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First pages

Prologue – No Can Do

Doctor Bernadine “Bee” Hatch grasped the rotten wooden fence with her aging hand and gazed over at her equally elderly neighbor.

“Can you believe that baby-face imbecile got elected?”

Mary Jane Hutton shrugged her bony shoulders.

“Well, Bee, we saw it coming, didn’t we, dear? All those bumpkin-stickers and Drink-the-Kool-Aid campaign promises, not to mention those thumb-down, over-the-top commercials. We’re living in weird times, my friend, incomprehensible, really.”

Doctor Bee had stormed through most of her adult life raging against social injustice and racial prejudice yet it still seemed just a moment ago when she was only a frightened child in a rat-rampant tenement house on the shadowy side of the railroad tracks from a deprived neighborhood along a forlorn crime zone.

Her terrifying younger years had dragged by like slow-pulled taffy, stretching thinly into adulthood, becoming less cumbersome but still mucking up her days with hot and sour disparity. Slowly, tediously, life gently improved for her and her friends but never to a point where she could stop standing her ground long enough to take a breath.

And yet…

These days…

All those racially frayed days from her past seemed to have collectively hopped aboard a civic boomerang and, this time, on the return trip, intended to hack clean through her body and soul.

Because, as it turns out…

Doctor Bernadine Hatch is one of THOSE people!

You know…

The LAZY and UNDESERVING ones.

The kind that always make all those bad decisions.

She sliced her ebony finger through the air.

“You know that Cuban clodhopper is angling to eliminate our social security, too, Mary Jane! You can count on that!”

Her over-the-fence neighbor, Mary Jane Hutton, was the alabaster inverse, a fortunate-born middle-class white woman who had led a charmed life with nice homes, good schools and safe neighborhoods. She had plenty of opportunities to stop and smell the roses whether she wanted to or not.

Because, as it turns out…

Mary Jane Hutton was one of the regular people!

You know…

The HARD-WORKING and DESERVING ones.

The kind that typically made all those good decisions.

Her childhood had breezed by like a cool wind off the ocean and now that she had freight-trained into her senior years, she missed her blonde and beautiful days when things came easy and smiles fell from the sky. She fooled around with childhood dance lessons, did a handful of school plays, performed for local community theater, all in her quaint little Pleasant Valley hometown, eventually chorus-lining her way up to mainstream productions.

She peaked when she landed a small but consequential role in a full-fledged Broadway production, Man of La Mancha, which ran for six years. After that, she taught a few seasons of actor workshops and mugged for a handful of television commercials, usually sporting an apron or shaking a frypan.

Alas, these days, her lustrous locks had overgrown into a scraggly gray mop and her slender figure had withered gaunt to the bone. Often, she rankled when she inspected her shriveling body in the mirror but she needed no looking glass to rile her at the moment.

“I know, I know! That snide senator preaches his hedonistic homilies about cutting school lunch programs and eliminating food stamps and axing unemployment programs.”

“AND… Have you heard his latest slogan? We won’t pay for that… No can do! Can you believe it? That creep and his cronies have denigrated a song that was already rather disparaging to begin with!”

Mary Jane nodded with twinkling eyes but went back to wagging her pale finger across the dilapidated fence.

“Can you believe the people of Florida elected him? It’s like the cows have all lined up outside Longhorn Steakhouse for a chance at the menu. The sunshine state has gone moonstruck if you ask me.”

“AND… He spits out the word, entitlements, like they were curdled milk and he acts like the whole world is picking his pockets with Freddy Kruger fingernails. Yes, no one’s got a lick of pride except him and his monkey.”

Pushing ninety, Doctor Bee could still slice it up with wit as sharp as her leg-skin razor. She had labored for decades to earn a college education and then a Masters in social sciences, and then, ultimately, a Doctorate. The petite African-American with firefly eyes and salt and pepper hair nodded over the fence at her neighbor with the counterfeit blonde.

“Here’s how his loony tune will play out, Mary Jane… First it will be the immigrants… ”

In her deep raspy voice, Doctor Bee broke into a mock-block of the Haul and Oats hit song…

 

♫ Greasy, steady, raping all the time…

Let’s make it stop!

