Sunday, February 18, 2018

A Loaded God Complex

  Taking tequila shots too fast.
  Slow down, I knew you would vomit, but you said you could drink.
  A lie you told
  The first of many
  Rubbing your back as you got sick
  Holding your hand as you cried for all you you'd gone through, all you'd lost,
all you'd given away
  You spun your web, sticky sweet
  I flew in blind, stained glass wings glued fast, you bound me tight
  My Stockholm Syndrome complete
  Your pretty lies and gutting insults
  Is this what passion is made of?
  A great fuck wrapped in rage.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Three-Star Thursday: Killing Gunther (2017)

Welcome to three-star Thursday where I find the underrated gems amongst the most average of ratings. I never pick a movie by the viewer rating. I look at the cast and the director and choose names I trust. That's not to say I never watch anything by knowns, but I still go off instinct and the movie trailer rather than reviews. Why you ask? If you actually read most of reviews....well, some actually review the movie but others go off on all sorts of weird tangents. Pointing out plot holes and character inconsistencies, wonderful, that's useful info! Reviewing the quality of the font used for the credits or stating that the lead actors chin dimple is distracting, what?

My first buried treasure is Killing Gunther (2017), written and directed by Taran Killam. It is a smart, hilarious, and fast paced dark comedy. Think every Bond villan stereotype uniting to take out Keyser Soze, all filmed documentary style.

The writing is sharp, the chacterization and acting is on point, the plot is well thought out, replete with hook, crises, climax, and denoument. Not to mention it is laugh-out-loud hilarious. I would give it 4.5 stars.

Why only 4.5? One little thing was missing, but it's a bit of a spoiler so if you don't want to find out too much about the movie, stop reading here.

Okay, so Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the cover, he's all over the trailer, hell, he has first billing, but this I suspect has more to do with the skill of his agent and the fact that he has agreed to do an indie movie with actors who, shall we say, do not run in the same circles the former governor does. Fact of the matter is, he doesn't come into the movie until the last twenty minutes. Still, he's definitely worth the wait. He shows that his comedic talents are still alive and kicking. He holds his own with a cast chock-a-block with the up and coming, hipster comedic actors of this generation.

The point is, if you are looking for a dark comedy to provide solid humor throughout the entire film, Killing Gunther is for you.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Making a Difference Just by Trying to Be Good

Being firmly rooted in Gen X, I can't tell you how surreal it is to read Tweets from the
Dalai Lama. Though given what I understand of Buddhism, his Twitter presence makes perfect sense. Wisdom isn't something to hoard or make accessible to an elite few. Wisdom is to be shared and built upon through democratization. And as good wisdom usually is, one of his latest Tweets is perfect in its simplicity:

"The basic foundation of humanity is compassion and love. This is why, if even a few individuals simply try to create mental peace and happiness within themselves and act responsibly and kind-heartedly towards others, they will have a positive influence in their community." -- The Dalai Lama

It's the last two words that, to me, resonate the most, "their community." I've admitted often enough to feeling as though I'm screaming into a void, but one reason I stay part-time at the EDJ is not only the supplemental income, but also the feeling I get being there. No, not the soul-crushing pain of our current fast-food healthcare system....
Pshhht, that'll be one sinus infection special with a side of sciatica pain meds, do I have your order correct?

No, definitely not that feeling, but the feeling when someone comes to me with a real pain, desperation, or fear I can solve. Then my inner Buddhist kicks in and reminds me to treat this person with compassion: Think right, speak right, act right. And if I made this person's life just a little easier for even the few minutes I get to spend with them, then I know I have done good by being good. Hopefully they pass it along and when/if they do, that's how we all have the power to change the whole world, one small, community-based impact at a time.

But Cindy, you say, I don't have a job like that. I am not faced with people I can help in that way. I work in ___________ (fill in "an office", "customer service", "IT", "janitorial services", "actual fast food", etc.) But there's where you are wrong, my friend. You have the choice every day to treat others with kindness, respect, and compassion. A Roy Rogers clerk name Khazim, who cheerfully helped me at the drive-thru, comes to mind. I fully appreciate the man has a shitty, shitty, shitty, shitty job, but he did it with good cheer and genuine concern for my customer experience. I wasn't having a great day, but Khazim cheered me up and I know I went forth about my day in a better place just because the drive-thru clerk was nice to me. You can make someone's day with just a smile, a please/thank you, or a sincere "How can I help you?". It's easier than you think.

