Saturday, June 25, 2022

Big Ben

Excerpt from Million Dollar Momma
A 20th Century Time Travel Romance
by Sherry Morris

 I blinked my eyes open, shielding my face with one hand. An annoying bell rang out. And rang and rang. I opened my eyes all the way and focused on the canopy of my queen-sized bed. Big Ben blared on the nightstand. Six o’clock. Thursday morning. Exactly a week since my accident. I have to go to work. I reached for the wind-up alarm and smashed the little pin in the back to shut it off.

But I didn’t want to go to work today. I didn’t want to ever go to work again. I knew Cynthia didn’t delegate my filing to anyone else in my absence. There were probably a hundred and seventy baskets of Place-In-Files to pigeonhole. I hated PIF-ing. The sallow blue computer pages were so uninspiring. I moaned. I pictured her telling me she wanted me caught up by the end of today.

I’m not going in. Not today. Admittedly, it was a good union job and it paid my mortgage. I’d been there so long that I was at the top pay step, on the peon scale anyhow.

Bet Cynthia would make me bring a doctor’s note, explaining my absence. Even though they had the inpatient bill by now. Not that it would even be opened for eleven weeks. The mailroom was that backed up. All the time. In my nineteen years there, I’d actually caught up on my PIF’s around six times. Maybe eight? And Cynthia always found me more work in another letter to do. Usually the pink C’s. They always had trouble keeping regular employees in the C’s. It was the punishment letter, being right in front of Cynthia’s glass-walled office. Talk about working under a microscope. I shuddered, remembering feeling incompetent under her piercing scrutiny.

I currently had forty thousand files that I was responsible for. Everybody whose last name began with the letters T, U or V had goldenrod-colored files. Crammed into industrial bookshelves. Metal and two feet taller than I was. I had to kick around a three-wheeled stool and step up and down on it. Except that one wheel had always been missing. So it didn’t kick well. Cynthia had had me on the T-U-V’s for two years now. The bitch knew that I was the shortest girl in the file room.

It was pretty mindless work. We filed by order of the insured’s last name, first initial, middle initial and then the last four digits of the Social Security number. Occasionally we had to take it deeper, to the first three numbers. We rarely got down to the middle two. A monkey could do it. And very possibly did. My colleagues were all right. Although we were not quite sure what species, sex or IQ level Angel on the green M’s had. Short butch hair. Heavy but not morbidly obese. Couldn’t really see defined breasts or a waist or hips or a male bulge. Androgynous gray or brown clothes. But Angel did plod along and got the job done.

There was a major cut-through hallway in the aisle of my last two rows. So I got interrupted and distracted a lot. Even though I had to admit that the biggest distraction was Scott, the really cute mailroom guy. When I saw him, I automatically lost track of my alphabet. Well, the job did have some perks.

I decided I would not be returning to work today. I swung my legs over the bed and shuffled to the bathroom. I turned the shower on and peed while waiting for the hot water to come through. Hey, I know, I’ll call in now and leave a message. I don’t have to talk to Miz Cynthia. I shut the water off and found the phone. It was still off the hook, where it landed on the floor beneath the window. I hung it up, set it on the nightstand and plugged the cord back into the wall. I picked up the handset. I had a dial tone.

I dialed, listened to Jean-the-receptionist’s recorded message and then pressed six–six–nine, Cynthia’s extension. I listened to her screechy voicemail message. At the beep, I cleared my throat and said, “Cynthia, this is Donna Payne. My father died. I will be taking my three days’ bereavement leave as listed in my union contract. His name is Dr. Nathan Payne and he will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.” I hung up.

I was required to reveal those details because they always checked. Nice, compassionate company that I worked for. I should have included the date of burial but I couldn’t remember what Tammy told me. Did she tell me? I didn’t think so. Oh I didn’t wanna call her. Or Perry. I didn’t even wanna see them. I shouldn’t have to see them again. I was gonna bust Momma out of the loony bin and get her set up in a nice retirement campus. The kind with ballroom dancing, ceramics, internet classes, a beauty parlor, bank, doctor and field trips to Atlantic City. And an intercom in her cottage, to call for help, just in case. And staff to check in on her every day, just in case. And then an assisted care unit to step up to and then a full-scale nursing home for her final days.