Now, you just watch me…

I’ll draw the line!

Let’s ban everybody…

I’ll build a huge wall!

How’m I gonna’ pay for it?

Mexico!

 

Yeah, I’ll say anything…

The media will, too!

And we’ll all do everything…

Without a damn clue, ooh!

 

We won’t pay for that… No can do! ♫

 

Amused, Mary Jane clapped her splotchy hands.

“That’s great, dear! Let me do the next one!”

 

♫ Starving kids… Too big a price!

But it’s free to keep repeating…

The same old lines!

Feed the trodden?

Enrich their souls?

Ooh, forget about it…

I say NO GO!

 

Yeah, I fling anything…

That’ll stick like poo!

The media does everything…

To keep you glued!

 

We won’t pay for that… No can do! ♫

 

Doctor Bee tapped her foot in time with the impromptu satire, noting that when the two of them got together, this was the usual result: sarcastic repartee.

She wasn’t sure why that was.

But…

She liked it.

 

Those old seniors worked all their lives!

They want to stop…

And Lord knows they need…

To draw the line!

They’ve timeworn bodies…

And expiring souls…

They’ve earned their retirement…

I say NO GO!

 

Yeah, withhold everything…

It doesn’t matter who!

And we’ll scoop up everything…

For the rich percent top two!

 

Let’s not pay for that… No can do! ♫

 

Mary Jane leaned across the fence.

“Too bad, Granny, we can’t afford your stupid Social Security no-mo’… ”

Doctor Bee joined in.

“We sacked it for special interest groups for you know who…”

“Oh, wait, there’s some money left in Medicare… “

“Hey, isn’t that OURS, too?”

Mary Jane rolled her bloodshot eyes and Doctor Bee hung her head, no longer amused.

“I used to have some savings but the cost of living keeps pick-axing it away. How can that be because I can’t figure it out? Everyone I know has either gotten laid off or cut back and the ones that still have jobs aren’t getting any raises, so… Where’s all that inflation coming from? And… Where’s it all going? Not to anyone I know… Soon we’ll all be as broke as The Grapes of Wrath, wallowing in the gutters.”

“DYING in the gutters… ”

“We really need to do something.”

Mary Jane palmed Doctor Bee’s wrinkled hand on top of the decrepit wooden fence and crinkled up a wry smile.

“Maybe we can, Bee, just maybe we can… I received an unusual email this morning.”

Doctor Bee heard a high-performance engine rumble out on the street and gazed over just as a fiery red BMW Roadster sport car puttered by. Expensive cars were rare in this neighborhood so she studied the tinted windows and canvas top for a moment but then returned her attention to her nodular neighbor.

“Email, was it spam?”

“No, dear, I think it came from one of my theater connections. I still have a few, you know.”

Mary Jane liked to taunt her theater connections on a regular basis so frequently, in fact, that Doctor Bee couldn’t help but roll her cataract eyes.

“I know, I know, you remind me all the time. What was it this time? You going to do some acting again, Mary Jane, get back in the game?”

“I’m not exactly sure. I’ve been invited to an improvised street-theater performance, Minimal Criminals!

“Are you going to attend?”

“We’ll see.”

Chapter 1 – The Vanilla Gorilla

“Do you think it’s locked?”

Dressed in plainclothes at the moment, thirty-three year old Benedict Spender stared at the black steel door with the five handled spinner and crossed his furry arms across the police badge hanging from a string around his neck. He was tall and slender with a curly brown mop of a hairstyle and an over-abundance of body hair.

“Do you think it’s locked?”

His thirty year old partner in blue, Flora Post, shrugged her button-down uniform shoulder-straps.

“Try it, Spender.”

He lifted a furry eyebrow and double fisted the stainless steel turn handles but they stood fast.

“Oh, it’s locked, alright. This smells like a prank.”

Flora shook her blonde-haired head, her single thick braid weaving across the back of her uniform.

“No, more like urine.”

