Surprise Update – Plus! Bonus Dream Content and the Start of My Rollerblading Adventure

Turns out that yesterday’s surprise was not Emmitt’s doing at all, which might be why it worked, to a degree at least. He was never going to take me to the bike shop, it was all just a ruse to make sure I had the day free for my friend Brandi. This was a lovely surprise, but now I’m wondering if I’m getting a bike at all. Time will tell.

Brandi showed up at my house at noon with a couple of balloons and a card then took me to a place I told her about to get a facial. I certainly enjoyed the pampering and relaxation after the past few weeks. That said, the aesthetician had a thing for oils and I left the place looking like I have been deep fried and failed to wash my hair for a decade. I wiped myself down as best I could and we headed to the hibachi place for some lunch, which was delicious, but the passive aggressive chef sprayed me more than once “accidentally’ with something because we were not participating in the show. There was a whole family, including small children, enthusiastically welcoming his offers to throw food at them so I’m not sure why he cared that two of us would rather chat. Whatever. I was greasy already, so what’s a little damp stickiness?

Afterward, we went to the frozen custard place. I was full so I got a quart to go and ended up eating what was left of Brandi’s waffle bowl later. It was mostly unmolested waffle and Reese’s cups, so I wasn’t going to throw it away.

Once home, I took a shower and again elected not to make dinner. Dad had some Chef Boyardee and I reheated Popeye’s in the air fryer. All in all it was a good day. Dad didn’t get on my nerves too terribly or make fun of me when I was crying my eyes out over a TV character that got killed.

I woke this morning with memories of a dream that I will now share, because it’s my blog and I can write whatever I want to.

I had gone to a hotel, at first by myself it would seem, but later there were a total of 3 couples. I checked in, got my key and went to my room, which was already occupied by two old men who did not appear to notice that I entered their room. I closed the door and checked the room number. The doors were all close together in such a way that you might accidentally enter the wrong room. I tried my key on some of the other doors and it worked on all of them, but they were all occupied.

I went back to the front desk to get a new room, preferably one that didn’t have people in it. The new room was smaller, and didn’t have the sunken jacuzzi tub that it was supposed to. Oh, and it was also occupied.

I went down again and got yet another room. This time, it was unoccupied, but there was still no jacuzzi tub and also not enough beds. Instead of 2 queens and a rollout, to accommodate the 3 couples, there were 4 hospital gurneys. I was furious, of course, but some of my travel companions were hopping on the gurneys and trying to demonstrate how they could still totally have sex, so it was ok.

Apparently, when I tried the very first room, I left my luggage in there, so I had to go retrieve it from the old men. They did not want to give it back to me and insisted on going through it before they did.

Before I went back down to the front desk to complain yet again, I more thoroughly investigated the room and discovered that you could round a corner and it would lead right into the common area where everyone had breakfast. So, not only was the bedding inadequate, but now I was missing any privacy and still had no jacuzzi tub.

When I arrived back at the front desk, the woman there was eating a yogurt and looked up at me but didn’t say anything. I asked if she could help me and she says “maybe I can”, taking another casual bite of her yogurt. This part is murky, but I think I jumped the counter to beat her ass but the rest of the staff restrained me and acted like I was being unreasonable.

They got on the phone to corporate because I guess they couldn’t accommodate my requests for an unoccupied room with beds and walls and they had it on speaker because they wanted to make sure they heard the whole conversation because I guess they thought I was going to lie about my experiences or something.

I’ll never know because I woke up while I was still on hold. I was mad about it for a while, which is probably why I remembered so much of it. I travel to San Antonio next week in real life so it was probably an anxiety dream, but it was weird so I shared. You’re welcome.

What else? Oh yes, I ordered some rollerblades because another friend of mine thought it would be fun to skate around. I remembered getting rollerblades in my youth when they were first popular and the memories were fine, though faded, after all these years. We both ordered from Amazon. She got hers quickly but I ordered actual Rollerblade brand skates so they took a little longer to arrive.

My friend tried hers on early, immediately fell and almost broke her ass. She texted to say she thought this was maybe not such a good idea but I insisted that we proceed. I was confident that I would be able to skate like a champ and encourage my depressed friend to get out of the house with the activity that was her idea to start with.

Then my skates came.

These are my exact skates. Or wheels of death. Whatever.

It took me longer than it should have just to get these things on my feet. I was a little winded when it was all said and done. Then I tried to stand and felt far more unsteady than I remembered, even on carpet. I decided to be brave and venture into the bathroom to try them out on tile. I managed to get both feet in, but then couldn’t quite go anywhere until my feet started to veer away from each other, gaining speed. I grabbed and clutched at my surroundings to save myself, but then started rolling backward. Shit.

I clawed my way back out to the bedroom to put on the protective gear that I innocently thought I would not need in the house. I put the wrist guards on backwards and on the wrong wrists at first, but got it sorted out. The elbow pads were straightforward but I realized I couldn’t get them on over the wrist guards, so I took those off, put the elbow ones on and then the wrist guards again.

