Monthly Archives: March 2015

This and That – Collection of Light and Dark Tales, by Anne K. Edwards

This and That 200x350TitleThis and That – Collection of Light and Dark Tales

Genre:  Various

Author:  Anne K. Edwards1

Websitehttp://www.AnneKEdwards.com

Publisher:  First Realm Publishing

Purchase on Amazon 

SUMMARY:  A collection of short stories written in various genres. Among them are Death and the Detective tales, a story about the devil outsmarting himself, the destruction of Earth, a tale of beings part human and part robotic, and others.

IT HAPPENED IN KANSAS

The year I was twelve, my grandfather, Milt Dauerhaus, introduced me to his great pal, Aaron Lazarus. I was visiting Grampa Milt just as I had every summer since I was seven and I knew most of the people in town and his old neighbors who farmed those great stretches of land around Armendagh, Kansas. Armendagh is a small town located in the middle of nowhere on a hot, dusty plain covered with miles and miles of corn, wheat, and sunflowers.

Grampa Milt had sold his farm and moved to town when he turned seventy five. He told me he’d been saving an introduction to Mr. Lazarus until I was old enough to understand that while he seemed a bit different from most folks, he was special too.

Mr. Lazarus had deep lines in his face and his blue eyes sort of looked at you out of slits in his face. Those lines were from his always smiling. My first encounter with him was pleasant and I found him interesting because he’d been a railroad engineer. He told me to come back to see him any time.

A funny thing happened though as we rose to leave. Mr. Lazarus said kind of abruptly, “No, I haven’t found your glasses.”

I looked around but there was nobody there. Just us, and we hadn’t asked him about any glasses. He was looking at an empty chair too.

He caught me gaping at him. Mr. Lazarus had his glasses on so who was he talking to? I kind of thought maybe he was just getting a little silly since he was so old. You know, like he couldn’t remember what we’d been talking about.

Smiling, he said, “Sometimes I forget my manners and speak my thoughts aloud.”

I said, “Oh.” And looked and Grampa Milt who was laughing into his hand.

“She’s had you hunting those glasses since she crossed over. Why does she want them?” Grampa asked.

“Who?” I wanted to know.

Mr. Lazarus raised his thick white eyebrows and shrugged. He didn’t answer my question, but said, “She thinks she needs them to hide behind like she always did. You know, there wasn’t a thing wrong with her eyes. She’ll have to look for them longer if she wants them. I don’t have the time.”

Grampa Milt laughed and led me out the door.

I couldn’t contain my curiosity. “Grampa Milt, what did he mean? Who was he talking about?”

“Well, Ben, he was talking about Mrs. Ganche, a lady who passed on about thirty years ago.” He looked down at me.

I stopped. “Huh? If she’s dead, how can she talk to him and how come we couldn’t hear her? Why does she want her glasses?”

“I don’t think I can explain it to you. You’ll have to ask Mr. Lazarus next time you see him. He’s the only one who can answer that.”

I didn’t see Mr. Lazarus again that summer. We got busy with Gramma’s garden and then, before I knew it, it was time for school. It wasn’t until next summer when I went to visit Grampa Milt that I had the chance to see Mr. Lazarus.

He seemed much older than last year. Grampa Milt had sent me to see him with one of Gramma’s pies. A lady met me at the door took the pie and went into the kitchen.

“Sit down, young fellow, and tell me about school,” Mr. Lazarus said. He leaned back in his lounge chair with his feet up. “I don’t get around so good these days. Got me a touch of arthritis.”

I nodded and sat on the green couch across from him. I hadn’t the foggiest notion what to say to him.

He grinned at me, those deep wrinkles looking like my Gramma’s old washboard. “Would you like to meet some of my other company?” he asked, sweeping his left hand around the room.

I stared at him. We were alone.

“Give me your hand, young Ben.” He leaned toward me, holding out his hand.

I took it. It felt dry and almost weightless. I gaped.

Suddenly the room was crowded with people. They were standing all around us.

“Well, Ben, judging from your expression,” Mr. Lazarus said, “I do believe you have the gift, too.”

I don’t know if I had it or not then, but I sure do now. Everywhere I go, strange people are asking me to do things for them. And they’re all dead.

I learned after Mr. Lazarus crossed over—he came to tell me—that he’d passed the gift on to me so I could help these spirits. Once they had some problem solved, they’d disappear for good. But more would always find me.

So, if you meet me on the street and I’m talking to myself, please have compassion. I’m not crazy. I’m just a young guy who hasn’t learned not to talk to strangers.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seasons of Empowerment for Adolescent Girls, by Irene S. Roth

In Seasons of Empowerment for Adolescent Girls, Ms. Roth argues that there are four seasons of empowerment for adolescent girls. Sadly no adolescent girl can simply wake up one day, snap her fingers, and be empowered to tackle the world and all the forces that exist inside and outside. Becoming empowered to be who we are can be truly difficult. This book consists of a step-by-step guide to help adolescent girls achieve self-improvement.

