Saturday, October 31, 2015

Defiant


When I was a little girl, I was raised to be obedient... By my grandmothers.

I was taught to say yes ma'am, no ma'am or yes sir, no sir in the face of authority. Question nothing and accept that authority knows what's best.

They hadn't been prepared for the time I spent with my mother.

When I watched the Sandra Brown Arrest video, I have to admit, with all my heart, that I was stunned.

Every word Sandra Brown spoke to Brian Encinia was testy, aggressive, argumentative, and belligerent.

I probably would have slapped her about 30 seconds into the conversation.

Sandra Brown was taught to trust no one. She was taught to fight everything... To question everything. She lived to challenge authority.

When Michael Brown was stopped in Ferguson for allegedly stealing a box of cigars, instead of calmly getting in the car, he defiantly ran.

When Eric Garner was confronted by the police for selling individual cigarettes, he held up his hands in surrender, but began to argue with the officers.

And then there is the student in South Carolina arguing with the teacher to the point that a school police officer was brought in and things got nasty.

Second grade was especially tough for me.

Mrs. Smith was the teacher from hell.

It was so bad that two kids started peeing their pants again. I started having bad dreams... It didn't help that we lived across the street from the school and I felt that she was watching my every move.

One of my grandmothers saw and noted the change in behavior and decided to investigate. She walked into the school one day (back then, it was possible), and she caught Mrs. Smith yelling and screaming at us. My grandmother went ballistic and told Mrs. Smith that she never wanted to catch Mrs. Smith even looking cross-eyed at me again.

Mrs. Smith never looked at me again. She never pointed at me when I raised my hand. She never let me answer a question. She put me in the back of the room and literally ignored my existence. Her pen made cut marks through my paper with boldly printed F's.

It took a lot of for me to recover from that woman and learn self respect. It took scores of As from other teachers to convince me that I had any brains in my head.

It's amazing what one teacher can do to a life.

Today, if a teacher pulled this on a class, it would be put on every social media site available. Lawsuits would be filed. And that teacher would be unemployed rapidly.

To defy or not to defy authority... That is the question.

I don't think that my mother ever had a problem with me questioning her authority. We both knew that she was tougher and meaner than me. And we both knew that she was smarter than I am, any day and twice on Sunday.   

My mother taught me to question everything... Including her.

It was never about disrespecting anyone. It was never about demands, name calling, arrogance, or defiance. It was about questioning everything.

"Yes, officer, here are my registration, driver's license, and insurance. By the way sir, may I see the radar?"

So I watch all of these videos with both sides being aggressive, and honestly, find fault with the triggers that the authority figures respond to, and the respect that is sadly lacking from the conversation.

I don't remember police officers in my high school. And this was at a time when bullies were praised for their aggression (because it would make a "man" out of ya) and LSD, pot, heroin, and plethora of other drugs floated around like driftwood at a boat crash.

I remember teachers lowering grades at behavior that was unacceptable. Wondering if one had the grades to get into college was a big deal, and disruptive behavior went on your score card.

It was the ultimate power of a teacher.

And then teachers started abusing it. The favorite students started getting the favorable As for behavior and the not so favorite would be forgotten or marked down. Athletes graduated from high school without ever learning to read.

And this is where the authority of the teacher began to diminish.

I actually watched my first episode of cops, yesterday... It had never appealed and I must say that I probably won't watch it again. But I saw the same defiant behaviors in this 30 minute show, as I have been seeing in the news.

When the suspects were told to put up their hands, they either ran, yelled and screamed, or stood rebelliously and pugnaciously confronting the police officers.

I know that a lot of distrust has been foisted on police officers, and I do understand that mistrust. From the sixties and their racial profiling (yes, I realize it still goes on today), to being part of the KKK, to abusive, rapists that call themselves police officers, to the shoot first and ask questions later cops.

There are bad cops out there. Anybody who says differently is a liar.

There are bad people out there in every race, creed, religion, occupation, gender, LGBTQ, judges, police officers, politicians, celebrities, there are even bad pastors/religious leaders (sorry if that's a shock to anyone, but it shouldn't be).

Give certain types of people a little bit of authority or power, and you are giving them a weapon from whence the beating will come. It's just a fact of life.

Some of my favorite people in history had very questionable natures.

President Abraham Lincoln, who emancipated slaves, and because he did, I adore him. But history shows another side to this man. He was ruthless about getting his way and winning.

The Emancipation Proclamation was not really about freeing the slaves, it was about a war of attrition and "he who has the most troops wins." And Abraham Lincoln knew that he didn't have the troops to send down South. He wanted people that knew the terrain of the South and he wanted sacrificial victims that he could easily count without remorse.

He rolled those dice and became a hero to the slaves.

Maybe that is a grim way of looking at the past, but it is also very true. Abraham Lincoln didn't expect too many slaves to survive the incursion.

The event at Selma taught us a lot of different things:

1.      The power of the media to capture evil, even when they are trying to hide the evil

2.      Bad things happen when good men do nothing.

3.      Evil can be fought without violence or fury.

Martin Luther King strongly discouraged anger and rebellion, and yet he won a victory welding a mighty thought: That all people are created equal. It wasn't his original thought, but it was an echo from wise men throughout history.

