Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kathleen's Big Love

This came to me from my friend, Kathleen of Dairy of a Heretic (Awards & Memes). She posts serialized fiction nearly every day...and writes short short fiction for The View From Here. Check her out. This is an award I am proud to share with those of you who I think are special and talented. If you want to pay it forward, follow these directions:

1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add the link of the blogger who shared the award with you
3. Pass this award to bloggers whose blogs you love
4. Add your link to the list of participants below.
5. Leave a message on the blog of the blogger who passed this award.

Bloggers Lair/The World of Nothing/ The Macky That Doesn't Exist/ The Spoiled But Not a Brat/ Holding On/ The Mark of an Explorer/ Feel Free/ Shout Out/ Proud to be Filipina's Corner/ My New Way of Living/ I Love-Hate American/salabasngmandaluyong/ Diary of a Heretic (Awards & Memes)/thetruthtosomeextent/

Okay, I don't do a lot of memes/awards/forwards, but when Kathleen sends it my way, I'm on it. To all of you great folks who follow my work, I appreciate more than you'll ever know the boosts, the kindness, the generosity of faith and time, and our creative/writing/thriving time together. (Forgive the sappy sentiment. I mean it.)

Here are my deserving bloggers: (I'm fairly new in the blog world, so still looking for more love)

1. The-Real-Cat-Woman

2. Carma's Window

3. Poetry in a Global Box

4. Blue Sky T'ai Chi Chuan

5. Stories From the Verge of Greatness

6. Local Food Connections

7. Allforblue (You left me a wonderful comment once, but that was when I needed it the most)

And that's the truth. Entirely.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hearts and Houses for Sale: Whose Crazy Now?

The view from the Palos Verdes Peninsula never looked greener than on a rainy, cold day in January. Hopi had his BMW at the door before Selene could open her umbrella. He hoped out, whisked open the door, and scooted her into the passenger seat before rain drops left a single mark on her vintage Prada pumps.  "Still want a drink?" he asked.

"Maybe a cup of tea would be best," she said. "The hand of God will be their next ploy. I don't know what to expect. Where do these crazy people from?"

"What can I do?" he asked. "I have to get back to the O.R."
" A doctor. I like that," Selene said. "I need to extract the asking price from a nut case and her bellicose father," she said. "While the fireman husband pays the tab. They probably have more in their life insurance policies than in their bank account."

   "You meet all kinds in your business, I suppose, he said."
"It's the tree house. Weird. It was really something once upon a time," she said. "I wonder why it wasn't kept up?"

"The family was murdered in the tree house," he said. "Didn't the heirs tell you the story?" he asked.

"No, Henry, or I would have had to disclose it to potential buyers, " she snapped. "I thought it had been on the market a long time because of the housing downturn. I wonder if the Brooms will still want it."

"I feel for the husband," he said. "Bat's in the bellfry."

"It only has a tiny attic," Selene said. "What's with the 'Hopi" stuff."

"In prison, it was my nickname," he said." It stuck, better than a tattoo. At least for my work. Imagine a doctor with a devil and pitchfork up and down his arm."

Selene's heart gripped. Her breath came in shallow doses. Now, she understood the expression, 'an elephant in the house'. She had to ask. "Why were you in prison?"

"They said I murdered the people who used to live in the house you're selling," Hopi said. "My lawyers got me off."

Silence. Selene noticed he blinked rapidly as he drove faster than she would have. The hard rain allowed for maybe a ten foot visibility on the winding Palos Verdes Trump golf course road. "So why were you found guilty?" she finally asked in a voice strained and high-pitched.

"Oh, I was guilty alright. I admitted it," he said, looking over at her instead of the road, smiling, and blinking rapidly. 

"I really need a drink," Selene said. "Time to go home. Please take me back to my car."

Hopi laughed. "You don't think I'm serious, do you? Come on, I got the name in boarding school. I was the class clown. Henry Olden Powell, III just didn't fit," he said. 

"Oh, no, of course not," she said, a little sqeak of a laugh sputtering out. "Boarding school."

