A Story for your Reading Pleasure

Crazy busy weekend, too many thoughts to share, none cohesive, so I’m cheating and sharing a story I wrote for The Prompt Club many years ago. The prompt was, “The First Time”. I hope you enjoy.

The First Time I Killed Someone

Well, technically the first time I killed someone, it was an accident. Even though I had no intentions of committing murder and I wasn’t directly responsible, he ended up dead all the same. And I really liked that. No, I loved that he was dead.

His death was the result of a compendium of circumstances that I couldn’t have planned, or repeated, even if I tried. Poor old Mr. Linter tripped over an untied shoelace and stumbled into a pothole the size of Wisconsin while distractedly screaming at me on the cell phone for not remembering to pick up his shoes from the shoe repair. When you spend twelve hundred dollars on imported Italian loafers, you don’t just replace them, you have them fixed.

The real kicker is that I had picked them up; he just hadn’t bothered to look at the foot of his coat rack before heading out of the office for the day. Mr. Linter was the worst boss ever and I’d simulated his demise a thousand times, no a million times, in my head. Day after day until, well, he died. I’m glad he’s dead.

I’m not heartless, in case that’s what you’re thinking. Absolutely not. The first thing I did after Mr. Linter’s funeral was to patch that pothole myself. I took a big orange bucket, filled it with quick dry cement, and gathered up the chunks of concrete in the vicinity. I put his twelve hundred dollar Italian loafers in the bottom, layered the debris, and then poured wet cement over it. Then I smoothed it with a trowel and put those plastic yellow signs around it, the ones shaped like men, Caution! Cuidado! until it dried. Heaven forbid anyone else suffer his same fate.

But I digress, you wanted to know about the first time I killed someone. Well, after the lucky passing of my horrible boss, the next time I came into a circumstance where I wished the person would die, I took it upon myself to rectify the situation.

Poison is really easy. Only on TV detective shows, CSI and Perry Mason and stuff like that, do they ever really do a tox screen. Most people with a heart condition keel over clutching their chest, must be a heart attack, you know? End of story. End of Jack.

Jack was truly my first. I revel in the death of Jack. Potassium poisoning takes time and planning. Of course it helped that Jack was constantly complaining about all of the work he couldn’t do due to his heart condition. We work in the accounts department of a major manufacturing company. There is no heavy lifting. There’s barely heavy thinking, but Jack would tell everyone every day how he couldn’t be expected to carry his work load—even though carrying was a metaphor.

When Jack outed me for falling behind on my paperwork while I was helping him with his, and I was given a formal reprimand, well, suffice it to say that Jack-ass had signed his own death warrant, figuratively the most paperwork he’d done in months.

Sure, I was pissed, obviously, duh, but I didn’t let on in the office. I buckled down and worked harder, stayed later and paid very close attention to Jack’s habits.

Jack snacked a lot. A lot. Which was good because I was able to slip the potassium chloride pills into his food and drinks. Never one to turn down free offerings, I prepped the brownies, cookies, and rice crispy treats at home, loading Jack with tummy upsetting sugar overload. I soon came to realize he was just as likely to fart it out than eat a Tums, so I wasn’t concerned he would deny himself my homemade hand-outs.

The tricky part was to set it all up and execute between doctor’s appointments. I mean, Jack really did have a heart condition and missed work at least once a month for a mandatory check-up.

The best part of the potassium overdosed failing heart? It happened at work, late one Friday night with lots of witnesses–those dedicated to crawling out from beneath the mounds of overtime-required paperwork. Sure, several people called 911, eventually. But the first mention of tingly arms and chest clutches were considered Jack being his regular dicky self. Why was he even still there? I mean, there was work to do.

Honestly, he couldn’t have put on a better performance for me. I was quite proud to have orchestrated the show. But like I said, I’m not a horrible person; I attend counseling with a couple of the office girls, the ones genuinely stricken by witnessing someone die. I guess it’s not for everyone.

It’s definitely for me. You asked about my first… interested in my second? Tenth?

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Resurrection Rosie

My story is kicking off this year’s SPOOKY SHOWCASE!