Gandhi and Chavez repeated this idea and refused to endorse violence. They even fasted when their own people rebelled against the thought that great deeds can be done without a gun or a fist.

While my mother taught me to question everything, she also taught me that there is a time to question authority.

When a police officer is making an arrest, 99.9% of the time (just a number off the top of my head), he/she is doing his/her job. When he/she writes a ticket, he/she pulled you over because you were driving too fast, or one of your tail lights wasn't working. Does it matter?

Arguing with them is not going to change the fact that you were driving too fast, or that your tail light wasn't working.

Asking them politely to show you the radar registration for your own visual is not an affront to their authority. It is information that validates or invalidates their reason for stopping you.

Your battle is never with them and your voice doesn't need to be heard then. That is what our court system is for. This is where your voice can be heard.

Twenty years ago, I was pulled over for going 40 MPH in a 30 MPH residential area. I handed my license, registration, and insurance documentation out the window as the police officer walked up to my car, before he even said anything.

I asked to see the radar and he showed it to me.

And then I went to court and fought it.

I calmly explained that both roads leading onto the street were 35 MPH. I also pointed out that there were no signs that marked that street as residential. There were several businesses and churches on that street. I also said that I would be quite happy to pay the fine for going 5 MPH over the speed limit.

The county attorney nodded at the judge and shrugged his shoulders. He accepted my offer, and let me go with a warning.

Several months later, speed limit signs were put up on that street... 35 MPH!!!!

Maybe that isn't the big CHANGE that everyone wants in their life. but I presented my argument in the place where it was meant to be, not belligerently in the face of the officer, but in court. And I changed things.

I encourage you to use your words! I challenge you to accept fate with passion, and withhold the anger.

Most of all, I defy you to use your defiance at the right place and time. To fight the good fight on the battle ground, and not sitting in your car with a person that is more than likely just there to do a job.   

Friday, October 2, 2015

False Witness Excerpt

The opportunity to download False Witness by Anita Rodgers is in your grasp! Check out the synopsis and excerpt before you buy!


Synopsis:

When you think you know it all, you make mistakes. Big ones. Criminology student Billy Frayne set his own trap when he bet his professor and classmates that he could get Rachel Clarke to confess to premeditated murder. Even though she was acquitted for the crime years before and no one knew where she was.

His obsession with the old murder case had alienated most of his friends but nothing dissuaded him from pursuing the “truth.” Not even Susan Sparks, the one person who still loved him.

Unwilling to let anything stop him, Billy follows every lead, no matter how flimsy to track down the elusive Rachel Clarke. From the lead detective on the case, to the bitter author Lucas Webster, who has his own reasons for bringing Rachel Clarke to justice.

Desperate to prove his theory, Billy goes in with Webster and takes part in a devious plan to expose Rachel and make her pay for her sins. But Billy discovers that once you open the door to the truth it cannot be closed. And if he’s not careful, it may kill him.

 

Excerpt:

Billy hugged the shower wall as the hot water pounded his neck and shoulders. Being a handy man was a lot more work than he thought it would be. After three weeks his ass was properly kicked and he felt like he was a hundred, not twenty-one.

He alternated between admiration and resentment of Rae but the admiration was winning out. He turned up the hot water to burn it out of his head. No good would come of his siding with Rae. He had to stay focused on the end game. He had to recapture the certainty he felt of her guilt when he arrived. But since he’d gotten to know her, he had doubts. He constantly ran different scenarios of the murder through his head. As though looking for an excuse for her. A good enough reason for her to get away with it.

He turned off the water and stepped out of the shower. When he stepped out to the hall, his eyes darted to the front door of the cabin, as though Hanks would be there gawking at him. He’d taken to locking the door but Hanks probably had a key anyway. For all Billy knew, Hanks rifled through his stuff while he was working his balls off at Rachel’s.

But Hanks wasn’t there and he went to the bedroom, locking the door behind him. He pulled on his shorts and sat on the bed. The overhead fan hummed as he spread his evidence out before him. Looking at all of it at once, it seemed like a lot. The files from Lucas, the charm bracelet and Billy’s own clippings and notes combined into a personal reference library on the case. When the time came, the book would probably write itself. Except, he was no wiser than when he arrived. Other than the occasional telepathic communication between them, the sisters appeared to be a couple of middle aged women running a daycare center. Something had to give. And that meant he had to man up and place the bugs in the house. The invitation to the barbecue though might be the breakthrough he’d been hoping for. If they wanted to bring him into the inner circle, it could be they’d feel fine about leaving him alone in the house. He made a mental note to offer to work on the weekends.

He studied the picture of Tommy Clarke. He had the kind of face that women liked – open, friendly, handsome but not too handsome. In every picture he wore the same smile, as though honed until it reached a state of perfection. Maybe it was his smile that had drawn Rachel in. Charmed her and led her down a path that would eventually result in death and disaster.

Clarke was broke when he married Rachel. Though a scholar and a well-respected literature professor at the University of Mississippi, material wealth had escaped him. How thrilled he must’ve been to marry the beautiful Rachel Bennett and get the family fortune to boot. Billy didn’t understand why people stayed in a bad marriage but money and position could be a good motivator. Had Rae tried to leave him? Or did she love him in spite of his abuse?

