Friday, February 28, 2014

The Crow Knows

Roadways leading into 
strange neighborhoods
conversations barely understood
messages given with great urgency
listen carefully actions are required
don’t walk away until the crow has spoken.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Let The Rain Fall

Let it fall from the sky and splash on to the roof
down the drains into the gutters and out to sea

let the parched earth absorb the liquid nectar
into the dusty and barren landscapes

Let the soil quench it’s thirst

storing it deep inside in caverns and underground
tributaries, filling reservoirs and river ways

later to nourish plants to provide food, shade

and beauty.

Let the rain fall late into the night

and the next day, gentle and steady

no need for torrents and drama, no thunder and lightning
but a steady flow of water to stem the drought

let prayers be answered and homes be spared

save us from potential fires and mudslides

Let us run out in our underwear and dance in jubilation
let the water drip from our noses and like a hedonistic

wild children let's scream out to the sky a song of gratitude
let our voices join in unison to celebrate

the rain and a promise of new life. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Frozen In Time

Polar storms of ice and snow
force life inside the house.

Entrapment eased by
dreaming of spring 

yet fascinated by winter’s charm: 

perfect snowflakes, 

covered lawns
crystal icicles one by one, 

cherry cheeks, 

woolen clothes,
a colorful hat 

and a runny nose.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Never Too Late To Fall In Love

Her first love was physical attraction
had two kids but he had an untimely end
before the kids were grown
misses him when she’s alone.

The next one was for financial gain
she was tired of living poor
provided an instant family for him
by mutual agreement they made a home.

Then all those years trying to cope
after he lost his wealth and forgot his name
he finally died and left her shy of getting
involved with another guy.  

A third one came along, too old she thought,
but he persisted so she gave in.
His wealth secure, so was his health
his character and his spiritual side

above reproach but most of all
he loved to give and doted on her
like a caring father, devoted lover,
and most of all... a faithful friend.

She’s glad she didn’t resist his charms
found frequently in each other's arms
chatting away into the night
proving it's never too late to love again. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Slow Like a Snail

Take it easy don’t rush the day
leave a trail to smooth the way
let others hurry take time to play

keep things simple carry your home
never be lonely when you’re alone
sleep on a branch or under a stone.

Photo by Bill

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Weave A Story

Threads of gold capture the highlight
indigo casts the shadow
while red and yellow reveal the sun

ultramarine brings on the winter chill.
All elements of nature woven into a tapestry
to tell a story for young and old. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Abandoned Truck


     An abandoned truck

   rusted and worn

beaten from carrying

soil and stone.

Designed to make

any load lighter, found

at a farm or

 construction zone.

   Worn out wheels

     with running boards

       friends inside

        going for a ride

          on dusty cushions, ripped and worn.

            Its best days are gone

              but they don't mind,

                 "Let's climb aboard 

                   one at a time."
                     The driver assures

                      the guys and gals

                        there will be plenty of fun

                          to whoop and holler

                           like wild teens

                           after the sun 
                            goes down.

Photo taken in Alaska by Bill

Thursday, February 20, 2014

First Signs of Spring

Photos taken by Bill in Utah

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Desert Sunshine

Photos taken by Bill in Sedona, Arizona

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love Knows

Roses unfolded from bud to bloom
each pedal, silky, fragrant and red.
A small card, with the words “I love you,”
dangled haphazardly from one of the stems.

We met when we were teenagers,
his hand encircled mine
our footsteps synchronized
we finish one another’s sentences
it was easy to laugh with one another.

We have been together
and will be
for all time.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Shape Poem: Desert Road


Arid                              Abandon                                                        

Bleak                            Blistering        

Cactus                         Chaparral       

    Desolate                 Dangerous          

         Evaporation      Endless                      Empty        
                                  Fantastic                    Forsaken

                                Gorgeous                   Glaring

                               Hazardous              Harmonic

                               Infertile             Isolated   

                              Jagged    Journey     

















Sunday, February 16, 2014

Two Starts To A Story

To tell my story about Tomé, New Mexico I must tell about the environmental conditions that in winter produced snowstorms and torrential rains leaving deep scars permanently changing the fragile landscape while in summer a sweltering stage where dust devils twirled tumbleweeds across mosaics of curled red tiles. A land so flat I can look in every direction and see the occasional mesa and every small adobe houses built haphazardly along a maze of dirt pathways and irrigation ditches. When I see the splash of colors I can locate the vegetable garden of chili peppers, corn, beans, onions, and tomatoes.