I realized too late that the knee pads had a neoprene sleeve that was supposed to go over your leg, but I was wearing pants and still had the skates on, so I just used the straps. Once I was safe-ish, I stumbled over to the full length mirror to check out how completely stupid I looked.

Undeterred by the risk of injury or embarrassment, I continued to try to skate on my carpet, after watching a couple YouTube videos. I’m still a complete mess and if I ever make it out of my house I’ll probably just roll down my driveway, into the street and crash in to the neighbors bushes. Time will tell. I’m not giving up though. I’m just done for the day.

I figure that my trip this week is the last one for the year, so I’ll try again when I return. That way, if I break my leg or something, I’ll be home to recover.

Goat Update and a Saturday Surprise

I took a Xanax yesterday. I was grateful to still have some of them lying around. I decided not to cook and ordered Popeye’s instead. I ate a whole lot of chicken and I have no regrets. It was a hard day and food was a comfort, even if that’s no way to deal with my feelings. Today is a new day.

I lay in bed last night praying for my little kitty cat, not sure what to ask for, so I asked that I would be able to catch him, or if not that he would not suffer, or even better – that he just magically improved overnight.

When I finally fell asleep, it was deep and hard and I didn’t wake until after 2AM. Usually, I am up twice before then, so I must have been exhausted between the stress and all the running that Ralph (trainer, nut murderer) is making me do. I was able to fall right back to sleep after that and didn’t wake again until a little before 7AM. I started plotting and planning.

Once dawn had broken, I started looking for Goat. I was relieved to see him asleep in the chair. I decided to just go out and visit with him for a while to try to rebuild some trust before I tried to catch him again. He was wary, but he let me pet him. I watched and watched and realized that he was not displaying any of the symptoms he had been yesterday.

It would seem that my prayer for magical improvement was answered!! I called the vet to let her know and she said that if he did have a plug in his penis that it is quite possible he managed to work it out and voila, he is well.

I will keep an eye on him, but for now, he’s good and I can breathe again.

Emmitt left early for Kissimmee for a toy show and I am grateful for that as well. I love my husband, but he gets on my nerves and I can use the break. We were supposed to go to a bike shop this weekend to get measured or something so that Emmitt could get me a bike for my birthday, but since this show came up he made some other ‘surprise’ plans for me. He told me that I just needed to be ‘ready by noon’ to ‘dress casual’ and that ‘someone’ would be picking me up.

I don’t care for surprises. The control freak in me objects to them. Furthermore, I need to get emotionally prepared for whomever and whatever I am supposed to be doing, otherwise I’ll just stress about it. Worse, I’ll get excited about what I think it might be and then it’s not that thing and I end up disappointed. Also, a man telling me to ‘dress casual’ is meaningless. There are like 17 different levels of casual.

I got him to tell me who was coming, and it was my friend Brandi, who I was hoping to see today anyway. I sent her a message this morning to get the rest of the info I needed without ruining the ‘surprise’. I’ve been told yoga pants and a t-shirt are appropriate and footwear is irrelevant, so it can’t be all that bad.

New Topic – I’m glad that the Ralph story is over, but I feel like it was hurried because it was going on long and I needed to wrap it up. It’s over now, but it didn’t feel complete. I think I’d like to start a new series but just leave it open ended, almost episodic. That way I can just write more of the story as more of the story is revealed. I’m going to look into how to use Categorization and see if I can create categories for series stories so they are more organized. It may still end up a jumbled mess. If nothing else, the Ralph series was a good exercise and revealed a lot about what I like and what I don’t; what feels natural and what feels forced.

Thanks to my friends that read the whole thing and provided feedback. I really appreciate it and it feels good that I am not just writing into a void.

Cat Crisis and Dorito Wounds

I am so frustrated right now. I’m listening to some stress relief music as I type this to try to simmer down.

I was visiting with Goat earlier and I noticed that he seemed to be straining to pee. I called the vet to see if she would just give me some antibiotics since he’s feral. Unfortunately, without knowing whether it’s a UTI or a blockage, she can’t do anything because if it’s a blockage, antibiotics can make it worse. His little bladder will just fill & fill and back up into his kidneys.

So, now, not only do I have another giant vet bill looming on the horizon for a cat that just showed up in my yard, I have the prospect of him just keeling over dead if I’m not able to intervene in time.

I tried so hard to catch him, but he is wise to me. It was not so long ago that I used my affections to trick him and while he forgave me and lets me pet him, anything even remotely grabby is impossible. Since I had no choice but to try, I basically ran him off in my efforts to save him. Now he’s in the woods somewhere. The best I can hope for is that he comes back in the morning and I can catch him then. The vet is only there from 8-12 so it’s gotta be early. If the cat does show, I’ve got one shot to grab him and I’ll probably have to be super rough about it which means that I may be able to save his life but he may hate me forever.

I’m further aggravated because when I went looking for the carrier I couldn’t find it so I called my husband to see where he put it. As is the case 99.999% of the time, he didn’t answer. I fucking hate this. Especially because he’s generally face deep in his phone. He was out and about today getting ready for some toy show and I know he’s excited and I don’t want to shit on his excitement, but fucking fuck. I needed the carrier and I still don’t know where it is. Luckily I have another one, but that’s not the point. He knows that I get irritated when he doesn’t answer when I call and his response is always the same, that his phone was in his pocket and his ringer wasn’t on. Fine. I get it. I sometimes miss calls that way too, so maybe when you leave the house you can turn your fucking ringer on??

