ANGEL WITH A BROKEN WING is now On Sale at Amazon! (kindle & paperback)

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But in the meantime…

Sneak Peek!

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 10

Barbara arrived last. That girl was constantly late. One day, she would be late for her own funeral. But, as she liked to say, she was ‘worth the wait’. I was in the garage when she pulled in, gathering the tools we would need tomorrow, for taking the dock out of the water and closing the boathouse. That meant I was the first to greet her.

She had changed her clothes before getting into the car, that much was for sure. There was no way that she could have gone out in public with what she was wearing – not without getting arrested for indecent exposure. She had on a short denim skirt that covered very, very little. On top, she was wearing a white shirt, knotted just under her magnificent breasts. Her lacy black bra showed through quite plainly.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if you told me that Barbara purchased her bras from a parachute manufacturer. She had extra-large hooters, and went to great pains to make sure that everyone knew it. The rest of her body was nothing special.

But Barbara’s face was like the Portrait of Dorian Gray: it revealed every vice and every sin that she had ever committed, considered, or even contemplated. She wore just that little extra bit of eye make-up, and her lipstick was always freshly applied. She was far from shy. I have to give her this much credit: Barbara was no home-wrecker. Guys in relationships were perfectly safe from her attentions. But single men – and, if the rumours had any truth to them, single women – were certainly fair game.

Teresa let Barb greet everyone and get settled in. Perhaps half an hour later, she called us all together. By then, most of us were on our second or third drink. Anticipation was growing, and tongues were beginning to wag more freely.

“Welcome, everyone!” said Teresa. “I want to thank our hostess, Eliza, for sharing her wonderful cottage and providing us with a place to play.”

– “You can pay me back tomorrow.” responded Eliza.

Teresa carried on. “The main floor of the house will be our main deck. The kitchen will be our communal galley.” She turned to point in the opposite direction. “The master bedroom – thanks again, Ee – will henceforth be the Captain’s cabin. As such, it is off limits to you scurvy dogs. Except for Lena, who will be sharing it with me.”

That led to a chorus of “Ooohs”, led by Ben and Barb.

– “Not like that.” said Teresa. There is a bathroom off the master bedroom, if the need is urgent. Otherwise, there is a very large bathroom upstairs, and another downstairs. Upstairs will now be known as the upper deck, and that is where most of you will be bunking. There are four bedrooms: Eliza and Claire get the first, Barb and Sheila share the second. Gentlemen, you are at the end of the hall. Ben and Craig will share, and Leo bunks with Eric.”

Leo looked at me, mildly concerned. He was a fussy sleeper, and did not know Eric well.

– “Teresa – sorry.” I interrupted. “I thought you had me rooming with Eric.”

– “I drew lots among the guys, Colin – and you lost. You’ll be camping in the den, right over there. I brought along an air mattress and a sleeping bag.” The den was on the other side of the stairs from the master bedroom.

Teresa then led us downstairs. “This area will be known as the hold.” she said. There was a bathroom, and a very large games room, featuring a pool table and a ping pong table (or table tennis, if you prefer). Further off, there was a storage room, and a laundry room.

That is where Teresa led us. “This room is off limits.” she said, indicating the laundry room. “It is the brig. This is where the dread pirate Redbeard is imprisoned. As Captain Fairwind, I will have the only key. Redbeard will not be leaving this room until we arrive in Barbados – for his hanging.”

“As for outside – for our purposes, everything between the house and the dock is considered part of the ship. That includes the deck, leading outside from the kitchen, the garage, the patio, and the boathouse. Your cars are not considered part of the ship. If you need to go back to your car, you are out of character there.”

“I have a copy here of your character sketch and the introduction, in case you’ve misplaced yours. These envelopes also contain some new instructions, as well as any items or money that you may be carrying.”

“We’re ready to begin. I want everyone to go and put on their costume. Then get yourself a drink, and we will gather on the main deck. Claire – here’s your envelope. Eliza …”

I was last – Teresa was sticking to the order she had posted in the kitchen. She handed me my envelope, with that lovely half-smile on her face, and whispered: “Good luck.”

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=268

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 9

It was the first time up here for all three, so Eliza eventually took them on a quick tour of the outside of the house. I went inside to change into jeans and a t-shirt. I found everybody gathering in the kitchen. The guys had brought food, which had to be unpacked, and no one objected when Leo suggested a round of drinks.

I did notice one thing: there was a piece of paper taped to the kitchen wall. On it were listed the names of everyone who was participating in our weekend. Curiously, they were numbered. I was struck by that, and by the order we were in.

1- CLAIRE

2- ELIZA

3- LEO

4- CRAIG

5- BARBARA

6- BEN

7- ERIC

8- SHEILA

9- LENA

10- COLIN (me)

Curious – why had Teresa left herself off the list? Why was I last? Teresa had not compiled this list when she first told me about her idea; if she had, Sheila and Eric would have been the last two names. Teresa didn’t do things ‘by accident’. There was a clue here.

Sheila arrived next. I went out to greet her with Eliza.

– “You found it OK?” asked Eliza.

– “GPS got me close, but your directions were spot on.” replied Sheila. I should mention at this point that Sheila has the deepest, gruffest voice I have ever heard from a female. People usually do a double-take the first time they hear her speak, and then they still turn their heads the second time they hear her. Her voice is also raspy, which is part natural, and partly the consequence of years of heavy smoking.

Sheila has short, punky hair, which she likes to style in spikes, or absurd waves. She also likes to dye it; today’s color was green. It’s a bit funny, considering that she’s a high school English teacher. Apparently the School Board doesn’t object to spiked purple or orange hair, or to tattoos either – Sheila has seven of them, two of which I have not seen.

She’s handsome, rather than pretty. She sounds like a man, and could probably pass for one. Her face is all sharp angles, and she is completely flat-chested. She has no hips to speak of, and she prefers loose, shapeless clothing, so I couldn’t tell you anything about her ass. She shops in second-hand clothing stores, and finds unusual bargains.

