“In The Apartments Next To Mine” Book Excerpt 5

The snow swallowed the city in a dome of white and grey.  Every so often you could see a faint flash of red or yellow.  If you were able to see it sharply, it was too late; the vehicle was already too close.

She was awakened by a gentle touch and whisked away to the bathroom in what could only seem like a dream to her…

His alarm startled him, sending a bolt of electricity through his heart.  “Crap!” he yelled, rising from his slumber.  He rose up on his elbow, then his hand and just sat with his feet dangling off the bed.  Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he slid slowly off the bed, easing his feet down onto the icy linoleum.  Geez, do I have to? He thoughtIt definitely was not a day for traveling.  Most people would stay home and watch television.  He sighed, and then reached over for his phone.  No messages.  “I guess we’re doing this…,” whispering to himself.  With the cold floor waking him up with every step, he entered the spotlight of the kitchen, put on a pot of water and headed for the bathroom.  Somehow the canary paint shined with the brilliance of the sun – or was it just too early in the morning?  He begrudgedly opened the medicine cabinet, grabbed a handful of vitamins, chucked them in his mouth and bobbed his head in the sink to drink some water.  Then he slipped into the shower and melted away in its warmth.

She stood in the doorway naked and dripping wet.  No movement; just still as a statute, staring at her wrist…a moment later a flicker of one finger.  “Come eat baby.  Breakfast is ready,” said the voice from the kitchen.  But it was a ploy, a white flag…a surrendering to the will of the naked statute standing in the hallway, a compromise to continue the day as planned.  But Venus did not budge.  She stood firm in all her great beauty, naked and unashamed.  The voice continued to prompt for a response.  Then, with no further words, put two blueberry waffles in the toaster…and waited.

The charcoal grey sky, gave way to a light heather grey.  The imprisoned sun was fighting to be seen but it was outmatched.  He peeked out the howling window on his way back to the kitchen to eat.  Bacon, eggs and cheese…? He thought. But the white bearded, Quaker starred at him from the cabinet. “Dag!”  Grabbing the box, he continued on with the original plan.

The blueberry scent drifted down the hallway.  Suddenly, the statute came to life.  She let out a loud screech of joy, tapped her wrist to her forehead and shot down the hallway.  The slapping of her bare feet on the floor put a smirk on her mother’s face.  She’d won this round.  The shivering, cold, purple-lipped, 70 pound, wet child leaped onto the chair.  She tilted her head, closed her eyes and smiled.  With a blank expression, she stared down at the plate…within an eye’s blink the plate soared across the room.  She screeched again, flapped her left hand and stuffed the waffle in her mouth with the right.  When her mouth was full, she commenced with the sharing of her food.  First, she smeared the waffles on the table top, though her mother protested against it.  Then, she shared her blueberry waffles with the wall, stove, refrigerator and her mother’s face…

“No, no…no!”  He shouted after looking up at the clock.  He rushed up from the table banging his hand and dropped the plate.  “Really!”  There was no time to worry about the pain.  He ran to the back to get dressed and ran his toe into the edge of the bed.  “@%#!”  Still the clock kept ticking away the time.  He tossed on his shirt, backward, tripped putting his leg into his jeans and forgot to shave…”Dang it.” He yelled running down the hallway, taking his coat he let out a long sigh, touched his face and thought, she likes fuzzy anyway.  The thought made him chuckle. He dashed out the door. “The bottle!” the yelled, shoving the door open.  Leaving the key in the door, he rushed back inside, snatched a small gift and a tiny bottle of water off the table and bolted back out the door.

 

 

In_The_Apartments_Ne_Cover_for_Kindle                                                                                                                                        Excerpt taken from “Spectrum”

“In The Apartments Next To Mine” Book Excerpt 4

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“Oh goodness, yes!” Her eyes lit up. “I have been since I was a little thing. My first…” Her sentence interrupted by the conductor. “Castle Hill Avenue next” He announced. Disappointment washed over her face as she watched him gather his bags in his hand. The talk was a delight and it just began. He pursed his lips with a sigh. “Sorry. This is my stop…” He said, sadly.

“I enjoyed our talk; you have a wonderful evening…” She stopped. She realized they never introduced themselves. “Owen…I enjoyed meeting you..?”

