Behind the Fan – Chapter 3, Mary’s secret burden.

Dementia, Mary rolled the word around in her mind as she drove.  No one could tell her exactly what this meant or what to expect.  The doctors claimed it was the gradual decrease in Grandma’s cognitive ability but then could not explain the type of lapse the woman suffered.  Mary found these the most difficult to deal with emotionally.  In Mary’s mind, it was as if Grandma Dot disappeared; became lost in her mind.  It began last year, or maybe it was the year before, sad that she couldn’t recall when they noticed it.  She slowly exhaled as she battled with her sense of guilt.  As her grandmother’s power of attorney, she damn well should know this!  In her peripheral vision, she saw Kim look at her, but she ignored the question in her sister’s eyes.  She preferred to bear her guilt in private.

Mary had been dealing with this for over a year, spending more time with Gran without anyone’s knowledge.  She thought that doing so would help her understand this better, however, in the end, she felt just as lost as her grandmother.  When Gran’s doctor tried to explain this, she left the office with more questions than she had when she began.  She took Josie’s suggestion and Googled the information, which was a mistake.  Stories of the elderly trapped behind silenced minds, stories of women like herself attempting to appease a parent when they became unreasonable.  She scanned through images of healthy brains, which diminish in size and function without rhyme or reason.  After an afternoon of this, she felt more frustrated than she had before.  Nothing she read addressed the problem her grandmother had currently, which was the baffling absence of…presence.

No one could explain this.  Gran would be talking to you one minute, and the next she would stare off into space; smiling.  The only positive was that Gran appeared happy.  Mary wondered; where she went or did these lapses took her anywhere?  Mary was frustrated since anywhere she turned for answers, she ran into a blank wall.  It wasn’t always like this, her Grandmother boasted about how bright their Great Uncle Donny was but, to be honest, the woman herself was just as intelligent.  Every Christmas, Mary gave her the New York Times book of puzzles.  Gran would have the puzzles finished before May.  Mary was amazed, simply amazed.  Even now, Gran could still on rare days sit with her and work a puzzle.  Nevertheless, when she grew tired, the faraway look would come to her watery blue eyes; Gran would smile serenely then disappear before her very eyes.

Mary had no other option than to consider Grandma Dot’s future.  She researched facilities that specialized in dementia, Alzheimer’s and treatment for patients suffering memory loss. The best doctor in the city offered recommendations but would not take Gran as a patient.  Sadly, her situation was not dire enough, or it was that it was not interesting enough for him.  Caustically she wondered if he’d feel the same if this was his grandmother, she doubted this.  She knew several women in her club that are in the medical field; she turned to them for their input.  They all recommended the same facility.  After a thorough review, she was ready for the most challenging discussion, that with her sister.

“NO, absolutely not; Mary we are not putting Gran in a home!”

Sensitive Kim, she has always been a compassionate soul, but in the last couple of years, she has been nothing but a weeping willow.  She watched sad movies in her free time and sat there crying the whole damn time.  She donated to every SPCA, Children’s Hospital or Disaster Relief Campaign that she saw.  Not that this was a bad thing, Mary reasoned, it is just that she believed that Kim should pick one single organization to support.  Mary’s current concern was that Gran’s future would become another banner her sister would wave.

“Kim, listen to me they may be able to help her.  Don’t you want her to get better?”  Kim eyed her sister suspiciously.  Taking advantage of the lull, Mary continued. “Look it is close to us too, we can visit more often.  They said she could even come home for overnight visits.  Plus, when the time comes…”

“When the time comes, Mary?”

“Kim, Grandma, is not going to live forever; she is damn near a hundred!”

That was it; Kim stormed out of her house in tears without saying another word.  Mary rose to stop her then decided against it.  The reality was she was sick and tired of everyone falling to pieces when she depended on them.  It was rare that she needed anyone, but it never failed that she found herself abandoned each time.  They were weaklings, all of them.

In the end, Mary did what she did best; she handled it.  The resolution decided by her on one of her visits to her Grandmother.

***

The grandfather clock struck four; the chime interrupted the silence in Gran’s home.  They sat at the table with a crossword puzzle between them, the majority of the squares empty.  It was apropos to the current situation with so many questions and many more unrealized solutions.  Her grandmother sat across from her soundlessly, staring without seeing.  They had sat like this for the better part of an hour.  Mary reached across and took the old woman’s hand.

“Where is it that you go to Gran?”

Silence.

No words filled the space between them; the old woman remained as she had been; mute.  In a rare moment of vulnerability, Mary dissolved into tears.  She cried tears of anger that she was the only sister strong enough to deal with this.  Tears of frustration because even now, she was unsure she was doing the right thing.  They were tears of sadness, as a rush of memories surrounded her in her grandparents’ home.  Silent tears shed, as she sat embarrassed, suffocated under the weight of her ego.  Her grandmother sat unaffected, like Mona Lisa, Grandma Dot smiled a soft, gentle smile.  Mary’s tears subsided all the while she kept her grandmother’s thin hand in her own; oddly, it made her feel stronger.  It didn’t make sense, but she accepted it.

The open window invited the warm spring evening air, and a mix of new greenery and the perfume of gardenias’ rushed in.  Mary inhaled the sweet air, allowing it to calm her emotions.  Quickly the mask of efficiency returned, her sense of duty bolstered her resolve.  Mentally she clicked through the items that needed to be addressed to provide a safe environment for her grandmother.  Mary wasn’t known for being emotional; instead, she illustrated her love by her competence.  She glanced at her grandmother; the woman remained imprisoned within her mind.  Mary struggled to understand this.

“Where do you go?”  Her soft voice disturbed the silence; still, she received no response.

Mary straightened and looked around the room.  On the main wall, an aged photo of her grandparents hung centered, surrounded by pictures of her own family and that of Kim’s.  She caught the faint scent of a cigar, although not a fan of smoking, she always associated cigars with Grampa Nick.  Unconsciously, she smiled as his memory swirled in her mind.  Grampa seated at the small piano, hammering out forgotten melodies.  The card tricks he loved to entertain them with, no matter how many times she saw them; she never knew how he did them.  The time, as a young girl, he let her and Kim have a sip of champagne on New Year’s Eve.  She recalled how it made them feel grown up and a part of the celebration.  As subtly as it arrived, the faint cigar aroma was gone.  Distractedly she noted before putting the house on the market; they would have to make sure that they rid the home of the stale smoke smell.

***

The drone of the SUV motor lulls Mary back.  Her passengers were silent; thankfully, they left her to her thoughts.  She clicked off the cruise control and accelerated, the answers were ahead of her, not in the past.

Advertisements
Featured post

Mirror Image

Traffic was light coming from the suburbs into the city, she made it to the restaurant in record time.  The valet graciously took her keys and called her ‘Ma’am’; she remembered when that title would have been ‘Miss’.  Ascending the steps she scolded herself, reminding herself that it is just a number, she is still the woman she was yesterday.

“May I help you, Ma’am?”

There that word was again, she mused it might be time for a new hair color. They say going a shade darker made you appear younger.

“Yes, we have reservations under Johnathan Goode.”

“Thank you yes, here you are.  Your husband has not arrived would you rather wait here or perhaps at the bar?”

“Thank you here is fine, he will be along shortly.”

Taking a seat on the leather bench she brushes nonexistent lint from herself.  Jon was not there yet, once again, he lied about leaving work on time.  Glancing around she catches the eye of a man at the bar, like a scavenger he appraises her. He doesn’t bother to disclose his intent as he cocks his head slightly, he gives her the once-over.  She glances away quickly, both irritated and thrilled by the male attention.  A discreet check of her appearance in the reflection of the window confirms that last years dress still fits well.  She self consciously tugs at the hem, wondering if it shows too much leg.  Strategically placing her left hand over right; she advertises her marital status.  Cutting her eyes over, she confirms that stranger at the bar remains focused on her.  Skye dismisses him; surely the man must be hard up, she is hardly a twinkie having turned fifty today.  It must be the heels she borrowed from her friend. Kathy called them her ‘Do Me’ heels. They were flashy, patent leather stilettos heels.  Straightening she bites her lip to control the smile as she lower her eyes to the shoes.  They did make her legs look great, they were hard as hell to walk in but worth it.  Mentally she concedes, ‘OK, I do look good, go ahead Mr. Learing Look, take your fill.’  Now she feels excited, anticipating her husband’s reaction to her appearance.

 

In front of the restaurant, she spies him exiting his BMW, a tall distinguished gentleman who sports a buzz cut. Shaving his head had been a recent change to his appearance.  She initially hated it since Jon did this without notice. She applauded the fact that he refused to wear a comb-over, but this was a shock.  As time passed, she was won over, admittedly he was rather handsome this way.

Rising she greets him, “There you are.”

Wordlessly, he pecks her on the cheek as the young woman leads them to their table. As they are lead to their table, he begins speaking.

“What a day, I could have worked all night.  The new protocol we installed at the bank is giving us fits.  The damn program keeps locking up or kicking people out.  I was on the phone with not one but three Veeps; all demanding answers. Then I had a conference call with Darla; you remember her she took the position with DataLock…”

Skye begins to answer but he continues; her input evidently unnecessary.

