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Myth Busting in the Big Apple

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I’m just back from another stonking trip to New York City, and I have to say without a doubt I am right up there with all of the masses who heart New York. I heart it more and more each time I visit, as I get to know it better. Raymond and I were joined again this year by his sister, my lovely sister-in-law, Cynthia, who accompanied me in terrorizing the town while Raymond was training in martial arts. The three of us enjoyed several discussions about how different the city was from our original expectations of the Big Apple. So here are a few of the myths busted by our first visit, but totally shattered by our second.

 

 

 

Myth: NYC stinks.

Truth: Only if you’re repulsed by the smell of every sort of freshly cooked food, including pizza by the slice and2015-07-19 13.25.45 bakeries that are a feast for the eyes as well as the nose and mouth! Seriously! Nose-gasms at every corner! Oh I was
told by a gentleman from New York State who’s been visiting the city on a regular basis for a number of years that it used to stink, but those days of olfactory nastiness are long gone, replaced with scents guaranteed to make your mouth water rather than your eyes.

One of the adventures we had on this visit was to take an open-bus tour of the city — well part of the city anyway — to get an overview for further exploration. We got caught 2015-07-16 14.14.40in a total downpour, and had the kinky (if you like that sort of thing) experience of doing half the tour wrapped in plastic, and I have to admit the drowned rat look was massively improved by our complimentary garbage-bag style Greyline Tours rain panchos. All that to say, even as the water rose around our feet on the floorboards of the upper deck, we sniffed and inhaled the mouthwatering scent of NYC. Which I also heart, BTW! And NYC-style pizza – I really heart that a lot!

 

Myth: NYC is dirty.

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Truth: Not from what I could see! As most of you know, I do a lot of my exploring on foot wherever I go, and the Big Apple was no exception. I believe you can never really know the soul of a place until you’ve walked it with the soles of your own feet. And though NYC is way to big for me to have completely taken in hoofing it, I did give it a gallant try and, up close and personal, I have to say New York is one of the cleanest cities I’ve ever visited. Mind you, I do feel I’ve not made a fair judgment until I can get more data. I’ll hopefully have an updated report on the city’s cleanliness next year.

 

 

 

 

 

Myth: People in NYC are rude.P1030715

Truth: In my own experience, nothing could be farther from the truth. In two visits to

NYC, I can’t count the number of times people have been kind, helpful and mostly just friendly. I’ve never asked
anyone for directions or advice or information of any kind who didn’t give it cheerfully. I’ve never engaged anyone in conversation who wasn’t friendly. I’ve had people make room for me in a crowded subway, I’ve had people simply engage me in light conversation. I’ve had people laugh with me and joke with me and, best of all, people always seem happy to share their feelings and experiences of their city. I learned a lot about the place in just that way.

 

2015-07-16 16.43.20Myth: NYC is easy to get lost in.

Truth: Two words: Grid layout. I’m an old fashion girl who still enjoys the feel of a map in my hot little hands, and armed with just a map and a landmark, I’ve managed to ‘stay found’ and end up where I intended to be with very little problem. NYC is laid out in a grid, so cross streets going north and south, east and west always give a clear picture of where you are. For me, the job of navigating the Big Apple was even easier because I always came in from Penn Station, and the first thing I looked for was the Empire
2015-07-17 14.38.47State Building. From there, the grid was my oyster – so to speak.

OK, I admit, that as a tourist, I’ve always found the open bus tours a helpful way of getting an overview of any city. I
quite often do that first, then get an idea of where to explore on foot. It works for me. However NYC is so big that there are five tour routes and several boat tours associated with the busses. That, of course, is not even
counting the Staten Island Ferry, which is free and gives some of the most amazing views of Manhattan imaginable. All that, plus the easy access to most parts of the city by the subway, and exploring is a piece of cake … from a very nice bakery … Having said all that, I have a lovely cousin who is convinced that getting lost isn’t a bad thing at all because you never know what you’d discover on the way to getting found again.

 

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Myth: NYC is a dangerous place.