She couldn’t come and live with me. She pushed my buttons, masterfully, like only a mother could. I couldn’t stand being witness to her doling out the dough to my siblings while I paid all of her living expenses. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to hold my tongue and I didn’t want to break my momma’s heart. No, I wouldn’t tell her off. Tammy? Oh yeah, babe. Been there, done that. Told her off good. Felt marvelous. At the time. But then I missed her.

I loved the beast. She couldn’t help that she was a narcissistic bitch. She was still my sister. I wished she could be nice to me. Take an interest in my life. Be proud of my little accomplishments and be concerned if things weren’t going well for me. I just wanted a sister like other people had. Normal families.

I couldn’t let my mother move in with me. Momma would drive me crazy and then I’d be just like the rest of them. That was my big fear. Plus I had stairs and Momma was in her eighties now. And she was kind of lazy about stairs. Always her excuse for letting the laundry back up, she didn’t like jogging up and down the basement stairs.

Okay, what was I doing today? Hmm… I had no idea. Just thinking of cohabitating with Momma blew my mind. Think, think, Donna, think. Oh yeah, I needed to take a shower and get dressed, in case the funeral was today.

So I turned the water back on and held my hand under the spray. It warmed up quickly. I stepped in and closed the clear shower curtain. It let lots of light in and the way it draped, the view was opaque. I always got totally drenched first. I closed my eyes and let the warm water run down my hair and face. I adjusted it as hot as it would go. I leaned down and grasped the bottle of shampoo from the shower floor. I knew it was the shampoo bottle without opening my eyes because the lid popped open on the top. The conditioner, in contrast, opened at the bottom. I squirted hydrating curls shampoo into my hand, closed the top and set the bottle down.

I rubbed my hands together and then massaged my scalp. I had shampooed last night but since I didn’t dry it, I might as well start over if I was to look at all presentable. I worked the slithery soft foam through my shoulder-length hair. Suds trickled down my face. I noticed a sensation on my right foot. Something was not right. It felt like…a tongue.

I screamed.
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Friday, June 24, 2022

The Pirate

 

Excerpt from Million Dollar Momma
A 20th Century Time Travel Romance
by Sherry Morris

Palm trees stood sentry at the Art Deco hotels lining the road. The fronds rustled in the wind. I heard a spewing sound and took a few steps westward to investigate. A fountain. I crossed the rest of the street and hurried over to it. Sitting on the wide concrete rim, I swung my legs over the side, careful to keep my dress out of the pool. I arched my back and faced into the spray as I swung my feet, dredging them through the cool water. Hey, my ankle didn’t hurt anymore. Magic. I rose up and inched my way under the spout of water.

It felt cold but so very inebriating. I swept my hands through my hair, got it drenched. I slicked it back. I turned and thrust my chest into the spray. The pulsating flow on my nipples felt wicked. They grew hard. I longed for his hands to caress my breasts. Damn that cop creeping up on us. Thoroughly wet, I gazed up into the starry night sky, picked out Venus. I closed my eyes and made a wish. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…bring my special mate back to me and let us live together in eternal love. I opened my eyes. I was shivering. I’d overdone the water. I heard footsteps behind me and then felt a hard slam on my back. It knocked me down. I grabbed the concrete fountain edge and didn’t scrape my face. My abraded fingers burned. I turned my head. I spotted a midnight blue eye. Just one, the other had a patch over it. A pirate patch. My attacker was devilishly handsome. Unsettling. I realized I should scream, so I did. Not that anyone else was out to hear it. The pirate groped me under the water.

“No! No! Leave me alone! Who are you?”

He flipped me over, facing him. He pinned me down, his knees on either side of my hips, underwater. With one hand, he suspended both of my arms over my head, back on the wide, smooth concrete fountain rim. Then he kissed me. I bit his lip. He raised his hand as if to smack me. In slow motion, I watched it coming down. But it stopped.

He spoke as he searched my face. “Where is Chloe? Tell her to give me back my money or else…” He motioned to push me underwater again.

“Chloe who?” I whimpered.

“Chloe Lambert.”

“She’s my mother…and she’s in trouble.”

A look of sickness paled over the pirate’s face. “No! She can’t be your mother. You are way too old, lady. Besides, you don’t look anything like her.”

“Well, she is my mother and I have to find her. She’s in trouble.”

“I know she’s in trouble. Tell her to give me back my dough and maybe the trouble will go bye-bye.”

“What are you talking about? If she gives you money, she’ll be released from the mental hospital?”

“Mental hospital? That’s a swell place for the stupid dame. Where did she stash my money?”