“Agnes…”

“Well. Agnes, I guess we’ll have to finish this some other time…bye” He waved and walked out the door. Agnes, lifted her glasses above her head, smiled and followed him down the platform with her eyes. Once the train left in station, she opened her book and continued reading.

Owen nearly ran into a pole looking back at the car where Agnes was sitting. With each step down the stairs, he smiled a little more…

Exhausted from standing on the long lines and shopping, Owen rushed down the stairs to the platform only to be met by hordes of hot, sweaty bodies.

“6 train arriving in one minute,” the automated voice rang out.  No chance of sitting today, he thought.  The train rushed into the station with a gush of steaming heat ahead of it.  A few strands of blond hair streamed across Owen’s face, like microscopic ribbons, from the woman in front of him.  When the doors opened, the herd of humans poured out of the doors stampeding all who stood in their way.  Though he stepped to the side, he couldn’t avoid the smearing of lotions, perfume, sweat and dirt he received.  Owen looked down at his shirt, took a deep breath, clutched his bag handles tight, then pressed on his pocket to crank up his music and stepped into the car, then assumed his position as the next sardine in the can.

He tried his best to ignore the tourist with their camera phones, maps, backpacks and bewildered looks…but he couldn’t.  Especially since a group of  acrobats were standing on his feet, crushing his bags, had their map in his face and elbows extended, taking pictures and all without missing a beat.  Lord, I’m about to lose my religion! he thought.

       At that very moment he looked through the window of the next car and saw…What’s her name again? Agnes!  That’s it!”  The thought calmed his heart and made him smile.  The train passed through Manhattan and entered the Bronx, he finally got a seat but when he looked through the window, the woman was gone.  Did I imagine it? he thought.

Three weeks later, while seated in the corner seat, he noticed her sitting next to him in the next car in the same seat; she was reading a book.  She ran he fingers through her hair then turned the page.  Agnes looked up briefly to see Owen in the car beside her.  She was puzzled for a moment as to why a man was staring at her.  Then she remembered…she smiled at him, and then continued reading but the warm smile remained with her for a few more stops.

Two weeks later, juggling 2 bags full of melons, pineapples and peaches, Owen shot down the subway stairs and crashed into a wave of straphangers coming up.  “Excuse me…excuse me!” he announced.  But the current was too strong.  He was struck mid-way, being pushed to and fro.  He reached the bottom just as the train left the station.  “@#@!,” he slumped back against the column and dropped his bags.

       “Uptown 6 train arriving in 1 minute,” the machine voice called.  He inhaled deeply and stepped dangerously close to the edge of the platform.  His t-shirt waved across his chest as the hot breeze entered the station before the train.  Owen closed his eyes and imagined himself standing on a beach.  When the train stopped, he opened his eyes to see Agnes sitting inside.  Stepping into the train, he immediately chuckled.  “It’s you again.”  She blushed and raised her hand to her mouth, covering her delight at his remark.  “So, are you on a lunch break?  It was noon.

“No, silly thing,” she giggled.  “I’ve long since retired.  Maybe I’m looking for you.”

A serious look fell on his face.  “Really…?”  There was a long pause.

 

Taken from “The Pelham Affair”

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“Chasing The Elusive Pink Unicorn”

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       The other day my wife and I were helping our oldest daughter home after giving birth to another grandchild. Bags and baby in tow, we slipped into a cab and headed home towards the Bronx. The driver politely ask if the air conditioning was okay. I answered “yes” then he asked about the music…again I replied “yes”. I then started asking questions, which I normally do. Since I know Uber is a hot topic and because I’m naturally curious, I asked about the difference and if he considered driving for them.
    He’d been driving for 6 years and was somewhat happy with it. He has friends who drive under Uber’s umbrella… The big thing though, was just being happy living in America!

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As we continued to talk I as asked what country was he original from. Yes, I do that a lot. I am always curious as to how people view “my” country, it’s one thing to read about it in a paper or have some activist parade about or a non-profit organization tell you. It’s quite another thing to just sit and talk to people and find out for yourself.

