Look What I Did

Some days, I just need to relax. So here is my weekend projects, avoiding housework and people (outside of my family). Most of these were made for my sister. Now I just have to get them in the mail.

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Now Available: These Divided States: High Price to Pay

High-Price-to-Pay-Generic

In 2037 America, all drugs are legal for recreational use. But the price of getting high costs more than money. Users must give up some constitutional freedoms, including the right to live.

They framed the wrong woman

Jane Doe deals drugs. Born an outcast and one of the throwaway poor, she’s hated by her clients and the zealots who liken her to the serpent in Eden. When a high profile murder victim is linked to her shop, she knows her days are numbered.

Agent Callum French joined the Drugs Oversight Agency to avenge his sister’s death at the hands of an addict. His first assignment—kill the dealer responsible for the death of a powerful Senator’s daughter.

No one counted on Jane having her all Constitutional rights.

Now Callum must investigate the murder. Each lead uncovers the black heart of corruption and media fear-mongering that turns good people into violent mobs. Will discovering the real killer ignite a territory war that spills blood in the streets or expose the rotten roots of power that threaten to topple American democracy?

Warning: this book contains graphic violence, vulgar language, and situations sure to offend nearly everyone.

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These Divided States: High Price to Pay, chapter 4

Chapter 4

High-Price-to-Pay-GenericJane stilled in her office and held her breath. Water dripped into the bathroom sink on the other side of the office wall. A vehicle rumbled down the alley on the other side of the pull-up door behind her seat. Her hands hovered over the packing slips on her desk before her fingers danced over the two packages on the scarred desk. One box contained nothing but raw materials for her chef to create designer drugs. The other contained drugs. Ordinary drugs available at any dispensary.

And worth over a hundred thousand credit on the street. 

Certainly worth more than her life. 

The creak of the floorboards sounded again. Closer this time.

She pinched the matted leg of the one-eyed teddy bear and dragged it closer. Its matted bottom scraped the scarred desktop betraying the presence of a .22 semiautomatic, stuffed inside. She paused. Even though ‘dicts gave up the right to life, shooting was messy business. Blood was hard to clean up, and the services charged a mint.

Glancing around the cramped space, she growled low in her throat. Damn, she’d left her machete outside. Retrieving it now would make too much noise. Rolling the teddy over, she scratched it behind the tattered ear before unbuttoning the flap on its backside and removing the weapon. 

 Her hand was steady as she checked the magazine and verified the bullet in the chamber. She rolled her shoulders easing the crunch of tension in her bones. Keeping her eye on the small door separating the office from the hall beyond the interior door, she slid back the mustard paneling, exposing a bank of monitors. Old and outdated, two screens settled between the studs of the wall in line with the red and blue lines of the plumbing.

She hit the switch. Pixels swarmed the screen and formed an image of the storefront. Gray tinged the worn plank floorings thanks to the smoky glass of the bubble cameras. Beyond the holographic displays of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Egyptian Pyramids, and the Great Wall of China, residents and tourists hustled along the sidewalks. No one paid attention to her store.

So where was the intruder?

Swiping the screen, she changed views. No one huddled behind the counter, ransacked the ginger jars full of candy, or tried to break into the automatic tellers to steal the cryptocurrency account numbers.

Jane leaned forward in her chair. 

The camera panned the area near the restroom and hallway door. 

There! A shadow moved in the crack under the door to the hallway. A deep breath settled her heart into an even rhythm. Raising the gun, she aimed the business end at the door then swiped her index finger over the screen bringing up the feed from the hallway.

A middle-aged woman in a gray pencil skirt and coral blouse shifted the yellow mop over the secret hatch in the floor, hiding a secondary entrance to the basement. Penny Noire adjusted her grip on the black and white shopping bags before sweeping her fingers through her bobbed brown hair. After one quick check of the pearls at her neck, she reached for the handle for the office door.

Jane snatched up the bear and returned the gun to its hiding space. “Woman’s gonna get her fucking head blown off one of these days.”

