Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: An Unholy Alliance #22 (6.1)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day ! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.  

Char is visiting with Isabella, the genealogist Casey guided him to, when he is alarmed to discover the rednecks he had the run-in with are nearby. Abruptly leaving his gracious hostess, he goes to see what the idiots are up to and why they are seeking him. See what's going on in this week's chapter of An Unholy Alliance. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!

An Unholy Alliance #22 (6.1)

By all the gods, how had they managed to find me? I had to assume more than sheer coincidence was causing our paths to cross once more. I wasn’t so naïve to believe that if I’d remained where I was—in the shelter of Isabella’s garden—they would have simply gone along their merry way and made no attempt to invade Isabella’s peaceful paradise in a foolhardy pursuit of someone whose very nature they were clueless about. No, there was some agenda at play here. Whatever it was, I intended to take care of these fools, once and for all. But I would do it outside of Isabella’s knowledge and immediate vicinity. I would apologize profusely for my rude and hasty exit later, but her safety was what was paramount right now. That and finding out what they were up to.

I intersected the mangy group about a half mile away from Isabella’s home. They were apparently following the same path which I had taken to get there. The reason for that became crystal clear to me in an instant. They were huddled together in the middle of the deserted road. Thickets of trees and dense foliage flanked either side beyond which lay farmers’ plowed fields, but not another human in sight. Frank knelt beside his dog, grasping something blue that he held up for the dog’s inspection. “C’mon boy, you can do it. Find that ignorant son of a bitch.”

Except he didn’t say ignorant. But I wouldn’t allow myself to even think the racial epithet he did use. His language didn’t surprise me. I’d expect no less from a man of his low intellect and limited vocabulary, and I’m sure he knew a lot worse slurs he could hurl, given the chance. And then I recognized what was in his hand. That was a piece of my now discarded jacket he held, and that explained everything. They were deliberately tracking me, using that bit of torn cloth and the dog’s olfactory capabilities.  Probably still angry after our last encounter. Time to end this little game here and now.

At first they were oblivious to my presence, too focused on the dog to pay attention to their environment. At least not until I strode confidently into their midst. The dog was the first one to take notice. He gave a joyful yip and leapt up against my leg, as if requesting that I hold him.

He was the only one who was happy to see me.

“Rover!” Frank remonstrated, shooting his dog a baleful glance. “What are you doing, you stupid mutt?”

“Looks like Rover found him, just like you told him to.” Joey sounded disconcertingly smug.

“Looks like he found us,” Caleb corrected him. Or maybe it was Donny. They all looked alike to me. Plus I didn’t really care to remember which one was which. Frank’s identity was made easier to recall only because of his dog.

“Shut up, all of you!” I snapped. Leaning down, I scooped up the overly excited canine. He immediately licked my face, which I tolerated, mostly to irritate Frank. My secondary motivation was to remove him from harm’s way before anything went down.

And something was surely going to go down. How could it not?

I drew in deep breaths, attempting to calm myself before I made another move. As I’ve mentioned before, I am generally not a man of violence unless forced to it. I adhere to the age-old adjuration of do no harm. But I was willing to make an exception in the case of these idiots, and that knowledge did not sit well with me. They were mostly harmless, after all. Was stupidity a valid reason to kill someone? If so, the world would surely be littered with more corpses, not to mention being a nicer place to live in.

“Tell me why you are stalking me?” I addressed the group at large, but they all glanced toward Frank, as if they didn’t have a brain cell between them that could act independently of his leadership. So I followed suit and glared at Frank as well.

He made no immediately reply but reached out toward me as if he intended to snatch his dog. He’d barely begun to move when I took a quick step back and thus easily outmaneuvered him, my reflexes being far superior, of course.

“I’m sorry, was the question too complicated for you?” I snarked. Rover yipped, as if in support of my comment.

Frank’s face suffused with anger mixed with embarrassment, no doubt, and his so-called friends snickered. So much for group loyalty. He narrowed his eyes at me and found his tongue.

“You’re too uppity for your own good. You need to learn your place among your betters.”

I was torn between anger and the desire to laugh at his so-cliché words. I had hurt their poor little feelings when I didn’t just let them hurt me, and had in fact fought back. They couldn’t seem to stomach the idea that a black man had bested them.