And the beauty of what the Dalai Lama is saying is that you don't even have to be successful with every attempt to be the best version of yourself. I can tell you I failed spectacularly a couple weeks ago, perhaps when it mattered most to someone in real pain (though in fairness, I deserve to make this guy's list when he gets to step 8....just sayin').

Hey, we are all human and prone to stumbling, but thinking right, speaking right, and acting right becomes a habit. The more you try to be good, the more you will do good, here in your own home. Local action, global results. Don't make me go all It's a Wonderful Life on y'all. Go forth and commit random acts of kindness. Do what you feel in your heart is right. You won't regret it, even if it's just for the selfish reason that it feels really fucking awesome.

Getting over the desire for that feeling....well, that's another lesson, and if you learn how, please let me know how ;)


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Long Lost Nathaniel, Red Sky at Night--Book Four in the Pirates at Heart Series

One of my better selling series, Pirates at Heart, has a fourth tale untold until now. As I load my works onto Amazon, the Pirates at Heart reboot will contain a fourth book, Red Sky at Night, the story of Nathaniel and Ruby. There's a lot of surprises in this one, the death of one of my main characters which broke my heart to write AND this juicy tidbit below. Enjoy!

Pricking her finger, Ruby watched the droplet of red swell on the surface of her skin. She pressed it to the health scan display. Something was really wrong, she just knew it. With all the nausea, dizziness and fatigue, she feared the worst. Except for the lack of high fever, her symptoms had all the earmarks of Storm Flu. Her temp flirted at the edge of being elevated, 37.6 C, but never quite went over the line.
What would she do if she couldn’t work? She didn’t have enough in savings to take off more than a month or so. Not after her bastard ex had stolen everything she owned a few years back. What if she got really sick? She had no one to take care of her. She hadn’t spoken to her father and brothers in decades. She didn’t know where they were, if they still were. The same went for her mother. She had no one.
Except for Nate, a voice in the back of her mind piped up. The thought alarmed her. Sure, the young man was a fun plaything, a masterful lover and one of the finest captains she had ever worked with.  And that’s how she felt. She worked with him, not for him which was one of the only reasons she had agreed to stay on as his first mate after she had helped him get his feet wet. But did she have him to rely on should the worst happen? Did she want to? Still, part of her felt that if his was the last face she saw before she sank into oblivion, that would be all right.
The little analyzer beeped, jarring her from her thoughts and displaying her results.
“Holy fuck.” She exhaled.
Her condition proved worse than she had imagined.
* * * * *
“So then we’ll need to procure a pink orangutan, right First Mate Delaney?”
“Aye, Captain.”
She had heard Nate’s words but they hadn’t quite registered. Then she realized what she had just agreed to.
The shift supervisors snickered, but Nate silenced them with a glare.
“Crew dismissed.” He waved a hand, the sailors scrambling to vacate the pilothouse.
“Sorry, I’m a little distracted.” She shook her head.
“Yeah, a bit. What’s going on?”
Shifting her weight from foot to foot, she crossed her arms over her torso.
“Hey.” Nate brushed a lock of hair from her forehead. “It’s me. If you’re struggling with something, you can talk to me.”
“I don’t know. Maybe not about this.”
“About anything.” He kissed the back of one hand.
A surge of nausea hit her. Closing her eyes, she took slow, deep breaths.
“Ruby, you’re worrying me.”
“Maybe you should be worried.” Tears sprang into her eyes.
He furrowed his brow. “Now, you’re scaring me. Tell me what’s going on.”
“You have to promise me not to overreact.” She sidestepped him and began pacing back and forth.
“I promise I will overreact if you don’t talk.” He caught her by the shoulders. “Ruby, please.”
“Nate―” Her voice broke. “I’m―I’m pregnant.”
“Oh.” His eyes grew wide. “Oh. What? How?”
She rolled her eyes. “Well, when a man and woman get these special feelings―”
He waved away her sarcasm. “You know what I mean. I thought you had the implant.”
“And I thought you were on the pill.”
“With everything that happened with Momma, I forgot to refill my prescription and I figured you were still on birth control.”