Truth: Every place is a dangerous place, and that can easily be said of any city in the world. I remember being a little bit timid the first time I went into the city, and I discovered, to my surprise, that I felt right at home. I’ve been in big cities all over the world, and I often explore them alone on foot armed
with nothing but a map and a camera. That comes from tagging along with
my husband, who often works while I play, but even before I met him, I was exploring cities on my own. I personally find there’s nothing more empowering, no better way to make a city my friend that to follow my nose, 2015-07-20 10.56.18and my map. And NYC is easy on both. Common sense is the key in the Big Apple just like it is anywhere else I’ve ever been.

On both trips I’ve relished the days I’ve had to explore alone in a city that never fails to inspire. The very best parts of NYC are the opportunities to follow my nose, to get lost in the thoughts and ideas and inspiration that flow from being anonymous among the throngs. I get to be the invisible observer, a voyeur with a purpose.

 

Snippets of convo …
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Two young women talking in a coffee bar:

“Did he say anything about me?”

            “He did.”

            “So what did he say?”

            “You don’t want to know.”

 

Young man behind me on the train talking on his mobile:

  “Dad, I underestimated how much money I needed. No! No, I’m find, I’m all right, don’t worry. I just 2015-07-17 20.58.55underestimated how much New York would cost.”

Visual inspiration:

A frantic- looking young woman decked out in evening wear at 10:30 in the morning, running to catch the subway.

Cynthia and I had great fun making up a story about her situation while we wandered around Midtown Manhattan.

 

 

P1030705There you go! Myths busted! In my opinion, there are two big dangers in NYC. The first is being too timid and missing the good stuff. I was shocked at the number of tourists I saw seeking out McDonalds or Sbarros (and yes tourists are as easy to pick out in NYC as they are the world over. I’m sure I am too, though I did remember to remove my bin-bag rain poncho when I left the tour bus.)2015-07-20 14.00.30

 
The second, and the biggie for me, is falling totally in love with the city, even as I’m melting in the 100 degree heat or
doing the back stroke in a glorified garbage bag in a rainstorm in an open topped bus. I’m a tourist. I know that’s completely different from living in a place and dealing with all the little niggles and irritations local folks deal with all the time, but then that’s part of the fun. I can have a love-affair with the Big Apple, let it tease me and entice me and seduce me for one week a year, and I can come home smug in the fact that I spent a delicious, inspiring, tantalizing few days in the arms of one of the coolest cities on the planet.

 

Inspiration, Take Me! I’m Yours!

(Parts of this post come from a guest post I wrote for Tina Donahue in 2011)

 

Writing imageIt’s elusive, it’s mysterious, it’s exhilarating, and we erotic writers crave it more than the sex we write about. We chase it shamelessly, we long for it passionately, we would gladly make ourselves slaves to its every whim, and no matter how fickle it is, we always welcome it back with open arms. When it’s with us, it’s at least as good as the best sex. And when it’s not, we mourn its loss like a lover. I’m talking about inspiration, of course. It’s the breath of life for every story ever written and the coveted ethereal presence that every writer yearns for.

The mythological link to inspiration is especially interesting to me in the light of a life-long fascination with mythology. Half of my novels and at least that many of my short stories and novellas find their inspiration in mythology or fairy tales of some sort. I’m writing an online serial, In The Flesh and my present WIP, Buried Pleasures, both have their roots in mythology.

Greek mythology – mythology of any kind, really — is fabulous inspiration for writers. The gods are always dipping their wicks where they don’t belong and finding ever more creative ways to do so. Nine months later, viola! A magical child is born, a child with gifts that will be needed to save the world, or at least a little part of it. But there’s one story that always comes to my mind where the lovely virgin resists, and no wick-dipping occurs. That’s the story of Apollo and Daphne.