"I have to get back to the hospital anyway. Only had time for a quick drink, remember?"

"Thanks," Selene said. She looked at her watch. It should take about half an hour to get to the office in this downpour. She'd check out the history on the house tomorrow.

And go to yoga class. She needed peace and tranquility.

And that's the truth. To some extent.

to be continued...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hearts and Houses for Sale: The Treehouse

"What would you do?" Louise asked, touching the tips of her short thick black hair with the palm of her puggy hand. "My boys love the idea of a treehouse, and it was advertised that way. San Pedro. View of the Harbor. Tree house."

Selene leaned across the desk, aware of the boss eyeing her wild-haired client. How many women dye their hair jet black then make it stick straight out from their head, Selene pondered, losing focus for a moment. Why would she make herself so unattractive? Is that why he's looking? Or is he watching how I close the deal?

"Tear it down and build another one," Selene said. "What is it you like about the house?"

"Oh, it's old and charming and reminds me of their granny's house in Cork," Louise said. "I like the view. I do love that big old tree, itself. And, the tree house is multiple levels. You don't see that everyday."

"The mess of a tree house is the only thing that looks like their granny's house in Cork, " Aodhan McPherson said in a clear round Irish tenor that it would carry to the back of any room. "So don't go being a foolish daughter. I'll fix it."

"There you have it," Selene said. She shifted back in her chair, crossed one leg over the other and placed her hands softly on the desk, palms down. She needed a manicure. She put her hands back in her lap. "But, the owners haven't accepted your bid. Talk with your agent. See what you can do."

"We're here talking to you," that Irishman said. "Selene, a French name, you look Irish. What's it going to take to get this here house for me daughter?"

Selene's boss gave her a slight military salute and walked away. She knew he was grinning from ear to ear. "Well, would you like a cup of tea? I suppose we could call your agent together," she said. "Shall we?"

"NO," that tremendous voice said. "Louise made her offer. A good one at that. The house is decrepit, the tree is solid, and she's offering you good money for it." He slammed one gnarled oversized fist into the other. "Now. What do the owners want. Besides more money? It ain't worth more money."

Selene had to admit, to herself, that was true. And, she wanted to make this sale.

Louise's face started getting red, she grasped the sides of her chair. "Oh, Lordy, I could use a whiskey right about now. What am I going to tell the boys if I can't get them that tree house?"

"Okay," Selene said. "If the owners left the washer/dryer, refrigerator, and patio set with the fountain, then would you pay the asking price?"

"They repair the tree house, like new, and we pay their price," that amazing voice answered. He nodded his head sharply, looked from Selene to Louise who was about to cry. "She hasn't combed her hair since those boys were born. She needs that house since that bum of a husband has to run around putting out fires all hours of the day and night. You want her to go around looking like that forever?"

OMG, I'm going to laugh out loud, Selene thought to herself. Instead, she cleared her throat and licked her lips. "Ah, I want her to be happy," Selene said, "so, um, well, I'll see what I can do."

"Good," Aodhan McPherson said. "Let's go, Louise, the boys are waiting at the firehouse."

"Ah, excuse me, but exactly who will be the owners of this house?" Selene wondered suddenly.

"The Brooms," Louise said. "Just the Broom family. Da is visiting us for the winter. Nice weather an all. My husband will call our agent." She glanced at her father and smiled, her red eyes blinking like a neon sign begging him to be quiet. "Thank you, Selene."

And then they left. Selene stood up to shake their hands, but they just stood up and left. Dropping back into her chair, Selene felt her cell vibrate. "Hi," she said. "Still waiting? I'm so ready for a drink."

Selene looked around the room. Her boss had his back to her. A couple of her colleagues were on the phone. "Henry Olden Powell, III, I need you to help me sell this house," she said into the phone. "I have to figure out how to get the owners to repair the tree house."

And that's the truth. To some extent.

to be continued...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hearts and Houses for Sale: Broom, Witch, and Katz

The bouncing brought Selene to her senses. "Ouch,  put me down, put me down," she demanded.  "I have a broken rib. Put me down."