Then I’ve got my obese, inside cat crying for her 4PM treats at 3PM in the middle of a god damned crisis. I sprayed her fat ass with the water bottle and that shut her up for a moment, but only a moment.

Oh and then I’ve got my dad moaning in excruciating detail about how the roof of his mouth is all fucked up from a chip he ate the other day that “shattered” and cut him to ribbons, to hear him tell it. Oh. MY. GOD!!! We have all stabbed ourselves with a Dorito. Let it go, man!!!! I had to go to the dentist earlier today and he asked me to ask her about his mouth. Jesus. I did, more as a joke than anything, but my dentist is great so she wrote a scrip for some blend of lidocaine, Benadryl and milk of magnesia that will help while his Dorito wound heals. I stopped at the pharmacy on the way home to drop it off and was stuck behind some woman asking them to “check the database” to see when her last tetanus shot was. They had no record of it, so then a lengthy explanation ensued about how she was sure she had been vaccinated and here’s why and all of her life story basically, while I stood there and died inside. Finally, I was able to drop the scrip off, but it has to be compounded and apparently they don’t have milk of magnesia back there, so they can’t fill it until Monday. I wanted to just go grab some from aisle 2 or whatever, ’cause it’s there, but I don’t fucking care that much. I spent too much time on it already.

My husband finally called me back but I passive aggressively didn’t answer because fuck him and his call back 2 hours later. Let him think I’m dead for a little while.

I’m sure he will stroll in shortly while I’m elbow deep in dinner preparations for my needy-ass family, making sure everything is soft so as not to further destroy my fathers mangled mouth, trying not to cry over the poor cat dying a painful death in the woods.

Fuck this day.

Ralph – Series – Part 15 of 15 – The Conclusion

Ralph saw Steve leaving the gym, waving toward the interior on his way out, not paying any attention to his surroundings. Bunz and Gunz was purchased by an investment group after Carl’s death, and while Steve was not charged with anything it was decided that keeping him on was not good for business. They gave him a nice severance and he went gladly on his way. Insulting, Ralph thought, that after everything Steve walks away clean with extra money in his pocket. He felt his temper rise and took a deep breath to calm himself. It wouldn’t do to lose focus now. Steve got into his ostentatious sports car, turned on the headlights, gunned the engine and sped out of the parking lot. Ralph wasn’t too worried about keeping up, he knew where Steve was headed.

Steve pulled up in front of a model home in a new housing development. He exited his vehicle, locking it and then boldly bounding up the front steps, using the code on the lockbox to let himself in. Ralph had taken a different route and arrived at the development ahead of Steve, parking a street over from the house. He had entered the unfinished house facing the model and was watching Steve’s progress from there. He watched the lights in the model come on, one by one, leading upstairs. As the light came on in the upstairs bedroom, Ralph sprinted across the street, following Steve inside.

**********************************************************************************

Lillian opted to follow Steve when he left the gym since Ralph didn’t make an immediate move to do so. Steve drove just like you would expect a guy with a bright yellow Corvette to drive, making it exceedingly difficult to keep up without revealing herself. He whipped into the development well ahead of her and by the time she made the entrance he was nowhere to be found. She turned off her lights and proceeded to creep through the development, hoping she would find him before she ran into Ralph. She was certain he was here somewhere, or on his way. Lillian’s attention turned to movement, a figure darting across a side street. She focused and saw Steve’s parked car.

Lillian stopped where she was and picked up her phone. “Stalker…” she said to herself, seeing the text notifications filling up her screen. She dialed Matt.

“Lillian, look, I…” Matt started.

“Shut up, Matt. Just listen.” Lillian interrupted.

“I…” Matt continued.

“Matt, I don’t have time for this, listen, I think Ralph is about to do something to Steve. I followed him, well, Steve, I followed Steve, but Ralph, I think he’s in there and…” Lillian blurted.

“You did what?” Matt said, alarmed.

“I don’t have time to explain, please, just trust me. I am going in there and I don’t know what I’m going to find, and I could use your help.” Lillian said, her tone resolute.

“You can’t do this Lillian.” Matt said.

“I have to, and I’m going to. Are you going to help me or not?” Lillian asked.

“This is illegal, Lillian. You know that, right? If you go after this guy, it’s your ass. Don’t be stupid.” Matt insisted.

“He could literally be killing someone right now and you’re arguing with me. I am sending you a pin with my location. Come, or don’t.” Lillian said and ended the call.

Lillian sent the pin, ignoring the incoming call from Matt. She checked her weapon, took a deep breath, and exited the vehicle, leaving her phone behind.

Ralph entered the house, making no attempt at stealth. He retrieved his machete from the decorative basket in the console table and bounded up the stairs. He entered the upstairs bedroom and saw Steve kneeling over a body, Francine’s body. He was distracted, muttering her name, and shaking her.