“Oh my gosh, I loved your story!!!! I just finished it. I especially love the clever way you ended it. I love it so much it HAS to kick off the showcase!” Jolene Haley

Spooky Showcase is a collection of strange, scary, and occasionally humorous horror stories collected and published in October by author Jolene Haley.

I wrote Resurrection Rosie for this collection inspired by Urban Legends. Mine is a twist on the Resurrection Mary tale.

The #SpookyShowcase stories are posted on Twitter through the month of October.
If you like a quick scare, this series is for you!

I actually wrote an entire backstory to this short. Poor Dawn goes into the city with her boyfriend to see a concert in 1979…and a series of events that night lead her to needing a ride home. Still. Maybe I’ll share that work at a later date.

To read Resurrection Rosie on Jolene’s website, click HERE.
To find the link on Facebook, click here.
Like and share.
Find the link on Twitter here.
❤ and RT!

I had so much fun with this prompt, I may do an entire collection of Urban Legend based stories!

I participated in the Beware! Dark Seas: Spooky Showcase last year.
Read Seas the Day! here.

I hope you enjoy the spirit of the spooky showcase.
Thank you for reading!

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I want to Rock’n’Roll all night…

Rock’n’roll all nite… then hit up some orchards the next day.
Perfect weekend plan for aging Gen Xers.

Saturday, we drove to Mundelein to see a band called Liliac at the Original Sundance Saloon, a great little venue that I wish was closer to home.

I came across this band on Facebook. Five siblings who rock it old school with covers that include The Trooper, Enter Sandman, Crazy Train, Holy Diver, and Rainbow in the Dark. It’s 80’s metal at its best. And the band ain’t bad either. Seriously, so talented!

The kids, Samuel, Abigail, Melody, Ethan, and Justin, range in age from 20 down to 11. And if you check out their Youtube page, you get to see them grow up through their videos. They received international exposure on a show called The World’s Best hosted by James Corden.

Liliac is on tour in support of their album, Chain of Thorns, a collection of original songs–which fit perfectly with their cover sound. It’s a limited tour and this was the only Illinois show. We were geekily excited to see them live. They did not disappoint.

Not only did the siblings put on a fantastic show, they were really cool. Approachable, professional, and friendly. They signed merch, chatted, and posed for pictures taken by their dad. They brought their dog out with them, and later, the pet bird.

Considering their sound and cover repertoire, it was no surprise that the audience was our age. Loving the resurgence of familiar 80’s rock, the venue was filled with fifty-somethings in vintage band tees. Most of ’em sitting or leaning, lol.

The family is working on their second collection of original songs and plans to tour when it’s released. If you have even the slightest interest in the music of Iron Maiden, Kiss, Dio, or Metallica, I think you should give Liliac a listen.

Maybe we’ll see you at next year’s show. Rock’n’roll all night and then meet up at the Farmer’s Market for some artisan breads the next day.

(as always, if you’d like more information, click on the highlighted text)

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Dream a little dream of anxiety

It seems to me that everyone suffers from anxiety nowadays.
Think you don’t? You should probably take some time and wonder about that.
Just kidding.

I had a dream the other night about going back to school.

Being in school and having to take a big test you didn’t study for, or being at school at the end of the semester and having no idea where your classroom is, or the one about standing up in the classroom only to discover you’re naked, are very common dreams.

Supposedly, they indicate anxiety over a situation you need to change. A need to mature or a fear you need to address.

My back to school dream was not like that.
We had rented an apartment across the street from the bus stop. I was petrified I’d miss the bus, be late for school, not find my classroom, and fail. (Sounds like a typical school dream, right? Stay with me here…) My rational brain was telling me, look out the window. You’ll see the bus coming. You can cross the street in time to board. And, my very smart and logical mind continued, even if you miss one, the stop is right there! You will catch the next one. But, if you’re truly concerned, it continued, cross the street now and wait.

So I did. Because not only do I suffer from anxiety, I’m also chronically prompt.

At the bus stop with a bunch of other students, all much younger than me (of course), the sense of nervousness was palpable. Because, you know, back to school.

The bus comes, we all board. The bus in the dream is huge. Double wide with rows of seats up both sides and center seating, too. Plenty of room. And the best part? Bus puppies.