Purchase at Amazon

EXCERPT

Seasons of Empowerment for Teens 

Spring Season 

Introduction

    The spring season is when empowerment usually starts for you. One predominant purpose of this season is to become assertive. This is a time when you have a chance to take steps to become more of your own person and develop your values, beliefs, and unique personality. However, this can also be a very vulnerable time for you, isn’t it?  So, it is crucially important for you to take small steps to assert yourself. This season will lead you one step closer to self-assertiveness. How great is that!

    During this most vulnerable time in the self-empowerment process, it’s important to take incremental steps to assert yourself by watching. Be careful who you hang out with. Many of you still have a low self-image and are pretty hypercritical at this stage, aren’t you? You probably struggle because you don’t feel slim, pretty, cute, popular or outgoing enough, given cultural standards. This is such a hard way of living?

    Well, it’s time to take charge of your life. During this season, you should take steps to stand up for yourself and clearly communicate your needs. This will eventually empower you much more than if you focus on what physical or psychological attributes you don’t have. After all, what you focus on usually grows. So, if you focus on negative things, they will grow and you will develop an increasingly negative self-image. However, if you focus on positive things, this will also grow and you’ll continuously develop a positive self-image over time. So, why not get into the habit of focusing on the positive?

    In this section, I will show you how to assert yourselves in many different ways. This way, you will start empowering yourselves to be the best you are capable of becoming this very moment, without constantly comparing yourselves to others.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roth
Irene S. Roth is an academic and freelance writer for teens, tweens and kids. She has written over 500 book reviews and 1,000 online articles on different topics for teens, tweens, and about the craft of writing. She also teaches workshops on writing and craft at Savvy Authors. She lives in Stratford, Ontario with her husband and cat. Visit her at https://irenesroth.wordpress.com/
Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dark of the Heart, by Anne K. Edwards

DarkoftheHeart_ebookcoverTitle:  Dark of the Heart

Genre:  Dystopian

Author:  Anne K. Edwards

Websitehttp://www.AnneKEdwards.com

Publisher:  Anne K. Edwards

Purchase on Amazon 

SUMMARY:  A runaway son has returned to the Tyles family fold after an absence of several years.  A frightened boy when he left, Joey Tyles has returned a bitter man bent on revenge on the family that made his childhood a hell. Find out more on Amazon.

Chapter One

Emily wiped sweat from her forehead with her fingers before climbing onto the old green car’s rusted roof where Marty Pascellus sprawled. She plopped down beside him. “Them other cars is too hot,” she said as she slid into the shade.

Marty bobbed his head. “Yeh, burnt my arm day afore yesterday on that shiny stuff.” He nodded toward the strip of weather-pocked silver metal running across center of the door below them.

Pushing hair out of her eyes, Emily turned toward the street. “Look at that guy.” She pointed to a trampy-looking man with yellow hair who stood outside the metal fence. “How come he’s watching us? We ain’t doing nothing.”

Marty looked up from making squeaking noises by rubbing his dirty toes on the windshield, green eyes narrowed against the slant of the sun. “I don’t know. He looks kind of creepy.” He shrugged and said, “Me and Ty are gonna go see if that yeller cat had her kittens when he gets here. You want to come? Ma said after they’re born, I can have a kitten. She give me some food for the cat.” He moved to the rear of their perch and slid onto the trunk.

She shook her head. “Can’t. I got to get home or Ma’ll whip me.” Sneaking away to play robbed it of fun. If Ma knew where she went, she’d get whipped with the belt.

Marty nodded and jumped down to join Ty who called to them as he approached.

Wish I could see the cat, but Ma says I got to be home in case she needs me. She’ll get after me with the belt if I ain’t there when she wakes up.

 

Emily shivered in the sunlight.

Sliding off the rear window and down the dented trunk, Emily landed on her feet, raising a small cloud of red dust. Worriedly, she examined a new tear in her stained blue shorts with a grimy hand. She didn’t have any more that fit. If Ma saw the hole, she’d catch hell.

With lagging steps, she headed for the broken iron gates that stood permanently open. They seemed to welcome her to the junkyard that served as a playground for kids like her. The piles of worn-out appliances and old cars offered hiding places for their games and from the severe punishments parents often inflicted. When she could, she came here to pretend to go adventuring with Marty and Ty. Like today.

Pausing to watch a big black bug climb a weed stalk, she delayed going home until the last possible moment. The dirty stranger she’d seen outside the fence came toward her. He walked from Back Street that ran between the railroad tracks and the junkyard. He looked like the men in town who asked people in nice clothes for money. His baggy brown pants and blue jacket were dusty and wrinkled. He needed a shave, too, like Pa always did.

