Watch “RWISA” Write Showcase Tour/Jeff Haws

RWISA TOUR (1)Jeff

Dim Light Breaks by Jeff Haws

Jolting upright, I squeeze the Jack Daniels bottle between my thighs just before it tips over to the floor. I look down and see the black label staring at me; the little bit of whiskey that’s left is tilting toward the lip, ready to fill my shoes if my legs can’t hold onto it. I briefly wonder if this is why they give these bottles flat sides, for better drunken, convulsive thigh catches. It’s saved me on more than one occasion from having shoes full of whiskey. Well, that and my ability to leave the bottle mostly empty.

I grab the top of the bottle and pull it back up, then try to raise my head; the room rotates quickly, lights blur and walls smudge while my head bounces on a neck that refuses to carry the weight. Enough of these nights will teach you the chair is always your better bet than the bed. I’d have already puked into my own lap if I’d been in bed, but keeping your feet on the floor helps ground you against the worst of the drunken spinning head. When I know I’m spending the night with Jack, I’ll always stay downstairs in the recliner with my feet firmly planted on the linoleum.

My head bobs left and settles on my shoulder; in front of me, the window reveals a purple sky with a sliver of dim light peeking over the ground, between the neighbors’ houses across the street. What does that make it? 6:30 maybe? I can’t remember if I ever fell asleep. I’m not confident I’ll ever fall asleep again.

The people across the street, though-I’m sure they’re asleep. Spencer and Mary are in bed right now, dead to the world. Her head’s probably resting on his fucking shoulder. He snores a little bit, but she’s used to it by now. Probably even comforts her, just being reminded he’s there. I fucking hate these people. I really do. Their whole lives are based around creating these perfect little characters so the rest of us feel even shittier about our own lives. But you can’t even get mad at them, or you look like the jackass who’s jealous and screwed up in the head. Not the people who pretend they’re something they’re not. No it’s the guy who minds his own business and is genuine about who he is who’s the fucked-up one. That’s the way the world works.

I spin the bottle around in my hand, looking at the liquid slosh around in waves. Bubbles cling desperately to the glass walls but can’t hold on, splashing back down into the molasses-colored pool below. I raise the bottle and tilt it toward me; the whiskey burns just a bit as it hits the back of my throat, the sting helping to delay the inevitable throbbing head that’ll come next. I lift the bottle and splash the last few drops into my mouth, shaking it to make sure there’s nothing left, then drape my arm over the side of the chair and let the bottle fall to the floor with a heavy clink.

I have no idea what day it is. Am I supposed to be at work in a couple of hours? When every day’s the same, it’s hard to say. Time is just change, in the end. If the sun didn’t come up and go down, the Earth didn’t rotate, the world never changed, there’d be no way to measure it. Essentially, there’d be no such thing as time. People’s lives can get like that too. When the days start blending together, how do you measure time? And, even more so, what’s the point?

That sun that’s gradually getting closer to showing itself isn’t going to bring anything good with it. The dark is better. You can hide when everybody else is sleeping. You don’t have to look at how your neighbors’ lives reflect your own inadequacies. You don’t have to face yourself. The dark lets you be alone, lets you wallow and embrace whatever misery is there to be embraced. The morning just exposes it all to those smiling faces with white teeth all lined up in a row.

I  know they don’t approve of me. I see them at church and they say hi, but you can see it’s forced. There’s no small talk. No more invitations to their lake house. Just hollow greetings if they can’t avoid me. When Adrian would show up with fresh cuts and bruises on her arms, I know they suspected something. I think she purposefully tried to make them just a little visible. A small cry for  help, maybe. She’s been gone awhile, though.

Now, God wouldn’t approve of what I’ve become. This writhing mass that passes the hours of insomnia with liquor straight from the bottle. He can smell the whiskey on my breath just like the neighbors can. I don’t even know why I go to church anymore. When I can remember it’s Sunday. He can see my heart’s not there, that I wish I could have a handle of some devil’s water with me when I’m kneeling in front of a pew. It’s not that I don’t have faith that there’s someone in control it’s that whoever that someone is has delivered me into this reality, this life. Whatever this is. Becoming an atheist almost seems redundant. When our belief is this tainted, is it even worth the bother of leaving behind?

I figure I’ve been strapped to this chair long enough, so maybe I’ll wander upstairs. I have blackout curtains in the bedroom; I can shut the world out up there. Pretend I’m somewhere else, somewhere better. Somewhere new. There’s no way I’m stepping foot outside today.

