If the jeans fit, wear them! (at least until your legs go numb)

Hey, the belt is just there for moral support…

Welcome to Post Traumatic Tuesday which, in this case, is a column written during my first marriage. This post isn’t about venting or vindictiveness but, rather, about reflecting on an unhappy marriage in the best way I know how: Through humor. 

I have now been happily re-married for the last 16 years to someone who constantly inspires me to laugh for the right reasons.

Now, we can all laugh together…

* * * * * * * *

I have a favorite pair of jeans I refuse to give up and which, over the last few years, my wife has attempted to eradicate on six different occasions. She hates these jeans because, according to her, they are “ripped, frayed and embarrassing.” Particularly when I forget to change them before going out somewhere in public, such as our front yard. Her attempts to get rid of my jeans have escalated from them being “lost,” to an incident last week in which she claimed my jeans “spontaneously combusted,” forcing her to put out the flames with the nearest extinguishing device: A meat cleaver. 

She later apologized for hacking my jeans, telling me she reacted instinctively to a dangerous situation. I told her I understood and that, instinctively, I planned to continue wearing my newly perforated jeans — at least until the remaining threads give way to the force of gravity and I am suddenly de-pantsed. 

Probably while raking the yard. 

Continue reading If the jeans fit, wear them! (at least until your legs go numb)

No Safe Harbor — Chapters 8 & 9

In this installment, Shane, now a suspected kidnapper, searches for eight-year-old Jacob, who is running scared on the streets of Seattle. As Shane’s identity begins going wide, Jacob discovers the truth about his mother, setting up a collision course between himself, Shane and the detectives trying to piece it all together.

Chapter Eight

Shane returned to Lincoln Park, parking the Jeep near the pay phone across from the playground. He knew the park was now dangerous territory; if the police were looking for him, this was a likely place to start. But it still remained his only link to Jacob. If he was going to spend time on the phone and looking through reports, it was going to be where there was a chance — no matter how slim — of spotting Jacob.

Scanning the area, Shane stepped from the Wrangler and into the phone booth, punching the numbers to The Nook. Sam picked up on the second ring, dishes clanging in the background.

“The Nook, this is Sam.”

“You beeped?” asked Shane.

“Oh thank God,” she said. “I’ve been watching the T.V. looking for you in handcuffs. Did you get what you were looking for?”

“I did. It was a little dicey but I managed to slip in, get the reports and slip out without sounding the alarms,” said Shane. “How about Gerald at City Hall. Did he get you anything on the dad?”

“Unfortunately yes. He’s a colorful guy.”

“What shades?” asked Shane.

“My guess is black and blue,” Sam replied. “Two DUIIs and a charge of disturbing the peace. All in the last year. The man is a drinker and he’s violent. You fill in the blanks.”

“What did the report say?”

The clanging kitchen sounds faded as Sam moved into the storage room. “Neighbors called the police and reported yelling and screaming from the Bettingtons’ apartment. The incident report describes broken plates and furniture, but no obvious marks on Jacob or his mom. Police charged the father with what they could and left. I think if the neighbors hadn’t called, the marks would’ve been there.” She paused. “As you know, I’m a bit of an expert on the subject.”

Shane absently nodded. Sam was open with him about her childhood and a father she only referred to as Jack Daniels. “The file I got shows the Bettingtons living in Woodway. That’s a good forty miles from from here. That’s too far away for Jacob to find his way back to. And if your abuse theory is right — ”

“It is, Shane. I can feel it.”

“Then home is the last place he’d be running to.”

[Read more HERE]

[Previous Chapters]

No Safe Harbor — Chapters 6 & 7

In this next installment, a new threat is revealed as private investigator Shane McPhearson and detectives are in a race against each other in the search for 8-year-old Jacob Bettington on the streets of Seattle.

Chapter Six

A white-jacketed man in his mid fifties held out a tray of assorted colognes, pointing a well-manicured finger at one fragrance in particular. “Started carrying your favorite, Mr. Sparlo.”

A nod of acknowledgment, and Sparlo lifted the slender bottle from the tray before slapping the bold, musky scent between his thick palms. He applied it to his face and neck, finishing with a trip over his slick hair as a crisp, white hand towel was handed to him. He promptly soiled it with remnants of cologne and hair oil.

“See you tomorrow, Benjamin,” he said, tipping the man a twenty. He then shifted his tie and left the exclusive spa frequented by wealthy lawyers, doctors, political gamers and businessmen like himself.