It may sound odd, but I had a crush on Sheila through most of first year (before I met Teresa). See, Sheila is a sweetheart, as generous as she is smart. She also has amazing green eyes, and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, as the French would say. I can’t explain it.

– “Nobody’s dressed up yet?” she asked.

– “Not until everyone’s here.” I told her. “Teresa has plans, but she won’t tell anyone anything.”

– “This is going to be such fun!” said Sheila. “Thank you for hosting us, Eliza.”

– “My pleasure.” said Ee. “Let me show you around.”

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=266

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 8

Friday 

Leo and I got off to an early start, beating most of the holiday traffic. We arrived at Eliza’s cottage by mid-afternoon. She and Claire were already there, and so were Teresa and her friend Lena. All four of them came out to greet us, and to help us unload.

Teresa introduced us.

– “Colin, Leo – this is my friend Lena.”

– “Umm … hi.” was the best I could manage. It took me another moment to gather my wits. You see, Teresa had neglected to mention that Lena was tall. Like, over 6 feet tall. (I learned later that she was 6’1″) She was remarkably attractive, with long, straight blonde hair, big brown eyes, and those classic east European features: a narrow face, accentuated by long, straight hair, and high cheekbones.

– “Hello.” she said, offering me her hand. “I have heard much about you.” Then she corrected herself. “Teresa tell me much about you.” If Lena was learning to speak English, she had a lot of work to do, but her accent was quite appealing.

– “You too.” I said, shaking her hand. “I mean, Teresa has also told me about you.” Damn, I was having trouble concentrating. If her pretty face wasn’t enough of a distraction, she had long arms, and incredibly long legs. She made Eliza look like a hobbit.

Leo was no better. He just stared, with his mouth open. I gave him a nudge. “Let’s get the car unloaded.”

Eliza’s cottage was a very large 2 storey, 4 bedroom house, with an attached garage and a basement. It was more like a house than a cottage. Leo and I carried the beer downstairs, where there was a second fridge specifically for the chilling of sudsy beverages.

Upstairs, Teresa inspected the wines we had brought, and gave our selections the seal of approval. “Great job, guys.” she said.

Eliza was going through the liquor bottles. “White rum, dark rum, spiced rum … yeesh! Did you get enough rum?”

– “If you need more, we can make a liquor run tomorrow.” said Leo.

Eliza rolled her eyes. “I was being sarcastic.” she said.

– “So was I.” said Leo.

– “Can we do anything to help?” I volunteered.

– “We’ve got everything under control here.” said Teresa.

– “How about outside?” I asked Eliza. “Did you want the grass cut?”

– “That’s right. “answered Eliza. “You’ve been here for closing before. Sure, the grass needs to be cut this weekend. Might as well do it now, if you’re willing.”

– “I’ll help him.” said Leo.

We got the lawnmower out of the garage, and filled it up with gas.

– “Did you see that girl?” he said.

– “Lena? Pretty face, right?”

– “Face? I couldn’t see that high! Christ, her tits were over my head.” said Leo.

Eliza’s cottage sat on two acres of prime lakefront land. There was a copse of trees behind the house, but most of the grass was out front, between the house and the lake. There was a boathouse and a dock, and a large stone patio with a firepit and a massive barbecue. Overlooking that was a large deck, adjacent to the kitchen. Still, there was quite an expanse of grass to cut. It took us well over an hour, with Leo taking over about halfway. I used the trimmer while he finished up.

By the time we were done, we were both a bit sweaty. I realized then that with 11 people staying over, hot showers were not going to be easy to come by.

– “Feel like a swim?” I asked him.

– “You nuts? It’ll be fuckin’ freezing in there.”

I explained the shower issue. “Besides,” I said, “it’ll be a great way to wake up in the morning. Hell, we’ll have to go in tomorrow to get the dock out.”

– “Somebody will have to go in tomorrow.” said Leo. “Why do you assume that person is going to be me? Even if I have to go in, I can wait. For now, I’m grabbing a shower.”

Undeterred, I changed into shorts for swimming, and got my towel. There was no point in delaying the inevitable: I dove off the end of the dock. It was cold enough to make me catch my breath, but as I surfaced and began treading water, I realized that it wasn’t that bad. Our unseasonably warm summer had phased into an unusually warm autumn.

Teresa and Lena had heard the splash, and were standing on the deck when I emerged.

– “How is it?” called Teresa.

– “Better than I expected.” I told her. “Too cool for swimming, but a quick dip won’t cause heart failure.”

She laughed, and then translated for Lena. As I dried off, another car arrived. It was Craig, arriving with Ben. Eric was with them. I shook hands with all three, and thanked Craig for bringing Eric, as I had asked him to.

– “No problem. Glad to.” he replied.

– “Hope you’re ready to go, Colin.” said Ben. “Of course, I’m going to win this thing, but it’s always better if you make it a challenge.”

– “I’ll try my best.” I answered. I was never quite sure how to take Ben. In my humble opinion, he was an arrogant asshole. But others seemed to like him, so I might have been wrong.

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=264

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 5

My next excursion to the Lido was even more interesting. Leo wanted my help getting a costume. He also insisted that we go with his sister Claire, and Eliza, even though the two of them were more than capable of shopping for costumes by themselves. I had promised Teresa, so off I went.

Leo has been a close friend since high school. We know just about everything there is to know about each other, with two glaring exceptions.

We have acted as each other’s wingman on a hundred occasions. My buddy Leo is outgoing, dresses well, and exudes confidence. He is utterly fearless, and will approach the best-looking woman in the place. Bar, club, party, any social situation whatsoever – it makes no difference. And he strikes out every single time.

You see, Leo is 5′ 5″, has the body of Pee Wee Herman, and a face that only a mother could love. Yet when he looks in the mirror, Leo sees something completely different. Believe me, I’ve tried to tell him. I have suggested that he adjust his sights, and try to hit on the second best-looking woman he sees. I’ve tried to set him up with a less glamorous girl, or find him someone ‘in his league’, so to speak. No dice. He rejected all of my suggestions – they weren’t good enough for him.