"Just another moment, ma'am," the fireman said. He held her firmly to him. "Can you sit up?"

"What's going on here?" Selene demanded. "I was talking on the phone." She remembered the fog and her headache which had become an eye-ache. "I look terrible. Why did you take me out of my house? Oh no! Is my house on fire?"  Selene looked the fireman in the face. "Oh my!" she said. He was gorgeous, and young enough to be her son. 

"No, no, no. It's your neighbor's garage, up the hill," he said as he seated her with large gloved strong hands in a green lattice chaise brought round from her patio. "Caused lots of smoke. Seems you were the only person in your cul de sac at home." 

"I smell it," Selene said. "Nasty. What is that?" She rubbed her eyes, then stopped. Make-up smear, she thought.

"Linseed oil and paint rags," the fireman said. "Never leave old paint rags in linseed oil, ma'am. It's a sure thing to catch fire."

"I know that," Selene said as her back and neck cracked at the same time. "I'm a real estate agent."

"Oh yeah," he said. "I've seen your bus bench ad. I knew you looked familiar." 

Selene had to laugh. She'd had that advertisement for years and no one ever remarked on it. He had to be under 30. "Are you interested in buying?" she asked.

"Well, actually, my wife wants this one house in particular. She saw it yesterday with our boys and her dad," he said. "Did you break your fingers or sprain them?"

Selene sighed. Would anyone believe this if she told them ,which about now she was thinking she probably wouldn't. "Twin boys came to my open house yesterday and bumped into me. I broke the rib and fingers when I hit the floor," she said, looking him straight in the eye, unflinching. She could not stop the smile that crept across her face. "The boys wanted to see the tree house. Their grandpa is quite a character."

"Ah, no. I'm so sorry, do you believe that, ah, ma'am...," he didn't have anymore words to say. He turned left then right and backed off about two feet. "Hey, Captain, come here," he called to a man near the fire truck. "This is the real estate lady the boys knocked down."

"It's okay," Selene said. "Occupational hazard. I was about to leave for the office to review your offer before all this." Watching a fireman squirm didn't seem right. A shiver went down her spine. "Are you afraid of me now?" she asked. "Really. Help me up. I have to go open all the windows to air the house, and..." The car. It was back at the open house property, Henry Powell was on the way, and, he had her cell phone. 

The Captain stood at attention in front of her.  "Nice to meet you. How you feeling?" he asked. "You should stay out of your house for the rest of the day."  He shifted his weight from foot to foot. "I'm Captain Katz. This is Lieutenant Broom. So, you met his boys?" he asked, laughing in spite of his stiff stance and stolid demeanor.

"Hello," Selene said. "It's nice to meet you both. I didn't even hear the fire truck arrive. Thank you for saving me."  Selene thought for a moment. "Smoke, a broom, a katz, house on a hill, and twin boys who want a tree house for a treat...does that mean I am the witch?"

"Ah, no. It's January and daytime and you're not wearing black," Lieutenant Broom said. Realizing he had put his foot in his mouth, he tried to make amends. "San Pedro is an old area, lots of potential for trouble when people have to fix up the old fire-traps they bought."

"You're the good witch if you sell them the house at the price they want to pay," the Captain said. He slapped Lieutenant Broom on the back. "Stay put, ma'am, and rest. We have to have you checked out."

"I'm not going anywhere until my friend gets here," Selene said, gesturing toward her driveway. "No car, no phone, just my red shoes..." Selene leaned back in the chaise. I hope they still want the house after they see the condition of the tree house, she thought.

And that's the truth. To some extent.

to be continued...  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hearts and Houses for Sale: Shoe In?

It was well after morning rush hour. Oddly, the fog was rolling in, thick around the house. Selene wanted to get on the road to her office in Palos Verdes, but her blackberry was nowhere to be found. She called herself from the land line in the kitchen. It rang several times, but she couldn't hear it in the house.