To tell the story about my mother I must tell about Tomé, New Mexico where in winter snowstorms and torrential rains leave deep scars permanently changing the fragile landscape while in the summer dust devils appear on the sweltering stage to twirl tumbleweeds across mosaics of curled red tiles. The land is flat except for the occasional mesas and small adobe houses built haphazardly along a maze of dirt pathways and irrigation ditches. The splashes of color reveal the vegetable gardens of chili peppers, tomatoes, beans, onions, and corn. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Time to Get Organized

The first thing I see is the computer 
with a little white post-it stuck to the corner 
and a message written in my grandson's scrawl,
 “I love you a lot!! ” 
Right next to it is a yellow note 
where he wrote  “I luv u,”  
earlier that year. 
His mother worries 
that his handwriting is too sloppy 
but I say he knows how to communicate 
and that is important after all.

He tells me my room is too messy 
and I guess with the Singer sewing machine 
sitting under the romance novels 
with unfinished assignments 
and dream cards within easy reach, 
butting up against the easel 
filled with canvases 
of melting colors 
and swirls of emotion. 
He has a point, 
but the dust settles on everything 
giving it a uniform look 
and one day I will pull it all together,
I promise. 

Maybe one of those decorator shows 
can come and transform the space 
in 30 minutes or less
after they straighten out the chaos
in the front room.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Rock Garden ( w/ expanded description and dialogue)

Stephanie carried in two large envelopes from the mailbox. She opened the first one. The blood rushed from her cheeks, her eyes fluttered and tears spilled down her cheeks. She squeezed her eyes tight to keep her composure.

“Anything wrong?” Jarred asked.

She didn't say anything but opened the second envelope before she spoke, “Talk about coincidence. This letter is from my mom. Uncle Mort died and I’ve inherited his store in Arizona. Here is the deed and the keys to his place.”

“ What are you going to do with it?”

“I think I’m going to move to Arizona.”

“Just like that?”

“I’ll quit my job, trade my BMW in for a pick-up truck and sell this place.”

“Are you leaving me?”

“Yeah.” She tossed the first package at him. “You didn’t think I"d find out?”

“What is this?”

“Pictures of you. My friends thought I should know. They downloaded them from the internet.”

“ I expect you out of here tonight.” Stephanie said. “Anything you don’t take I’ll toss.”

“Don’t you want to hear my side of the story?”

“No. I want you out."

... and just like that he was gone. Getting rid of Jarred was easier than Stephanie expected. She had the facts and there was no way he could defend or excuse himself so he was out of there by night fall.  She was on the road by the next weekend.

The six-hour trip was uneventful but hot. She spread the map out on her legs to keep the sun from burning her thighs through the windshield. She had to drive another five miles after exiting the freeway and then she saw it, a dilapidated artifact from the 1940’s with a tall sign out in front. “Mort's General Store,” was written in large block red letters.

"What have I done?" she said to herself as she drove up to the front porch.

An old woman came out of the front door and watched as Stephanie parked the car.  

“You must be Mort’s niece,” she said. “ I’ve been running the place since he died. Didn’t seem right to close it up since folks around here need supplies and such. I hope you don’t mind. My name is Ellen Haywood.” She moved out on to the porch with her hand extended to greet Stepahanie. “Mort and I have been friends for years.”

“Hello, I’m Stephanie Evans. Mort’s my mother’s brother. Glad to meet you,” Stephanie said walking up the steps on to the porch and shaking Ellen’s arthritic hand. 

“The living quarters are attached to the store. Walk in and you’ll see the blue door towards the back. That’s where you’ll live,” Ellen said pointing through the open door of the store. “I can go on taking care of things while you settle, or leave if you want me out of here. It’s your call.”