I could hear the sound of a car engine and braced myself to see a vehicle come over the hill toward us, but the sound ceased. Nothing to do with us, I reasoned, and returned my attention to the rednecks standing in the middle of the road.

“Betters? You?” I scoffed. “Excuse me, but who did I leave lying on the ground just a short while ago? Or have you forgotten?”

“You cheated!” Frank shouted angrily. “It wasn’t a fair fight.”

Oh right, four against one and he had the nerve to talk about fairness?

Just then I heard a gun cock. At the same moment, Rover leapt from my arms toward the newcomer.

Why was Tyrone standing there, large revolver in hand, aimed toward the rednecks?

“Hey guys, what’s going on here? And why are you trying to abuse my friend? Didn’t your mama teach you better manners than that?”

 to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!

Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Virtual Book Tour: Sand, Salt, and Spirits by Kathryn Hills

 Good morning everyone!  Please welcome author Kathryn Hills to Full Moon Dreaming today! She is here to tell us about her new release, Sand, Salt, and Spirits. Kathryn will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter during the tour. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning are. To find the other stops on the tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!




 

Sand, Salt, and Spirits

by Kathryn Hills


 

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GENRE:   Romance / Halloween / Contemporary

 

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BLURB:

 

Can a weekend visit to Last Chance Beach undo decades of brokenhearted memories? Conjuring up some island magic might just be their trick. Or treat!

Kyle Worthington hasn’t returned to Last Chance Beach in years. He’s worked hard to prove himself to his overbearing father and the rest of the world. Now it’s October, and the vacation island paradise is celebrating the season with an island-wide Fall Festival. Family obligation demands he participate. Everyone will be there, including the ghost that haunts his grandparents’ B&B.

The running joke that Kyle never sticks with anything—not a career or a woman—will continue to plague him. Unless he brings a knockout of a date to the weekend-long event. Cassandra Corwin fits the bill perfectly. Kyle’s had his eye on his brilliant, beautiful coworker since day one. But Cassie is an enigma, a loner. There’s no room in her life for anyone except Odin, her goofball of a Great Dane.

Will this woman of mystery agree to Kyle’s scheme to impress his family? Can two near strangers from opposite worlds survive family gatherings and back-to-back Halloween events while pretending to be a couple? Kyle’s father seems hell-bent on derailing everything before they even shout “Boo!”

Or will the island’s magic prove too powerful for them to resist?

 

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EXCERPT


Kyle’s brain screamed, okay…time to fess up. “Cassie…before we go any further, there’s something I must confess. Please don’t get mad.”

 

Her smile evaporated. “Oh, that’s never good.”

 

“Hang on…it’s not good, but it’s not terrible, either.”

 

“Yet to be determined.” She crossed her arms and leveled a hard stare on him. “Spill it.”

 

“I may have…Okay, I definitely said…you’re my girlfriend.” Kyle cringed in anticipation of her reaction.

 

“You said what?” Her voice spiked.

 

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”

 

“A death wish?” she accused with a scowl. “Who did you say this to?”

 

“Not many. Just my sister, Kat.” He swallowed hard and took a step back. “She told my grandmother.”

 

“No?” Her tone went dangerously low.

 

“…who then told my mother when she called to say she wasn’t sure if she was coming. Who, in turn, told Kendall, my younger sister. Who really isn’t coming, by the way. So, that part’s good.”

 

“Is it now, Kyle? Really?” Cassie demanded with an infuriated huff.

 

“Yeah…except Kat told her boyfriend, Ben. Now I’m done. I think. Maybe not. News travels fast on Last Chance Beach.”

 

 

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

The rich history and many mysteries of New England are the perfect backdrop for many of KATHRYN’s books. Winding roads lined by old stone walls, forgotten cemeteries, grand homes with shadowy pasts...all sparks for her imagination. Whether it’s a quaint seaside town or the vibrant city of Boston, it’s easy for this “hauntingly romantic” author to envision the past mingling with the present. No surprise, some of Kathryn’s favorite stories include ghosts! Sprinkle in some magic, and you’re off on a great adventure.