The odd thing is, Leo has had a crush on Eliza since we were in high school. Eliza is his sister’s best friend. And she’s about the farthest thing from the type of woman he usually pursues as you could possibly imagine.

Eliza is tiny. She might be 5′ 1”, as she claims, but I doubt it. She has straw-colored hair and cute freckles. In my opinion, Eliza is quite pretty when she smiles (which she does a lot). She may be small, with no ass or hips to speak of, but she proudly carries a sizeable chest. Her boobs are probably not that large, but on her diminutive frame, they look huge. I’ve always thought of a pigeon when I see her in profile.

She’s a wonderful girl, and a good friend. We all called her “Ee”. I just can’t understand how Leo could obsess over her for a decade without approaching her once, while he has no hesitation at all when it comes to supermodels. I’ve never told him to give up his illusions.

The other thing I’ve never told Leo is that I would love to fuck his sister.

Claire is not the brightest bulb in the package, if you get my drift. Sometimes, you open the fridge door, and the light doesn’t come on. She also has an annoying nasal laugh, that sounds a bit like the neighing of a horse. To top it all off, Claire has a sizeable gap between her front teeth.

But Claire has long, dark hair, and a cute face, even with the gap in her teeth. And she has a body that would make a bishop horny. High, pert breasts – I think they’re 34Bs – a slim waist, swelling hips, and an ass like an apricot. Round, tight, and juicy sweet. She dresses well, like her brother, and when she doesn’t overdo the make-up, Claire looks quite good.

She has given me signs, over the years, that she was interested. There was a party, one time, when we were dancing. I can’t forget the song: it was ‘Love is the Drug’, by Roxy Music. In my defence, it’s a damn sexy song. Watching Claire sway to the music was mesmerizing. When she turned around and began flexing that shapely little ass, I was lost.

We ended up on the couch, with her sitting on my lap. The lights were low, and we necked for a while, with a little groping. Then we heard Leo coming down the stairs, and leapt apart as if someone had thrown a bucket of ice-cold water on us.

I didn’t want to date Claire, and I don’t believe that she was interested in a relationship either. Neither of us wanted to deal with her protective brother. We were a bit wary around each other after that. But there was no denying that the sexual chemistry had been there.

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 4

I offered to show Craig a good place to get costumes. But I had to practically threaten Eric to get him to show up. The three of us went to the Lido, the costume supplier for several downtown theaters.

Some guys would roll their eyes at the thought of going into such a place. But Craig and Eric were pleasantly surprised. First of all, the place was immense, with an incredible selection. Second, the mannequins on display looked fantastic. There was a roman centurion, a renaissance courtier … And third, most of the costumes were real. Not cheap plastic, not imitation, but real, quality cloth.

Craig was impressed by a Captain Morgan outfit, but wouldn’t rent it.

– “That looks too fancy. I think I’m just a common sailor.” He settled on an oversized, brightly colored, striped shirt. It looked like a rugby jersey, to me, except that it had laces at the throat. He liked the look of a polka-dotted headscarf, too.

We found him some black boots made out of soft leather, and a wide sash to wear around his waist. Black pants that he could tuck into his boots completed the outfit.

– “I like the sash. Good for tucking a knife in, or hiding your driver’s licence.” I told him.

– “Should I get an eye patch?” he wondered.

Just then Eric came around the corner, with a bundle of clothing over his arm. He was wearing two eye patches – one over each eye.

– “Where are you guys? Ahoy, mateys!” he called.

Craig and I exchanged a look.

– “Maybe not.” he said.

Eric fell in love with a dark grey thing that looked like a vest. It was long enough to reach below his knees. It might have been appropriate if we were doing a samurai murder mystery.

But he had found a pair of boots from the Three Musketeers era, and a huge tricorne hat. I left Craig to help him find a shirt and pants, and wandered off to find my own costume.

Some people would hesitate to spend $200 – or even $100 – on a costume. I’m not one of them. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve spent that much on a fancy restaurant meal, or a sports event, or concert tickets. Some of those outings were memorable, others not so much. But a really cool costume can create a memory that will last a lifetime.

I found what I wanted: a black coat with silver trim and enormous cuffs, a soft tricorne hat, soft black boots, and a wide black belt with an ornate silver buckle. Add a large white shirt with a high collar and black knee-breeches, and I was good to go.

Perhaps a bit too splendid for Ned Mulligan, you might say. Too bad. Let the others think that I was some sort of gentleman pirate. A little deception can go a long way. Besides, when I tried it on, it felt remarkably good. And a glance in the mirror confirmed that it looked great, too.

Eric had somehow found a scruffy grey beard.

– “Doesn’t this look awesome?” he asked me.

– “It looks itchy.” said Craig.

– “How can you put a price on art?” retorted Eric. It made no sense, of course, but he never let that hold him back.

– “You look like Captain Child Molester.” I told him.

– “Precisely!” he roared. “I’ll take it!”

I took them out for beer and wings afterwards. Craig turned out to be a decent guy, as I had anticipated. He found Eric funny, and we had a few laughs.

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=256

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 2

As I expected, Eric had no plans for Thanksgiving weekend. He found the whole concept a bit twisted. He understood the appeal of trying to solve the mystery, but not the costumes.

– “You mean people dress up to do this shit?” he asked.

– “They do indeed.” I told him. “And so will you.”

– “Alright. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. There will be rum, right?”

Sheila was a lot more enthusiastic, when she answered my phone call.

– “And we get to dress up? Like pirates?” she asked.

– “That’s the plan.” I agreed.

– “I don’t have to be a saucy wench, or a watery tart?”

– “No.” I laughed. “That’s Monty Python, as you well know. This is Teresa we’re talking about: women can be pirate captains, and swashbuckle like the men. If that’s a word.”

– “What part do I get?” Sheila wanted to know.

– “Teresa will be letting us know once we’re all aboard.” I said.

– “Ooh – ship puns. Or is it that shit puns?” she said. “I better start practicing.” She held the phone a few inches from her face, and let loose a loud ‘Aaaaargh, matey!’ With her deep, mannish voice, it sounded awesome. “I love the idea, Colin. You can tell her I’m in for sure.”