“She called to give us heads up about a foreign competitor. It’s a horrible company, the product looks good but they back bill the client for every upgrade or change. I mean, this is good information to know, since we are after the same clients. Anyway, she wanted to have a late lunch meeting, she offered some information which would give us the inside track.  I told her we should….”

 

His voice fades to the background as Skye stares at the menu.  Occasionally she glances up and smiles when required but for the most part, she is unnecessary to his conversation. Sky casually takes in the other diners. The restaurant was filled with couples, some young while others are middle-aged. As Jonathan drones on about his day, she creates imaginative stories about her fellow diners. To the right, a pair laughs at a joke Skye believes this is likely about their child. An elderly man assists his partner in her seat, at the table to the right of them. He sweetly kisses her cheek before taking his own seat. Sky assumed that perhaps this is their anniversary dinner. The pair in the corner table caught her attention, were particularly cozy. Zooming in on them she decides that they are likely newly dating, or having an affair. She zooms in on the dating/affair couple, she imagines a more erotic backstory for them.  Quickly she abandons the thought; feeling much like an voyeur. Sky concentrates on a different couple seated behind Jonathan. He is looking at the menu and talking, as she stares straight at Skye. The woman’s eyes have a faraway look to them, as she gazes solemnly.  With a start, Skye realizes she is looking at a mirror.

 

She returns her attention to Jon, feeling melancholy.  Once not long ago, they too talked.  They talked to each other, they interacted, they exchanged ideas and the highlights from their day. Absentmindedly she wondered when this ended?  Her mind goes blank as she stares at his mouth. It is still talking, sharing a tidbit he received from Darla. She did meet aforementioned Darla at the last Holiday Party. She recalled her short dress, and that she too wore ‘Do Me’ heels. She remembers that the woman was surrounded by the guys in sales, hers included. Of course she was the center of attention, the woman is clearly on the make. Skye’s eyebrows furrow at her catty thought; why should she care? Distractedly she wonders why Darla would call Jonathan out of the blue and give him a heads up, the scenario doesn’t sound right. It is determined the question is better left unanswered.

 

She loops herself back into the conversation.  He still hasn’t looked up at her.  Glancing to the bar she sees that Mr. Learing Look has found his young, busty companion to talk to.  A fresh wave of irritation sweeps over her.

Skye returns her attention to her husband she inquires, “How do I look?”

“I’m sorry…what?”  Jon finally looks directly at her.

“Jon, how do I look; do I look nice?”

“Of course honey, you always look nice.”

He smiles as Skye waits for more, but the moment is fleeting. The server arrives, and her husband’s attention is stolen again. Without consulting her, he orders for the both of them. He is correct but still, it would have been nice to have been asked. She surrenders her menu with only a smile.  Jon looks back at her, she feels the thrill of anticipation as he studies her.

“So, I told Brad if that’s what the client wants we may have to charge more…”

Skye stares ahead, nodding when necessary all the while staring past him at her reflection.  The sting of tears making the moment more unbearable. Jonathan never notices her demeanor.

 

The woman in the mirror turned fifty on this day, the custom hair dye and skillfully applied makeup hid the fact well. Her appearance is one of classic beauty; occasionally others surrounding the couple take note.  Still, the woman fails to garner the attention of one.

The Tale of Georgie…

From Reggie’s No Limit….

Long after decent people were in bed and the legitimate businesses had displayed the sign announcing the end of the day an entire host of citizens and enterprises took over the night in Newport.  In the bottom of one of Taulbee’s joints, men gathered to try their luck at the poker table and enjoy smooth whiskey and gin.  The lower floor dimly lit, good-looking dames circle each table delivering drinks and collecting their tips.  The pit bosses make their rounds like hawks being ever vigilant for a player attempting to cheat the house.  One passes by a man and recognizes the face; he thought to himself here’s a fella who should learn how to cheat a little.

 

However tonight Georgie had a hot hand, he had been on a losing streak for a while, but he could see the change in the wind for him.  Nothing else mattered presently, not his gambling problems not the fact he was one day shy of a six-month dry spell, not the nasty mobster breathing down his neck for payment.   All he saw were the cards in his hand and the pot, that beautiful pile of dough that promised to end all his woes.   He anted up again, the guy to his right folded, Old Jim across the table tosses his last bet in and the mook to his left called as well.  His heart was hammering in his chest, he purposely slowed his breathing and was careful that all his gestures were casual he was about to be a hero or a zero.  Thank God, Georgie thought, tonight he was the hero!