“At my last physical, my doctor advised removal so I had it removed.”
“And you didn’t think to tell me?”
“I thought you were on the pill. You should’ve told me you went off it.”
“Fair enough. But you’ve been without the implant for over six months now. Why wouldn’t you give me a head’s up?”
Loath to admit the truth, she shook her head and shrugged. Nate’s questioning stare didn’t waver. Apparently, he wanted a real explanation. She sighed, her cheeks burning.
“Because.” She crossed her arms over her chest, studying the floor. “Do you think I wanted to tell my twenty-four year old lover that at my age the implant carries significantly more risk?”
“I don’t know why you’re always so hung up on our ages.” He shook his head. “This mess could’ve been avoided.”
His words cut her. “Don’t worry your pretty little head, sugar. You don’t have to deal with ‘this mess’ if you don’t want to.”
“Ruby.” He tried to catch her hand, but she pulled away. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Sounded pretty clear to me.”
“No. No, I’m just surprised.”
“Don’t think that I’m thrilled about this either. You aren’t the only one who’s upset.”
“I’m not upset.”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
He combed his fingers through his hair, a signature move when frustrated or at a loss for words. Rubbing a hand over the stubble on his chin, he held her gaze for a while. A heavy exhalation broke the silence.
“I’m sorry. It’s just―wow. A baby.” He took her hands and wouldn’t allow her to pull away. “A baby.”
“Stop saying that word. I don’t even know that I want this.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know what I mean. Please, don’t make me say it.”
“I don’t even want you to think it.” He furrowed his brow.
“But it’s the truth, Nate. I just need some time to figure out what I want.”
“We can figure this out together.”
Chewing her thumb nail, Ruby shook her head. She wasn’t so sure they could.
* * * * *
A baby.
A baby.
Sitting in his captain’s chair in his cabin, Nate stared out into space as the thought echoed in his mind. A baby. Definitely not the tack he thought his relationship with Ruby would take, but then again, since when did anything in life go as he thought it would?
Poppa’s career-ending injury, Marcus taking over The Yellow Rose, Momma’s untimely passing. And now a child. But Ruby’s pregnancy didn’t fit in with those other events, did it? He had struggled to deal with all those other things, but a baby, well, the thought gave him a warm, excited feeling. Granted that feeling was also cloaked in more than a little panic, but ultimately it was a good thing. A blessing. Yes, that was the word.
“I don’t even know that I want this.” Ruby’s words from earlier replayed in his head.
Clearly, she didn’t see it as a blessing. Not yet. Maybe she never would.
He knew it was her choice, one she had a right to make, but he couldn’t bear the thought of losing the baby. Somehow he would have to show her his commitment, show her that he could be the man she needed him to be. They could make this work. He would make this work. He had to.
Pushing the comm link, Nate issued an order to his quartermaster, Miguel.
* * * * *
After a nap and a shower, Ruby’s mind had cleared a little. She would take this change of plans one day at a time. Maybe Nate was right, they could figure something out.
Reporting for her shift in the pilothouse, she didn’t understand why Quartermaster Miguel was setting the course.
“It’s my shift, QM.” She stepped up to the wheel.
“Captain says you’re off the schedule until further notice,  First Mate Delaney.”
“He said what?” She set her jaw.
Swallowing hard, Miguel dropped her gaze. “He said―”
“I heard you the first time,” she snapped.
Spinning on her heel, she stormed belowdecks.
How dare he? How. Dare. He? What did he think, that she was some kind of invalid now? By the time she reached Nate’s quarters, she had worked up a full head of steam. Punching in her pass code, she didn’t even bother to knock.
Shirtless and clearly in the midst of a work out, he grinned and toweled off as soon as she burst in. “Hey, darlin’, I was just thinking―”
“Then, you should stop doing things you are ill equipped to do.”
Furrowing his brow, he took a step back. “Are you pissed about something?”
“Whatever gave you that idea? Why the hell did you take me off the shift schedule?”
“You said you needed time to think. And I thought…in your condition―”
“That I can’t plot a course or program the autodrive to steer the fucking boat?”