Yes, that’s right–soft, fluffy, adoring dogs. In my dream, there were five or six strays riding with us. Mutts of mixed breeds in various sizes wandered the aisles receiving passing pampering. They plopped down at our feet for easy access stroking. Or hopped onto a seat between us to share the love. They let you pet, cuddle, and hold them on your lap. It was pretty darn cool.

Most everyone with a pet understands the power of puppy love. Even if it’s for a cat. Sometimes getting home to your fur ball is the only thing that gets you through the day.

I think the dream stems from a friend telling me about a Florida State University Psychology Department study that focused on improving relationships through positive associations. They showed married couples a stream of photos of positive things and slipped pictures of their spouse into the scroll. It’s an interesting study, you can read about it here. Looking at cute animals makes you happy. How awesome is that? 😀 There’s a Pavlovian conditioning to other things that are connected with that sense of happiness. Wonder why cat videos are so popular? They make dreary work days palatable, lol, and may actually improve productivity.

In my dream, I never made it to school, but with the help of bus puppies, I woke up relaxed and content. I’m not sure what triggered the school dream in the first place…but that’s an anxiety for another day.







My therapy dogs, Miskey and Jackson. ❤

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I’m writing!

But not a blog.
Please forgive me.
My mind is second novel focused.
And I’m kicking butt.

I’m on a writer’s retreat and even though when I left last week, I thought hey, I can knock out a craft blog or opinion post and still work on the rough draft of Book Two in the Pandoran Legacy series. But once here, I realized I couldn’t share creative brain space.

It’s been all Anni all the time.
And I may have apologized, but really, I’m not sorry.
This draft has been a long time coming.

It’s not completed yet and there’s still a ton of work to do on subsequent versions, but right now, I feel better about the story than I have since I started it this time LAST year!

Thanks for understanding why there’s no post today. 😀

Stay tuned. . .

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Dating Game

Dating Myself:

For some reason, Colorforms popped into my head the other day. Do you remember Colorforms?

This is not my photo, but I did have this set!
I had several sets. Because I loved them.

I remember playing for hours with my Colorforms. Creating scenes, making up stories, moving them around, and replacing the pieces in their proper homes.
I see my bbs with the handheld devices, tablets, cell phones, etc and I think, “back in my day…” It’s okay, though, I can say that. I’m a gramma now.
But it sure does date me.

Dating Your Work:

Writing is hard. They’re are so many pieces to put together, but most importantly, you need to make sure they all fit in their proper homes. Being aware of time and place is integral to telling a good story.

My first novel, Pocket Money, takes place in May of 1992. I did a ton of research to get the era right. It helps that I lived through it (dating myself, again, lol), but I wanted readers to feel immersed in the culture of the time because that’s what makes a story feel real to me.

I’m currently working on book two of The Pandoran Legacy Series, the follow up to A Stranger’s Child. It’s a contemporary novel. Writing takes (me) so long and things change so quickly, it’s hard to lock down the details. The timeline of Pocket Money has passed. It’s now static. It is comfortably “dated”.

I worry about dating my work through social and pop culture references because I know as a reader, things that are wrong or inconsistent throw me out of the story.

I’m currently reading a book that takes place in the year 2030. Close enough to now but with sci-fi imaginings. Seems safe enough, right? But then…the main character references her nylons. NYLONS?! WTH? Women rarely wear nylons NOW, in 2019, I can’t imagine they will be wearing them in 2030! Why not call them stockings? That could be tights, socks, or nylons, for that matter. Maybe word is choice is the issue here, but all I know is that I paused in my reading to have a fit in response to this scene. It’s never good when a reader stops reading.

They use glass technology for the phones in this book, but women still wear nylons.
I guess it would be worse had the author used the word ‘pantyhose’. Ew.

This book was written in 2015!
But maybe…it was started much earlier…
Which is just one more thing to consider when going through old, dated, manuscripts.

*sigh* Writing is hard.

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Austin Weird

It’s time for another Travel Weird List!
You know, when you’re out and about and experiencing a new location and find yourself saying, “Whoa, that was weird!

Because it’s a holiday and you probably have big plans, I’ll keep the list to 5 even though I could easily come up with a few more. I mean, Austin! So much to do and see!