I called Teresa with the good news.

– “Perfect.” she said. “Thank you, Colin. We’re almost ready to start. I’ll send out the introduction and the character descriptions. But I’d like to use you as a guinea pig, if you don’t mind. Can I show you what I’m planning to send the others, and get your feedback?”

– “I would be glad to help.” I told her.

We met at the cafe again. Teresa greeted me warmly once again, and then turned her laptop around to show me the screen.

– “Here’s the intro.” she said.

For more than three decades, the dread pirate Redbeard terrorized the Caribbean, plundering and pillaging far and wide. No one was safe: Spanish, Dutch, English and French ships and towns were all targets of his insatiable greed and bloodlust. In the course of his far-flung depredations, Redbeard was said to have accumulated a considerable treasure hoard. According to legend, the old pirate was too paranoid to bury his ill-gotten gains on some deserted island. Instead, he carried them with him, aboard his pirate ship, the notorious Sea Demon.

Finally, justice caught up with the dread pirate. An anonymous tip led the Governor of Jamaica’s soldiers to the Mouldy Maggot, a dockside tavern where Redbeard and members of his crew were drinking and roistering while the Sea Demon rode at anchor in Kingston harbour. Thoroughly inebriated, Redbeard was easily overcome by the redcoats, and captured. His erstwhile crew scattered to the four winds. The Governor loaded the dread pirate with chains, and confiscated his ship, the Sea Demon. The vessel was appropriated by the Royal Navy, and re-christened HMS Retribution.

The Governor has ordered Captain Teresa Fairwind to transport the prisoner to Bermuda, where he will face a swift trial and public execution. Captain Fairwind has been given the Royal Navy’s newest vessel, HMS Retribution. A new crew was swiftly recruited from the experienced local sailors and sea-dogs.

YOU are a member of the crew.

Read the description of your character, and dress appropriately. Further instructions will be made available upon arrival.

When I had finished reading, I looked up at her.

– “What do you think?” she asked.

– “Honestly?”

– Aren’t you always honest with me?” she asked, with that bewitching half-smile. It had been one of our favourite ‘pet’ phrases when we were dating.

– “It’s cute.” I said. “A bit melodramatic, a bit campy – like an old Errol Flynn movie.”

– “That’s fine.” she said. “Kind of what I was aiming for.”

– “And you’re the Captain?”

She nodded. “I thought it would be easier than coming up with complicated instructions for one of the players. Speaking of which: here are your instructions.” Teresa spun the laptop around, opened a new file, and then turned it back to face me again.

You are NED MULLIGAN.

– “Ned Mulligan?” I asked her. “Really?”

– “Remember that time you took me golfing?” she reminded me.

I did. Like most novices, Teresa missed the ball completely several times, but she also managed to knock three golf balls into the water, and hit two golf carts and a vending machine. She was able to laugh at herself, and enjoyed the outing, but she found the whole concept of a ‘mulligan’ fascinating’.

– “You mean I get to hit it again?” she wanted to know.

– “Yeah. Go ahead and tee it up again.” I said.

– “And it doesn’t count as a stroke?” She looked at me sideways, squinting, as if suspicious that I was trying to trick her.

– “That’s the whole idea.” I confirmed.

– “Isn’t that cheating?” she asked.

– “You wouldn’t do it in a tournament, or if you were playing for money. But it’s only a friendly game, and I’m the one inviting you to take a mulligan. A do-over.”

Now she just smiled at me. “Keep reading.” she said.

As a young man, you were a pirate, and a member of Redbeard’s crew. You were brave and clever, so that Redbeard made you one of his lieutenants. But he grew too bloodthirsty for your taste, and also promoted some unsavoury characters alongside you, including the Falcon, and the Scar.

You chose to leave his crew, and jumped ship at Tortuga, taking a bag of doubloons with you. Redbeard swore revenge, and offered a bounty for your head. Both the Falcon and the Scar vowed that they would earn that bounty. The Scar, in particular, promised to drink a toast from your skull. You have been on the run ever since.

You were in Kingston, Jamaica, and horrified to learn that the Sea Demon was in port. But you were equally delighted to learn of Redbeard’s capture – serves him right. You hear the gossip in the dockside taverns: Redbeard’s crew are all over the place. What if one of them recognizes you? The ship HMS Retribution is leaving for Bermuda. Is Redbeard’s treasure still hidden aboard?

You sign on as a sailor …

YOU HAVE – A PISTOL

YOU KNOW:

– THERE IS A PLOT TO FREE REDBEARD AND HELP HIM ESCAPE

– THE FALCON IS ABOARD, DISGUISED AS A MEMBER OF THE CREW

– THE TREASURE IS HIDDEN SOMEWHERE ABOARD THE SHIP

– YOU ONCE CAUGHT A GLIMPSE OF A LETTER BELONGING TO REDBEARD. IT MAY HAVE CONTAINED THE SECRET OF THE TREASURE’S LOCATION. UNFORTUNATELY, YOU ONLY SAW ONE LETTER … IT WAS THE LETTER ‘C’

– “There’s a treasure, too?” I asked. “Or is that instead of a murder?”

– “Both.” said Teresa. “I’m going to space out the murder mystery clues, so that no one can solve it on the first day. But I thought a treasure made sense. This will keep people searching. Plus, we can have multiple winners – solving the mystery, or finding the treasure.”

– “Very clever.” I told her.

– “How about the character description? What do you think?” she asked me.

– “Couldn’t I be ‘Wicked Ned’, or ‘Lusty Ned Longsword’?”

– “You’re Ned Mulligan.” she told me, firmly. “Get used to it. If it’s any consolation, that’s your secret identity. Until somebody else guesses or uncovers who you really are, they’ll only know you as Able Seaman Colin. Everybody will use their real name as an alias.”

– “How many letters are there in the treasure code?” I had to try.

She wagged a finger at me. “No more clues for you. Seriously, Colin – what do you think?”

– “I love it. The description gives me enough of an idea to base my character on. And I’m all pumped up to go out and get a costume. How does the pistol work? Do I have to get a replica pistol?”