She removed her black wooden police baton and knocked against the metal door above the combination keypad.

“Hello, hello! Is there anybody in there?”

A muffled voice cried out from beyond the steel door.

“Oh thank God, thank God! Yes! Yes!”

“Are you alright?”

“Let me out, oh, please, let me out!”

Flora slid her baton back into her glossy black belt.

“The door’s locked, sir.”

“I know, God, do I know... See the keypad?”

“Yes.”

“Type in these numbers… Sixty-nine, sixty-nine, one, two, three.”

Ben laughed out loud.

“On your mark, get set, go for it. That’s pretty good, there, mister…”

Flora back handed him across his flat belly.

“Oh, you men… You guys are disgusting.”

Ben typed the numbers into the keypad.

“Hey, I think it’s kind of funny and I like funny. It reminds me of my high school football days when I used to come up with all the call numbers all the time. Hey, Post, did I ever tell you I was the team captain and quarterback?”

Flora rolled her pretty brown eyes.

“Incessantly… Yes, I know, I know, they all called you the Spender-Blender.”

The vault clacked open.

“That’s right! Because of my great scrambling abilities… Plus, I was cute.”

Ben armed the steel door wide and gazed inside.

“And I still am… Cute, you know.”

A middle-aged man, average height and build, stood inside the closet-sized vault. He had short blonde hair, blue eyes, a Florida tan and a padded-shoulder jacket so white it looked like Philadelphia cream cheese.

The man smiled in a crinkly sort of way.

“Thank you, thank you… ”

Ben thought the guy with the leathery tan and bright white blazer looked like a Vanilla Gorilla as he stepped out of the vault in chalky boat shoes, nervously peeking around the corner and gazing down at the floor. He stood frozen that way for several seconds until Flora spoke up.

“Ahem… Sir, are you alright?”

That broke his mannequin trance and he quizzed a look in her direction.

“Where is she? What’d you do with her?”

“Do with who?”

The man in the frosty-white jacket returned a glance to the spot on the floor.

Um… Nobody, nothing, never mind. I guess I was locked up in there a little too long… Speaking of which… I really need to hit the restroom.”

He darted away, his boat shoes squeaking across the tiled floor.

Ben shot Flora another furry eyebrow.

“I’ll go with him, you check out the safe.”

She nodded and stepped into the open vault while Ben strode after the odd man hurrying up a long hallway. He disappeared off to the right and Ben caught up just as the restroom door swung closed in his face. He fisted through the door and paused behind the man at the urinal.

“Are you okay, mister?”

“Stone, Jonathan Stone. Yes, I’m alright. I just had to do an insane-drain as big as Niagara Falls.”

“What were you doing in there?”

“In the safe? A woman locked me in there… A really nasty, mean, vile woman. And why is that other woman wearing a police uniform and you’re not?”

That reminded Ben of something… This man’s blazer was the second shocking-white jacket he had seen today and he wondered exactly when Don Johnson had booked a return ticket to Miami Vice.

Didn’t that look go out in the eighties?

“It’s been a long day and a lot has happened, winding up with me out on a stake-out. Was this vile woman who locked you in your safe the same one who called nine-one-one?”

“Someone called nine-one-one?”

“That’s why we’re here.”

“I don’t know… There’s no cell phone reception inside there otherwise I would have called myself. Since she stole all my money and slammed the door in my face, it really couldn’t have been her but hell if I know who.”

“She stole all your money, too?”

“Yes, all eleven million, that bitch!”

Jonathan Stone zipped up his blue jeans and turned away from the urinal, anger igniting his crystal blue eyes.

“She held me at gunpoint, man, forced me to open my own safe, bagged all my money and then the Mother-Clucking Beaver-Blister tossed me into the Shawshank Dimension.”

Ben snickered at the oddball analogy.

“Do you want to come downtown and file a complaint, you know, press charges?”

Jonathan Stone soaped his hands in the sink and studied himself in the mirror. Finally, he pulled out a paper towel from the wall dispenser and turned towards the police officer.

“Will it do any good? Can you get my money back?”

“Well, it certainly won’t hurt! I can’t promise we’ll find this woman or your money but we won’t even look unless there’s a complaint.”

The fiftyish man dried his hands with the towel for a few moments, eyeballing Ben in a peculiar fashion but, eventually, he tossed his soggy paper in the trash.

“Okay, what the hell, let’s do it. I want my money back and I want to get that nasty-bitch for everything she’s done.”

“Now, you’re sure you’re okay?”

“Yes, yes, yes, I’m okay… Why do you keep asking me that?”

“Standard operation procedure on a nine-one-one call. Do you need the paramedics? Ambulance? Doctor?”

“Maybe a drink…”

“And a call to your insurance company, eh?”

Jonathan Stone’s face suddenly lost its tan.

“Aw, crap.”

 

 

Flora Post slouched in the passenger seat of their police cruiser parked in front of Jonathan Stone’s studio, her eyes on Benedict Spender behind the wheel.

“What do you make of this guy, Spender?”

He glanced over.

“He’s a funny man… Cracks me up.”

She gestured through the windshield at the office building in front of them.

“But eleven million dollars in a Podunk safe right here in downtown Hollywood? Why isn’t it in the bank?”

“Well, Post, you know what they say about rich people… ”

“They put their pants on one leg at a time?”

“No, they’re different than us. Maybe he likes plenty of cash on hand because these rich guys love to party, you know… A little jet-setting over here, a little yachting over there, a fast S-Car-Go and some high flying crystal blow all in the city of the Hamster-damned.”

His gaze wandered up to the sign over the front entrance.

 

Stone Fox Fashions

 

Stone Fox?

Hadn’t that expression gone out with the eighties, too, dude?

Stone Fox Fashions had a fairly notorious reputation here in South Florida, known for its rocket rise to fame and fortune a few years back. A crack of thunder off in the distance interrupted his thoughts.

“Sounds like more rain.”

Flora nodded out her window.

“Yeah, it’s been storming all day!”

“You should have seen it coming down at the ransom drop, Post, Holy moly! So, what did you find inside the vault?”

“Nothing except for a yellow puddle in the corner. I tried not to disturb anything in case the chief sends forensics down here.”

“Are you kidding me? That old curmudgeon will probably want to case the place himself and withhold all his findings.”

Flora laughed.

“Aw, come on, Spender, I know he doesn’t talk much but he talks enough.”

“Maybe for you, Post, but I’m no clairvoyant.”

The glass entrance sprung open and the Vanilla Gorilla bounced out with a tall, wild-haired blonde by his side.

Flora snickered.

“Geez, what is that? He’s bringing his daughter along?”

“That’s not his daughter, that’s his designer. She showed up a few moments ago, shortly after he called her. She must live nearby.”

“What is she, twelve?”

“Nineteen, I think he said. He seemed kind of proud of that fact, too, for some reason.”

The leggy blonde in the fiery-red mini skirt reached for the driver-side door of a bone-white BMW Mini Cooper that squatted the parking lot but Jonathan Stone shoed her over to the passenger side. He extended his tanned hand and she tossed him the keys with sour-grape distain across her oversized lips.

Ben chuckled.

“Do you see the mouth on that kid? You could lace it up and sell her head as a football… And speaking of footballs…”

“I know, I know, yadda, yadda quarterback… Goin’ on a Spender-Bender.”

“Blender, Spender-Blender.”

“Riiiiight.”

Ben shifted the police car into gear and drove out the parking lot onto State Road Seven.

“He’s going to follow us down to the station to file a complaint.”

Flora lifted her European blonde eyebrows but her cheekbones came from the Cherokee. She kept her long blonde hair bound in a single braid that thick-swished across her back like an Indian Squaw.

She noticed Ben smiling at some sudden notion.

“What are you grinning at this time, Spender?”

“I was just thinking… If Marylin Monroe did Geronimo… That be you, Post!”

Flora looked flabbergasted.

“Oh, really, now? Well, if a leprechaun pooched a poodle then that would be you, Spender!”

Ben mocked a shocked look, too.

“But Poodles are CUTE, right?”