 

When not writing, this best-selling author is reading, researching, gardening, or cooking up something special in her chaotic kitchen. She shares her colonial home in the north woods with those she loves most – her wonderful husband, daughter, and three crazy dogs.

 

Find Kathryn Hills Online

 

Website * Facebook Twitter * Amazon Author Page * BookBub

 

Buy Link – Sand, Salt, and Spirits – Last Chance Beach Romance by Kathryn Hills

 

https://books2read.com/u/bQJo5Z

 

The book will be $0.99.

 


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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Book Review: Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Trilogy, Book #2) by Suzanne Collins

 

Catching Fire (Hunger Games Trilogy, Book #2)           


Author: Suzanne Collins

Publisher: Scholastic Press

American release date:  September 1, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/YA SciFi Action/3891 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

In an unprecedented move, Katniss and Peeta have become joint winners of the Hunger Games, due to Katniss’s threat that they would both eat the poison berries and leave no winner. The Capitol has no choice but to capitulate. But that doesn’t mean that Kat and Peeta don’t both have targets painted on their backs, because they clearly do.

Although she’s alive, Katniss’ life isn’t what she’d hoped for. Gale is keeping his distance, mostly due to the illusion that was created regarding her and Peeta. Peeta has abandoned her as well, since her preference for Gale is obvious, and Peeta’s own feelings for Kat were no game.  But as victors, they have to go on the Victory Tour together that spans all twelve districts. And once again, they have to pretend to be madly in love—their lives depend on it. Starting with District 11, they blunder once again in attempting to honor Rue. Kat begins to suspect there is more there than meets the eye. And whatever is going on may be something she inadvertently helped to bring about. And somehow she and the mockingjay are symbols of the movement.

Katniss’ instinct is to run away from it all, and she intends to bring everyone she cares for. Her plan sounded so good in her head but it meets with unexpected opposition, especially from Peeta and Gale. She wants to take them both, what to do? Then things go from bad to worse when news arrives regarding the Quelle – the games that take place every twenty-five years, between Hunger Games. This year the rules have been changed, and the pool of contestants will be drawn only from previous victors! How can Kat doubt that this is aimed at her and Peeta for the way they both survived? They won’t be able to pull that trick again. Kat decides she must do everything in her power to ensure that Peeta remains alive, and that he becomes the victor of the Quelle.

Things have certainly taken a dark turn in the Hunger Games universe. Not that the first book was all beer and skittles, mind you. But life has gotten harder, and all because Kat has chosen to speak her mind. Rumors have begun to circulate that District 13 is not gone, as the Capitol would have everyone believe. And just maybe if the districts begin to unite, they can overthrow the tyranny under which they live.

Katniss herself is conflicted between her long time feelings for Gale and what she feels for Peeta. Not surprising as she is just a teenager, and she’s never been in a relationship before. There is a lot of pressure on her shoulders. Events will either make her or break her. Be prepared for pain and heartache in this book. I am half afraid to see what the third book will bring. Also looking forward to it.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Saturday is Horror Day #33 - Girl in the Box, Creep (2014) Spiral: From the Book of Saw

 Girl in the Box


1977 was a different time, when you could hitchhike all over the country and not worry about anything but your destination. Colleen Stan (Addison Timlin) is hitchhiking when she accepts a ride from a married couple, Cameron and Janice Hooker (Zane Holtz and Zelda Williams). What she doesn't realize is this couple is not normal... and they've already buried one body.







It doesn't take long for Cameron to put his horrific plan for Colleen into motion. Driving her to an out of the way spot, he handcuffs her and forces her put her head into a heavy wooden box and covers her body with a blanket so no one will see her, then drives home. After dark, he moves her inside and into the basement.


Cameron's wife Jan is very meek and submissive, as if she is afraid of doing anything to anger her husband. She goes along with what he wants, but it's clear that on some level it's disturbing to her. But in her own way, she can be just as cruel as him. Cameron quickly controls the helpless Colleen and lays down the rules. She is to call him Master and Jan is Ma'am. She is to do everything requested of her. If he says the word, she is to run to the arch in the living room, disrobe, and stand there with her hands pointing up.