 

He bowed out making his excuses about seeing if his hotsy-totsy neighbor was home, the guys all knew the dame he referred to, she was a stripper for an uptown club.  Every mook with a beating heart had it for her.  No questions asked, the story well received and the boys excused him without expecting a game to win back some of his take.  George Thomas knows it is a lie and the two bulls monitoring the games know as well.   He does have a date tonight but it is nothing pleasant, he needs to pay off a hefty debt to Nick ‘Slick’ Lewis and his one, and only concern is if the man will take what he owes him, or take it all.

 

The street is deserted and quiet as Georgie walks to his car he is engrossed in the pathetic condition of his life.   He gambles every living damn dime he has away.  He prays each day that he will be firm but within three days’ time he is scraping up seed money to play again and the devil has him convinced this time will be different from the last ten.  He has not known the touch of a woman in months and worse; he doesn’t care.   No skirt gives him the rush gambling does; he wishes to hell one would.  If his neighbor came over buck-naked and offered him a stake in a card game or an all-nighter on the house sadly, he would take the stake.  This pitiful train of thought kept him from being aware of his surroundings.  He was at the car with no option to run when the two cops stepped out of the shadows to greet him.

 

Another lousy choice he had made to feed his addiction.  They had busted him hauling booze for Nick, Georgie was scared the arrest would be nothing compared to the punishment for losing the load.  He had been a rumrunner for a long time working for many of the big names in the syndicate.  Lots of guys did it was good money, and they let him use of the milk delivery truck.  It was a token of the rank that Georgie had in the gangster’s crew despite his problems.  The pay was as rich as the risk, not that he had much of it at the end of the week, but he knew that had been his choice.  One thing was certain no one flipped over on Mr. Slick; he was a nasty piece of business.  All nice and smooth unless you crossed him, Georgie had heard the tales about his temper.  He routinely beat whatever poor moll he had on his arm until she took refuge in another town, he broke every bone in the fingers of a guy cheating at cards and last month one of his boys turned up in the Licking River as catfish fodder.   No, a bust was not an option so; he offered his assistance to the cops after they agreed to let him deliver the load of booze.

 

At first what they wanted was easy stuff, tell them who is running what game, Georgie was no fool, he would wisely sic them on Nick’s competition getting double points for his resourcefulness.  However, the boys in blue started asking more questions, about the business, and questions about Lewis.  That made him sweat as honest fear coiled in his gut.  The best he could hope for was that Nick would kill him swiftly, but Georgie had to face the bare facts regarding his luck – it was plain lousy.  So again, here he was, faced with more bad news, which was interfering with his plan to deal with his old bad news.

 

“Georgie, how ya been?”   The greeter was Dave Morganson; he was a small barrel-chested man; he and his partner Jay Benhouse had been the ones putting the squeeze on him.

“Good, Dave.  I’m real good.  Love to talk but I ….”  Jay blocked George’s trek to his auto.  The lean man casually inclines against the driver’s door.

George lowers his voice, “Look you can’t be here, those bulls in there see me talking to cops my goose is cooked!”

“Na, Georgie we just need a little chat, nothing more.  Then you can be on your merry way, ain’t that right Jay-Bird?”

Jay just smiles nodding in agreement, the compassion for the man’s situation never shows in his eyes.

 

Dave steps close to him, his breath smells of cheap whiskey.  George thinks, Hell if you are going to finger a pint steal the good stuff.  The internal dialog allows him to regain composure.

“So who’s that throwing the big parties up on the Hill?”  The stout cop makes the common reference to the rural community of Park Hills.

“I dunno Dave; you know I mainly stick to town.  I can ask for ya though.”

Hoping this will appease them, he jiggles his keys, but they both are immobile.  Swallowing hard he knows they want something else.

“How’d ya like to get dealt in up there and take a look around for us?”

Any other time George might be willing, he knew it was not Slick’s place, so he was not shitting in the nest.  However, he had lied when he claimed not to know who owned the joint, which gave birth to a new set of problems for him he sure as hell didn’t want.

“Well yeah but ya know, I ain’t that hot a hand these days, ya might wanna look around.”

 

Seconds ticked by as the two cops considered his statement, George’s pulse rang in his ears, and a bead of sweat rolled down the back of his neck.  It was early spring, but he currently felt suffocated as though he was in the height of the dog days of August in the river city.  Finally, a slow resolve wash over the two, just like in gambling he was astute at reading the small involuntary marks of decision.  He was home free; they did not feel they could shake him for more; his mouth began to produce saliva again.

“Well Georgie, you do what you can, you bring us what we want, and maybe we get you into a big game.  You’d like that right?”

“Sure Dave, sure!”