Ben and Flora had been partners for quite a while and he thought she was pretty cool and easy to get along with, except for her over-zealous political nature that produced prolonged rants and flying spittle. She’d be way better off if she’d just chill out a little and not worry about things so much. She should do what he does... Vedge-out in front of the sports money-machine wallpapered across the tee-vee.

Baseball in the summer, football in the fall, hockey in the winter, basketball in the spring… It was all just a fun-loving perpetual-holiday of testosterone end-zones, baby, amnesia-anesthesia for the masses, mamma.

Forget your problems, mister, just crack a beer and root for your homies.

Heck, he was almost one of them, now, wasn’t he?

Well, he shoulda’ been, that’s for sure.

He could have been tooling around with all those Barbie-Doll arm-candies, partying with rock stars, movie stars, and fellow sports stars, always getting into trouble, usually getting away with it, never worrying about a thing except the next play, on or off the field…

If he just hadn’t fractured his effing-loving shoulder in his senior year.

Sheesh…

All his Ivy League scholarships whisked away like a magician’s smoke…

And…

Left behind a big fat college loan and the police academy.

But…

Things could be worse, right?

Sometimes, it was best to totally stop talking if you ever wanted to get along with the opposite sex, you know.

Simply do a little cheek-to-cheek…

Just shut up and dance.

See…

Speaking of dancing…

Officer Benedict Spender had no idea that he was about to Boot-Scoot through a Goon-Walk of Vogue, Quickstepping through the most Twerked day of his life.

Chapter 2 – Venus’s Paintbrush

Sitting behind his cluttered desk, Police Officer Benedict Spender gazed at the middle-aged man wearing blue jeans with rolled up cuffs and a blazer so white that it dwarfed his desk lamp. Ben hitched up his sagging belt and fingered his curly hair away from his thick eyebrows.

Sheesh, he needed a haircut already…

It was starting in on the Wild Thing again and soon all his fellow officers would start calling him ‘ma’am’… He hated that.

Hair seemed to grow at an alarming rate in frightening places all over his body.

Maybe he should try a waxing?

Naw, even with all that hair, he was still cute.

The blonde haired man alongside Ben’s desk basked in an air of assurance like those rich kids from college, accustomed to having their things done by admiring wanna’-bees. Most in their element when barking out orders, they gifted everyone with their vainglorious vocal enlightenment or something along those lines.

Flora Post stepped over and sat down at the adjacent desk, hers.

Her long blonde rope-braid smacked the seat back and her wispy bangs framed her round, yet angular face. Between the sculpted eyebrows and the chiseled cheekbones, her brown eyes flashed exotically.

“Mister Jonathan Stone of Stone Fox Fashions voted most eligible bachelor in the Hollywood Heyday magazine

“Most eligible bachelor, really, Post?”

“Well, Spender, he does own a fashion studio.”

Ben straightened his posture and wiggled in his seat.

“Big deal! Who needs a fashion studio when you got yourself a fishing boat?”

The man in the blazing white coat did not change expression at their intercourse, in fact, he seemed absorbed in thought.

Ben had a funny notion…

This guy looked just like that paint company mascot from yesteryear, The Little Dutch Boy, except all grown up now and put out to dry. But, wait… Somehow, though, he had managed to sneak out to do a little Saturday Night Fever

Yep…

The Disco Dutch Boy.

He could picture the old dude in a diaper-squat, pointing off to the side at a glitter-ball on the ceiling and he choked back a giggle. See what decades of hard-drinking and eligible-bacheloring get you, Vanilla Gorilla?

Receding hair and crooked yellow teeth…

Plus…

A cute cop that laughs in your face!

Flora crinkled up a wry smile like she had listened in on his thoughts.

“We’re the officers that are going to log your complaint because everyone else here is pretty busy at the moment, what with the kidnapping thing and all those brazen heists and all. The chief assigned you to us.”

That got the man’s attention and he sat up as straight as a school kid.

Ben couldn’t hold it in anymore and let go his laugh.

“Did Chief Little-Words actually say that or did he merely bulge his eyeballs?”