Fearful of discovery, Cameron builds a coffin-like box for Colleen, which he keeps under his and Jan's 


bed. Colleen is forced to stay there up to 23 hours a day. He tells her about the Company he works for, and how people have slaves, like her, and forces her to sign a slave contract. He warns her that the Company will hurt her and her family if she should escape. And she believes him.




Colleen settles into her life of slavery and drudgery, and life goes on, Jan has a baby, and she's still there. But she is so brainwashed that when Cameron actually allows her to go home to visit her family, she tells them she is fine! But Jan is reaching her breaking point, as she sees how Cameron prefers Colleen, whom they call K. She leaves her husband, with their daughter, but comes back when he is gone in order to free Colleen and send her home.

This is based on a true story, and it is horrific. The film is well done, and I think the actors did a good job. Cameron is creepy and cruel, and Jan is subdued most of the time, as if she has given up on life. I can't imagine having to endure such a life for seven years! Colleen Stan must be a very strong woman. I liked the movie (not the subject matter of course) and I give it 4 Stars.

Creep (2014)


Aaron (Patrick Brice) accepts a job to video a man named Josef (Mark Duplass) for one day for a lot of money. He drives to the man's cabin to begin his day, and learns that Josef has terminal cancer, and wants to leave the video as a message to his unborn son whom he will never meet.








Josef is very fond of pranks, as Aaron quickly discovers, and he never knows when he'll find Josef lying in wait to pounce on him. The two proceed to spend the day together, hiking far into the woods at one point, and talking all the time. They have some heartfelt moments together, and as the day progresses, begin to tell one another their secrets.


Aaron begins to discover there is something a little (or a lot) off about Josef, and the wolf mask he named Peachfuzz is the least of his worries. After answering Josef's phone, while he is passed out, Aaron begins to realize the predicament he is in, especially when Josef's sister herself says to get out of the house. Now.

Aaron makes it home, and he thinks it's over now. Except when the package arrives, and he realizes Josef knows where he lives. And he isn't about to stop stalking Aaron anytime soon.


At first, I didn't know what to make of this film, other than a weird kind of sob story about a dying man. But it is a lot more than that. In fact, it isn't even that. The title says it all. Josef is a creep, and he will creep you out. The acting was good. I understand a lot of it was improvised. Not surprising since they are also the writers of the film, and Patrick Brice is the director. This one will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat, bracing for whatever is about to come next. Well worth watching. I give it a solid 4 Stars.

Spiral: From the Book of Saw


Detective Zeke Banks (Chris Rock) does not tolerate bad cops. Ever since he turned in one of his fellow officers, he hasn't been the most popular guy in the precinct. He responds with snarkiness and curses and an ef you attitude. His commanding offer, Captain Angie Garza (Marisol Nichols) is trying to help, but he's resistant to her efforts. To make matters worse, she assigns him a partner, William Schenk (Max Minghella). She wants Zeke to show him the ropes. When a new case comes in, Zeke reluctantly takes the newbie with him.






The initial report says a bum was killed by a train in the subway. But close investigation reveals this was no bum. Not too many bums wear Fitbits. A package shows up at the station addressed to Zeke. It contains a flash drive, as well as a tongue and a policeman's shield.  Turns out the dead man is Detective Fitch, who Zeke had been at odds with. Accused of giving false testimony against innocent people, his tongue was torn out. And judging by the video on the flash drive, the killer is a Jigsaw copycat.



When Captain Garza tries to give the lead on the murder investigation to another detective, Zeke lashes out and lets them know he should be the lead, and he doesn't care if the others like him or not. Angie finally gives in and Zeke takes the lead.

When Zeke goes home, he finds his former captain sitting there - none other than his father, Marcus


Banks (Samuel L. Jackson). Zeke is none too pleased to see him, and maybe their relationship isn't the best. But Zeke reluctantly agrees to meet his father the next night for dinner (they live in the same building) and to discuss the case.

More cops are being killed, and more messages are being left as Zeke delves into what is happening and why. Is the killer a wannabe Jigsaw, or are his motives more personal?