Without notice, Jay slips his hand into George’s breast pocket and deftly lifts two bills from the winnings.  Without a word, he shares this with Dave all the as George’s gut clenches.  Less money, he prays he still has enough now to pay his debt, to hell with eating or rent.  The cops conclude the impromptu meeting and wordlessly walk away, without notice George slumps against his sedan.  He had faced off with the worse of all ills the city offered, dirty cops.

A Writers Desire – Caroline Walken

My desire is that you to fall in love…
I want to write words that bring that rush of emotion to the surface.
I hope to instill passion for life in you, evoke excitement and wander lust.
You honor me if my words cause you to cry or feel the bitter tang of rage.
Meet me in places that exist solely in my mind.
Know that I will age and change, there will come the day when I leave this earth.
I pray my words however, remain ageless.

One Night in Boulder

A bit from a novella I have toyed with, who knows it may only live in a folder on my laptop. Today, we will shed a little light on it. The protagonist is an attorney closing a merger deal….

The Seduction of the Deal

Behind closed doors, she masterfully orchestrated the merger. Like a conductor, she brought in the fray pieces of the agreement to a thunderous finish. She smoothly addressed the few roadblocks and in the end, the parties chatted cordially, happy and satisfied. She retreated from the conversation as they broke into a discussion of golf outings and sports events. Her mind threw up comparisons between merger negotiations and sex. In her mind, the similarities were hard to ignore. She had teased Southern Steak, dangling partial details until curiosity got the best them. Once on the hook, she gave them a good ego stroke, seducing them with the money Rose Acquisition could bring to the table. She knew what she offered, knew it would be too good for them to turn away. They gorged themselves on it, dreaming of the shares the primary stakeholders would enjoy. They came to her wanting more, snaking their greedy hands up the line of the contract. She allowed them free access while relishing the power she felt. Just when they thought they had everything going their way, she shut them out. She would wait a full day before calling them back, she would repeat only what she had already told them, in short she tagged them along. Southern Steak House at first bristled, telling her they didn’t need her client. However, she knew this was a lie, just as they knew exactly what she was doing. Like a tease, she enticed them by revealing another piece, the swell of money or a peek of future expansion. She could almost hear their intake of breath; confirming how badly they wanted it. The principals had it hard for her offer, and nothing would satisfy them until they could consummate this. The steak house acted like a lover obsessed with the other’s touch, they beseech her to let them in again. Lining up her client Rose Acquisition, she finally gave them what they desired. As she glances around the room, she resists the urge to smile; both parties lust for expansion has been sated. They basked in the afterglow of a satisfying contract.

Damn, she almost wanted a cigarette.

I am a strong woman.

It wasn’t always the case, like everyone I have had my moments that I caved.  In fact a few times I have looked back and wondered what was I thinking?  I have had girlfriends shake their head at the things I have said.  My husband once asked me to first size up the men I told off.  Just in case he needed to clean up the scraps.

Don’t misunderstand me, it is not that I am abrasive or aggressive.  I am just straight forward and honest.  If you treat me with respect, respect is what I return. If you treat me like an object, I feel the need to correct your way of thinking.

My mother told me while I was growing up that my life, my body and my decisions belonged to me.  I have never forgotten this lesson and it was instilled in me that these things are precious.

I have faltered but recovered knowing I had this northern star to guide me.  As I have become older, I seldom have to worry about this.  I feel it is my duty to pass the lesson to other women with the goal they too can make that claim, that they are a strong women.

1500 Words from WIP In Hiding

From my new novel, currently a work in progress In Hiding, Chapter 3….

Wayne sat in the hygienic emergency room trying to ignore the bitch of a headache that began radiating at the back of his skull. His worn jeans, a blood-stained t-shirt, and his makeshift bandage sat on a nearby chair. The hysteria created by his appearance in the small hospital ward had died down. A local cop greeted him as soon as he was escorted to the examination room. The conversation was brief, once he revealed he was a bail enforcer the topic changed from investigation to shooting the bull. The experienced officer shook his hand before leaving then joked he hoped this would be their only encounter.

The ER doc was a woman about his age. Already the years of long hours, rotating shifts and the rarity of a personal life showed on her face. Her eyelids were pink-rimmed, her complexion sallow; all were earmarks of the effect of long-term exhaustion. Wayne knew it all too well as he rubbed his knuckle against his own grainy eyes. Despite this, she attended to him with an upbeat demeanor and even slid in some ribbing at his expense. He was defenseless, once the adrenaline dropped off Wayne felt drained. He accepted her volleys without a response. All he mustered was a smile and occasional nod as she stitched him up.

Across the room, his cell toned, after the brief display of the number a woman’s image filled the screen.

Under his breath, he mumbled, “Shit.”

