Even knowing you don’t, I can’t help but.

I covered my face – though no one but god was watching – and sobbed, the water of the shower washing my tears down the drain, wasted just like my feelings. I blew my nose in my palm and washed that down the drain, too. I slapped myself.

Snap out of it. Don’t spend yourself.

Well, I have to afford it. The grief shows me that I am not cold, isolated, or bitter.

I felt the imagined loss as if it was real, and I mourned it. I mourned you and the believed-death of beauty in potentia. I asked myself why? Because I do, and I can’t help but.

Apex

He considered himself no different from cats or orcas – animals that enjoy toying with their prey before delivering it unto Death. Like them, he used only the weapons nature gave him, and he didn’t always eat what he killed. He considered most of it practice, a honing of skills and body.

He watched an episode of Blue Planet that showed a pod of killer whales stalking a blue whale and its pup, taunting the mother, nipping at the babe. When the pup was exhausted, they toyed with the mother until she could no longer defend her offspring.  The orcas circled and jabbed, like a pack of boxers, and when they finally separated mother and child, they killed the pup but ate only its cheek meat – the choicest cut, so to speak. After the orcas left, the mother whale swam around the pup for hours, nudging it.

The unspoken questions were obvious. Were the orcas evil? Did the blue whale love her pup? He knew such questions had no meaning in nature. He wondered where humans got off thinking they could be evil or just or loving. Just because they believed they had souls, because they thought themselves civilized with advanced language skills, they were somehow better and accountable to the notions of morality and decency. Ants were civilized, and they sure as hell didn’t have ethics. Mounds often went to war with one another. Yes, he knew it was bullshit.

When he killed, it was because it was in his nature because he was of nature and not bound by a fabricated sense of right and wrong. When he killed his own kind, it was no different than the male dolphin, orangutan, or lion that slaughtered his competitors’ offspring and mated with as many females as possible to increase the odds of leaving a significant genetic footprint amongst the species. What he did was normal, and those who said differently were kidding themselves.

Instantaneous Rate Of Change

One of the best days of my life was the day you called me to come pick you up because you totaled your Camero.

You took me to the lot with you, and I told you it was stupid to buy it, that you should buy something sensible. You rarely ever took my advice. I remember looking at that car and thinking, I’m going to die in that thing. You always drove, and you always drove fast and sometimes drunk.

We took every curve too fast.

I watched you take out the T-tops, lay them in their special cases as if laying a newborn babe in a bassinet. You loved her so. You never touched me with such tenderness and care. Perhaps if I had been more expensive…

The heat was on full-blast, my hair whipped into the night air. I think I had fun the first time, until I realized that if we wrecked, I would lose my head.

It had to be CLEAN, and god forbid I tracked in dirt or got cigarette ash on the door panel.

You loved that car, and you drove it the night you left your dog in the woods. I cried, begged you to go get him. He was still sitting in the same place, his blanket made into a nest, his food covered with twigs and leaves. He knew you weren’t coming back, and when he saw you, he peed himself. I held him, shaking in my lap, on the trip back home. You gave him away a month later.

Two months later, your next dog vomited all over the back seat.

The month after that, you wrecked.

End of an Era

My publisher went belly up. I have taken down links to purchasing my books until I figure out what, if anything, I will do with them. Gosh, things were just fine for me when the owner two owners back was in charge. She always did right by me. The second owner tried to do right by everyone, and that and some crooks that worked for him torpedoed the company. The last person in charge, I think, was just to try to save something of a shred. I had 5 books published under the first owner, and in the 4 or 5 years that owner #2 was in charge, only 1. The Camellia series has stopped dead at book 5 when there are 9 books. It’s highly likely that books 6 through 9 will never be published unless I figure out how to do that myself. That is even more unlikely.

Now, I’m wondering if I should change my pen name and move on…leave all the wretched mess of this company behind me. I wish I could say I was heartbroken, but nothing happened for me for so long, that it was not even remotely a shock to get the news. I’m just irritated for my readers. There aren’t many of you, but you are supportive and care about my stories. Thank you so much for that. It means everything.

Update

Until very recently, I have not had much time to write. I had to re-read several of my books to get back into the feel and voice of some of the characters. Since I had that chance, I have now written about 8k words on the final book in the Camellia series.  Two of the major conflicts are resolved, and the end is nigh!

I know that, after this book, I won’t write anymore books with Camellia as the main character. However, I might write about someone else in her universe. Before that happens, I have another work that needs re-tooling. I think it’s good, but it could be better. My MC needs more people to play with regularly, and I need to make up my mind whether the MC will stay a he, or if I am in for a huge rewrite to make him a she. Great things can come from both rewrites. We shall see what time permits.

New Inkshares Project

I’ve queried and pitched and pitched and queried. So, I’m trying something new.

I actually love this novel I’ve written, and I think you will too. Check out the summary and partial first chapter. If you like what you read, and you’d like to read more (and preferably the whole thing), please follow and pre-order. It can happen if I get enough support from those of you who like me and/or what I write. And, if it’s not your bag, baby, that’s cool too.