Standing up, I get a feel for just how much I really drank; my legs nearly buckle, and I fall back toward the chair. My hand catches on the chairs arm and stabilizes me while I try to forget about the merry-go-round in my head. Ten seconds pass, then twenty. Finally, I lift my hand off the chair arm and pause to see if I can stand up. My legs wobble and hold; slowly, I bring my hand further up from the chair and straighten from my hunch. My arms are spread to my sides like I’m on a balance beam, trying to keep my center of gravity above my feet. I take one careful step forward, then another, deliberate slow, momentum building as I reach the banister for the stairs and grab  hold hard.

Each step is becoming a little easier, now getting help from my left hand, pulling my body up the stairs one foot at a time, finally reaching the hall. I’ll need an aspirin or four before I lie down. If I’m lucky, I’ll sleep. If not, I’ll stare at the ceiling in the dark for awhile.

I open the door to the room and step   through; the bed is just a few step in front of me. I walk quietly to it and stop, bending careful over the mattress. I pull back the quilt a little bit and bend further, kissing her forehead gently. she’s only six, and she deserves me to be better than  this. It’s kind of amazing we’ve made it this far; she believes her mom is someplace better, and I do nothing to dissuade her from that. Hell, I hope she’s right. But if so, I can’t join her there now. There’ s more for me to do. If there is a god, this is the one lifeline he’s thrown me, and I’m clutching to it with everything I have. She’ll get me to the other side of this. she’ll be the light breaking through the dark. It’s dim now, but it’ll shine brighter if I can rise with it.

I pull the quilt back up under her chin and fold it back across her shoulder. Then I back out the way I came and shut the door behind me, careful not to let the latch click. My bedroom’s down the hall, and more darkness still awaits.

 

 

Thank you for following Jeff Haws. Go to the  Rave Reviews Book Club site and then click on the RWISA link. Also check the book catalogues for a listing of his books. Follow him on his website http://www.jeffhaws.com and on twitter and Instagram @ByJeffHaws

Posted in literature, short stories, story collection, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment

Watch “RWISA” Write Showcase Tour/DL Finn

RWISA TOUR (1)DL Finn

Expansion

Flowing out before me-while approaching-

In the sweeping motion of a grand gesture

Presenting its soulful sweetness.

Behind me is a small desert I’ve crossed-shoeless

While carefully stepping over the littered offerings.

Salt saturates my senses

As the gentle-wind styles my hair,

With the latest sea breeze fashion.

My eyes are  opened to new possibilities

With a window into its wonders,

With every wave that greets my feet,

The sun soaks into my skin

Cradling me in its warmth and completing the moment.

I stand in awe before the substantial sea

Observing its vast expansion of life-

That I’m humbly a part of.

Soaring

I soar above it all

In a human-made machine

Taking me places

Only my soul has dared to venture.

Up into the heavens,

Higher than the loftiest of birds,

I soar above my life

Going from one place to another.

The clouds which usually blanket me

Are perched like a safety net below,

Holding me above the sea.

Lives seem so small

As our group is thrust forward

Some sleep-

Some read-

Some watch movies-

While others drink.

It’s a long trip with strangers

All going to the same destination

But right now, we are …

Above it all in our metal bird-soaring!

Doorway

Through the trees

The sky is orange, red, and grey

Covering the fleeing blue stratosphere

As the night suppresses the day.

The birds fill the trees

Singing their goodnights

As I pull on a sweater

In a shiver from the receding light.

The setting sun is a time of reflection

Of the night and of the day

A balance of both places

In the sunset’s doorway

Thank you for following D.L.Finn on this tour of amazing talent. Go to Rave Reviews Book Club site to learn more about her and her work. Follow her on twitter; @dlfinnauthor

Posted in literature, poems, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment

Watch “RWISA” Write Showcase tour/ Nonnie Jules

RWISA TOUR (1)Nonnie Image

Prison Wives

I am an unlikely character to tell these stories, but, I do know that each day that we are blessed to open our eyes, we never know what surprises, good or bad, that day will bring. No matter how much and how well we plan, the universe always steps in to show us just how much, we are not as in control of things as we thought we were.

These are real stories of moms, wives, spouses..those significant others who are left behind; those innocent, and maybe even not-so-innocents, who are left to pick up all the pieces that are shattered when their husbands walk out the door and don’t return in the time frame in which they are expected to.