His business was commodities: heroine, cocaine and the leasing out of desirable women to the financial elite. It was an enterprise that afforded him a lifestyle attained by those who were either incredibly lucky or incredibly deceitful.

And luck had never played a role in the life of Richard Vincent Sparlo.

Glossy Gaziano alligator wing-tips galloped over white tile as he passed through the spa entrance, oblivious to the assortment of fresh-cut flowers, reflecting pools and instructors who were all young and obscenely in shape. He caught the stare of a 20-year-old with “Dangerous Curves” printed over the tight swell of her breasts. He exchanged an appreciative grin and passed through large double doors that parted on his approach, quickly making his way into a dark limousine that was waiting to take him to his daily brunch reservation at Le Pichet — a small, 32-seat restaurant in the Pike Place Market District. The restaurant’s French cuisine was as exquisite as it was expensive. And its limited seating assured the level of service and anonymity he required.

[Read more HERE ]

[Miss a chapter? Find it HERE]

No Safe Harbor — Chapters 4 and 5

Chapter Four

By the time Shane was kicked out of the records building, the sun was a lick of fire on the horizon but he’d gotten most of what he wanted. He’d spent the entire afternoon following a paper trail through birth certificates, deeds, utility bills and voter registrations. At 5:30 p.m., he called his client, Patricia Collins, with good news. After eleven months of waiting, Collins was the proud daughter of a new mother.

The biological one she never knew.

He gave her the last known address and, thanks to some help from a contact at Pacific Bell, had tracked down a recent phone number. No guarantees but it was a start. Though he wished her the best and was glad to provided a chance to fill what she had described as a life-long void, he slid the pay phone receiver back into the cradle with mixed emotions. It had been his search for his own parents that spurred him into private investigation years earlier. And while that decision had changed his life’s trajectory for the better, there was no small irony in the fact that it was the same void Collins felt that had set his early life on a much different, self-destructive path.

As a young man moving from foster home to foster home, he had struggled finding a sense of identity or belonging. He filled the void with anger one bitter shovel full at a time, eventually burying himself deep enough that no one could reach him. Deep enough that he didn’t need to feel anything. 

For anyone. 

[Read more HERE]

[Missed a chapter? Find it HERE]

Exercising ye olde inspirational muscle

Barbed wire always catches my eye… (see what I did there?)

As I mentioned a few posts ago, each morning I find a photo I’ve taken — sometimes for the sole purpose of creating these daily memes, other times to the chagrin of my kids — and turn them into a meme offering advice or an inspirational thought to share with other writers. After 25 years, I have acquired a lot of baggage wisdom on the subject of writing. I share these daily affirmations to my editing service’s Facebook and Instagram pages for multiple reasons.

Aside from the opportunity to offer a thought or insight that a fellow writer might be needing that particular day (it happens), it’s also a great way to jumpstart my creative day, whether working on someone’s else’s manuscript or my own. Though some celebrated writers like Hemingway had a different approach to finding their creative muse, I have found it beneficial — and this is just me — to not be passed out drunk by 11 a.m.

So, I make memes, blending images with a kernel of inspiration, knowledge, insight or occasionally popcorn. But generally it’s the first three.

Continue reading Exercising ye olde inspirational muscle

No Safe Harbor — Chapter 3

Chapter Three

Detective Bill Parnelle’s black leather shoes and white tube socks mounted the stairs as he entered the squad room. During lunch, he’d accessorized his tie with ketchup and was personalizing it with a napkin when he saw Det. James Kazad from the missing persons division waiting for him. “I figured you’d get the Bettington case,” said Parnelle. “When did they call you?”

“About an hour ago. Apparently, they had to calm the father down before they could be sure about the boy and get more info,” Kazad said. He moved around to what appeared to be the front of Parnelle’s desk. Except for the chair, Kazad couldn’t be sure; piles of paperwork, candy wrappers and condiment-stained napkins made it a toss-up. “You got anything for me?”

Parnelle licked his fingers and then tossed yet another stained napkin onto his desk. “A little, but not much,” he said while shuffling through papers and wrappers. “My part of the investigation is over.”

“Already?” said Kazad. “It just happened last night.”

“I know, I know,” said Parnelle, still rummaging. “But I.A. was all over it and both the crime scene and medical examiner’s reports were like Windex — not a streak.” He suddenly stumbled onto the file. “Ah, here. Take a look. It was a clean shoot.”