He ran his finger over the charms of the gold bracelet. It was expensive, perhaps custom made. It was obviously Libbie’s. Was it a gift? She was blunt and plain spoken. Not a woman to wear something so whimsical and feminine. He picked up the bracelet and studied it. “What happened to you, Libbie? What made you so bitter?” He jangled the bracelet. “Was this from your one and only suitor?”

The jangling bracelet triggered another image. The hand slapped him hard in the face. He dropped the bracelet and put his hand to his cheek to ease the sting as though it had just happened. But he knew it wasn’t Finn’s hand that slapped him. Her hands were thin and childlike. Was it his mother’s hand? Had Finn saved him from her? For a moment he saw life through her eyes and it hurt. Nothing came easy for her. Love dodged her. Every man she ever knew betrayed her and drove her to the drink more. Billy was a problem to her, with his stuttering and painful shyness. And because she had no patience for the problems of children the only tools she gave Billy to face life with were impatience and an easy going fatalism.

He noticed the time then gathered up the files and stuffed them back into his briefcase, which he hid in the closet. The bracelet, he put in a plastic baggie and hid it under the mattress.

He pulled on khakis and a white golf shirt. Ran his fingers through his damp hair — now cut short because of the heat. He slipped bare feet into scuffed moccasins, grabbed his keys and headed out. When he opened the door Hanks smiled at him as though he was expected. “Hey there, little buddy.”

Billy blocked Hanks’ entry into the cabin and nudged him toward the porch. “Hey.”

“So, what’s the word?”

Billy plopped into a Adirondack chair on the porch. “You mean since you asked me three days ago?” He hunched a shoulder. “Nothing much.” He stared at his cut and blistered hands. “They’re working me like a dog.”

Hanks leaned against the railing and narrowed his eyes. “Looking pretty sharp for a working stiff.”

Billy shifted in his seat. “Yeah, I’m done for the day. Had to get out of my work duds. Stunk to high heaven.”

“Where you off to?”

Billy shrugged. “They’re having a barbecue and invited me.”

Hanks nodded approvingly. “Getting tight with the sisters then? It’s about time.”

Billy nodded. “Yeah, I’m trying to. Seems like they’re trusting me a little more.” He smirked at Hanks. “Slowly easing into it. Right? Like I said I would. Like I said I needed to.” He held up his hands. “I think I can get them to leave me a lone in the house, soon.”

Hanks nodded. “Better be soon, son.” The tone in his voice made Billy cringe. “Webster is pretty disappointed with your progress so far.”

Billy stood up. “I know, I know. But I told him it was going to take time. Not like they’re going to give a stranger the run of the place off the bat. Right?”

Billy moved toward the steps but Hanks blocked his exit. “You ain’t found nothing?”

“You mean, something that would prove she killed Clarke in cold blood? Nope, she hasn’t confessed yet, if that’s what you mean.”

Hanks put his hand on Billy’s shoulder and squeezed. “No diaries and such?”

Billy removed Hanks’ hand from his shoulder. “Like I said, I’m working on getting the run of the house.” Hanks grunted and followed Billy down the steps to their vehicles. Before Billy got into his truck, he turned to Hanks and said, “What do you guys want from her anyway?”

“Webster wants justice, son. Me, I’m just doing my job.”

Billy twisted his lips. “Define justice.”

Hanks stopped and cocked his head. Quietly he said, “That’s something you’ll have to discuss with Webster.”

Billy was tired of the evasive answers. “What’s the hurry? Does justice have an expiration date or something?” Billy chuckled. “Oh come man, it’s only been three weeks.”

Hanks stared at him for a long moment then said, “Three weeks for you, fifteen years for Webster. You do the math.”

 

Questions and Answers:

What inspired the Character of Billy?

Billy is that crazy, inexplicable, spontaneous character that we all have inside of us (at least a little). He’s wreckless, charming, charismatic and always has at least ten people mad at him at the same time. All he’s really trying to do is find himself, but he takes the most difficult route possible to make that discovery. And I’ve had plenty of “Billy moments” in my life, so I had a wealth of information to draw on.

Why did you do a rewrite?

I originally wrote the book several years ago and almost by accident got published. I was so thrilled to have a publisher’s interest that I didn’t give a thought to editing, cover design or anything really. Later on, and wanted to revamp and revise but the editor wasn’t interested in my doing that. So, when the rights reverted back to me, I was eager to dig in and make it the book it should’ve been in the first place. 

Who’s your favorite author and why?

I have several favorites but two come to mind:

Dean Koontz because of his incredible prose and his deep connection with his characters. For tight, terse, somewhat dark crime fiction, I love Michael Connelly.

What character do you empathize with the most in False Witness and why?

Susan Sparks, Billy’s girlfriend. Because of her strength of character and her love for Billy that sees him through his rather reckless journey.

 
FREE at Amazon Oct 2nd, 3rd and 4th – Grab yourself a copy now! Buy False Witness


Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Shivering Intro to Junior Inquisitor!


Reading Junior Inquisitor By Lincoln Farish comes with a serious warning: You will never look at life the same way...

 

Brother Sebastian is halfway up a mountain in Vermont, hell-bent on interrogating an old woman in a shack, when he gets the order to abandon his quest for personal vengeance.

