Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Girlfriending: Short Stories ~ Romance/humore






“What’s up?” Andre called down from the flying bridge.
“Not sure,” Otis shouted back. He could snag anything inside ten or twelve feet, but the bottle was out of range. It submerged, then popped to the surface again. Whatever the line held was too small, or weakened, to take it under for long. “C’mere,” Otis hissed, in his raspy whisper. Instead, the bottle moved closer to the algae-coated jetty, green as ripe spinach. Just as Otis decided to get off the boat and try to recover the bottle from the pier’s walkway, it made a break for open water, giving Bubble Watcher wide berth.
Diving in to swim after it was Otis’ only option. He noticed a tampon applicator floating in the coffee-with-cream colored shore-water. A mile or so out to sea, he could count the planks in Bubble Watcher’s hull from a depth of a hundred feet, but in the marina, all manner of waste found its way into the water. Not only that, he had no idea what was hooked on the line. Getting bitten or being speared on the dorsal of a panicky fish was even less appetizing than a leap into the murky water. So, the bottle skittered away, leaving Otis as angry at his own inaction as he was with whoever set the trap.
He jumped down onto the main deck, stowed the gaff and picked up his gear. He dove the summer-warmed ocean in his swim trunks and a tee-shirt. Since Andre, the owner, supplied him with a tank and regulator, he had only to off-load his buoyancy vest, weight belt, mask, fins and snorkel.
Andre climbed down from the bridge and tilted his head toward the jetty. “No treasure?”
Otis hoisted his equipment onto the pier, then glanced in the direction the bottle took. He wanted to tell Andre about the bottle, but the words hung in his throat. “Nah, turned out to be nothing.”
“How was the dive?”
“Spec-tacular. One of those little gals and I found a sea turtle with a wad of fishing line tangled around her flippers. We cut it loose, and she followed us around for most of our dive.” His smiled. “Neat.”
“That ‘little gal,’ the tall drink of water you surfaced with?” When Otis nodded, Andre did a once-around to make sure she wasn’t nearby. “Man, Otie. I was you, I’d be on her like spar varnish.”
Otis winked. “She probably already has a grandpa.” He stepped up onto the stern, then to the pier. “Same time tomorrow morning?”
“Sure. Eleven spots reserved. Probably some walk-ins. Castin’ off at ten sharp.”
“I’ll fill the tanks and have everything good to go.” Otis picked up his gear, walked into the dusty gravel parking lot and discovered the girl they were talking about was parked next to his car. Her shiny red SUV wore New York plates. She was toweling off her robin’s-egg blue aluminum tank. A large woman with olive skin and long raven hair, she was fleshy, but athletic. He judged her to be in her thirties, and imagined she might look at home on a soccer field or a basketball court.
“Hey, Otis.” Her smile came on like high beams. “I really enjoyed the dive. That poor turtle seemed so happy when we cut off the fish line.”
“Yeah, glad we ran across her. Damned monofilament line is ruining the ocean.” The jittering bottle did an encore in his memory as he opened his car’s trunk and laid his gear inside. He almost mentioned it, but as he turned to face her, she stooped to remove the regulator from her tank. Instead, Otis watched the top of her Day-Glo pink swimsuit strain to contain her breasts.
She stood and gave him a knowing look. “I bet you’d like one of these.” She stowed the regulator in the back of her car, and pulled two cans of beer from a cooler.
“There’s the way to my heart, girl. Thanks.”
“What makes you think I’d want your heart?”
“You wouldn’t.” He opened the can and took a sip. “It’s old and worn out, just like the rest of me.”
She laughed hard. “I work with guys half your age who will never be in the shape you’re in.”
“Then they have my sympathy. And what is it you do up there in…?”
“Schenectady. Marketing.”
Otis grinned. “Convincing people to buy what they don’t know they need?”
She wrinkled her nose. “Sometimes. Or what they bought from me a year ago isn’t as good as what I have to sell them today. Companies though, not people.” She closed the SUV’s back hatch and leaned against it, her reflection on the window doubling her beauty. She explained she was a refugee from the dot com collapse of the late nineties and she’d sold software for six years. “The company is moving into a new building in late August, so I bumped my vacation up a few weeks. I get a corner office with a great view of a park, and I need to be there to make sure it’s arranged the way I want.”
“Well, if you have to work, it sounds like you’ve got a great situation.”
“Have to work.” Her laugh rolled. “That’s right, you said you retired. What did you do before you became a dive bum?”
“Michigan State Patrol. Was a trooper for thirty-two years. My wife, Jayne, died a few years back after ten rounds with breast cancer. Right after that, I had a bout with the big C myself.”
For the first time, a serious expression cleared away the woman’s smile. Her dark eyes brimmed with concern, making her even lovelier. “Oh, Otis.” She touched his arm lightly. “You’re okay now?”
“Seem to be. Had surgery and some radiation.” Radiation scared him, especially because he believed radiation exposure from traffic radar caused the cancer in the first place. When the course of treatment ended, he was declared clear of disease, but lacked confidence in his body. To his way of thinking, nurturing cells bent on his destruction amounted to treason. As a trooper, he relied on his body to safeguard his life. Its dalliance with cancer shook him to his core. On the way home from his final radiation treatment, he saw a mid-sixties Pontiac GTO gleaming beneath the wind-tickled plastic flags on a used car lot. Half an hour later, he was writing the chain-smoking salesman a check. The car took Otis back to the time when he was young, strong and healthy. At another level, the control he exerted over such a powerful machine transposed into a feeling of mastery over his body. Otis liked to think of the GTO as an outgrowth of his psyche, although the reverse was probably closer to the truth. “But, yeah,” he told her. “I’ve been clear since.”
“And you had it…where? Do you mind my asking?”
Otis shrugged. “Not if you don’t mind me telling you. My testicles. They took the right one. Managed to save the left.” He raised his eyebrows, amplifying his grin. “Easier to cross my legs, now.”
Dark as she was with a tan compounding her complexion, her blush ripened. “I’m sorry” She laughed. “I deserved that.”
Otis shook his head. “No. You really didn’t. I should watch my manners. I’m the one who’s sorry.”