“No, that’s fine. You can stay. I need time to catch my breath. I think I’ll get by bags and unpack a few things,” Stephanie said, turning back to the car. She gathered up her purse and her duffle bag. “I wasn’t expecting to find the place so easily,” she said crossing the threshold and stepping into the musty cool darkness of the store. 

“Year’s ago it was busy enough from tourist traffic but with the new highway it was left for the locals but Mort always seem to make enough money to stay in business,” she said following Stephanie close behind. “You can see he beat his costs by keeping only the essential inventory.”

Stephanie looked around. The bulk of the inventory consisted of beer, candy and cigarettes. There were a few soft drinks, some milk and eggs and a rack full of magazines. When her eyes adjusted she was able to make out Ellen’s features which resembled a dried up apple doll with a little scruff of hair peeking out from under her kerchief. Stephanie noticed the sound of Ellen’s breathing and worried the wizen old woman would soon be joining Uncle Mort in the great beyond.

She was grateful Ellen prepared lunch and stayed long enough for her to shower before heading out to the neighboring lot. Stephanie watched her new acquaintance make her way across the dusty pathway to her small rusted blue and white trailer. It was after 1:00 P.M. and the interior of her Uncle Mort’s General store had gotten hotter. No customers had come since she had been there. She looked into the cash register and counted out $84.00 in cash and $10.00 worth of change. “Doesn’t look like there were too many customers here before I arrived either… that’s not good.”

Maybe she wouldn’t have loads of business but she would have the cleanest business in the area and without further hesitation Stephanie found the cleaning supplies and started scrubbing. She washed the counter tops, refrigerator doors, the windowsills, windows and doors. She swept the floor, dusted everything and stopped only long enough to have dinner and then she continued cleaning until past midnight.

When she woke in the morning there were a handful of people waiting at the door. Bill Cranston, Laurie Lawson, her sister Lucy and George Fillmore and his dog Drake. They were chatty enough and seemed more interested in getting acquainted than buying anything although a few purchased some scratch off lottery tickets and cigarettes. The conversation centered around Uncle Mort and what a good guy he was and how much they would miss him and then one by one they went on home.

The day ahead seemed to be an oasis of solitude something Stephanie was not too familiar with so she got busy looking at the accounting books, inventory lists and vendors. Her Uncle Mort was an aerospace engineer before he retired to the desert and his meticulous habits were evident in the almost computer like lettering and numbers and careful filing of all his paperwork. Everything was easy to find and easy to understand. She was done in less than an hour.

The expanse of time before nightfall began to feel like a bottomless pit. She wanted to avoid falling into the darkness so looked around for something else to do. The interior was done maybe there was something to do on the outside.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Three Stories

Three Stories by different Authors. Which one do you like?

The Old Leather Chair by Joe

The sun was just setting behind the hill when I got home. It had been a long tiring day with all that had to be done, so throwing off my jacket and tie I collapse into the old leather chair in the corner. This had been my Grandfather's chair that we kept after he was gone. Mom used to say that she felt close to him when ever she sat here watching the sun go down. Now it was my turn to try and understand what there was about this space. I could remember falling asleep here the day of his funeral. I was too young then to fully understand but I missed him dearly and when my Mother told me to get ready for the funeral I said I didn't want to go. I had curled up in his big black leather chair from where I refused to move. Mom just told the others to leave me alone as they all were going out the door. Finally I heard the car start up and drive away while I was left alone to face my grief.

If I placed my nose against the leather I could just smell the lingering scent of bay rum that was my Grandfather's favorite. I tried to snuggle up to that scent but the normally warm leather felt cold and unyielding. So I cried out the pain of my loss as the dry cold leather soaked up my tears. If my Grandfather had been here it would have been his handkerchief and not the leather of his chair that caught my tears.

But now is a different time and a different place but the old long wearing leather chair is still here. After my Grandfather passed it on to my Mother she would often set in it for hours as she knitted or crocheted. I would often find her here when I got in from school or after a late date. At times the light from the setting sun would be unbearable so we had to put up curtains and blinds to protect it from the bright light. But that doesn't matter now as the sun sinks low behind the trees. The clouds look like fiery coals all red and grey in a dying fire of fading color. I needed to be here in this spot, at this time, so I could catch one last touch of my Mother and to say good bye.