Having seen all eight Saw films, I was very excited to learn about this new addition to the fandom, and greatly looked forward to seeing it. I was not disappointed. I have always liked Chris Rock and he does prickly very well, with a get-out-of-face attitude that just doesn't quit. He's trying to play the hand he's been dealt, but the people around him don't make that easy. His new partner turns out to be pretty nice, and Zeke warms to him as he puts a picture of his family in the squad car. Plus he's a hard worker who isn't afraid to stay later to get things done.



While technically not an actual Saw film, Spiral is definitely a part of the Saw family. Lots of gore and guts for those who are fans of the original, an interesting storyline, and an unexpected twist that will keep you guessing. I really hope they make another one. There is great future content there. I give this film 4.5 Stars.

Side note: Look for Trevor Gretzy, son of former Blues hockey player Wayne Gretzy, in a small role.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Book Review: Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 22: The Beginning of Justice by Naoki Urasawa

 

Twentieth Century Boys, Vol 22: The Beginning of Justice     


Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 18, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/256 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

Kanna and the others decide that the only safe place to be, in order to avoid the virus that will rain down from the flying saucers, is Expo Park. But how to get the word to everyone in such a way that they will listen and not panic? Turns out that Kenji’s old enemies, Yanbo and Mabo, created the flying saucers for the Friend. But they say they had no choice, and they are on Kanna’s side now and only want to help. They tell Otcho he has to shoot the saucers down, and he can’t afford to miss. Otcho is up to the challenge, and will do whatever it takes.

Kanna takes a couple of teams to the TV station, expecting to meet with armed resistance, but it is eerily silent. Inside, they encounter Friend’s former assassin, Thirteen, along with the DJ who’s been playing Kenji’s song non-stop, and who turns out to be another childhood friend of Kanna’s uncle. He tells Kanna that Kenji is the one who introduced him to CCR.

Friend’s associates are stunned by his announcement that he is responsible for all the atrocities formerly attributed to Kenji and his group. Can it be true? If so, why, and what are they supposed to do now? Meanwhile, Kanna and the others begin plastering fliers all over town advertising a huge music festival in Expo Park – free! The big draw is that the elusive singer of “Bob Lennon” will be there. Who wouldn’t want to hear him live? Although Kanna entreated Haru Namio to perform, he declines, but shows up anyway with his old band.

Maruo and Keroyon and his son discover a group of masked children who lead them into a toy store, to their masked leader, whom they’ve dubbed the Mask King. He turns out to be another of Kenji’s childhood friends. Maruo and Keroyon vaccinate the children, and they are shown a way to get into Tokyo, over the wall.

Once they manage to cram all the people they can into Expo Park, the flying saucers are unleashed. But they aren’t headed in the direction they expected. In fact, they’re going straight to Expo Park! Did they just lead everyone into a trap? And the Giant Robot has been activated prematurely. How will this possibly end well? Will Friend’s insane plan be put into motion?

Wow, wow, wow. So much going on. So much drama, conflict, violence, hope, suspense… everything but resolution. Because this is not the last volume, contrary to popular belief. Good thing, because the ending, though sweet, isn’t enough, and explains so little and leaves so much hanging.

I confess to being angry at first at the ending, until I dug a little and discovered the story continues in Twenty-first Century Boys, which consists of two volumes. Okay, I can live with that. There is a certain amount of resolution in this volume, but there are people who need to be dealt with before the world can truly be safe. Or maybe the question is, can the world truly be safe?

All I can say is … to be continued.

 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: An Unholy Alliance #21 (5.5)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day ! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.  

Charlemagne has gone to see Isabella, who has information for him. She lives in a home with a beautiful garden, and he finds himself relaxing there, enjoying their conversation. Until something interrupts... See what's happening in this week's chapter of An Unholy Alliance. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

An Unholy Alliance #21 (5.5)

I refocused my attention on Isabella and her friend. She was running her fingers through his thick fur, the vibrations of his rumbling purr clearly audible from where I sat. Vampire hearing, you know. Or maybe he was just louder than a cat should be. At least for the moment he’d forgotten I existed, which was more than fine with me.

“My family has lived in this area for many years,” Isabella began. “The Bufords were among the first settlers in Greene County. Did you know the county was named after General Nathanael Greene? He was a hero of the American Revolution.”