The Muses serve Apollo, so of course this myth interests me. Apollo is the god of light and the sun; truth and prophecy; medicine, healing, and plague. He is the god of music, poetry, and the arts; and all intellectual pursuit. If ever there was a wick we writers would like to be dipped by, it surely has to be Apollo. Daphne is a mountain nymph and not interested in giving up her virginity to some randy god. While Apollo is pursuing her, she prays to her father, who is a river god, and he turns her into a laurel tree. Ovid claims it’s not Daphne’s fault that she’s not hot for Apollo right back. He claims that Cupid, who is angry at Apollo shoots Daphne with a leaden arrow, which prevents her from returning Apollo’s feelings. But what matters is that she misses out on Apollo’s inspiration.

My theory is that the whole mythology of gods coming down from Olympus, or wherever else gods come down from, to seduce humans is really nothing more than a metaphor for inspiration.

Consider all the different forms in which Zeus visits his paramours. He takes the form of a swan with Leta, he visits leda Cornelis_Bos_-_Leda_and_the_Swan_-_WGA2486Danae in a shower of gold coins, he approaches Europa as a white bull. Writers understand that inspiration can take absolutely any shape, and often the very shape we least expect.

The gods aren’t always gentle in their seductions. Hades drags Persephone off to the underworld screaming and kicking all the way. Zeus turns Io into a white cow, who is tortured and tormented by Hera. In the form of an eagle, he abducts Ganymede and drags him away to Mount Olympus. Writers know well that inspiration doesn’t always come in a gentle form. In fact one of my creative writing teachers used to advise her students to go to the place inside themselves that most frightened them, most disgusted them, most disturbed them, and that’s the place where they would find inspiration, that’s the place from which their writing would be the most powerful.

I’m quite disturbed by the journey In The Flesh is taking me on. It’s the story of a demonic spirit who is irresistable, and insatiable, and gives everything he promises his lovers and more. But the price of passion beyond imagining is high. Of course he’s just a scary stalker bastard with divine powers, but at the same time, I go right a long with the dangerous, even deadly, seduction of Susan. Would you??? I would. Or at least I think I would. Obsession is a harsh master, and not always the giver of rewards promised. Though at the end of the day, most of us would gladly pay the price for inspiration.

Whether inspiration comes in gentle, beautiful forms or whether it drags us kicking and screaming and tears us from limb to limb, the result will be something greater than what it sprang from. From the seductions of the gods, the children born were always larger than life. They were heroes and monsters and fantastical creatures, but they were all born of that joining of divinity and humanity, they were all the result of what happens when something greater penetrates the blood and the bone and the grey matter of our humanity. What comes from that inspiration may indeed be monstrous or fantastical, but it will always be, in the mythical sense, born of the gods.

Which leads me back to Daphne and Apollo. The cost of inspiration is the loss of innocence. We are seduced, we are penetrated, we are impregnated with something new, something fresh, something possibly even frightening, something that we, as writers must carry to term and give birth to. But none of that can happen without yielding to the seduction. Daphne became a tree, unable to move, unable to think, unable to ever be penetrated or inspired. One can only imagine what may have resulted from the willing union with the god of light and truth and poetry and the arts and all the things we writers crave. I’ll be honest, I fantasize about Apollo. I fantasize about inviting him right on in and saying I’m yoursApolloDaphne Wickipedia450px-ApolloAndDaphne. I’ll take all you can give me, and please, feel free to stay as long as you like. Though, in truth, in my fantasy, I skip the dangerous and scary bits. And encounters with inspiration can often be dangerous and scary. I think it’s probably Apollo who inspired my demon lover – a terrifying version of divine inspiration.

There’s a cost to inspiration. It’s the obsession we all know as writers, the one that won’t allow us to think about anything else in the waking world and sometimes even in the dream world until we get the very last word down, until we make it shine exactly the way we conceived it, exactly the way it penetrated us. My heart is racing just writing this because every writer knows what it feels like, and every writer lives for it to happen again and again and again. So yeah, forget the tree rubbish, laurel or otherwise. Inspiration, take me, I’m yours. Have your way with me. I couldn’t be more willing if I tried.

 

Object Lessons: Silver Crucifixes and Yew Trees

2015-06-30 10.12.08I think a lot about the value we place on things, and I don’t mean in a materialistic way. I mean in a writerly way. I’ve always found myself drawn to detritus and things left behind. Everything left behind has a story, and because of that, everything left behind carries its own little bit of magic, no matter what it’s actual monetary value.