You see, I just laid my Mother to rest today and I miss her dearly already. As the burning tears come I wrap myself in the brown and tan afghan that she had made. I bury myself down in the old, worn, leather chair as I cry for my Mother and the life we will no longer share. Placing my nose against the leather, hints of lilac tickle my nose and I'm wracked with great sobbing tears. Then a strange sense of peace comes over me and in my mind's eye I see my Grandfather and Mother, hand in hand, walking towards the fading light. At first I'm confused by this but then a warmth begins to emanate from the old leather chair and I know that it is now my turn to share in its secret. Closing my tear swollen eyes, letting the warmth engulf me, I drift off into a troubled yet gentle sleep.

Wolfie by D.

It didn't look any different than the other envelopes Kat had received in the mail that day. Only her lawyer's return address and the thickness told her it was what she'd been waiting for. She slumped onto the breakfast bar stool and let her bag slide to the floor. Kaitlyn Sue Harper was on her own. She opened the envelope.
The rest of the mail slid to the counter unnoticed. Her hands shook slightly as she poured herself a glass of wine to celebrate. She was on her own. She picked up the mail again and flipped through the bills, not really seeing them. Her mind was still repeating the phrase "on her own". Of course, that meant on her own financially. But, she grinned. That also meant no one spending her money. No one wanting to know where she was every minute of every day. No one calling her at work as if to check that she was still there. No one making sure she got home ten minutes after she left work.

Kat felt something brush against her ankle. Smiling, she reached down to pick up the cat. "Hi, Kitty." She scratched his ears and let him down again. "Don't worry. I won't forget to come home and feed you."
Kat sipped at her wine and wandered through her sparsely furnished apartment. When she'd left Tom, she hadn't wanted anything other than her books. In the six months she'd lived on her own, she'd bought a couple of chairs, a baker's rack, a beautiful wooden dining room table and a couple of cushioned bar stools. She had plants to brighten the bookcases and a small television for noise at times when she needed it. But for the most part, her little one bedroom flat with hardwood floors, colorful rugs and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the freeway, fit right in with her plan to start over. In fact, Kat thought, she'd have to let Alicia know that the divorce was final. Kat smiled to herself. Steve, Alicia's husband, was a realtor and had been looking for a house for Kat to buy. It was time to get serious about it.

She felt restless as she wandered her apartment. The divorce papers seemed to be saying the starting gate was open but Kat was stuck. Somehow, during her married life, she'd allowed herself to become alone. Without any friends of her own. She'd have to change that. Celebrating was no fun alone.
She wasn't the bar type. Didn't really like crowds. But, Kat knew where she wanted to go to dinner. She changed into jeans and a blouse, slipped into sandals, grabbed her purse and keys and walked out the door. Grinning widely, she set off for a neighborhood tavern that she had found not long ago.
She had liked the atmosphere in the out of the way grill and tavern. It had a nautical theme with well polished cherry and oak paneling and brass chandeliers that were shined to a mirror finish.

Their Place" Dave

On all the trips Nicholas had made here with Annie, they'd never seen another person. He was grateful that nobody would come nosing around. He eased the old pickup along the rutted forest road, searching for the spot they'd been to a hundred times before. Despite the early September frost up here at eight thousand feet, he kept the driver's window wide open, with just the floorboard heater to warm his toes. Here we go, thought Nicholas, as he stopped the truck and backed into a small clearing. The sudden quiet when he shut the engine off surprised him, as did the realization that he was alone in their place.

Nicholas hobbled out of the truck on old achy legs, then poured himself a cup of coffee from the thermos, touched up with a little morning shot of brandy. He savored that first sip, black and smoking hot, the way he liked it. His face relaxed into a slight smile, missing how Annie always scolded him when he doctored his coffee. He wondered what she would think of all this.

They had shared so many seasons and so many memories in all their years together. He took some comfort in knowing that Annie had passed quickly, and he hoped mercifully, after the sudden pain came on. Her voice had gone, but he spoke for both of them in refusing the treatment proposed by doctors who pretended to care. She was ready when she let go, snug under their thick old comforter at home.