– “No.” she said. “I’ll put the items on pieces of paper, so that people can hide them in a pocket, or wherever.”

We discussed the mechanics of the game, without getting too specific. Knowing the people who were participating, I thought it would work well. I was more than looking forward to it: I was ready to start that very day.

Teresa and I discussed the weekend and the game for a long time. We both had two large coffees, and were beginning to feel the effects of too much caffeine.

– “Walk me home?” she asked.

As we walked, we continued to discuss her ideas. She seemed quite taken with some of my suggestions, but wouldn’t give me any hints about whether she planned to use them or not.

– “And you’ll help people get costumes?” she asked, again.

– “I promised.” I reminded her.

– “I’ll hold you to that.”

 

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Sarika – Song of the Black Widow

God, she’s beautiful. I couldn’t find a stock picture on the internet to capture the delightful beauty of this girl. She is so pretty. Indian. Exotic. The type of beauty you’d almost pay for to be seen with at an event. She is probably one of the most beautiful women I know in Philly. But she recently reached out to me to come hang at a happy hour and a brand new place in Rittenhouse, called Scarpetta. Smith and Wolensky’s is gone and now that place is here. It’s in the Rittenhouse Hotel. She also mentioned that she wants me to come up to her apartment and check out her new place at the Dorchester. I am so glad I have reconnected with her. This vacuous she-devil is such a good character for this work. I am a huge fan of lovely Sarika.

I got to Scarpetta around 5:30. They’ve done a nice job with the place. It’s dark and intimate. The bar looks the same but they’ve opened up the place a bit. There’s only the one bar, but they have a lounge in the back and there is a dining room upstairs. I look around for Sarika but I don’t see her. I’m chatting with the manager and then I look out the window and see her walking towards the building.

Sarika looks amazing as always. We grab a couple of drinks at the bar and sit in this cool little area by ourselves near the window. Rittenhouse Square looks beautiful. It’s all decorated for the holidays.There are strings of bulbs in the trees and the whole park twinkle with light. She is having some sort of light pink beverage that I didn’t catch the name of, and I’m having the old-fashioned. Normally, cocktails are around fifteen dollars, but during happy hour they’re half price. So that’s something I can live with for now.

I ask her what she’s been up to and she says she’s been going on a lot of dates. Turns out that weasel she wanted to bring to my eighty dollar a plate New Years party last year has been gone for a while. I remember she was so into that guy. Apparently they were together off and on for two years. She says she wasted her best years on him and now she’s old. She’s 28! Come on Sarika, you are still but a child. She said he was a jerk to her and probably never loved her. I get her laughing, and start thinking that the black widow isn’t so bad after all. She may be smart as a whip, but she’s still a young woman navigating her way through love and life. I even joke that she probably has a blood-red hour-glass tattooed on her belly.

I do love pretty things, and she is no exception.

I tell her she looks great as always. She has been in some sunny destinations lately, so her skin is a darker brown than normal. I like it. It makes her look even more mysterious and exotic. I mention it and she immediately asks if I think it looks ugly. She always says things like that. She is so smart but so immature at the same time. She’s also a bit of a chatterbox. I think most men can’t handle that and don’t like a girl who talks too much. I don’t mind it. I like a girl who has things to say and experiences to share. I love to talk and entertain a woman, so it’s nice when I have a chatty girl so I don’t have to do all of the work. Women like a good listener and I grew up with three sisters. But what I can’t stand is what Carol used to do. Just babbling on nonstop like a tire spinning in the snow. (See: Carol 5/2014 to 8/2016 – There’s No Fun In Dysfunction)

I once read that women speak up to 20,000 words a day, compared to men, who speak only 12,000. So when we get home…We’re done!

It is puzzling how a woman this strikingly beautiful can’t keep a man. But the more you’re around her the more it makes sense. She says she’s been finding men on an app called J Swipe. It’s like Tinder for Jews. I asked her why that app? She said Jewish men normally appreciate women more, have good jobs, and have money. Sounds like she’s hunting for a husband. I think one of the challenges Sarika is facing is that she may be viewed more as a conquest. A creature to be captured and checked off of some list, because she’s so beautifully exotic.

She said she went out with a guy on Monday and even had a date with a pilot after our happy hour. So I assume I won’t be getting a tour of that gorgeous apartment in her building tonight. Sarika has a very busy life. She travels a great deal for her job as a scientist. I know she was formerly an engineer, but now I guess she’s a scientist. She makes great money and spends her other free time hopping on planes and taking little trips. It sounds like a fun life with all of the dating, and jet setting vacations, but it almost seems like she doesn’t want to be alone in her apartment. She’s crazy dating now. It’s good that she’s getting out there and meeting people after two years wasted with weasel man. But again, I can see men wanting her because she’s so beautiful, but she’s kind of annoying to talk to for any length of time. So if they get the opportunity to sleep with her they may not stick around.

Sarika is very intelligent and a nerd. I have taken her to Science after Hours at the Franklin Institute in the past. She loved it like a child. We went to see Jurassic World last summer, and Guardians of the Galaxy is her favorite movie. If my friend Duncan finds that up he’ll probably move up here from North Carolina. You would think guys would find that hot. A pretty girl who likes guy stuff and sci-fi, but it hasn’t worked. Maybe one of these many men that she is meeting for dates, will be rich and just marry her as a trophy wife. But sadly, people are funny about race in this country. They may want to sleep with a hot girl, but they may not want to bring and Indian woman back home to meet the family. I personally I have nothing against it. If you have been reading this blog, you know I love all different kinds of women. As Hank Moody says in the show Californication, “I got all your albums. I love you all and you and you included, Sarika.”

My buddy Church shows up at Scarpetta. I’m happy to see him. Once Sarika  goes on her date at One Tippling Place up the street, he and I can go to Square 1682 and have a drink. Church knows everybody in the restaurant and bar business in this town, so when he orders a drink and the server brings it over, she says, “This one is on Nathan.” He’s the GM there so Church got the hook up. I get another drink, but Sarika is only having the one so she doesn’t show up drunk for her date at 7:00.