“Language, Janie dear.” Penny sidled into the room and smiled.

The woman always smiled—in every picture taken with her forty-eight foster daughters, in every run-in with the Corporate Police, in every hearing before the Corporate Judges. The only time she stopped was when Phil the Fink abandoned their thirty-year marriage to fuck foster daughter number forty-eight.

Then her smile crumbled as she lost her trust, the love of her life, and her income. 

And Jane hadn’t known how to respond to the woman who’d raised her since she was eleven.

But Penny had cried when the state’s child services revoked her fostering permissions, leaving Jane as the last girl Penny saved.

That didn’t seem fair. Jane had asked the preacher at the church Penny had forced her to attend why such a bad thing had happened to Penny? He mumbled nonsense about being a woman and sin and flaws that would cause a husband to stray. Jane had punched the preacher in the face and broke his nose.

He’d had her arrested. 

Penny had bailed her out, putting a lien against her house just before the foreclosure proceedings had begun.  They’d been homeless on Jane’s eighteen birthday when the case had been dismissed.

“Janie,” Penny hitched a hip onto the desk and wiggled onto her new seat. “I’m waiting for an apology.”

“I’m sorry.” Jane mumbled. “But you watch my language enough for both of us.”

“One day, you’ll meet someone who will see past your facade to the kind-hearted woman who just wants to be accepted, scars and all.” Penny bent over the shopping bag.

Jane rubbed her arms dispelling the itchy feeling such words always evoked. She’d fallen for that crap before, then she discovered her ex-boyfriend helping himself to her inventory and replacing the drugs with sugar pills. Her soul was scarred and she made sure to pick those scabs often so she never healed, never forgot, never trusted. “I’m not nice, Pen. I’m a horrible person, a serpent according to Sinners’ Salvation.”

“We both know I raised you not to base your life on someone else’s opinions.” Penny thrust a square purple food container at her. “Now, I made you an egg, tomato, and sausage sandwich for breakfast. You’re too thin.”

Jane balanced the container on her fingertips. Refusing wasn’t an option. Penny was part steamroller; part abused schnauzer. Her stomach rumbled. The traitor. “I ate earlier.”

“Then you can eat again.” Penny popped the lid and set it on the desk. “With Jazz in the Park tonight, you’re going to have a busy day. Besides, I thought you might like to launch my newest product tonight.”

“What have you cooked up this time?” Jane used two hands to lift the roll and swallowed the saliva pooling in her mouth. Homemade bread, because Penny was a master chef at more than cooking drugs.

“My masterpiece.” Grinning, Penny removed an open bag of dry cat food.

“I thought Misty Seas were your masterpiece?” Flakes of toasted bread speckled her shirt. Peppery aioli sauce mingled with the warm eggs and sausage. Jane’s eyes fluttered in ecstasy. 

“That was before time-release technology became shareware.” Penny lifted out a red velvet box marked photos. 

Jane swallowed her mouthful. “I thought you couldn’t get it to work?”

Rolling her eyes, Penny set the box on the counter before stroking it. “I couldn’t get it to work at first. But, like I said, you don’t give up because something’s hard. That’s what makes you so successful.”

Jane shifted in her chair. Why did Penny always make it out to be something more? Theirs was a business arrangement. Nothing more.

“Your designer drugs help.” Jane turned the bread to get a bigger dab of aioli in the next bite. “So, what do you have for me?” 

Penny carefully lifted the lid of the box. Crimson hearts rolled around the black satin interior. A ‘P’ and an ‘X’ stamped the front of the pills with her designer mark. An ‘N’ validated the back. “I call it Nirvana.”

“Nirvana, huh.” Setting down her sandwich, Jane lifted one red pinky-nail sized tablet and rolled it between her fingers. 

“Yep, you know, as in a release from endless suffering.”

“I know what it means. I finished those business classes and got that associate’s degree, remember?” Jane set the pill back into the box. But drugs weren’t nirvana, just a temporary state of crazy. When the user came down, the same shit still needed to be dealt with, and worse crap joined the jamboree.