"Hello. How do you feel today?" a male voice asked from the other end of her call. "I wondered how long it would be until you gave me a call." An elevator door closed in the background. "I assume you had a good night's sleep." He spoke louder. "Selene. Do drugs always make you want to be alone?" The elevator door opened.

"Henry?" she said. "Is this Henry Powell?"  

"You remember me. I'm flattered," he said, walking as he talked. Voices overlapped behind him. "Call me, Hopi, if we're going to be friends."

"Why do you have my phone?" Selene asked.  

"You left it in my car," he said from a quiet place. "You left your suit jacket, pantyhose and shoes as well." A beeper went off.

"Oh no!" Selene said. "My car! It's still over there. At that house.  I need my blackberry. I need my car."

"Whoa, Nelly," he said. "I have an hour, I'll take you to get your car. Can you drive? Hold on a minute. "

Selene's head throbbed so much she closed her eyes.  Who was he talking to? "I have to get to the office for an offer. " The fog was thick around the house, inside the house already. "How soon can you be here?"

Before he could answer, Selene passed out, dropping the phone. 

And that's the truth. To some extent.

to be continued...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hearts and Houses for Sale: Blue Moon...

Selene woke at precisely 8:20 AM. The sound of her neighbors chatting about freeway conditions as they opened and closed their car doors told her it was Monday. The sun glittered through the windows landing directly on her face. Today, she would not be stuck in the Los Angeles Harbor traffic.

That was one of the big advantages of being a real estate agent. No one at the office clocked her in. With a jolt she sat upright. Monday morning, an impending sale from the open house--she should be at the office. 

Her whole body ached, her head hurt, and her fingers throbbed, The tight wrap around her ribcage  made sitting up especially painful. An 8:30 appointment with her selling coach couldn't be missed. Speed dial on the phone did the trick.

Fifteen minutes of "Oh, how terrible,"and "you have to be very careful," and "you can't afford to waste time on curious neighbors," and "it sounds like you handled things well,  and other professional responses brought the call to an end. Selene leaned back against the headboard, her stomach grumbled. "

Then she remembered. "Henry...Henry. Are you there, Henry?" she called. No response. He had left her on the sofa. How had she gotten into bed? Didn't he say he'd stay? She looked at herself in the mirror, grimaced, and twisted her hair away from her face. Inch by careful inch, she slid from the bed. Leaning on the door frame, the appearance of a disheveled drunk in the glass of the French doors frightened her. Still, she staggered into the living room. 

So much for Henry Powell, Selene surmised. I guess he wasn't that into me, after all. Good thing. Wouldn't want him to see me like this.

The phone rang. After the fifth ring, Selene decided she'd answer. Caller ID announced the name of a real estate agent she'd worked with before, and liked. Louise--and her boys--want to make an offer. 

"I'll be there in an hour," Selene said. "Did she tell you what happened?" The agent was sympathetic to a fault, but it took a five minute conversation to get it all said.  

Selene leaned against the kitchen counter as she made coffee. Plump, the fat cat, curled up beside his food bowl, which was thankfully still half full. 

"My ring finger is broken which means I'll probably never marry, and a rib cracked," she said to Plump. "I did meet a perfect man who left me on the sofa and disappeared. But, I might have sold the property." Selene dropped her head forward. It felt good.

"Why do the good ones leave," she said. "He was so handsome and nice." She paused and stared at the wall. "Hey Plump. Did I really tell him I needed to be alone?"

Plump looked up, then started to clean himself.

"I need to clean up, too, French bath today and lots of perfume," she said. Thanks goodness for wild-haired Louise and little boys who love tree houses. Plump slid his furry body around her feet. Where's my torn suit skirt, crossed her mind. The IPod on her clock/radio came on, "Blue Moon, you saw me standing alone without a dream in my heart..."

And that's the truth. To some extent.

to  be continued...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hearts and Houses for Sale: A Fine Turn of Events

It was dark by the time Henry Powell pulled his Prius into Selene's cul de sac less than a mile further up the hill in San Pedro.  He parked in front of her house, eyeing the red pavers that splayed out into graduated steps ascending to the arched porch. 