That same old comforter now lay rumpled in the pickup bed. It shared the morning sun with a few tools, some scattered bark flakes, and his battered old rucksack. Nicholas reached in and pulled out a shovel, then set to work digging. He dug for the better part of an hour, then stepped back and looked at his work. Even with the chilly air, he paused to pull his old felt hat off and wiped his forehead. There, that should do, he thought.

He walked to the truck, scooped up the comforter and carried it over to the hole in the forest floor. With old hands, bent and calloused, he gently laid it place and opened it. He gazed down, surprised at how tiny and peaceful she looked, and all at once he was empty and full and lonely and loved.

The ethereal notes of a lone hermit thrush spiraled upward. Aspen leaves rustled in a sudden updraft of wind. Nicholas scraped the soil back in, lovingly patted it down, and scattered the leaf litter back over it. He slowly rose to one knee, and then stood all the way up. He looked up, past their names carved on the tree trunk from years ago, through the treetops, beyond the old volcanic peak, and into the sky. He hoped she was at peace up there now. He knew it wouldn't be long before he joined her, and they'd be together again, in their place.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Royalty in the Barrio

He was born here
Discriminated and tattooed here
Imprisoned and released here

Fell in love, married and had his kids here
Became famous in his neighborhood.

Honored for walking the narrow line
Turning gangs into community
Finding jobs to support their families

Still cruising the avenues
With base sounds booming from their radios.
Only the best for his friends and automobiles.

Earned respect as he created a legacy
Accepted as part of ethnic diversity
And to all who knew him

They saw royalty ...

A king in the barrio
who will be missed 
by his queen
and crew. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Descriptive Language

The rainfall like puppy kisses on a winter morning.

Whenever he would get angry, she felt like a tiny stone adrift in the ocean.

My boss is a race car on Monday mornings determined to beat the competition.

The summer night was like tangled hair held in the grasp of an angry lover.

His house sits on the top of a small hill and reflects the sun in bright yellows and oranges.

Around here, a winter storm is a familiar ache.

The boats toss around on the ocean like the blubber in my belly.

After the sun has gone down, you will hear the sounds of music from the bars along the street; like ivory keys pounded by the sadness of  life.

At night the stories unfold like a soft blanket to wrap us in their familiarity and warmth.

For me, love is like a silver flute; the music of a Ferris wheel whistling all night long.

Friendship is a yellow shutter protecting me from intrusion.

My mother is a monsoon with frequent storms.

Evangeline hadn’t visited the place for years but recognized the smell of incense and beeswax. Her mind flooded with the memory of daily mass and Latin liturgy. She avoided looking into the eyes of the statue standing in the foyer. Her ears pounded and her chest tightened but she forced herself to walk into the empty church.

In the light from the stained glass windows she located the pew directly across from the fifth station of the cross. She genuflected and slid on to the familiar bench, bending close, scanning the seat, using her fingertips to locate the letters E and J. She remembered the day she scratched her initials into the surface while she waited for her turn at the confessional.  The longer she had to wait the deeper she dug in the wood with her bobby pin.

“They’re still here,” she said out loud tracing the letters with her fingertips, “Evangeline Johnson.”

“And whom might she be?” asked a booming male voice from behind her.

Charley's Restaurant was a lively place on Friday and Saturday nights. The other nights were as quiet as a morgue. The regular patrons arrived early just to claim their spot. If anyone sat in one of the regular's spot, let's just say, "it wasn't pretty". Actually, Charley's is more like a beer joint. Beer and cheap wine  splash on the floor leaving counter tops like paint splattered on an old forgotten canvas.

An ancient jukebox stands guard in the corner, wheezes and coughs out old, outdated tunes to customers equally old and outdated.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Narrow winding road brings you to the town
hanging from the curves of a mountainside.
Waves splashing off rocks of dark sepia brown
animating a view recognized worldwide

Take a vacation on sheer mountain cliffs
where villas are built for pure pleasure.
Climb the narrow steps to seek out rare gifts
to expand village charm with each treasure

Positano, scenic Italian dream,
awash in sapphire skies,
Mediterranean seas, coffee with cream,
temptations of food and drink to fulfill every desire

If you are inspired by these visions
Hurry up and make your reservations.

There is something in the town that inspires even the most amateur poet to praise the experience in verse, with a deep desire to return again. Of all the cities I visited during my Italian vacation, Positano, most captured my imagination. Traditions say it was founded as a refuge from pirates, or by the god Poseidon as a present to a nymph, or as a shrine where a statue of the Virgin Mary saved travelers from a fierce storm. This mixture of truth and legend provides an added charm to the area and has been a getaway for writers and artists for years.  John Steinbeck, wrote in Harper's that "it is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone." 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Carrot, an Egg, and a Cup of Coffee

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?"

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hardboiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity ... boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

It's easier to build a child than repair an adult.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Service Dog

I’m a Labrador retriever never meant to be a pet.
I was taken as a puppy checked out by the vet
and determined I was perfect to begin a regime
of very serious training to become part of a team

of legendary guide dogs trained to be the sight
for people like my Dad to help resolve their plight

I tell him where to step, when to stop and where to turn.
He brushes me at night and takes care of my concerns.
I still have fun and like to frolic in the hot or in the cold.
My name is Stanley and I am an active three year old.

Daddy never leaves me home, he says I’m better than a cane.
When you see us walking, talk to us and he will explain.
I am working and even though I like my treats of popcorn and ice
when you see my halter on, my mind is on him, he follows my advice.

We are best of friends I watch out and try to do things right
He in turn invites me up to sleep with him at night.
We started out as strangers but we discovered what we had
because he learned to really love me and Man, I love my Dad.

Modified from collaboration poem with J & D Lloyd for Norwalk
in honor of all services dogs. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Painting a Homage to Van Gogh by drice

Chapter 1

An ache settled into the small of her back, her feet hurt from the two-inch heels. Her carry-on briefcase seemed too heavy after a full day of lectures. Vera was exhausted waiting outside gate 36 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

Adrian sat next to her talking about the future book tours and the list of talk show requests. She tried to make sense of what he was saying but all she could hear was the hiss and pop as the words tumbled from his mouth.

When they finally boarded the plane and settled into first class seating she closed her eyes in an effort to quiet his incessant talking and try to unwind by remembering more pleasant times. She recalled the day they first met. She was wearing those knee high boots and that flirty little baby doll dress that came half way up her thighs. Her long auburn hair hung loose, falling in waves over her shoulders. She remembered his gasp when she asked for help. His composure lost as he stammered and flushed while trying to give her directions to the administration offices on campus. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her nor would he let her out of his sight from that moment forward. They were married six months later and have been a couple every since.

Vera always knew he loved her more than she loved him but at nineteen she was happy to be with a man who adored her. He was smart and attractive and only had eyes for her. He would do anything to make her happy and for several years it was a perfect relationship. He had the skill to organize her scattered self and create focus for her many talents. Today she was a renowned author and lecturer. He was her business manager and controlled every issue of her life.

It was her fault for letting it happen. She felt so safe in his care she didn’t notice he was making all the decisions until she started questioning his choices. Now they argued frequently and almost never touched. Their only conversations centered around the topic for the next book, the next engagement, the next whatever and he did most of the talking.

She had been thriving in all the attention especially when she started getting nationwide recognition but now it felt like her needs were never considered. She had lost regular contact with most of her friends and rarely had time for her family. All of her relationships were business dealings. He was her only confidant and the relationship was getting too mechanical. If she was going to survive, this had to end.

“Adrian, I don’t love you anymore and I want a divorce,” that’s what I’ll tell him when we get home she thought to herself. I’ll be direct and to the point. That should leave very little room for argument.

Chapter 2

Adrian was thirty-seven and at the height of his game. He loved the wheeling and dealing of managing his wife’s career. She was smart, articulate and nice to look at but she could be the prima dona at times. The more famous she got the more she wanted. Everything she had achieved was the result of his hard work. He worked the contracts, made the deals, created leverage with the media for the next advantage so that she retained the rights to her work and was constantly in the spotlight. When she started making real money he made wise investments to keep the cash flow constant and their financial future secure. They made enough now to travel wherever they wanted, dress in the finest clothes, own more than a few properties and make an impact on their favorite charities. None of this would have been possible without him.