Penny nudged her shoulder. “I was there when you got your certificate. Heard your name read and saw you walk across the stage on the Holo-tron.”

Jane’s skin heated. Why did Penny get so excited over a scrap of paper? How much did it really mean when she’d earned C’s and D’s to get it? “So what is it? Uppers? Downers? Sidewaysers?”

“That’s not even a word.” Penny rested a bag of disposable baby diapers then an oversized black pen on the table before folding the bag and tucking it into her oversized purse. She clicked the top of the pen. A holographic computer and keyboard appeared on the desk. “Not that drugs don’t throw you sideways, just no one under the influence can say it without laughing.” 

Jane didn’t correct her. When a ‘dict was high as a kite, everything was funny.

“Nirvana is a cocktail drug.” Penny‘s trim fingers typed on the keyboard. “First you soar with the eagles, then just as you’re starting to come down, the first time-release coating dissolves and your senses expand. Then lastly, there’s a detox agent so you fall asleep and flush it out of your system, waking up rested and ready for a new day of drudgery.”

Penny brought up the Certificate of Analysis for the drug. Spikes appeared along a chromatogram, each had a label. Underneath were a list of names and concentrations. 

Jane recognized the scientific names of the stimulants and barbiturates. Of course, her tongue would knot if she tried to pronounce any of them. But one in the list was unfamiliar. She pointed to the string of thirty some letters. “Is that the coating thing?”

“Yep. Nice to see drugs haven’t dulled your senses.” 

“You know I don’t partake.” Not since she’d been born addicted. She wouldn’t take the chance of ruining everything she’d worked for.

“Don’t tell anyone that. Why would someone trust a dealer who doesn’t get high?” Penny shifted screens, pulling up the gateway to Mainlining, the dark web ‘dicts, black hats, and white hats used to transfer information away from the government’s prying eyes.

Jane tapped the Certificate on the screen. “That’s why ‘dicts buy from me. Plus, I’m clear-headed enough not to pass along bad stuff.” She scanned the page, looking for the watermark of an approved lab. “Or allowing any bogus certs to get by me.”

“There’s lots of bad stuff going around.” Penny dragged and dropped the cert onto Jane’s cloud drive and the quantum key encryption scrambled it. “Certs are uploaded and no, they’re not fake. I rushed the DOA lab test so you could sell them tonight.”

Jane selected another pill and rolled it between her fingers. “What do you want for them?”

“Thirty each.”

“That means I’d have to sell them for sixty to make a profit.” Damn the tax man for taking a quarter of the retail price.

“They’re worth thirty.” Penny clicked the pen and her computer blinked out.

“I don’t doubt it. But they’re new and this isn’t Snobsdale or uppity Carefree. People here work for a living. Many won’t take a chance on something they’ve never heard of before.” Especially when it would eat up a significant portion of someone’s salary.

“You don’t think you can get that much for them?”

Jane bit the inside of her lip. After two decades, Penny knew all her hot buttons. Jane would always do what she was told not to do. And she would do it well. Slowly exhaling, she counted the hearts. “I could get twice that much for them, but only after folks know what they can do. Create the demand—”

“—Then set the price. I know. I helped you study for the test.” Penny tossed her pen into her bag. 

Jane’s finished counting. Five hundred hearts. Ten as freebies for her best and most connected clients. “Can you make me another ‘k’ before the weekend?”

Once word spread, Nirvana would be a perfect Sunday night dinner. A thousand pills might not be enough as she was Penny’s exclusive distributor. But scarcity would make them all the more in demand.

“No problem.” Penny winked. “I have another five hundred already made.”

“Good.” Sweeping the pills into her palms, Jane moved a blank switch plate aside. The vacuum click on then she fed the pills into the tube. The inventory control box flickered to life on her monitors. Numbers scrolled as it counted the drugs. After wiping her empty palms on her leggings, she cracked her fingers, assigned the new drugs a location, price, and name. “Now, did you get so lost in your masterpiece that you forgot my order of Misty Seas?”