“What money? Who are you?”

I heard footsteps galloping and then felt the weight of the pirate collapse on me. Just for a moment and then that old cop yanked him out of the fountain.

The cop said, “It’s the end of the line for you now, Billyboy.” The policeman turned to me and said, “I am so sorry, Miss. I’ll get you an ambulance right away.”

“No! No, no. I don’t wanna go to the hospital. Been there, done that, don’t like it.”

“But we need to gather evidence.”

“What? Oh no, no, he didn’t do that.”

The pirate struggled and made a run for it. The cop chased after him and took a flying leap but missed. As he scrambled up, two teenaged soldiers materialized. They threw the pirate to the sidewalk. One sat on him. The other smashed his black polished leather boot into the pirate’s head, near his ear, on the side with his good eye.

The cop marched over to them. “Thanks, corporals. Hold him a minute until I get to the call box to request backup.”

“Yes, sir,” they said in monotone unison.

The cop trotted around the corner. I trekked over to the men. The pirate’s eye was flashing up at me. I’d never seen an eye that color blue, nor that sparkly. It had a magical allure but with an imminent sense of evil.

The seated soldier asked, “Ma’am, are you injured?”

“No…no I’m all right.” I glared at the pirate. “Who are you and why did you attack me? Why are you asking about my mother? What is she to you?”

The copper returned with two more of Miami’s geriatric finest. He said, “Billyboy here has a nasty little problem of seeing pretty ladies and forcing his company upon them. Don’t ya, Blandings?”

“Billy…Bill Blandings? Vera Blandings’ first husband? What do you mean he’s got a problem of forcing his company on ladies?” I turned from the copper to my attacker. “What have you done to my momma?”

The soldiers handcuffed the pirate. They yanked him to his feet. He was really handsome. Rogues usually were. He turned his head toward me and gave me the evil eye.

“Why are you looking for my mother?”

“She has my money.”

“Oh yeah, and that’s another little problem this scoundrel has. He prints his own dough. Boys, get him outa here,” the old cop snarled.

The quartet marched pirate boy away.

The copper took out his little notebook and licked the tip of his stubby pencil. “All right, Miss, you’re sure he didn’t injure you?”

“Yes. I need to leave now. You’ve been awfully diligent but I need to find information about my mother. There’s so much I don’t understand. I have so many questions…” Why did my mate bring me here? If in fact he had brought me here and I wasn’t dreaming all of this. Why did I have to meet Bill Blandings? And what money was he talking about? Did Momma have money problems? Wait, Daddy had told me before he died that Momma had attacked him because he wouldn’t give her the money. Could there be a connection? How much did I know about Momma’s past? “I know she used to live in Miami Beach. Perhaps someone here knows something. She had a room above a bakery. Paddy Cakes

Bakery. I remember her telling me how she gained weight just inhaling the buttery cinnamon wafting through the walls. I’d love a good doughnut, are they still in business?”

“They’ll be plenty of time for noshing doughnuts tomorrow. I need some information for my report. Your name?”

“Orpha Donna Payne.”

“Address?”

“One–three–one–two–seven Spyglass Street, Reston, Virginia.”

“Local address where you’re staying.”

“Don’t have one.”

He glared at me. “Now we don’t allow that type of young ladies around here.”

“No! I-I mean that I just got into town late tonight and I haven’t made arrangements yet.”

He pointed with his pencil. “Right across the street is the Young Women’s Christian Association. They’ll take good care of you there, my dear.”

“Right.” Whatever will get me away from you.

“Do you know this brute?”

“No.”

“Do you have any idea why he attacked you?”

“He said he wanted to find my mother.”

“Who is your mother?”

“Chloe Lambert. I think that’s why I’m here. To find out about her life.” I couldn’t very well tell him that I was dreaming all of this and that he was just a figment of my own imagination. Just like my Mr. Jones was just a figment. Not real…or? He’d told me to trust him and I couldn’t do otherwise, even if it probably meant joining Momma at the cuckoo’s nest.

“Chlo-e…Lam-bert. Chloe Lambert.” He rolled Momma’s name on his tongue, looking up at the sky. “Oh yeah, there’s an APB out for her arrest. Where is she?”

“Here in Miami? At this time? I dunno! Why is there an APB? Must be some mistake. A horrible mistake.”

“She’s wanted for counterfeiting and murder one.”