While I was waiting at the bar to get my drink, Church chatted with Sarika. I was a little glad that it took the bartender a little time to get to me and make my drink. Normally I don’t like that, but I thought it would give Church a chance to talk to Sarika.

I get back to our little area by the window. We all chat a bit more. Sarika has to go soon, so she heads back to the ladies room. Church tells me she wouldn’t stop talking and it was driving him crazy. He’s been on edge lately, and listening to Sarika go on about something was annoying him. He said something to the effect, “I wanted to put a gun in my mouth.” He said she is so vacuous and self-absorbed and all she talked about was herself.

He once said that about another attractive girl who talked a lot. He was in a car with her and she was talking non stop and he said, “I wanted to leap right out of the car while it was going 70 miles per hour down the highway.”

Sarika returns, and I put her coat on for her. I tell her I will pay for the one drink she had. She tells me she’ll get me next time. I give her a kiss on the cheek good-bye and she’s off. I get the bill for my two old-fashioneds and her dainty drink. It should come to over $22 plus tax. I look at it and it’s only $15. So I got the hookup because I was with Church.

Dude certainly has the power.

I think next we’ll do a happy hour with my friend Carly.  So the night went well and again without incident.

So maybe my pretty little arachnid is finally growing up.

I love Sarika. She is beautiful, and I enjoy her company, if nobody else does, and I can’t wait to see her again.

(Oh… and if you’ve somehow found this and other stories Sarika, I’ll understand if you cut me off. The truth always hurts more than fiction)

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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Rebecca – Chapter 4 – Cypress and the Oak

Another tale of one man’s journey through the dating scene in Philadelphia, searching for true love.

It had been a while since I had heard from Rebecca. She certainly made an amazing impression upon me on our first date. It didn’t make sense that she “ghosted” me after our very first meeting. It felt like it had been a couple of months, and all I heard was the deafening sound of crickets. I did text her twice in that time to meet up for a drink and just never heard back. This has happened before. I know this other little hottie that is always saying she wants to meet me for drink, but can never pull it together.

But then out of the blue she texted me. “Sooo sorry for being off the grid. Can we meet up for a drink soon?” I told her I could do Monday or Wednesday. She picked Monday. I liked that because it was sooner. I asked her if she had any preference. She said for me to pick the place. I wanted somewhere that was nice, but not some place where we’d stick out like a sore thumb. I had a few days to figure it out. I have to come up with a place where they knew me, but I’d have some privacy. I decide to meet her at 1 Tippling Place at 6:30 the next Monday. “Great! I always wanted to check that place out!” was her reply.

1 Tippling Place is a really cool, living room style cocktail bar. It’s located at 20th and Chestnut streets. The outside is really nondescript. Just a glass and steel door, next to a large window. If you blinked or sneezed while walking by you’d miss it. But inside there is all kinds of neat comfy furniture and coffee tables. The artwork is eclectic and the room as a whole is nicely appointed with interesting artifacts. The cocktails are first-rate. They really don’t serve any food. I mean they have some little hors d’oeuvre, but that’s about it. You go there for the quality drinks and the atmosphere. I also enjoy the snarky attitude of the lead bartender. When you first meet him you think he might be gay. Then in walks his smoking hot girlfriend. It’s one of my favorite bars in the city because it’s an original that has real character.

I arrive early. I always like to get to a place early to scope out the scene and get the lay of the land. I chat with the owner. She’s awesome. Normally she’s in and out during the day, and then leaves around 7pm. We’re pretty tight. I’ve even walked her home on occasion. I normally don’t order off the cocktail menu. I just tell the bartender that I want something dark and spirit forward. They make it and I drink it. It’s always good. I will say that the place is a little expensive. Most of the drinks cost between $12 and $14.

I look at my watch. 6:20. Hope she isn’t late.

Hope she shows up.

Five minutes later the door opens. It was like one of those moments in those 80’s teen comedies, when everything moves in slow motion and they play some cool song. Rebecca enters the bar. I take a deep breath. Her dark hair is up, which always looks so sexy on the right woman. Her ripe lips an exquisite pout. She is wearing a burgundy cocktail dress. It comes to mid-thigh. She is wearing black sheer stockings and elegant black high heels. She looks amazing. I’m blinking my eyes trying to focus on this vision.

I immediately stand to greet her. She hugs me, and I am more intoxicated by her beauty and lovely fragrance than any cocktail that could be crafted at this bar. “Rebecca,” is all I could say. “Shall we get a table?” she replies. I nod, and guide her to a quiet table in the corner so we can chat. “You look lovely. I feel under dressed ” I say. “Well I haven’t seen you in a while and I like to dress up.” she responds.

We order a round of drinks. I have my usual dark power, and she goes with something equally strong. Interesting. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe she likes a heady drink or maybe she needs a bit of courage. We chat about what we’ve been up to and she’s telling me about work, and some of the challenges she obviously faces in the medical industry. Then she says, “I suppose you’re wondering why you haven’t heard back from me in a while, and I am sorry about that.” I tell her it’s okay and I’m just happy that she is here tonight.

“Remember how I told you that I went out with that man who was older than me and I didn’t feel any chemistry after four dates?” “Didn’t that guy get married? He didn’t try to…?” “No…no. Nothing like that. I just wanted to preface what I was about to tell you, that it doesn’t feel that way with you.” she says. Now I’m getting a little worried and a little confused. “Do you mean you do feel chemistry with me or you don’t?” I ask, feeling a slight searing heat in my heart. This could go be a short date.  She smiles and takes my hand. “I do like you. It feels different just being around you. You’re not like anybody else I know.” I visually sigh in relief and she reads my expression. I need to be cool. “Don’t worry, I’ve thought a lot about where my life is and it sometimes can be confusing.” I reassure her that whatever she is concerned about I understand, and will listen.