“In the cat food. Along with another bottle of dye to color in your Cain’s mark.” Stooping, Penny kissed Jane’s cheek. “Send the credits within the hour. I’ve got to pay for my health insurance this month. Bloodsuckers raised my rates because I’m now fifty-five.”

Jane paused. Her former foster mother would tell her if she were facing problems, wouldn’t she?

“Relax, Janie dear.” Penny patted her shoulder. “I’m in excellent health.”

Jane shrugged. She hadn’t been worried. Not even a little. “You’ll have the money within the hour, and I’ll also let you know any feedback on Friday.”

“No need. I’ll check Mainlining. It’s faster than the news and twice as truthful. Now see me out. The front door. I’m not some criminal needing to sneak out the back.”

Stifling a sigh, Jane followed her down the hallway-slash-janitorial closet. The woman didn’t understand the danger. “What if one of your church friends see you?”

“Then, I’ll introduce them to my beautiful, successful daughter.”

Crazy. Making those drugs had made Penny crazy. Shaking her head, Jane glanced beyond the posters plastered in her storefront window. Photos of azure seas, tan sands, and baroque architecture deliberately fooled many into thinking she ran a travel agency. 

Across the street, men and women in suits lingered in the park. Many chatted in groups. A few checked their phones and cast surreptitious glances at her store. Tough. She wouldn’t open until after three. A cowboy on his horse brooded in life-size bronze in front of the library. The five-story, city hall curved like a protective brick hand behind the squat, white library.

Maroon carpeting deadened their footfalls as she crossed the open space behind Penny. The canned lights in the ceiling turned on before she reached the midpoint. Behind the single countertop on the left, shelves ran along the mirrored wall. Bright colored ovals, rounds and squares filled the candy jars.

“If the cat food contains the Misty Seas, what’s in the diapers?” Jane swerved behind the counter.

Penny paused by the door and smiled. “My contribution to the women’s shelter up the road. Add it to your weekly offering.”

Damn it. How did Penny learn so many of Jane’s secrets? Leaning across the counter, she hit the button under the marble surface. The alarm beeped as it turned off but the cameras snapped photos of the door. A deep buzzing noise filled the room.

“Sunday brunch at eleven. No excuses.” Penny threw open the door.

A bald man pulled Penny outside then spun her out of his way. He stomped inside, slammed the door shut, and locked it manually. “You and I got unfinished business, Janie.”

Jane’s tongue stuck to the roof of her dry mouth. “Tyler.” His name was acid in her throat. “I didn’t know you were out of prison.”

“I told you I’d find you, babe.” He cracked his knuckles. The ones tattooed with the word kill on them. “You didn’t think I’d forget how you betrayed me, did you?”

 

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Jane’s World: These Divided States: High Price to Pay

High-Price-to-Pay-GenericThe world of drugs. Not exactly a place to stay or visit for more than a few minutes. In an alternate US, making drugs legal doesn’t change that.

Jane was born into the drugs world before they were legal. When violence revolved around the distribution and use of them. When sex was a commodity used just as often as money. When predators hovered in the vicinity looking for their next prey.

The world marked her in ways most couldn’t imagine and few would let her forget.

So, she walked the career path chosen for her—by fate, society, and circumstance. And the tools to her success are violence, sex, money, and dealing with predators.

Jane isn’t exactly a soft and squishy character. She is, in fact, a cold blooded killer, a survivor, and a drug dealer. A stereotype so easily dismissed. Until you look into the dark corners of the American Dream and see the shadows cast by those who live glibly in the light.

And the people who live in them.

I’d say welcome to Jane’s world. But she’s liable to tell you to f*ck off. And, frankly, that’s what I love about her.

Until next time.

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When CRS hits

Last weekend, I’m not sure what happened to my brain but I had a serious case of CRS. That’s Can’t Remember Stuff (or another ‘s’ word of your choice).

You see, we had gone to Costco and picked up some new curtains for our bedroom for which we needed a new curtain rod.

Then we went to Home Depot and forgot to pick up a curtain rod.