Here’s the link: SOUL SEARCHING

Thanks,

Beth

One Percent Other: The Duke of Hazards

From the first time someone paid Brazen to jump off the roof of the elementary school, he knew he wanted to be a stunt man.  He had no sense of self-preservation.  Anyone who hung out with him could attest to it.

In a school that was 49% white, 50% black, and 1% other, Brazen was one of the few in the “other” category.  He was unusual to look at, having inherited his Iranian father’s skin tone and coarse black hair as well as his ginger mother’s summer blue eyes.  His mid-teen growth spurt left him with awkward long legs and arms.  When he wasn’t in school or up to no good, he was running, knees and elbows pumping, and a foot-long braided rattail flailing behind him.

Brazen loved to do stuff no one else would dare, and he would do almost anything for almost nothing.  His toady and his best friend watched him eat twenty cockroaches, the big kind, for fifty bucks.  Any given weekday, he could be found taking money from other kids in exchange for an exhibition better suited to a sideshow than lunchroom entertainment. He always gave his audience what they wanted, and he craved the attention, which made him perfect for Ms. Cornell’s drama class.

When he wasn’t running lines or painting sets, Brazen passed the time walking across the auditorium on his hands, trying to see how many folding chairs he could jump, or just sitting in a circle of mostly girls and telling stories of the many and varied ways he’d broken bones.

They sat rapt, and he told the story well, despite the inevitable cracks that come with a boy’s changing voice.  “So three summers ago, my mom was dropping me off at the skate park every morning, at like nine, before she took my sister to band camp.  G-Man’s dad has a pick-up, so he brought the ramp.  P-Dawg has a friggin’ six foot half-pipe at his house, but my mom won’t let me go over there anymore since we got caught smoking, so we were at the damned park everyday.”

“Brazen, don’t cuss at school,” Ms. Cornell called.

“Sorry,” he sang back and looked at Toady.   Dropping his voice, he said, “You know she’s pregnant?”  The kids in the circle turned to look as Ms. Cornell, a tight-bodied, smoking hot redhead, as she gave stage directions.  The other kids whispered that they heard she got knocked up by a twenty-two year old, and she would be thirty in a few months.  “Yeah, well, if it’s true, then she’s a MILF for sure.”

“Ew,” Rasia, a pretty, light-skinned black girl who Brazen hoped to get to second base with, said.  “Tell us about the skateboard.”

Brazen looked at her, cocked his head, and gave her his best pirate smile.  “If it pleases m’lady.”  He batted his eyelashes at her.  “Yeah, so we did tricks all day, and we got bored real quick, but it was like an hour before my mom was supposed to get me.  So, we set the ramp up near some cars in the parking lot, and I hung out by the red light.”  Brazen paused to let the suspense build.  “So, this guy in a truck drives by, and I grabbed his bumper, staying low so he wouldn’t see me in his mirrors.  When I got near the ramp, G-Man yelled at me to let go, and I like swerved over,” his hand shot out toward the girl next to him, “so I could hit the ramp.”

“Man, it was wicked,” Toady said.

Brazen grinned at him.  “I hit the ramp solid.”  The fingers of his right hand swooped across the palm of his left.  “I caught some serious air.  I even made it over the car, but when I landed, I shattered both tibias.  My fucking knee caps—”

“Brazen!”

“Sorry, sorry!”  Brazen bumped the edges of his palms against the middles of his shins.  “My knee caps were down here.  G-Man had his cell phone.  I thought my mom would kill me.”

Eyes wide with sympathy, Rasia said, “I can’t believe you can still walk.”

After soaking up as much attention as he could, Brazen ran through his lines, which he’d already memorized, and then counted down the seconds until the bell rang.  He visited his locker, and then visited Rasia’s locker where he was rewarded with a kiss for his heroic feat and recovery and a hand slap for trying to cop a feel.

When Brazen walked out the front doors of the building, he felt as though his day had been fairly productive.  Then, he saw Ms. Cornell cranking her car.  Tossing his books aside, he ran and leapt onto the hood just as she backed out of her spot.  When she realized she had a fourteen-year-old boy clinging to her car, she slammed on the brakes, which sent him slamming into her windshield.

“Get the fuck off my car you crazy child,” Ms. Cornell shouted through the glass.

Brazen just smiled.  “You shouldn’t cuss at school, Ms. Cornell.  Give me a ride home?”

Ms. Cornell rolled down her window.  “No.  Your mom is probably already here, so go on and get off.”

“Okay, I’ll get off,” he said as he scooted over to the driver’s side of the car and stuck one foot on the ground.  “I get off to you all the time.”

Ms. Cornell frowned.  “That is just,” she shook her head, “go on.”

After blowing her a kiss, Brazen did just that.  On his way to his mother’s van, he accepted a congratulatory high five from a boy two years older than him and decided that his day turned out far better than he could’ve hoped.