Women don’t want men to solve their problems. Men are all about solutions. They like to fix things. Women are more about their feelings. That’s why men define themselves on what they do, and women define themselves on who they know. The way to a woman’s heart is really quite simple. Don’t tell her what she should do, or how she should do. Just listen. I’m just happy at that moment that I am the one who is present to listen to whatever it is she needs to get off her chest.  I just hope she can’t hear my heart beating.

Rebecca takes a sip from her drink, not breaking her gaze with me. Looking into me with those brilliant emeralds. “Two years ago I met this guy on Tinder named Derrick. He was around my age. As you know guys my age basically suck for the most part. They don’t know what they want or who they are yet. But he ‘Super Liked’ me on Tinder. And… I did the same on his profile so I thought it was kismet. I know now I only did that because he was really cute and not much else. Isn’t that why most people swipe right for the most part anyway?”

“I suppose. But I’d like to think that some of us are more thoughtful when it comes to matters of the heart.” I reply. (Bold faced lie.) She seemed smart in her profile, but I know I swiped right because she was smoking hot.

“I know right?” she exclaims. “Thank you! But I guess I was dumb and just being superficial. So we exchanged numbers. It all happened so fast. We met up, and it was fun. He seemed kind of full of himself and his band. But he was good really good-looking. He invited me to come out and see his band play and we’d hang out after their set. So I get dressed up and go to the bar where their playing. Derrick was the lead singer. I was kind of hoping he’d take me on a proper date, but I thought that would happen after we got to know each other. I suppose it’s not a bad way to meet someone for the first time. You’re in a bar surrounded with people so it’s not like you’re meeting a stranger in some isolated place. I also prepared myself for the fact that he was the singer in the band and usually they are surrounded by willing girls. I mean, you told me you used to play guitar in a band in L.A. Weren’t you always around a bunch of girls?”

“Sure. There were a lot of girls and guys at our shows. We played hard rock, so our audience skewed more male than female. But I had a steady girlfriend at the time. I was committed to my relationship with her.” (Bold faced lie)

“Well you’re one of the rare ones.” (I wonder if she can see the devil horns sticking out of my head?) Anyway, so I’m at the their show. I didn’t want to go to a bar alone, so I took my roommate Amber with me. We had an agreement that if things went well with Derrick she’d either hook up with someone there or UBER it home. I mean it wasn’t a real date so I don’t think there was anything wrong with bringing my friend with me as backup.”

“What kind of music did they play?” I ask, hoping to get insight about the boy through his musical tastes.

“It wasn’t emo, but it sort of sounded like that. I guess it was more post hardcore.”

This guy already sounds like a douche, I thought. She takes another sip and this time her eyes are down. I can see this is hard for her. “Okay. Please go on. I’m listening.”

“So they end their set and we’re hanging out. Me, my friend Amber, Derrick, and his lead guitarist, Simon. We’re drinking and laughing and having a good time. We’re at this table all the way off to the back. I’m sitting next to Derrick and Amber is across from me with Simon in a booth. Amber likes to party. Simon is ordering shots and beers and we’re all getting pretty buzzed. I feel like I’m really liking Derrick. He’s going about how important the music is and all of that stuff, but I don’t care I just think he’s hot. Next thing I know Amber is all over Simon. I look at Derrick and he’s on me. We’re just making out like crazy. Normally I’m not like that but I think it was the drinking that made it easy. Plus I wanted him cause he was so good-looking. It was fun.”

At this point I’m wondering where all of this is going. We order another round.

“So we decide we want to go someplace else. We leave the bar and start walking. Simon pulls out a couple of joints and we’re all smoking. Just smoking weed walking down the street. We didn’t care. We’re all giggling and Derrick has his arm around me. We end up some really dark bar. I don’t even remember where it was. We’re drinking and we’re all pretty messed up. The place is full of people. We’re in the back. Derrick is like, Do you ever go skiing? and I’m like, yea, I have been but I’m not that great at it, but I have good balance. Then he pulls out this little bag with white powder in it. I assume it’s cocaine. I go, Oh… skiing. I had never done coke before, but I know Amber has and she says it’s great. So they look around all paranoid and shit, and literally start spooning it out. Derrick does a hit and then offers me a bump. I just do it. I don’t know why. Amber’s like, “gimme some!” Then she and Simon do some. I couldn’t believe it. Doing coke in a bar? It felt cold in my nose, and I could feel this clear euphoria. It almost felt sobering to do it. But different. Higher. Intense. I can see why people love it so much. You were in a band in California. You must have done it right?”

“I saw what drugs did to my peers. I was more of a beer and whiskey guy. I smoked weed occasionally but never really liked it. A little drugs an alcohol can loosen the mind to create, but I knew people who did loads of drugs and it literally sledgehammered their talent and destroyed them. So no. I steered clear of coke.” (White lie) Get it?

“Oh well that’s good. But anyway, I know I’ve been blabbing on about this. Long story short, these guys come back to our place and we end up fooling around with them. It was crazy. I guess we were all just caught up in the moment. I think we stayed up most of the night. Well, Derrick and I ended up being boyfriend and girlfriend after that. It felt like he really loved me. I loved him.” She takes a sip and a deep breath, looking off into the distance, as if trying to visualize a faded past. An image that vanished in her rearview mirror long ago.

“What happened?” I say, concerned.

“We went out for about a year. It was intense. We moved in with each other. Amber had gone off to school anyway so it was perfect timing. Things were great at first. But they always are in the beginning. We always did things together and went places together and partied together like a really great couple. I know he was focused on his music and really wanting to make it. But there were a lot of times when he wasn’t around. Times I wouldn’t hear from him and couldn’t get in touch with him. A girl starts to wonder what’s going on. I even started spying on him. Going to places they were playing. He wouldn’t see me, but I wanted to know what he was up to. I wanted to trust him, but you know when you get that weird feeling in your gut that something’s wrong. Well, his behavior had become more and more erratic. I know he was doing drugs but I just wasn’t into it like he was. We just weren’t connecting like we did in the beginning. Like maybe he was just tired of me.”

“Sometimes he would even get really mad about things that didn’t make any sense. Well, one night I followed him after he left me to do a show, and I saw him making out with this redhead at a bar. He wasn’t even playing with his band that night.  She was like all emo or whatever with tattoos and shit. I was devastated. I just jumped on the train and went home.”