Then we went to our supermarket and forgot to pick up a curtain rod.

I forgot to write down that we needed a curtain rod on the fridge list so as I cleaned the house I was trying to remember what I was supposed to pick up when we went to Bed Bath and Beyond.

In the end, I fell back on the advice given at a ted talk and made up a story about the items I needed from the store. It ended up like this: Rod needed to pick up a new pillow to get some sleep and a laser to tire the cat out so he could go to bed. The cat hated the laser and slept on his pillow. Because cats tend to be jerks.

I remembered all three items, and the cats really do hate the laser:D

Until next time!

 

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These Divided States: High Price to Pay, Chapter 3

Chapter 3

High-Price-to-Pay-GenericJane glanced down. Red dots from the laser sights of the automatic weapons peppered the shirt covering her heart. Her grip tightened on the machete in her hand. Dying hadn’t been in her plans for today. And yet, the scene was so fitting: the alley behind her drugs dispensary. The good citizens of Glendale would rejoice at the fitting extermination of filth like her.

And life would go on in the Valley of the Sun. Bitterness flooded her mouth.

An orange tabby cat loped from behind a dumpster to lap up the spilled liquid. The scent of spoiled Chinese food wafted from the dented green bin. Patches of different color paint covered up the gang tags on the restaurant’s kitchen door.

“Drop the weapon.” The shout tore out of the Humvee in front of her and rattled the second-story windows. A black helmet and mirrored riot shield shrouded the man’s face. 

A trio of matrons frowned from the alley’s entrance. Nothing like an audience to her execution. Give the biddies a tidbit to pick over with their friends.

A wave of anger evaporated the calm cloaking Jane. No. No way would she give them or anyone else the satisfaction of her death. She’d survived worse. She’d survive this. So why didn’t her fingers release the machete?

“I will shoot.”

Jane didn’t doubt a bulletproof vest protected his torso. The uniform jangled a memory in her brain. Her fingers spasmed on the machete. She willed her fingers to open. 

The machete clattered to the ground.

Close but so far away. Sweat misted her skin. A bead trickled down her temple. She hadn’t been this defenseless in ages. Not since the rape and murder of her mother when she’d been seven.

“Back up. Get against the wall.” The Humvee door opened. The early morning light sparked off the man’s mirrored riot gear. A machete hung off his narrow hip, and straps of armor-piercing bullets created an ‘x’ over his Kevlar vest.

Little dick pussies always overdressed for the occasion. Jane eased away from her discarded weapon. Shards of glass crunched under the thick soles of her black combat boots. 

An armored vehicle lumbered around the corner and trundled up through the narrow alley, barely missing the dumpsters. A silver emblem of a mortar and pestle clung to the side.

Not an execution then but a drug delivery. And since she was the only dispensary on the block, it had to be for her. She released the air bottled in her lungs. Damn the Corporate Police. The CPs thought they were a law unto themselves.

The CP thug stomped across the distance. Blunt fingers escaped his black gloves. The spikes over his knuckles glinted in the sunshine. 

She waited for him to stop.

He didn’t.

Her body tensed. Damn, this was going to hurt. 

He bodychecked her.

Her feet left the ground. Her left side slammed against the brick wall near her back door. Her head scraped the rough exterior, snagging blue hair from her wig. If this douchebag became a regular on her route, she might want to pad the thing. “I don’t have any other weapons.”

He ignored her, pinned her against the brick, stripped off her satchel, and flung it to the ground. Peppermint and coffee soured the stench of cigarettes on his breath. He groped her chest, squeezing her breasts before shoving his hands under her skirt, living proof officers like him deserved the nickname Cunt Patrol. Rough fingers prodded her sex through the thick material of her leggings. “Like that, don’t you?” 

She yawned.

He tugged at the elastic waistband of her leggings. 

Bastard probably thought she was like other ‘dicts who’d trade sex for drugs. She could use his stupidity to her advantage. “While you’re down there, can you check to see if my syphilis outbreak is under control?”