“She won’t wake up.” Ralph said, from the doorway.

Steve whipped his head around and grimaced in confusion. He registered the machete in Ralph’s hand and his expression changed. Steve scrambled over Francine, trying to get distance between himself and Ralph. Steve managed to get to his feet and turned to face Ralph. They locked eyes just as Ralph completed the swing of the machete that separated Steve’s head from his body. Steve crumpled, boneless, coming to rest draped across Francine’s still inert form.

Francine would be collateral damage, like Carl, but she had been sleeping with Steve, so she made her bed, Ralph thought. Her marriage had been ruined by Steve’s story about the couch cushion. It was well known that she blamed Steve, hated him. She certainly had motive and anyone who had seen her lift at the gym knew she was strong enough to take a guy’s head off. A murder-suicide made sense.

It was easy enough to get her here. Francine ran to the gym most days, and today was no different. Ralph kept her well after class, making conversation, pretending to be interested in her devastatingly banal stories. He had her try a new drink recipe and when she started feeling a little lightheaded, he offered to drive her home. The gym was empty, and the cameras weren’t recording, he saw to that. He drove to the new development, to the house Francine wouldn’t shut up about. He unlocked the front door, left it open, then after ensuring that the streets were empty, hustled a now unconscious Francine inside over his shoulder. There was no need to wrap her. She would be out long enough, and he could overpower her if need be.

It was even easier to get Steve here. All Ralph had to do was send a few texts from Francine’s phone, promises to defile yet another couch.

Ralph took a deep breath in, and let it out in a long, slow, whoosh. Just a few more steps and this would all be over with. He could move on to another town and try to start over again. This wasn’t one of his better plans, Ralph thought. It was sloppy because he let himself get too emotional about it, like he did with Brad. But, he thought, he didn’t get caught then either.

Ralph bent over and set about rearranging Francine and Steve into positions that made more sense before administering the ‘self-inflicted’ gunshot to Francine’s head. He cocked his head right and left, as though evaluating the position of a picture on the wall. He stepped back for perspective.

“Stop right there.” Said Lillian, calm but firm.

Ralph stopped in his tracks, standing perfectly still. “Detective Charter. What a surprise” he said.

“Hands up” Lillian demanded.

“Why are you here?” Ralph asked, making no move to comply.

“I said, put your hands up.” Lillian repeated.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to be here, Detective.” Ralph said.

“Are you trying to make me shoot you?” Lillian asked.

“You’re going to shoot me in the back? How’s that going to look?” Ralph asked, patronizing.

“Are you shitting me? You just decapitated a guy, I’m pretty sure no one is going to care where I shoot you.” Lillian replied. “I knew you were a piece of shit, but I didn’t think you were stupid too.”

Ralph flinched slightly. Lillian saw it. Good, she thought. Get mad.

“Ok, ok. You win.” Ralph said, his tone light, amused. He slowly raised his hands, back still turned to Lillian. Then in one sudden motion, he spun to face her and lunged.

Lillian fired, shooting Ralph in the shoulder, causing him to lurch slightly away, but he kept coming, closing the short distance between them in an instant. His mass and momentum caused Lillian to fall backward, landing hard and losing her gun, Ralph’s weight settling on top of her.

Lillian pumped her legs, trying to scoot out from underneath Ralph. She managed to get her upper torso above his head and proceeded to drive her elbows over and over into the back of his head and neck. Ralph bit down hard on Lillian’s belly but she kept striking him, punching him in the ears now. She had shimmied far enough out that now he only had her by the legs, and she was within reaching distance of her gun. She pulled the leg on his wounded side as hard as she could, managed to extricate it and kick him in the face. He clung even tighter to her other leg. She twisted her body away from him and reached again for her gun. Her fingers scrabbled but finally connected and she swung the barrel back toward him, only to be met with a gun pointed at her face.

“I came prepared.” Ralph smiled defiantly with bloody teeth. Lillian fired into them. Ralph’s gun went off before he collapsed, the noise deafening, pain tearing through the side of Lillian’s head. She worked to free her trapped leg, disgusted by the sensation of Ralph’s warm blood soaking through her jeans. In the distance, she heard a keening. She saw movement and instinctively raised her gun. It was Francine. Lillian sighed with relief and lowered her weapon, sitting still as Francine wailed, grateful momentarily for her deafness.

Matt’s face appeared before her. He was talking but Lillian couldn’t hear him clearly. It looked like he was asking if she was ok. Do I look ok? She thought, wondering what she ever saw in this guy. Lillian touched her face, checking for holes. It was very wet, but intact. She ran her hand up to her ear and winced. That was going to leave a mark. Lillian laughed quietly to herself.

Matt was trying to help her off the floor. She waved him off. “Help Francine” she said. The ringing in her ears was starting to subside. She rolled over onto all fours, then grabbed the stair railing to haul herself up, leaving bloody smears in her wake. Once upright, she was face to face with Francine’s tear-streaked face, a mask of horror, looking from Lillian to the smears and back again. “You’re welcome.” Lillian said, shouldering past Francine as she started to cry again.

Matt was behind Francine, standing at the entrance of the bedroom, waiting for Lillian with outstretched arms. “You’re hurt” he said.