She ignored him and focused in on Jonathan Stone.

“Hello, Mister Stone, my name is Officer Post and this is Officer Spender. Could you tell us what happened so we can figure out how to proceed?”

The man nodded and his features softened into a tannish glow.

“You can call me Jonathan. That’s what all my friends do.”

Flora cocked her blonde head in her best police squint.

“Okay, right, Jonathan, so, what exactly happened at your studio, today?”

He drummed his tanned fingers on the desktop.

“Odd… Actually, way more than odd… ”

He drifted off again, his blue eyes glazing over.

Ben shoved his hands into his pants pockets and leaned back in his chair.

“You said that someone stole all your money?”

Jonathan ruffled his blonde hair with both hands.

“Yes, she took it, she took all of it.”

Flora blinked at the middle-aged man and thumbed a poker chip down on the desk under his nose.

“What about this? You dropped it into the items tray when you emptied your pockets at the metal detector, Jonathan. This is a thousand dollar chip from the Soft Pop Casino, isn’t it? How did you get it? Were you there, today?”

“Oh, that… SHE gave it to me.”

Ben palmed the air with his furry hands.

“Who is this SHE you keep talking about?”

“Robin Steele.”

Ben snorted.

“ROB and STEAL, is that what you just said?”

Jonathan nodded.

“Yes, Robin Steele, that’s what I said, just this morning.”

Flora rattled her head.

“Just this morning, ROB and STEAL? What are you talking about?”

The man in the vanilla blazer leaned back in his chair.

 

And Jonathan Stone began his story…

 

I plopped down into a corner table at my favorite Twinkle Coin Coffee Shoppe with my favorite drink, the Lean Caffeine, and nurtured a steamy sip. You’ve been there, right? Arm chairs, mini-sofas, and bistro tables along the one side of the café and a counter-full of tip-begging baristas along the other while a steady stream of people punch through the front door wearing taste-free Aloha clothes.

I tell you what I think…

The biggest downside of South Florida is all the old people!

I mean…

They’re all as old as the jokes in Spencer’s Gifts.

Winter lasts about an hour around here and the rest of the time it’s hot and humid with enough bugs to conquer the world and, on a map, Florida looks like a saggy old chin-slapper, you ever notice that?

The U.S. of Impotence.

I know what you’re thinking…

If I hate it so much then why do I stick around?

Well, Florida’s been good to Stone Fox Fashions…

So I stay.

But all these ancient-oddities hobble around doing the Hunchback with their walkers or the Blob in their motorized wheelchairs, wearing the same tablecloth floral patterns and the same sour facial expression….

Like…

A Baltimore mouse just crawled up their Key Largo.

Robin Steele stood out from the crowd because she was neither Hunchback nor Blob-master.

Five foot five, thirtyish with long black hair like a chocolate waterfall and charcoal eyebrows doing the samba across her bedroom eyes. Her body was tight enough to tweak a geezer into the ICU and my guess would be Mexican because her skin tinged Latino.

Her form-fitting khaki shorts flirted with HELLO, THERE, and her tight white blouse stuffed a note down the suggestion box to SQUEEZE THESE, PLEASE!

Then…

She inadvertently glanced over…

Caught my eye…

Sparked a smile…

And suddenly…

I felt a tingly rush like adolescent puppy love.

She sauntered towards me with her cardboard cup a-steaming but lost her balance and stumbled into my table, knocking my Lean Caffeine off the edge. It flunked down on the floor and glugged muddy-foam all over the carpet.

She regained her balance as her sable mane whisked across the air like Venus’s paintbrush and she nibbled on her lip.

“Aw, gee, mister, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to spill your coffee! There must have been a snag in the carpet. I am so sorry! Let me buy you another, okay?”

I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders but she held up an olive hand.

“I insist! It’s the least I can do.”

She was a good fifteen years younger than me but I figured, what the heck, right?

 

Flora Post tilted her head.

“What the heck? You figured What the Heck?

“Hey, I’ve had young girlfriends before but never a Spanish La Bamba shell.”

