the explanations and questions could wait.

Their arms enfolded each other and they cried together in the joy of reunion.

Valentine’s day had now become their new beginning.

***

Valentine’s night. Five-years later.

Mitch Avery swept a bow to his wife and gave her his perpetually cheeky grin. “Shall we dance, m’lady?”

He held her in his arms and they moved in perfect unison around the dance-floor.

The poker faced Marines watching on cleared their throats as tears threatened, then they began to cheer.

Delighted whoops of joy from their two adopted six-year-old sons rang out as they ran across the dance-floor and threw themselves into the loving arms of their parents.

Candace had finally acknowledged that she and Mitch had more than enough love to share.

The future waited.

They walked forward as a family to greet it.

#

I have a further treat for you all. For those that know and Love “The King and I” Here is the original clip of ‘Shall we Dance” For those who may have never seen it I envy you the new experience.

 

 

 

 

“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.

#

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A #Thriller #ShortStory “Subterfuge” an excerpt from my next #Anthology.@pursoot #RRBC #IARTG

Man in mask

 

Hello and welcome! Thanks for stopping by. I’m in a hyper muse-orientated writing burst at the moment. It’s wonderful, challenging and more than a little exhausting. I currently have one novel being read by my marvelous beta-readers. And no less than three new books under construction. Two more full-length thrillers novels and an Anthology of thriller shorts. Crazy? Yup! Guilty as charged.

Here’s a little taste from the Anthology.  It’s dark … as always.

 Subterfuge.

By

Suzanne Burke.

The day felt wrong.

Neither hot nor cold, dark nor light. It was grey. Murky, sweating, drowning, grey.

My mind was made up. A perfect solution to my dilemma presented itself. I took it.

I eased the safety on the Glock and concealed it beneath the covering of the raincoat. It must rain, I needed rain. Rain washes away so many things. Rain and pain, something to gain. The rhythm of the words in my head was pleasing. I played them over and over, seeking comfort from the calm they delivered.

The bell rang out, it was nearing time. Retribution was at hand. I smiled. Retribution, contribution, a solution. Another perfect rhyme to play on a grey day.

I walked past the brown people, the disappearing, disinterested, boring, colorless, brown people. They contributed nothing, no laughter or tears, no vivid recollections of happiness shared. They went about their daily rituals of bus travel, train travel, they sat making no eye contact with the colorful ones. The inferiority of their brownness relegated them to being almost invisible.

Had they ever had color? When in their dreary pitiful lives had there ever been a spark of joy? Had they ever experienced that thrilling rush of adrenaline to bring texture and life to their faces? Faces with dull eyes and downturned mouths. Brown people.

The world didn’t have time or place for their kind. The world was weary of browness, the dull, the ignorant, those that contributed nothing.

The building was lit … brightly shining, luring them in. Come and find color in me, it said. Bring me your invisible selves and I will give you light, it said.

I picked up my pace, the day still felt wrong. It needed to be set right. Taking the brown away was my mission. I must complete it before the rain came.

I could hear a faint rumble. Was it thunder? Oh, yes. Yes! It was not yet close, drifting on the edge of hearing. A Lovers sound in my ears, distant yet filled with the promises of passion to come.

Someone brushed by me, knocking my arm in their haste. “Sorry!” he said. Not stopping to see my face in his hurry towards the building of light. Sorry, sorry, sorry! Always, they were sorry! Sorry for this … sorry for that, they spewed the word out and felt it not a bit.

Sorry! Just … sorry!

I waited, just beyond the opening of the building.  I had such pleasure in watching, waiting, soon all would be well. I would make it so. Me, I, myself; could they not see me? Had I become brown? But no, I know better. I have color and shape, a past and a history. I know laughter, it visits me and comforts my mind.

The late ones come running, all in a bother. I smile at their faces … looking for light.

I am calm as I watch them scurry and hurry, scurry and hurry, they mustn’t worry, another sweet phrase to add to my list.

The package lay untouched, like a virgin bride. No-one had ventured to see what it was. I smile, at their stupidity.

I know, I know, what joy lay in its secret folds. It was my gift. My contribution to the world of the brown.

The thunder bounced again in and out of my mind, not yet fearsome, I was patient. All would be well.

I picked up the package, freshly admiring my work. Brightly wrapped …  it said gift, it said pleasure, come open the treasure.

The bell rang eight, then nine.

Soon, it said.

I entered the building, I sat patiently, my turn was coming.

The thunder grew closer, hummed in my mind, in again, out again … always on time.

My turn arrived. It was out of the light, not blackness yet darker. I sat and talked with the faceless voice. “Forgive me father, for I have sinned.”

The voice came back at told me I was forgiven. I was forgiven and all would be well.

I knew before the faceless voice had confirmed it. Of course, I was forgiven. Why wouldn’t I be?

The thunder roared now, finally. Yes, and then came the rain.

I put down my gift. I walked outside in the rain. Excited and trembling, I pressed the button. The cathedral exploded in tempest and sound, screaming and fleeing, the brown people ran. I waited and watched.

My gift was opened. The brown ones lay dead. I had given them color and the color was red.

I put my gun to my head.

#

 

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.

***

talent-spotter-images-links-for-liza-oconnor

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.