“Really?” Lillian replied, with sarcasm.

“Stop it.” Matt said, dropping his arms. “Can you stop for one second? What happened here?” Matt asked.

“Well, that guy that I told you was a murderer went ahead and murdered someone else. He’s the guy on the floor out there with no face if you want to take it from here.” Lillian said.

“You could have been killed.” Matt said, grabbing her upper arm.

Lillian slowly looked down at his hand, then back at Matt, with exaggerated reproach. “Matt, someone might see.”

Matt’s eyes shone with unshed tears, pulling his hand back.

“Matt, thank you for coming. I do appreciate it. I’ll get a full report done once I get whatever is left of my ear sewn back on, but we are done here.” Lillian said.

She turned and headed down the stairs without a backward glance and with no regrets.

THE END

I Can Dismantle a Dishwasher AND Put it Back Together

I really need to get my shit together. I’ve been doing a little bit of writing, but mostly in my notebook; plans for the next thing. It takes no time at all for me to develop weird rules for myself, like not writing unless I plan to finish something. Why? It’s so dumb. I can totally write stuff and not publish it right away and it still counts. So, I’m working on that this week. Writing for at least 30 minutes a day, even if it’s not something I can post here, because that doesn’t matter, right? I feel like I’ve been here before. I’m almost certain. I’m so good at repeating myself.

In addition to not writing for the aforementioned dumb reason, I have also not been reading and have been feeling guilty about it. As with many things in my life, the longer I am away from a thing the more the guilt builds and the harder it is to go back. As I write this, I acknowledge fully the ridiculousness of it. No one, well not many people at least, give a single shit whether I am reading their stuff or not. But it’s not that exactly. The guilt is because I’m missing pieces of people’s lives, as though they were unimportant, which is not the case at all. I’m just overwhelmed and oversensitive these days. My head is firmly up my own ass.

But I’m here, I’m back. I’m going to read and appreciate and that will make me feel better.

On an unrelated note, My Amazing Trainer Ralph, not to be confused with fictional murderer Ralph, wants me to participate in this 3 week challenge thing. I won’t go into great detail but it involved some dietary modification and more sprinting than normal. I told him I would participate, to a degree, but that I wasn’t going to follow his instructions to the letter because they were impractical. That said, I need a little kick in the pants. Some of my more insidious drinking behaviors are starting to affect my relationship to food. Obviously I can’t just quit food, so I have to clamp down on this bullshit before it gets any worse.

I am hopeful that having some accountability to Ralph will help me to make better choices over the coming weeks and months so I can get a handle on it. I think the bingeing is also a stress response. I don’t have alcohol to lean on, so I’ll just eat everything, even if I don’t want it. Then I feel like shit, physically and emotionally, just like the old days. It’s a familiar feeling and I am not a fan. I fought too hard to get past this to have it show up again and make me fat to boot. Fuck that shit.

All that said, when Ralph asked me to step on the scale today, I did, but I didn’t look at the number. I wanted to, I really did, but I knew it would do nothing but hurt me. If I weighed less than I thought then it would be like things are ok. Like before when my blood tests showed my liver was still functional, I’m like, “cool, guess I’ll just keep on drinking.” If I weighed more, well… I don’t want to think about that. So I still don’t know, and I’m proud of myself for that. I need to make these changes not in the context of weight, but in the context of not feeling like shit.

On yet another unrelated note, I decided to start using my dishwasher again after many years because I recently learned that handwashing dishes is not more efficient; even if I run it every day and the load is small, I’m still using less water than handwashing, and it’s way more convenient. Problem was that the dishwasher wasn’t draining like it should. I fired up YouTube and dismantled the dishwasher to try to trouble shoot. None of the issues I was looking for were present, so it was down to a possible issue with the garbage disposal. I wasn’t about to bother with that thing because I’ve seen too many horror movies to trust it and also because garbage disposals are gross.

I called a plumber to come look at it. I dismantled the dishwasher again before he got there to save myself some labor costs and provide physical proof of the things I had already eliminated as the problem. He acted like I wasn’t doing him any favors, but he was clearly full of shit. It took him about 5 minutes to locate the issue (thanks to me, and my pre-dismantling) which was that when the garbage disposal was installed, there was a little piece in there that basically prevented the dishwasher from draining. This black piece of plastic the size of a dime was the culprit. I never would have discovered it on my own, so it was worth it to pay the guy, I guess. Since he basically didn’t do anything, I had him replace the insides of both my toilets.

I realized after they left that when they walked through the bedroom to our bathroom that there were some recent Amazon purchases on the end of my bed. A box of disposable rubber gloves that I use for food prep and a pack of knee pads that I got because I am planning to do some rollerblading. Sounds benign when described, but without context, the plumbers probably though we got up to some freaky shit. Add to that the fact that there are also two rabbits in my bedroom and well… If they have any imagination at all, they will have stories to tell.

Animal Politics

I have been so dreadfully busy I haven’t had much time to write. I think my next Ralph entry will be the last, or at the very least the second to last. I’m pretty sure I know what happens but the next time I sit down to write about it I don’t want to fuck around. I just want to sit there and finish it up.