I hadn’t known that. I confess to knowing little about that period in history. Or any other, to be honest. I’d only become interested in the past after my desire to learn about my real family had been awakened. My own interests ran to the literary. I was a voracious reader, mostly the classics. And I loved music, particularly jazz and classical. I especially loved Russian composers, such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, because of the sheer depth of emotion they expressed in their compositions. Does that make me sentimental? I don’t think so.

“I’ve been told the Bufords are related to the general, at least that’s how the story goes.” Isabella laughed, that musical sound again. The one that resembled a tinkling bell. “But that’s why I became interested in genealogy. At first I just wanted to find out about my family. And so far nothing I’ve found points to a familial connection, but that’s okay too. The truth is the truth. And after that, I discovered I was hooked.”

She offered me a rueful smile. “Sorry for all the exposition. I just wanted to frame what I know before I got to the part you were actually inquiring about.”

“No apologies necessary,” I instantly replied. “There is such passion in your voice. I think it’s admirable that you care about your family so much.” Some people were luckier in their relatives than others. But I kept that thought to myself. Even so, I could see something that might be interpreted as sympathy flicker in her eyes.

I cleared my throat and turned my attention to my drink. I liked to think of myself as tall, dark, and mysterious for a reason. If I didn’t let people in, didn’t let them get to know the real me, then they couldn’t use that information to hurt me.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Isabella take a drink herself before she continued, offering no comment, for which I was grateful.

“At some point in the early 1840s, I think it was,” she continued, “the Bufords became sharecroppers for a local family, the Pattersons. The Pattersons had a lot of land back then. They also had slaves. Slavery here was different than it was in the Deep South, I think. It didn’t hurt that Missouri was greatly divided on the issue, which is why the state chose not to secede from the Union. There weren’t the huge plantations here that you’d find in Louisiana or Georgia. These were just farms that people needed help with. Slavery was still a bad institution, don’t get me wrong. But at least the slave owners in this area were more likely to work alongside the field hands than to have overseers to control them or even beat them. After the war, some of those families who had been freed stayed and became sharecroppers too.”

I furrowed my brow in thought for a moment before asking, “I’m not sure what you mean by sharecropping?” Mama Lil always told me there was no such thing as a stupid question, but I still felt dumb asking. Obviously this was something that fell outside of my usual frame of reference.

“That was a system where landowners would allow farmers with no land of their own to grow crops on their land in return for a portion of the crop. This was especially beneficial after the Civil War, after the slaves were freed. It provided a means of making a living for people whose whole lives had been spent in the fields, but as paid laborers. And the farm owners received the help they needed.”

I mulled over her words for a few minutes. I couldn’t help but think how much life could have been different for the former slaves if they’d been able to receive an actual education. Even though they’d been freed, they were far from being treated equally. If they’d been able to learn, they would have had choices, opportunities. Too many remained tied to the land, either because they were too old to start over somewhere else or because they didn’t know any other kind of life. I’d been fortunate to have been spared that, despite all my grumbling about Dominique and the harshness of life under her regime. As a child, I hadn’t realized there were worse things, but as a grown man, I understood. And I grieved for those who were given no real chance strictly because of the color of their skin.

But greater than my grief was my guilt. I’d escaped the cruelty of a slave’s life, but my family hadn’t. Who knows what they were made to suffer when I didn’t even know who they were? How dare I be so complaisant about my life and who I was? How dare I?

“I’m very sorry.”

I glanced up, my cheeks burning, as I realized I’d fallen into a sullen silence. I spent far too much time brooding since my family cast me out—that was a really unattractive quality. Who did I think I was, the black Hamlet?

“No, I’m sorry—” I began, but a distant noise brought me up short. I recognized the yip of the over-friendly pup, which meant those idiots were probably close behind. And the sound was drawing nearer.

“Forgive me!” I blurted out just before I ran toward trouble.

 to be continued

Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to!

Cia Nordwell

 

 


Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Interview with Roy Landry (The Sheriff)

 



I haven’t done any interviews lately, especially those that require travel, but today I’m going to the small town of Burnham, Texas to talk to the sheriff there. No, not because of any trouble or anything, but because his book just came out, and I thought people should meet him.