His body stiffened. “Syphilis?”

“Yeah, the resistant kind.” She smiled, eying her reflection in his visor. “The clinic is participating in some new study to see if they can get it cleared up. Burns like hell, but most of my boyfriends don’t mind. Hell, most of your kind have blisters on their dicks when they—”

“Dirty bitch.” He slammed her head against the brick.

Pain exploded across her skull. Blood flooded her mouth from where her teeth nicked her tongue. Not dropping her smile, she allowed the crimson to dribbled from her lips. Another ‘good’ citizen descended to the gutter thanks to her.

 The CP in the Humvee banged on the side of the vehicle. “Hey Ranger. Stop playing with your new whore.” 

Jane’s fingers curled into fists. She didn’t belong to anyone. And she liked it that way. 

The back of the armored car opened. A CP with brass on his chest rolled out, assault rifle in hand. “Ranger, your wife won’t think your blue dick is a bonus, and our schedule can’t afford another thirty-second delay.”

Laughter burst past her lips.

Ranger slammed her head against the wall again. “Fucking bitch. Why don’t you all die faster?”

She swallowed the blood pooling in her mouth.

Ranger stormed to the end of the alley and adjusted himself then raised his rifle and scanned the street.

Jane rolled her eyes. No doubt the douchebag intended to terrorize some library patron or a kitten. Despite the media hype, the drugs war didn’t exist.

“Jane Doe?” The big brass CP raised his visor. Mirrored glasses covered his eyes, but she recognized the dimples in officer Potter’s smooth cheeks. After four years as part of her delivery team, her name still amused him, just as his exhausting adherence to protocol exhausted her. Potter probably thought her name was some lame pseudonym. His fantasy wasn’t her reality.

“I’m Jane Doe.” Playing along, she licked the blood weeping from her cracked lip and waited for him to complete the drill.

“Do you own the dispensary known as Life’s a Trip?”

“I own Life’s a Trip.”

“We have a delivery for you.” He shoved an eID chip toward her to officially confirm her identity.

Even the Corporate Police had layers upon layers of red tape. So much for business being more efficient than government agencies. She grunted and reached for the biometric reader in the ring-shaped box.

Potter manacled her wrist and twisted her arm so her forearm was exposed to the light. “Why is your Cain’s mark blue?”

Pain rocketed up her arm, but she didn’t struggle. Struggling always made things worse. She fell into the pain, allowing the familiar heat to envelop her. She made her home in the violence. And in lies. “Must be the syphilis drugs I’m taking.”

He dropped her hand then wiped his on his pants. “Thought that was a ruse to discourage Ranger.”

“Why would I lie?” She pressed her thumb to the biometric scanner. After it flashed green, she twisted her hand just a bit, smearing the print aided by the grease from the danish. Her blue hair shielded her face. Thank God, he didn’t eye the ‘Cain’s mark’ too closely to discover it was an old cigarette burn she’d colored in with food dye. Sometimes her scars proved useful.

His nostrils flared with disgust. “Clear!”

She winced at his shout.

A postman emerged from the back of the armored car. Middle-aged, with a strap of thin brown hair across his sweaty oval head, he juggled two brown boxes over his gelatinous gut. Creases marred his pale blue uniform not even the satchel at his side could cover. Hairy toothpick legs protruded from his shorts. The words ‘Uncontrolled Substances. User Beware’ were stamped in red on the sides and top of the boxes.

Jane swore under her breath. Merv the Perv. A face similar in dissipation lurked in the abyss of her memories. Clammy groping hands under her stained tee-shirt. A hard grip prying her legs apart. Bruised flesh and words that no soap could cleanse away. 

“Problem?” Potter straightened and his grip tightened on his weapon.

She shoved her past back into the darkness and focused on the present.

“You’re early and my DOA clearance card is inside.” She jerked her chin at the steel roll-up door covered in patches of brown paint. Graffiti bled through the layers. Bending, she picked up her satchel.

Potter nodded once. “Deliveries are always better inside.”