“If you have to put it on manual during a squall or if we get boarded―and you need your rest.”
“I can still do my job, asshole. This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen.”
“I was trying to help.”
“Well, don’t. I’m not asking you for help…or anything else.”
“Ruby, we’re in this together.” Again, he reached out to her and again she pulled away.
“Don’t equate your role in this with mine.”
“I admit that in terms of the pregnancy, I’ll have it a lot easier, but once the baby’s born, I’m sure being a father will put me through my paces.”
“Stop acting as though this is a done deal. Right now, all you are is a sperm donor, okay?”
Eyes narrowing and posture stiffening, he whipped the towel onto the floor.
“Is that how you feel about me? Why even tell me, then?”
“I didn’t want to tell you. You pried it out of me.”
“So the plan was to just―to end things without me ever knowing?” he shouted.
The outburst startled her. Hands on his hips and chest heaving, he glared down at her. For the first time, she realized how very big and imposing he could be. Apparently, she had crossed the line. She had never seen him angry. Not like this and especially not with her.
“I don’t have a plan.” She backed away, shaking her head. “Nate, there’s a reason that I’m almost forty years old and I don’t have any children. I’m a criminal, for crissakes. The first mate on a bootlegger’s ship. The way I earn my living isn’t exactly conducive to breastfeeding.”
His expression softened. “We can make arrangements―”
“If I can’t work, I can’t provide for a child.”
“That’s not what I mean―”
She shook her head, tears leaking down her face. Fucking hormones.
“I can’t be seven months along, running from brown coats.”
“No one is asking you to.” He grasped her hand. “Ruby, I’m here for you.”
“As much as anyone is there for anybody.”
“What does that even mean?” He jostled her gently, exasperation drawing his features tight.
“I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I don’t know where we are, what we are.”
“Neither do I, but I know that I care about you and I know that―that I want this baby.”
His words drained all the fight from her body. Shoulders slumped, she shook her head. “How can you know what you want? You’re so young. You have your whole life ahead of you.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
Wrapping her arms around herself, she trained her gaze on the ceiling. “I have nothing, Nate. No one. You have family, money, you have everything.”
“And everything I have is yours.” He touched her belly. “Is ours. We can do this. Together.”
She hiccupped a sob.
“Ruby, I should have told you this sooner. It’s a thought that’s been swimming around my brain. Maybe it will make all this easier. I think I love—”
“No, don’t say it.” She put a finger to his lips. “I don’t want to hear it. Not now.”
She couldn’t bear to hear the words if he didn’t mean them. And what if he did mean them? This thought frightened her even more.
His mouth opened again, but he closed it as if it was all he could do to contain himself. She leaned forward kissing him lightly. One arm snaked around her waist, a hand tangled in her hair, he deepened the kiss. Hot breath passed over her cheek, his musky scent heavy in the air. He teased open her lips, his tongue caressing hers. She melted in his embrace, unable to resist the warmth and urgency of his touch.
Lowering her onto the bed, he eased her back, fingertips skimming over her chest, grazing her nipples and then meandering down to her waist. On his knees before her, he bent down pausing for just a second, smiling, before he planted a kiss on her belly. Heat and need raced through her veins and settled between her thighs.
Gently, he lifted her shirt over her head and unhooked her bra, casting both garments aside. The cool ocean breeze coming in from the porthole drew her nipples into tight buds. He licked at the dots of puckered flesh, nuzzling each breast and kissing them.
She sighed, threading her fingers in his hair. Once he had slipped off her trousers, he took off his shorts. Settling between her legs, he pressed his hard cock to her opening, but hesitated.
“I don’t want to hurt you.” He smoothed her hair across the pillow. “Either of you.”
One finger tracing his high cheekbones, she realized how very much she needed him inside her right this very second. Joining their bodies together would make all of this strange dream real in her heart and soul. She might be able to believe in a future she’d never dared to think about, but in Nate’s arms all seemed possible.

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