"Thank you so much for staying with me at the emergency room," Selene said. "I'm exhausted but nothing hurts at this point." Selene leaned forward shifting gently in the direction of the car door. Her vision went in and out of focus. "Oooooh...I see my house," she said, her voice slurring and edgy.

"Drugs," Henry Powell said, then jumped out of the car and walked around to open her door. "Somebody had to work the crossword puzzles and Sudukos with you," he said. "That six hour wait could have been unbearable." 

Selene smiled at him. "You're a nice man,"she said in a whispery quivering voice. "I hope Louise has a good agent and the sale goes smoothly. Do you think she cuts her own hair? It looked like crap."

"I think she has rowdy twin boys. Give me your good hand and step out. Watch the curb," Henry Powell said. He reached out and touched the fingers of her right, freckled slim hand.

"Did I say you're a nice man?" Selene grasped his hand, and winced. " I had no idea that a rib broke. Give me a moment."

"I'm at your service, my lady," Henry Powell said. "I'll stay with you tonight in case you need something."

Selene would have laughed out loud if she had the where with all. Instead she focused on her balance. "Will you bring my shoes?" she said. Realizing something sharp had met her heel, it struck her funny that it didn't hurt. Selene began to laugh, then immediately started to weep. "I need to be alone. I need to be alone for tonight," she said looking up into those dark bedroom eyes. "I don't even know you. "

"I'll sleep on the sofa. I don't snore and I make coffee for breakfast," Henry Powell said.

"I have a Sleep Number bed," Selene responded beginning to sniffle as the weeping subsided. "King size with a Nordic comforter." Her body began to shake.

"That sounds like just what you need," Henry Powell said. He lifted her from the car and led her up the steps slowly, one step at a time. "Where's your key?"

Selene handed him her pocketbook. "Probably on the bottom."

Henry Powell fished through her bag, pulling out the cell phone, then the keys. 

"That one is the door," Selene mumbled.

Henry Powell opened the door and deposited her on the large overstuffed sofa in the front living room. "You'll feel better tomorrow. I saw pain pills in your pocketbook." He smiled and kissed her forehead. 

Selene slid down on the plush cushions. "If you hold my hand, there's room for two," she said.

Henry Powell turned and walked out the door, closing it firmly. 

Selene began to cry, her body heaving in distress. At least I've probably sold the house, she thought.  

And that's the truth. To some extent.

to be continued...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hearts and Houses for Sale: The Luck of the Blarney Stone?

In January the sun casts a pink-grey-orange glow across the Los Angeles Harbor by 4 PM. That glow created a yellow cast to the ripped Shantung silk along the edge of Selene's suit skirt.  

"It can be repaired. The tear is right on the seam," Selene said, as she allowed herself to be lifted from the floor by a large square-shaped hand laced with pale blue veins that ran like rivers from wrist to knuckle. "My heel caught in the carpet," She said.

In a tone as clear as a classic Irish tenor, the blue-eyed elderly gentleman chided her. "Wasn't your fault, woman. Me boys bollixed their grand entrance." His smile furthered the creases that ran from the corner of his eyes down his face. "Can you stand?"

"Yes. I'm fine," Selene replied crisply, punctuating the word, yes, as she steadied herself, unbuttoned her jacket, straightened her blouse, and smoothed the front of her skirt. "I'm fine. Surprised, but fine." She cleared her throat. "Would you like to see the house?"

"We're waiting for the rascals' mother," the gentleman said.  "Now put your hand up so it don't bruise."

Selene looked at her left hand. The ring finger and the pinky finger were clearly swelling. "Oh, they do hurt," she said.

"I'm really sorry I knocked you over," the boy in the yellow shirt said. "I wanted to go into the treehouse."

"It is pretty cool," Selene said, as she held her arm straight up above her head. "I feel like the Statue of Liberty." Tears were going to well up any minute now. Hang on, hang on, hang on, she said to herself. "How about seeing it another time?"