Author Bio:



Christopher T. Werkman completed a thirty year career as a high school art teacher in 2000. He still paints, but his primary passion is writing fiction. He lives on a few acres outside Haskins, Ohio, with is partner, Karen and too many cats. He plays golf in the summer, indoor tennis all winter, and rides his motorcycle whenever there is sufficient traction.
Mr. Werkman has had over twenty short stories published in various literary magazines and anthologies. His first novel, Difficult Lies, was published by Rogue Phoenix Press in September of 2015.

Keywords: short stories, romance, humour, bizarre, sad


Blog URL:


Twitter : @Chwerks

Monday, August 21, 2017

The night elves on the hill aren't happy without their magic. DEFYING THE ODDS BY C. L. KRAEMER







Author: C. L. Kraemer
Email: clkraemer1@gmail.com

Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2


BLURB:

The night elves on the hill aren't happy without their magic. They concoct a plan to punish those who were involved in the act that rendered them almost human. Meanwhile, Uther, the rogue night elf, has returned to woo the Librarian to be his eternal mate.

EXCERPT


In a meadow east of Eugene, Oregon

Bram ambled up the roughly hewn stairs to the willow lounge chair located at the front of his home. He pulled the scrimshawed pipe from his pocket and filled the bowl with his favorite blend of black cherry tobacco. The paced routine of loading the ivory bowl with fragrant leaves and tamping them firmly into place was one of his favorite after dinner rituals. Withdrawing a matchstick from the inner pocket of his vest, he struck the sulfured end against a river rock he'd placed on the root of the towering oak that served as his home.
The fading evening sky showered the mountains in hues of gold and red. Pushing away the light, a blanket of dark blue velvet sprinkled with luminous star points soon prevailed. Bram puffed smoke rings at the darkening heavens.
"Evenin'." A scruffy black and tan terrier mix meandered up and, after circling three times, lay next to the chubby gnome.
"Evening, Silas. How's the family?"
"Well, thank you. Daisy announced we're expecting--again."
Bram chuckled into his beard. "Congratulations."
"Humph. I'll be glad when we're both too old to care. I came over to ask if there are any jobs in sight. I'll need to be working as much as I can now."
It seemed he got one batch of kids out of the house and another was on the way.
Silence stretched between the business partners. Bram pulled deep draughts on his pipe, blowing the smoke away from his friend. His eyes were drawn to the large block of light spilling from the picture window of the behemoth on the hill. The Saun clan, night elves whose callous actions nearly destroyed the fae population of the meadow and surrounding forests, owned the out of place monstrosity.
Bram squinted his eyes to focus his vision on the methodical movement that broke the beam of light. He could just make out a figure pacing rhythmically in front of the casement. Unable to ascertain which of the night elves was engaged in the determined striding, Bram was sure of only one thing…if the night elves were restless and unhappy, the rest of the valley was in trouble.

~ * ~

Gitty paced in front of the picture window, ignoring the expansive view of the green valley below. The thick carpet covering the hand selected hardwood floors muffled the angry stompings of her boots. At the end of each turn, she jabbed the air with her finger.
"Think you can take away my magic, do you?" She spun on the ball of her foot and stamped to the other side of the room. "We'll see about that!" Jab, jab.
Morgan, the younger of the two siblings, stretched his limbs languidly across the fine leather couch, watching the angry display being played out in the living room, a smirk residing on his lips.
"What has your knickers in a twist?" His leg, hanging over the arm of the couch, swung slowly back and forth.
Gitty broke her tirade for a moment. "I'm surprised yours aren't. How can you tolerate not having magic to use?"
"Because, dear sister, I don't need magic to get my way. I have my," he waved a hand up and down his body, "obvious attributes."
Gitty grimaced. "Please. Don't make me sick."
Pulling to an upright position, Morgan stretched his long legs in front of him, tucking his hands behind his head.
"You're just jealous."
"Hardly."
"Then what's your problem?"
"I don't fancy living my life in pubs among the scum of the valley sponging off the pity of strangers. My plans include owning all I see."
Morgan rose from the couch and faced his sister.
"Good luck with that. Even the Others are wise to your quest for power. I'm going out. See you later." He moseyed out of the living room and down the hall.
Gitty gritted her teeth. Morgan might be her brother, but he was useless when it came to thinking beyond his next good time.
She glared at the source of the fingers of light stretching over the meadow. The owner of the Lending Library was an Other the local fae had embraced with open arms. Even Uther, the one-time leader of the night elves and her uncle, had taken a personal interest in the older female.
"Must be losing his sanity."
She spotted a pinpoint of red light glowing in the far distance. As hard as she tried, she couldn't sense the origin of the light.
"I hate not having my magic!" She smacked the wall with her hand, immediately regretting the action. Bolts of pain shot up her arm.
"Damn it!"
Turning on her heel, she tramped out of the room.