“What? No! My momma is no murderess…or counterfeiter. She doesn’t even pick up pennies from parking lots.”

“The information we received from the Secret Service indicated Chloe Lambert was a dirty agent, she made a counterfeit money drop in Bermuda.”

“No. That’s wrong. You must be mistaken.” I returned to the fountain and perched on the rim, sticking my legs in. I’d just wait here for my mate. Perhaps he’d have some answers for me. He’d come and make everything better. Please come back quickly. I need you with me now.

“That’s my brief, Miss. Chloe Lambert is still a fugitive.” He slapped the cover on his notebook shut. He stashed it in his pocket, along with the pencil. Walking over to me, he took me by the hands and glared into my eyes. His were gray and bloodshot. “Get outa there now. Making wishes in a fountain never solves nothin’.” He helped me out of the water.

“Thanks,” I begrudgingly said.

“Don’t leave town, Orpha Payne.”

Orpha. Nobody calls me Orpha. People at dentists’ offices call me Orpha. But they screw it into Oprah, like Oprah Winfrey, the talk show host. It’s so embarrassing. And poor Oprah’s real name was supposed to be Orpha, from the Bible, but someone wrote it down wrong. The cop said, “I’ll be around tomorrow to take a statement from ya. I’ll call for ya at the YWCA. You be there now. And if you find your mother, ask her to turn herself in now.”

I could still feel the effects of the medication I took. I was groggy and feeling a little loopy. I giggled. YWCA? Like the Village People song, “YMCA”, where it’s fun to stay? I broke into disco dance moves spelling out the letters with my body, mouthing the words.

The cop said, “Miss, what’s wrong? Are you having a seizure?”

I giggled and giggled.

“How much have you had to drink this evening?”

“Drink? I had a diet soda and some tap water to wash down the aspirins and Benadryls.”

Diet soda? What in carnation is that? And you say you did Bennys? Oh lordy. Let’s get you a room before you… No wonder all these men are taking advantage of you.”

He escorted me into the YWCA. The matronly gargoyle behind the desk was reading the racing page of a newspaper. She barely cast an eye our way.

The cop said, “Evenin’, Mother Mary. I have a wayward young woman in need of a safe place to sleep off some narcotics.”

“I did not take narcotics! Benadryl is just an allergy medicine that helps me sleep. It’s readily available at lots of stores. No prescription is required.”

He said, “Maybe after you come down from your high, you and I should have a little talk about which pharmacists are selling you the Bennys. I’ll be around on my shift tomorrow evening. Now, Mother Mary, would you please show this young lady, Orpha Payne, to a room and be sure to lock the door. She’s already been molested by two men that I know about.”

Mother Mary Gargoyle eyeballed me with her bulging ones. “What happened, child, you fall into a swimming pool?”

“No. There was an incident at the Lincoln Road fountain… Oh never mind.”

Mother Mary waddled up four flights of stairs.

I limped along behind, my ankle smarting. Some cover story dream boy made up. I didn’t even hurt my ankle but now it does. And where is dream boy?

The cop took up the rear and made sure the desk clerk escorted me to a room and locked the door.

Good, they were gone. Some room. More like a closet. I thought about the closet under the stairs at my parents’ house. That one was much bigger. It was stifling hot in this one. I shuffled to the window and heaved the sash. It flew up and then right back down, smashing my hand. “Oww!”

I tried opening it again, this time quickly putting my hands under my armpits as soon as I launched the pane upward. It slammed back down. Great. The counterweight must be broken. I glanced around and found a Holy Bible to prop the window open with. Before I placed it in the sill, I realized that wasn’t very nice. So I scouted around in the dim light of the lone bulb. It had a brown shoestring for a pull chain, just like the big walk-in closet in my childhood home. I spied a brown rubber doorstop on the dusty hardwood floor. Yes. That would do. I raised the sash and positioned the doorstop vertically against one side of the window.

A tiny breeze flitted in. I knelt on the floor in front of the window and crossed my arms on the windowsill. I laid my head on them. I felt flakes of paint crunching under my arms. I heard helicopters. Loud, louder, quieter, gone. The neon lettering on the building buzzed. I could see it sideways, without moving. Pink neon letters, YWCA.