I mentioned when I was in Oregon that near my sister’s house there was a trailer park where a pick-up truck had been left derelict, the back end full, as though someone had vacated a flat in a hurry and then left the truck containing all their possessions as well. It was loaded down with all kinds of household items from a wok to a rocking chair, from a mangled computer table to a battered rodeo practice dummy. My imagination went wild. For me it was a treasure trove of ideas to be filed away for future stories.

I’ve found countless gloves and hats and hair scrunchies on walks that I’ve taken. I’ve found money, wallets – which I returned, underwear – which I did NOT return, shoes. At home in my jewelry box I have a bird skull I found on a walk once, bones like ivory, and every delicate one of them in perfect condition – obviously that I kept. On a walk once in Oregon, I found an unbelievably beautiful geode, broken 2015-05-13 16.49.34open to expose the beautiful crystals within. Trouble was, it was huge, way to heavy for me to carry back on a ten-mile, very steep trail. But I found it, I saw it, I filed it away for future use. If you follow my blog, you know about all the lovely pyritic ammonites I found on the beaches around Lyme Regis. I’ve found bones, bird eggs, feathers, books and large sparkly rhinestones, belts, buckles, ribbons and bracelets among lots and lots of other things, some valuable, most not so much.

But on this particular occasion, I found a silver crucifix about three inches long, half buried in the powdery dust of the path. There was just enough of it exposed for it to catch the sun as I looked down. I just happened to be walking through a stretch of woodland dotted with lots of very old yew trees. Yew trees are often associated with churchyards and holy places, and at the time I was 2015-06-30 10.37.54plotting out the next chapter of my online serial, In The Flesh. That being the case, the crucifix and the yew tree seemed appropriate symbols for inspiration for a story that involves a demon lover in a deconsecrated church.

So far the crucifix itself hasn’t figured into the story, but it definitely inspired what happened next. As for the yew trees,
well, when a good bit of the story takes place in an neglected overgrown church yard, it seemed appropriate for me to spend some time, clenching the crucifix in my hand and wandering among the yew trees. I took dozens of pictures and worked out at least that many scenarios in my head for the week’s edition of In The Flesh.

Afterwards, I stuffed the cross in a small pocket in my backpack and forgot all about it until just yesterday when I was digging around for something else, and I was reminded again how often detritus is a touchstone for story. So often, even when that detritus is not something shiny and silver and something worth hanging on to, it can be the seed of story, or at the very least the 2015-06-30 10.12.28seed of an idea that will become a part of a story. Things for a writer, as often nothing more than prompts, and sometimes those things would be totally insignificant to anyone else. On the other hand, the same piece of seeming rubbish that inspired one writer to a romance might inspire another to a horror story – especially something as evocative as a silver crucifix or an abandon pickup truck full of an anonymous person’s possessions. What makes something valuable is more often than not based on what its emotional attachments are. The value of a wedding ring, for instance, is much more valuable for what it represents than it is for itself. When a good
friend of mine got a divorce, I remember going with her to a jewelry store to sell her diamond engagement ring simply because it no longer represented what it had when she wore it for love. In fact, it now evoked almost the opposite feelings in her.

My good friend, Kay Jaybee often tells people that she can write about anything, that any object can be an inspiration. It’s true. But some things capture our imagination more than others and when that happens, it’s time to hang on to our writer’s caps and enjoy the ride.

 

The Truth About Dressing for Success

Writing pen and birds 1_xl_20156020I’ve just come off of two ‘dress-up’ events, or at least that’s what I call them because for me it’s always like playing dress-up the day of a reading or a book signing or a party, or any time I have to make a public appearance as KD or Grace. I ravage my drawers for my limited supply of sexy lingerie. Not that anyone would know the difference if I wore my granny panty reliables, I grumble as I truss myself up, but it’s the principle of the thing, isn’t it? By God, there should be lace and corsets and boots and frou frou it I’m gonna play the part, and there have to be items that lift and separate and mould and shape and constrict. Oh yes, they absolutely must constrict!