I have another project I’m working on with my BFF, kind of a hot potato story and it’s my turn. I have ideas there too, but again, I need to dedicate a good chunk of time to sit and focus and crank it out.

It’s aggravating but I’m grateful that I have stuff to say. I’d rather that than the alternative.

also You might be thinking, “Clearly, you have time now” and technically you’d be right, but I’m very sleepy and this kind of writing requires very little brain power or focus, neither of which I have much of at the moment, so I’m going to ramble on about the goings on in my little world lately and call it a day.

I mentioned my little buddy, Goat, in a previous blog –

Well, last week I used the trust that I had built to catch him so Emmitt could take him to the vet. We had decided to take him to the low cost vet since he’s technically a stray, but when Emmitt showed up with him in a carrier instead of a trap, they said they couldn’t take him without an appointment. They suggested that he be transferred from the carrier to a trap in the parking lot. Sure, sure… that would definitely go well. The other alternative was to get an appointment, but the first available was November 4th. By then he would probably have been hit by a car on his way to go impregnate a cat in an adjacent neighborhood. So I told Em to head home. I called around to some other clinics in the area to explain that I had this cat captured but they were unsympathetic. I finally called my regular, super expensive, vet and she agreed to take him right away.

He was fixed in a matter of hours and we thought that we could let him recover on our screened porch, forgetting somehow that he was a feral cat who currently hated us. When we opened the carrier, he shot out and crashed violently into the screen, not understanding why he could see out but not escape. He followed that up by climbing the screens, falling and climbing again, then just randomly jumping and crashing into things.

We finally opened the door, because we feared he would hurt himself more trying to escape than he would recuperating in the woods. Off he went. It started to rain shortly thereafter and I felt like the worst person in the world.

Time passed and I called to him, put out food. Nothing. I was starting to think he would never return. My heart was broken because I loved him and I had betrayed him, even though it was for his own good.

The following day, Emmitt and I decided to bust out the ladder so we could look over the fence to see if he was out there lurking. Before we could get outside, Emmitt spotted him. He was BACK! I gathered myself so as not to go out too excited. He was skittish and hissed at me, but he ate the food I left for him. A few hours later I was able to pet him. He forgave me and I cried I was so happy.

I went to check on him that night. He was not in the yard so I called for him. Eventually, a little black and white cat showed up, but it wasn’t Goat. WTF? We gave it a little bit of food and went to bed.

The next morning, when I went to give Goat his breakfast, he was out there and so was the other random cat and the neighbors cat as well. So then I had to try to feed my one cat and fend off the others, because this is Goat’s yard, after all. The random cat tried to eat a bird instead. That evening, a similar situation presented itself, except now it was between Goat and my spoiled raccoons.

I don’t think any of them are going to beat each other up and really they only get close to each other when I’m out there because they collectively approach me at the same time. Animal politics are weird.

Anyhow, I found out who the random cat belongs to and I am hopefully going to have her retrieve him tomorrow.

I must note that all of this bullshit is happening when I go outside to take a break from work and relax for a few minutes. These critters need to get with the program.

Mister Timberstain – A Prompt Story

“No, I’ve never been to Hogwarts.” Stanley said, deadpan, having answered this question so many times before. Clearly, public school has failed these kids, he thought. It was an isolating experience to be a wizard in the rural South. Most of the other witches and wizards in the state came from established families, wealthy ones, and went to private schools. The best they could do for him here was magic as an elective in the public school. The meager instruction was supplied by way of grants from anonymous donors in magical circles, doing their part for the less fortunate.

“But you’re magic right?” a short, round boy asked.

“I am not magic. I am practicing magic.” Stanley clarified.

“Why you riding our bus? Don’t you got a magic one?” his inquisitor was tall and thin this time.

Stanley sighed. “Hogwarts isn’t real. Those books are works of fiction. I wish I had a magic bus but here I am, with you fine people.”

“You ever seen a dementor?” asked Short Round.

Stanely turned away and stared out the window. This was exhausting. He felt someone plop down beside him, Short Round again. “Lemme hold your wand” he said.

“I don’t have a wand.” Stanley lied.

Short Round bent, to the best of his ability, and grabbed at Stanley’s backpack. “Hey!” Stanley objected. “Leave that alone!”

Short Round ignored him and shrugged off Stanley’s attempts to push him back. A group of kids had gathered around, excited for the show. The bus driver maintained her focus on the road. Suddenly, Short Round recoiled, pulling his hand to his chest. “Ow! What was that!” he asked, whining.

From beneath the seat, peering out of Stanley’s open backpack was an angry raccoon.

“Mr. Timberstain, get back in there!” Stanely said to the raccoon, in a hushed, urgent voice, as though all the bystanders had not already seen him.

“You got rabies!” Tall Thin said, laughing and pointing at Short Round.

“Shut up!” Short Round retorted, whimpering.

“I’m so sorry, you frightened him.” Stanley said, not feeling as though an apology was warranted, but was probably for the best. The bus had formed into two distinct groups, those who wanted to pet the racoon, and those who were afraid of it. Several in the latter group were in support of killing him.