I heard a noisy motor. It looked like a green pickup truck. A really old classic one. It parked under the streetlight in front of the bakery across the street. Paddy Cakes Bakery. Hey, this is where Momma used to live. I couldn’t wait until they opened in the morning. Maybe they could give me some answers. I sighed. I started to get up when the door opened on the truck. A bearded man, dressed in a gray suit, emerged from the vehicle. I recognized him. He was the cute guy in the sepia photo with Momma that I was looking at before I had my first special dream. I called out to him but he’d already disappeared inside the building. Oh well. At least I must be on the right track finally. I just had to wait until the morning. The fresh air felt good on my heated skin but my jumbled mind was still racing. That pirate boy had said Momma had his money. What money? And what was with his eye?

I shut my own eyes. Very grateful to have mine intact. It was finally cooling off. The wind rustled through the street trees. I heard water gushing through pipes in the wall. Other tenants. Or occupants or renters or, wait, I knew, other “wayward girls” like the cop called me. If only he knew exactly how respectable and honorable and what a good girl I really was. Back in the twenty-first century where I belonged.

Where I belonged? Oh how I wished I didn’t belong there. I didn’t, did I? In the Payne family. How I came from them, I had no idea. I was nothing like them. Maybe I was adopted? That would be great. No, my birth certificate was black and white. I was begot from Chloe Lambert and Nathan Payne. The all-American couple. Sure, they clothed and fed and sheltered me, kissed my booboos, sent me to public school and drove me to church. But they always treated me like the odd girl out.

Tammy and Perry were always more important. And they were invariably in trouble. Nothing Momma’s money couldn’t remedy. Chirping hatchlings devouring the regurgitation.

I wished I belonged here. Right here. If here was real, that is. I would have had a much more glamorous job in the forties. Maybe I could’ve been a switchboard operator? That would’ve been fun. I heard men used to dial the operator just to have a girl to talk to. Maybe I could’ve made dates with some classy guys. Yeah, perhaps switchboard operator was not much better than being a file clerk in the peon job category but, hey, it would’ve been more enjoyable. I knew it would have.

Or maybe I’d have been a girl newspaper reporter. War correspondent. No, not that. Dangerous. How about covering the gossip scene in Hollywood? Yeah, that’d have been great. Interviewing Cary Grant and William Powell and hey, why not, Vera Blandings. At least that way I’d have known what the first love of my father’s life had been like. I wonder why they broke up.

And I’d write Pulitzer Prize-winning articles for the front page, on important issues of the day. Wouldn’t I be something? And I’d be respected. And I’d have friends. Witty, intellectual friends. We’d go to parties and premieres and jet set. Not just an email relationship with a roommate that I’d never actually seen face-to-face. I didn’t even know what Ashley looked like. Probably heavy, with short hair. Taller than me though. Everyone was taller than me.

It would have been fun living in the forties with my dream man. He wouldn’t have let me miss our wedding. Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Mrs. Donna Jones. I couldn’t wait to drop my maiden name. I wasn’t going to hyphenate. Speaking of my Mr. Jones, where did he evaporate off to? He’d said I would meet someone from Momma’s past. Check. Been there, met Bill Blandings. Now I was done.

The wind roared in. I heard music. Oh no. Not that one—yep. The darned “Donna” song again.

~*~

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Thursday, June 23, 2022

Miami Beach

 

Excerpt from Million Dollar Momma
A 20th Century Time Travel Romance
by Sherry Morris

I smiled, “Hey you, step into my dream again.”

He grinned back. “Hi, Cinderella. I’ve been waiting for you.”

I sighed and looked him over. He was wearing light-colored trousers, rolled halfway up his calves. Bare feet in the white powdery sand. I concentrated on those feet. They were perfect. Strong tendons, well-pedicured. Not crusty and gross like old What’s-his-name’s feet. Joel-the-Jerk who I inadvertently jilted at the altar so he enjoyed a ménage à trois in the honeymoon hideaway that I had paid the non-refundable deposit on. There had gone a whole two-week pay period of overtime money wasted.

My breathing slowed. I heard my deep exhalations. I sized up dream boy’s ankles and his exposed calves. Well-developed and just the right amount of fur…um, hair. I methodically raised my gaze along his trousers, stopping at the fly. Hmm…he must be right-handed, because he kept it on the left. And my, look how happy it seemed to see me. My body tingled as I imagined making good use of his merry instrument.

My gaze traveled upward. His white shirt was untucked and unbuttoned. Firelight flickered on the silky hair complementing his chest. Just the right amount. It looked soft and tempting. I followed the furry path back down to his trousers, where it disappeared. I was really getting hot. I stepped back from the bonfire.