I try on every cleavage accentuating top in my closet with the sexy black jeans or the flowing skirts that are my standard uniform for those occasions that demand a little more, shall we say, sass. Should I show off the valley or showcase the peaks? That’s the question, and it’s never an easy decision. Occasionally I’m really brave and wear something brazen enough to show off both.

There might be a smattering of lace, a little costume jewelry, a curling iron to the hair for that glam look, or my jaundiced version thereof. Of course there’ll be eye-watering make-up (my own eyes doing said watering). I used to sell makeup. I know how to put on a little slap, but that was before I got obsessed with writing. Now, most of the time I just can’t be arsed. Makeup time is time that could be better spent as writing time. How unglamorous is that? But for a reading or a party or a public appearance as KD/Grace, there must be make-up, and usually at least some of it needs to sparkle.

And the final touch is what to do about my finicky feet? Shall I wear the boots with the girlie stamp of approval, or shall I risk several days in traction or a sprained ankle and wear my nosebleed heels. (Note, nosebleed to me means anything with an arch that I can slid two sheets of paper under. The higher the heel, the more girlie choice, right? And the naughtier, of course.

When I go to a reading, when I put my best girlie foot forward, I know how to look the part. And I love reading my sexy stories to equally sexy listeners. I’m in my element when I’m engaging with the audience, sharing the story, talking about the writing. But once the spotlight is off the story, what am I thinking?

‘This damn bra is gouging a trench in my ribs! If it pushes me up any higher, I’m going to suffocate in my own cleavage.’ That’s what I’m thinking! And though the panties I’m wearing underneath may be deliciously displaying my arse-cheeks (unbeknownst to everyone in the room, of course) in reality they make me feel like I need to either excavate or stand on my toes. And standing on my toes in certainly no problem, since I’m wobbling around on heels that feel like stilts, though that doesn’t seem to solve the panty problem. Oh, and the makeup. I never rub my eyes when I’m not wearing it, but the urge is damn near irresistible when I’m in full slap. Why is that? Is it the extra weight of mascara on my delicate, thin lashes? Is it a stray bit of powdery glitz from the eye shadow? Or maybe it’s just the body’s defenses taking over to rid itself of too much of a glam thing.

Before I started writing erotic romance, I had visions of scantily-clad women writing in their boudoirs in corsets and lace stockings and f**k-me shoes. If I had any illusion that I might eventually evolve into such a mythical creature, I WAS WRONG! It just ain’t happening! At least not with this slovenly writer. My dirty little secret: I write in a ratty track suit old enough and faded enough to easily be a charity shop reject. In the winter I write in fuzzy slippers that look like they might have acquired a case of the mange. In the summer, I let me feet breathe. God, how unsexy!

I’m working from the theory that sexy lingerie constricts the blood flow to my brain, inhibiting any truly sexy thought from penetrating the oxygen starved gray matter. I don’t write well in bondage. I need to be free. I need to be the dominantrix when it comes to the written page. My feet aren’t shaped like Barbie’s, pre-formed to fit into stilettos, though there are times when that would be beneficial. But no! My feet love flat surfaces.

And if you take a look at my hands – especially in the summer – no French manicure for me, nosiree! Guess I never got over the love of playing in the dirt from the days of my childhood. I grow vegetables, and vegetables like dirt, they need dirt. I could tell you amazing things about dirt! And here’s the rest of my dirty little secret. Doing dirty, messy, sloppy things, not the kind of things you’d do in a corset and stilettos, inspires me to write dirty, messy, chaotic, romantic fun stories. Being girlie doesn’t come naturally, digging in the garden, walking on the Downs, being outside in the mud and the dust does.

My dirty little secret is actually not much of a secret, and it’s common ground for a lot of my writer friends. We all laugh and joke that we can clean up okay and do the girlie, sexy thang just fine, even enjoy it. But when we go home, when we revert to our natural states, it’s jeans and trainers and tracksuits. It’s walking and digging and getting our hands dirty that inspires. Okay, some get their inspiration getting their hands dirty in the kitchen, baking and cooking raymond 018and creating yummy meals, but I’ve never heard of one of them making a pavlova in full slap and a corset. Of course everyone has a different dirty little secret, so I could be wrong.