He has to find a missing Inquisitor, or, more likely, his remains. He’s reluctant, to say the least. Not only will he have to stop chasing the best potential lead he’s had in years, this job—his first solo mission—will mean setting foot in the grubby black hole of Providence, Rhode Island.

And, somehow, it only gets worse…If he’d known he would end up ass deep in witches, werewolves, and ogres, and that this mission would jeopardize not only his sanity but also his immortal soul, he never would’ve answered the damn phone.

 

Sebastian Meets a Screwface:

 

I took another step into the shop, pushing against the waves of evil. On the next set of shelves, I saw a severed hand in a large clear jar. The hand of a slain witch contains the knowledge of the deceased. The possessor then has that knowledge, all her spells and tricks. It’s one of the reasons witches were burned years ago...

A flash of movement from the other side of the room caught my eye. Two handmade Raggedy Ann style dolls were each held fast to the counter by a small black iron chain. The dolls were sitting slumped, as though alive and waiting for release. High-pitched, girlish voices came from them, full of hate, malice, and insanity. A sign in front of them said they were Hogaana Dolls.

A summoned spirit—a soul called from Hell—can be captured and enslaved by a strong or skilled witch. Trapped between here and Hell, the spirit can act as an oracle and tutor—a guide for witches trying to learn and experience new levels of power and what I’d call madness but she would refer to as “clear thinking” or “a deeper understanding.” The drawback is that a spirit is still ethereal and can escape easily unless tightly contained and constantly fed power to keep it here. The bound spirit can be transferred into a vessel to contain it in a form, a body...

My hands were shaking, my stomach roiled, and my eyes stung from the candles and incense. I wanted to flee...

I needed to leave and report back. This was beyond my abilities.

When I looked up, a tall, thin woman was staring at me from behind the counter. Her gray hair grew in clumps between patches of gnarled burn scars. She was dressed in a tight jumpsuit, stained with blood. Rings covered her hands, and I saw the deep purple of porphyrite in one.

Her face had an odd twist to it, as though someone had taken a screw, driven it into her nose, and turned it. She was a Screwface—a witch who thrived on pain and torture. A witch I wasn’t capable of breaking, or even dealing with. And now it was too late for me to escape.

Only a very special type of Inquisitor—a man without empathy, one who would be called a sociopath in the regular world—could deal with them. Formed into teams called Hammers, they’re elite, but they die even faster than regular Inquisitors. Not only do they train longer and harder than my regular Brethren, they receive special instruction on how to deal with Screwfaces. And despite all this training and conditioning, they’re still sometimes reduced to a pitiful weeping mess after one of their Purges.

Her smile reeked of madness and pain.

One of the dolls moved and shrilled, “Make it bleed.”

She glanced at it then raised the hand with the porphyrite ring, which was glowing and snapping in a purple and black nimbus. She was unleashing some spell; only magic was that mind-bending color. “Goodbye, false monk.”

 

 

Answers from Lincoln Farish:

 

When did you start writing?

 

On this series, I started the first one about ten years ago. I'm not sure if I will ever use it, it's a kind of Origins story. Once I wrote it I was kinda hooked, I realized there were many, many more stories about Sebastian that needed to get out. I wasn't in a hurry, and I took my time, hence the slow pace. Since then I finished with my fourth novel in the series.  It's funny I wrote my first book long before I'd ever heard of any of the other authors that write along similar lines. The first time I read Larry Correia, Junior Inquisitor was with my editor. I wish I'd read him earlier, his creation of a useful silver bullet is better than mine.

 

Why Horror?

 

Well I still quibble with the horror genre tag, because I’m not trying to scare anyone. I’m just exploring what would happen if people suddenly were able to do magic. Following that question I had some answers but also more questions. Where would this ability come from, would it uplift the human spirit, or bring out our worst impulses? Then, if they were bad, who would stop them? If all magic users were good I have a Happiest Elf kids story, which for me would be dull. I could have made witches and warlocks both good and evil, but that’s been done. So I went with evil. From that everything kind of sprang forth. How would someone who is evil and very powerful act? What kinds of spells and energies would they have, how would they get more power, how would they act towards each other and regular people? Everyone who’s evil needs some minions, so what would they have and how would they get them? I ended up with this very dark tale about a group of monks who were waging a guerrilla war on evil made manifest. So it’s dark urban fiction that’s almost horror. The “almost horror” modifier came along because apparently I scared some of my beta readers.

 

What research did you have to do?

 

Quite a bit on Providence, it's been a long time since I've been there. And lest anyone think I hate Providence, I do not. I just needed a decent sized town for creatures of madness and mayhem to run around in. I could have picked Worcester, New Bedford, even Hartford. I went with Providence. I also spent time learning about the different orders of monks, so that part of the story would be authentic. On weapons I had a lot less research to do since I've used weapons ever since high school and quite a bit throughout my twenty-eight years in the military. I've been over to Iraq twice, Afghanistan, three times for the military, and spent about a year in Afghanistan working for a private security firm. Every bit of equipment the Inquisitors use I have experience with, the same with their tactics, which made it easy to describe but boring to read. Most of the time when there is a fight people focus on what is right in-front of them. To give a story any kind of continuity and avoid “Well if you remember Bob,” or “”Tell me again what happened when the Ogre attacked,” dialogue I had to expand Brother Sebastian's peripheral awareness. At the same time I didn't want to descend into omnipotence, so it was a balancing act.