5. Cooper’s BBQ – As you can imagine, bbq restaurants in Texas are a dime a dozen, but when every person you ask for a recommendation leads with the same name, you kind of have to go there, right? How is it that EVERYONE says to go there but NO ONE tells you what to expect when you get there?! Probably because it’s not that big a deal–once you figure it out. But it was still pretty weird.

We stood there, facing the cafeteria like display, eyeing the overhead sign listing items like Brisket $18.99 a pound, wondering what the hell? I confessed to the guy at the end that I wasn’t sure what to do. He opens the big grill, like he’s flashing me the inside of a coat draped with watches and dangling necklaces, to reveal MEAT. He points to the sign above with long tongs and tells me the smallest size is 1/4 pound. I ask for brisket (because it was first on the sign) and he cuts a slice, puts it on a plate on a tray and hands it to me. Next up, Dave orders the pork ribs because the beef ribs only come 1/2 pound and up and we like to taste test our way through new places. We walk to the next case where a guy takes our tray. A woman hands us a new tray. I pick a salad, Dave selects mac’n’cheese. I let her talk us into apple cobbler. Then the guy returns our meats, wrapped in paper. We pay. We sit. We look around…beans and bbq sauce are in big vats. There’s every condiment. And bread. Dave is a sandwich guy, so I grab some bread. We split the meats and sides on our folded place-mat plates. The brisket and ribs are AMAZING. Let me rephrase that for emphasis…the meat is DELECTABLE, SCRUMPTIOUS, HEAVENLY. No wonder Cooper’s is the first name to fall from a local’s lips. (And now YOU know!)

4. Alamo Drafthouse Cinema – It was melty in Austin so we decided to kill some time in an air conditioned theater. We saw Good Boys, which is worthy of a post of its own, but not weird enough to make the list. The theater, however, was definitely weird. Cool. But weird. With vintage posters of sci-fi movies, missiles hanging from the ceiling, and a bar in the lobby, this place claims to be a “movie theater for fans by fans”. The theater itself is kind of like a college auditorium with rows of seats and a table ledge running the length of each row. There is a waiter and full menu of food and drink. Before the contemporary previews, they show vintage previews, commercials, and shorts. Fascinating! Very different by today’s PC standards…very weird. We often attend movies when we travel because different locations can be very odd experiences, but this one was by far the best. And weirdest.

3. The Bat Bridge – Because it was so desperately hot and humid, we made frequent stops as we walked around. I noticed a lot of bat items at the retail shops. When I asked, the clerk told us that Austin is known as Bat City. Seems they are home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. Millions arrive each spring and take up roost beneath the Congress Bridge where they are protected by the city. They arrive pregnant, give birth, then in the fall they return to Mexico. People line up along the bridge to try and get a glimpse of them. Tours are built around their migration. I think that’s kind of cool. And also weird.

2. “The Era of Terrorism” – That is a direct quote from a salesperson in a store down the street from the capitol building when I asked about mail boxes. I was in Boston a couple of weeks ago and there were mail boxes on just about every corner. Being a huge USPS supporter, I thought that was awesome. When I wondered aloud why I hadn’t seen a single mail box anywhere during our downtown Austin wanderings, she said they removed them. She said the buses no longer come down this street either. Because of “the era of terrorism”. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure which is weirder…that they don’t run a bus to the capitol or that terrorism is the reason.

And lastly–firstly? The #1 Weird thing in Austin is…
The Museum of the Weird
which, I know, is kind of cheating.

But seriously, how crazy is it that I put together these “weird lists” and Austin has an entire museum dedicated to it?!

Their weird is different than mine. They have a collection of sci-fi movie props, wax figures of famous creatures, a display of animals born with mutations, and, their claim to fame, the frozen body of the Minnesota Ice Man. In addition to the museum, we were shown short videos and given a magic show. It was a fun, late night adventure between bar hops. I have to admit, I think it’s pretty bizarre that Keep Austin Weird is a thing. It’s like I’m home, lol.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick rundown of Austin weird. I certainly had a good time experiencing it.
For my Irish “Weird Lists”, click here and here.



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