His squinty expression made her step back when he passed. Her teachers said not to trust strangers like him.

He grunted at her and crossed the street, trudging down Blair Avenue in the same direction she was going. She walked slowly behind, stopping once when he turned to look at her, then kept a distance between them. If he turned around, she could run back to the junkyard.

The dirty man didn’t pay her any more attention. He just hunched his shoulders and put his hands in his pockets as he plodded along the broken pavement.

She stopped in amazement when he went up the dirt path leading to her house and stepped onto the porch. Without knocking, he went inside.

Boy, was he going to be in trouble. People never did that, not even Bud’s friends who Ma said were just noisy trash. Pretty soon there’d be a fight and the stranger would leave.

Wanting to avoid her mother, Emily went around to the kitchen. Nobody came in this way but her and flies. She was careful going up the rotting steps and pulling the screen door open so it didn’t squeal, pausing to count the long holes in the bottom half of the screen. She saw a new one. Bud’s dog that was kept tied under the steps must’ve come up to the stoop and been digging at it again.

The hot kitchen smelled like rotten soup that always sat on the stove. An unformed longing for something better in her life filled Emily. Why couldn’t she live in a nice house? How come her house always smelled bad? Like the pee stink from Cooger’s room that got in her clothes so the teacher made her sit in the back at school? The other kids whispered about her behind their hands when the teacher wasn’t looking. They made her hurt inside and want to cry. Like when Lorie and Ted went away.

She didn’t want to think about school or the mean kids. She was too hungry. Sneaking off to play while Ma slept, she’d gone without breakfast. Now her stomach kept rumbling. Shooing flies off the jelly jar lid, she smeared a slice of stale bread with grape jelly. Nobody put the lid on tight so the jelly got thick and lumpy. Flies landed on the jar again and she went outside to share her snack with Bud’s dog, Spot. One of these days she’d get him some good dog food instead of that dry stuff Bud got sometimes. He’d like that.

Licking her hand for the crumbs, the brown and white mongrel waggled his skinny self at her. She patted him on the head. He’d been chewing on his rope and got it all wet. If Bud wasn’t careful, Spot would get loose and run off again. Then him and Jimmy Dowe couldn’t go hunting like Bud always said they would.

She heard voices arguing through the open front room window.

Ma yelled she didn’t want the dirty stranger in her house and he yelled back he’d go when he felt like it.

Ma said Al and Bud wouldn’t want him here neither. Al was Pa. He and Bud both had bad tempers.

The dirty stranger didn’t sound afraid of them or Ma. He sounded mean in that low voice he used.

Emily shivered.

Then their voices got lower and she couldn’t hear what else they said.

Wiping the dog’s saliva on her shorts, she returned inside. She couldn’t go upstairs or she’d get stuck sitting Cooger. That wasn’t any fun. He cried all the time and she got blamed for it. So she sat on the splintery wooden chair by the cellar door, making herself as small as possible. Out of sight, out of mind, she remembered somebody saying.

****

Joey Tyles counted the empty houses and vacant lots he passed. Lots more than he remembered. The Lees and Millers had gone. Like some disease had wiped them out. Town was dying and he’d come home to watch.

Home! The word left a bitter taste in his mouth. He turned onto Back Street that ran along the old railroad tracks. Laughter drew his attention. His gaze strayed toward the source of the sound, the junkyard. Brats played among the wrecks behind a long metal spike fence overgrown by vines and briars. He paused to wipe sweat from his forehead, watching them. One of the places he’d spent his childhood hiding from Ma and Al.

“Damn brats. Whyn’t they shut up?” he grumbled aloud, thrusting hair out of his eyes. He stalked past the weed-choked gates. Bet that dumb watchman still sluiced it down. They better look out for him if he’s still around. Ole Man Smif drank and got meaner’n hell. He hit me with a hunk of cement when I was a kid. Just because I called him a drunk. Ole fart’ll probably be the gatekeeper in hell too. Joey winced at the remembered pain. He’d worn that bruise on his shoulder for weeks.

He tripped over an exposed tree root growing out of a large crack. Righting himself, he cursed.

Bogden hadn’t changed. Confined by two mountains, it remained an uneven sprawl and needed a paint job. How could anyone with any gumption stay in this hole? Place was fit only for the rattlers that thrived in the scraggy woods. A shudder ran over his lean frame. Something he would never understand–why rattlers? Why did Claxton County and Bogden have a stupid annual hunt for them? Anything to bring in the tourists–a rattlesnake fair. He shuddered again.

Wonder if Margie Todder’s pa still tries to bag them. Got bit three times. And Les Pettifer–silly bastard–put one in his glove compartment to keep thiefs out. Two bites–ole fool was stinko. Joey shook his head and turned onto Blair Avenue.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a small girl in blue shorts and red top following a ways behind. He swiveled his head to scowl at her. She stopped and waited, drawing back without actually moving.