I guess ultimately the secret isn’t really a secret, and it isn’t really all that dirty. We writers all do whatever it takes to inspires us. The way we dress, the hobbies in which we indulge, the mindset from which we write is all about inspiration, all about finding the way through the gray matter to that perfect story. Still, it’s a part of the writer’s mystique to have a dirty little secret or two, isn’t it? But this is as close as you’ll get to mine, because if I told you any more, I’d have to kill you.

 

Two Sisters Walking

2015-05-14 14.09.52‘Look how all that water’s soaked in since the rain,’ I point out to my sister as we descend into the Dry Canyon that runs through her town in Central Oregon’s High Desert. Yesterday the rock bed of the shallow spillway looked like a small lake. Now the puddle is reduced to a birdbath for the scrub jays.

‘The rocks are porous,’ she says. ‘Volcanic. Even with a day and a night of heavy rain, it all soaks right in.’ Along the side of the paved path, the soil looks as dry and dusty as it always does, but looking out at the vegetation that’s usually varying shades of kaki and tan and burnt umber everything now has a shining patina of green, and the tiny purple flowers of the low bronze plants, which neither of us can name, carpet the desert floor with color.

A rock chuck gives a sharp high-pitched chirp from somewhere nearby and a scrub jay calls from the juniper tree above us. I catch a flash of iridescent blue in the branches and a flutter of wings. I love this canyon. It’s truly one of the treasures of Redmond Oregon, and some of my fondest memories and best ideas are associated with walks in this
canyon on my annual visit with my sister. The canyon, which was formed by ancient volcanoes, used to be the city dump a long time ago. Now it has a paved walking path the entire 3 ½ mileas well a dog park, a playground and several sets of steep steps into it from street level. It’s wide enough in spots that you can completely forget you’re surrounded 2015-05-03 10.28.11
by a town on both sides at cliff-top level, and there’s now a bridge spanning the canyon in graceful concrete arches. I love that you see the occasional deer in the canyon and even occasionally there are mountain lion sightings. I love that the canyon feels like a wild place in the middle of a town of 27,000. But I also love that there are still a few places along the rocky edges where you can find the rusted-out corpses of cars and baling wire and other twisted metal heaps, now mangled beyond recognition, but certainly an inspiration to my imagination. I love that the canyon and the cliff tops that surround it are an incredible blend of wild high desert and human detritus from as long as people have lived on the cliffs above.

As we head into the canyon, a runner passes us, ears muffed in headphones. ‘That’s a tall drink of water,’ my sister says.

‘Where, I say,’ looking around for a large bottle of water, maybe strapped to the man’s hip.’

‘The guy. He’s tall.’ She nods in his direction. My sister has a way with words.

I laugh and watch him as he trots down the walking path, his miniscule running shorts flapping in the breeze. ‘You don’t even want to know where my thoughts go with that,’ I say.

She sniggers, ‘Probably not.’

I’ve already tried out my ideas for my recent mountain lion in the canyon story that I posted last week on my blog, so 2015-05-13 16.14.04she’s not at all sure how her ‘tall drink of water’ may inspire me.

We walk in silence until we get to the bridge. From there on the canyon widens out until there are places where the trees and rocks hide the housing developments that line the cliffs above on both sides. We’re looking for a crow’s nest I spotted a couple of days ago when I was walking the canyon by myself. The sun was at the wrong angle for me to see inside the hodgepodge of dried sticks stowed into a crevice in the rocks, but the two attentive adults squawking and flapping on the ledge suggested there was a family. Today with this side of the canyon wall in shadow and us armed with a pair of binoculars, we can see that, indeed, there are at least five crow chicks, who look only days away from fledging. We watch in delight the caws and chirrups and furious exercising of young wings until one of the adults notices we might just be paying too much attention to the kiddos and hovers threateningly above us making loud threatening calls. We both decide, observing the poop-spattered side of the cliff below the nest, that it’s best to move on before mummy or daddy drops the bomb.