No, he didn’t run off with another woman..he was apprehended somewhere between here and there by a law enforcement officer, and for whatever reason, he’s now being held behind bars…property of the city until the state steps in to claim ownership. And, although these men are the ones incarcerated, it is the entire family that serves the time.

These are not sob stories to drum up sympathy for the accused. But, this book will serve as a doorway into an open dialogue, so that we are all aware of just how much children suffer when their dads are taken away.

These stories are but small ways to shine light on the effects of imprisoning low-level offenders for long periods of time, ripping them from their children’s lives, and the negative imprints left behind. This is a plea for reform of a justice system that will quickly parole a drug dealer, murder, rapist or child molester, who will more than likely repeat-offend, yet hangs onto low-level offenders who may have made a one-time mistake or even worse, was forced to take a plea for a crime which he is innocent of, simply because he was too poor and couldn’t get top-of-the-line defense. We do know that this happens, don’t we?

Lastly, this is so that we don’t forget those that are forced to soldier up and walk into battle each and every day, standing on the front lines of a war that they have been shielded from for far too long. These soldiers fight daily just to keep a roof over the heads, food in the mouths, and hope in the spirits of the children who are also being penalized in this war.

These are the stories of Prison Wives.

Chapter One-Sammy

Sammie was so excited about their upcoming road trip. Not for the travel element, but because their son Jeremy, was about to lead his team to another high school championship for a third straight year. Jeremy was a senior and also big man on campus, as Rozdale High’s, 6’3, All-American Quarterback. The one drawback to Sammie’s excitement, was they had to travel cross country to play. Sammie hated to travel, she also hated to fly, so road trips were always the name of the game for her family. This year, she was especially apprehensive about their road trip and yet, she had no idea why.

The drive would take them 21 hours and 32 min. to reach their destination of Clearwater, FL from Lubbock, TX. And, since Jeremy had to be there on Friday, this would mean a full day and a half of travel prior to. Sammie, mother of three daughters and one son, knew that her husband Josh had a suspended driver’s license, yes, he would have to share the drive time with her anyway. This was not an option as none of their children were of legal driving age, and Jeremy, the oldest, would not get his license until he turned 18 in the following year.

On that hot July morning as they backed out of their driveway, Sammie sat in the passenger seat and prayed. “Dear Lord, guide my family safely from this place to the next and back again. Return us all safely to our home…together. Amen.” Sammie wasn’t what you’d call a deeply religious woman, but she embraced her spiritual side and she strongly believed in the power of prayer.

The family drove along interstate 20, then passing Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, they finally entered into the state of Florida. There were many stops along the way, but it was the last one that they would never forget. With almost seven hours left in their journey, they heard the sounds of a police siren behind them. When Sammie looked over her shoulder from the back seat, which she’d retired to hours before to stretch her legs, her heart sank so low, she could almost hear it hit the floor of the rental van.

Pulling over into the gas station they were headed to for their next potty-break, Sammie’s mind raced wildly. Not only did Josh have a suspended license, but he also had an outstanding warrant back home for a false probation violation, which they were aware of.

“I know I wasn’t speeding, officer,” Josh offered as the policeman approached his door.

“Yes, you were, sir,” the officer responded, surprisingly with a smile. A lie, I thought. “License and registration, please.”

Knowing all too well that it was going to take a miracle to keep him from being arrested right there, Josh, ever-protective of his children and family, asked the officer if they could get out of the van to use the restrooms. It the worse happened, he didn’t want his children to see him in handcuffs or in the back of a police car. The officer said “Sure,” again, with the same smile on his face.

With his entire family inside, Josh tried to convince the officer to please let him get his family to safety and then he would return home to deal with the issue. His wife had no idea how to make the rest of the long journey without him, he shared. But, still being kind, the officer said that he just couldn’t do that. He had to take him in.

Sammie’s phone rang from inside the gas station. “He is arresting me,” came Josh’s shaky voice through the phone. Her heart sank again. “You are going to have to make the rest of this trip without me. Sam, you can do it.” His voice quickly changed and now held a firmness to it. He knew he had to appear strong or she would quickly become unraveled.

Tears filled Sammie’s eyes. She’d been married to this man for 15 years and for 15 years he’d taken care of her, done everything for her…made her life so easy. Now, he was telling her she had to continue on this long journey without him. OK, but when they arrived, what then? Josh had shielded her from the real world for so long, she wasn’t sure if she could take a breath without him. But, she had to… for their kids. If she had been alone, she might have given up right then and there.