He intends for his exclamation to remain ignored, having caught it the doctor glanced his direction with a smile. Without invitation, she retrieved his phone handing it to him without comment. Wayne noted the raised eyebrow she failed to hide.  The phone toned again as he glanced at the flat image on the device. The woman’s likeness was smiling brightly, her blue eyes dancing. Just looking at her eased the pain in his head.

He swiped the screen and connected the call as the doctor finished taping his injury. Using his free uninjured arm, he held the phone away from him slightly, utilizing the speaker option.

“Hey Baby.”

“What the hell, Wayne!”

Her voice filled the small area, in his peripheral vision he saw the doc smirk. Turning his head, he addressed the caller.

“Babe, I was getting ready to call.” The excuse sounded lame, even to him.

“Why the hell do I have to hear about this secondhand?”

Wayne placed the phone to his chest, loudly he exclaimed; “Fuck!”

The ER doc touched his arm, “I will give you privacy.”

Wayne gave her a grateful nod. With a snatch, she grabbed the corner of the thin curtain suspended from the ceiling and pulled it close. Alone again, he refocused on the call. The woman on the other end had continued in her tirade without him. When he rejoined the call mid-rant, she was issuing him a heartfelt ass-chewing.

“…bullshit Wayne that I have to hear about this from my cousin. We’ve talked about this!”

“Honey…”

She interrupts him before he can explain himself. “So what the hell happened?”

Wisely he waited for silence to indicate it was his turn to speak.

“Lou, Honey first I am sorry. You know I never meant to upset you. I am alright; it is just a flesh wound.” As he speaks, a sharp pain radiates across his side. Gritting his teeth, Wayne vows to continue without having the radiating pain affect his voice. “I didn’t want you to worry Honey; you know calling Cooper first is just business.”

Silence.

The woman miles away grits her teeth as she angrily brushes away her tears. Seated at the simple dining table, she takes a napkin from the center and dabs at her eyes. Mentally she reminds herself of her promise that she was done crying over this man. She takes an unsteady breath as she returns her attention to the call.

“Lou, you still there?”

There is something in his voice, the tender desperation he allows only her to see. Furrowing her brow she closes her eyes, an errant tear coursed down her cheek.

“Yes, I am here.” Louise Craig can’t help it. She hates the man that chases criminals but loves the man that returns to her when the job is complete. Wayne’s voice interrupts her thoughts.

“Baby, I am fine, I swear. I am getting checked out at the ER. Can I call you back from the motel? Then we can talk, or hell you can bitch me out some more if you’d like.”

Wayne listens as she softly chuckles, he can see her. Head down, her hair falling over her face in soft curls. The lights are low in the house; she must be alone. Having a rare night to herself, a glass of wine sitting alongside a book she finally has time to read. He feels guilty for having ruined this rare pleasure.

After a few more words they close down the call between them. Cautiously Wayne slides off the exam gurney and begins retrieving his clothing. Dr. Exhausted rejoins him. Wayne felt her presence as she hovered. Clearly, he has been the most interesting patient in a parade of heart attacks, OD’s and MVA’s.

She keeps her eyes averted as he redresses. He slid the bloody t-shirt over his head tossing the worse stained one to the nearby trash receptacle. Clothed again he turned to find her assessing him. It was evident his circumstance was not the only thing she found interesting. He elected to close out the thoughts he felt coming from her.

She offers a slip of paper to him, “I have written a script for pain medication. It’s a codeine-based…”

Interrupting her he says, “Thanks Doc, but don’t waste the ink.”

“Mr. Anthony, I know it may not hurt now but trust me, you will need to take something.”

Wayne cocked his head at her, “Doc, it does hurt like hell, and as you can tell, I’ve been shot before. I know all about the pain. Thank you just the same, but I don’t need your drugs.”

The doctor looked at him, a slight sheen of sweat had begun to appear. Without checking she knew his blood pressure had increased  as a result of his body’s reaction to the pain. She also knew why he wouldn’t accept the narcotic. She returned her attention to her prescription pad. Quickly she scribbled on it then thrust a sheet towards the man.

“OK tough guy, this is a script for a round of NSAID. The sole purpose is as an anti-inflammatory. The upside is it may also ease the pain. It won’t affect your focus.” She judged Wayne’s demeanor; it was clear he was exhausted. As a side note, she added, “Whoever you are chasing is likely on the downside of an adrenaline rush. They are going to look for a place to crash.” With a direct and pointed look she continued, “As your doctor, I recommend you do the same.”

Wayne grinned, accepting the paper, “Thanks Doc.”

“There is a 24-Hour pharmacy down the road. If you go another five miles, you will see Dave’s Motor Inn. The place isn’t fancy, but it’s clean. There is a carry-out across the road. Take it easy on the liquor with the pills.”