 

Why dark urban fiction almost horror?

 

I was really stuck trying to shoe-horn in my story into a genre, because it just didn't quite fit. I'm not trying to scare anyone, act as a warning to the populace at large on the dangers of Cthulhu, or teach a moral lesson like horror usually does. At the same time if you have a group of people who have powers that can and usually do harm regular people, your story is not going to be a happy one. Bad things will occur, people will die, and mayhem will run rampant. It's not dystopic, for most people magic never enters their lives and they go about quite happily unaware it actually exists. Those that do, however, experience all kinds of terrible events and traumas. Set more or less today that kinda makes it urban fiction, minus the romance. So dark urban fiction almost horror.

 

Are Wiccans witches?

 

Not in my books; completely different types of people and motivations. In my world witches are unrepentantly evil, more or less crazy, sacrifice innocents to gain power, and generally nasty all around. Witches will sometime prey on Wiccans, but they could just as easily go after a Girl Scout Troop, or the Moose Lodge.

 

Tell me about these Illustrated Excerpts and the book cover, where did you get them?

 

I have the best editor possible, Danielle Fine. Not only did she make the story infinitely better, she helped create the cover and then did the illustrated excerpts for promotional efforts. Remember I’m new at this and had no idea how to do marketing. She and a few other authors took me under their wings and helped guide me along. For the artwork, I’d like to say it was a collaborative event, but I have no artistic skills. I gave Danielle my vision of what “right” looked like and with a bit of back and forth, okay a lot of back and forth, she made it happen. Of course, now with all of my nit-picking, I owe her some tequila. Probably several bottles.


 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Hypocrisy of Kim Davis


To be quite honest, writing about someone like Kim Davis is one of those times where you will speak with disgust or admiration. You either love her or hate her.

You will notice, first of all, that I did not post a picture of the woman on my blog.

Maybe she is not the ugliest woman on the face of this earth, but to be quite honest, I hate looking at her. I hate seeing her name in the news. And I sneer at both sides that promote her agenda, either from celebrating her stand against gay marriage, to diatribes against her that just fire up both sides of the fence.

We can't just blame the "conservative" media for her polarization.

When you skim through headlines on Liberal media sites, every other title has that woman's name in it.

We all know her name. Some of us are just over it quicker than a good spit in the wind.

To give the woman some relatively decent feedback: I admire the fact that she is now refusing to issue any marriage licenses with her name on them.

I guess if you are going to take a stand, then it may as well be an all-for-none kind of stand.

But I would like to break it down a bit: As the county clerk, it is that woman's job to issue marriage licenses.

If you have ever talked with a judge and asked him/her if he/she has ever had to let someone off that they KNOW as guilty, they will answer affirmative. Because it is their job (no the OBLIGATION) of a judge to follow the laws of the land.

In Romans 13: 1-3 we are implicitly told that we MUST obey the laws of our government: "All of you must obey the government rulers. Everyone who rules was given the power to rule by God. And all those who rule now were given that power by God. So anyone who is against the government is really against something God has commanded. Those who are against the government bring punishment on themselves. People who do right don’t have to fear the rulers. But those who do wrong must fear them. Do you want to be free from fearing them? Then do only what is right, and they will praise you."

This woman maintains that to put her name on a marriage certificate of a gay couple make her just as guilty of the marriage as the couple.

The reality is that the word "homosexual" is not in the Bible.

While Paul in Romans says: "And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."

And let's not even get into Leviticus, which bans everything from shrimp to sitting in the same chair which a woman with her period rested.

As I have said before and often, the Bible that we know today, is not the Bible of ancient times. It has been edited time and time for the convenience of the church, and the mindset of the leaders of the church.

With Paul saying hatefully that women should cover their heads in the church for tempting Adam with the apple. (This all probably done while he crunched away on a Golden Delicious...)

And yet Jesus LOVED women. From Martha and Mary to Mary Magdalene. In fact, the only time Jesus every really lost it was when He found the money lenders in the temple. The man was all about forgiveness.

So to focus on the three times that homosexuality is briefly mentioned in the Bible is heresy to me.

It tends to overlook the duty that she accepted when she became the county clerk and swore to uphold the laws of our land (on a Bible).

Gay marriage is now one of the laws of our land... Fact.

            One of my favorite passages from the Bible is Matthew 7:  "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"

            In all honesty, if that was all that the Bible said, and everyone followed it with their heart and soul, the world would be a better place.

If I look for sin, I look for it in the mirror, and not in the eyes of others, regardless of how much they irritate me to death (yes, I am still working on that one!)

Several people have also pointed out, that although that woman is Apostolic Christian, she is thrice divorced. This is not a big deal for me, to be quite honest.

But in Matthew 19: 9 it says: "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."

But to give her due consideration, her divorces occurred long before she converted to her current faith.

So in her faith, she will no longer commit the sin of divorce. Kudos to her.

My question would be: Has a man or a woman (divorced) ever come into her office and requested a marriage license to wed another?

If the answer is yes, did she issue the licenses, even though it was something that she found very sinful?