Roy Landry is the Sheriff of Burnham. He’s agreed to meet me at Milly’s Diner. Why am I not surprised? Neither am I surprised to see he’s not alone. But that’s okay too. I like these other guys too. I know them all. By others, I mean Lee, Marshall, and Dustin.

I walk into the diner and make a beeline for their table. All four men stand as I approach, and Lee pulls out a chair for me. Milly comes to the table and greets me with a big smile. “Coffee all around?” she asks and everyone readily agrees. She returns quickly with a pot of hot java and assorted creamers and tells us she’ll come back when we’re ready to order.

“Good morning, guys,” I greet them. “How did I know you would all be here?”

Lee clears his throat and Marshall snickers. “I told Roy you wanted to talk to him, but he insisted.”

I give Roy a knowing glance, even as Dustin says, “Told you so.” Roy turns red and everyone laughs.

“Oh hush you,” he tells Dustin, which produces more laughter.

“I’m happy to see all of you,” I insist. “It’s not often I get to talk to such handsome gentlemen.”

Now Marshall and Dustin blush, and Roy and Lee chuckle.

“And how are you doing today?” Lee asks me.

I take a sip of blessed coffee, letting the warmth steal through me, and smile. “I’m doing great. It’s always a pleasure to visit with you guys.”

 I turn my attention to Roy.  “Sorry, Sheriff, if you thought having them here would keep me from asking you questions.”

Roy looks me straight in the eyes and replies, “I know better than that, don’t I? Doesn’t mean I’ll answer all those questions, though. Know what I mean?”

I know exactly what he means, and so do Lee and Marshall, although Dustin has no clue. But there are some things Dustin doesn’t need to know and I’m good with that, and so are the rest of them. Some secrets are better left… secret.

“How long have you been sheriff here?” I ask.

Roy tilts his head, thinking. “Well, when I came here, Marshall was what… thirteen?” He looks to Lee for confirmation.

“That sounds right,” Lee confirms. “He’s twenty-one now.”

“So I guess about eight years now.”


“Were you a sheriff somewhere else before Burnham?” I ask.

Roy shakes his head. “Nope, first time. Before this, I was a PI. I did some work for Lee, that’s how we met. Then ended up moving here when Lee and Marshall did and just fell in love with the place. When the Mayor asked if I’d be the sheriff I said yes.”

“Burnham is lucky to have him,” Lee says. “Roy is the best.”

Marshall agrees, and all three men exchange warm glances. It’s obvious how much they care for one another, and I feel my eyes start to tear up. I try to be inconspicuous as I dab at them, but they catch me anyway. They all smile, and Lee hands me a handkerchief.

“Always the gentlemen,” I say. “Thanks, Lee.”

“That’s him all over,” Marshall comments. “Except when he’s being ornery.”

Lee raises his eyebrows. Now Dustin and Roy snicker, while Marshall sticks out his tongue. “You know it’s true. I don’t hear you denying it.”

“I’ll show you ornery when we get home,” Lee warns him.

“Promises, promises,” Marshall counters.

Gosh, we are so getting off topic here, but I find it easy to be distracted around them. Much as I’d love to be a fly on that wall and see what happens, I know that’s not going to happen, so I won’t even ask. Back to business.

“So, I hear there’s been some problems over in Tucker Falls. Isn’t that so, Roy?”

“Yes, ma’am, that’s true.”

I interrupt. “Please don’t call me ma’am.”

“Yes, ma—“ He catches himself just in time. “Sorry. The sheriff there is a friend of mine, and he asked me to look into what’s going on.”

“I think that’s great. Don’t you, Dustin?”

Suddenly Dustin won’t look me in the eye, and I have to wonder what is going on with him, with them?

“Lee and Marshall just got married.” Roy deftly changes the subject. Why is he being so considerate of Dustin? I didn’t think they knew each other that well.

“I know, congratulations to you both.” I give the newlyweds a smile.

Lee raises Marshall’s hand to his lips and kisses it before saying, “Thank you.”

Marshall’s eyes are fastened on Lee as he repeats,” Thank you. Best thing that ever happened to me.”

I can’t help but feel a warmth at seeing the happiness they radiate. I glance at Roy, and he seems both happy and… what…. Envious, maybe? Like he wishes he had what they have?

“Roy, you seeing anyone these days?” I ask.