He ambled over to me, carrying a tree branch with a toasted marshmallow smoldering on the end. I drooled. I was hungry, both for him and the sweet. I reached for the marshmallow. He tugged it off the stick before I could get it. Actually, he placed his fingers on the sticky treat and slowly moved it up and down the limb before freeing the goody. I had to swallow. I opened my mouth in anticipation.

He pressed it to my lips and encircled them twice. I followed it with my tongue. He placed it in my mouth. Our eyes locked while I tasted the sugary hot texture. It was delicious and over with too soon.

My dream man took my left hand and tenderly rubbed his fingers all over mine. I trembled, not used to being treated so gently. He made me feel as though I was the most desirable woman on earth. Or the universe if he was a Martian. “Are you a Martian?”

“What?”

“The last dream. You told me you were going to take me to Mars. Is that where you come from?”

He chuckled. “No, sweetheart. I am most certainly not a Martian. I come from a much higher place than that.”

What was above Mars? I conjured up black space, stars and the red planet. What would be above the universe? Heaven? “Are you an angel?” My gaze dropped to his trousers. “A naughty angel?”

He blushed as he brushed a curl from my forehead and kissed it. “I told you, love. I’m your soul mate across time and space but I have lived on earth as a man before.”

I remembered the dream where Katherine-the-maid served us cheese and deviled eggs. “You used to work as a Secret Service agent guarding President Franklin Roosevelt, didn’t you?”

“Yes, love.”

“Wow. I’m impressed. You’re very well-preserved for your advanced years.”

“I didn’t fully advance.”

As I was wondering what he meant by that, he intertwined our digits and we meandered down the beach, waves crashing at our calves. The hem of my dress was getting soaked. Dress? I glanced down. I was wearing a white gauze dress and the ocean breeze blew it tight across the front of me. I ran the fingers of my right hand through my hair. I felt so beautiful.

So he was my soul mate. My very own. A troublesome thought struck me. “But how can you be my soul mate? You don’t even exist in my world. You’re not even real. That’s just not fair.”

“We belong together, love, although this is your journey. You have to trust me…believe in us.” His smile reminded me of a mysterious sphinx. “Doesn’t this feel real?” His lips gently brushed mine. Butterfly kisses. Soft, gentle but real…definitely real.

He started walking up onto the beach. I could see lighted buildings in the not-so-far distance. No one was around, just my dream man and I. He removed his shirt and in one quick moment spread it on the sand. He lowered me onto it. Our eyes met. His beautiful dark brown eyes twinkled playfully. He lowered his face to mine. I felt his lips on mine. Firm and dominating this time, like no other man had ever kissed me before. With each stroke of his tongue, my doubts washed away. My body relaxed onto the sand.

His tongue rimmed my lips in concentric circles. I felt his hardness pressing against me. He was right. How could I not trust him when he was kissing me like this? I heard the rhythm of the turning tide. The scent of the warm breeze intoxicated me. He penetrated my mouth with his tongue again. Hungry, probing, thick hotness. He slid his hand down to my breasts. This dream man was no stranger to women.

I opened my eyes and beheld the stars shimmering. His hand continued down my body to the hem of the dress. He teasingly drew the fabric up and down, in between my thighs. The friction he caused sent the blood rushing to my feminine zone. I closed my eyes and sighed involuntarily.

He stopped. I opened my eyes and searched his. He grasped my hand and placed it on his crotch. And then he kissed me. I gently traced the contours of his family jewels.

Our eyes locked together. He unbuttoned his trousers. I reclined back in sublime anticipation.

A bright light blinded me.

“Knock it off. Miami Beach is no place for fornication.”

Frowning, I squinted at the old wrinkled police officer.

Dream lover said, “Officer, I assure you, I was not molesting this woman. She lost her footing and twisted her ankle. I carried her up here, eased her down onto my sheet and was assessing the injury—”

The cop cut him off. “You say you laid her down on your sheet? Didn’t you mean to say shirt? Mister, even if what you say is true, you still have lascivious thoughts.”

I hope so. I giggled.

Sheriff Old-timer said, “Let’s see some identification.”

Oops-a-daisy, I didn’t bring my driver’s license with me to dreamland. My companion, however, was prepared. He flashed a badge. The cop snatched it up and examined it in the beam of his flashlight.

“Sorry, Agent. I didn’t mean to interrupt your rescue. May I be of any assistance? Is the President nearby?” The policeman peered around excitedly.