“I’m sorry I’m telling you all of this.”

I could see that her eyes were wet with the beginnings of tears. “It’s okay. You can tell me. I’m here.” I took her dainty hands in mine. She sniffed and nodded, holding back the tears.

“That night he had the gall to come home and try to do it with me. I pushed him away. He got all mad at me and I told him what I saw. He denied it at first, but I told him I followed him and saw him. He got really mad and started throwing stuff around. He broke this little snow globe he gave me in the beginning. At that moment I didn’t even care about the globe. He had already broken something far more precious than that stupid thing.”

Okay, now I was getting upset. “My God, Rebecca. I’m so sorry.” Tears rolled down her cheeks. She took a healthy sip of her drink. I wiped the tears from her face with my thumb. She hugged me. “It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s not your fault, Rebecca. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

She sniffed and I offered her a cocktail napkin. (Note to self: Start carrying a clean handkerchief in your lapel pocket.) She wiped her face, and her nose. ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

My bartender showed up at the table. “Is everything okay?” he asked. “Yes…yes. She’s just suffering a loss.” I replied. “I’ll bring you another round, yes?” I glance at her. “She smiles and blinking her eyes, nods in affirmation. He quickly returned. “These are on me guys.”

My man at Tippling is always on point.

“Okay, so that was over a year ago, right?”

“Yes. He took his stuff and left me. I was crushed. Destroyed. I cried for months. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I drank so I could get some sleep. When I would wake up in the morning, I’d  just go to the bathroom and dry heave over the sink.”

I could see she was struggling. “So did something happen recently?”

Heavy sigh. “Yes. He reached out to me on social media. I had blocked him from Facebook and in my phone, but I was on Instagram and he got to me that way. I had a panic attack when I saw his name.”

“Let me guess. This happened sometime after you and I went to the Museum.”

“Yea. I know it’s so stupid. He said how he missed me and how he was wrong and had grown so much. And like the idiot, I unblocked him in my phone. We met up and as crazy as it seems I was actually happy to see him. He looked a little older and a little more haggard, but it was still my Derrick. We were at a bar up in Northern Liberties. Things felt different. Time had passed. Too much time. I had grown and healed. But old habits die-hard. I just wanted to take a look at him. He said he was really sorry for what he had done. He said it hadn’t worked out with the redheaded slut. She actually ended up cheating on him with some drummer in a band that opened for them. I was actually kind of glad to hear that. But I’m sure he didn’t feel the loss that I had experienced. I had scar tissue on my heart from what he did to me. But I couldn’t let him tear open the sutures and open my old wounds. I work in a hospital emergency room. That shit hurts!”

Rebecca actually laughed at that moment. It had been the first time the whole night. That sound was like magic to my ears. I smiled a knowing smile. Because she didn’t know that I have been down that road twice in my life, and it’s a nightmare.

Love is a many splintered thing.

“So yea, that was a two months ago. I told him that I’m glad he was doing well, but I had moved on after a year and that I was in a relationship with a really nice guy in financial services.” She laughed again. “I could see he was disappointed, but I couldn’t let myself go through that shit again. It was a small chapter in my life and I had to draw the curtains on that dead body. He had me, and he squandered it. I think in that moment he realized that it was really over for good. It was hard to do, but I told him I had to get home to Cole, my investment banker boyfriend. He hugged me, and I knew I would never smell him again. it was like pulling the plug on a fatally injured patient.”

“So that was it?” I took a sip of my rye infused medicine.

“Yea. I went home and put on and episode of Stranger Things and ate an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s and had a good cry. So… that’s why I disappeared for a while. I just needed to think about some things and move forward with my life. So, I’m glad you met up with me tonight. I’m sure you never expected our second date to be this confessional. I really appreciate you listening to all of that, but it felt really good to get it out. I was like a little tree blowing back and forth in the wind, but now I feel more calm. Like the storm is finally over and I’m safe.”

“Well, I’m glad you trusted me enough after one date to see me again and confide in me, Rebecca. Like my profile says, I’m a good listener.”

“Yea…Thank you.” Taking my hand again in hers. “You’re like a strong tree. Good roots  with unwavering branches.”

“Yea, and my bark is worse than my bite!” I snapped. She cracked up. Rebecca was back.

“You’re awesome.” she said as she again hugged me tightly. Oh, that lovely slender neck and her fragrance was sobering.

We had our intimate moment and then paused.

“Are you hungry?”

“I’m starving!” she laughed.

“There’s a great bar called Mix that is one block from here that has delicious 12 inch brick oven pizzas.”

“That sounds like the greatest idea I have heard all day! Do you think I’m over dressed or pizza?”

“I’m sure you’ll pass they’re rigid dress code, Rebecca.”

And with that she pulled from her hair the thing that was holding it in place, and those rich ribbons of dark chocolate tumbled over her lovely shoulders.

It’s hard to believe that this story could get any better at this point, but it does. The bill came and my guy placed it on the table. I reached for it to access the catastrophic damage to my bank account that 6 drinks at 1 Tippling Place would cost me… plus tip.

But Rebecca was faster, and she grabbed it first. “Uh uh. This is on me.”

I was in shock. My face, a mask of disbelief and mute protest. “Are you sure?” She looked at the bill. “Yep.” She whipped out her credit card and stuck it in the flap, as she nodded to the bartender.

I instinctively reached for my wallet. “Can I at least help with the tip?”

“Put your wallet way.” She said firmly, giving me a wry smile.

“Will you at least let me buy a lady some pizza?”

She ran her fingers through her hair, fluffing her dark locks. “I’ll think about it.”

The bill returned. She signed it and handed it back. ” Come along, Sir. I’m hungry.”

I liked that she called me Sir. I also like that she took my hand, and led me out of there. When we were outside she locked arms with me. I was in heaven. We’re on our way to eat delicious pizza.

 

Tune in for The Return of Rebecca, Part 2 in Two Weeks!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 9am EST.

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