If the answer is yes again, then she is a hypocrite. (Yes, I am being judgmental *eyes to the Heavens* "Sorry God".) She invalidated her own faith by letting people who have sinned against their previous spouses with divorce (if the divorce was not for the purpose of fornification).

So she has broken her own rules and yet refuses to bypass them for the law of the land. Which according to the law of the land, divorced people are allowed to remarry. And according to the laws of the land, gay people can now marry.

This invalidates her commitment to the Bible that she swore upon, and her faith that she claims to carry in her heart.

Is she a martyr?

If her religion is one that is dedicated to wiping the idea of "gay" off the face of this earth, then I would volunteer her for martyrdom in her church.

But in my eyes, she has setup her own persecution, and then walked the plank without prodding.

She's still getting paid to be the County Clerk, although she no longer performs all of her duties.

So there is no financial suffering.

She definitely doesn't look starved to death, and has shown no scars from her torture.

A martyr makes the absolute sacrifice for their faith.

            In fact, the literal definition of martyr is: a person who is killed because of their religious or other beliefs. "saints, martyrs, and witnesses to the faith".

If she's still breathing, getting paid, and doesn't have any scars. If she hasn't all of a sudden started Stigmata, I think that we can bypass her martyrdom and go straight for pig-headed (yes, I meant that literally and metaphorically *inject another "Sorry God" here*).

 

 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

A Taste of COFFEE & CRIME by Anita Rodgers!


COFFEE & CRIME

 

By Anita Rodgers

 

Waitress and budding chef Scotti Fitzgerald is six weeks away from realizing her dream - buying her own diner. And everything was going according to plan until her investor stopped returning her calls. 

 

Prologue

After five years of working my ass off to buy Manny’s diner I was hurtling down the home stretch. Then, six weeks from closing the deal, my investor George died under questionable circumstances. Suddenly, I was scrambling to find $60,000 that I didn't have and nobody wanted to lend me. When I learned that a secret buyer was romancing Manny to get the diner away from me, I knew I had to act fast. Or lose everything.

 

My only option was to solve George's murder and collect the reward money his widow offered. Piece of cake. I was a waitress and a pastry chef; crime solving was definitely in my wheelhouse, right? But I couldn’t ignore George’s message from the grave or Zelda, who convinced me we could do it. Ignoring the insanity of our plan, we jumped into a world of deceit, back stabbing, and murder. Who could we trust? Would we make it out alive? That was anybody’s guess. Buying a diner can be murder.

 

 

Chapter One

 

Life is a conspiracy of crazy, illogical, and unfair outcomes. And real life is stranger than fiction so much so that if you wrote a book and told the absolute truth nobody'd believe it. To this day, there are people who don't believe my story though it's the God honest truth. And I'm not somebody who throws God's name around like he's a personal friend.

 

My name is Scotti Fitzgerald and after eighteen years of foster care and ten years of stumbling around, I've learned that life conspires to make you look like a lunatic and a liar whenever possible. And that most people are too busy in their little bubbles to give you the sniff test, much less determine your trustworthiness. That winter was the ultimate in sniff tests, and I'm not sure I came out smelling like a rose.

 

Just when we thought we'd slide into spring with nary a crappy day, winter hit. Winter in California means rain. And the skies opened up and poured that Friday morning at Manny the Cuban's. It was a madhouse. The place was jammed with regulars and first timers looking for an authentic experience. Though authentic might be stretching it. Manny's was a hair above being a hole in the wall and had as much ambience as Mean Mike's cardboard house in Sunland Park. The beat-up booths, old chairs and tables, gaudy posters and bad paint job didn't exactly draw the celebrity crowd but we did okay.

The place was an orchestra of clanging silverware, mumbled voices, sizzling meat, and Cuban music. The drumming rain on the roof provided a nice backbeat and kept the adrenaline dialed on high. Between dodging other waitresses, customers, and random umbrellas hanging off the backs of chairs, it was one death-defying act after another. But to me, it was as much fun as a day at Disneyland.

 

After ten years of waiting tables, I can navigate around bodies, bus trays, briefcases, and pocket books with my eyes closed, and that morning was no different. I was cranked on adrenaline and coffee, and my pockets already bulged with tips. The rain was good news to me, because people get hungry when the weather sucks and they just kept coming. I zipped around the tiny dining room, arms loaded with breakfast plates and more waiting in the pass-through.

 

Manny banged on the bell. "Come on mamsitas! Pick up! Pick up!"

 

I glanced over my shoulder at his big face sticking out of the pass-through like a crazy bobble head. Orders were stacked up under the heat lamps waiting for waitresses to claim them and he was having his usual tantrum. It didn't matter if it was one plate or twenty anything waiting in the pass-through made Manny's blood boil and turned his face a scary shade of red.

 

I dipped, scooted, and sidestepped my way back to the pass-through to pick up more orders. "Take it easy, Manny we're on it." While I stacked plates of eggs, French toast, and empanadas on my left arm, I scanned for anything else that belonged to me.

 

He rolled his eyes at the other waitresses on the floor. "Maybe you Scotti, but them?"

 

"You worry too much." I grabbed a coffee pot with my free hand and headed back out to the hungry masses. Manny worried too much about the small stuff in life. Silly of him because six weeks into the future the diner would belong to me. Plates sitting under heat lamps would soon be my problem. I was counting down the days until Manny stopped whining and went back to Miami. Let them deal with him.

 

I zoomed around the dining room and fantasized about the changes I'd make once it was mine. New tables, new paint, nice artwork, and a new menu. The L.A. Times would write me up in their food column. And a few A-list food bloggers would post rave reviews online. I just knew I could make the place a serious contender in the L.A. food scene and was damned determined to try.

 

I’d spent the last five years working to buy the diner from Manny. Scrimping and saving. Pulling extra shifts. Catering on the side. And I’d paid my dues I handled the scheduling, ordering, and kept the waitresses in line. After all my hard work, God would have to reward me, right? I'd be a real chef. And finally be somebody. I only had to get through the next six weeks.

 

After I dropped off my orders, I ducked outside for a break. I'd been going non-stop since breakfast and needed a few gulps of fresh air even if it was soggy.

 

When I walked out the side door, I saw Zelda had gotten there ahead of me. She stood under the awning that sheltered the recycling bin and kicked back against the wall with her eyes closed. Like she was meditating.

 

Zelda wore her usual uniform of black jeans, a rumpled white shirt, stained apron, and the oldest pair of black Rockport's on record. Her thick black hair pulled back in her version of a ponytail like a dagger made of hair. The tail whipped her in the face when she bobbed her head in my direction. "What kept you?"

 

"How do you always get out here first?" I stepped under the awning and took up the spot on the wall next to her. The rain had slowed to a drizzle, but it was still cold, and I hugged myself, shivering.

 

Zelda shrugged. "Can I help it if you lack my skill and speed?"

I snorted. "Maybe I had more customers than you."

 

Zelda's smile skimmed her face and twinkled her dark eyes. "And maybe you're full of crap."

I wagged a finger. "When I'm the boss you'll have to treat me with more respect, young lady."

 

"Or I'll quit and join the circus." Zelda mimed juggling.

 

I cracked the door and checked the dining room. "Yeah, yeah."

 

Zelda peered over my shoulder. "All clear?"

 

I let go of the door and it hissed closed on pneumatic hinges. I stepped back to the wall and pushed my shoulders against it, to work out the knots. "Nothing to do until the tables turn and the next wave hits."

 

Zelda nodded and went back to her daydreaming under the awning.

 

I met Zelda when I was eight and surrounded by bullies in the backyard of the Harmony House foster care facility. Suffice it to say, there was little harmony there, and Zelda saved me from a sure beating. We've been best friends since. We share a small guesthouse that has a big kitchen and tiny bedrooms but is a palace compared to the foster homes we grew up in.

 

I checked my phone and frowned when I saw there were no messages.

 

"George still giving you the silent treatment?"

 

I shook my head. "He's not giving me the silent treatment. He just hasn't called me back yet." I checked the phone again, but nothing had changed in the last ten seconds. "I don't get it, he never blows me off."

 

Zelda went to the door, checked the dining room, then turned back to me "There's always a first time."

 

"Even if he were blowing me off, I still have his briefcase. He'd call about that, at least."

 

Zelda raised an eyebrow. "Why do you have his briefcase?"

 

"He gave it to me last week and told me to hang onto it until I saw him again. But he hasn't come back for it. Plus we're supposed to sign the final papers for the diner."

 

"Maybe he changed his mind."

 

I gave Zelda a little shove. "Shut up. Never say stuff like that out loud." I pointed to the angry sky overhead. "The universe is listening."

 

Zelda grunted and took up her spot on the wall again. "Oh yeah, the universe." She glanced at me. "George hasn't been in, and he’s not returning calls. But the universe is the problem?"

 

I stared at my ketchup-stained Nikes. "Don't start with the negative crap. I don't want to hear it."

 

Zelda stuck her face in mine. "Scotti, I'm serious. Things ain't right here." Her dark eyes were usually filled with mischief but not this time.

 

I slinked away from Zelda and opened the door. "Better get back to work before Manny busts a vein."

 

The diner emptied out around three, and we collapsed into seats at the counter. While we counted our tips, we munched on greasy French fries with lots of Thousand Island dressing. From the cashier stand, Manny watched us like a hawk honed in on a field mouse and whistled. "Made the big bucks today, eh chicas?"

 

Between fries, we counted out our ones and put them in stacks of twenty. "Can we cash in our ones or don't you need them?" I asked.

 

Manny opened the cash register and wiggled his fingers. "Bring it." We scooped up our stacks and brought them to the cashier stand. Manny took his time counting because he loved to needle us like that.

 

I plopped back down at the counter to finish our fries, while Zelda made us hot chocolates.

Manny squinted at me. "You tip the busboy?"

 

Zelda placed the hot chocolates on the counter and sat next to me. "Did you wear clean underwear today?"

 

Manny's eyes bugged out. "What's the matter with you, asking those kinda questions?" He shook his head and muttered in Spanish.

 

"We always tip the busboys," Zelda retorted. "What's the matter with you asking those kinda questions?" Zelda did an excellent impression of Manny.

 

Manny pulled a white hanky out of his back pocket and wiped his face, then pretended a smile. "Oh you're so funny. Make the jokes at Manny's expense. You like to laugh? I got something gonna make you laugh. I got another buyer wants this place."