Lately however she was becoming more argumentative and wanted more say in all the decisions. He could relinquish some control but then they would be back to her vacillation, with key appointments missed and loads of opportunities lost to pure carelessness. He wouldn’t let that happen. Maybe a two-week vacation to her favorite villa in Sorrento, Italy would assuage her mood. The Mediterranean climate with good food, plenty of wine and no pressing schedule would help her relax and get back to herself.

He watched her sleeping and wondered what she was thinking about. The smile playing on her lips made him long to lean over and kiss her full lips. He missed the days when they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. He wanted her more than ever. He reached for his sweet beautiful Vera with her fair skin, beautiful golden eyes and auburn hair, an earth angel in an ugly dirty world. He gently caressed her hand and enveloped it within his own.

Chapter 3

She pulled away and said, “I need to sleep before we land.” He had interrupted her dream of an Adrian free life. She could see herself selling their Mansion in Beverly Hills and moving to the beach. She would buy a home right on the waterfront in Laguna Beach. She could get lost among the gays and eccentrics and be just another artist living close to the sea. 

She took a deep breath. You’ve got to do it tonight or you will never get free. She swallowed the lump in her throat and made up her mind to act. The plane landed without incident after a six-hour flight. Their driver was already curbside and took care of their luggage while they waited in the car.

“What are your plans for tomorrow?” Adrian asked pulling out his blackberry to check the master schedule.

“Why do you ask me if you already know?” she tossed a vague glance at the blue glow from his electronic gadget.

He smiled sweetly and put his arm around her, “We can make phone calls and change the schedule if there is something you want to do,” he whispered in her ear and then kissed her cheek.

She pulled away and mustered up her courage. “Adrian, we need to talk tonight. It may take a while but it has to wait until we get home.”

“Ooooh, it sounds serious,” he voice sounded playful yet paternal. “Are you going to leave me?”

She stopped breathing for a second, until she managed, “What?”

“I was just joking, what would you do without me. We’re a team and a team like ours can’t be pulled apart. I am you, and you are me… we’re inseparable, ” he said looking into her eyes.

It was like a blow to her midsection. This was going to be harder than she thought.

They didn’t talk the rest of the way home. Fortunately the traffic was good and the trip didn’t take long. After the driver brought in their luggage Adrian closed the door and walked into the living room. Vera was already pouring two glasses of wine.

Vera took a deep breath, and brought the glasses to the couch. She invited him to sit near her. After a few minutes of conversation about the trip and some minor business issues she started, “Adrian, it isn’t working for me anymore.” Her finger traced the lip of her glass.

“What do you mean? What’s not working?”

“My work schedule…our marriage.” Her voice sounded hoarse.

“I was thinking we could reserve our favorite villa in Sorrento and take some time off. Get reacquainted and refreshed.” Adrian paused, “What do you think?”

A long silence followed. “I think it is going to take more than a vacation. I don’t love you anymore. I want out.”

“Are you asking me for a divorce?”

“Yes,” Vera said.

“Just like that and it is over?” he sounded deeply hurt.

Vera took a deep breath. “This has been building for awhile. The only reason you’re surprised is because you haven’t been listening.”

Adrian stood up and moved to the other side of the room to get a better look at Vera then his words came out like a roar. “A divorce, I don’t think so. That will not happen. Not now. Not ever.” He threw the glass across the room and approached her.

She stood up to meet him eye to eye.

He pushed her back on to the couch. “You can’t do this Vera.” His fist clenched and unclenched. “You can’t discard me like last night’s garbage. After seventeen years together I deserve more than this. Is there someone else?”

Vera grimaced and started slowly, “This is not a sudden decision… I have been thinking about it for sometime now… I’m not happy being married to you anymore… I need space to make my own decisions regarding my life and no… there isn’t someone else.”

Vera got up again and continued, “Since it is my decision I will let you stay in the house. I will find a place of my own. I want this to be an amicable separation. I think we can work it out.