Mr. Timberstain had crawled back into the bag, but not before shooting Stanley a look. A look that said very clearly that he needed to take care of this… right now.

“Everyone, everyone, calm down.” Stanley said, standing up, speaking with authority. With a deft movement, his wand passed from his sleeve to the palm of his hand. He waved it like a conductor and watched the children’s heads follow the point of light at its tip.

“A memory is sweet, a memory is fleet, the words on your tongue run away on new feet.” Stanley said in a singsong voice, one resolute flick of the wand on the final syllable, and he let it drop back into his sleeve.

The kids looked at Stanley blankly for a moment.

“We’re almost there, Stanley.” Said the bus driver with a smile in the rear view. “Not much longer.”

Stanley sighed and sat back down as the kids meandered silently back to their seats.

He felt a tap on his shoulder. Tall Thin was seated behind him. “Hey”, he said, “you ever been to Hogwarts?”

Ralph – Series – Part 14 of 15

Lillian’s phone vibrated. “Detective Charter.” She answered.

“Where are you?” came Matt’s voice.

Lillian tipped her head back and rolled her eyes, then replied, “I’m at home.”

“No, you’re not.” Matt replied. “I’m trying to surprise you.”

“Maybe I’m just not answering the door, have you considered that possibility?” asked Lillian.

“C’mon Lillian, stop being an asshole. Tell me you’re not still following that guy.” Matt said.

“I’m not following that guy.” Lillan replied, taking a bite of her cheeseburger, and chewing loudly into the phone.

“You’ve got to stop this. You’re off the reservation and you’re wasting your time” Matt said.

Lillian ended the call and continued chewing, contemplatively. She didn’t need to hear any lectures from Matt, not about this, not about anything. The phone buzzed again; she knew who it was but glanced down to confirm and take another bite before accepting the call. Saying nothing, she carried on eating.

“I’m worried about you, Lillian. I miss you. I wanted to see you tonight.” Matt said.

Lillian took an enthusiastic sip of her soda.

“I know you’re mad, but we need to talk.” Matt insisted.

Lillian sighed. “Honestly, Matt. We have nothing to talk about. You and I aren’t even on a case together anymore.”

“This isn’t about work.” Matt said.

“My point exactly. As I said, we have nothing to talk about” Lillian replied.

“I want to be with you, Lillian.” Matt said, his voice serious, cracking.

“Oh?” Lillian said brightly. “What does Leslie think about that?”

Matt was silent.

“Thought so. Fuck off, Matt.” Lillian said, cutting the call.

Why can’t he just leave me alone? Lillian thought, crumpling the remains of her burger in its wrapper, and throwing it into the bag with the fries that had gone cold. She had lost her appetite anyway. Her phone started buzzing again. Texts now. She ignored them and stared out the window of the rental car.

It had been months since the Whispering Pines case had gone cold. They had nothing more to go on, no suspects with any promise. Matt had been reassigned and while the case was still technically open and assigned to Lillian, there had been other homicides, and no one was really expecting much. The public’s attention span was short, and the victims had no close family to speak of, so for all intents and purposes, no one even cared if the case was solved. Lillian had interviewed everyone even remotely connected to the victims, multiple times and came away with nothing. All she was left with was this nagging certainty that Ralph Boucher knew more than he let on; was perhaps even responsible. So, she kept an eye on him.

It was more aggressive at first, and she regretted that. Regretted showing her hand. Once he was aware of her interest he behaved accordingly. Arrogant son of a bitch would even wave to her when she thought she was being stealthy. Over time, she got better at concealing her presence, but there was no apparent payoff. Ralph was nothing if not consistent, and he consistently did nothing to make all the time she spent surveilling him justifiable. The department was fine with her continuing her investigation, but they wouldn’t be covering any further expenses related to this activity. Lillian knew that there was no point in arguing.

Lillian jumped into her other cases; a domestic dispute gone terribly wrong, an armed robbery with casualties, a deceased vagrant that ended up not being a homicide at all. There was nothing much to investigate, nothing interesting at least. She tried to listen to her Lieutenant when he said it was ok to move on; some murders just don’t get solved. She knew as much, but she just couldn’t let this go. So, when she was able, she would go check on Ralph. For some time, nothing changed, but as Lillian’s presence became less consistent, so did Ralph’s behavior.

She watched him now, watching someone else. Watching Steve Roth.

TO BE CONTINUED

Wrapping it Up

I have not been feeling like writing much lately. Well, it’s kind of more that the mood has been fleeting and time has not been on my side. Work has been extraordinarily busy and it’s been harder to just sit for hours and write instead, since that’s not what puts food on my table.

It must be amazing to just be able to write for a living, if that’s the thing you love to do, but I also wonder if it makes writing harder. Like, now there’s this pressure to produce, to perform. I don’t know, I suppose it would be really cool to find out, but for now I’m just enjoying those times where I am able to snatch a few hours to spit something out.