I peered around too. Darkness. Sand. Ocean. Hotels in the distance. No President as far as I could see. Moron. I sat up, tucking my knees underneath me, pulling my dress down. “Ow!” My ankle really did hurt.

The cop squatted. His night stick dug into the sand. “Miss, let me help you. I’ll get you to the squad car and then over to the clinic.”

“That won’t be necessary, Officer,” Dream boy said, hoisting me over his shoulder, fireman style.

Off we went. The cop was left in the sand my fireman kicked up as he hiked toward the boardwalk. A few more long strides placed us at a street. He gently set me down curbside. I searched his face. He looked determined but somehow I wasn’t convinced that I was the object of his quest.

He said, “I’ll leave you here, love. This one you have to do by yourself. You’re about to meet someone from your mother’s past. I’ll see you soon.”

“Wait. What do you mean? My mother’s past? Who am I gonna meet? Is this why I’m here?” But he was already walking away from me, evaporating into the shadows. There I stood, under a streetlight. No one else was out and about. Odd but there were loads of camouflage military vehicles parallel parked. I noticed the street sign, Eleventh Street. I took a few steps, with my head cocked to the side, to see what the cross street was. Lincoln Road. The sand that was so soft on the beach was now gritty on the sidewalk. Itchy actually.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Room Mate

 

Excerpt from Million Dollar Momma
A 20th Century Time Travel Romance
by Sherry Morris

Loping out to the living room, I plopped down in the chair at the desk built into a niche in the corner. My Men Out of Uniform calendar screensaver was half-blue and frozen. Of course it had to be the lower half of the screen that was blue. My favorite, Mr. July, Firefighter Johnny, was cut off at his six-pack. I sequentially pressed the Ctrl, Alt and Del keys, holding them down. Nothing happened. I tried again. Zip. So I turned the power off and then back on. I had been surfing when Daddy had called last week and then I had rushed out, leaving the computer on.

Yes, it booted fine. I clicked to check my email account. I was happy to see the little magnifying glass on the envelope icon. I was receiving mail. Just one message, from my roomie Ashley.

 

SUBJECT: Are you okay?

 

Donna,

 

Where are you? What happened? Your boss Cynthia came by the house this morning. She was just “checking in”. I wasn’t dressed, so I talked to her through the door. I peeked out at her from the peephole in the front door and man, she looks mean. So I found out about the accident. BTW, the real purpose of her visit was to inform you to report back to work immediately.

 

Your accident sounded horrific! I called the hospital and they said you’d been discharged, so I figured you must be okay. Post me ASAP and let me know if I can help with anything.

 

Oh I stuck your mail on the shelf in the garage. Please don’t be mad at me for coming upstairs. Cynthia was ringing the bell incessantly and that song you have on your chimes was driving me nuts. I thought maybe you’d locked yourself out or something. I didn’t touch any of your stuff. By the way, your house is beautiful. How do you keep it so clean?

 

We’re headed west, this leg of the tour starts in California and heads up through Oregon, Washington and into British Columbia, then through Canada, down through New York, Pennsylvania and home for almost a week. Maybe we can hook up then?

 

See you in September,

Ashley

 

I clicked the reply button and began typing.

 

SUBJECT: Re: Are you okay?

 

Hi Ashley,

 

Other than I feel like I was pummeled by an airbag, impaled on a deer, thrown through the windshield and pitched down a hill, I’m just dandy.

 

The antler didn’t do any damage to major blood vessels or nerves but it nicked a muscle. They repaired it and stitched me up. My lovely supervisor Cynthia probably found out about it because the hospital called for verification of insurance coverage. They kicked me out after four days anyway.

 

Ashley, my father died yesterday. Or was it the day before? I’m all fuzzy. Let’s see. According to the little date and time icon on my computer, today is Wednesday, August 2 already. He died Monday afternoon. July 31. August Eve. He had a heart attack. There was a long delay before help arrived. Well, no, they sent a fire truck and those guys did CPR and used the shock thingy on him. But by the time the ambulance arrived, they pronounced him dead.

 

My brother is ranting that my mother murdered him. He had her admitted to a mental hospital. Four days before Daddy’s cardiac arrest. So how the heck did she get an opportunity to do him in? As if my eighty-three-year-old mother could have escaped from the hospital. Perry (my brother) is the one with the mental deficit.