Adrian started pacing back and forth, his breathing in quick gasps, “There is more involved here than whether we stay together Vera. My livelihood is wrapped up in you.” He stared at Vera for a long time and his eyes went icy cold, then he said, “I think future conversations should be between our lawyers.”

“Why is it always business with you?”

Chapter 4

Vera learned to shop on the Internet. She felt satisfied with the mental stimulation and communications she’d established with a world wide virtual community. She learned how to generate income through the use of this technology. She could live in isolation but have access to the best minds on the planet.

After her divorce from Adrian she withdrew from the physical world. She had stopped her lectures, completed any last book contracts and declined television appearances. The world wanted to elevate her to guru status. She didn’t want that position so she quit.

It wasn’t the followers who alienated her but Adrian had bastardized what she was trying to accomplish and distorted her message. He was her husband but acted like her pimp. He would promise them anything to get a contract. He became infatuated with the money and power and wanted more and more.

She withdrew before she became the next headline news of another famous person captured on tape in a very public breakdown. She didn’t make excuses just gradually withdrew from public view. She needed to regroup and find her center and purpose in life once again. 

She was doing fine until she met Michael yesterday. Vera peeked out the window avoiding the attention of the man who had interrupted her meditation.  She wasn't expecting company nor did she expect the sudden flutter in her heart when she saw him. Her hand went up to her chest and she took a deep breath and then opened the door. Slowly she pulled the door toward her body being cautious to position her shoulder and foot in such a way to block it from a forced entry if necessary. "May I help you?" she asked.

He proceeded to make his pitch. "I hate to bother you but I couldn't help noticing the pressure that tree is putting on your roof. If you don't prune it this season it could cause expensive damage to your house."

"What?" Vera said, shaking her head. She could hear each word but she couldn't understand what he meant. "What do you want again?" She asked leaning her head to one side.

"I'm sorry… I'm looking for work," he said. "I just got discharged from the Marines… I was in Iraq… When I saw your tree I thought I could help you out and make some spending cash for myself… I'm not thinking clearly. I shouldn't have bothered you," he apologized turning around to leave.

Under normal conditions she would have locked the door and notified the police but there was something disarming about this young man. She wasn't afraid of him. "Beware of that wolf in sheep's clothing," she sighed under her breath and then to him she said, "Wait a second. Let me see what you're talking about," and she walked out onto the porch.

Was she so desperate for human company that she was infatuated with his presence? Did she recognize him from her dreams and actually anticipated his arrival?  Or was he evil dressed in white and she needed to run back inside and lock the door?

He pointed out the problem with the tree. It made sense to Vera to have it taken care of and Michael’s price seemed fair, besides his muscular build under that white T-shirt made him look like a hero and she did appreciate his willingness to sacrifice his life for her by going to war it was the least she could do.

Chapter 5

Michael liked the feeling of Vera’s eyes on him while he worked but after a few minutes he heard her let out a long sigh and he watched her go back inside the house. He could see her through the kitchen window. From what he could tell the sink must have been clogged and she was going to work on it. He was thrilled to see her handling what for many women is man’s work. 

He watched her take the plunger from the tall cabinet beside the kitchen sink and carefully put the suction piece over the drain. With her small hands on top of the handle she gave a push. He tried not to laugh when he heard the loud whoosh as the rubber piece slipped and dirty water splashed on to her blouse.

He was ready to offer his help but she reached under the sink and pulled out a small step stool to get better leverage and then tried again. Soon she was pushing the plunger up and down in a steady rhythm. Her hands midway down the shaft, the tip positioned against her shoulder, her midsection convulsing while she exerted the pressure necessary to clear the clogged drain. 

She was so concentrated on her work Michael knew she didn’t see him standing outside the window watching her feverish efforts. He stepped closer when saw her auburn hair fall forward over her bare shoulders, he could see the beads of sweat form on her upper lip, the movement of her delicate breasts exposed as she bent over the sink. Her groans blended with the sounds of the plunger as it created the necessary suction to pull the debris from deep within the pipe.

He stepped away from the window overwhelmed with desire to ravage her. He thought he’d better go back to work before he got himself into serious trouble.  He never dreamed clearing a drain could be so sexy. He had to get to know her better.