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  Well, he’s from Nepal…a farming family. He’s lived in the States for 9 years and driving for 6 of those years. Don’t let someone tell you that we are not an exceptional country, because we are and everyone coming here knows it. Unfortunately, what they don’t realize is how costly things are. We offer great opportunities to ALL Americans, sadly, natural born citizen don’t often take advantage of that fact. Far too many want free handouts and easy answers to success or The American Dream… You know, that Pink Unicorn. However, fresh face, hard working immigrants/migrants are quick to grab the opportunity. Because their American Dream is to come to this country and find a job, save a little money, help their families and own a home if possible. The biggest emphasis on getting a job.

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     I’ll get back to the driver in a moment. For now, let’s think about the pink unicorn.  The early settlers came in search of the New world dream. They wanted to be free to live, own property, have a family, create business and wealth for themselves. They didn’t want to be taxed to death! But wish to enjoy the fruit of their Labour… They were fleeing a corrupt church controlled by a corrupt government and a corrupt government controlled by a corrupt church. The Monarch had many working hard but few had riches, because it was given to the governing bodies. So they ended up poor and in poor health. Heck, I’d run too!
   Freedom and liberty. That was and is, the American Dream. The freedom and ability to work for yourself or someone else and earn a profit from it to live off of. To buy what you need, with a little extra for special occasions and events.

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It’s still the reason why people flock to our country. But many are disillusioned when they get here. You see, their image of America is skewed by celebrities and TV news, that all westerners are well off! But you and I know the truth. That’s just a small segment of our population. Most of us, work darn hard with little but debt to show for it. This is where the pink unicorn comes in. We, believe the Hype ourselves and drive the debt  through the roof! We fawn over celebrities, We seek the latest of everything, even if we can’t afford it, believing we’re entitled to it. Not that we have to earn it and this dear reader, is the wrong message to send to the world. But, whatever, right..?

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Back to my cab driver…
He was from a from a small village in the country, of Nepal. His parents were farmers. With a visa he found a job and started to learn English. His boss sponsored him…he met a woman, the bosses daughter, and romance sparked. About a year later they married. Boom. Instant citizen! They moved from the Midwest to NYC…she’s a nurse and he’s a cabbie. He went back to Nepal recently, though not to frequently, because of the cost to travel.
   In Nepal he’s somewhat of a celebrity. Where as before he was treated as a nobody. But because he lives in America he is now a “big shot”. The U.S. dollar is nearly triple the value it is here, so, with a few thousand dollars saved, he bought his parents a home in the capital city. He’s retired them too. He said, $3,000 would keep them for about 3 years… Going for a visit meant, very nearly going broke too. As friends and family expect a gift from the “rich American”. Can you see the pink unicorn theory at work here?
   His response to me was pretty much like “What can I do, it’s what they expect..”
  Expectations: are ours as great as Dickens novel? Do we expect and now feel entitled to something great or even greater than we can afford? If so, how does this affect the rest of the world?…dare I say, you already know the answer?
   The early settlers just wanted a chance to survive. As time moved on, others came seeking the fortune the new world had to offer the venture capitalist… Businessman. Staking their claims in fur trade, farming and even the slave trade. Nevertheless it was about the freedom and liberty, to be.
  Today, new immigrants coming here, whether legal or illegal are seeking the same basic freedoms. Let’s be honest, if things were so great back in the old country why bother coming to American. Growing up, in my teens years, many of my friends were from Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. Some here legally, some illegally, some involved in criminal activities, some were good citizens. But without fail, from to time someone would complain about the U.S. “in Kingston…” This. “On the island…” That. Of course I thought..well go back!! Wouldn’t you?! But they wouldn’t do that because they know what they were running from. Irregardless of America’s warts and problems it still offers greater opportunities and liberties. Again, today’s newcomers come saddled with the the western television version of the American Dream. The Pink Unicorn.
   Some are reporting that the dream is dead. No, it’s been replaced with the mythical unicorn… One way it’s been done is with the near cult like worship of celebrities. Everything they have, young and old alike want. We’ve allowed them to dictate fashion, beauty, faith and fitness to us. When they work for us. If you don’t see their movies they don’t get paid. When they fall out of the limelight…they panic then reinvent themselves. Ugly cycle,right?
  Companies tell us what we need…no! Must have…and so on. The end result is that Americans will be happier with all of the things. But…it’s a vapor, mist…a myth! 
  You can sell drugs but for so long, a gang can replace a family but for so far. You’ll end up dead or in prison. You pay for fake hair and nails but for so long. Eventually the money will run out. How many talent shows, record deals and movie contracts can there be?! And add to it, the runway PC culture and you have your usurped American dream, replaced by the elusive pink unicorn. Where no one is happy.
   