“Thanks again, Doc.” With that Wayne turned to leave.

“Hey, Bounty-Hunter…” Her words make him smile. “I mean it, easy on the self-medication.”

With a wave and a nod, Wayne walked out and back into obscurity.

Miscellaneous Reviews and Comments

  • The real Roxy Black of Behind the Fan 
    “When you get your movie deal I am going with you. I am sure in the scheme of things we can find a place for me. You are very creative, talented, and full of mystery and surprises. Intriguing. Just amazing. So proud of you.”
  • I took Nowhere on the Map to Daytona Beach a couple of weeks ago and started it on the beach. I jumped in my seat and had to reread it when I got to the police station explosion.  I said, “She got me!  I’m invested in these characters”. Thank you for the autographed copy.  Comment regarding Nowhere on the Map
  • Thanks so much Caroline Walken… You are an amazing author and am excited to read this new story.   Comment regarding Nowhere on the Map
  • Thanks also for making the love scenes tasteful but leaving the reader a bit short of breath!
  • Couldn’t wait to see what happens next! I loved the entire story and look forward to Caroline Walken’s next book!
  • She will surprise you and leave you wanting more… XOXO Thanks Caroline!
  • Thanks so much Caroline Walken… You are an amazing author and am excited to read this new story!  Comment regarding Nowhere on the Map
  • With the exposure I’m know Caroline Walken will be very successful! In my opinion it’s far better than any other love story/drama I have ever read!
  •  This book is masterfully written and I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever longed to be truly loved and desired. I am looking forward to reading the next book in her series. Caroline Walken has become one of my personal favorites. This book is a must read.
  • With the exposure I’m know Caroline Walken will be very successful!
  • In my opinion it’s far better than any other love story/drama I have ever read!
  • I am not normally an avid reader, but this book was so good that I could hardly set it down. I am looking forward to reading the next book in her series.
  • I will read your stories and keep wanting to read more and more, also another thing about your stories when reading it’s really like you are right there living the story with the characters in the book.   It takes you off to another place and another time. Comment regarding Beta copy of Behind the
  • I just finished reading “Nowhere on the Map”; I could not put it down! It’s sultry, sexy but sweet. And the unexpected twist. Comment regarding Nowhere on the Map

1500 Words from Behind the Fan

From Chapter 7 of Behind the Fan… Dottie’s photo shoot.

Behind the Fan on Amazon

The dining room evaporates and in its place, a men’s club from a lifetime ago emerges. The place is shaping up, and word is the new boss intends to boost the reputation of The Bee. He has the mix-matched chairs and tables with scarred surfaces on uneven legs tossed to the alleyway. Now tablecloths drape the new round sets, and gracing the center are small candles. The place looks classy; they are operating as a premier club now. Paulie fires the creepy guy that was supposed to clean (but seldom does) and in his place is a woman that scrubs the place from top to bottom and the girls are appreciative of this. Two huge marquee signs flank the door out front, and Paulie tells the girls he’s placing their pictures in them as an advertisement. He announces he is bringing in a professional photographer to do the job. Even though Dottie is new to the lineup, Paulie includes her, and she is thrilled.

The day arrives, and the club has a party atmosphere; Paulie invites his special guests and allow the girls to invite their beaus. He is liberal with the liquor, and by the time the photographer sets up, the mood is just like an opening night. Her nerves are on edge after she builds this day up in her mind. On a whim, she approaches Nick Denham and asks him to play her music for her. He did this at times; she liked it when he played for her set. She can’t say why his playing is different, but it reaches her in a way that is exhilarating. She decides not to examine it more closely than this. Nicky, of course, is happy to oblige.

Now she can concentrate on her routine. It is more than just a photo shoot; it is an audition for the new boss. There are rumors that Paulie can move a girl up to the better clubs where she can make more money. Dottie thought about this all night to the point she couldn’t sleep. There are plenty of larger clubs still in this area; she and Donny won’t have to move to another town. Donny can still go to the same school; maybe they can get a new place. She dreams of a flat with two bedrooms and a real dining room. She could use some luck, even with dancing and running drinks, money is tight, and they live frugally. Their expenses increase after the prep school accepts Donny. She manages to get the school to reduce the tuition, however; she has a payment each quarter. A better paying gig will help their cause. The day of the shoot has arrived, she is tired and a ball of nerves, she has a lot riding on one little afternoon.