For whom? Jane didn’t care. She paid a mint for that clearance card, no way would she let anyone get their grubby hands on it. She flicked the cover up on the black biometric box next to the door. The light on the bottom right-hand side blinked yellow. A spray of green light scanned her retina. Moments later, the door rattled as it retracted.

Gravel crunched behind her. Keeping the gun across his gut, Potter surveyed her doors, cameras, alarms, and biometric locks. “Don’t trust your customers?”

“They’re ‘dicts.” She stabbed her key in the generic lock, and metal blast bars withdrew into the brick wall. She stepped into the small office/receiving area. “If I were lying on the floor bleeding, they’d rob me blind then call the DOA for cheating them out of their drugs.”

“Sounds like you’re right at home among them.” He snapped his gum at her.

Asshole. Cream-colored paint bubbled from the interior walls. Three dents crushed half-moon shapes into the drywall. A rolling chair vomited foam from the split in the seat.

Potter crossed the room in two strides and checked the security door leading to a small hallway and her dispensary. He leaned against the bubble eye-piece in the center before retreating. “High-class place you have here. Dealing must pay really well.”

“It pays your salary, too.” She crowded into the corner. A box cutter was in the drawer. An antique ice pick stood in her pen cup. And a revolver inhabited the body cavity of a one-eyed teddy bear she’d rescued from the dumpster.

Merv the Perv waddled inside, invading her space. His flabby bicep brushed her chest.

She filtered air through clenched teeth.

He eyed her breasts and licked his lips. “Relax, sugar. I like my girls clean.”

That’s because men like him dirtied them. 

“Only pedophiles like girls, sugar,” she snarled.

Purple flooded Merv the Perv’s face. His thin lips slashed his jaw and he dropped the boxes.

Jane caught them before they hit the ground.

In one smooth motion, the postman removed an epad from the satchel at his hip and slammed it against her temple.

She crashed into the corner. Her elbow hit the edge of her swivel chair, sending the seat spinning. The packages dropped onto the scarred desk. Bile rose in Jane’s throat and she gulped it down. Son of a bitch!

“Finish the delivery, Merv.” Potter barked.

Catching her eye, Merv licked the edge of the reader where he’d hit her then scanned the boxes’ UPCs before ripping a stylus out and thrusting it at her.

She grabbed the stylus.

Merv held on. “If you ever want to hold something thicker and warmer, I promise to treat you like the dirty girl you are.”

Jane jerked the stylus free and bared her teeth. “I don’t want anything you have, Perv.”

She scrolled her name across the screen then tapped the accept button. The stylus vibrated in her grip. Would stabbing him in the eyeball be a bad thing or a service to humanity?

Potter tugged it free, clamped a hand onto Merv’s shoulder and spun the postman about. “Have a good day, ma’am.”

He touched two fingers to the brim of his helmet before frog-marching Merv away.

Holding her breath, Jane keyed in the code to seal the back door. Tonight’s Jazz in the Park concert would bring her one day closer to retiring, to becoming normal. 

The door clanged shut as the Humvee and an armored car rolled past.

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You Suck—And that’s good

We have an in-house vacuum that was here when we bought our home. We’d already replaced the hose and vacuum head twice in the last 15 years. Then over Christmas, we noticed that the head was cutting in and out and the suckage well sucked.

Since we were unable to diagnose exactly where the short was, we looked into purchasing a new hose/head combo. Which like everything else in life has gone up in price. A lot.

So we squirreled into stand-alone models. One that could effortlessly move from carpet to tile to wood.

The hubbinator found several candidates but in the end we went with the Dyson animal because, you know, we have animals. Lots of them. And their fur. And their dust. And their cat litter. And…

Well, you get the idea.

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This vacuum sucks. Seriously, and I mean that in a good way. It slurps down those tumbling furballs before they get a chance to tumble very far. Cat litter—not a problem. The only bad part. We seem to fill up the cannister at an alarming rate.

I am very happy to say, it was money well spent. And I’m sure summer will only reinforce my opinion.

Until next time!

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