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That unhappy discontentment spreads across the globe. Those needing the basic necessities of life, swap out the dream for getting those needs, for getting the pink unicorn they see on TV shows and celebrity news.
   But you and I know that it is only a small percentage that are professional athlete, movie stars etc. There are far more middle income and poor families than there are super rich and celebrities…
   Perhaps, if we Americans clear our vision, we would have less disgruntled Americans and far less disillusioned immigrants.  The Native nations and early settlers had it right…the Nations took, grew and ate what was needed. The settlers wanted to be free of corrupt control. Work for themselves…earn and earn the right to keep what they worked hard for. Yes. Of course they partied like rock stars. When the crops were in! When the days work was completed! When their children married! When the baby was born!   You get the idea, right?
   So now the dream is to get what…?  Famous? A million Hits or Likes? The Patriots would leap from their graves, Board their ships and serve the King, if they could see what their spilled blood has produced. I could see their zombified corpse standing in Constitution Hall ready to put flame to parchment…
   So, is the American Dream dead?  No, I don’t think so but we do have a skewed view of that dream. For me, personally, it’s about doing the job I love. Saving money for my retirement years, getting out of debt before I retire. Hey, that educational debt doesn’t disappear on its own and I highly doubt, social security and Medicare will cover the cost. The dream, is also about enjoying time with our families, enjoying vacations from our daily lives. Sharing stories, life lessons, an occasional visit from neighbors and friends. Talking to strangers and making them new friends. Meeting someone interesting…perhaps, marrying them. Extend that circle with a child…
   Well, I guess that’s just me. Yet, it seems that when we focus on the things that matter most, the essentials of life, we tend to be happy people. Content. But when we Americans allow ourselves to drift from the essentials, the American Dream. We fall for the elusive pink unicorn. A cancerous myth, that spreads worldwide…
   What do you think?  Until next time, dear reader…

It’s #IndiePrideDay

Today Independent Authors, Writers and Publishers from around the world celebrate. Saying “Hello world we’re here and there’s lots to discover. Come find your New favorite author!”

This massive undertaking was created by author Mark Shaw, under the #IndieBooksBeSeen banner last summer at this very same time. But it’s not about Shaw, it’s about the Indie Writing community. It’s about being heard above the “chatter” and allowing the reader the opportunity to discover an author they can grow with.
  Often times, independent authors or even small publishers I drowned out by the “big machine”, large publishing companies. But this is the time of year where, readers get to say “Hey, I just read this great book” in a Big way! Book tubers have joined in on the thunderous clap, now you can to, search for the hash tag #IndieBooksBeSeen or visit the website IndieBooksBeSeen.com
Come join the party, bake a cake if you like but by all means show some love to the Indie community.

“The Edges of Madness” pt. 1

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The sun eased its way into the sky, soon it would uncover the events of last night…
 
  “How about her?…She really hot!” Roland said. Excited to be invited to the night ride. Jay snatched him by the collar. “This is not some sick sexual fantasy!” He let him go. “Him, I want him…go bring the truck around. I’ll wait for you at the corner”
“The dealer, what if he has a gun or something?!”
  “I’ll take care of it, you just get to the corner” Jay pulled his sweater down over his old revolver then yanked his hood over his bald head. He dashed across street and stopped between two vans, looking to see if anyone noticed him, then casually walked up to the dealer…
  “Listen…I’m looking for something special for my party tonight. You think you could help me?” The tattooed giant sized him up. The soft bottom shoes, tan cargo pants and navy wind breaker didn’t seem threatening. He wasn’t a cop but something was off about the guy.
  Jay’s eyebrow rose when he realized the dealer was suspicious. His hand whipped across his stomach and pulled out the gun…In a flash, the brown butt of the revolver hit the behemoth between the eyes. He fell back into Roland’s arms.
  “Good timing Ro…”
   “Thanks…but couldn’t you pick someone a little lighter?!”
“Stop whining and drag this bucket of lard to the truck”
   Their bodies were drenched in sweat, but they managed to get him to truck and drove off…

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He sat at the edge of the cliff twirling the femur like a baton, earnestly thinking…
It wasn’t what to do with the body, but where to hide it until he wanted it found.