“Still. Just one day?” said Kazad, flipping the file open.

“Jim, it’s not like 10 years ago. Nowadays, guys like Hollins can smell a bad shoot in a couple of hours. This one was wearing perfume.”

[Read Chapter Three HERE]

[Did you miss a Chapter? Click HERE]

No peeking at my stuff until tomorrow

It’s Chapter Three, not porn! Sheesh!

In the highly competitive world of unpublished mystery novel manuscripts (it’s a thing), one can never be too careful. Which is why I keep each chapter of my new book, No Safe Harbor, under wraps, cellophane and occasionally my bed until… well…

Saturday mornings at 9 a.m., when I post it for the whole world to see (apparently it really IS a small world.) So, sure, maybe I am overreacting. And maybe the teddy bear I gutted and stuffed with a Go-Pro aimed at my desk 24-7 is a bit much. But hey! It’s a M-Y-S-T-E-R-Y novel! Doesn’t this add an element of M-Y-S-T-E-R-Y by making it a secret until it’s posted? It’s so secret, in fact, that I make our dog leave the room while I’m writing each chapter in this final draft.

Sure, drafts one through three — who cares? I even let a stray cat into the room for that.

But the final draft? No way.

Continue reading No peeking at my stuff until tomorrow

Giving the cold shoulder to Frozen Food Month

I feel you, dog

It’s been more than 80 years since Clarence Birdseye, inspired by ancient food preservation methods used by Arctic Eskimos, made history by introducing the very first frozen food option: “Savory Caribou on a Stick.” Though his first selection was met with little enthusiasm, Birdseye persisted and eventually created a line of frozen vegetables that many of us are still gagging on today.

I, for one, am still unable to walk past lima beans in the frozen food section without getting the dry heaves. This reaction stems from my childhood, and a spoonful of lima beans I’ve been trying to swallow since 1973.

Unless you’ve been hermetically sealed and stuck in a freezer, you already know March is “National Frozen Food Month.” Coincidentally, I should mention this happens to fall in the same month as “National Ear Muff Day,” “Extraterrestrial Abduction Day” and “National Pig Day,” meaning that, for anyone whose pig happened to be wearing ear muffs at the time it was flash frozen by alien abductors, this is a big month for you. 

Continue reading Giving the cold shoulder to Frozen Food Month

No Safe Harbor — Chapter 2

A novel in the making, join the mystery — and feedback — each Saturday at 9 a.m. as I release a new chapter in the final draft of my latest book

Chapter Two

Seven hours had passed since an officer-involved shooting dragged Roy Hollins from his bed a little after midnight. He had driven up the mid-section of Seattle to the seedy West Industrial District along Highway 99, where “Circus of the Stars” was well underway when he’d arrived. Acting as ringmaster had been Capt. Bill Whitmore, shining the spotlight on the appropriate stages while amazing feats of speculation drew gasps from the crowd. Two clowns — one from homicide and the other from Internal Affairs — separately questioned the two patrolmen involved in the incident.

In all the hoopla, the main event was practically forgotten.

Lynda Bettington was still lying under a damp canvas blanket when Hollins began his initial walkthrough of the crime scene. As lead crime scene technician, he’d been with the department for sixteen years, the last ten of which he’d spent picking through crime scenes. He still attended every seminar he could and lectured at a few of his own. Police shootings always required his presence. He was thorough, unblinking and unbiased in his investigations.

Except for Chief Hammond and Internal Affairs, he answered to very few.

[Read Chapter Two HERE]

[Did you miss Chapter One? Click HERE ]

A photographic mind… sort of

Even if this train will never leave the station, it doesn’t mean it can’t take us somewhere

Photography has always been a big part of my life, stemming from my early love of cinema and continuing through photography classes in high school, my many years in journalism and, now, as a way to tap back into my creative roots.

Part of the journey in this new chapter of returning to creative fiction, conjoined with helping writers through my editing services, has been a daily effort to blend the two into inspirational opportunities. The result has been a routine of beginning each day by taking one of my photos and utilizing it to illustrate an important point, tip or simple encouragement for my fellow writers. What started out as a promotional tool has developed into something I hadn’t anticipated: a morning meditation of dovetailing two of the things I love most.

It’s kind of a version of haiku, challenging myself to find the just the right words, within a limited space, that embellish a photo in a very specific way.

Continue reading A photographic mind… sort of