Satisfied she’d been properly cowed, he continued walking. Teenage boys in an old souped-up red convertible roared toward him. They gunned the motor. He cursed their origins.

Ancient resentments flamed into new life. He’d had exactly nothing at their age, and they had all of it–money, girls, and hot cars. They jeered at his raised forefinger and disappeared around the corner.

He paused at the dirt path leading to the weathered old shack his family called home. He stared at it. Nineteen Blair Avenue. A garbage pile.

Bypassing a rusting black auto body half-buried in weeds, Joey ground summer-browned grasses to earth. Someone took the motor out and left it to rust. He snorted at the thought of anyone in this family having any mechanical ability. They didn’t know enough to come in out of the rain.

He stepped onto the porch, the old familiar hostility projecting itself toward him. He acknowledged its presence and moved stiffly to meet it.

****

The screen door squealed sadly as Joey shoved it aside. The years fell away. He became again the boy who hated to come home, but had nowhere else to go.

The stuffy living room stank of unwashed people and stale beer. Faded blue-striped rags that passed for drapes were drawn against the morning sun. Piled clothing overflowed two chairs and filled one end of the old green couch. Probably the same crap sitting there the day he ran off all those years ago.

Movement at the side window startled him. As his eyes adjusted to the dimness, he saw the figure of his mother. She reclined in her old rocker outlined in the dusty light making its way inside. He paused to watch as she twitched and moaned. Had she ever gotten fat.

She jerked out of her semi-stupor. Swiveling her head in his direction, she glared up at him.

“Hello, ma.” He forced down the old anger.

She pushed herself up on one elbow and demanded hoarsely, “What the hell you doing here? Thought we was rid of you.” She shifted her body into the light so the sun turned her hair a bloody gray. Several empty beer bottles lay scattered about the rocker.

“I come to see you,” he said. “Been a long time.”

“Where you been? Jail?” She got clumsily to her feet, setting the chair to rocking.

“Aw, crap!” he growled in exasperation. “I’m here, that’s all.”

“Well, if you got plans to live off us, you best think again. We ain’t got no money to feed you,” she told him, putting her hands on her hips.

Still sounds like a drunken whore, he thought. Smelled like something rotten, too.

Plainly, she hadn’t missed him. He searched her broad, lined face for some hint of feeling and saw only annoyance. “Got a room? I’m tired from hitching all night. Had to walk the last twelve miles.”

“We don’t want you here,” she said, her voice hard.

“I’m staying,” Joey told her grimly. “I don’t want no arguing from you nor nobody else. I know you don’t want me, and I don’t care.” He saw the rising anger in her expression. “I ain’t gonna be around long,” he offered as a sop. “Now I got to rest. Which room?”

“Your old one’s still there.” She shrugged and turned her back to him.

He understood her. She figured sleeping in the dirty hole he’d shared with Bud as a kid would drive him away. On the cluttered stairs he found a narrow passageway created by filled bags and boxes. He was tempted to push them all down the steps, but resisted the impulse. Stuff would never get picked up and he’d probably break his neck on it later.

At the top he found the stifling air almost unbreathable. From somewhere the stench of urine overflowed into the hallway. He gagged and shoved his head out the open window. “Jeezus!” he screeched. “It stinks up here.”

“You don’t like it, go somewheres else,” she yelled up the stairwell as a baby began to squawl.

“I ain’t,” he yelled back. He intended to stay until his recent cellmates, Rufe and Jube Handler, came to meet him. They had plans–the three of them.

A cloud of dust rose as he opened the door to the corner room. Just like he’d thought. The place looked the same as he’d left it all those years before except the dust was deeper. “She ain’t never gonna clean nothing,” he grumbled and sneezed.

The room failed inspection. Dust coated the garbage dump furniture like a fuzzy fungus. Dust balls rolled across the bare wood floor as he forced open the windows. He sneezed again, making his throat hurt. The ache in his head threatened to return.

Shedding his blue cloth jacket, he flung the mattress over and dropped onto it. The stained, yellowed cover ripped under the weight of his body and the springs squealed as he sought comfort.

Feathers in the old pillow scratched his sweaty face through rough, gray material. He brushed at them with a weary hand, spitting lint. “If Ella hadn’t run off… .” he mumbled, rolling onto his back. But she had, after he’d given her three months of his time. If she hadn’t kept at him about dancing with other girls, he wouldn’t have hit her. She’d have that eye for a long time. Too late, he missed her.

“And ole Sterrat! That bastard owes me. He didn’t need to have me arrested. I’d put the money back when I got paid. Three months in jail for a lousy fifteen bucks. Damn him! I ain’t gonna forget that neither.” Thinking of the injustices committed against him, he drifted into the waiting dark where bad dreams always seemed to lurk.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: