The Dolls

This author loves to create. Drawn to dark issues and likes to challenge readers to stretch beyond the ho-hum of their life box.

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The Dolls

Officer Felix Marquez pulled his cruiser to the curb in front of a small, off-white, colonial house on a nondescript corner of a cul-de-sac.  Many of the homes in this part of town looked the same.  He checked his GPS again and confirmed his location.  Built in the mid-twentieth century, many of these homes had seen better days.  And yet, this simple, large residential tract held a lot of charm with their blended mix of young and old.  Low crime, neighborhood watches and cleanup crews added to their appeal.

Rolling his car a several feet forward, he parked underneath a large ash tree.  One of many which dotted this particular stretch of suburbia.  A soft breeze ruffled his papers on the seat beside him and he imagined himself sitting in a hammock with a glass of cool iced tea in his hand.  The thought was intoxicating, but it was the scent of freshly mowed lawn intermixed with children’s soft laughter which made him content and drowsy.  Felix had grown up in a small town similar to this one and enjoyed the Mayberry feel.

Of course, this area couldn’t compare to the ostentatious homes on the other side of town. Built upon a small, rolling knoll less than a decade ago, Snob Hill was often an aspiring residence to anyone on the force looking to advance.  Despite the status Snob Hill would bring, Felix found himself preferring to raise a family here.  Hadn’t his girlfriend, Cindee been hinting about that very thing?  Cindee was down to earth and had no desire to keep up with the Jones’.  It was one of many qualities he loved in her and still he hesitated in popping the question.

Despite his yearning to settle down and start a family, he couldn’t ignore the stats.  Marriage in law enforcement was dismal at best and the divorce rate was through the roof.  It’s not that he didn’t doubt their love and commitment for each other, but he was sure most of his divorced collogues would say the same.  Still, he couldn’t help but wonder if they could beat the odds in a place like this.

Reaching across the seat, he grabbed for the bologna sandwich Cindee had packed for him and popped opened a can of Coke.  Pecking away on his dashboard computer he typed in reports from the two incidents he’d had earlier in the day.  A malicious mischief report and a shoplifting call from the local hardware store which had been minor and uneventful.  After completing his reports, he hit sleep on his notebook and closed the lid.  The extra mustard Cindee new he loved lingered on his tongue as he popped the last bite of the sandwich into his mouth.

A moment later he got out of the cruiser and faced the house he’d parked in front of.  A cement walkway broke the front lawn into two equal halves and each front window held a planter box filled with flowers.  He shifted his belt and holster keenly aware of the noise his armor and gear created while he walked down the sidewalk.  Even his weapon seemed out of place in this pastoral setting.  Yes, he could see himself living here.

He thought of ways to propose to Cindee as he knocked on the front door.  He waited and knocked again a bit louder.  “Hello?” he called out.

“Just a minute,” a gravelly voice responded.  Felix leaned to one side and peered in through the sheer curtains.  An elderly woman slowly pushed a walker toward the front door.

As he waited, he could hear her fumble with the deadbolt.  Slowly the doorknob twisted until an opening yawned between them.

“Umm, Mrs. Perry? Mildred Perry?” he asked between the three inches of space.  A small chain prohibited the door from opening any further.

“Yes?”

“You called about the dolls.”  He put on his most welcoming and friendly smile.

“Dolls?”

“Yes, the ones that were left,” he stopped short.  Perhaps she didn’t have all her faculties or maybe early dementia had set in.  He tried again, “Dolls Ma’am. The ones left on door steps throughout the neighborhood. Were you the one who called?”

“Oh those. Yes, why of course. Just a moment.” She dismissed herself with a slight wave of a gnarled, arthritic hand and closed the door in his face.

Felix felt sorry for the old woman and wondered if she lived alone or if she had any relatives who took care of her.  The manicured lawn suggested she did.  At the very least, some pimply-faced teenager probably came over a few times a month.  If she were to fall or need someone, the kid would certainly raise the alarm – especially if he wasn’t getting paid.  Still, he made a mental note to add this particular cul-de-sac to his rounds just in case.

He glanced around the neighborhood and waited.  A dog barked in the distance.  It seemed the extra security did more harm than good to the old woman if she had to go through the whole procedure of latching and unlatching every time someone rang her doorbell.  He knew it was a feeble attempt to keep someone from getting in if they really wanted to, but if it brought her comfort perhaps her belief in the unnecessary security was worth the trouble.

He adjusted his walkie-talkie and rattled his cuffs until at last he heard the chain slide.  Soon after, the door opened wide into a narrow foyer.  As the sunlight spilling inside her mini fortress, Felix could see Mrs. Perry was older than he had first guessed.  Probably closer to ninety, thin as a rail, she appeared to be just a wisp of a woman.

With hunched shoulders almost bending her in two, she leaned hard on her walker for support.  “Thank you for coming, officer,” she said a little out of breath.

Although the effort seemed to tire her, he noticed her eyes were sharp and clear.  Gnarled white knuckles grasped the walker and slid it back across the tile about six inches. “Do come in.”

“No thank you, Ma’am.” He held up his hand.

“Wouldn’t you like to see my doll collection?”

“No, Mrs. Perry. I mean, I’m just here to confirm what you told the detective over the phone.”

“Alright,” she said squinting through lined trifocals, “If you don’t want to see my dolls, how can I help you?”

He reached into his breast pocket for his small notepad and flipped it open.  “You say you have about 150 dolls in your possession.”

“That’s right.”

He looked down at her and then back at his pad, “And you have given nine of them to little girls around the neighborhood. With . . .  with similar appearances?”

“Yes, that’s right too. Are you sure you don’t want to see my collection, Sonny?”

“No, Ma’am.  Umm . . . let me see. And you just wanted to give them as gifts?  How do you know these little girls, Mrs. Perry?”

“I’ve lived here forty years. I have seen them play around these streets. I even remember their parents when they were children.  I thought it would be a nice way of – what do they call it?  Giving back to my community.  My dolls are collectibles and I have no grandchildren of my own to bestow them upon.  How was I to know I would end up scaring the dickens out of those little ones? I didn’t mean any harm. I didn’t even know they were looking for me until I saw it on the evening news yesterday. I knew I had to call the police right away.”

“Yes, Ma’am. You did a good thing. Thank you for coming forward. This will put a lot of folks at ease,” Felix said, “And they’re your dolls of course, and you can do with them what you please, but I wouldn’t suggest giving any more dolls away, okay?”

“No, no, no. I wouldn’t think of it. I’m so sorry for all the trouble I caused.” Her voice cracked with emotion and tears welled up in her eyes. “I didn’t mean to frighten anyone.”

“Of course you didn’t.  It’s quite all right. Now that everything is settled.  Bye Ma’am and have Good day.”

“Thank you,” she waved, “Thank you.”

He turned and walked toward his car satisfied.  He could tell his chief that the old lady was harmless and assure him no more dolls would be bestowed upon the neighbors.  It was a shame that even in this peaceful neighborhood some folks could be suspicious of a good deed.  Perhaps if he and Cindee moved in they might help to change the community’s mind about Mrs. Perry.

***

Millie grasped her walker with one hand and closed the door.

The man hiding behind the door reset the locks and watched through the curtain as the officer drove way.

Once out of sight he said, “You done good.”  He jammed the loaded gun back into his waistband and helped ease the old woman into her favorite rocking chair. “Real good.”

She smiled and patted the man’s arm.  “Thank you, my son. Now, I think it’s time to make another doll, don’t you?”

“Dear Lucky Agent” Contest

In my New Year’s resolution, I decided to write more. (I know, for those who know me, this is an obvious, yet recurring theme) However, I want to reach beyond a mere resolution and into one which will stretch and strengthen my writing skills.

Bottom line: I encourage my fellow writers to get moving- especially if you want to transform your writing into a real career.

Here is my second attempt this year.

http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/21st-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-womens-fiction

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Desperate need for a Fast Forward Button!

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Sometimes in life there needs to be a fast forward button.  I imagine it being Halloween and when the kids ring your doorbell and yell “Trick or Treat” you hand them each a remote control.

“Here’s one for you,” you smile at the little cowboy, “And for you,” you give the pink one to the ballerina, “and we can’t forget the robot,” you pat the little tyke on the head.

With reckless abandonment you fling your arms out wide and offer yourself as a sacrifice to the remote control desperately hoping the fast forward button truly works.   You say to the little group standing just outside your front door, “Ok.  Ready . . . set . . . CLICK!”

Yeah, I know.  We are supposed to live life to the fullest.  Live it like it’s our last day.  Even keeping our lamps lit for our coming bridegroom.  But sometimes, just sometimes, you just want to move it along a tad more quickly.

Like the days or even the past 36 hours when you have a sick hubby and you are taking care of him and you have a son who’s going back to college facing his most arduous semester he has ever had to face. And you have other children who are wanting things that are not helpful to them, things that make life difficult and them being teenagers who are exercising their ‘teenagerisms’ to the hilt and are trying your patience and you just want to curl up in a ball and cry.  Oh and you have an interview for a job the next day that you think would be a good fit for and pray incessantly if it is something that God wants you to do and yet you are so nervous and worried cuz you haven’t interviewed in like two decades. And the photography business you put your heart and soul into hasn’t sold even one small print.  And the book you’ve been working on for five years is still not quite done. And so you don’t sleep all that night due to all the things weighing heavy in your heart.

And then the next day, you go to the interview, get emotional and teary during the interview.  I mean, Gee Whiz!  Who does that in front of total strangers!? And then think of all the things you should have said AFTER the fact and leave basically feeling stupid.  And all you want to do is sit down and have some quiet time with God and get some writing in and a friend calls you cuz they are having a hard time and they need you. So you tend to that before the bad interview and you send your son off to college with hugs and prayers and burdened heart before the interview.  You find out your aging mother-in-law fell and the nursing home is calling  ‘just letting you know’ and you are taking care of the sick husband and all you want to do is go to bed and sleep cuz you didn’t sleep a wink the night before.  And just before bedtime your other son says he is not feeling well and proceeds to throw up ALL night, but can’t forget the sick hubby or the other son who is a ‘throw up phobic’ and tending to the one who is ACTUALLY throwing up every hour.  And lest we forget, waiting to hear from the other son who you hope made it safely back to college.

Yeah, that’s when you need life to have a fast forward button.  BRING IT ON!

Couturier’s Blogful Tip #1

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How to know if you’re married to a dirty old man

 

I had planned for this week’s Blogful (aka useful) tip to be about the MRS – Men, Roofs and Sprained ankles – but an incident today in the grocery store superseded my MRS post.

So I am sure you are wondering how can you be sure you’re man doesn’t have roving eyes, hands, or any other moveable body part when you’re not around.  Sure, when you’re present he can hold his attention by biting his inner lip long enough to show you he’s not interested in the tall, stacked blonde walking by.  Or maybe he peeks but has great verbal skills and tells you how much better looking you are than the red-headed tattooed bimbo in the skin-tight leather pants.  He might even be able to have good enough peripheral vision that while you think he’s engaged in a serious conversation with you about the kids not to notice the brunette in a skimpy white shirt only partially holding in her 36DDD cups.

Or . . .  you can just take your husband go grocery shopping with you.

As the pharmacy line was long, we thought we’d tag team. While I headed to the pharmacy, my husband had a small list of food ingredients to buy.   He was sure he’d get his list completed, purchased, bagged before I could pick up the medications. Little did he know that my long line sped up like Lucy’s candy conveyer belt.  (Hmm… this is twice now that I’ve quoted I Love Lucy, not intentional) I digress.  So I darted down the aisles looking for my man.  I saw him in between aisles, but he didn’t see me.  He was clearly a man-on-a-mission.  I watched him zip out of one aisle and zag into another with his little green bulldozer, uh-hum, I mean shopping cart.

(Now here it is crucial to the story that I point out my hubby, whom I adore, often surprises me by wrapping his arms around me from behind.  At home, in public places, etc.  It is quite a lovely feeling and hope he continues it for many years)  Anyway…  In his distraction I thought I could reciprocate which I have often tried but haven’t had much success. He seems to notice me before I can sneak up on him.  But this time, I had a real shot and surprising him.  He thought I was tucked in the middle of sick, grouchy people wanting their medications and didn’t suspect a thing.

As I watched him pick up the pace and drive down the aisle at supersonic speeds, I ran to catch up to him.  Because he was moving so fast I couldn’t just lovingly wrap my arms around him so I did the only thing I could think of.  Leaning forward in a giant step I stretched my arm to its full extant and quickly and oh so briefly tweaked his tush before as he scampered away.

If I had guessed what that quick physical encounter, all alone, just me and him (romantic sigh), in the paper towel and tissue aisle had led to . . . well . . .  let’s just say  I would’ve done it much, much sooner – and made sure I had someone taking pictures!

No sooner had my fingers just released their hold on my husband’s er, derriere, he whirled around with the most disgusted look on his face.   It was as if he just ate regurgitated peas from a baby.  He hollered, “Hay!”  with his face as red as a tomato until it registered it was I, his lovely wife and companion, that just violated the lower half of his body.

I told him at least know I know you’re not a dirty old man.  If you were, you would’ve turned with a smile and say “Hey baby.  . . “  J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My DIY Project

I hate spiders.  And I don’t just hate them but HATE, HATE, HATE them.  I detest everything about them and firmly believe God made a mistake when he created these villainous things just before He unleashed  . . .  I mean, let them roam free upon the earth.

How does this fact correlate to my DIY project?  One could conclude that I came across a few of those horrid creatures today, but I can assure you that wasn’t the case.  Actually, no persons were harmed today.  Sadly, no spiders were either.

However, in my quest to finish our garage project I wanted to ensure no spider could cohabitate with me in the future.  So, I selected the necessary item to meet my vigilante goal.  A tube of caulking epoxy which dries/seals in less than 30 minutes.  I plastered that seal on the floorboards and around the windows until I had caulked and sealed every hole except one: a two foot by two foot corner under our 80 gallon well pump.  There in the hard to reach space I was sure the spider networks were tapping out Morris code for “there is the light source.  Come to the light.”  And of course the light would turn into a room and that room would be MY new family game room.  This would simply not do.

So I ran to the local hardware store and bought a can of “crack” (not to be confused as drug related) filler.  It is a yellowish substance and its purpose it to expand and grow.  Does anyone remember the “I Love Lucy” episode where Lucy makes bread with too much yeast and it grows and grows and grows until her oven explodes.  Well, the crack filler does the same thing.  You spray this yellow, sticky substance that expands and permeates into every conceivable crevice until it eventually hardens into Styrofoam puffs sealing all gaps. The finished product isn’t all that appealing to the eye, but it gets the job done.  However, as Lucy discovered, confined spaces are not always the best place for expanding substances.  Trapped in a crawl space under 80 gallons of well water, a large dollop from the long straw-like vessel (used to get in the hard to reach places) fell in my hair.

After emptying the can of its awe inspiring vastness of yellow goo I left the cracks to solidify and went to wash the stuff out of my hair.  Have you ever had gum in your hair?  Well it was worse than that.  I hadn’t realized there could be a worse substance than gum in your hair but now I’ve found one.  After several washings I was wet and drippy.   My husband’s fine tooth comb now had yellow sludge filling the gaps between the teeth and I still had a rat’s nest in my hair.

Staring in the mirror I was suddenly reminded of my young mother days.  As a new mom I chose to breastfeed as a great cost/time saving plan. One didn’t have to go to the grocery store in the middle of the night.  No mixing and warming, not much loss of sleep, just whip out the ole boobie and feed the crying babe until he dozed off.  It was a win-win until I eventually needed to go shopping for things other than formula. That’s when I found myself having to nurse my one month old who happened to be born with a nice cap of black, thick, hair.

At the time I was new at everything.  New at breastfeeding, new at mothering and everything else to do with taking care of a little person.  Not to mention new to the whole experience of whipping the milk jugs out in public when they had been holstered for years since their burgeoning.  I found myself with a sudden attack of shyness mixed with uncertainly and a whole heap of modesty.

But damn, there was nowhere to feed him in the mall.  No quiet corner to do it in private.  Taking him to the car never entered my mind so  I anxiously sat down in the food court in the mall to feed my now very hungry son  who( at first) waited patiently until I found a spot to feed him but who was now telling the whole word “Look at my mom!”  “She’s got these big knockers out and is about to feed me!”  “Come and see!”

For all the stares I got I could have put a hat down and collected monies for busking.  Instead I discreetly placed my son just under the table.  I yanked out one feeder and shoved it in his mouth.   Amazingly enough he shut up, chowed down and gurgled happily.

When he was done I covered myself back up and pulled him out from underneath the table.  To my disgust and horror his beautiful head of hair had gooey sticky gum all in it.  I didn’t know if I was more horrified by the gum or the fact that someone else’s saliva, and no doubt food bits, were all in my precious and perfect newborn’s hair.

So staring in that mirror with wet, sticky hair I did the only thing I could do back then to my one month old.  I reached for the scissors and started cutting away.  Now I need to make an appointment with my stylist, but at least I barred any spider from invading my game room.  It’s so well insulated nothing’s get in.  Hmm …  I wonder how much oxygen is left …