“Nothing serious.” He suddenly busies himself with the menu. Like he doesn’t have the damn thing memorized. Just then Milly comes back and takes our orders, and I decide to leave it for now. I’m sure Roy is capable of finding some young lady who’d be more than happy to go out with him. Probably not in Burnham. But there’s always Tucker Falls.

We’ll just have to see, I guess. I decide to relax and enjoy the company. Sorry, that’s all the information for today. If you want to know more, read The Sheriff. It’s out now.



 

Blurb:

Roy wouldn’t give up being the sheriff of the small town of Burnham, Texas for anything. Maybe the circumstances surrounding his being there weren’t the best, but all’s well that ends well. He couldn’t ask for better friends than Lee and Marshall. And the people of Burnham have been nothing less than welcoming, offering him the position of sheriff after he decided to stop being a PI and settle there with his friends. Even so, sometimes he wishes he could have what Lee and Marshall have. Does such love even exist for him? Right now that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards, as none of his dates ever seem to lead in the right direction. Good thing he has his job to hold onto.

Dustin Johnson hasn’t had an easy life, bounced around between family members since he was young. He first met Marshall in a bar in Tucker Falls, coming to his rescue when he was almost assaulted by a disgruntled would-be suitor, and became infatuated with him. Not taking no for an answer, he kept pursuing him, colliding with Marshall’s partner Lee on more than one occasion. But that’s all done now. He realizes he’s made some mistakes, and he wants to turn over a new life. Beginning with a more permanent living arrangement with his cousin Denver and a job at the computer store. What he really would like to do is work in law enforcement. But Sheriff Roy Landry barely gives him the time of day. What’s a guy to do?

Just when Dustin thinks he’s found the man of his dreams, he learns just how bad a judge of character he really is. He runs to Roy for help, and Roy promises to help him do what is right. Will Roy become the white knight Dustin needs, assuming he doesn’t get killed in the process?

Sometimes love is where you least expect to find it. But if you keep an open mind and heart, you might just find what you’re looking for. 

Excerpt:

Roy Landry raised his bottle of beer in a silent toast to the two men—his two best friends—who had just departed the wedding reception being held for them in Roy’s home. But that was traditional, wasn’t it? The newlyweds were always the first to leave. At least that was the case in Roy’s experience, and he’d been to a few weddings over the years.

Although he was beyond happy for the newlyweds, he was also jealous of them. He envied Marshall and Lee and what they had. He’d never met such a loving, devoted couple in his entire life.  And he’d never seen two people fight so hard to be together. Maybe their relationship was unorthodox in the eyes of the rest of the world, but to him they were perfect for one another. And he was happy to have become a part of their lives, even if the circumstances of their meeting were less than stellar. And he was proud to have been instrumental in their reunion after a horrific five year separation.

Hopefully, they’d have nothing but smooth sailing ahead of them now, to make up for some of that unwarranted turbulence. And hopefully Lee’s ex would never show her face in Burnham again. After her last reception, Roy rather doubted she would.

 “So you’re a minister, are you?”

A voice broke into his thoughts, drawing Roy back to the present. Dustin Johnson stood beside him, long neck in hand.  Dustin’s cousin Denver was a friend of theirs, part of a small group who liked to hang out at a place called Partners, in nearby Tucker Falls. Dustin had helped Marshall out of a difficult situation at Partners—got him away from a pushy jackass who didn’t know how to accept no for an answer and was willing to inflict pain to get his point across. Roy was grateful to Dustin for that. But according to Marshall and Lee, he had the ability to be a real pain in the ass, too, and Lee’d had to put him in his place more than once about his unwanted attentions to Marshall.

Knowing Lee, Dustin should consider himself lucky he only got a talking-to.

All in all, Roy trusted the boy about as far as he could throw him.

“Something like that,” Roy replied evasively. He didn’t think it was any of Dustin’s business one way or another. No, the ceremony he’d performed wasn’t legal, but there was no way anyone would allow that for Marshall and Lee, so Roy had done the best he could, and none the wiser who didn’t already know the truth. Which didn’t include Dustin, or even Denver. Theirs was not a secret to be told lightly, and Roy would never betray their faith in him by telling anyone what he knew.

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