Benedict Spender guffawed.

La Bamba shell, say, that’s pretty good. I’ll have to remember that one.”

Annoyed, Flora drummed her fingernails into her desktop but Ben tossed her an amused wink.

Take it easy there, Post…

You have to admit that was funny, right?

Anyways, he’s just a guy.

And…

Guys tend to act like that, you know.

Especially us cute ones!

Surely you must have noticed by now?

 

Jonathan Stone flipped open his tanned hand and continued…

She draped her beige jacket across the mini sofa beside me and sashayed back to the counter, her silky black hair bouncing against her see-saw hips. In a few moments, she was jiggling back to my table with a brand-new Lean Caffeine.

“I’m Robin Steele.”

“Jonathan Stone of Stone Fox Fashions… Maybe you’ve heard of me?”

This often elicits a squeal of delight but this girl merely scrunches up her eyebrows like a furry zipper.

“Stone Fox Fashions? What’s that?”

This little Hispanic lady must have been living under a taco truck all her life! Oh, well, no matter, I could educate her so I gestured for her to sit down.

“Stone Fox Fashions is my studio, a national clothing distributer to hundreds of outlets. I design men, women and children’s clothes, trendsetting, actually, and I’m about to launch a radical new line of actionwear that I am calling Mystique-Physique but, really, it’s just another one of my many humble design concepts.”

I took an innocent sip from my Lean Caffeine and flashed my Ordinary-Average-Guy look. She lowered onto the mini sofa next to me, slightly awestruck, I think.

“So, what makes this clothing so special?”

Soft, tinny music began to play somewhere, Credence Clearwater Revival.

 

It ain't me… It ain't me… I ain't no millionaire's son, no.

It ain't me… It ain't me… I ain't no fortunate one, no.

 

It was her cell phone buried inside her blue messenger bag.

She dug it out and stroked the screen and palmed it to her ear.

“Hi, yep, right here, uh-huh. Sure, exactly like you said. Oh, no problem at all. Pregnant, yes, that’s what we talked about, right? Pink? Oh, wow, that sounds great! Oh, really? Okay, I’ll be right there.”

Robin stood and thumbed her blue messenger bag over her shoulder.

“Hey, I have to go. It was nice meeting you, Mister Rock, and sorry again about the spilled coffee.”

“Stone, Jonathan Stone.”

She hurried off and just like that, she was gone.

Except for the jacket…

She had left her beige cotton blazer behind, swathed across the sofa like Cupid’s blanket. I considered chasing after her but couldn’t leave my computer behind because it contained company business, you know, designs, corporate accounts, passwords and such. You see, that would all be a sting in the thing if someone else got their hands on it.

I picked up the light-weight blazer and patted through its pockets.

I discovered a small stack of business cards.

 

Robin Steele

Consultant

305-555-9900


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Corey James tap-danced his way through quite the unusual career in art, animation, and engineering. His engineering thingies include The Westin Maui and Biosphere 2 and his animation doodads include The Lost World: Jurassic Park and the Academy Award winning film, Shrek. He's collaborated with DreamWorks and Digital Domain, Steven Spielberg and Cal Ripken, Jr., Chris Farley and Nora Ephron, plus many others. He enjoys sailing, kayaking, hiking and biking. Oh, yeah… Authoring novels, too.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
Two things separate humanity from the rest of the world's creatures: intellect and empathy. As a society and a species and caretakers of Mother Earth, we need to deliver on both counts. This is one character's inspiration.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
Unfolding the story in a comprehensible way with this oddball collection of character-driven twists was a real challenge. Keeping them fresh, unique, memorable and consistent really taxed my talents. The humor, however, came all on its own.
Q. Why do you write?
A.
Writing became the natural progression of my career path. First I was driven by fine arts and illustration, then intrigued by engineering and construction, and finally consumed by animation. As a character animator, I explored a multitude of disciplines which blossomed into my passion for the wry.

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Literature & Fiction
Desert of the Dreams
Unforgiven Love
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Into the deep...time for another adventure!
The Melted World
The world has a new owner.