Sammie stood in the parking lot and watched the officer drive away with her husband in the back seat of the car, while she asked the kids to stay inside and away from the windows.

When she realized that she wasn’t dreaming, she wiped her tear-stained face with the tissue in her hand. Composed and in brave face, she walked back inside to collect her children, as they were now both her reason and her strength to get them through this long, arduous journey-a weekend without their father and then back to Texas, safe and sound.

Sammie had no idea how hard it would be once they headed back home five days later with the questions and comments from the kids about their father. “We can’t leave here without him,” said 8-year-old Vanessa. “How is he going to get home?” asked 12-year-old-Maggie. “Why can’t we just stay here until this is straightened out? It can’t take that long,” added 16-year-old Zandra, the sassy one of the bunch. Sammie was thankful at that moment that Jeremy had chosen to remain silent. His un-asked question was one less stab to her heart.

Not knowing the severity of the situation, Sammi drove along, oblivious to all those words that could cut deep into her heart. How would she find the words to tell these kids. who had never gone more than 7 hours without seeing the dad they worshipped, that she didn’t know when he’d be coming home again?

Thank you for stopping by to read Nonnie Jules story. To learn more about Nonnie Jules go to Rave Reviews Book Club. If you have become a fan then go RWISA link and read more about her and check out the book link on both sites. Once again I wish to say thank you for stopping by.

Posted in literature, short stories, story collection, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment

Watch “RWISA” Write Showcase Tour/ Marlena Smith

RWISA TOUR (1)Marlena

Will it ever be enough?

Will I ever be complete?

These questions haunt me;

They scream out defeat

 

A mind vacant of answers;

A soul lost in time;

A heart full of sadness;

And eyes that just won’t shine.

 

A whisper full of sorrow;

A smile full of regret;

A life less than ordinary;

One I wish to forget.

Life is too precious to not make the most of every day.

Cherish memories.

Strive to make more.

Make every moment count.

Tell others you love them.

Forgive quickly.

Laugh often.

Pray every day.

Have a thankful heart

*******

Author Bio

Marlena Smith is a true Southern Belle at heart. Her home has always been in Alabama and she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Growing up as a preacher’s daughter, faith and family played a large part in her life.

Her earliest memory of writing was that of 2nd grade when she was selected to attend the Young Author’s Conference in her home state. Little did she know then that her future was being mapped out.

Marlena now wears many hats, including: writer, author, blogger, freelancer, reader, reviewer, researcher, paranormal enthusiast, traveler, and Secretary of Rave Review Book Club. Writing, though, has and always will be her main passion in life.

Marlena has several works in progress, including an upcoming short romance, titled The Power Of Love. This debut book is expected to be out in 2017. In addition to her debut, she has a romance novel, a cookbook and a horror screenplay on her to do list.

Follow Marlena online:

Twitter @_MarlenaSmith_

Facebook-@AuthorMarlenaSmith

Instagram-@MarlenaLafaye930

 

 

Posted in literature, poems, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment

Watch “RWISA” Write Showcase Tour/ Joy Lo-Bamijoko

RWISA TOUR (1)Joy Lo-Bamijoko

Woman

He calls me Woman because that’s the way some men refer to their wive in this part of the world. He calls me Woman! But I have a name.

Ngozi is alone in her house. She sits all alone in her well-furnished parlor, on a love sofa, reading a magazine. Beside her on a side table is a glass of red wine from which she sips. Her feet rest comfortably on a beautifully decorated ottoman. Her toenails are not painted, but are well-manicured, so are her fingernails. In front of her, a widescreen television shows a soap opera. The sound is tuned low so she can hear the dialogue as well as hear what is happening around her. Calm and peace surround her, but not for long.

She hears a car pulling stealthily into her open garage. She knows who it is. Her moments of peace and reprieve are over. With haste, she quietly puts everything away; her glass of wine, the wine bottle, her magazine, and she wipes and cleans away the telltale signs like the reclining sofa that shows she was resting. She turns off the television and hurries into the inner room of her house.

Emeka walks stealthily into the house with his briefcase, without making any sound, as if to catch the wife in some mischief. He sniffs around and scans the house with his eyes looking for her. Everything is spick and span clean, and there are no signs of any mischief in his house. Finding nothing to hold against his wife, he tosses his briefcase onto one of the sofas. He walks to the switchboard and puts on the fan, picks up the newspaper, flops down on the sofa, and pulls at his tie to loosen it. He crosses his leg and reads his newspaper.

Ngozi returns to the parlor with a tray.

“You are back!” She smiles and offers Emeka a glass of water. “Your food is ready,” she says, walking away toward the dining area.

“You are back, you say. What do you think, that I won’t be back” He sucks his teeth and goes to the dining table to eat.

She serves him his food.

He finishes eating and withdraws to his room….mind you, they sleep in separate rooms–he changes into something comfortable; khaki shorts and a white tee. He returns to the parlor, sits down again, and reads his newspaper.

Ngozi finishes tidying up the dining room and the kitchen and returns to the parlor, sits and picks up her magazine to read.

“Have you nothing to do, Woman?” Emeka frowns at her.

“Is there anything you want me to do for you?” she fires back without looking up from her magazine. Emeka looks at her with a frown on his face.

“What is this new thing about sitting around doing nothing:”

“I have finished my work, and I am resting!”

“Resting from what? Have you mended the button that fell off my shirt this morning? Have you fixed it?”

“Yes.”

“And my socks?”

“Yes.”

Emeka tries to think of something else to say, some job she must have missed, and not coming up with anything, he shrugs. “Well, if you have nothing else to do, find yourself something to do.” He returns to his reading and, at the same time, waits for her to leave.

Ngozi doesn’t move. He wants me to leave? He doesn’t even think of me as his wife. He calls me Woman. As if calling me his wife will give me the respect he isn’t willing to give me; the respect he has always denied me all through this marriage.

 I know why he calls me Woman. To put me down, way below him, so that he can continue trampling on me. He knows that as a wife, he will owe me the respect which will allow me to sit here with him, relax and read, if I want. But as Woman, I will always remain his thing, his toy, his property to be bullied into subjection. I will not leave. Let him do his worse!

She sits tight, but alert. She doesn’t know what her stubbornness this time will trigger, but she sits nervously, waiting for his next move. She fixes her eyes on the magazine, but lowers it enough for her to see Emeka’s movements. She has been on the receiving end before for less than this with him throwing objects at her or whipping her with his belt.

Not anymore! This time, I will fight him if he tries to lay a finger on me.

Emela is also jittery. He is used to being obeyed. He doesn’t understand this new attitude from Woman. After many years and four kids, she should know his likes and dislikes. Why is she being so stubborn? For much less than this, he would have taught her a good lesson. Where is she getting this courage from, enough to challenge him? Our people say that if you come out in the morning and your chicken begins to chase you, you better run because you don’t know whether the chicken grew teeth the night before. Woman has grown more than just teeth, she has grown wings!

“Did you hear me Woman?” he growls at her.

Woman stands up, slaps her magazine on the small center table, and huffs and puffs as she walks away.

Emeka tenses up with a level voice. “What do you think you are doing, Woman?” She doesn’t respond and continues to walk away.

“Stop!” Emeka shouts. She stops, turns, her expression questioning.

He fumes. “Can’t you understand that when I come home, I want to rest! I work myself to death from morning to night to provide for you, and when I come home, you will not allow me to rest.”

“What have I done? What did I say?”

“You are disturbing me. Do you hear that? You are disturbing me!” he shouts.

“What do you want me to do?” Ngozi asks, feigning remorse.

Emeka glares at her and holds her gaze for as long as it suits him; then he shrugs and resumes his reading.

Ngozi returns to her seat, picks up her magazine, and flips noisily through the pages. Emeka looks at her with a twisted upper lip. He realizes that Woman is looking for a show down.

Woman on her part is thinking that after so many years of marriage and four kids, she has earned respect for herself. She deserves, no, she demands to be respected. This house is her house, too. She has every right to enjoy it as much as he does. She works herself too hard cleaning, cooking, and making the house comfortable, for her not to enjoy it, as well.

The days are gone when she squirmed at the sound of his car, his voice, his threats. Now, with her children grown, and in position  to defend her from their father, she sure has grown wings. Her kids have warned their father of the repercussions of beating their mother ever again. She smiles to herself.

He cannot touch me anymore. I have arrived. Is he even sure that he can defeat me in a fight? I know I can beat him! After all, I’m bigger than him. Why should I find something to do when I have nothing to do? What is wrong with sitting down and relaxing? Why should he relax and not me? He doesn’t work more than I do.

Emeka stares at Woman some more, and then he gathers his things and walks off. Ngozi does not even raise her head from her magazine.

After casually turning another page in the magazine, she says, “My name is Ngozi.”

Thank you for supporting this member along the Watch “RWISA” Write Showcase Tour today. We ask if you have enjoyed this member’s writing, go to Rave Book Review Club where you will find the RWISA link. You will find more of their writing along with contact and social media links, if you become a fan. We ask that you also check out their book in the RWISA or RRBC catalogues. Thank again for our support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in literature, short stories, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment

Short Story Saturday – A Tribute

Author Don Massenzio

Glen CampbellThis week, the music world lost another great. Glen Campbell, the talented singer and guitarist passed away at age 81. What struck me about his death was that he died without remembering who he was. Anyone who heard him play guitar or listened to him sing those great Jimmy Webb ballads recognized his talent immediately.

Before he became a solo phenomenon, he was a very sought after studio and touring musician because of his talent on the guitar. He played on some very famous singles and albums including The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds.

His diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease struck me as a cruel end to someone who had brought so much joy to so many during his career. I last saw him on Conan O’Brien’s show as he was in the midst of his farewell tour. He struggled noticeably as he played the guitar, an instrument that was an extension…

View original post 1,962 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Watch “RWISA” Write showcase tour/ Amy Reece

RWISA TOUR (1)Amy Reece

Crazy Cat Lady

Cat Sitter Needed

$50 Cash——One Night Only

Apply in Person

653 Silverwood Ln Apt B

Rita looked from the folded newspaper to the small adobe duplex in front of her.

Well, here goes. My chances of getting murdered or sold into a sex trafficking ring are pretty good, but I need the fifty bucks.

Need might be overstating it, but she wanted to go to the concert and she didn’t have the money for the tickets. Her meager paycheck from her work-study job didn’t stretch much further than covering the bare essentials. If she wanted any fun money, she had to find other ways to acquire it. She’d done it all: research studies, selling her plasma, modeling for art studio artists. Answering a jinky ad in the college newspaper was nothing. She had left a note in her dorm room telling her slumbering room mate where she was, so at the very least maybe they’d be able to recover her body. She shook off the dark thoughts and approached the house.

A tall, thin elderly woman answered the door. “Yes? How can I help you?”

Rita held up the ad. “I’m here about the cat sitting job.”

“Oh my dear, yes.” Well, come in.” She opened the screen door and stood back to allow Rita to enter.

The living room smelled musty but looked tidy, with sagging, old fashioned furniture covered with bright, hand-crocheted afghans and doilies. Several cats raised their heads from where they snoozed on the cushions, then lowered them disinterestedly. A tray with a flowered china teapot and matching cups was set on the coffee table.

“Have a seat and I’ll pour you a cup of nice hot tea. It’s so chilly out this evening. Isn’t it?”

Rita sat and accepted the cup of steaming tea while she frowned at the woman. “Were you expecting someone else?”

“Oh no,” the woman said breezily. ” I was expecting you.” She smiled as she sipped her tea. “Or someone like you. I put an ad in the paper and I knew someone would be along presently.” More cats of every color had wandered into the room. There had to be nearly fifteen cats winding their way around her feet, perching on the back of her chair and leaping into her lap.

“Oh,” Rita nodded dumbly and fumbled with the handle of the delicate cup, spilling tea into the saucer. “So, when exactly do you need the cat sitter?”

“Well, tonight, of course. I need to go visit my sister in Santa Fe. I’ll be back soon after breakfast tomorrow. Now let me show you where I keep their food.” She reached forward to set her cup on the table.

“But, but,” sputtered Rita, “don’t you want to know about me? About my qualifications?”

The woman laughed lightly. “It’s only feeding a few cats, dear. It’s not rocket science. Come along.” She stood, shooing the cats from her lap, and leading the way into the kitchen. “The dishes are here.” She pointed to a row of small ceramic bowls lining a dish drain. “And the food is in this cabinet. They like to eat around nine and then you can wash up.”

“Okay.” Rita nodded and counted the bowls. There were only six. “Do they take turns eating? Should I refill the bowls after the first group eats?”

“I think you’ll find one round is more than enough. Most of these are ghost cats, of course. Poor dears.”

Rita stared at her blankly. “Ghost cats?”

“Yes. They seem to be drawn to me. They just can’t move on quite yet. They’re not like dogs, you know.”

Rita didn’t know in fact, the only thing she was sure of was that this woman was obviously insane.  Ghost cats? What the hell?  But fifty bucks was fifty bucks, and if she had to placate a crazy woman to get it, she was glad to.  “Great. No problem.”

“Now feel free to help yourself to anything if you get a little peckish.” She led the way back to the living room where she picked up a small, old fashioned train case that Rita hadn’t noticed before. “Be sure to lock up after me. Have a good night and I’ll see you early tomorrow.”

Rita stood in the middle of the living room and watched her leave. “Wait! How do I—.”

She wrenched the door open to ask her final question, but the woman was gone. She stepped onto the porch and looked up and down the street, noticing red tail lights at the stop sign at the far end. She must have had a cab or an Uber waiting.  She struggled and closed the door, locking it as instructed.

Then she turned to address the room.”Well, cats and kittens, I guess it’s just us for the rest of the night. At least she keeps this place clean. With this many of you it could really reek.” She’d eaten an early dinner at the cafeteria so she wasn’t hungry.

The remote was on a side table, so she grabbed it up and found a cat-free cushion to sit on. The woman didn’t have cable, but Rita managed to find a rerun of a show she enjoyed and sat back to while away the hours until feeding time. The cats, for the most part, minded their own business and left her alone. A few finally crept close enough to sniff her, but then stalked away. She’d never been much of a cat person, so she took no offense.

Feeding time went off without a hitch and the woman had been correct; six bowls were more than enough. Cats came and nibbled, but none cleaned out their bowls. Many of the cats simply came and stared at the food without touching it. Weird. Maybe they are ghost cats.

She got hungry around midnight, but found nothing but a few stale crackers in the cabinet. She took them with her to the couch, pulled one of the crochet afghans over her legs, and fell asleep watching an animal show.

The key in the lock woke her the next morning. She sat, rubbing sleep from her eyes.

“Good morning. I’m sorry I woke you. How did everything go last night?” The woman set her train case by the door as she walked in.

“Um fine. Yeah, everything went great.”

“Oh good.” She rummaged in her purse for her checkbook and a pen. “Now, I’ll let you fill in your name. Here you go.” She handed her the check.

Rita glanced down at it, noting the spindly handwriting but satisfied that it was indeed for fifty dollars. Sweet. Easy money. She sat up and folded the afghan and laid it across the back of the sofa. “Thanks. Well, have a nice day.” She waved awkwardly as she let herself out of the apartment.  I’ll just swing by the bank and cash this, then stop to buy the concert tickets on my way home.

“Can I help you?” The voice came from the house next door. “What are you doing?”

“Huh?” Ria turned as the woman marched down her front path to confront her.

“Were you in that apartment? How did you get in? That door is supposed to be locked. Oh, I’m going to kill my husband! He never checks!”

“Excuse me?”

“What were you doing in there?”

“Nothing! I mean, I was watching that lady’s cats for her.” She realized she’d never asked the woman’s name. “She paid me. See?” She held up the check for the woman.

The woman glanced at the check and frowned. “I don’t know what kind of game you’re playing but you better got out of here before I call the cops!”

“What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything wrong! I answered an ad in the paper to come and watch that lady’s cats for the night. She paid me fifty dollars. See?” She showed the check to the woman again.

The woman snatched the check from her hand. “Nobody lives there! The woman with all the cats died two years ago! We’ve had a heck of a time getting renters to stay because they swear it’s haunted or some nonsense! Now, if you’re not here about renting the place then I’m going to ask you to leave. Now. Before I call the police.” She glanced down at the check, laughed briefly and handed it back to Rita.

Rita took the check and looked at it to see what could have made the woman laugh. Her eyes widened as she saw it was not a check at all; it was nothing more than a piece of torn newsprint. It fluttered to the ground as she ran, the woman’s laughter echoing behind her.

 

Thank you for supporting Amy Reece along this Watch “RWISA” Write Showcase Tour today! We ask that if you enjoyed this member’s writing to visit the Book Review Book Club and click on the “RWISA” link. We also ask that you check on the book catalogue for a list of their books. Thank you once again for your support and we hope that you will follow each member along this amazing tour of talent!

 

 

 

 

Posted in animal stories, fantasy, ghost stories, literature, short stories, Uncategorized, writing | Leave a comment