 

I choked and spewed hot chocolate across the counter.

 

Zelda smacked me hard on the back. "Don't listen to him. He's screwing with you. Are you okay?"

 

I recovered and nodded. "Yeah, I'm okay." I pushed her away. "Stop smacking me on the back, you big goon."

 

Manny snorted and put his beefy hands on his hips. "Ain't no shit. You got competition." He grinned at me and made the wide eyes. "I got an official muy abudante offer, chica."

 

"Prove it!"

 

Manny crossed his arms over his chest. "I don't gotta prove nothing."

 

I jumped out of my seat and backed him up against the counter. "You're lying."

Manny raised his eyebrows and taunted me with a sly smile. "You think so, chica?"

 

Looking up at the big jerk, I jabbed him in the chest with my finger. "Did you forget that we've got an agreement? You can't sell it to anyone else." I smiled too. "I have it in writing. Signed and notarized."

 

Manny looked down at me. "We'll see."

 

I wanted to slug him with the coffee pot, but I held my temper. "Plus, you gave me your word. You saying your word ain't worth a shit now?"

 

Manny pushed past me and waved his arms around the diner. "My word is my gold, chica. I keep my word, but you gotta keep yours too."

 

I didn't get the shift in Manny's attitude. He always liked yanking my chain, but this was different. Something had changed and dread snaked in my gut.

 

He bobbed around like an amateur boxer. "Funny, I don't see your investor guy around lately. What's the matter, he don't like the food no more? He found another chica to give his money to?"

 

Zelda threw a cream pitcher at Manny. "Bastardo."

 

He ducked; the pitcher hit the wall, then spattered the stainless counter with little white cream boogers. Manny shook a fist at her. "You better clean that up, Zelda."

 

"Asshole! You don't have another buyer, and all you do is talk shit. When Scotti gets this place, it's going to be a freaking holiday. You know why? Because she's a real chef. She actually knows how to cook. Customers will stand on line all day for a table when word gets out that they can get great food instead of your slop."

Manny's nostrils flared. "I don't know, Zelda, the people they come, and they eat. Every day. Every week. Somebody likes Manny's slop. You like the tips you get from people who eat Manny's slop?"

 

Zelda glared at him but said nothing.

 

Manny shrugged and sang to himself as he did a little salsa into the kitchen.

 

Once I was sure he was out of earshot, I grabbed Zelda's arm and squeezed. "Another buyer? What the hell does he mean?"

 

Zelda pried my fingers off her arm. "Jeez Scotti, take a breath. He's messing with you." She flicked a hand toward the kitchen. "Probably thinks if he screws with you enough, you'll pay him more money. It's a bunch of macho bullshit."

 

She frowned at the spray of hot chocolate and cream on the counter. She reached for a towel then said, "Screw it. Let him clean it up."

 

I took off my apron, grabbed my purse from the counter, and put on my jacket. "I hope you're right about Manny, but I don't want to take any chances. I want to get that check now and pay him before something blows up in my face. I have to go see George."

 

Zelda threw on her jacket, grabbed her backpack, and was right behind me. "Good thinking, let's go."

 

I turned back to her. "No, no, no, you're not coming with me."

 

Zelda put her hands on her hips. "Oh yes, I am."

 

"I appreciate the moral support, but I need to see him alone." I nudged Zelda. "This is a business deal I can't drag my best friend with me every time I hit a snag. Otherwise nobody’s going to take me seriously. Right?"

 

Zelda smirked. "But who's going to drive you?"

 

"I can drive myself."

 

"Fine." Zelda stomped to the door, held it open, and pointed outside. "Have fun taking the bus home in the rain, to pick up your car. Hopefully, it'll start." She made a ta-da gesture, pulled up her hood, and walked out.

 

"Damn it, damn it, damn it!" I ran after Zelda and caught up to her in the parking lot. "Okay, okay, you can come with me. But you have to promise to stay in the car."

 

Zelda stared at me over the hood of her beat-up jeep. "What am I, the family dog?"

 

I raked my hands through my hair. "It's not professional. This is business. Zelda, be reasonable."

 

Zelda scorched me with a stare.

 

I huffed and yanked open the passenger door. "Can you at least get me there in one piece? And try not to interrupt me when I'm talking?"

 

Zelda unlocked the jeep and got in. She turned the ignition, and the engine rumbled to life. Smiling, she patted the passenger seat. I climbed in, belted up, and sighed loudly.

 

Zelda gunned the engine. "I knew you'd see things my way."

 

I mimed choking her. "Can we go?"

 

"What's in George's briefcase?"

 

"What? I don't know."

 

"You didn't open it?"

 

"It’s not my briefcase to open." I waved my hand at the street. "Time's a-wasting."

 

Zelda backed out of the parking space and nosed toward the exit. "But maybe whatever is in the briefcase will tell you why he’s out of touch."

 

"Or I could talk to George and ask him why he’s been out of touch." I raked my mop of hair out of my eyes. "Besides we're past that. I need that damn check today. We can talk about hurt feelings another time."

Zelda nodded, pulled into traffic, and headed for Pasadena. Neither of us knowing how hard it would be to talk to George.

 

Copyright Anita Rodgers all rights reserved

 


 
No go BUY IT at