I’m growing bored of the Ralph story but I know I have to finish it. It’s harder with this one just to write organically because I have so many details now that need to be taken into account. I’ll start down a path then think, ‘well shit, that doesn’t make sense in the context of‘ whatever the thing might be. I hate when I read a story and there is something that just doesn’t make sense, unless it’s explained later. Except that those later explanations sometimes feel very forced and trite and I think that’s where I am at. I have to make this work somehow and I feel like I have to accept that the end might be a little.. meh.

I’m hoping that one of the characters will speak to me soon to get this thing back on track and hopefully to a resolution sooner than later. I can’t take this too seriously after all. It’s not my job and if I make a mistake, oh well, right? Right? Right…

Ralph – Series – Part 13 of 15

Ralph knew he had to be careful. They had nothing on him for Claire and Carl, not enough to arrest him and certainly not enough to get any charges to stick. He could always disappear, as he had done in the past. It was nothing for him to move on to a new place, a new identity. He had done it several times before, but he had unfinished business here. Carl’s death was for nothing if Ralph couldn’t make Steve pay.

Ralph thought back, going over it for the hundredth time.

Carl had met Ralph at the storage unit that evening to pick up some equipment for Bunz & Gunz II. Ralph had a drink for Carl, a new recipe for the juice bar he wanted Carl to try. Carl drank it down with enthusiasm, as Ralph knew he would. Carl was a sucker for banana. The GHB Ralph slipped in was only slightly salty, easy to hide.

Ralph and Carl worked together, loading the moving pallet with the necessary items until Carl felt the need to sit down. He was feeling drowsy. Ralph went to his side, asking if he was ok. Carl was having a hard time responding. Minutes later, Carl was slumped over, completely unconscious. Ralph pulled the gloves from his pocket and put them on then moved methodically, laying out the plastic sheeting and dragging Carl on top of it. He wrapped him up carefully, leaving his mouth exposed. His breathing would be shallow, and he did not want him to die. Not like that, not yet. He rolled out some turf and used it to wrap Carl loosely a second time, obscuring him, then loaded the bundle onto the moving pallet, out of the unit and into the bed of the borrowed truck.

It was still dark when Ralph arrived at the development, far too late for anyone to be moving about even if there had been residents to consider, which there were not. He made a stop near the community center, removing the turf wrapping and disposing of it in the dumpster there, where it would be unnoticed amidst the debris of the mini-golf course that was under construction. Carl remained still.

He drove on, arriving at the model home. Ralph used the lockbox code, easily overheard on one of Francine’s many loud phone conversations, to open the front door. He paused in the foyer, closing the door behind him. Ralph dropped Steve’s duffle and pulled coveralls from the trash bag, removing his shoes before putting the coveralls on. The hood remained down, but Ralph wore his hat with the brim pulled low as he left the house to retrieve Carl, looking like no more than a rolled-up rug.  

Ralph brought Carl upstairs and lay him on the floor, face up. He was still out, but it was only a matter of time now before he began to wake. Ralph hurried back downstairs and moved the truck a few lots down, then walked back to the house. Ralph left his hat with his shoes in the foyer, grabbed the bags he had deposited there, and headed back upstairs. From the trash bag he pulled some extra plastic sheeting, tape, a sheathed machete, and Carl’s phone.

He turned the phone on and called Claire.

Claire answered the phone, saying “Carl! Where the hell are you? I’ve been worried sick!”

Ralph made no effort to disguise his voice. “Carl is in trouble, Claire. If you ever cared about him, you better come now. He’s running out of time.”

“What the fuck? Who is this? Where’s Carl! Is this some kind of joke?” Claire asked, with anger and annoyance in her voice.

“You’ll find him at the model home at Whispering Pines.” Ralph said.

“Whispering Pines? Seriously? Who is this? This isn’t funny.” Claire said, panic rising.

“If you’d rather be with Steve, I can just kill Carl now. It will kill him when he finds out anyway…” Ralph said with a sigh.

“Wait, what? Steve? What are you talking about? Claire said. “I’m calling the police, you psycho.”

“Go ahead. Carl will be dead long before they arrive. Only you can save him, Claire.” Ralph said ending the call, turning off the phone and dropping it into the trash bag.

She wouldn’t call the police; he was sure of it. A call to the police meant telling the truth, at least part of it and he knew she wasn’t ready for that. Her guilty conscience would drive her here.  

He set about wrapping Carl’s head in the extra wrap, not too tight, he needed time. He was sure to leave a hole as well. If Carl stayed calm and didn’t move too much, he would be ok. The drugs would hopefully keep him sedate and alive while they waited for Claire.

He clearly remembered the moment he heard her burst through the door, calling Carl’s name. She spent more time downstairs that he had expected, and Carl had regained consciousness, beginning to squirm. Ralph retreated to the closet in the corner of the bedroom, raised the hood of his coveralls, unsheathed the machete, and waited.

He did feel bad about Carl after it was all said and done, he had really liked the guy, but he knew that living a life without Claire, or worse, knowing how Claire had betrayed him, would have been unbearable for him. It was a mercy, and a means for Steve to meet his justice but now it was all falling apart.

Ralph couldn’t afford any more mistakes. Not with Lillian watching, and he knew she was watching.   

TO BE CONTINUED