 

Oh it’s been awful. My sister set Daddy’s coffin up in the basement, one of those eight-sided Dracula boxes! But he’s not inside. There was a fake Irish wake and his friends were just horrible. I borrowed Momma’s car and came home. I was stuck on the Wilson Bridge all night. Has that ever happened to you?

 

Hope you’re having a great time on the road again. It was sweet of you to worry. Of course I’m not mad at you for coming upstairs. I only wish I’d been here to finally meet you face-to-face. Thanks for letting me know about Cynthia’s visit. Yes, she is mean.

 

Write when you get an internet connection.

 

Hey, how’s your love life?

 

Oh thanks for bringing in the mail and watering my flowers.

 

Donna

 

I clicked send, took a shower, dried off and went to bed naked. My throbbing head and the sun pouring in through the skylights interfered with slumber time. I stumbled to the bathroom and swallowed one more aspirin and two tiny pink and white Benadryl capsules. Washed them down with water though, the last thing I needed was more caffeine to keep me awake. I wasn’t taking Benadryl because of an allergic reaction and I wasn’t tormented with sinus congestion. But I knew there was a side effect to Benadryl that caused drowsiness and it usually knocked me out. Momma had taught me about it. There were many nights when she couldn’t turn her mind off and she relied on Benadryl. Now I was doing it. I crawled back under the covers. Of course, the phone rang. I checked the caller ID Payne, Perry. I growled and answered. “Hello?”

“Oh-Donna, Saint C’s just called. They’re booting Chloe out if someone doesn’t come and sign a financial contract. The cashier’s office is open until four. Can you make it in time?”

I snarled my face into a ferocious sneer. Too bad we didn’t have video phones. “No way!”

“But you’ve gotta go down and pay. Just give them a credit card or something. We can’t have her loose on the streets.”

“Oh so you admit that she didn’t escape and kill Daddy then. Momma is not a deranged murderess and she does not belong locked up at the cuckoo’s nest! And why do you always think that I’m a billionaire? You’re the big important judge. I just do peon cog-in-the-wheel work, because I have no education, because there was no money for my college, because you needed it. And sweet pretty Tammy.”

My brother fired right back at me. “If someone dies or is injured because they let a mental patient loose, then the cops will go after you for not making arrangements. You will be the responsible party, Oh-Donna.”

I hyperventilated. Something ugly and nasty from deep inside of me spat out. “Don’t you threaten me.” I threw the phone. I heard a crack as it smacked my bedroom window. “No!”

Shaking all over, I stumbled across the midnight blue carpet and dragged the broken off-white plastic mini blinds back to inspect the glass. Good, I didn’t break the window.

I went to the medicine cabinet in the master bathroom and popped one more aspirin, just because. I couldn’t stop thinking about poor Momma. Oh what was it like in the mental hospital? Was the room cold and barren? Was she locked up in a ward with a dozen screaming women? Was she frightened? Did she have her pain medication for her back? Oh Momma, I’ve got to get you out of there. Well, now if what Perry says is true, if nobody pays your bill, then they will release you. That will work. That is one way to spring you from the hokey- pokey. But then what? Do they just shove you out the front door and lock it behind you? What would you do on the streets of Anacostia? An elderly white lady would not blend in with the neighborhood. Wait, don’t you still have some friends there from the old days? Could you walk to their house? Do you have your purse? Could you pay for a cab ride home? Wait, I have your purse, with the keys, wallet and all. Tears of guilt flowed down my cheeks. I was drowsy, the Benadryl was finally kicking in. I’ll come and get you, Momma. But tomorrow. I can’t drive like this.

Back in my bedroom, I turned on some soothing-sounds music, waves. I jabbed my finger on the cooler button on the thermostat and then dropped my body onto the queen-sized four-poster bed. I stared up at the crocheted lace canopy and listened to the waves lapping the shore. I heard the rush and whirr as the air conditioner kicked on. I tried to conjure up a beach at midnight…

I felt the sand under my toes. A strong summer wind blew off the ocean. The foamy tide lapped my calves. Bells rang, a soothing little echo. A saxophone melody materialized. Sounded like, wait, I knew this one. Something from the forties. “Sentimental Journey”. Who made it famous? Right. Doris Day and the Les Brown band.

I smelled marshmallows. No, I really did. I turned around. Down the shoreline, I detected a flicker. An irresistible flickering. Like a magnet, it propelled me. I blinked my eyes at a campfire. And there he was.

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