The stage lights glare; the runway is polished to a high gleam. The photographer arranges the lighting to shine at an angle so it won’t interfere with the shot. Backstage she makes careful preparations. She concentrates on her make-up and the set of her hair. All morning, she wears hard curlers until her scalp is sore from them. She stands before a mirror, brushing her hair to a soft gleam; in the end, she decides the pain is well worth it. With layer applications, she mops her foundation on heavier than normal, next she strokes on the blush darker to show up better under in the photo. She borrows false lashes from Lillie; while gluing them in place, she prays they won’t pop loose under the heat of the lights. Holding her breath, she steadies her hand, carefully she applies black eyeliner to her upper lids; fearing it looks like a black slash against her fair skin. Straightening she examines her handiwork; pleased that the eyeliner frames her eyes, bringing them to the forefront. Lastly, she brushes on the pancake powder liberally to ward off the shine. Her feathered fans are her ‘shtick’ and in the days preceding; she grooms them to perfection. Behind their shield, her attire will be a skimpy shell pink satin bra, matching panties, and garter belt. In the poor lighting of the dressing area, Dot carefully rolls the silk seamed hose up her leg, gently snapping the top to her garter. When her preparations are complete, she stands before the pitted mirror for a critical look. She doesn’t recognize the woman in the cracked surface. She does not see the exhausted pseudo-mother working until the wee hours of the morning only to rise again within hours to see Donny off to school. She is not the girl that prayed in church every Sunday to make next weeks’ rent. This girl is not the ignorant virgin that laughs at bawdy jokes without knowing why they were funny.

Dottie stands before the mirror looking at the image of a real woman. She is beautiful; like a goddess, she stares entranced, she doesn’t recognize her reflection.

She is satisfied that she is ready and pulls on her faded flannel robe; she grabs the large fans and heads for the stage. She explains her routine to the photographer; the thin man nods on occasion between fumbling with his thick glasses and adjusting his camera lens. She takes this as his approval for her routine. She glances over at Nicky; the look in his eyes causes her to stop. No man has ever looked at her like that. The look in Nicky’s eyes is difficult to resist, hard for her to ignore. It is clear that she set him back on his heels this time. He has a thing for her; the man hardly keeps it a secret. He is an outrageous flirt, and he seldom gives her a moment’s peace. A considerable challenge now that Donny has taken a shine to him. Card tricks, Nicky wormed his way in showing the boy card tricks! Now Donny also campaigns for him! It won’t do him any good; she has a front row seat to the roller coaster ride a woman took after taking up with one of these boys. Layoff men are addicted to the action; they raise hell like there is no tomorrow, and run through women like whiskey. She sees first-hand what the other girls go through. The last thing she needs is complications from the likes of Nick Denham.

Within the darkness in the back of the runway, she glances at the shadowed form seated at the piano, despite the fact he didn’t smile, she knows that his eyes twinkle. The butterflies in her stomach flutter; she is uncertain which situation is responsible for this. Nicky leans forward, and he rolls into a slow, sultry number; the horn player joins in, but it is the piano that takes the lead. She draws in a deep breath and unties the robe, shrugging her shoulders she drops it; she kicks it beyond view. Strangely, she feels naked and needs a moment to settle her nerves. She exhales, and snaps the fans to life; they flare out around her like an angel’s wings as she steps into the halo of light. The piano meets her, welcoming her to the dance. Slowly she sways waving the feathered fans around her. Closing her eyes, she permits the melody to lead her all the while undulating the fans around her nearly nude body. At last, she finds her rhythm, Dottie opens her eyes to stare not at the photographer, but instead at the camera lens itself. She intends to provoke the instrument into falling in love with her. In place of the shuttered lens, she imagines Nicky’s face, envisioning his reaction to her movements. Secretly she dances for his pleasure, allowing his music to make love to her. As Nicky runs his fingers up and down the keyboard, she fantasizes how he would run his hands over her body. Lightening his touch; barely tickling the keys as he teases her, just as she would expect him to do. In response, she gyrates and lowers her body to the floor, swiveling she rises again like smoke. Rapidly, twisting and seducing the melody from him. His fingers now fly across the piano keys increasing the tempo to match. Dottie spins, arching her back and throwing back her head as the music thrusts its way inside her. Nick cleverly chases her, never allowing her to escape him as he brings her to the crescendo of the performance. Hitting the final note, he holds her in there; leaving them both breathless. She drops the fans to the stage, the clatter echoes in the silent club. A sheen of sweat glistens on her skin under the glare of the spotlight, her hair in disarray, she pants uncontrollably.

Picking up the fans, she carefully refolds them before retreating to the back of the stage to retrieve her robe. Quietly the audience begins to converse again, the words muffled by the pounding of her heart. It is crucial that this had gone well, over her shoulder she calls to the photographer.
“Sir, did you get the photos you needed?”
When she received only silence she turns, the photographer is mopping his face with his handkerchief; all he does is nod.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