‘I’ve never seen a nest of crow-babies,’ I say, looking back over my shoulder as we continue on toward the stairs. The part of the canyon walk we do is the wilder end. It takes about two hours round trip and involves the ascent and decent of two sets of stairs – one about sixty steps, the other 109. Good for the old thigh muscles. We walk to the end and turn
back along the canyon wall on an unpaved path that undulates and weaves in and out of the rocks and trees. This is my favorite part. I could be in the woods for all I know, especially with the twitter and chirp of birds around us. Three California Quail cross in front of us with their top knots bouncing jauntily. A golden mantle ground squirrel scurries into the rocks. There’s just enough water in the little brook that passes beneath the trail to trickle softly.

For a long time we don’t talk. We just walk and take it all in. When we’re together, we usually talk a lot. We make up for lost time, but the canyon is a place where we’re silent as often as not because it’s such a great place to hear our thoughts, to listen for inspiration, to feel glad that we chose to walk instead of stay put in the house. I’m thinking about a story that the walk has inspired. I don’t know when it’ll happen, but when we do talk, we’re approaching the end of the walk, up behind the trailer parks, back out on the rim of the canyon. The place is sort of a no-man’s-land. I suspect that if expansion in Central Oregon continues, it may easily be turned into a housing development, but for now, it’s just there. There’s a huge mound of earth, maybe eight feet high, with a shovel thrust down in the top of it. I know for a fact that it’s a place where the kids 2015-05-14 15.17.26from the trailer park play, but in my mind the shovel is there to bury a body. My sister looks at me askance as though she might be worried just a little bit about the twists and turns of my imagination as I take pictures of it and tell her my story idea.

‘There’s a dead skunk over here,’ she says, motioning me over. Her mind has it’s own strange twists and turns. ‘Stunk to high heaven last fall.’

‘It doesn’t smell so bad now,’ I say, looking at the desiccated heap of flattened skin and bones that I would have missed completely if she hadn’t pointed it out. ‘I want some pictures.’

She steps back and watch as I take pictures of the delicate skull and teeth, visible above the dusty remains of the pelt.

As we step back onto the dead-end lane that leads out of the canyon and back home, there’s an old pickup truck that’s been sitting there, my sister tells me, for months. The back of it’s loaded with a fascinating array of junk. ‘It looks like 2015-05-13 16.49.46
someone was moving and then just deserted everything,’ I say.

‘It’s been ticketed by the police for being left, and then the ticket blew away and it’s still sitting here,’ my sister tells me.

I start taking pictures again. ‘Maybe the owner is buried beneath that mound of dirt back there,’ I say. ‘Maybe there’s foul play involved.’

‘That looks like a rodeo dummy in there,’ she says peering into the bed. And look, there’s a bottle of some kind of prescription drugs in that stir-fry pan.’

I look around to make sure no one is looking and start taking pictures while I tell her my story idea. ‘I think the guy will be running from someone and this is as far as he gets before he gets caught.’

‘But why would he have a rocking chair in the back and all that cooking stuff?’ She asks.

2015-05-13 16.45.52‘I don’t know, I’ll think of something. Maybe he was a rodeo clown, maybe he had gambling debts?’ I keep snapping pictures feeling slightly guilty for doing it, but not that guilty.

‘There was actually a pair of lacy women’s underwear laying behind the truck at one time. Bright pink.’ She remembers.

‘Seriously?’

‘Yup. That sounds like something that might interest you.’

‘The plot thickens.’ I say. Someone with a couple of dogs comes up out of the canyon behind us, so I, quick like a bunny, stuff my iPhone back in my pocket and we head on.2015-05-13 16.20.55

‘You want coffee?’ she says, as we stomp the dust off our feet on her sidewalk. ‘I want coffee.’

‘Me too.’ I follow her into the house, taking off my boots and pounding them over the rail of the porch to rid them of
dust.

‘I’m dying of thirst,’ she says.

‘Better get you a tall drink of water,’ I reply.

She gives me a dirty look and starts the coffee pot.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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