Henry Powell spoke up. "Perhaps, I should take you to the emergency room unless you have a torch to hold."

"Louise, if you want the house, you better get in here," the gentleman shouted out the door. "She's going to close up shop." 

A shock of black hair, brilliant green eyes, and freckles from here to the Blarney Stone, Louise landed in the doorway. "I want the house. I want the house. I've wanted it for years. Sorry I'm so late," she said breathlessly. "Those steps are steep." Pause. Silence. She looked at the boys.

The one in the yellow shirt and the one in the blue shirt stared at the floor.

"Am I going to be sued?" she asked.

And that's the truth. To some extent.

to be continued...  

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Hearts and Houses for Sale: Not Business as Usual

For a quiet Sunday afternoon open house, high on a hillside in San Pedro, California, this is taking a decidedly unexpected turn. Feeling more like a woman and less like a real estate agent, Selene tosses her long sleek red hair back over her shoulder, then walks to the open door sizing up the situation: he just made a pass at me and I just flipped my hair like a high school girl. He's not buying the house. I'm behaving unprofessionally. 

"Prospective buyers are due momentarily," Selene says as she pivots on the ball of her foot, more for assurance and balance, than anything else. She and Henry Powell are face to face. "Here's my card, please call."

As he slides his hand out of his pocket, her fingers flip the card at him as though they were at a black jack table. Selene lets loose with a belly laugh. "I don't know why I did that," escapes from her lips, which she covers with her fingers, but the laughter won't stop.

Henry picks up the card from the carpet. "Miriam and Joav said you were fun."

Before Selene can recoup, twin little boys hurl themselves threw the door, bumping into Selene's hip, one after the other. In slow motion, she feels her heel catch in the white carpet, then her other leg fly up and her butt land on the floor with a thud.

"Mommy, mommy, come look," the boy in the blue shirt screams. 

"We wanna see the tree house," the boy in the yellow shirt screams.

"Are these yours?" Henry Powell asks.

The seam half way up from the hem of her pale silk suit is torn. Unable to take her eyes away from the tear, Selene feels a man's hand lifting her gently from the floor. 

And that's the truth. To some extent.

To be continued... 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hearts and Houses for Sale: Static Electricity

Super real estate agent, Selene, takes another look at the tall, dark and handsome stranger standing in the entry way on what was a boring Sunday afternoon. He doesn't look the San Pedro type, but it's just fine if he buys this house. The six per cent fee can come out of any one's account. She straightens her shoulders, lifts her chin, and takes two high-heeled strides toward him extending a freckled slim hand.

"Hello. I'm Selene..." she says.

He interrupts with a slightly crooked smile. "I know who you are. I'm Henry Powell," he says as he slides his hand into hers. "I live four houses down the street."

"Oh!" Selene giggles, her fingers leaping from his grasp. "Static electricity." She starts to laugh, realizes he has dark brown, double-lashed bedroom eyes, and glances aside to gather herself into the professional business woman she is. "I'm so sorry. It must be the carpeting." 

"I hope not," he counters. "I've been looking forward to meeting you. My sister and her husband bought their home from you. Miriam and Joav Stein."

"Ah, yes," she says, her mind racing to remember them. Nothing. "Let me give you the tour. Oh, have you been here before? Perhaps you know it better than I do."

"No," he replies. "The owners were very private."

 "I see," Selene says. A smile quivers across her face as she struggles to refrain from showing any emotion. Without missing a beat, Selene moves slightly in front of him, turning her best side directly in his sight line. "The view is beautiful from here," she says gesturing toward the large bay window before them that stretches across the front of the room.

"Yes. It is beautiful from my house as well," he replies tilting his head slightly away from her, then slipping one hand into his jeans pocket. "But, stunning from here."

"Hum." Selene feels a flush from her toes to her nose. "I'm so glad you think so."

And that's the truth. To some extent. 

Read opening episode, December 14, 2008 -- Story to be continued...